Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1990: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 6:
In page 2, lines 29 and 30, to delete "on such day as the Minister by order appoints" and substitute "not later than the 30th of April, 1991.".
—(Mrs. Barnes)

I would like to comment on the amendment which was being discussed in the House when the debate was adjourned. The purpose of the amendment is to speed up matters and, consequently, I am delighted with the thought behind it. However, I want to have freedom to name the commencement date, and while appreciating the urgency which the amendment suggests, I would not be able to accept the date of 30 April.

When proposing this amendment Deputy Barnes stated she would like to have the legislation enacted prior to the mayfly season. It does not appear——

It was Deputy Taylor-Quinn who said that.

I think it was Deputy Barnes. However, we will not fall out over it.

We can check that.

I am sure we will have more substantial matters——

The mayfly does not arrive in a carriage and four on 1 May.

I am sure we will have more substantial matters to dispute. However, the serious issue involved is that this legislation to regularise the position regarding fishing and rod licences has been a very long time coming. There is a very anomalous situation at the moment whereby the old legislation is still in place and a blind eye is being turned to its enforcement. Even those of us who are unhappy about the Bill had hoped legislation would have been put in place to regularise the position before this year's fishing season. I have a copy of the Bord Fáilte publication, Ireland of the Welcomes March-April 1991, which shows a gentleman and his dog heading out to fish, no doubt intended to give the impression that Ireland is all ready for the fishing season this year. I do not see sticking out of the man's pocket a rod licence or share certificate in a co-operative. The only thing missing is an indication that the position regarding fishing this season has not been regularised. It is not going to be regularised before this summer.

The more the Deputies talk the longer it will take.

It is not my talk that has delayed the Bill. We were a long time waiting for it to be introduced and a long time asking about it. We would have much less to talk about if the legislation was simple, amended the previous legislation and abolished the rod licence instead of reintroducing it through the back door, and through the vehicle of co-operatives, share certificates and so on.

Rubbish.

This side of the House would be happy to co-operate with the abolition of the rod licence had the Minister introduced legislation to do that. Unfortunately, he has not done so and the legislation he has introduced may, if anything, make the position worse.

Rubbish.

Members should not proceed towards Second Reading speeches which is not in order. They should confine their remarks to the amendment before us and the section involved, section 2, amendment No. 6.

Section 2 which deals with the bringing into effect of the legislation is what I am addressing. My point is that this legislation is not going to be in place for this year's fishing season. That is a matter of regret to me certainly and the Minister, and the Government, have to take responsibility for that.

I support fully the thrust of the amendment. I agree with the last speaker's views that it is a little unfortunate that we are moving forward only because the lack of this legislation has impeded the tourist industry and the hotel industry over the past three years since the fishing licence issue first arose. Like the last speaker and as an angler I am glad the legislation is before us, but I cannot understand why it took so long to do such a simple job. No matter what we say at this stage, the season is already well in progress and will be well advanced before the Bill is passed. If there is a lesson to learn from the entire affair it is that if a mistake is made we should take the corrective measures at an earlier stage and not wait until damage is done before we decide to climb down, do a Uturn or whatever is usually done in such situations.

This amendment is specific in that it signifies a date, a time. I support it because since 1987 we have had this legislation, which everyone has agreed was bad. It should have been amended earlier. I regret the Minister has said "rubbish". It is not rubbish. It is a fact of life that hoteliers, anglers, the general public and our image abroad have suffered. This amendment specifies a day by which to have this legislation amended and through the Dáil. Had common sense prevailed in 1987 we would not have this mess. The amendment states "not later than the 30th of April".

The matter is like The Forsyte Saga in that it is continuing session after session, year after year. Again, I regret the Minister has said “rubbish” to the amendment and to the co-operation he has received. I agree with Deputy Gilmore when he said that if simple amending legislation had been brought forward it would have been out of the way long before now and we would be back to where we were prior to 1987, and looking for co-operation from angling groups in order to promote angling as one of our greatest tourist attractions. In my view 30 April is a satisfactory date.

Members on this side have drawn the Minister's attention to the anomalous position we find ourselves in at the beginning of a very important fishing and tourist season. The fishing season starts around 30 April. Certainly, at the beginning of May, one of the most important angling festivals takes place with mayfly fishing. Yet, as my colleagues have pointed out, we find ourselves in the middle of April with no legislation that will indicate to local and visiting anglers here what are their legal entitlements. We are in limbo with regard to legislation. I appeal to the Minister to consider what is being put forward by other Members. The amendment is the most definite, satisfactory and adequate way to deal with this, considering the deadline we face and the unsatisfactory legislation being introduced to replace other unsatisfactory legislation.

We fear this legislation will not remove the difficulties, anomalies or frustrations that have been expressed about this Bill by the angling groups. We will face more confusion and rejection of the Bill. I appeal to the Minister to deal effectively with this by repealing the legislation and giving more thought to the response to this Bill from the angling fraternity and sorority. I am attempting to point out in amendment No. 6 that the Bill is running late.

There is tremendous dissatisfaction and the Opposition parties have the greatest fears about the acceptance and full implementation of the Bill. It has a sad history which we do not wish to repeat. I appeal to the Minister to consider this amendment which is designed to deal with the deadlines with regard to the fishing and tourism season this year. People will face great difficulties if they are not able to advise visiting anglers of the exact legal position. The Minister should take the amendment very seriously.

I said at the outset that I very much appreciated that Deputy Branes, in tabling this amendment, intended to show an urgency with regard to the Bill. Immediately the Bill is passed by both Houses and signed by the President its provisions will come into effect. This Bill is the fruit of long, detailed and punctilious conversations with the whole angling fraternity and sorority, as Deputy Barnes correctly puts it. The question of acceptance does not arise.

With regard to my stating that what Deputy Gilmore was saying was rubbish, the following is my reason. A licence is something imposed from above. The structure which I have built into this Bill——

Is also imposed from above.

——gives the power to the anglers themselves to take decisions specifically on the matter to which Deputy Gilmore referred.

It does not.

It gives them specifically the power in the co-operative to decide whether a share certificate is needed. If the Deputy is anxious to have this whole matter expedited, I would ask him to read section 3 which provides that a licence under the Principal Act shall not be required for trout or coarse fishing. That is the next section.

Leave it at that.

No, I will not leave it at that because I have put in place a structure for the protection of fisheries. The House and the Seanad will see the wisdom of that and I want it on the Statute Book as quickly as possible.

How stands this amendment?

