Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Bill, 1998 [ Seanad ]: Report and Final Stages.

Amendment No. 1 is consequential on amendment No. 4. Is it agreed that they be discussed together? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 10, after "AS" to insert "FIONTRAÍOCHT ÉIREANN OR IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE".

The argument was made on Committee Stage that two famous names in the Irish language are being extinguished and replaced by the new title Enterprise Ireland. During the course of the debate yesterday on the Copyright Bill a number of Deputies mentioned that the name Enterprise Ireland has been patented and that difficulties may be encountered about its use.

The Minister should clarify the position about the use of the name Enterprise Ireland. Is she aware that legal advice is being taken by the Small Firms' Association about its use? I do not agree with Deputy Broughan on the use of the name Fiontraíocht Éireann. An English language name would be more suitable. However, I am concerned that Enterprise Ireland will be obliged to go before the courts following its establishment and, as a result, it will not be able to work effectively. Will the Minister explain the current position regarding the application by the Small Firms' Association to patent the name "Enterprise Ireland"? Will that application prevent her using the name?

I am not in a position to accept Deputy Broughan's amendment. As I stated on Committee Stage, it is important that the name of the organisation clearly explains the purpose of that organisation. Since Enterprise Ireland will have a major role in promoting Irish products overseas, it is important that those with whom we trade understand what the organisation is about. The Irish Trade Board, which is also known as Córas Tráchtála——

It is known as An Bord Tráchtála.

The Deputy is correct, Córas Tráchtála was abolished. Last year Ireland's honorary consul in western Canada brought to my attention a company that wants to do business here. I met him early in the morning and he showed me a long list of the organisations with which he intended to meet. Included on that list were the IDA, An Bord Tráchtála and Córas Tráchtala. I explained to him that Córas Tráchtála had been replaced by An Bord Tráchtála. For obvious reasons An Bord Tráchtála operates overseas as the Irish Trade Board.

I have taken legal advice in respect of the matter to which Deputy Owen referred. It is not possible to patent commonly used words such as "enterprise" or "Ireland". I am surprised by the actions of the Small Firms' Association because in informal discussions I had with its representatives on the fringe of other meetings I gained the impression that they were delighted by our choice of title for the new organisation. At its recent conference on enterprise in Ireland the association clearly explained what it is trying to promote. I am strongly advised that there is no legal problem because commonly used words such as "Ireland" and "enterprise" cannot be patented.

When Enterprise Ireland is established, will the Minister ensure that it initiates a public awareness campaign to identify the areas for which it will have responsibility? This will avoid confusion about the multiplicity of agencies involved in the area of industrial promotion. It is important that the public be made aware of Enterprise Ireland's responsibilities. This information should also be disseminated overseas to avoid confusion about which agencies have responsibility for industrial promotion in Ireland.

I will withdraw the amendment. However, in the past decade Irish people have been obliged to come to terms with using words such as "Isuzu", "Hyundai" , etc., which originated in other languages. I believe the principle contained in the amendment remains worthy because, in the vernacular of international commerce, it is important to have a strong name.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, line 26, to delete "1996" and substitute "1980".

This is a technical amendment to correct an error in the citation of the Metrology Acts.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, line 4, after "order" to insert ", made following consultation with recognised trade unions or staff associations representing staff affected by the making of the order,".

The staff of Forbairt believe they have not been adequately consulted in the run up to the commencement order being made. Some of these people have been valuable servants of the State for the past 40 to 45 years and they are entitled to be consulted rather than being served with a diktat from officials of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. They are entitled to real consultation and real involvement in their future. Many of them are facing the prospect of having their functions extinguished and they are uncertain what lies ahead. I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.

I am not in a position to accept the amendment and I explained the reason for this to the Deputy on Committee Stage. To write into legislation that something must happen only after consultation confers on people certain legal entitlements. I do not want to spend the coming months in the courts or elsewhere trying to establish whether the consultation envisaged took place. As stated on Committee Stage, there has been widespread consultation. My officials met the unions, the workers and their representatives once every three weeks since the implementation began six months ago. Those arrangements will continue and I assure the Deputy that diktats will not be issued.

I want the new organisation to have a highly motivated staff. I have tabled a later amendment to deal with mobility between the different agencies, an issue of great concern to the staff. I gave an undertaking on Committee Stage to include provisions in that regard in the legislation. I want to reinforce the idea that mobility between agencies is good. It is good for people to move from one organisation to another from time to time because this can enhance people's careers and benefit the organisations and their clients.

