Is there a Financial Resolution?
Córas Beostoic agus Feola Bill, 1979: Committee Stage.
Not on this one I think.
Why is there no Financial Resolution?
I do not really know.
There was one with the other two Bills. A levy is being charged in this Bill as well. I assume a Financial Resolution is necessary.
I am not sure.
It is the Minister's problem.
If there is I will have to get a Minister to move it.
It is not before us at the moment, and whether there is one I cannot say.
I notice that "livestock" means bovine animals and sheep but sheepmeat in the EEC includes goats as well as sheep. I should like to know whether livestock includes goats as well as bovine animals and sheep. I understand that a small amount of goat production takes place here, some of which is located in my constituency. Why are goats not included in this legislation? I am aware that in the legislation which governs slaughtering premises some premises are licensed for the slaughtering of goats. In fact, a premises has been licensed specifically for that purpose.
Goats are not included in the Bill.
Even though they are included as sheepmeat in the EEC?
Has the Department ever considered including goats?
I doubt if they have because the possibility of exporting goats from here is very remote. I do not believe it will ever arise but if we reach a stage when we have to employ our energies and resources to the export of goats the Bill can be amended to include them.
I realise that this esoteric suggestion may give rise to a certain amount of mirth but I can assure the Minister that there are people involved fulltime in this industry. I know one person in my constituency who lives on a small farm and is involved in producing a special breed of goat for their skins. Goats should have been included within the terms of reference of CBF so that one statutory agency could be responsible. The CBF may not do anything about goat production in the immediate future, unless they were requested to do so, but as we are preparing legislation which is supposed to have lasting effect, it is appropriate to include goats here if they are not included in the terms of reference of a similar promotional agency. It would not cost anything to include goats in the definition section, and it could be of benefit in the future. Will the Minister consider this matter between now and Report Stage?
I will consider it but I do not think there is any need to include goats because the possibilities are so remote.
They are not. I know of people who are engaged in this industry in my constituency. I visited one of the farms in question. The Minister should not dismiss this in a light-hearted fashion.
I will have a look at this matter before Report Stage.
Amendment No. 1 meets amendment No. 2 and they may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, subsection (1), paragraph (d), line 26, to delete "export or provide for the exportation" and to substitute "purchase for export and export for sale, or provide for the purchase for export and the exportation for sale".
During the course of the debate on Second Stage Deputy Bruton made a point that while CBF was being given the power to export it was not being given specific power to buy and sell. The amendment is intended to remove any doubt on this score and I trust it meets the point made by the Deputy on Second Stage.
I am pleased that the Minister has taken note of the point I made.
This section establishes the functions of the board and there appears to be a tremendous amount of duplication in it. The section states that the functions of the board shall be to develop, promote, facilitate, encourage, co-ordinate and assist in the export of livestock and meat. It seems to be the desire of the draftsman to use three words where one will suffice.
Under subsection (1) (g) the board may provide or arrange for the provision of publicity, advertising and promotional campaigns in the State to increase consumption but I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the consumption of meat here has fallen since 1974. During that time the consumption of meat in other countries has gone up. Therefore, there is a need for somebody to do something to encourage more people to consume meat. On the other hand, I see a difficulty in funds being used by the State to encourage people to consume a number of alternative products because if they consume one they will not consume another.
The levy is being used to finance the promotion of all such products. There is potential waste there. Will domestic promotion work be financed exclusively from the CBF levy or will it be financed by a grant from the State? If the latter applies does the Minister see the possibility of taxpayers' money being used simultaneously to promote partially contradictory objects? People cannot at one meal consume chicken, beef and pork which they are being encouraged to do by the State at the same time.
The section sets out the functions of the board in detail. It incorporates all the existing functions of the present CBF, market, promotion and development together with the provision of market intelligence. In its new and enlarged role the board will be able to involve itself in a wider fashion in promotional work, including promotion on the home market and to engage to a limited extent in the trading of livestock and meat products, including trial shipments. A subsidiary body may be established for this purpose. It is not intended that the CBF should compete with existing exporters and CBF will not have an exclusive marketing role in the export market. It will, initially, confine its efforts to third country markets. The limitations are contained in the phrase: "to such extent and to such markets as the Minister may from time to time direct." The levy is being collected from domestic butchers, and it is only fair that there should be some promotion in the home market as well as in the international market. They would have a role to promote the sale of meat in the home market as well as in the export market.