In the light of the urgency of the Bill and of the substantive amendments which we will be addressing later, I will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 2 agreed to.
SECTION 3.
Question proposed: "That section 3 stand part of the Bill."

I wish to make some brief remarks particularly in the light of the Minister's last contribution. This section states that a licence under the Principal Act shall not be required for angling for trout or coarse fish. I agree absolutely with this provision and I do not believe it would be opposed by anybody on this side of the House. If the Minister agrees to withdraw the rest of the Bill and perhaps reintroduce its provisions at some later stage in another Bill, he can walk away after section 3 has been passed with a Bill which he can put to the Seanad and send to the President for signature. It would then be enacted in time for this year's tourist season.

This is the most significant section of the Bill since it abolishes the rod licence. This is the section we have been waiting for. The controversy will be over. The sections putting in place the co-operative system, the backdoor method of introducing charges for fishing by the issue of share certificates are, the Minister claims, the result of very detailed discussions. It is a clumsy compromise which will become unworkable. I can agree with section 3 and am quite happy to leave it at that.

The 1987 Act provides that people going to fish must have a licence. That legislation is in a bizarre, unprecedented state of limbo in that it has been effectively suspended. A nod and wink arrangement has been arrived at between the Government and the enforcement agencies indicating that they are to turn a blind eye to it. The Minister has acknowledged that the legislation before us will not be in place before this year's tourist season. Even if it were passed today the procedures for establishing co-operatives, issuing share certificates and so on could not possibly be put in place. The Minister should state clearly the legal position regarding people going out to fish this year. Are they required to have a rod licence in the summer of 1991? Will there be prosecutions in respect of people who do not have rod licence? Will the fisheries officers enforce the 1987 Act? It would be preferable if the Minister would agree simply to abolish the rod licence. The questions of establishing co-operatives, dealing with share certificates and the wider development of fisheries could be returned to at a later stage. The advantage would be that for 1991 the position would be regularised and we would not have the bad example of legislation on the Statute Book not being enforced at the nod and wink of the Government and the Minister responsible.

I appeal to the Minister to leave this section intact and to abolish the rest of the Bill. In 1989 I introduced, on behalf of the Labour Party, a Bill providing specifically for the abolition of the rod licence. The Minister stated that he had discussions and negotiations with the angling groups. We also have had discussions and we are aware that these groups, having looked very carefully at the proposed legislation, have grave reservations about some aspects. Since 1987 we have continued down this road.

The Bill before us abolishes the licence for coarse and trout fishing. That is the kernel of the Bill; the rest is bureaucratic padding designed to create more confusion for angling groups and inland fisheries people. The fisheries boards will become the gamekeepers because they will have to enforce the legislation. They must decide whether to enforce the 1987 Bill or wait for this new Bill to come into force. Angling is in limbo and we do not know where we are going.

The Minister would be doing a tremendous job if at this stage he agreed to the suggestion. We could pass the Bill in five minutes, walk out of the House and say we have done what we set out to do, we have amended the legislation. The Minister having discussed this at length will I am sure understand the feelings that are running high in angling groups. The Minister would be tackling the kernel of the problem by abolishing the licence for coarse and trout fishing. As I have said previously, that is the way forward and it would be very productive.

I support Deputy Gilmore's excellent suggestion. A tremendous amount of energy has been expended by the Minister, his officials and the House in trying to deal with this matter but it has been dealt with very badly. Would the Minister's time not have been better spent investigating the disastrous returns for salmon and grilse in Connemara?

That is not relevant.

The Minister is only too well aware that only 16 salmon were caught on the Ballinahinch fisheries last year. He would be better off spending his time on that problem than arguing about the rod licence.

I must ask the House to have regard to what is before us at present. We are discussing section 3. I now call Deputy Barnes on section 3.

As other Members on this side of the House have said, section 3 is the kernel of the Bill. It allows us to reach a consensus on resources for development that is not there at present. I have no problem with section 3. If we stopped the Bill at this point we would be saving a lot of time and an immense amount of trouble. The remainder of the Bill will not give the Minister, or his Department, the resources for the development to which we are all committed.

As other Members have said, we are in a difficult position in that we are into the fishing season of 1991. Further consultation would allow us to take all aspects into consideration. I am sure the Minister has been told in the course of his consultations that the fisheries boards are not in a position without further resources from his Department to take part in overseeing, regularising and developing inland angling to which they are committed. We may be over optimistic in asking the Minister to accept our views on section 3 and apply them to the rest of the Bill but that could be the beginning of building a consensus which is so badly needed.

First, with regard to the suggestion that we deal with this section and not continue with the substance of the Bill, let me say I have no intention whatsoever of accepting that proposal. Why? If I did I would be letting down the anglers throughout the country——

——whom I consulted in the preparation of this Bill.

I do not agree with that.

They told me they were anxious to contribute to the development and protection of angling in the country.

The one thing they did not want was to contribute through a licensing system. I have constructed for them a co-operative system to enable them to do precisely what they said they wanted to do, to contribute to the development and protection of our fisheries. It is a very peculiar defination of a back door method to provide a facility which would enable the anglers to contribute and control expenditure for the protection and development of fisheries. I cannot understand the cast of mind which sees a democratic process like that as a back door method.

It is not democratic.

Question put and agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

Here we come to amendment No. 7 in the name of Deputy Monica Barnes. I observe that this amendment was discussed earlier with amendment No. 5 and on that basis may I ask Deputy Barnes if she is pressing the amendment?

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 2, before section 4, to insert the following new section:

"4.—(1) At the commencement of this Act, each angling club shall register with the regional board in whose area the club is active. To effect its registration each club shall provide the regional board with the constitution (if any) of the club, the names of its elected officers and its annual income and expenditure accounts for the previous two years.

(2) Each regional board shall maintain a register of all such angling clubs registered within its functional area."

We are now discussing the substance of the Bill and our fundamental disagreement with what is proposed in it. I will not delay by reiterating all the arguments made by me and other Members on this side of the House during the course of the debate. However, I wish to point out that if amendment No. 7 is accepted we will have a more fruitful, efficient and effective way of coping with the development of and access to angling by local people and visitors. It is a substantive amendment and I will be pressing it.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 45; Níl, 74.

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • Noonan, Michael
  • (Limerick East).
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calley, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P. J.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Flanagan and Boylan; Níl, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy.
Amendment declared lost.

We now proceed to amendment No. 8 in the name of Deputy Gilmore.

