Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 16 are consequential on 5, and Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 16 to be discussed together.
Transport (Re-organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986: Report and Final Stages.
The purpose of this amendment which is purely technical, is to provide a definition in section 2 of this Bill, of the Dublin Bus Company. Senators will recall the discussion on this that took place on Committee Stage. The need for this amendment arises because of the proposed amendment to section 7 which will empower the Minister, by order, to direct that the name of any of the subsidiary companies be changed to such name as he specifies in the order. The amendment is essential in order to facilitate changing the name of the company after the enactment of this Bill.
I am actually disappointed with what——
You are aware that Senators can only speak once on this stage?
We have been speaking all last week about it. You could talk for as long as you liked; nobody seems to listen. What am I speaking to, specifically, so that I will know exactly before I start that I have a right to speak to something else?
The Senator is talking on amendment No. 5.
We can talk on amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11 etc., individually, can we?
No, together. The rest are consequential on amendment No. 5.
So if we speak on amendment No. 5 we are finished with the rest also?
That is quite correct.
Could I ask Senator O'Mahony if he will have anything to say on it?
You can rest assured that I will not rush you.
I wanted to get Senator O'Mahony's opinion. He has made a big contribution on this Bill. I thought maybe he might like to have the first word on it.
Once the Senator offered I had to call him.
We were going to separate Dublin Bus. That is where the anomaly arose. We had this crude and criminal name, in my opinion, called simply Dublin Bus. It lacked any sort of imagination. If we were changing it to the modern 1986, if that is what you call it, surely we could have come across something better than Dublin Bus. To call it Dublin Bus Company makes even the sublime ridiculous. There was a very serious lack of consideration in what went on here in the Seanad last week. We more or less all agreed on the suggestion that what we were talking about was a Dublin city transport service. I thought we would base the name on that. We could have at least called it Dublin City Transport. I made that suggestion last week. Senator Michael Higgins did the Irish interpretation and when it was translated from Irish back into English, the whole thing sounded very silly. From what I could gather at the time, what we wanted was to bring in physically the word "transport". We had a big debate here last week about omnibuses. People are confused. I thought we left with the impression on Wednesday night that Dublin city transport services was the basis on which we would class the name. Now we have the Dublin Bus Company.
The amendment, earlier on, suggested that the Minister may by order direct that the name of the company be changed to such name as he specifies in the order and the company shall comply with the direction. Section 23 of the Companies Act, 1963, shall apply to a change of name under the subsection. Right throughout the whole of the amendments, there is no suggestion from the Minister as to what the name should be. I refrained from putting in an amendment on a technicality, as I was speaking in the initial stages. I was the first person who commented on this terrible name that was being put on the three companies. I said it lacked thought and any sort of imagination. I still believe so. There is no point in us here going through a whole series of amendments when the meat of what we are talking about is not written down, and that is the actual name.
Last week because of the manner in which the amendments were put down, if we had purposely changed the name, it would have caused a sequence of anomalies in the Bill itself and that would be the wrong time to change it. I left here in the hope that the Minister had not got the bright idea that we were moving towards an updating of the name. I thought we were basing the name on the fact that we were talking about transport.
I argued last week that DART and Dublin city buses should be under one umbrella. I have not changed my mind and there has been no argument to suggest to me that we should change that position in any way. The Minister did not really make the case that I was wrong. I still firmly believe that it would have been good for all companies — now that we are having three of them — if we had used that idea to sharpen up the efficiency of the rail lines. I was arguing that people would have to be on time and that time would mean what it said, and not this nonsensical procedure in CIE where one service could be three quarters of an hour late, or in places, up to half a day late. I felt that this as an ideal opportunity to bring DART into Dublin city bus services and to amalgamate the two into Dublin city transport services. Even the name Dublin City Transport Services would be more appropriate. It would at least draw attention to the services we were seeking and getting. I do not know what pressures were on the Minister. I know what pressures were on him last week. I do not know what pressures came on him over the weekend and whether they are new ones. The whole Bill lacks dash, daring and courage.
DART was very successful.
DART does not arise. It is the main companies we are discussing now.
I give my reasons for Senator McDonald to understand. I am not saying DART is a bad thing. What I am saying is that DART is a terrible name. If Senator McDonald thinks DART is a good name he can stand up here when I am finished when perhaps he will please explain to me what is nice, attractive or good about it. I thought we agreed last week that all the systems would be brought in, as it were, under the one umbrella. I said that perhaps the Minister was losing his courage. However, he is allowing himself an opportunity in this amendment but he is not saying what the kernel of all this is. What are we doing? Are we going to allow somebody to come up with a fancy name without this House having a say in the matter? We are giving the authority to the Minister to call it what he likes. I was suggesting that this House should have an opportunity to name it. At least we would be responsible for one good part of the Bill.
DART does not arise. Senator Killilea, please.
It would be a good idea if the Government side took this Bill seriously.
They did not. One section of the Government took it rather seriously and spent a long time harassing the Minister to change his mind on many issues which is very evident, but that is not what I am talking about.
We now come to the old titles — Irish Bus and Bus Éireann. "Irish Bus"— just stand back and listen to it. Is that not enough? Does it not express it? We have argued that it is not right. What has the Minister done since to make that right? We have suggested for the Dublin area, Dublin City Transport Services, DCTS. You can abbreviate it. At least it shows it is a transport service. That did not happen. "Irish Bus"— I will leave that as it is because it is a void in itself. Any other name would have to be more attractive than that. If you tried to find the worst possible name that would be it. "Irish Rail" is not quite as bad. When you listen to Senator Michael Higgins explaining what "Iarnrod" means, you understand how inappropriate it is. The meaning of "Iarnrod" shows how silly the name is. Its translation into "Irish Rail" is not exactly correct. Iarnrod Éireann is one thing; Irish Rail is something else. It is not a clear definition.
I do not know what the Minister will say. I will not be able to say anything about it after he has spoken, that is, if he says anything. I would like the Minister to enumerate to us, one, two, three of four names they have been thinking about, that is, if they have been thinking in the last week. We could then have an idea of the intention at the back of this amendment. We must have impressed them into believing that those silly names were certainly not acceptable to anybody from any political persuasion. That is probably a move forward. I was glad that I initiated it, but I would be more delighted if I could have an idea of the intended names of the new companies from the Minister specifically. I would like to know the names that he intends calling those three companies. That would be deeply appreciated.
I want to ask another question before I finish. Now that we are dealing with the amendments, I have a right to speak to the amendment only. When the amendments are passed or if they fall, or are agreed or disagreed, I have a right to speak again at this stage of the Bill——
Not on Report Stage. On the Fifth Stage, yes.
What about the amendments not moved?
They will all be moved.
Will I have the right to speak again on those amendments which we are not now discussing?
Yes. I was wondering——
We are all together on that one.
There will be no coming back.
I am happy to deal with the matter now. All of us in the House during the debate, both on Second Stage and Committee Stage, expressed our concern at the names given to the company. They are not necessarily the most attractive names. The same view was expressed by the Minister himself in his Second Stage speech. It seems that the amendment is reasonable in the circumstances. Obviously, the Minister has not been in a position, since the Committee Stage debate, to come in here with new names which he might suggest by way of amendment. By virtue of his amendment No. 5 it is clear that he has set some process in train to bring forward names that would be more appropriate than the ones contained in the Bill originally. When the Minister has gone through this process — with the assistance, I presume, of his officials and advertising agencies or whatever other group would be appropriate — of determining suitable names given the nature of the comnpanies concerned. I would be happy in the circumstances — though it would have been better as a matter of procedure — if we had had more attractive names in the Bill from the beginning — to give the Minister this authority to devise appropriate names in due course and, hopefully, before too long.
It is amazing what can be said around a suggestion of names. Senator O'Mahony has put it in context. We all expressed dissatisfaction with the names that were suggested in the original Bill, simply because they have incorrect Gaelic interpretations or because they might misrepresent what the board or subsidiary board might have in mind. Certainly, the bringing into law of the Dublin Transport Authority, which we passed through this House recently, will give an overview into what would happen in the Dublin city and Dublin county area in the Dublin Transport Authority legislation, which will have representatives from the local authority, Córas Iompair Éireann and other people. The worry that Senator Killilea has will be contained within the particular statutory authority which we will give to that body.
