Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill, 1996: Report and Final Stages.

A Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except the proposer of an amendment who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. Each amendment must be seconded.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 13, between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following:

"(i) a nominee of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce".

The Minister heard my views on this matter on Committee Stage. I am excited about the Dublin docklands development and I congratulate the Minister on the concept behind it. Our amendments simply seek to improve the legislation.

The success of the scheme will depend on something different from the traditional solid, secure but unenterprising traditions associated with some local development authorities in the past. I am pleased there has been a strong response to many of the developments which were proposed in the Lower House and in the Seanad in order to ensure that the council which runs the development will have economic regeneration at the top of its priorities.

On previous occasions I have criticised the composition of the council. It appears to be composed largely of those who represent the past rather than the future. On Committee Stage I said the interest of Bord Gáis results from the fact that it owns the gasometers and the surrounding land. That body will not be among the movers and shakers of the development. I had a similar view about the involvement of the ESB. Both are major landowners in the area and it is important that they get the best value for their land. However, they will not represent the people who will make this development happen. If there are to be tourism and leisure activities, small enterprises and other developments, they will not be generated from the past but from the future. We are seeking to secure the economic regeneration of Dublin's docklands. It would be ridiculous to appoint a board that did not include the type of people who will make these developments occur, and the activities and enterprises we hope to generate are not those we expect Bord Gáis or the ESB to provide. Such developments will be generated by people who already concentrate on and have experience in creating tourism, leisure and enterprise activities.

I tried to think about the type of person who would fit that description and Harry Crosbie came to mind. Harry Crosbie came from and owned land in the area. His development of the Point Depot has been a marvellous success in creating tourism and leisure activity. He did that because of the type of person he is. He is the typical example of the type of person we want to get involved in the docklands development. If we do not guarantee a space for the many Harry Crosbies of this world, by including people who generate their own businesses and remain in the area, there is a danger of a future Government appointing people to those positions who are not of the same calibre.

When the Chamber of Commerce proposed that it should nominate at least one person to the council, it appeared to be an ideal arrangement. IBEC would be an equally suitable nominating body. There are 25 members of the council and places have been guaranteed for Bord Gáis, CIE, the ESB and two civil servants, one of whom will represent the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. A place is not guaranteed for a civil servant to represent the Department of Enterprise and Employment, a most important Department in this regard. There are also no guaranteed places for other State agencies such as Forbairt or IDA Ireland. Most importantly, there is no guaranteed place for enterprise or business, and this amendment seeks to guarantee such a place.

Much of the property in the area is privately owned. The majority of the money that will be invested in the development will come from the business sector. Dublin Chamber of Commerce is by far the most broadly based and respected business organisation in Dublin. It has been claimed that if Dublin Chamber of Commerce is given a place on the authority, there would be multiple demands from other organisations. That is not plausible. There is no business organisation in Dublin that is comparable in size to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. If it is proposed to widen private sector representation, other organisations can be considered. However, at the minimum, a permanent place for Dublin Chamber of Commerce is essential. The case is so strong I urge the Minister of State to give it serious consideration. It would not set a precedent. The Dublin Docklands development will achieve a great deal more with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce represented on it.

I endorse what has been said by Senator Quinn. I second the amendment.

The case was adequately put but special pleading is special pleading, however eloquently it is put. If one follows the debate on this issue the entrepreneurial spirit to which Senator Quinn referred is a prerequisite to the successful development of the Dublin Docklands but to put forward a case that Dublin Chamber of Commerce, however worthy a body it may be, has such special expertise that it should have a reserved place on the council rather than be one of the nominating bodies, is going too far. Chambers of commerce around the country differ enormously by reputation and their contributions to the local economy.

Senator Quinn is fortunate he is an Independent Member but those of us involved in politics and looking at interaction between groups know that business politics is alive and well in such bodies. It does not automatically follow that, because one reserves a place on an authority for the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, one will necessarily get the person best equipped to deliver the package the Government wants.

The Senator mentioned 25 places but there were many groups who felt they should as a right have a designated seat on the council. I respect the fact Senator Quinn is openly promoting the case of one specific body; it is part and parcel of why we are here. However, I urge the Minister of State not to accept this amendment. I accept the Senator's point in regard to the State but I said previously the State is a major player and the inclusion of the Civil Service is stretching it too far. The Government has a strong claim to its representation on behalf of the taxpayer.

I accept that.

Because there is a possibility the amendment may be lost is not a good reason for pressing it. It is wrong in principle and the chamber of commerce should take its place among those groups on the council who are as deserving and dynamic as its members.

During the debate on this Bill in the Dáil and in the course of earlier debate in this House, I explained that with so many organisations concerned with the economic development of the docklands area it would be impossible to provide each with a place on the council. However, provision is made in section 16 (5) (a) for organisations of this nature to be prescribed for the purpose of selecting candidates for appointment to the council. The Minister has previously undertaken to include the Dublin Chamber of Commerce when regulations for the purpose of that section are being made. I reiterate that undertaking. On the basis of the Minister's undertaking, Fianna Fáil withdrew a similar amendment in the Dáil. I respectfully ask Senators opposite to do likewise with this amendment.

None of that will exclude people, such as Harry Crosbie, from the membership of this council. There will be several opportunities for such people to be represented on the council.

I appreciate the Minister's comments. However, it is not as though there have not been fixed places on the council. There have been a number. Senator Magner has just referred to them and I fully support them. Departments and other State bodies should be represented. However, they are not the bodies to represent the State. It does not make sense to exclude the business world, the sector which will make this area work.

The Senator knows the business world will be represented on the council.