SECTION 4.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 2, lines 33 to 36, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:

"(1) Fishery co-operative societies may be established in each fisheries region to promote the development of trout or coarse fisheries or both in a specified area in the region, and such co-operative societies shall be registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies.".

The Minister, in replying to our discussion on section 3, spoke about the thrust of this Bill being the establishment of co-operatives, contending that it would enable anglers themselves to control the overall position, leading to greater democracy and so on. The general theme of the Minister's contribution right through this Bill has been that he was allowing anglers to have control, to set up co-operatives. All the fine language of the co-operative movement — comhar na gcomharsan and so on — has been drawn down to justify the position he has taken. However, the first line of section 4 tells us who is going to establish the co-operatives. It is very clear from that section that the co-operatives will not be established by the anglers themselves but by the Minister. Section 4 states:

The Minister shall by order establish in each fisheries region one or more fisheries co-operative societies....

That defeats the whole principle of the co-operative movement. The very essence of the co-operative movement is that co-operatives are established voluntarily by the interests themselves. How can you have a co-operative established from on high? How do you establish a co-operative by order? These are not co-operatives; they are bodies, they are some kind of extension of the Minister's arm which he is establishing in each fisheries region for the purpose of raising money. This is about abolishing the rod licence. The Minister needs a vehicle to raise money by a different name so he establishes for himself a toe hold in each fisheries region and calls it a co-operative. He thinks that by calling it a co-operative it will be publicly more acceptable and easier to sell and he dresses it up in all the fine language of the co-operative movement.

Amendment No. 8 in my name will call the Minister's bluff. If we are to have co-operatives let them be co-operatives. My amendment states:

Fishery co-operative societies may be established in each fisheries region to promote the development of trout or coarse fisheries or both in a specified area in the region, and such co-operative societies shall be registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies.

That is how co-operatives are established: they are established voluntarily by people in industry, by people in agriculture, by people in any walk of life. These people come together, establish a co-operative, draw up rules and register it with the Registrar of Friendly Societies, who is established for the purpose of registering bodies such as co-operatives. He looks at their rules, approves them and agrees to register them. That is the way co-operatives are established, not by ministerial order. I am saying in this amendment that if this Bill is about more than simply abolishing the rod licence — which is clear from the Minister's contribution on the last section — and that we want to establish co-operatives, I would have no problem with that; I am very much in favour of the establishment of co-operatives. It would be very much part and parcel of my political philosophy that we have co-operatives established in any walk of life——

That makes two of us.

——but they must be established voluntarily. They must be established by the anglers and by the fishing interests themselves, not by the Minister. You cannot have a co-operative established by ministerial order because that defeats the purpose. If the Minister wants co-operatives he can have co-operatives, but they must be established in the way we all understand co-operatives are established, voluntarily, by the interests themselves and registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies in the normal way. Let us forget about this business of the Minister establishing co-operatives by ministerial order.

This section provides for the establishment of co-operative societies in the regions and is in accordance with item No. 1 of the formula I worked out with the anglers. Subsection (1) provides for one or more societies to be established in each fisheries region. I have tabled an amendment to subsection (2) about the title and it will be covered by rule. Subsection (3) provides for an order made under subsection (1) to be revoked or amended. Subsection (4) enables the societies to be exempt from payment of tax and expend all their funds on the purposes for which they have been established. Subsection (5) provides for trustees to be appointed to manage the societies when they are established, in accordance with item No. 8 of the formula of settlement worked out with the groups of anglers. Subsection (6) empowers the Minister to fill any vacancies which may arise among the appointed trustees. That, of course, relates to the trustees in the interregnum, in the period between the establishment and the democratic elections to the boards of management.

Deputy Gilmore talked about the Minister establishing the co-operatives. As I repeated over and again, the anglers told me they were anxious to have a vehicle through which they could contribute to the development and protection of fisheries. They were their words to me. As I mentioned, and have now written into the record of the House, the co-operatives are being set up in accordance with the articles of agreement which were drawn up. Nobody is exercising any compulsion on persons to be members of co-operatives. Membership will be voluntary. I cannot understand the idea that somehow or other it is being imposed upon them when the anglers are anxious to have these co-operatives for the purposes I have mentioned, namely, the protection and development of fisheries.

The Minister has indicated that the co-operatives will be voluntary but I do not think that will be the case, nor do the anglers to whom I have spoken. A number of questions have been posed regarding the setting up of these co-operatives. What role will the fisheries boards play in the setting up of the co-operatives? Like Deputy Gilmore, my idea of a co-operative is something coming from the community, something voluntary and not set up by ministerial order. The Minister emphasised that there will be a voluntary commitment by angling clubs and that they have asked for some vehicle through which to contribute. Angling groups have contributed enormously over the years because it is in their interest to do so. What was sadly lacking was that, despite their contribution, there was no co-ordinated effort by the Department of the Marine to do something positive. There was no advertising and nothing was done to bring the angling groups together. They agree they must contribute and will do so on a voluntary basis.

The amendment before us is very important. It provides that these voluntary co-operatives must not be affected by ministerial order, and that is the whole thrust of the argument this morning. I have spoken to some of the groups, as I am sure has the Minister, who have outlined very serious points of consideration. For instance, how many co-operatives is it envisaged will be set up? I know that is a mathematical problem which the Minister probably cannot go into, but the rules and regulations governing co-operatives have not been spelled out clearly. Deputy Gilmore's amendment would bring the co-operatives within the realm of friendly societies, which would be very important. A proper structure could then be set up whereby the co-operatives would be controlled and operated through the friendly societies.

The Minister said that trustees would be appointed in the interim and would be democratically elected later. In theory that is acceptable but in practice it may not work out very well. I hope the Minister will practise what he preaches as regards the voluntary aspect. If there is any coercion by the Minister or the Department it will dissuade those people who have co-operated so far. This is a very important amendment because it would lay the ghost once and for all that the Minister has a heavy-handed input into the setting up of these co-operatives.

The Fine Gael position is that co-operatives are an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. There are structures in existence that can be expanded and financed to deal competently with the question of the contribution of anglers and the development of inland fishing by, for example, the fisheries boards and the angling clubs. The amendment by Deputy Gilmore seems to be a true concept of our understanding of co-operative societies. The section as it stands leaves many unanswered questions and a lot of ground uncovered. For instance, how will the Minister and the Department define the role and authority of the fisheries boards vis-à-vis the co-operatives?