Let us get back to the names. People with whom I have had discussions — and we have had discussions with many people — have never suggested that Dublin Bus should be called Dublin City Transport Services. That is a misnomer, because it involves everything. It involves DART, rail, bus or anything else. Dublin Bus, although we do not like the name, refers to bus services within the city and possibly county. It was not acceptable to have a global name such as Senator Killilea has suggested, Dublin City Transport Services. That was not acceptable to the people we spoke to. When Senator Killilea passed the comments last week people expressed reservations about the terminology. We began to look at what the Senator had in mind. We appreciated what he had in mind but that name could create problems.
It is very important that we read the wording of amendment No. 5. It is:
The Minister may by order direct that the name of a company be changed to such name as he specifies in the order and the company shall comply with the direction. Section 23 of the Companies Act, 1963 shall apply to a change of name under this subsection.
The fact that the Minister made an order would mean that that order would be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas — in the Library. We, as Members, will have an opportunity as it has to be there for a statutory period, of having an input, in case somebody should suggest a name for the Dublin bus services for which a subsidiary company will have a responsibility. We want to ensure that it is what it is intended to be. British Rail get away with calling their rail British Rail but nobody expects the name to be Irish Rail. We can use some imagination. I do not totally agree that DART is not a good name. It signifies precision, speed and efficiency. It gets to where it is intended to go as quickly as possible. It is an abbreviation of the full name. Any organisation should be easily identifiable in the abbreviation of its name. We come up with the most extraordinary names which immediately identify in people's minds what is meant by the letters, whether it is HOPE, CHERISH, ALONE or DART. It is a good name and it is an excellent service I just give these titles as examples of what the imagination of professional people can do with names.
This amendment takes out these three names as being obligatory and gives the Minister the power to specify other names. The Minister is doing that as a result of reservations that we all expressed here on the Second and Committee Stages of the Bill. It will be done by order which will give us an opportunity to have an input if we are not satisfied that it expresses what we understand is the company's role in the delivery of the service, whether it is Irish Rail, Irish Bus or Dublin Bus. Whatever way the names are compiled they will have to indicate the service that people anticipate that particular subsidiary should give. For that reason it is a good idea to put an amendment in to give the Minister certain powers. We also have a certain role afterwards. With the Dublin Transport Authority we can overcome the problem of having an integrated Dublin transport service, which can be done by way of the statutory authority. The naming of the company is something that could be a matter for another day's discussion if the ministerial order does not meet with our approval. I welcome the fact that at least we are taking out these three names as being obligatory, and giving the Minister some discretion with our approval.
What this amendment does is leave open the possibility of change provided that a better name is proposed. None of the Senators nor the Minister was happy with the existing names. There is no point in changing a name until a better name is found. In other words, we are then advancing. What we have now is functional, but is not attractive in any way. It is not attractive from the point of view of the company who will be using the name. They, in turn, will to an extent be involved in advertising. Very often one will find that an old established company, or a political party maybe, do not have a suitable name for advertising. I was involved in this aspect myself. It was said that if we had picked a different type of name we could do all sorts of things with advertising. Here now we have the option of picking the appropriate name so that it will fit the advertiser later on. That should be a consideration.
Getting the right name is exceedingly difficult. Out there somewhere there is an absolutely perfect name but getting it requires a flash of inspiration. Anyone might come forward with the name, not necessarily a person involved in reading in detail about it: it could come from anywhere. I remember from my own experience in RTE — where the name of a programme is very important — that it was much easier to get the concept of a programme and what a programme should be about than to get the appropriate name. I am not talking about once-off programme but a programme which would be on the schedule on a regular basis. Any person can get the appropriate name. Very often competition is what leads to a particularly suitable name. Some of the major companies in the launching of products of one sort or another specialise in devising invitations by way of competition for names.
I am sure there are great names available. No name has been rejected. Any put forward by Senators on the previous occasion have not been rejected as such; it is a question of examining the whole lot and finding out what is the best possible name. I do not suppose the Seanad will get involved in running a competition to get the perfect name for this. It will be a question for the Department. I do not know that civil servants would be the most qualified people in the world to get the best and most appropriate name. The matter will be examined in all ways that might lead to a solution with the possibility, if that were thought useful, of inviting in professional advice from people who are good at this type of thing. It is very important that it should be got right. What we have done here is to leave open the possibility of a change if and when a better name comes along.
A very important aspect of the problem was mentioned earlier by Senator Ferris — that if and when there is a change it will have to come before the House by way of order, so there cannot be, as Senator Killilea felt, a situation where it would be slipped in or imposed without the authority of the House. The import of this amendment is that it will come before the House. I would have preferred, and I am sure everybody else would have preferred if a really suitable name had emerged from the contributions of the Senators or from the general discussion that has taken place but it has not emerged so far. I do not think the best approach is to rush it during this debate. Seeing that it has to come before the House again by way of order, it is best in this case to leave it and see will the perfect title emerge. I am confident that it will.
the purpose of this amendment is to provide for a minor drafting change. Section 6 of the Companies Act, 1963, was amended in the First Schedule to the Companies (Amendment) Act, 1983, by the substitution of a new subsection, subsection (1). It is paragraph (3) of the subsection so inserted which now provides for the inclusion of "limited" in the title of the company other than a public limited company.
The purpose of this amendment is to provide that a resolution for the voluntary winding up of a company shall not be adopted unless a resolution consenting to such winding up has been passed by each House of the Oireachtas. This section as passed on Committee Stage provided for the passing of a resolution by Dáil Éireann only. The Seanad is included in addition to the Dáil through this amendment. The amendment now proposed has been prepared to meet the wishes expressed in the Seanad on this matter.
In agreeing to that amendment I am delighted that it has been brought to the notice of this Government that this House does exist and has a role to play. I am delighted that the Government saw fit, through the Minister for Communications, to acknowledge that fact publicly here. I think it is only right and proper that it should be done. I want to compliment all the Senators who saw fit to stand up and be counted on this matter.
I think it is unfair to say that the Government do not recognise this House. This House has been recognised by this Government more often than in the past. They have initiated more legislation here than any other Government. I think this House has matched that responsibility in the way it has dealt with the legislation.
That is why item No. 2 is here today.
I think it is appropriate that whoever is responsible for the things that come through here, whether the draftsman or whoever, it is important that the Seanad declare itself and not be sold short by anybody whether the drafting office or anybody else. We are part of the Oireachtas and no legislation can be passed or anything else done without our approval. It is appropriate that the words "each House of the Oireachtas" be included so that everybody will know that we have an input both into legislation and into anything else arising out of it. There are some Oireachtas Committees which do not include Senators like the Oireachtas Committee on vandalism and law and order. I think Senators would make an excellent contribution on that committee. I do not see why they should have been overlooked. Certainly, I am delighted that we are included in this and I think we will play a useful role.
I move amendment No. 12:
In page 6, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:
"(10) The Board and the companies shall have due regard to the Board's social role and the need to maintain public transport services integrated to the maximum extent posible within the financial resources available to them."
We discussed this amendment on Committee Stage and at that point I provided as much information as I could about the thinking behind it. Basically, it is that my colleagues and I in the Labour Party were concerned that the provisions in section 8 of the Bill which were concerned with the principal objects of the companies to be set up did seem to allow for quite a deal of competition between the three subsidiary companies and in particular between the two companies, Irish Rail and Irish Bus. We were concerned to see to it as far as possible that the Bill placed on the board and the companies an obligation to provide an integrated public transport service which in our view offered the best opportunity for a comprehensive system of transport throughout the country.
In addition we wanted to build specifically into this Bill the idea that the board does have a social function in providing transport. This, of course, is already recognised in the subvention given to the board annually. What we are attempting to do here is to build in an additional safeguard to ensure that the companies do not compete against each other either to the detriment of themselves or to the detriment of the social role which the board has in providing transport or to the detriment of the idea of public transport as an integrated system. That is what this amendment does.
The Minister during the course of the Commitee Stage debate when we first discussed it said that he would give consideration to it. I hope that it will now be possible for the Minister to agree that this amendment is worth while and adds something to the Bill as drafted.
Amendment 12 is adding a new section between lines five and six. It should be read in the context of the whole of section 8. As Senator Flor O'Mahony has said, the Minister and the Department conceded on the last occasion that the addition of this final safeguard we felt necessary was worthy of consideration to ensure that all the services throughout the country worked in co-ordination with each other and complemented each other. In addition, we would also be considering the social content of the services provided by any board like Córas Iompair Éireann because if decisions are made only on economic grounds then many of the services in rural Ireland with which all of us, particularly Senator Killilea, are concerned——
Do not mind me; speak for yourself.