I have reservations about some aspects of this section. Under this section the Minister shall direct CBF as to what markets they may or may not trade in. This is giving the Minister a fair degree of discretion, and I feel it would be better to phrase that in some other way whereby the criteria on which the Minister would give this direction would be laid down. A Minister could direct them to trade in one market where they would be in competition with a certain private exporter but not to trade in another market so as not to be in competition with an exporter who might be more friendly with the Minister. I know the Minister would say that that is not the intention, but he will agree that it is technically possible. There is no requirement on the Minister to publish the reasons for making a direction or to follow any statutory criteria in the exercise of his discretion, and that is objectionable.
Paragraph (1) of subsection (1) says that the board may
establish, with the consent of the Minister, such subsidiary body or bodies as may be necessary to engage in the export of livestock and meat.
Do those subsidiary bodies have powers which the parent, the CBF, do not have? There seems to be a possibility that the functions of the House in laying down in great detail the functions of the board can be completely circumvented by the board simply with the consent of the Minister establishing a subsidiary body which would not be constrained in any way by the functions set out in paragraphs (a) to (k). It should be stated in paragraph (1) that any subsidiary body so established must function within the terms of reference of the board. It is highly anomalous and incorrect that a subsidiary body should be capable of functioning more broadly than its parent, and yet in the terms of the section as it is drawn that seems to be possible.
Deputy Bruton questioned the decision to give the Minister power to promote. The Minister will have to keep an eye on EEC aspects, and this will influence his decision about markets. That is why the Minister needs some control. The subsidiary bodies mentioned by Deputy Bruton will be subject to the overall control of the board and they will not have any greater influence than the board.
But will they be able to perform functions that the board will not be able to perform?
I do not think so.
Would the Minister be more precise? We want to know.
The subsidiary bodies set up will be carrying out a trading role, as the Minister pointed out in his Second Reading speech, but they will be subject at all times to the control of the board.
That is not the point. The Minister should answer the question. I know they are subject to this control of the board but the board is subject to this House, in what they may do, through the functions delegated by this House. Could this subsidiary body, albeit under the control of the board, perform functions which the board cannot perform because such functions were not delegated to the board in paragraphs (a) to (k) inclusive? The Minister should be able to give me a categoric yes or no.
No. The position is that the board have power under section 4 (1) (d) and they delegate those powers to the subsidiary body.
I can take it from what the Minister is saying that power which the board does not already have will not be given to a subsidiary body? Is that definitely so?
That is definitely so.
I am not happy with section 5, which says that the Minister may from time to time by order give the board additional functions. This order does not have to be approved by the House. It is entirely wrong that a semi-State body should be capable of being set up without the detailed procedure of scrutiny and investigation used in relation to the functions we are giving to this board, because of section 5 of this Bill.
I agree with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Bruton. We have gone to a lot of bother to get this Bill together. To build in a section whereby we can change the functions of the board without reference to the Houses of the Oireachtas is a mistake. I worked on a number of such boards and from my experience I feel that any major change of functions should be subject to the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas so as to give the democratically elected Members a say in relation to functions. The Minister should amend this section so that only certain types of orders could be made.
The Minister should use the approval procedure rather than the annulment one.
There is nothing new in this. The order must be laid before the House under subsection (3). The Minister cannot give the board new functions, but only functions incidental to those they already have. This power is already in the Dairy Produce Marketing Act, for instance. There is nothing new to be afraid of in this.
I would accept that if section 5(1) said that the Minister may from time to time, by order, assign to the board such additional functions in relation to livestock or meat as are incidental to or consequential on the functions assigned to the board by this Act, but the section says "as he considers to be incidental to or consequential on—". The Minister may consider anything in defiance of reason but once he considers it he has the power under this section to add these functions to the board. If the Minister is sustaining that argument he should remove the words "as he considers to be" and put in "as are incidental" instead.
That is not necessary because the Minister will still have to give them this extra function. Changing the wording of this section will not make any difference to that. The order will have to be laid before the House and that is a sufficient safeguard.
Unfortunately this is an area where political influence is inclined to take over. I should like to ask the Minister in regard to subsection (3) (b) which reads:
three persons who shall represent the producers of bovine animals and sheep who shall be appointed by the Minister on the nomination of such organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of such producers,
if he considers them not to be representative of these producers what is his next move? Has the Minister authority then to say that this man is not representative of that area, and appoint a nominee himself? No, I see it is the organisations who select the nominees whom the Minister then appoints. However I am fearful of a situation in which the Minister might not accept an organisation representative, when he might select somebody himself. I should like the Minister to say if that is possible.