I would repeat the question asked by Deputy O'Sullivan with regard to subsection (1) because it is very important: what will be the criteria under which the Minister will establish one or more co-operatives? If it is left completely to the discretion of the Minister will the anglers and the regional fisheries boards have any say? Will their experience and expertise be called on or will it be totally at the discretion of the Minister? There is a huge, vague area in regard to subsection (1). If there is even a perception by anglers in certain regions that the Minister is imposing this we will run into all the difficulties which led to the former Bill being rejected. The anglers want to feel that they have autonomy, independence and indeed an acknowledgment of the contribution they will make regarding the future development of angling.

Deputy Gilmore's amendment clarifies some of the questions in relation to this section. It says that fishery co-operative societies may be established in each fishery region to promote the development of trout, coarse fisheries, or both, in a specified area in the region and that such co-operative societies shall be registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies. In this amendment Deputy Gilmore is endeavouring to return to what the Minister himself said should be the whole foundation and concept of co-operatives, a willingness, a coming together, an agreement, a consensus and, particularly, sharing of decisions and authority. That whole concept which underlines co-operatives, as we know and accept them, would be completely undermined if that is done on the authority of the Minister and if it is at his discretion as to what numbers shall be set up, how they will act, etc.

There are more pressing questions in relation to the following subsections. What will be the autonomy of the members and of each co-operative society vis-à-vis the authority of the Minister? Will they be established and run within their own shared agreement as to how a co-operative should operate in a specific area? Will there be an overall imposition of ministerial orders which may not allow co-operatives within certain regions with particular demographic needs? Will they be able to operate in an independent and autonomous way as the co-operative see fit? Will they be part of the region and not part of a national or Department of the Marine authority?

The autonomy of the members must be defined and I hope the Minister will respond in that regard. Under subsection (6), the Minister may appoint the persons to fill vacancies among the trustees so designated and may remove any such trustee from office. The Minister, in his reply to Deputy Gilmore's amendment, indicated that his appointment of trustees and the powers exercised in this section by the Minister over such trustees, would be exercised only during the interim period to allow the co-operatives to be established, to be democratic and to use their own powers of election in regard to their own trustees, shareholders and all the other structures which co-operatives now exercise fully and independently within themselves.

There is a considerable conflict between the proposed ministerial orders and directions, the whole foundation and concept of a co-operative society, the independent running of each co-operative society to the best of their ability within their region and what they should be allowed to do. Therefore, the whole section is under question.

I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan that angling clubs and groups have substantially contributed to the development of angling. I have never missed an opportunity to put on record my appreciation of the clubs for what they have done in the past, what they do, and what, I presume, they will do in the future. A careful reading of the Bill will indicate how much importance is attached to, and special provision made for, clubs.

With regard to Deputy Barnes' contribution, it is a much more simplified process under the Fisheries Acts to establish the co-operatives than by any other method and it was purely for the purpose of simplification it was introduced in this way. Deputy Barnes also mentioned the regional boards which, of course, have their own statutory existence and duties laid down in law. I am glad they have got substantially increased funding from me as Minister for the Marine. Deputy Barnes asked a highly relevant question about the autonomy of the co-operatives; their autonomy is absolute, they will make the decisions — very important ones — as stated in the Bill for their co-operative areas.

I should emphasise that the trustees originally appointed will hold office only until such time as the committees of management have been elected by individual co-operatives. It is important to remember that. There is provision for two members out of seven of the board of management to be appointed by the Minister. However, in the universe of discourse mentioned by Deputy Barnes, we were referring to the interim trustees.

I have listened to two contributions from the Minister on this amendment; may be I have missed a critical comment he made but I must confess I still do not know his position in relation to my amendment. Are we getting the standard rejection of an Opposition amendment or is there scope for the Minister to accept it? I should like the Minister to directly address the question.

We have all made our comments in relation to the Bill but nobody in the House is opposed to the idea of co-operatives being established. The amendment means that co-operatives may be established. The issue between us is twofold. One is in relation to how they will be established. The Minister's formula is that they will be established by ministerial order but there does not seem to be any discretion in that because the Bill states the Minister shall, by order, establish in each fisheries region one or more fisheries co-operatives, etc. My reading is that irrespective of whether the clubs, the anglers or the fisheries board in a particular region went a co-operative the Minister shall, by order, establish a co-operative in that region. That seems to defeat the principle of the whole idea of a co-operative and, as an alternative, I suggest in my amendment that we should go back to the voluntary essence of the co-operative idea, that if the angling clubs, the anglers or the fisheries boards in a particular region, or part of a region, want to establish a co-operative they can do so and register it in the normal way.

The second area about which there may be a difference of opinion is the question of the primary purpose of these co-operatives. The Minister's formula says that co-operatives will be established to raise and disburse funds. My formula is that fishery co-operatives should be established to promote the development of trout and coarse fisheries which does not preclude the co-operatives raising money. If, as the Minister says, there are angling clubs straining at the leash to contribute to the development of fisheries, there would be no obstacle to those clubs doing so and making those contributions in the way I have proposed here.

I would like to know, first, if the Minister is accepting or opposing my amendment, and if he is opposing it, can he clarify what section 4 (1) of the Bill means? Does it mean, as I believe it to mean, that whether the clubs want it or not in a particular region, the Minister will set up co-operatives? If that is his intention, is he not setting up some kind of a closed shop arrangement? I have some experience of closed shops and know some of the pitfalls involved in such arrangements. I know, for example, that there is a whole body of law dealing with the right to be or not to be a member. If the Minister is going to set up by order a co-operative in every fishery region and then at a later stage of the Bill everybody who wants to go out and fish has to purchase a share certificate in that co-operative, is that not a closed shop, and is there not a legal difficulty, having regard to all of the legal precedents that exist about closed shops and the right not to belong and so on? Will this not be open to legal challenge by somebody who says that they want to fish but do not want to belong to a co-operative, that they have a right not to belong and the right not to purchase a shares certificate? Will this legislation not therefore come down like a house of cards? We have to decide whether these co-operatives are voluntary bodies. I have no problem with that. I am quite happy to have a co-operative established on a voluntary basis, and that is what my amendment is about. Are they voluntary bodies or are they, as I understand the Bill to mean, bodies being imposed by ministerial order which will result in a closed shop situation and a possible legal challenge to the entire legislation?

I am not accepting the amendment. With regard to the establishment of co-operatives, I indicated time and time again to this House that the decision to establish them was made as a result of the anxiety of anglers to have some method, other than by paying a licence fee, to contribute to the development and protection of fisheries. Deputy Gilmore read selectively "to raise and disburse" but he did not continue with "for the public benefit" or "funds for the development of trout and coarse fisheries". The co-operatives are being offered as something which is desired by the anglers to enable them to develop their sport.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 19.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Bell, Michael.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies Byrne and McCartan.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 3, lines 1 to 3, to delete subsection (2).

