Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 9 Dec 1980

Vol. 325 No. 4

Irish Film Board Bill, 1979: Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, line 2, after "activity" to insert "(including the establishment of a national film archive)".

During the Committee Stage I agreed, at the specific request of Deputies Quinn, Desmond and O'Toole, to introduce an amendment on Report Stage relating to the possibility of the film board becoming involved in the establishment of a national film archive. The amendment as drafted is in somewhat similar form to that which was included in the text of the Film Industry Bill, 1970. As I said on the earlier Stages of this Bill, I recognise that the establishment of a national film archive has merit and is a matter that the board will have to consider. However, for a number of valid reasons which I do not propose to repeat since they are on the record, I am opposed to the inclusion of a mandatory statutory obligation on the board to set up such an archive. I am satisfied that the amendment as drafted is such as to put down a marker in the legislation in relation to an archive without placing a specific statutory obligation on the board in this respect.

I trust that the Deputies will accept this amendment as an indication of my willingness to accommodate the alternative view on this subject as expressed in the House.

I am glad to note that the Minister has kept his promise to bring in this amendment on this Stage. While, as the Minister has said, there is no statutory obligation being put on the board to establish a national film archive, I should hope that the members of the board would realise the importance of such a facility in the context of the whole industry and that they would undertake at least to commence the collecting and the safeguarding of material which would ultimately find its way into a fully-fledged archive.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:

"(2) In so far as it considers it appropriate, the Board shall have regard to the need for the expression of national culture through the medium of film-making.".

During the Committee Stage also a number of Deputies recommended that the Bill should contain some reference to what I might refer to as an Irish dimension. In the course of my Second Stage speech, I indicated that there were certain difficulties in incorporating such a reference and that the original text of the Bill had been drafted deliberately in very broad terms. I am aware that the pressure to incorporate such an amendment comes mainly from a number of independent Irish film-makers who considered they should have a statutory right to the overwhelming part of the film finance fund. As I have said on innumerable occasions, I recognise that the board and the film finance fund should be used in part to further native film-making talent. Indeed, this is one of the principal reasons I proposed the establishment of an independent film board. However, one cannot disregard the interests of the National Film Studios and, for that reason, it seems to me it would be inappropriate to impose any statutory obligation on the board to favour any specific group and that it is most appropriate to leave it to the discretion of the board to decide which projects should be supported.

On Committee Stage I said I was prepared, if the parliamentary draftsman could come up with the appropriate words, to introduce an amendment on Report Stage containing a non-binding reference to an Irish dimension. I might add it has been extremely difficult to come up with a suitable amendment. The difficulty was in relation to the incorporation of the expression "film culture" as proposed in the amendment of Deputies Quinn and Desmond on Committee Stage. In the opinion of the draftsman, the expression "film culture" is a jargon phrase or a colloqialism which could be used in the precise context of a statute. In order to include an appropriate reference to an Irish dimension the draftsman borrowed from the phraseology of section 17 of the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960, where the expression "national culture" is used. The parliamentary draftsman is satisfied that the amendment now proposed is a non-binding one which nevertheless gives expression to an Irish dimension. I have some misgivings about the nature of this amendment and the fact that I am prepared to accommodate as far as possible the views of the Deputies and the independent Irish film-makers indicates I am adopting a reasonable and open-minded approach to this matter.

As the Minister has said, this is a non-binding amendment which expresses an aspiration that the board would have regard to the need for the expression of national culture through the medium of film-making. At the time the point made by this side of the House was that the absence of any reference to national culture, as now expressed in the amendment, would leave the board in a position where they might feel obliged not to give due regard to this aspect of their activity. The amendment, albeit a very broad and vague amendment for the reasons mentioned by the Minister, is now there.

The reasons for suggesting an amendment on these lines was not pressure from private sources engaged in the industry but that it was obvious from experience gained during the years that opportunities were not being given to personnel in the higher ranks of film-making, such as directors, producers and so on, by people who came to this country to make films here. We know that the training of such people and the experience they gain through involvement in the industry at these levels is of the utmost importance if we are to have a viable film industry.

That was the reason we requested an amendment on these lines. I am glad the Minister acceded to the request, albeit in a way which seems his heart is not in it. He gave reasons that were valid at the time, such as constraints due to our membership of EEC, for not being more specific on this matter. I hope that the board, when selected, will get the message as contained in the amendment now before the House.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 11, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

"(2) A directive under this section shall not relate to any artistic aspect of a film.".

On Committee Stage Deputies Quinn and Desmond put down an amendment to section 31. I accepted in general the principle involved and I undertook to put down a specific amendment on Report Stage. The amendment, as drafted, excludes any artistic aspect of a film from ministerial directives under section 31. I trust the amendment will remove the reservations of the Deputies in relation to the text of this section.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.