I thought Senator Killilea was worried about rural Ireland. I am worried about it because I come from rural Ireland. There is a social need in rural Ireland and we have to ensure by way of legislation that the board of CIE have regard to it. It is not wrong to request in legislation that a board who are already fulfilling a social need will continue to do so in spite of the lack of economic justification for it. It is imperative that it is provided and we are asking that this be done within the financial resources available to them. This Government have, for the first time, determined what they consider to be the appropriate fraction of the allocation on subvention to Córas Iompair Éireann for the social content of services and that is now understood to be one-third of the total State subvention.
We are asking that it should be included in this legislation that the board and the companies should have due regard to the board's social role and the need to maintain public transport services integrated to the maximum extent possible within the financial resources available. Naturally, Córas Iompair Éireann, like everybody else depending on the State purse, cannot have all the finances available to them that we would wish them to have because there is a limit to the taxation process particularly in the PAYE sector but in the provision of the social service which Córas Iompair Éireann provide we are anxious that the board would have regard to the social need. That is why we are asking that this additional section be inserted in the context of section 8. The Minister, when he learned of our concern in this regard, was anxious to consider it and I hope that it will be included today on this Report Stage.
I almost weep for the Labour Party. I saw their performance here last week and the efforts this week on this amendment, which I agree with but the Labour Party are at the moment taking the small crumb that is left on the table. The crunch came last week when the higher echelons of the party succumbed to the pressures of the Fine Gael Party at a meeting upstairs when the Labour Party, through Senator Flor O'Mahony, withdrew——
I do not see what this has to do with the amendment.
It has really because Senator Flor O'Mahony, in the last sentence of his statement, said that at least it would for one thing — it might prevent competition between the two companies.
Which you asked for.
I voted for it but the Senator did not agree with it.
You wanted unfair competition.
I did not want it then nor do I want it now but the last little crumb——
Tell me about the amendment.
——will not save the Senator's soul now and that is why I am not concerned about his worrying about my feelings for rural people. The Senator's feelings for rural people and mine are different.
Thank God for that
The idea is to put in a security bolt if possible and my sympathy — not that it is any good to him — goes to Senator Flor O'Mahony who worked very hard on this Bill. If he had stood firm with me last week we would have a different Bill before us today. That is the sell-out job that went on. It was not the Senator's fault personally. Upstairs last week he was sold down the river and hence the reason for——
The Senator has said that three or four times and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bill.
——trying to salvage something, to ensure that there is a protection within the Bill against the savage, brutal business attitude that will be naturally adopted now in rural areas particularly between rail and bus services. In a few moments I will talk about the fabulous suggestion that came in as a compromise from the Government at a later stage.
No, it was not.
It was indeed: my memory is quite clear. The Labour Party wilted and died a sudden death on the job. The board are sound but the boys at the back are not so sound and some members of the Labour Party are well aware of this. When we did not get this changed in this House there was no hope of it being changed in the other House because by the time discussion on the Bill is completed in the other House there will be nobody left in the Labour Party.
I watched the winner of the American Open Championship on Sunday breaking down in tears in an emotional outburst after winning and I thought we were going to have a similar performance from Senator Killilea on behalf of the Labour Party. That would be too much in one week.
It is sad to be wiped out but I would not weep for them.
The amendment in the names of Senators O'Mahony and Ferris as explained by both Senators has the purpose of compelling the board and the companies to have due regard to the board's social role and the need to maintain public transport services integrated to the maximum extent possible within the financial resources available to them. This was discussed at considerable length in a very interesting and constructive fashion during the Committee Stage of the debate and the Minister at that stage announced his interest in seeing if the ideas could be accommodated. I am pleased to say that the Minister is prepared to accept this amendment and, as explained earlier, it will add an extra dimension to the Bill. I am glad to be in a position to accept the amendment.
I am glad that the Minister is in a position to accept this amendment. I am overcome by the crocodile tears which Senator Killilea had been shedding on behalf of the Labour Party. I am satisfied, subject to what happens on the next amendment, that we have a very effective Bill and a Bill that is very much improved on the original draft. These improvements came about by way of discussion and deliberation between the Minister and the Labour Party and within the Seanad as a whole.
Senator Killilea's concern for the Labour Party is nothing compared to the concern which the workforce in CIE should have about the knowledge given to us in the Seanad last week that a Fianna Fáil Minister for Transport in 1982 proposed to the Cabinet that the CIE company be disestablished and dismantled. Had that happened or had there not been an election at that time which put that administration out of office there would not now be a CIE company to discuss because, apparently, it would have been dismantled on the basis of those recommendations which were taken hook, line and sinker by the Minister of the day, despite the proposals contained in the McKinsey report.
That is completely untrue.
May I say that I am not being in the least bit personal with Senator Killilea, anymore than he was being personal with me or anybody else here? The concern he expressed in relation to the Labour Party comes a bit too easily from somebody who, when this debate started on Second Stage, came down in favour of the Bill as originally drafted and who discovered the difficulties with the Bill from the point of view of the workforce and service to the consumer only after members of the Labour Party made clear the deficiencies which existed in it. I regret that Senator Killilea has chosen to cast his eye on the Labour Party and I feel it is only appropriate that I should cast my eye on his party in return.
Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 may be discussed together.
The purpose of amendment No. 15 is to provide for the appointment to each of the subsidiary boards of two worker directors to be chosen from among those elected to the parent board in accordance with the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977. In the course of the debate on Committee Stage in this House the question of worker directors being required to accept appointments to the subsidiary companies was raised. The Minister, having considered this matter further, came to the conclusion that freedom of action as regards acceptance or refusal of appointments to the boards of the subsidiary companies must be left to the worker directors elected to the board of CIE. However, if a worker director decided not to accept appointment on the basis of the existing text of the section there could be a legal obstacle to the functioning of the company concerned. In the circumstances the amendment, that is a new subsection (3), is essential. This provision does not dilute in any way the intended worker participation on the boards of the subsidiary companies. The additional element is essentially to provide for the case where one or both of the members of the board of CIE decided not to accept appointment to the subsidiary companies. This does not in any way undermine the statutory constitution of the board.
You may recall that last week — and again the Government have seen fit to yield in this case — I had an amendment down which read:
In page 6 subsection (2) (a), line 20, to delete "5" and substitute "7" which shall include two worker directors.
It was abnormal for any Minister in any Government to allow such an error as not to include worker participation to occur in the first draft legislation. I am glad that the Minister has admitted this and amended the section. While he has not agreed with my figures — he has changed them to six rather than seven — he has instanced publicly the relationship necessary by at least putting two worker directors on the board. I welcome those two sections on that count.
I can say to Senator Killilea that the reason the number of directors is six rather than seven as suggested by him is that the Labour Party had previously agreed with the Minister that first, there should be worker directors on the boards of the subsidiary companies and, second, that there should be two out of six rather than the two out of seven he suggested.
One would never think you are in the same Government.
I am just making this point because I know that these things can be misconstrued subsequently. The reason we have worker directors is that the Labour Party discussed the matter with the Minister and he agreed to it. Had Senator Killilea not cast a cold eye on the Labour Party previously I certainly would not be continuing to cast a cold eye on what he is saying.
I am most unhappy with amendments Nos. 14 and 15. I only saw them at lunchtime today and I am afraid I cannot agree that in the event of worker directors from the main board for any reason not agreeing to go on the subsidiary board, the chairman of the company would have a right to appoint anybody at all, including people who are not members of the workforce, to take their places. The purpose of the original discussions we had with the Minister was to see to it that workers, through the provisions of the 1977 Act, would be reresented on the subsidiary boards. That is what we want and we cannot accept a situation in which in certain circumstances a worker director might not — though I cannot see why it would happen — agree to go on a subsidiary board, and a place reserved for him or her could be allocated to somebody from outside the company altogether.
The principle which is important to us is that workers are represented on the board in the proportion of two out of six. While I cannot foresee any situation in which worker directors from the main board might not, following consultations between themselves and the chairman, agree to see to it that the positions on the subsidiary board were filled, I cannot at all see that this is the way to handle this problem should it ever arise. If the Minister has a fear of this kind then a provision whereby the vacancy caused should be filled by direct elections within the company under the 1977 Act seems to be an appropriate way to deal with the matter in keeping with the spirit of that Act and the agreement we reached with the Minister previously.