I received a number of communications in regard to the form of name proposed to be adopted for the individual co-operative societies being set up under the Bill. The burden of the representations was that it might cause confusion within existing fisheries co-operative societies. As the House knows, there are many co-operatives in the sea fisheries sector. My idea in taking subsection (2) out of the Bill is lest there be confusion within the existing fisheries co-operatives societies. I am therefore proposing to take subsection (2) out of the Bill altogether and leave the matter of societies' names to be dealt with under the rules of the societies.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 10 in the name of Deputy Gilmore and No. 11 in the name of the Minister can be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 3, lines 4 and 5, to delete subsection (3).

I am glad the Minister decided to delete the name of the society. I hope now they will not be called co-operatives as, whatever they are, they are not co-operatives.

Amendment No. 10 deals with subsection (3) which says that the Minister may by order revoke or amend an order made under this section. In other words, the Minister may set up a co-operative under subsection (1) and if he sees fit under subsection (3) he may dissolve it. This issue is very much in line with what we have been talking about for most of the morning, that the co-operatives do not have autonomy or independence, and that they are effectively extensions of the Minister's will. If the Minister does not like what a co-operative are doing he could, under this subsection, revoke the order and effectively abolish the co-operative, or amend the order changing the rules or do any of the things Ministers tend to do when they do not like how autonomous bodies are behaving. The Minister could decide to reduce the membership of a co-operative or change the number of trustees. In fact, the Minister could do anything under this subsection.

We should stop calling these bodies co-operatives since the Minister has successfully moved amendment No. 9. These Uncle Tom organisations that the Minister proposes to establish in each fisheries region will not be able to do anything without fear of being abolished or having their rules changed by the Minister. That degree of ministerial control should be deleted. The Minister should explain why he wants to have this kind of power. The Minister has made very fine statements about the co-operative movement generally and the whole idea of co-operatives. What is the rationale for this subsection? Why would the Minister want to revoke or amend an order establishing a co-operative? This subsection is to give the Minister the tight, firm, central grip that is running right through this Bill, and the proposal should be deleted.

On reading the draftsman's original version of the subsection and on taking into account representations made to me indicating that subsection (3) as drafted would permit the Minister for the Marine to revoke or amend orders setting up co-operative societies, I decided to introduce amendment No. 11 in my name. I will continue to call them co-operative societies and hope for co-operation in the societies. It is the one thing that I did not find in this area when I became Minister. The original subsection meant that I could revoke or amend orders in an arbitrary way, so I am moving amendment No. 11. It was not my intention that there should be arbitrariness about it. This is not a society for the new case. The Deputy mentioned tight, firm, centralised control, but that does not belong to the philosophy under which this State works. I would not like the House or the people to find a reflection of that kind of philosophy in the legislation. The purpose of this subsection was to enable me to set up additional co-operatives where these were deemed to be warranted. The proposed new formulation meets the case that has been made to me. I have been advised that it is necessary to have this power of revocation, as indeed the Registrar of Friendly Societies has. I do not accept Deputy Gilmore's amendment.

In the initial stages and under the terms of the arrangement I worked out with the anglers, I as representing the people, the taxpayer, will supply certain funds to the co-operatives and I have responsibility to see to it that public funds are used for the purposes for which they are intended. While the rein is a light one and the control in its original form was light, it is now even lighter as a result of amendment No. 11. I am simply discharging my responsibility to the taxpayer.

I normally do not hesitate in relation to a Minister's control in certain things but the thrust of the argument from the beginning related to the voluntary and co-operative aspects of the Bill. The Minister did a brilliant job this morning in defending his policy and while unfortunately, he has the numbers in the House, he is on a hiding to nothing in relation to this. This basically says that the Minister controls and will continue to have control. I agree that where taxpayers' money is involved the Minister should have a certain responsibility. If we are sincere about giving control to voluntary people in relation to fisheries, the Minister should back off from this type of heavy-handedness in the setting up of this co-operative movement. It appears the Minister wants control and will keep control. When the anglers met the Minister, there seemed to be a certain amount of co-operation. When the anglers met me and other Deputies in the House they certainly aired their views and reservations about ministerial control. It does not give me any pleasure to stand here this morning and reiterate my reservations about this section.

I accept the Minister was made aware not just by Members but by interested people outside that not only was subsection (3) heavyhanded but would give him undue power. In an effort to amend it he has sought to insert the words, "after such investigation or inquiry as he thinks fit". However, as has been pointed out by the other Members, the difficulty is that he would be left in control. The amendment does not outline the type of investigation. There is no point in the Minister claiming, on the one hand, that he is going to establish co-operatives and that there is consensus and agreement if, on the other hand, subsection after subsection of the Bill gives him power.

Would the members of those societies have the right to make a case if an investigation was carried out because it would seem from the amendment that such an investigation can be as cursory or as restricted as the Minister sees fit? I argue that these co-operatives will not be effective if the Minister retains complete control. I would like to ask the question therefore, what rights will the members of those societies — particularly in dispute — have? Would they, as I said, have the right to make a case to the Minister if an investigation is carried out? As things stand, the Minister will be able to outline the boundaries of the investigation. He is not honouring in any way the principle of independence and autonomy for the co-operatives we all agree is essential if they are to be effective and work well with the Minister and his Department.

I must take the Minister to task for the casual way he has thrown about remarks such as, "I have been talking with the anglers" or "I have agreed this with the anglers". I would like to remind the House that the vast majority of anglers are angry and annoyed with the Bill. I have received representations——

They are not; that is ridiculous.

——from the National Anglers' Representative Association who represent anglers from Ballina, Cavan — the Minister's own constituency — Newbridge and Millstreet in County Cork. They state in a document they sent me that NARA take the view that the Bill is unnecessary and is being introduced for the wrong reasons. I have also received representations from the Munster Regional Angling Council. I ask the Minister to come clean on this matter. He is imposing this Bill on anglers. If this is what he wants to do, good luck to him but he should not say he has the agreement of the anglers because that is not so.