With regard to Deputy Daly's comments on amendment No. 1, we will ensure that a high profile is attached to the establishment of the agency so that everyone will be aware of Enterprise Ireland's purpose. The Deputy is correct to state that we want to avoid confusion. The purpose in establishing the new organisation is to streamline the manner in which the State engages with Irish firms. As far as possible, I want to ensure that affected firms will be clear about the new organisation's purpose and that they will know how to contact it. I am anxious that a good local network will be put in place throughout the country to ensure that the organisation will be accessible to companies at a regional level. We will do everything in our power to see that this happens. I take on board the points made by Deputy Daly.

I seek the guidance of the Chair. What will happen to the Minister's amendments when we reach 12 p.m.?

They will be dealt with in the final question put to bring proceedings on the Bill to a conclusion.

On that basis, I wish to press the amendment.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 73.

  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Belton, Louis.
  • Gilmore, É amon.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Higgins, Michael.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • McDowell, Derek.
  • Cosgrave, Michael.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • Farrelly, John.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Sheehan, Patrick.
  • Perry, John.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Reynolds, Gerard.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Wall, Jack.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Kitt, Michael.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Blaney, Harry.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • McDaid, James.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Ellis, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Wade, Eddie.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wright, G. V.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Sheehan; Nil, Deputies S. Brennan and Power
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.

We will proceed to amendment No. 5. Amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 9 are related. Therefore, we will discuss amendments Nos. 5, 7, 8 and 9 together.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, line 22, after "Agency" to insert "(which functions may be exercised in relation to the activities of Irish enterprises outside the State)".

Following discussion on Committee Stage, we feel there should be a stronger commitment to the export side of the former functions of An Bord Tráchtála. We accept the logic of the type of agency that will emerge, but we need to emphasise the key elements of the mission statement of the new agency and have a clear commitment to supporting our exporters, given the massive role of trade in the economy and our current prosperity.

In refusing to accept any of these amendments to strengthen the functions under section 7 and be more up front in spelling out the role of exporters, the Minister explained that she had transposed the section from the Bord Tráchtála legislation into this legislation. However, that legislation was written in the context of setting up a trade board. Here we are talking about setting up Enterprise Ireland which has a number of wider functions. So, sections in the trade board legislation to develop, promote, assist and develop the marketing of goods, are already predicated on the fact that there is a trade board and that it does not have to be spelt out. The Minister's explanation that she has transposed existing legislation into new legislation is not quite valid.

I again stress that the concept of trade pro motion services to exporters of goods and services includes and is normally interpreted as market research, market intelligence and introduction to buyers, importers, agents and distributers in the market. If the Minister is not willing to accept these amendments, I hope the exact functions of Enterprise Ireland, which are not spelt out in this legislation, will be set down in the document she talks about writing after the legislation is in place. I ask her seriously to put down in that document the words "to provide trade promotion services to exporters of goods and services". I do not want exporters coming to me and to other Deputies in six months' or one year's time complaining that they have been written out of the picture, that they cannot get their share of the knowledge and information Enterprise Ireland has, and that they are not getting the same or better services than they were getting under the trade board. My aim here is to make sure the service currently being given by the trade board, and any augmentation of those services, is included in Enterprise Ireland's functions, role and mission statement. The mission statement is very clear. It talks about promoting exports because that is the only way we can make companies grow. In the legislation the word "export" appears only once, at most twice, and not even under the functions of the board. I am pressing the Minister to include the spirit of what we are saying in these amendments in her document setting out the functions.

I will give Deputy Owen that assurance. The whole purpose is to help Irish companies to achieve sustainable and competitive advantage. To do that they must be involved in exports because we have a very small internal market of three and a half, growing to, perhaps, four million in a number of years and on the island as a whole we have a market of only five million. For Irish companies to grow their sales, employment and opportunities, they have to do it internationally in the context of exports. Unlike companies in many other jurisdictions, Irish companies have to internationalise much earlier because of the small size of the market. It is not the intention, nor would it make any sense, to establish a State agency and to use taxpayers' money to simply help companies to displace other companies in the Irish market. That happened in the past, and it was not a very sensible approach. It happened in relation to re-equipment grants where, when one company was assisted to upgrade its premises or equipment, a competitor was put out of business. Nobody wants that to happen. It would not make sense and would be of no advantage.