It may well be that this Government will make sure the business community is represented on it but are we sure a Government of the future will do likewise? We do not have that guarantee. If the Minister of State is going to guarantee some places, the business community which will make this area work should be guaranteed a place. The original plans for the Custom House Docks were grandiose and were not carried out.

There is little doubt that tourism and leisure will make this area successful. If one looks back at the plans in existence ten years ago for the Custom House one will find they worked very well but not in the way that had been initially thought. It will come about through small active businesses. If we are to have fixed places for the State there must be at least one guaranteed fixed place for the business entrepreneurial area. I urge the Minister of State to accept that.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 18.

  • Bohan, Eddie.
  • Byrne, Seán.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Dardis, John.
  • Farrell, Willie.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Francis.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Fitzgerald, Tom.
  • Kiely, Dan.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Lanigan, Mick.
  • Lee, Joe.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • Quinn, Feargal.

Níl

  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Cashin, Bill.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Gallagher, Ann.
  • Kelly, Mary.
  • McAughtry, Sam.
  • Magner, Pat.
  • Maloney, Seán.
  • Manning, Maurice.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ross, Shane P.N.
  • Townsend, Jim.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Fitzgerald and Quinn; Níl, Senators Burke and Magner.
Amendment declared lost.
Government amendment No. 2:
In page 17, between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following:
"(4) (a) In making a draft master plan available under section 24 (4) it shall be a function of the Authority to make the plan available electronically in a form that is compatible with the World Wide Web or like form, and in such other form as the Authority considers appropriate.
(b) Following the laying of accounts under section 44 or reports under section 45, it shall be a function of the Authority to make such reports and accounts available electronically in a form that is compatible with the World Wide Web or like form, and in such other form as the Authority considers appropriate.".

On Committee Stage, Senator Quinn tabled a number of amendments concerning dissemination of information by the authority on the world wide web. I indicated my acceptance of the amendment and asked that the amendment be stated in tighter legal language and this amendment is in that form.

I appreciate this. I am convinced we should lose no opportunity in making the Dublin docklands seen to be the opportunity of the future. I am impressed by the Minister of State's immediate response. I appreciate his ongoing interest and positive response to ensure the docklands development will be for the 21st century rather than the 19th. The Minister of State's immediate response is greatly appreciated.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 32, to delete lines 5 to 25.

This amendment is designed to delete section 39. We have strong objections to the bias in the section against members of local authorities. They make a significant contribution towards the management and organisation of the work of authorities. Such a section as this is unfair as it discriminates against members of local authorities.

I commend this amendment and support it. In the last debate on the Universities Bill, I took great exception to a point made by Senator Ross when he in effect said that to be involved in political life is to find oneself excluded from public office or holding office on bodies of this sort. All this amendment does is to state that those involved in public life, with the expertise, experience and commitment that involves, will not be excluded from serving on an authority of this sort.

Senator Daly moved this amendment last night and it is one with which I agreed. For too long we have accepted that it is par for the course to exclude public representatives when, as the Leader said, it is wrong in principle. That they are public representatives sets them apart in terms of their contribution to their local areas, regions and nation. If people are fit and the public sees them as fit to be elected, they ought to be fit to serve on boards in that capacity or any other they choose. I support the amendment. As I said last night to Senator Daly, it is valuable and has cross party support.

I second the amendment. I welcome the deletion from the Bill of the section which excluded public representatives from the board. I am delighted there was no division on it because, very soon, we will all have to knock on the doors of local authority members seeking their support for re-election, which is one important issue which should be thought of. As well as that, it is ludicrous to exclude them. I do not know why these sections are included in legislation. It has happened on several occasions and we have called a combined halt today. I am delighted the Minister of State accepts the amendment.

I urge the Minister of State to accept the amendment. He has been a member of a local authority for many years and he knows better than anyone the workings of such authorities. That a person has the courage to go before the public to be elected should stop them being a member of an authority such as the Dublin Docklands Development Authority is ludicrous. No section of Society should be excluded from being appointed to a board, especially a person who has the courage to go before the people and be successfully elected. I urge the Minister of State to accept the amendment and delete the section from the Bill.

I spent some time moving amendments urging the Minister of State to include people so as to help the Dublin docklands work, because we need the best people. It is ridiculous to pass something which would exclude someone who might be the best person. I urge the Minister of State to accept the amendment.

I appreciate the Minister of State's acceptance of the amendment because any person who stands successfully for election deserves to be recognised by being included on these boards. There is a recent trend of excluding them, although they are at the mercy of their electorate. The Minister of State, being a public representative, knows that position.

On the basis of the case made by Senators on both sides of the House on section 39, which this amendment seeks to delete, I have discussed it with the Minister; he has reconsidered the provision and will accept the amendment. I was in favour of the case made by Senators last night. As a councillor for 14 years on a voluntary and unpaid basis — I am excluded from being one now by virtue of the office I hold — it was a source of constant anger and frustration among councillors that legislation was regularly passed by the House of the Oireachtas which excluded them from positions. The rot set in with the Planning Appeals Board. That was understandable because it should not have members of the planning authorities on it where there is a conflict of interest. But that standard section was included in other legislation and went unnoticed by either House or the Minister's office and did much damage.

The discussion last night and tonight demonstrates there is value in the debate in this House, where legislation is examined in a detailed way and valuable contributions are made. It has had the effect in this case of having three or four amendments made to the Bill during the debate. I welcome the proposal from Senator Daly and Senator Fitzgerald and I am glad to accept it. There are consequential numbering amendments made to it by the draftsman.

I hope Fianna Fáil will not allow the Progressive Democrats to abolish it.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration and passed.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Next Tuesday at 2.30 p.m.