I would first like to take up the point made by Deputy Garland. The Minister would need to think again about whether he has the agreement of anglers on this Bill. I understand he sat down to negotiate with anglers and opponents of the rod licence and concluded an agreement with them but, from what I have heard, he is exaggerating in claiming that he has the agreement of anglers on this Bill. I do not know if this Bill is at variance with the agreement reached with the anglers, whether some anglers changed their positions since their discussions with the Minister or whether the general principles agreed between the anglers and the Minister were one thing and the general principles fleshed out in the Bill another. Quite honestly, the Minister is out of touch when he says he has the agreement of the anglers on this Bill. This will become more evident as time goes on.

We are fighting a losing battle on the question of how these bodies will be established. They will be established by ministerial order and the Minister will retain the right under subsection (2) to amend or revoke that order. It will be a question of hiring and firing and it is the Minister who will be doing the hiring and firing. While the amendment he has proposed will improve the text of the subsection I am not sure it progresses us very far. It states that an order may be revoked or amended "after such investigation or inquiry as he thinks fit". I would expect a Minister to at least conduct an investigation or inquiry, if only to ask the local cumann what they thought, before revoking or amending an order.

The nub of the matter is that the investigation or inquiry will be the kind of investigation or inquiry the Minister thinks fit. Therefore, if he thinks that no investigation or inquiry is warranted, or that a cursory inquiry is warranted, that will be at his discretion. Ultimately, an order setting up a co-operative can be either amended or revoked at the Minister's discretion. This over-centralises the control, is unnecessary, defeats the whole purpose of these bodies and places the Minister's heavy hand on their shoulders. He will be breathing down their necks and keeping an eye on what they are doing. It is a classic case of "Big Brother"——

The Deputy would know more about "Big Brother" than I would.

I know nothing about "Big Brother" but, having lived under the "big brother" regime we have in this State, where Government Departments and Ministers want to retain every little jot and title of control they possibly can, it is an eye opener. I ask the Minister to reconsider this. There is no justification or necessity for retaining this degree of control.

The Chair knows that he can rely on An tAire to accept that on Committee Stage only what is in the amendment qualifies for debate. The Minister might resist any temptation to respond to points made which do not refer directly to the amendment.

Do not spoil it.

I was working under a different principle, Sir. Knowing your competence in the Chair, I presumed nothing that was said was not relevant to the section that was being amended.

Ní mar a shíltear a bítear.

I do not know to what anglers Deputy O'Sullivan was speaking in Cork. Cork people from both the county and city played a big part in establishing the broad agreement we had about the establishment of these co-operatives, and some of those people were from Cork, his own city. I agree with Deputy Barnes that the original, before I put down my amendment, gave a false impression of ministerial control. There is no way the Minister has anything, in the words of Deputy Barnes, such as complete control in any section of this Bill and he does not want to have such control.

Deputy Garland raised the question of the anglers. I have spoken to all the representative groups. Accepting the bona fides of all sides in this dispute, there were people who thought the best vehicle for the provision of funds for the protection and development of fisheries was the licensing arrangement. I gathered from the contributions made by Deputy Garland and others that they did not want to go down that road, yet they are coming in and indicating to me that they have some kind of rapport with them. I cannot understand where people stand on this.

The officials are here.

Deputy Garland mentioned my own county. I would have him know I am en rapport with them to such an extent that they have invited me to launch a very important international fishery competition for Sheelan in the coming week. He will be glad to hear that.

Is the Minister going to accept it?

I have already accepted it.

Question, "That the words proposed to be deleted stand", put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 3, subsection (3), line 4, after "may" to insert ", after such investigation or enquiry as he thinks fit,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 3, lines 11 and 12, to delete subsection (6).

This is very much along the same lines as the previous proposal. The Bill provides that "The Minister may appoint persons to fill vacancies among the trustees. so designated and may remove any such trustee from office". Subsection (5) which preceded that and which relates to it provides that "The order establishing a society shall designate the persons who shall be the trustees of the society on its establishment". I understand from the Minister's previous contributions that what is intended here is that the initial trustees shall be identified in the order establishing the bodies and subsequently they will be elected.

I would like some clarification on this. It is not stated how many trustees it is envisaged to appoint. That the Minister is appointing the trustees seems to me to defeat the purpose of the voluntary nature of co-operatives. We have an order establishing the body; the Minister can revoke or amend that order; he now appoints the initial trustees, he can appoint replacement trustees if somebody opts out or, worse still, he can, remove a trustee from office. It is incredible. There is no co-operative, no voluntary organisation, I would even go so far as to say there are few semi-State organisations where the Minister exercises such rigid control.

The purpose of my amendment is to delete the provision enabling the Minister to appoint the trustees and giving him the right to dismiss them. It is very much hire and fire and, as we all know, he who hires and fires controls. The purpose of the amendment is to take away that control from the Minister and put it back where I believe it rightly belongs if we are to have these bodies, which is in the hands of the membership of the co-operatives themselves.

At the risk of being repetitious to the point of boredom——

And offending Standing Orders.

Yes, and it would not be my choice either to bore anybody or to offend Standing Orders.

The Deputy is never boring. In so far as she indicated she was going to indulge in repetition I thought I would remind her of Standing Orders.

Unfortunately, the repetition does not occur on the one section but, as we come to section upon section the repetition must be written in. The points we are making are relevant to each of the sections and the amendments are put down in an attempt to remove some of the difficulties we are all experiencing on this section. Regarding Deputy Gilmore's amendment to delete subsection (6) altogether, the fears are well founded. This Bill is in contrast with the fundamental principles of co-operative societies when under section 4 (6) we find the Minister has incredible powers not just to "appoint persons to fill vacancies amongst the trustees so designated" but to remove any such trustee from office. That can be seen as a great intrusion into the business of the co-operatives, all of them having been set up under the guidelines and terms of reference of the Bill, which really is intended to provide for the development of trout and coarse fisheries and to benefit the public.

My difficulty with regard to the powers provided to the Minister here is that there seems to be no recourse for people, through right of reply or representation and so on, to take up what they see, rightly, as an unjust or unfair move against them. Let me say, Sir, before you intervene, that the point is relevant to this subsection when I draw the House's attention to section 7 of the Bill regarding membership. There it states that any such trustee shall cease to be a member on ceasing to be a trustee. Not alone would the Minister have the power to remove a trustee but, in doing so, he would have the inherent power to deprive that person of membership of the co-operative as well. The trustee might wish to remain a member. If the Minister has the power to appoint and remove, it leaves the trustee in a very vulnerable position with regard to the basic right of membership. I view this with grave misgivings and hope the Minister will take this into consideration when he responds to the amendment.