The Minister will decide what organisations he would consider to be representative of the various interests to be covered by seven of the board members. The organisations would then nominate their representatives. I cannot think of any case in which a Minister would refuse to accept a nominee of a particular organisation unless there was something radically wrong. If the organisation in question feel that the person nominated is the person who should represent them on the board, I do not think the Minister would have any objection, provided he was a person deemed fit to carry out the functions assigned to him as a member of the board.
If the Minister considered him unsuitable to be a member of the board then what would be the procedure? That is not specified here.
He would have to ask them to nominate somebody else.
That is not stated here because the final wording of the relevant paragraph says:
...as the Minister considers to be representative of such producers,
If that is to be the procedure, then it should be stated. Am I correct in saying that the Minister need not accept them? As the Bill stands he need not accept them. From there on I should like to know what is the procedure.
I suppose the Minister would have to be satisfied that the person being nominated was somebody who would be representative of the organisation putting forward the name, first of all, and, secondly, that the person nominated by such organisation would be a fit person to act as a member of the board.
And if he did not consider him fit?
If he did not consider him fit, the organisation would have to nominate somebody else.
Is that the procedure?
That would be the procedure.
I take it he would only be able to do that if he felt that the organisation had not been democratic in coming to a decision? I take it he would not object to people on personal grounds or anything like that?
It is my belief that if one selects an organisation, the decision as to who they nominate should be left to their discretion without too much interference by the Minister. The Minister is attempting to set up this board, giving these organisations a certain amount of say on it but he is still retaining the last word for himself as far as these members are concerned. To a certain extent I do not see any sense in it: either the Minister accepts the nominees of the different organisations or he does not.
In 99 cases out of 100 I would say the Minister would accept the nomination of an organisation. I do not know why Deputy D'Arcy should think that the Minister would reject a name put forward by any organisation. If the Minister seeks a nomination from an organisation, he will accept it unless there is something very radically wrong with the person nominated.
Then what is the need for the stipulation in the Bill that a nominee must be accepted by the Minister?
I suppose in the remote possibility of the nominee being put forward being unsuitable, then the Minister would have the final say. But I should think that is a very remote possibility.
It is my belief that the chairman of the board should be appointed for a five-year term and not three. I say that in the knowledge that the first chairman of this new board probably will be appointed by Deputy Gibbons rather than by a member from this side of the House. Neither do I believe there should be a staggering of the term of office whereby some people retire each year. Rather I believe that the entire board should be appointed for five years, giving them that period in which to do a good job. At the end of that period, if they have not done so, they can then be thrown out. But the idea of some people coming in, others going out, some having to read themselves into the job for a year; then by the time they have done so somebody else has come in who is a novice who holds up meetings in order to have things explained to him; by the time he has read himself in somebody else has gone and another new person appeared who must be helped to learn the ropes is ridiculous. Anyway the meat business is fairly technical. Anybody serving on such a board should be there sufficiently long to master the subject. I shall not press the issue because, the shorter the term as far as we are concerned politically, the better. But it is not in the interests of CBF that it should be a three-year term only.
I agree with Deputy Bruton that a three-year term is very short. People become useful only when they have learned the workings of the board itself, then their term of office may cease at the point at which they are becoming useful. I would advocate, as did Deputy Bruton, a five-year term all round which would be more beneficial to the board in the long-term. It takes anybody at least one year to learn anything about the work and, in a three-year period, that leaves them only two years in which to contribute.
Am I correct in thinking that the staggering of the term of office of members of the board will apply initially only, or will it continue? I note that subsection (2) (a) says:
the persons who are first appointed by the Minister to be ordinary members of the Board shall hold office as follows:
(a) three of such members shall hold office for the period of one year from the date of their appointment,
Is this one year a once-off thing while the board is being established? I should like to be clear on that point. Certainly a one-year term for anybody is hopeless. I think it is specified when the board is first established; is that correct?
What Deputy D'Arcy says is correct.
It is a once-off thing?
It is really a three-year term then?
They are still going to be staggered, with a person going off each year; will they not? The staggering will not continue indefinitely, I hope?
The three-year period will apply from there on?
One-third of the board will retire each year.
