——but when I walked into the meeting today a few minutes before 2 p.m., I was handed a letter the Bar Council sent to the chairman of the committee enclosing the submission the Minister had last Wednesday, a copy of which I had sought directly from the Bar and the Minister. Neither the Minister nor the Minister's office had the courtesy to respond to that and provide me with a copy of the submission. The letter from me to the Minister's office was faxed last Thursday afternoon after we had dealt with this matter. The letter to the Bar Council was also faxed to them. At 2.01 p.m. I received a copy of the submission but, more interestingly, I received a copy of correspondence which, as I tried to explain to Deputy McGennis, apparently circulates to all members of the committee, in which I engaged with the Bar Council for two years about the particular issue which is the subject matter of this amendment. That correspondence is not comprehensive because it does not include some of the correspondence but it does, in fairness, include most of it.
I did not know that correspondence would be so circulated and as I am only now privy to the detailed submission the Bar Council made to the Minister, which is obviously substantially influencing the Minister's opposition to the amendment, and, in fairness to the Bar Council, and as this issue appears to be one that gives it cause for great angst, we should give it the opportunity to come in here and make its case. If I had received this documentation a few days ago I would have contacted Deputy McGennis and advised her that I thought that was the way the committee should proceed. It appears it is the submission from the Bar Council, together with whatever interpretation it is putting on correspondence I had with it, which is producing the Minister's opposition to this amendment.
It is in the public interest that the views of the Bar Council on this issue be given a public airing and that members of this committee have the opportunity to raise any questions they might deem relevant on it because this is not about doing business for the benefit of either solicitors or barristers but about the public interest, not vested interest. Our job is to act in the public interest. Also, we should not be unfair to any group, including the Bar Council. It has made a case to us. It has decided to publish certain correspondence and in the context of that, it should come in here and make that case. I would be happy for the Bar Council to make submissions to us early next week and for us to complete the Bill later in the week. I have no wish to hold up dealing with the Bill, but it is extraordinary that we should receive this amount of documentation at the commencement of a meeting. I doubt if Deputy McGennis or other Fianna Fáil members of the committee had an opportunity to read it. It included a copy of a letter that allegedly was being sent to me, which I have not received. I received this documentation only by dint of the fact that it went to the committee secretariat.