It seems to me that this provision would give to the chairman powers which it is not intended he should have in relation to the two positions of worker directors on the boards of the subsidiary companies. That is not to cast any aspersions on the chairman as an individual but rather to make the point about the position and the powers he would have. It is because of that concern about perhaps giving to him powers which it is not intended he should have under the original amendment adopted on Committee Stage and also because the provision breaks with the spirit of the amendment as adopted on Committee Stage, that I cannot see that it is acceptable in the least. I would urge the Minister to withdraw amendments Nos. 14 and 15 and leave section 11 (2) (a) as it emerged from Committee Stage. I urge the Minister to consider that very strongly. Should it ever happen that in any eventuality the worker directors could not agree among themselves as to how they would distribute themselves among the subsidiary boards, the problem can be dealt with in dialogue, consultation, discussion or in argument if necessary. It could be dealt with in the normal process through which the worker directors relate to their membership of their unions and to the Congress of Trade Unions. The matter should be left as it was. If the Minister wishes to change it to cover the eventuality foreseen I would suggest that the only way it can be changed in keeping with the spirit of the 1977 Act would be to provide for filling any such vacancy that might arise through direct election within the company concerned.
May I speak after the Minister? I have not spoken on the section yet.
Why not now? Does the Senator have any reason for not speaking now?
I want to hear his response to Senator O'Mahony's comments. I want to make sure that I can speak on the section. Regardless of the Minister's response, I want to speak on it.
The purpose of this amendment is to provide for the appointments to each of these subsidiary boards of two worker directors to be chosen from among those elected to the parent company. The absolute intention of this is to have the workers' representatives on the various companies. There is no doubt but that that is the entire spirit and the actual text of it. It is very difficult to see the eventuality arising where the worker directors from the parent company would be unwilling, for any reason, to serve on the board. But the difficulty is that if they did, with the existing text of the section, there could be a legal obstacle to the functioning of the company concerned that would, of course, create major knock-on difficulties.
Because of that, it was felt that this amendment was necessary. The right of the worker director or any one else to serve on a board must be protected. They cannot be forced to go on the board if they do not so desire. It is very hard to see this difficulty arising. I see the points made by Senator O'Mahony and I see what he is seeking to avoid. I would accept that it is a very long shot but I suppose it is natural that there should be concern for long shots as well as for other things that might occur. The Bill, which is only now passing through the Seanad, was initiated here. As Senator O'Mahony said himself, he only saw the difficulties at lunchtime. I did not know of these difficulties until much later — I have just heard of them — and I will certainly bring them to the attention of the Minister.
This is an example of what this House is all about. It is something about which Senator Killilea is concerned. It is amazing now that Senator Killilea is on the same side as the Minister on this issue and Senator Flor O'Mahony and I are on another side simply because — I want to put it as clear as possible — on Committee Stage Senator Lanigan, in stating a viewpoint said he felt there was no need for the Chairman of the board of Córas Iompair Éireann to discuss or consult with anybody about who the worker director should be.
We made the point that worker directors in particular, because they are very special and represent special interests, would be people who should be consulted. It was arising out of Senator Lanigan's concern that in the process of consultation, particular members might refuse to serve on boards, that the Minister considered that possibility and that has now led to this unnecessary amendment by the Minister. This arose because there was a question that, perhaps, somehow of the four worker directors elected to the main board — following through our argument about commonality between the two boards — the Chairman of CIE might not get two of them to serve on the subsidiary boards. We feel that is a long shot and we are saying to the Minister that we consider it to be a long shot, most unlikely to happen. But the Minister is trying to protect himself in the event of it happening. I am suggesting to him that if he allows the section he refers to in the first part of the amendment, he is changing section 11 (2) (a) which reads at the moment:
The number of directors (including the chairman) shall be not more than 6, two of whom shall be members of the Board appointed under the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977;
For those of us in the Labour Party that is very fundamental because, first, it ensures worker participation on the subsidiary boards and, secondly, it ensures that the workers who are serving on the subsidiary boards would have been, in the first instance, appointed to the main board by the sections of the industry in which they work, by the members in the unions. Therefore, they have a speciality and a brief from their electorate when they go to serve on the main board. We feel that reflection should be continued down onto the subsidiary boards. The issue of commonality is also important because we would feel that they could have a major input to make in the subsidiary boards on which they would work. We are suggesting, as Senator Flor O'Mahony has suggested, that if that section is allowed to stand it will be obligatory on the chairman of the board of directors of Córas Iompair Éireann that, in nominating the subsidiary boards, two of them shall be members elected under the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977. Amendment No. 15 states:
The directors to be appointed to each company shall include two persons selected from the members of the Board appointed under the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977, provided that such persons are willing to accept office.
The words "shall" and "provided" mean it is negative. It means that in the long shot situation, which we feel would not arise, the chairman of the board of directors would have the power to fill the board with other people who would not be worker directors simply because he could say that the four worker directors who were elected refused to act on any of these subsidiary boards and that he then had the power, under this section, to fill the board with six members. I am sorry if Senator Killilea did not see it in that light. We are with him in that we want to ensure that there are worker directors on the subsidiary boards but we want to ensure that if, for some reason — unknown to us and unknown to the trade unions they represent——
The Minister is right. What about the knock-on effect if we cannot get one?
In our opinion all that could happen is that a vacancy would have arisen in the worker directors representation or that the worker directors, under the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977 could be elected under the section, whereby their representation on the subsidiary board is required. We are asking the Minister first, to leave the original section intact. We on this side of the House want two worker directors on the board. If for some reason that does not come about, because they refuse to act, vacancies will occur in the normal process and will have to be filled by worker directors. They could not be filled by anybody else. That is the problem with the second amendment suggested by the Minister to replace the first one. If the Minister is not forthcoming on this matter I will require time to consider the full implications of what this is about between now and Report Stage.
We are on Report Stage.
On the Final Stage of the Bill we will want an assurance——
I do not think we can amend the Bill after this stage.
There are a lot of processes. Senator Killilea might not agree with these processes.
Senator Ferris to continue without interruption.
I can assure the Senator that we have performed fairly well on this legislation. I am now asking the Minister not to actually put amendment No. 14 to the House. If that remains in, there will be an obligation by legislation that, when these boards are set up, they will have to include two worker directors. If the two worker directors, for some way out reason, are not available or refuse to act, or are put on a board in which their own brief would not be reflected and their own expertise would not be reflected, then a vacancy will be created and can not be filled by anybody else, by the Minister or by the Chairman of the board or anybody else. They will be filled by the workers in the particular section of the industry which elected the worker directors initially.
That is the important point. We feel that if, for some reason, the worker directors cannot act or accept office, they will have the right to renominate through the Worker Participation Enterprise Act, 1977, to elect their person back on to the board again. That is the least we can expect in the spirit in which this Bill was processed through this House, in the spirit in which the Minister met all our reservations, met us by way of amendments of his own, accepting amendments from us, the lengthy discussions we had with everybody.
It would be a tragedy if at this eleventh hour with the Bill in its final stages, the Minister proceeded to pursue the withdrawal of the obligation of having two worker directors, even adding in section 15, which, I think, is unnecessary but as long as section 14 is there, that is the most important thing. It is imperative that section 14, in the original, page 6 remain. I am asking the Minister not to put that to the House because there will be disagreement about it. He will understand why I am concerned. I am concerned that there be two worker directors on the subsidiary boards. If that is written into the legislation, nobody else can change it. If the other situation arises in which they refuse to act, that challenge can be met through the process that we all accept that these worker directors will be elected by. That will be the process.
I realise that you cannot have a board that says that there will have to be two worker directors, if you have no worker director to act. That means there will have to be an election to elect worker directors to ensure they take their place on the board to represent the interest of the workers. You cannot have it any other way. It is imperative that this section remain, because that will ensure that the legislation reflects our view and, indeed, the view of Senator Killilea, that there should be two worker directors on the subsidiary boards.
I am asking the Minister not to move that amendment. It is unnecessary in my opinion. Once it is there, it is a definitive legislative direction to the board of directors and to the chairman of the board, who will be appointing the subsidiary boards in consultation with the Minister, that two of them at least will be worker directors. There is only one process that I know to provide worker directors and that is through the State Enterprise Act, 1977, which gives the workers in an industry the right to elect people to represent them on any of these boards. There will be four of them already elected to the main board. We hope that it will never arise and I cannot see it arising and this suggestion that it might arise came from Senator Lanigan. The Minister responded. It certainly did not come from our side because our knowledge of the input of worker directors in Córas Iompair Éireann has been first class, second to none. It has been beyond question. The input they have made has been of paramount importance to the board and the formulation of its policy. I know quite well that the people who are on that main board will be available to act and we want to ensure that the legislation says that they must act. They should be on it and they should be there.