Every year, forever?
But each member will still serve on the board for a three-year term. I believe that a five-year term would be far more beneficial to the board and its members in the long-term.
I have no strong feelings on this. However, I do not accept that a three-year term is too short because, if you got a bad chairman, you might be very glad to get rid of him after three years and appoint somebody else. There is nothing to stop the board from reappointing that chairman after the third year if he is doing a good job. Any member can be reappointed, including those who retire after the first year. Therefore the opportunity exists for them to reappoint a member or the chairman, if they so wish, after the third year.
The Minister should be required to make a statement of the reasons for the removal of any member from the board in exercise of the powers contained in this section. He should have to lay such a statement before this House because this is a fairly extreme power.
I do not think I can make any statement on this section because this is a standard provision which is put in as a safeguard. There might be various reasons why a person could be removed from the board. I am sure Deputy Bruton could name a few people and I do not want to start listing them here. It is only right that this provision is included so that if anybody is misconducting himself he can be removed.
Will the remuneration for the members of this board be related to any particular board? I always felt that members who gave freely of their time should get a little remuneration.
This has not been decided yet.
There should be some system whereby members of boards would get the same remuneration. The amount of work to be done by each board should be taken into consideration when deciding on remuneration. It is a ridiculous state of affairs when one board is paid £300, another £700 and another £1,200.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 8, line 19, to delete "as soon as may be" and substitute "four months".
This amendment is designed to set a time limit within which the board must present their annual report. I did a study of the presentation of reports by various subsidiary bodies to this House and found some truly horrendous cases of bodies which have been in receipt of very large amounts of public funds not presenting their reports literally for years afterwards. I have in mind a health board which must have a budget in the region of £30 million or £40 million which still have not presented their accounts for 1974-75 to this House. That is a disgraceful situation.
One body under the aegis of the Minister for Agriculture, An Foras Talúntais, presented their report for one year 18 months late. Under the provisions of the Companies Act a private company must present their report to the Companies Office within 60 days of the annual general meeting which must take place each year. If they do not, their officers will be prosecuted.
We are talking about public companies which are spending large amounts of public funds. Yet they can delay the presentation of their reports to this House. That is a disgraceful situation. We must make it clear to the officers and members of boards in receipt of public funds that they are ultimately responsible to this House and that they would not exist were it not for the authority of this House. They must not think they can delay presenting their accounts for six months, eight months or a year and adopt an easy-going attitude.
I want to put it on record that if CBF are set up soon, I will be looking out to see that their reports are presented in time. If they are not, I will be exposing the matter in this House as I have done in relation to other bodies which have not been presenting their reports. If these companies do not present their reports to this House within a reasonable period in my view they are not showing due regard to the fact that their authority ultimately derives from this House and through this House from the people. They must report back to this House on how they are spending public money.
My amendment which requires CBF to present their accounts to this House within four months is reasonable and gives them sufficient time to get their accounts together. This amendment should be accepted and this could be used as a model for other companies in respect of future legislation governing them. If a company cannot get their accounts together within four months there is something radically wrong.
While I agree that CBF should produce their annual report with the minimum of delay, I do not think we need tie them to a specific time limit. The existing provision requiring the board to report as soon as may be seems adequate. We do not want the board to be in breach of the law if circumstances entirely beyond their control should hold up the production or printing of the report. For that reason I cannot accept the amendment.
Would the Minister include the phrase "except in exceptional circumstances"? If there is a strike we do not expect the report to be on the floor of the House. This is a reasonable request. These reports are out of date when they come to this House.
I want to make it clear that what I am saying is not a criticism of CBF because so far most of their publications have come out promptly. This is a general matter.
I agree that they should be expected to present their reports and I am sure the board will insist on doing that, but it is not necessary to tie them down to a specific time. Many things can happen which, through no fault of the board, would deprive them of the opportunity of presenting their report at the given time. For that reason the Bill as it is worded is sufficient.
Where does the Minister envisage subsection (2) being used? Is that power frequently used?
It is usual for the board to submit their annual report, and that is accepted. It is only in exceptional circumstances that information regarding the performance or the functions of the board would be asked for.
Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 8, subsection (1), lines 28 to 30, to delete all words from and including "provided" in line 28 down to and including "£5,000,000" in line 30.