I will not be repetitious or boring but rather brief and to the point. It is frustrating to discuss once again the matter of the Minister's control. I have no doubt that this Minister, being a man of integrity, will not in any way abuse the position but he will not always be in office and we do not know who his successors will be. Angling groups are worried about who these trustees will be and whether they will be political appointees. Perish the thought. It is possible that there could be abuses over the years. This legislation will probably be in place for a long time unless there is another dispute. I share some of the doubts and reservations expressed by previous speakers. The Minister would appear to have the power to decide who the appointees will be. The angling groups are anxious to know who they will be.

Mindful of what the Chair has said, I will be brief. Deputy Gilmore rightly picked up from the earlier part of the debate that we are dealing here only with the people who are appointed trustees in the interregnum, the intervening period. That will be only a matter of months. They are facilitators of the establishment of the co-operative societies.

I get a little nervous when Deputy O'Sullivan says that the Minister may not always be here, especially if he does not give me another few months. Taking account of the fact that the trustees will hold office for a very short time, it seems we are taking a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. If some of the trustees died or wanted to resign, unless by some process of parthenogenesis, I do not see how I can replace them other than by picking other people and telling them to get on with the job of establishing the societies.

Question: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand" put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Question: "That section 40, as amended, stand part of the Bill" put and declared carried.
NEW SECTION

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 3, before section 5, to insert the following new section:

"5.—(1) At the end of each financial year each regional board shall prepare a statement of the development expenditure incurred by it in the previous year, copies of which shall be forwarded to each angling club within its fisheries area.

(2) The expenditure in subsection (1) shall, for the purposes of determining the amount of development contribution payable, be apportioned by each regional board among the angling clubs in its functional area on the basis of the percentage benefits arising from the development works and each angling club shall pay an amount of development contribution equal to a fraction of the sum so apportioned as shall be decided by regulations made by the Minister.

(3) Any dispute arising as to the amount apportioned to an angling club under subsection (2) shall be referred jointly by the angling club and the regional board concerned to the Minister whose decision shall be final.

(4) The fraction to be determined under subsection (2) shall not, in any case, exceed one-eighth.

(5) Every regulation proposed to be made under this section shall be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and the regulation shall be made accordingly unless a resolution annulling the regulation shall have been passed in either such House within twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the regulation shall have been laid before it.".

While this has already been discussed, I wish to add a few words. Is that acceptable?

It is not normal but I suppose the Chair can adjudicate and agree. Strictly speaking, it has been discussed and nothing remained except that it should be moved. If there is one qualifying sentence the Deputy wishes to add the Chair will be patient and tolerant.

I appreciate that. The superimposing of the co-operatives as defined by the Minister and of the rules of membership and functions within the control and at the discretion of the Minister could be much more satisfactorily answered if amendment No. 13 were accepted. It provides for a straightforward structure. I hope the Minister, even at this late stage, might consider its acceptance.

Does the Deputy wish me to put the question on the amendment?

No. We will move on to other amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 14 is in the name of Deputy Garland. Amendment No. 15 is an alternative. It is suggested that we take amendments Nos. 14 and 15 together for discussion. Agreed.

SECTION 5.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 3, lines 13 to 15, to delete subsection (1).

The effect of this amendment would be to remove subsection (1) of section 5. Subsection (1) is another example of ministerial interference in the rules of these societies. It provides that the Minister may make rules, but surely the rules for a society should be made by that society. A way around this would be to agree standard rules which could be incorporated in the Bill and debated. The Minister is taking far too much authority and control to himself.

The alternative to my amendment would be Deputy Gilmore's amendment No. 15 which would substitute a new subsection. I would be broadly supportive of that. Anglers are very unhappy that this power should be given to the Minister and would prefer standard rules.

At this stage it is probably well to take stock. We have moved through a number of sections. The rod licence is gone and we are well on the way to replacing it. Section 4 puts in place the Minister's fund raising committees; I am reluctant to call them co-operatives because that is their main function.

I have read the Bill and there is no such term in it or in any of the amendments. Imagination would be wasted in creating something that is not provided for in the legislation.

I would hate, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, to use a misnomer in relation to any type of organisation. Whatever they are, they are not co-operatives. These bodies will be established by ministerial order, the people will be appointed to them by the Minister and the Minister will maintain the power to dissolve them. The bodies are being established for the purposes of raising funds. These bodies will not write their own rules, these rules will be written for them by the Minister, or at least be made by him. No voluntary organisation or co-operative have their rules written for them by a Government Department or by a Minister. This suggestion stands the whole co-operative idea on its head.

This is a general section and gives the Minister very wide powers to make rules setting out the functions of the societies. The rules set down the functions of the management committee, the forum for meetings, who may be members, the determination of ordinary and corporate membership and how they will conduct their business. The questions of balloting, how they will manage their money and how they will disburse their money are also covered. They will have wide ranging powers and the rules will be written by the Department, made by the Minister and handed down to the society. If these bodies were co-operatives, the members would democratically decide the rules of their organisation.

They would get them from ICOS.

They would submit them——

That is all I am doing. We have them.

That is very interesting because I was going to ask what the rules would be. It has been reported to me that the Minister has communicated already with at least some of the objectors to the rod licence setting out for them what the rules of the new co-operatives will be. Since we are debating this section dealing with the rules of these bodies, I think the Minister should put the draft rules of these bodies on the record of this House. It is critical that we should know this. We are being asked to give the Minister a blank sheet of paper to enable him to write the rules of bodies which will control who will fish on our rivers and lakes for the foreseeable future. These bodies will have powers to decide the level of charges and who will be prosecuted. We are entitled to know the composition of these bodies, of the conditions of membership and the rules which will cover the annual meeting, the election of the management committee and how they will be governed. We want to know what kind of bodies are actually being established. I am very glad the Minister volunteered that he has decided the rules will be borrowed from ICOS; I have been informed that the Minister has already been discussing the rules.

On a point of explanation, the Deputy was talking about setting up co-operatives and I indicated that groups setting up a co-operative would get the rules from ICOS. That is all I said.

He said more than that.

That is precisely what I said. It is on the record.

It is. The record will make interesting reading because the Minister followed on from that. The Minister said that a body setting up a co-operative could get the rules from ICOS but then he went on to say that that is what he had done.

I beg your pardon. A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I think it is important that this should be clarified now because I do not want to be misrepresented. What I said was that I was performing the role for these co-operatives that ICOS performed for the co-operatives the Deputy is taking about. That is on the record and that is what I want to make quite clear.

That is not what I heard the Minister say.

The Deputy is misinterpreting me.