I give the assurance that this new agency will have a huge export focus. Equally we have to be careful. Because of State aid rules we are prohibited from subsidising exports, interfering with the internal market and creating rules that break competition policy. We also have to ensure that we are not accused in any sense of not being good European players, although that does not concern me as much as breaking the rules themselves. Within the State aid rules, which specifically rule out subsidising exports, we have to draft the legislation in accordance with the rules by which we are obliged to play. We took paragraphs (b) and (c) in section 7(1) directly from the An Bord Tráchtála Act to make it clear that we would promote, assist and develop the marketing of service industries and goods. That can only be done in an export context because it is not just about displacement and serving the needs of a small market of 3.5 million people.

Deputy Owen made a good suggestion in relation to the policy document which we will issue. I give a commitment that we will place a heavy emphasis on the need to make our companies grow in an international and export context.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 6 is in the name of Deputy Broughan. Amendment No. 10 is related and it is proposed to discuss Nos. 6 and 10 together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 7, line 23, after "enterprise" to insert "at all levels".

In the programme of legislation for the remaining years of this Administration I ask the Minister to bring forward legislation to cover micro-business, which is not included here. We had an informal discussion on this matter earlier and the Bill does not give sufficient service to small business. Perhaps the Minister might examine that at a later stage.

On the policy document for small firms, would it be possible to examine the companies from one to ten? The enterprise boards are doing excellent work but they may not have sufficient expertise and it is important that Enterprise Ireland works closely with the enterprise boards to help companies in the crucial early years.

I give that assurance. We want to ensure there is no duplication between the role of the enterprise boards and Enterprise Ireland but we also want to ensure we do not miss opportunities. We cannot have hard and fast rules. Some technology companies started from a very small base with perhaps two or three people and now have great potential. Because Forbairt, as it was, and Enterprise Ireland, when it is established, will be involved on the county enterprise boards and in the evaluation procedures they use in deciding to grant-aid companies, there will be a very close link. I will ensure we make it clear to Enterprise Ireland that it is not a rigid rule, it will have to be practical and sensible. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, not moved.

Amendment No. 11 is in the name of Deputy Broughan. Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are related and it is proposed to take all three amendments together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 7, line 28, after "to" to insert "assist business to".

We had a lengthy discussion on the technological role of one of the agencies of Forbairt which is being subsumed into the new Enterprise Ireland. The Minister has made some concessions in other amendments in relation to that and, as a result, I withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 not moved.

Amendment No. 14 is in the name of Deputy Broughan. Amendment No. 16 is related and the proposal is to discuss Nos. 14 and 16 together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 8, line 41, after "members" to insert "with each gender represented by at least five members. There shall be four members elected by the staff of the agency. Not less than four members shall have had scientific and technological training or work experience".

I said on Committee Stage that I believed Deputy Rabbitte's amendment was the most concise way of expressing what Deputies on our side of the House wanted to achieve, namely, clear representation for the staff of the new agency. When Forbairt comes together with ABT and the services to business section of FÁS, it is essential that there is direct staff representation at the highest level of the agency. Some Deputies were of the view that it was not a commercial State body but it is on the cutting edge of service to the commercial world, and the best way of achieving goodesprit de corps from day one is to have the staff involved.

I welcome the amendments the Minister introduced arising from Committee Stage. She has been willing to take on board the spirit of many of our amendments on Committee Stage. I am disappointed she was unable to agree to Deputy Rabbitte's amendment which was more focused on the staff. There is a facility under one of the sections to set up committees of the board. If the board is unwilling to allow staff representatives on the board — I hope they come around to that idea — perhaps one of its subcommittee formats could be used to involve the staff in its work. I am putting this forward merely as a suggestion. I do not know if it is practical but we have to make suggestions that might work.

Deputy Owen's suggestion that there should be a consultative process at sub-board level involving the staff and the management is a good one. Sub-board groups of that kind should exist in all organisations. An issue about which I have not thought too clearly is the term of office of the chief executive. We have now made a change in that the chief executive of Enterprise Ireland can serve no more than two terms of five years, which is a maximum of ten years, and after five years the board must decide whether to reappoint the chief executive. In effect, the chief executive will be appointed for five years but cannot be appointed for longer than ten years.