There seems to be a difficulty here in that there is an upper limit stated of £5 million in the amount that the board may borrow for capital purposes but no upper limit in what they may borrow for non-capital purposes. That seems anomalous. It should be the other way round. There should be an upper limit on what they can borrow for non-capital purposes, because non-capital purposes by definition usually do not have a builtin rate of return whereas a capital purpose does. The £5 million limit should have applied to all borrowings for both capital and non-capital purposes. Generally, regarding borrowing, I am in some doubt as to whether a board such as this should be borrowing for current purposes. I am not too sure about it.
Acceptance of these amendments would restrict the commercial freedom of the CBF. They might not then be able to cope with exceptional situations and this would be most undesirable. There are many instances of statutory bodies where it has been found necessary to return to the Oireachtas to amend sums of money which when being fixed were considered adequate. I do not mean that CBF intend to use their borrowing powers to the full. The extent to which CBF will avail of this facility will be guided by good business practice.
Why is the £5 million limit there only for capital and not for current purposes?
I am advised that it is drafted on the advice of the Department of Finance and we are being guided by them on this matter.
We should be careful about the Department of Finance.
The Minister should be able to give a better answer. It seems ludicrous to go to the trouble of saying that they may not borrow more than £5 million for capital purposes—which seems reasonable because no body being financed by the State should have carte blanche to borrow as much as they like—and then come along and say that as long as it is for current purposes, which is not defined in this Bill anyway, they can borrow as much as they like. They can borrow £100 million so long as it is allegedly for current purposes. Once you have borrowed the money nobody knows what you are going to do with it. Therefore it is very hard to say whether it is borrowed for current purposes or for capital purposes. Once you borrow it you start spending it and it is only afterwards that you discuss the way it is to be used. It seems odd to have a limit of £5 million for capital and no limit for current.
They would have to have the concurrence of the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Finance before they could borrow.
For current purposes?
They have that also for capital purposes but there is a limit there. The logic that puts a limit of £5 million for capital purposes surely suggests that there should be a similar limit for current purposes.
The fact that it is subject to the concurrence of the Minister for Finance should be sufficient. He is not going to allow them to go on a spree unless it was absolutely necessary.
It is believable of the present Minister for Finance who has brought up our national debt to an unprecedented level——
He is very cautious when it comes to things like this.
——for things which are very scant in economic and social value. They may have been of some political value retrospectively as far as he was concerned. I would not have this blind faith that the Minister has in the Minister for Finance, or in any Minister for Finance, as far as borrowing is concerned, judging by our experience and by the very heavy level of national debt that we have at present. There should be a limit on non-capital borrowing.
I move amendment No. 6:
In page 9, before section 21, to insert a new section as follows:
"21.—No member of the Board or member of a committee of the Board shall have access to information which is or could be, in the opinion of the chief officer, of immediate commercial use in trade or business unless—
(a) it is being made simultaneously available generally or
(b) it is being made simultaneously available to all other members of the Board or committee of the Board either at or in association with a meeting of the Board or committee of the Board, as the case may be."
A member of this board can be a person engaged in the meat trade and it is possible that he—particularly if he is chairman because then he would have closer relations with the chief executive and with what is going on in the board than if he were an ordinary member—has the possibility of obtaining information through his membership of CBF in advance of other competitors of his obtaining the same information, notwithstanding the fact that both of them may be paying a levy the operating costs of CBF. It is wrong that a member of the board should have the possibility of obtaining this sort of information by virtue of his membership or chairmanship of that board. As it stands at the moment, it is possible for him to do so. The Minister may claim that the protection contained in section 20 meets the case. It does not. Section 20, which has just been approved, states:
A member of the Board who has any interest in any contract which the Board proposes to make shall disclose to the Board the fact of the interest and the nature thereof, and shall take no part in any deliberation or decision of the Board relating to the contract, and the disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the Board.
That only protects us from a member of the board getting a benefit in respect of a contract which is already in existence at the time the board are discussing it. I object to the possibility that a member of the board might be able, by using information which comes to him in the course of the performance of his duties as a member of the board, to get information which he could use subsequently to make a contract to his advantage which other people in competition, with him would not be able to do because they had not the privileged access to the information that he had. Section 20 only protects us from the abuse of position in respect of an existing contract, which is unlikely to be a common occurrence. It does not protect us from the possibility that in the future the person might be able to make a contract to his advantage using information obtained from CBF, which is far more likely to happen.