We can all re-read what was said. I understood the Minister clearly to be saying that he is borrowing from ICOS their rules and formulae for the purposes of these bodies.

The Deputy misunderstood.

To clear up this matter, it would be far more constructive if the Minister were to tell us the kind of rules these bodies will have.

I will not interrupt further.

Anybody who has been involved in any organisation, for example a sports club, will know that there are certain headings under which the rules will be written. In this section all we have are the headings under which the rules will be written. We do not know what the rules will be. I think the Minister should come clean and tell us in this debate what the rules of these bodies will be. The rules are critical. This legislation, among other things, is about the right to hold share certificates and these bodies may decide by a 60 per cent or 70 per cent vote——

A 60 per cent vote.

——to exclude anybody who does not have a share certificate from fishing in a river or lake. They also have the power to call on the enforcement section from the regional fisheries boards to prosecute people. This is a remarkable provision — that a body of this kind would have the right to finger who is going to be prosecuted — and does not exist in any other legislation. Even though these bodies are being established by the Minister and will not have autonomy, they will have very significant powers. These bodies are going to be the new landlords of our inland fisheries. I want to know what rules will govern these bodies. This is not good enough.

I do not think this House can agree to an all-embracing section allowing the Minister to make these rules himself. We are entitled to be told what these rules will be. The Minister has already let the cat out of the bag. I certainly know he has already been discussing these draft rules with some of the people who had been involved in the rod licence dispute. I want the Minister to tell us what these rules will be because we cannot leave all this to the Minister. If these rules are in draft form, they should be presented to this House and we should know on what we are voting.

I advise the House that we are discussing in section 5 a proposal that the Minister will have power to make rules. We have one amendment which would take that power from him and another amendment proposing to substitute a subsection. I do not think we can require the Minister to do what is not in the Bill or sought in any amendment.

It would be an excellent idea if the Minister could introduce or inform Members of the draft rules pertaining not only to this section but to the Bill in its entirety. The feedback to Members is that there is a great deal of fear, even suspicion, about various sections of the Bill, in particular with regard to who will be the trustees. We know the Minister will have the last word or control in respect of these co-operatives which is giving rise to much concern and suspicion. If the Minister could give us some indication of what will be the rules, it would allay the suspicions of Members on this side of the House and also those of the many anglers who have drawn our attention to the matter.

We observe that the Minister has tremendous powers under the provisions of this Bill. Not alone may he draw up the rules and regulations of the co-operative societies but he will have much power and influence on their internal structure and day-to-day running of the co-operatives. Not alone may he draw up the rules — and we do not know at present what those rules will be — but a co-operative society, with the consent of the Minister, may revoke or amend their rules. That is highly dangerous, perhaps leaving it wide open to a group within a society attempting to revoke or amend rules which they do not like. Such a group could appeal to the Minister's discretionary powers to aid them in revoking or amending the rules of their co-operative society without having had the full consensus of everybody within that society.

In addition section 5 (4) reads:

The Minister may appoint not more than two persons to be members of the management committee of a society in addition to its elected members.

The Minister has said he will select trustees in an interim period only. I take it that the provisions of section 5 (4) will not comprise any interim arrangement but rather form part and parcel of the Minister's power of appointment of members of the management committees of such societies. Bearing in mind all the control and discretion available to the Minister, why then must he also appoint two persons other than those already selected by a society? The provisions of this section overall call for allaying many fears held about them. That could best be done by the Minister responding to the many questions posed but particularly by responding to Deputy Gilmore's amendment. Perhaps the Minister would consider informing the House at least of the basic principals of the rules he hopes will accompany this Bill.

There is no doubt that this part of the Bill is causing major concern to some angling groups. I take the point made by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle that the provisions of this section merely enable the Minister to draw up and introduce the relevant rules. Angling groups, clubs and co-operative societies feel strongly that they should have some input into the drawing up of those rules. Indeed, it was a fundamental part of the agreement they reached with the Minister that they would have such input before the relevant legislation was passed. A most important aspect of this Bill is comprised of the rules governing co-operative societies, clubs and so on, I have met two or three different groups, not alone from Cork but representing other areas also, when they made the point forcibly that they do not know what will be the rules governing their co-operative society or whatever. They contend the Bill should not be passed until they have been consulted and have had some input into the rules and regulations being drawn up. They contend that a copy of the proposed co-operative rules should be made available to them and others before the legislation is passed since those rules form a fundamental part of that legislation. I thoroughly agree with those sentiments.

In this respect there has been much concern expressed by Members and the public in general. We do not want to see circumstances devolved in which any confrontation could arise through misinterpretation of the relevant rules or through any lack of consultation with the relevant groups. At the very least there is a certain amount of disquiet felt about the establishment of the co-operative societies. The groups with whom I have met have emphasised that the rules governing the relevant legislation must be submitted to them for consideration before proceeding further. The Minister may have a somewhat different outlook, he may be speaking to different groups, but this is one of the most important aspects of the entire Bill. While the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has pointed out that the provisions of this section merely enable the Minister to draw up rules for the regulation of co-operative societies, it is important that we be made aware now of what those rules will be. Until such time as we are made so aware at the very least there could be much confusion and, worse, confrontation.

Deputy Gilmore said that my Department or I had been communicating rules. That is simply not true.

But the Minister perhaps discussed them with some people.

As I have indicated several times, we discussed all aspects of the dispute, of its possible resolution and procedures to render the whole fisheries process a smooth, efficient one. In fact any such discussion took place within the terms of section 5 (2) (a) to (g) inclusive, which reads:

(2) Rules under this section shall, in relation to a society, provide, in particular, for—

(a) the functions of the first trustees of the society;

(b) the membership and functions of a management committee (including its functions as trustees) and the appointment, or election, and terms and conditions of office, of its members or any of them;

(c) the quorum for meetings of the trustees or management committee of the society;

(d) membership and termination of ordinary and corporate membership of the society;

(e) ballots for the purposes of this Act;

(f) the establishment and management of a development fund for the receipt of payments to the society and the disbursement of moneys of the fund, including provision for payments to the appropriate regional board to promote the purposes of the society;

(g) the provision of guidelines for the society in relation to the disbursement of its funds, having regard, in particular, to the development programmes and plans of the appropriate regional board.

It amounts to a considerable degree of detail.

I was right.

The Deputy is right in so far as what is contained there was discussed, was available to every citizen from the Stationery Office who wanted to read it. There appeared to be some indication that discussion of items beyond that——

I am sure the Minister will not be dissatisfied when I ask him to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.