We have also made some changes in relation to the length of time people can stay on the board. Under the provisions in the Bill as originally drafted, somebody could be on the board for eight consecutive years. I am not certain that is a good idea. On the anniversary of the establishment day, two members will come off the board and in five years all members will have been removed. The Minister of the day can decide to reappoint those people but nobody can be on the board for longer than ten years. That is an improvement.

Because of the nature of the staff's work and the fact that, as executives, they will be dealing with companies, making recommendations about the support those companies should receive, whether it is grant-aid, advice, marketing assistance or whatever, it is better that they do not participate when the board, which is a separate vehicle for assessing the recommendations of staff, is analysing those recommendations.

As it is not a commercial organisation there will not be any change in the ownership of the board. It will remain a State body. I do not think there will be any question of it being privatised; I am sure nobody will want to take over an organisation that gives out about £50 million or £60 million a year. We do not intend to change the work practices or contract out many of the activities. It is not in the same league as other boards like Bord na Móna, the ESB or other companies that have had to undergo enormous change both in the way they are financed and in terms of ownership.

What about services to business?

If somebody could make money out of this business I am sure we would consider privatisation. I would not be establishing it if I thought a private organisation would be so generous.

Could part of the services to business not be privatised?

If there are aspects that could be done by the private sector, they should be done. That will remain the position. We have to have an open mind about some of the services. From time to time, boards of this kind bring in private consultants when they do not have their own expertise. We want them to do that only when they do not have their own expertise or where it is done in the context of getting value for money and not just as a routine matter.

In regard to the board and the manner in which it will be established, we want people who can make a contribution to developing enterprises in this State. In particular, it is important that in its infancy we have people of experience. I am not saying members of the staff are not of a high calibre and do not have experience but the focus must be on people with business experience who have come from the enterprise world.

I was pleased when the outgoing chief executive of the Bank of Ireland, Pat Molloy, decided to accept our invitation to chair the new board. He is a dynamic person with a great deal of experience dealing with small, medium and large companies both here and abroad. For those reasons, he will make an outstanding chairman of the new organisation and hopefully will steer it in the right direction in its first five years.

As it is now 12 noon, I am required to put the following question in accordance with an Order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill, Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

I am not opposing the Bill. I welcome the fact the Minister has taken on board a number of issues raised on Committee Stage. I look forward to receiving a more in-depth layout of the functions of the board which, I hope, will be part and parcel of the implementation of the legislation. I am concerned the legislation is very much enabling in its terminology and it is important the function document published by the Minister——

It is not appropriate to speak on the content of the Bill.

I thank the Minister for the lengthy debate on Committee Stage. Apparently, we missed the best match of the World Cup while we did our duty here. I thank the Minister for meeting our wishes on amendment No. 52. On Committee Stage I did not engage in discussion of term limits, with which I do not agree, for the chief executive, secretaries general or TDs.

There are regional weaknesses in this area of industry. Perhaps Enterprise Ireland will devote attention to provincial towns, particularly in the west, which still suffer from high unemployment levels.

As I pointed out to Deputy Owen, it is not appropriate to discuss the content of the Bill at this stage.

I too bemoan the fact the Minister kept us at the grindstone and we missed what was a very exciting match. I thank the Minister for her courtesy during the debate on the Bill, particularly on Committee Stage. Contrary to my prediction, I acknowledge she took on board a number of matters advocated by me on behalf of my party and by my colleagues in the other parties. The Bill is a better one as a result of the amendments made and I wish it every success in the years ahead.

I thank Deputies, particularly Deputies Owen, Broughan, Rabbitte and Daly, for their co-operation and understanding in ensuring the speedy passage of the Bill through the House. Deputies need not thank me for keeping them late on Tuesday. I too hoped to get away earlier because I arrived back from the United States at the weekend and hit the wall at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening. I was amazed the debate lasted so long, but that shows Deputies are committed to their work, notwithstanding the attractions of the World Cup and other such matters.

Deputy Daly raised the question of Shannon Development and the aggregate sum it spent, and I said I would come back to him on that issue. The amount spent is £138.5 million. We took on board as many amendments as possible. The aggregate sum has been changed to £1.5 billion, the chief executive may serve for only two terms and that will be reviewed after five years——

I would prefer if the Minister did not go into detail on the Bill.

We did as much as we could. I give an assurance that the more comprehensive document will be circulated as quickly as possible.

Question put and agreed to.