The whole function of CBF is to gather market information. Every day of the week they will be getting in information about good deals that are possible for people in the trade. They would be finding out through their agents in Paris, for example, that there is a possible means of disposing of certain kinds of beef in a certain part of the country if it can be produced to a certain specification and got there in a week or two weeks. There is the possibility that, if a member of the board is in a position through his membership to get information about this possibility of making a contract before other people in the same business in Ireland, he will be able to get there first with his offer and grab the contract for himself, rather than allow it to be made available to other people in Ireland. There was a discussion between Deputy Clinton and the Minister for Agriculture on this general matter and I do not wish to go back over that ground.
I believe there must be a safeguard contained in this amendment to prevent the situation whereby a member or chairman of the board could get information to his advantage which is not available to other people. I am not referring to general information about the state of markets but rather information of immediate commercial use. Such information should either be available simultaneously to anybody who chooses to contact CBF or, if that is not possible, it should be made available to all other members of the board at the same time. They would know exactly what information member A is getting which might be commercially to his or her advantage. If that individual is enabled to use the information to the detriment of others, other members will be able to raise the matter at subsequent board meetings and make sure that there is no disadvantage to people involved in the trade who are not members of the board.
I feel strongly that this amendment is necessary. If it is not accepted there will undoubtedly be a feeling among certain people in the trade that members of the board can get information which is not available to others and use it to their own advantage. That would be a very regrettable situation in this as in any other trade.
I agree with everything Deputy Bruton has said on this issue. It is an essential measure in order to protect the board. CBF may find themselves in a different position to enterprises such as Bord Báinne, who assemble produce in one area and sell it from there. CBF carry out a certain amount of research and board members have access to information. We are asking for a safeguard to ensure that the confidence of people is not broken as a result of particular information reaching board members.
The safeguards provided in sections 20 and 21, relating respectively to the disclosure of interests by board members and to the constraints on board members about disclosure of information, are adequate and will ensure that no advantage will accrue to individuals. Acceptance of this amendment would introduce unnecessarily cumbersome procedures and restrict the operational effectiveness of the board. I feel sure that the type of person nominated to the board will have the integrity to keep his personal interests quite separate from those of CBF.
The Minister is not meeting the case in saying that these two sections adequately deal with the situation. Section 20 gives protection only against people making use of their position in respect of contracts which already exist. I am not concerned about existing contracts but about the possibility of obtaining information to make new contracts subsequent to receipt of the information. Section 21 merely gives protection against a member of the board or an officer giving information to outside people which he should not give.
A member of the board who is also the chief executive of a meat factory does not have to give the information to a third party to make unfair and unethical use of it.
I appreciate that there is no easy answer to this problem but I am still convinced that the restrictions imposed in sections 20 and 21 are as far as we can go. We must accept that board members will get useful information. They will know what is happening in the meat trade and this will be useful to them if they have a particular interest. We have to assume that people nominated to the board have the integrity not to put this information to use for private profit. An individual board member will not be exclusively entitled to information. We cannot go any further in imposing restrictions.
I should like to discuss this matter privately with the Minister because I feel there is a genuine need for this provision. I should prefer to withdraw the amendment with a view to reintroducing it on Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 6a:
In page 9, before section 22, to insert a new section as follows:
"22.—(1) All contracts for the supply of goods, provision of services or carrying out of works entered into by the Board shall be awarded on the basis of open public tender except where another procedure is approved by the Minister.
(2) In any case where the Minister approves the entering into of a contract other than on the basis of open public tender he shall lay before the Dáil and publish in Iris Oifigiúil within fourteen days thereafter a statement indicating the fact that he has done so and the reasons for so doing.”.
This amendment has a similar purpose in that it is designed to prevent the possibility of corruption. In this case we are dealing with the giving of contracts by the board to outside bodies for the supply of goods, provision of services or carrying out of works entered into by the board. We are requiring that any contracts of this nature should be awarded on the basis of open public tender. Everyone in the trade must have an opportunity of obtaining the job. That is the reasonable procedure which the Government adopt in respect of contracts into which they enter and it should apply also within CBF.
There may be circumstances in which this is impossible because a decision must be made very quickly and it would not be possible to adopt the necessarily long procedures entailed in a public tender system. To meet that case we have provided for the possibility that another procedure may be approved by the Minister, in which case he shall lay before the Dáil and publish in Iris Oifigiúil within 14 days thereafter the reasons for so doing. The amendment provides that as a general rule contracts will be open to public tender but that in exceptional cases the Minister may approve another procedure and lay that fact before the House. This procedure would not prevent contracts being entered into quickly. When a body of this nature is involved in the awarding of contracts we must ensure that it is not possible for favouritism, political or otherwise, to be shown.