There will be open warfare on account of the two companies.
There will not be open war at all. We will ensure that in these boards there will be a similar membership, four out of six, so that there is not unfair competition.
I cannot understand why they did not discuss that matter this morning. Are they not talking to one another?
That is how strong we feel about this. I am asking the Minister not to move this amendment of his. In my opinion it is unnecessary. In my opinion the other one is unnecessary, too, because if it happens the situation is just that the vacancy that will occur——
Are they not talking to one another up there?
I am trying to make as genuine a contribution to this section as I can. In my opinion if no worker directors were willing to act, the chairman of the board, in composing the board then would only have the power to nominate four and it would be a matter for the workers then to meet that challenge by ensuring that they had, as required by law a worker director, to serve on the board and by carrying out the elections to fill that process. There is no need of sections, which in themselves are contradictory, providing that the board shall include two people, provided they are willing to act. That is the same as saying, if you do not act we will do without you. I do not want to do without worker directors on this board. I want the legislation to reflect our view that they should be on it and if that section is left as it is, the worker directors will perform as we expect them to. There will be no shilly shallying. There will be no copping out but if, for some reason, a death or any unforeseen situation, for instance, if they were all directed by their trade union to get off the main board of CIE, the whole process is there to re-elect other people.
That is what would happen here if we all abdicated our responsibility. There would be an election in the morning and there would be people re-elected again. The same thing would happen here because workers will always ensure that their interests are represented on the board proper and on the subsidiary boards. In view of my concern in this, I am asking the Minister not to move these amendments. They are unnecessary. They would spoil the whole spirit of the Bill as we understand it. I feel that there will be grave resentment from the workers that this amendment is written in to specify them only, because no other director on these boards has been singled out in this way. Worker directors are very special people. They have a special brief. They are the most democratic boards' directorships in the country because they are elected by the people they represent.
It is very important that they would not be taken out of context. The workers want to serve. They have a process of electing people to serve.
Under amendment No. 15 the chairman of the board whoever he is — and I have the greatest respect for the present occupant of that post — if these people refuse to act, has the power to replace them with other people, who would not be worker directors, simply because we have taken out the other section which says they shall be.
Before I sit down, because I am not permitted to speak again, I ask the Minister not to move his amendments. We consider them unnecessary. We think they spoil the Bill. We were not consulted over the weekend about this. It came from a suggestion by Senator Lanigan. We do not agree with it. I suggest that the Minister leave it out of the Bill and before it goes to the Dáil, he can have all the legal opinions about what situations might arise or otherwise. From the point of view of the Seanad, we do not want those written in and we would prefer if they were not. We are asking the Minister not to move the amendment.
I do not share all the apprehensions of my colleague, Senator Ferris. In this Bill the Minister has been extremely forthcoming with very wide-ranging amendments. I must say that from my own experience of worker directors, and it is confined to people working in Bord na Móna and the ESB in the midlands, they have made a great contribution to the semi-State organisation. I can understand Senator Ferris's apprehension that these people, whoever would be elected, would not be prepared to sit and make a contribution. That legislation which came in about ten years ago making provision for worker directors on the semi-State boards, has been a huge success and the contribution that these people have made in my experience has been extremely worthwhile. I am sure that the view is shared by other directors on the board and by the industry in general. That is the only point. I do not share the Senator's apprehension that these people might for some peculiar reason not wish to participate. For that reason I think the proposal should stand.
I cannot understand all this talk from Senator Ferris. There was not a word at all about worker directors until I put down an amendment in that regard. The Labour Party seem to have got a very late heart on this. I was not being nasty about it.
On a point of order, how many times can a speaker contribute at this Stage?
This is Senator Killilea's first time to speak to this amendment, I understand.
We listened to a very long-winded performance by Senator Ferris. This is my first time to speak on this amendment. There is this about Senator Ferris. He is the Leader of the Labour Party in this House; he plays the roles of Leader of the House and of Minister and a while ago he was playing the role of the Government. A while ago also he was referring to "we"; now it is "I". At the moment he is taking over the job of the Chathaoirleach. He is an extraordinary man, very broadly based I must say.
I want to make one point which is valid to all of this. I understand that Fine Gael and Labour are in Government together. Can anyone explain why the Labour Party have had to wait until the Bill is before this House to plead and beg and beseech the Minister in regard to changes? Why was this matter not resolved at a Government meeting this morning? Are there Government meetings at all these days?
Would the Senator get back to the amendment?
I was the cause of this amendment being tabled. We are here dealing with a Government amendment and the Government are composed of Labour and Fine Gael. Here we have the Labour Party in this House beseeching and begging the Minister in relation to this amendment.
That is the parliamentary process.
Surely they should have come here with a joint Bill. I assume this Bill was agreed at Government level before it ever came here. That is the normal process. The Senator and Senator Flor O'Mahony were quick today to remark to me that a former Minister had before him a Government memorandum.
On a point of order, I never said any such thing.
That is not a point of order.
It was being said all day and I am being harassed about it here too.
I did not say a word about it.
This was a Government memorandum, too.
I said nothing about it.
Both the Minister for Communications and Senator O'Mahony made a big song and dance about it here last week, that was until we discovered it was only a memorandum presented to Government. There will be some hairy memorandum presented to this Government that we will hear about later on now that we have found a precedent for announcing them when we like and where we like. We are talking about a Government Bill now, not about the Labour Party or Fine Gael a Bill that was examined by Government and circulated to every Minister in the Government. They must have agreed to something or did they agree to disagree? The Government must have seen the amendment this morning or yesterday morning or since we were here last week. I do not understand what nonsense is going on in this House when a Leader of the Labour Party has to beg and beseech the Minister and have consultations at every level here today, both publicly and privately in order——
If this amendment was put down by the Government——
There is no problem.
Is the Senator not satisfied with the Government amendment?
No, I am not.
Has the Senator a responsible Minister in Government who could say that was not acceptable to his party?
Senator Killilea on the amendment.
What kind of Government have we at all? It is Government inch by inch.
Before you took the Chair, Senator Killilea did speak on these two amendments. At that point he was claiming credit for the fact that on Committee Stage he put down an amendment to provide for seven worker directors.
I am absolutely certain the Senator spoke before.
That is just my recollection of the situation prior to your taking the Chair, a Leas-Chathoirleach.
There is not a record here that the Senator had spoken previously on the Amendment. That is the only guidance I have.
I should like to make a contribution in regard to this difficulty. I fully understand the concern expressed by Senators O'Mahony and Ferris and, indeed, concern shared by the House universally. I do not think that even Senator Killilea is against the principle of worker directors on State boards such as we are discussing. We are discussing, on the other hand, the unlikely eventuality in which worker directors on the main board might not wish or were not prepared to take part in the subsidiary board by way of being directors of a subsidiary board. I think everyone here shares the view that this is a most unlikely train of events to occur at any stage in the foreseeable future, through nothing is completely out of the possible line of fire, as one realises when one is long enough around in this world. As unlikely as all of that is, there is the dilemma for the Minister, for the chairman and the organisation of the main CIE board and for the chairman of the subsidiaries concerned with CIE, that you cannot really have a board operating, over, perhaps, a period of months or for longer, when there is a difficulty in the appointment of a particular director in that somebody is not prepared to serve or there is no easily understood way that the mechanism for appointing a substitute to fulfil the role of worker director is not available or possible to be taken up when an occasion of that kind arises.
It is important to stress this aspect. It is a point that has not been made so far in the discussion of the amendment presented by the Minister, admittedly over the weekend. The question is how you can have a board of such extraordinary importance to the running of the country, by way of being responsible for the whole rail service or for the entire provincial bus fleet or perhaps for the entire transport arrangements in the city of Dublin, if one-third of the directors to that particular subsidiary are unavailable, not prepared to participate for a period of months, perhaps, stretching into a longer period while some dispute or some disagreement continues? We are talking about the most unusual and unlikely eventuality where something of that kind would occur, some very unlikely circumstances which would bring the problem right into the forefront and where a solution had to be found, where it was incumbent on the chairman, and the Minister to come up with some method of keeping the particular sector of the transport industry working.
There is a dilemma there. The Minister has a difficulty here this afternoon. While the mechanism is being thought out to bring something in that will have the effect of introducing in the other House, as this Bill is only being initiated here, some suitable amendment to this particular area that would not cause anything more than a temporary difficulty. I hope that my colleagues here from the Labour Party will be prepared to go along with the Minister of State at this time. There is a dilemma on both sides, not just a dilemma from the point of view of the Labour Party in seeing the possibility that worker directors would not for a period be members of a subsidiary board. There is equally the dilemma facing this Goverment or any other Government who might be in office where the worker directors are not on the subsidiary board because of some internal difficulty and are not operating by way of not being——
Senator Killilea has already spoken.