Acceptance of the amendment would seriously inhibit the board's performance of one of their main functions as a commercial organisation. It would be a departure from existing practice in the case of statutory bodies. Even the present board of CBF are not shackled in this way. Regulation of procedures for contracts is a matter which can safely be left to the discretion of the board, who will in this, as in other areas, be guided by what makes good commercial sense. The balance of interest represented on the board will ensure that all decisions about contracts will be arrived at in a fair and impartial manner for the good of the industry as a whole.
I am always raising this matter on this sort of Bill. The chief executive officer's salary is controlled by the Minister for the Public Service whereas the salaries of people junior to him and who may be required to accept orders from him are not controlled. I believe that in a particular board the chief executive was paid less than some of his subordinates. I would like an assurance that that will not happen and that the Minister for the Public Service will ensure that the chief executive has a reasonable salary.
A person who is engaged in trading like this has a very responsible job. The CBF will now be involved in trading. The chief executive should have a salary sufficient to enable him to remain in the job and also prevent him yielding to temptations to engage in outside activities or other activities which he should not be engaging in if he is to give his full time to his job. One of the reasons for paying public servants in general—I am not talking about CBF people only—an adequate salary is to prevent them being tempted to engage in other activities which they should not be engaging in and which would be in conflict with their duties.
It is very important that an adequate salary be paid to the chief executive and all other officers on this type of board to prevent them having this difficulty placed before them. They will be dealing on equal terms with chief executives in private companies. It is surely right that they should be paid an adequate salary.
The Devlin Committee look after the chief executive's salary. The board will be expected to ensure that there is reasonable head room between the chief and the lower officers' salaries. The board will have responsibility for that and I am sure that they will see to it that there is that degree of head room between the salary of the chief officer and that of the other officers.
If the Minister for the Public Service is unreasonable he could prevent that happening.
While the Devlin Committee look after the salaries of the officers of the board, problems have arisen as a result of the Devlin Committee on several State bodies. They found, as Deputy Bruton pointed out, that the subordinates had a greater salary than the chief executive of the board. Will the same thing happen on this board? Is it possible to have the salary of the chief executive officer fixed by the Department of Agriculture rather than by the Minister for the Public Service? How is the salary of the chief executive officer on the Dublin District Milk Board fixed?
I would not know about individual boards. As I said, the Devlin Committee look after the chief executive's salary.
Is the Minister absolutely certain that on some of those boards the chief executive officer's salary is not fixed by the Department of Agriculture?
I am not absolutely certain but they would have to make some reference to the Devlin Committee before the salary would be agreed.
Is the Minister certain of that?
This is the area where the actual amount to be collected is named. Are the Revenue Commissioners responsible for collecting at all export points? What is the position as far as the exportation of calves is concerned? Does the same amount apply to the exportation of calves as to cattle from the ordinary factories?
The Revenue Commissioners would be responsible for the collection of the levy on all live exports, including calves.
Is it 50p per calf as well?
Yes. It is a flat rate all round.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 11, between lines 38 and 39, before subsection (3), to insert the following subsection:
"(3) Any person who fails to comply with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500.".
There was a slight element of doubt about whether legal remedies would be available to compel people to observe the requirements of this section. There will now be a penalty of £500 for failure to make a correct return or to remit what is owed by way of levy. I hope it will not be proved to be necessary to invoke this subsection. Everybody concerned should recognise that it is in their best interest to pay the levy promptly to enable CBF to function effectively in promoting the livestock and meat industry.
In the previous Bill the Minister made a provision to cover a situation where the amount of cheque paid to a farmer from the factory concerned was less than the amount owed by him and the farmer was responsible for the levy. Is he responsible for the £500 fine if a case like this arises?
I hope it will never arise.
Suppose it arises?
It is not the farmer but the person who slaughters the animal who is responsible.
I accept that, but in the previous Bill there was a provision to cover the case where the amount of cheque paid to a farmer from the co-op is less than what he owes the co-op and the co-op may not stop any levy. In a case like that is the farmer responsible for the £500 fine?
He would not be responsible.
Would the co-op still have to pay?