——prepared to participate in a subsidiary board's discussions and deliberations and thus having the particular subsidiary diluted to the extent of one-third of its directorship. That could give a very unbalanced approach as well. There is a dilemma here to be considered and thought out.
The Minister has been exceptionally receptive to ideas as far as this Bill is concerned and has introduced several important amendments and changes arising out of discussion in this House. That is the way it should be. It is the example of the due process and perhaps a good example of the value of initiating a Bill in this House where some of the points detected by the Senators are now incorporated in the form of amendments adding to the Bill. I wonder if the section which indicated that one particular aspect would only come back to the Dáil and not to both Houses of the Oireachtas would have been picked up. Had it been introduced in the Dáil it would have been rather interesting to see what the process would have been.
Several important amendments have been introduced. What Senator Flor O'Mahony and Senator Michael Ferris have been talking about and what I have been talking about are two very unlikely eventualities. One of them is that the particular members might not serve on the board and that the company, because of the legal obstacle, could not function properly and the other possibility is that the positions might be filled by people other than workers' representatives. As I said earlier the absolute intention is — indeed everyone accepts that that is the spirit of the whole area in the Bill — that there would be workers' representatives and, of course, in the ordinary foreseeable circumstances there will be no difficulty about them serving.
We are talking about very slight possibilities somewhere down along the line but in all of these cases I suppose those have to be taken into account. If one considers our political field many of the things that actually happen are ones that we would not readily predict ourselves if we were forecasting; scenarios we would not attempt to draw. The same thing could happen here. The job of legislation is to have total protection, to copperfasten and not to be coming back again. I believe a formula could be produced to meet both eventualities we are talking about, to cover the legal situation as far as the functioning of the company is concerned and to ensure that the workers' representatives have their places there, and that if they did not take their seats on the board, a system could be worked out to cover that as well.
I ask Senators O'Mahony and Ferris to accept that I will go to the Minister now and acquaint him of their very deep feeling on this aspect. I will point out to him the genuine difficulty they see and the necessity for some formula by which this can be covered and ask him to take these things into consideration before the Bill is introduced in the Dáil. I have no doubt that it will be possible to get a suitable solution that will cover all the cases that have been very strongly argued by both Senators. They do not see the likelihood of what they fear. Neither do I but there is the question of the legal obstacle to the functioning of the company and the chaos that might cause. We cannot be sure of those things but I believe that a formula exists somewhere along the line which would meet both eventualities. I ask the Senators to allow the matter to proceed as it is now on the basis that it can be considered between now and its introduction in the Dáil. The Bill is only being initiated here and, as Senator Alexis FitzGerald said, it should be possible in the interim period to produce a formula that will meet the difficulties that have been expressed by the two Senators.
The Minister has indicated that he sees some significance in the case Senator Ferris and I have made and he is prepared to discuss with the Minister for Communications the possibility of a further amendment during the debate on the Bill in the Dáil. I suggest to him at this stage, given his acceptance of the substance of what we are saying and while we obviously also see the problem the Minister is alluding to, that he would consider talking with the Minister about it. Then, any amendment that would be required could be introduced in the Dáil rather than pursuing the two amendments here today.
I will just make one further point. A problem like this could arise at any time with any board with worker directors. If they decided to pull out of the board there would be a crisis. It does not hapen in practice and, as we all said, it is not likely to happen here. I suggest, in view of what the Minister has said about his willingness to consider a further amendment in this area in the Dáil, that he would withdraw the amendments before us today. That would still give him the opportunity to consider a suitable amendment which would meet the cases both of us are making. I urge very strongly on the Minister to withdraw the amendments today and to consider the situation prior to the debate on the Bill in the Dáil where any amendment that might be required could be made. I have no doubt that when the Bill would come back to the Seanad it would be dealt with very expeditiously indeed because we have had a long debate on it already.
In wearing the hat of Deputy Leader of the House, to which I am sure Senator Killilea will not object, I propose that we suspend the sitting of the House for 30 minutes to allow this matter to be considered. We are limited in the length of time we can speak. This is restricting the contributions we want to make. I formally propose that we suspend the sitting for 30 minutes to allow us discuss this legally with the Minister, his advisers and everybody else. I am sure Senator Killilea could be part of that.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
I have never in my life witnessed anything like that.
We have had a lengthy discussion on this amendment. There was agreement between the Minister and ourselves that this provision was necessary so that the Act would be legally operable and if something definitive is written into it it can be followed through in law. The Minister felt that, on the suggestion of Senator Lanigan, in the event of worker directors refusing to act some clause would have to be included to ensure that the boards could function. The amendment states:
The directors to be appointed to each company shall include two persons selected from the members of the board appointed under the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977, provided that such persons are willing to accept office.
There is a certain merit in that but we feel that the words are not correct. The Minister, before the suspension of the House at my request, gave a commitment that he would look at the problems we raised on this section. We feel there should be worker directors on the board and that the legislation should state that. The Minister has given a commitment that; before this Bill is taken in the other House, this section which we are not happy with, will be re-examined with a view to taking into account the concern expressed by us and indeed accepted by the Minister in his generous response to it.
I hope, before the Bill goes to the Dáil, that a suitable amendment will be put in to take into account our reservations. Our reason for suspending the House was because we were concerned that worker directors could be discriminated against if they refused to act. The original Act ensures that on the election of members to the board, by law they are not required to act on the board. This situation would not arise on the main board and we hope that the same application of the Act will take place in regard to subsidiary boards. In the parliamentary process we are expected to express those worries. That is why we have asked the Minister to consider the problems we have raised and even consider dividing the new subsection. However, according to the procedure of the House on Report Stage, it is not easy for the Minister to act in that way. It is not easy to suddenly come up with a formulation of words in 30 minutes which would meet all the concerns expresed by Senators on this side of the House. We had advice available to us. I hope the House will forgive us for adopting this procedure but this Bill is very important. As a result of the input of this House we have an excellent Bill and I hope, with an absolute categorical commitment from the Minister on this section, that our worries can be met.
In view of the course of events on the Bill I am allowing Senator Killilea to speak a second time.
I am absolutely amazed at what has just happened, that the leader of the Labour Party in this House, Senator Ferris, taking on the mantle of Deputy Leader of the House, could suspend the House for half an hour because he did not agree with a certain section of the Bill. The question arising from it is simple. It appears that the reason the Minister is putting in this amendment is very simple yet it will not be announced publicly. It is fundamental to the error in this Bill, the formation of the three companies. Basically that is what will happen. I hope I will be proven wrong but I am obviously backed up in this thought by the Minister and the Government in their including in the Bill the protection that when the companies are formed they can act. We have formed a company too many. In order to enable the companies to operate, compounding that error, we have had to put in this amendment.
We have a Labour Party and a Fine Gael Party in Government and yet we are in a situation here today where the Labour Party do not agree with the Bill, the House is suspended to allow everybody to go to their offices to get advice, we come back and we are exactly as we were. Since the foundation of the State it has been the normal process of Government to introduce legislation. I assume that the process by which legislation is introduced is by Government memoranda circulated in plenty of time to each Department for input, to each Minister for input and then the Government make a decision and produce a document. That document is presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas and normally it is unanimously agreed by the Government. I have never heard otherwise until now. This is a unique situation. The Labour Party Ministers in Government do not seem to know what the Labour Party in the Seanad want.
That is not true.
That is how it appears to me. It has been proved on several occasions in this House that the Labour Party in Government are quite separate from the Labour Party in the Seanad. I am not saying that the Labour Party in the Seanad are wrong nor am I saying that the Labour Party in Government are wrong but there is a huge hole in the bucket and it is leaking rapidly. We saw the consequences of that leak last week. In recent weeks two former Labour Senators evacuated their positions on the Government side and vanished. A Labour Party TD last week walked out on his party.
Obviously the Government are in disarray and in an act of salvage the Minister for Communications put in this amendment to at least save the companies formed. Had the Labour Party the guts last week to stand firm there would be no need for this amendment. If they had stood firm with us last week in our Committee Stage amendment, No. 2, we would be talking today about two companies in CIE, but they did not and they came in here today trying to pick the crumbs from the table. It makes no difference to them what the cost is. This error should have been stopped on day one at Government level. This Bill should have been presented properly to the Seanad. There should have been a unified and more constructive approach. That is my opinion and that of my party. Because this was not done we find ourselves in the crazy situation where we have public pronouncements by the leader of the Labour Party in the House, begging and beseeching the Minister to change his mind.
Then having private negotiations and when that did not work, suspending the House. It is beyond my comprehension.
My information about the suspension of the House is that everybody agreed to it. I was not here at the time.
We can preach technicalities——
I am not talking in terms of technicalities.
The fact of the matter was that the Labour Party and the Minister could not agree and the House had to be suspended. If I got up here and opposed it we would have a vote and we would still have a suspension of the House because the majority——
I must refer to what happened in my absence and I am doing that.
We are not talking about the Leas-Chathaoirleach, we are talking about what I said.
I am not talking about what you said.
Do not worry about the Leas-Chathaoirleach; she is well able to protect herself.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach was in the Chair when the House was suspended and there was no objection.
The point was a technical one and you have made it quite well, as you normally do. I will abide by it. The reading and interpretation of it is another matter.
It is very important that some protection be included in the Bill and this amendment is a protection for the company. As far as I am concerned we have seriously erred in this Bill by the formation of three companies. This is the only protection they have for survival. It may only be necessary for liquidation. This point was made by many Senators. The Minister, Deputy J. Mitchell, said we were only daydreaming but the fact of the matter is that this is the situation. We have erred seriously and I hope the Dáil will not compound that error but rather correct it.
We had a mediocre verbal performance last week with regard to the formation of the board. We see the beginning of the problems in this amendment. The same people cannot run both boards. It cannot and will not work. The boards do not matter in the operation of those companies. It is the workers and the computers who matter. We seem to have forgotten all about these people and thought only about the members of the board, particularly in relation to the two companies in the amendment. That is a relevant point in this Bill and the Minister has brought that out very clearly. I am disgusted at what has happened today, that a legislative package produced by the Government has been broken by its own members. The Government avowed that from day one Government policy would be arrived at by consultation and agreement. I am sure the Government saw this amendment and agreed with it, yet the Labour Party in this House disagree with it. There certainly is a hole in the bucket.
On a point of order, is it proposed that everybody will be allowed speak twice or three times on this?
No, it is not.
Is it proposed to allow Senator O'Mahony to speak twice?
I was lenient with Senator Ferris and Senator Killilea but I do not think it would be fair to the House if Senator O'Mahony offered to speak a second time.
I am in your hands, a Chathaoirligh.
Senator Ferris made a statement here saying that certain arrangements were being made. I would like to hear them. All arrangements should be above board at this stage.
I see absolutely nothing wrong with this House teasing out the matter as it has been teased out. All legislation can be improved in either House. No one can see all the points. Various points arise in the course of a debate; that is what a debate is for. I see absolutely no difficulty about a serious matter being teased out as best it can so that we can get the best legislation possible on the books. Otherwise there will be legislation by decree.
On a point of order, would the Minister say it should be normal practice that when we come to a hot point in any Bill we suspend the sitting to have a private discussion about it?
I explained that earlier on. An tAire to continue.
I believe we are fulfilling our purpose as legislators. What Senators Ferris and O'Mahony and I were concerned about was safeguarding against contingencies that might arise. All of us accept remote contingencies but it is still our job as legislators to protect against these things in so far as we can. A difficulty has arisen here. I have already assured Senator O'Mahony, Senator Ferris and the House that the serious matters raised will be considered between now and the introduction of the Bill in the Dáil. It may be a matter for a parliamentary draftsman more than for anyone else. I welcome the attitude Senator Ferris has taken at the end of this discussion.
When the Bill is passed in this House and goes to the Dáil any amendments to be made to the Bill will have to be made separately in the Dáil. I say this in case anybody might misinterpret what the Minister has just said.
I want to make one point before we pass the Final Stage because there is a major difference between the Fianna Fáil attitude and the attitude of the Government on this Bill. It is based on the formation of the companies. In the first section of the Bill it is our contention that we should have had two companies — the bus and rail company in rural Ireland and Dublin City Transport Services. I believe a compromise was reached as a result of political pressure. The amendment suggested by the Minister does not meet the requirements for a good performance by these companies. I cannot understand how the new boards of those companies shall be similar. Amendment 15 (a) states that: "A majority of the directors of Iarnród Éireann — Irish Rail and Bus Éireann — shall be common to both companies". If people who are appointed to those boards cannot see eye to eye on certain matters there can be naturally a disruption or a conflict of opinion as to what might be best for either or both of the companies. At that stage we are dealing with it only from the top. We have heard over the years — and every Senator in this House will agree with this statement — that the public image of the problems of CIE is that they have been overburdened and over weighted at the top. All we have done in this Bill is to add more weight at the top. Neither the Minister nor the Minister of State convinced me, in any argument they had in this House, that we were doing the right thing in forming three separate companies. Basically, I believe it is an error. I hope the Dáil will change that. At this stage of the Bill we can do no more than say that.
There is no doubt in my mind that, human nature being what it is, rural bus will direct traffic to rural bus and that rail services will naturally be depleted on that account. This may not happen initially but it will certainly happen at a later stage because financial pressures will be put on those companies to show profit. The company will prove its strength by its profit. The rural bus will do their utmost, through their staff on the ground, to show that their company are the best. They will direct traffic to rural bus and will give the expressway services and the present services which we see are not adequate a boost. I forecast that rail will be the loser in that instance.
Members of this House who will be lucky enough to be elected to the next Seanad — some might take another point of view and consider themselves unlucky enough to be elected to the next Seanad — will have problems concerning rail. This is a sad forecast because it would be a tremendous loss to this nation if our rail passenger services were depleted in any way. If that happens, it will not be their fault. The board of the company will not be able to do anything about it. The bus company cannot be blamed because they will be operating under the fundamental pressure that, "If you want capital investment, show me the requirements and show me the proof that you can make it viable". That is the normal requirement. Slowly but surely the decline and ultimate death of Irish rail will begin. That would be a major tragedy.
I appeal to the Minister in the strongest terms to refrain from the platitudes and to face that fact. He will have time in the Dáil to do so. If he is good enough he will be brave enough to make the change. I do not think anybody will think any worse of him if he changes his mind on this issue. The formation of the three companies is for one purpose only. The Minister mentioned this on the Second Stage. He said he wanted to be able to financially rule those three companies.
In my opening address I said that it could be done on a regional basis and there was no need for the Bill. I still believe it could be done on a regional basis within CIE structures. But the Bill is here and must take it as we see it. We must accept that it is Government policy to have this re-organisation of CIE. However, one can be only baffled as to the extent of Government policy, judging from the performances I have seen in the House.
One cannot draw a white line at any railway station or bus station in this country. We are dealing with a commuter public who want to reach their destinations efficiently and quickly and for as little cost as possible. That is the market place today. If CIE can do that they will do it and if they have the authority to do it they will do it. Under this Bill they are given the single authority to do that. There is no commitment that there will be a link from one company to the other apart from the fact that the two boards sitting at the top will meet once a month and make a decision. The implementation of that decision may be rather difficult and might take some time.
CIE have made a significant contribution to this country. They have given a tremendous service over the years. Only in the past ten years have they been experiencing pressure. Times have changed drastically since day one of CIE. CIE did not change. We can blame who we like, where we like and when we like but CIE did not change. Now that we are changing them we should put them on the right road, I do not think we are doing this. I appeal to the Government, through the Minister of State, to reconsider in the coming days or weeks this major issue of separation and competition and to bear in mind the cruel results that will follow. If we settle for a two company structure we will have one complementing the other and that will result in a better and more economical service and in a good working relationship between all workers within this fine company. That is where their success will lie. Until such time as they are working together for the same company they cannot be successful. Because of the subdivision of CIE into three companies we will be calling for a vote to make our point in the strongest possible way.
I should like to make a few comments on the Bill. When the Bill arrived in the Seanad I understood, as has been proven since, that it came here for our consideration and amendment. No legislation, as the Minister of State said, can be so perfect that it does not allow itself to be amended. The amended Bill we have before us is a distinct improvement on the Bill which came before us. The point in connection with the two or three companies was argued, discussed and debated at length. The Minister gave his decision as to the necessity for a three company structure, because the improvements in management and in management direction would have been improved in this formula.
Our concerns, which were expressed vociferously on this side of the House, related to the dangers involved in a three company structure. Thankfully, the Minister met our reservations by ensuring that the boards of two of the companies — Irish Rail or Irish Bus, or whatever they may be called in the future — would have common directorships. This would ensure that if there were three companies two of them at least would be run by a majority of the same board so as to eliminate any unfair competition that might arise in the overall dash that is now popular to justify everything that is done on economic grounds only.
The final amendment which the Minister accepted this morning from Senator O'Mahony and myself is to ensure that the social content of the services of CIE will not be forgotten by the board, the Government or any future Government. I am only concerned about this Government and they have already shown the proof of their interest in the social content of the service. Now that it is in legislation this will ensure that no other Government will eliminate the social content of it or, if they do, at least we will have had an opportunity to have a particular political philosophy stamped on the Bill.
I should like to pay a special tribute to Senator O'Mahony, the Cathaoirleach and my other colleagues who met frequently at all levels with the trade union movement, the workers' representatives and consumers. I should like also to pay tribute to the Minister, the Minister of State and the members of the Cabinet
Are we included?
I will talk about the other side of the House in a few minutes. All those people were totally forthcoming with us at any time we requested them to have discussions about our concerns on this legislation. McKinsey changed his mind within a span of ten years, Fianna Fáil obviously changed their minds on this legislation but the Labour Party never deviated from what they wanted in the reorganisation of CIE.
If the Senator read section 1 of the Bill last Wednesday he would soon know whether they did or not.
This legislation is an indication of how successful we were in trying to put our particular stamp on it. It involves an important industry — the transportation industry. This industry is linked up with trade, commerce, tourism and so on. Our policy for many years was that it would be integrated to the greatest degree possible. This legislation will reflect the kind of integration that we want in the service. I owe no apology to anybody on the other side of the House for any discussions or negotiations — even during a period of suspension of the House, which was done by the agreement of the House — to allow that process to continue. That is the parliamentary democratic process and that is what we followed.
I thank the Minister for being forthcoming during those processes of discussion and negotiation. The Leader of the House has been patient with us, and with myself in particular, on this matter of legislation. I would, and have always been, patient with other Members of the House, even the Opposition, if they had particular concerns about any piece of legislation.
I am confused. The Senator is referring to "we", "I", "us". Who is he referring to?
I have always facilitated the Opposition. I do not act on my own in this regard. We always act in a group situation. We have proven this in anything that we have done. We have acted as a political group which are a legitimate part of the Government. Whether that suits Senator Killilea or not is totally irrelevant to me. The fact that the Bill reflects our input as a political party, taking part in a Government and the fact that this legislation reflects that participation to us and to myself as the leader of the group, is satisfying. If does not worry me whether Senator Killilea agrees with it or not. That is the reality of it.
As one of the most able negotiators, and debaters in the House the Cathaoirleach will recognise and is aware of the process that took place because he took part in it. It is his right as an elected or nominated Member of the House. He fulfilled that duty without question from anybody because that is his role. The Minister recognised our role this morning and throughout the debate on this legislation. On Second Stage I was the first person to raise a question about the content of the Bill, in spite of Senator Killilea's total welcome for the Bill as it was initiated in the beginning.
That is not true.
If the Senator reads the record he will find that that is true. He suddenly changed his tune when he discovered that there were problems in the Bill——
The record stands to be perused by Senator Killilea if he wants to peruse it.
It is normal practice in the House when a Senator is quoting from a record to quote the page, document, date, and so on. I ask Senator Ferris to quote the report which states that I welcomed the Bill in total. If the Senator is making a quotation about me, would he substantiate it, please?
Was Senator Ferris quoting or was he paraphrasing?
I was paraphrasing. If Senator Killilea wants to know what he said he can read his total contribution on the Second Stage of the Bill. It stands for itself and his party's attitude on this legislation.
The Senator should quote——
The Senator was absent from the House last week when I said the words that he was "begging for." They were amended today in the legislation and there was no comment from him. He is sorry also that we got another amendment in today which he was not part of. That is part of the process and we have no apology to offer Senator Killilea for that either.
I am glad that the worker-directors will be protected under this legislation, with no thanks whatsoever to Senator Killilea. I do not take it from him that he put it down. Opportunism is a marvellous thing when you implement it in the House but being able to deliver the goods is the most important thing. We delivered the goods. The workers in CIE know this and so also do the trade unions. The sections that are relevant to them are included in this legislation. I am pleased about this. This is the whole parlimentary process. I hope that when we have a further meeting with the people concerned they also will be satisfied.
It is an excellent Bill. I am delighted with the Minister of State's final commitment that he will look at the problems we spelt our for him in the final section of his amendments. It is our right to express reservations about any words we feel could be detrimental to the workers' representative's interests on the board. The Minister has given a commitment that between now and the time the Bill enters the other House the possibility of amendments being initiated there will be considered if that is deemed to be legally necessary. This is what I want to ensure would happen. If the Minister did not move his amendments, that possibility would have arisen in any case. There was no disagreement about this. There was the question of the process to achieve it. Because we were at the Report Stage of the Bill, the facility we would have on Committee Stage was not available to us to have the cut and thrust of debate. The only way we could achieve this was to have discussion. We had discussion. If we made history in the House, there is nothing wrong with that. If we do it in the overall interests of the legislation, I am delighted about that and so are the Labour Party. We have no apologies to offer to any Fianna Fáil Senator.
I should like to draw attention to the Order of Business decision this morning. Is it the intention to adjourn the House at 5.30 p.m.?
It was the proposal that the House adjourn at 5.30 p.m. Indeed, at the commencement of the Final Stage of the Bill I had thoughts of adjourning before 5.30 p.m. If the position is that the Final Stage of the Bill can be wrapped up within the next five or ten minutes, then we should proceed to do so.
I never find difficulty in agreeing with the distinguished Leader of the House, Senator Dooge. I cannot say the same sometimes for the Deputy Leader. I do not have to be long-winded to say what I am going to say.
It is wrong that this Bill should be wrapped up this evening giving the impression that Fianna Fáil tried to block, or not help the legislation going through the House. I happened to be in the Chair when this decision was taken. I have been upbraided regarding who spoke when and how many times before that adjournment took place. The Minister came back and talked. He gave us — which I thought was a little unfair — nearly a lecture on the procedures of this House and how democratic it is to participate in debate. I totally accept that but it is not like this Minister to lecture us. The few of us on this side of the House who did participate — and, indeed, the few on the other side — did so in good faith. That is when we end up with a better Bill.
It would be wrong, even if Senator Ferris is responsible for this being a better Bill, if this House adjourned when this legislation has gone through, without all of us acknowledging the part played by the Government partners, the Opposition, and others such as Senator Killilea. I am not referring to myself.
I am referring to the Deputy Leader's remark. We have found during this session in this House that we do not play party politics and we come out with better legislation. In future persons would be better not to use the expression "I am going out with a better Bill this evening". It is the Seanad that is going out with a better Bill this evening, I would hope.
Very briefly, with regard to what Senator Honan said about my giving the House a lecture, I am sorry that she interpreted it in that fashion. I was simply attempting to be a little bit more vigorous than usual in responding to Senator Killilea, which I felt Senator Killilea would expect me to do.
In his contribution just now Senator Killilea made two main points. One was about the future of the railways, or, as he might put it, the lack of future of the railways under the new legislation, and the other point was about the three subsidiaries, instead of two. With regard to the retention of the railway, I should say that these proposals are designed to ensure the future of the railway. That does not mean that we are not going to ask for a better performance from the railways. The new organisational structure does not mean that the railways and the provincial buses will go their separate ways. They will continue to be dependent on each other as they are at present. Disruptive competition will not be permitted by the Board. It must be emphasised that the board of CIE will have the key role in approving the plans of the companies and supervising their performance. This will, of course, automatically embrace the scope and extent of competition.
The point has been made by several people about the three companies, instead of two. The units are smaller and more manageable. It is possible to have more precise objectives with the management and provide scope for more intensive effort in the separate managements. Overall, the Bill has emerged in a considerably amended fashion. I get the impression that Ministers down the years would rather see a Bill emerge intact from either House. I never had that opinion myself. As a commentator and observer of this without being a practitioner, I always felt a certain amount of resentment towards a Minister, when good solid points were being made, when he would have no give, but would stay solemnly with the brief that he had in front of him and not alter it in the slightest in deference to logically sound arguments from the other side.
You did not alter too much today when the pressure was put on you.
The Bill has been amended considerably. There is no doubt about that. The Minister, in the earlier stages, has been very receptive to ideas and gone along with them. I believe that it is, over all, a good day's work, both for the course of legislation and also for the company whose affairs are being altered through this legislation.