The Bill before the Seanad today represents one of the most significant legislative initiatives, in cultural heritage terms, that the Irish State has undertaken since its foundation. It takes a major step in fulfilling an objective I set myself when I became the first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht — to establish a modern legislative structure within which our major cultural institutions could be enabled to thrive.
First there was the enactment of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, which established the right of ownership of the people of Ireland to all archaeological objects of importance found with no known owner. Another major component was the enactment of the Heritage Act, 1995, which established the Heritage Council on a statutory basis and whose remit includes heritage objects. The latest building block is what is before the Seanad today — the National Cultural Institutions Bill. I refer to the other Bills because this Bill is part of a set of Bills which will become known as the heritage legislation.
The National Cultural Institutions Bill, 1996, proposes the establishment of autonomous boards to manage and care for the collections in the National Museum and the National Library; it proposes measures to underpin the development of the National Gallery; it proposes an indemnity scheme to permit exhibitions of international calibre to be seen here in Ireland on a regular basis; it proposes to provide increased protection for all objects of cultural importance wherever they are situated within the State and other ways and means through application of legislative actions are proposed through which the National Museum and the National Library may be enabled to develop their collections, not least through providing extension of deposit copyright arrangements. Through such changes we hope to create structures through which, on a systematic basis, the living memory and achievements of all facets of Irish society may be collected, to facilitate the study of anyone who wishes to understand what has moulded the Ireland of today.
I ndáiríre, ní ceart go mbeadh aon chúis míniú cén fath a bhfuil gá ann do Mhúsaem Náisiúnta nó Leabharlann Náisiúnta, ach de bharr an bharúil nach bhfuil an áit lárnach chuí ag na hinstitiúdí seo ní foláir an cheist a chur — agus í a fheagairt. Níl aon easpa dea-thola poiblí ann, dár ndóigh. Tá go leor bronntanais thabhachtacha faighte ag an Leabharlann agus ag an Músaem leis na blianta, agus d'oibrigh go leor daoine go cróga i láthair na gconstaic uafásacha le haghaidh na hinstitiúidí a choinneáil agus a fhorbairt mar atá siad inniu. Ach thar thréimhse fhada níl go leor aird tugtha ag an Stát do na riachtanais reachtúla, struchtúrtha agus acmhainne atá ag teastáil chun na struchtúir bhunúsacha le haghaidh stair na ndaoine a dhoiciméadú agus a choinneáil. An leor é mar chosaint a rá go raibh an Stát i gconaí gafa le rudaí níos práinní ar a chlár oibre? Nó nár fhág an géarghá le hinstitiúidí polaitiúla a chruthú, nó bia, tithíocht agus fostaíocht a sholáthar don phobal mórán ama chun an cheist a fhreagairt conas ar chóir leabhar na ndaoine a chlárú?
Seans gur féidir teacht ar fhreagraí i measc cúiseanna éagsúla, struchtúir riaracháin uireasacha gan fócas agus easpa treoir ina measc; b'fhéidir freisin go luíonn cuid de na deacrachtaí le rian eile ó am atá thart, sin le rá an claonadh míthuisceanach féachaint ar mhúsaem mar ionad stórais, teach stór i gcomhair lámhdhéantúsáin, áit speisialta ach do dhaoine áirithe, agus áit gan cumas dáiríre na lámhdhéantúsáin a úsáid le haghaidh cuspóirí oiliúna.
Certainly there was nothing less than insufficient appreciation of the importance records of the past have to play in the task of understanding the present and creating a secure future of tolerance. For how can one measure accomplishment, or the quality, health and well-being of a people, if there is insufficient or inaccessible record of the past with which to make comparison? How can progression of a people be justly measured if the past has not been recorded for retrieval? Not a past as exemplified by the manipulations of a contrived triumphalism or something deliberately sentimentalised, but a past overflowing with complexity, richness and humanity; not just political landmark occasions, but the self-deluding propaganda, the smoke-screens and evasions, the things which were once regarded as important, and which turned out not to be; the things which seemed trivial at the time but yet hardened into firm evidence: where evidence could be a simple employment reference for a servant girl seeking work in a big house, the preparatory sketches of a great painter, the initial designs for an important public building or a love letter written in haste by a great man caught up in the throes of a revolutionary struggle.
What such things show is that what is important is not just the transactions of living but the ways in which we choose to live. Knowledge of our forebears' ways is of no less value than the evidence accumulated illuminating great events, mass movements or the artistic achievements of our painters, writers and artisans — all, as James Joyce has articulated, resonant of the "collective unconscious of our race". Without the capacity to recall the data, there is no sense of collective identity or community; there is no nation. Ultimately there is no coherent society, only an endless suburb inhabited by people existing in a place called anywhere.
The national cultural institutions of the National Museum and National Library are built on the achievements of the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Dublin Society. It was in 1877, through the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act, that the institutions came into being, but the Act did not in itself create institutions; the substance of the Act deals rather with conveyances of land and transfers of collections. To "find" the institutions one must look further behind the working of that Act to a formal agreement entered into in 1881 by the then Department of Science and Art with the Royal Dublin Society. This agreement established a board of visitors for the National Museum and the Botanic Gardens and a council of trustees for the National Library. Another agreement made in 1890 with the Royal Irish Academy transferring, subject to safeguards, its collections to the care of the State, completed the original structures for the museum and library.
The institutions of the museum and library, although commonly perceived as independent entities, are in fact fully integrated into the central State apparatus, the staff being civil servants and both institutions part of my Department. Under the basic legal structure the State holds the executive managerial duties relating to the museum. The duties of the board of visitors for the National Museum which includes Government, RDS and RIA appointees, are confined to an advisory role.
The administration of the National Library, too, has been a function of the State. The council of trustees, appointed by me and by the RDS, has only a supervisory role. Another constituent part of the National Library is the Genealogical Office, recognised in 1943, but with antecedents in the specialist field of heraldry going back to the 16th century.
Ba thoradh ar an aois iad na freagraí nó na réitigh a socraíodh orthu, agus na struchtúir institiúideacha a tháinig astu. Bhí an-chosúlacht eatarthu agus na heagraíochtaí daonchairdiúla a chur bailiúcháin le chéile ar mhaithe an phobail san ochtú agus sa naoú haois déag. D'éirigh chomh maith sin leis na heagraíochtaí seo gur éiríodar ró-bheag agus bhí ar an Stát, níos déanaí sa naoú haois déag, struchtúir a chur le chéile a bhfreagródh riachtanais an ré Victeóiriach agus choilíneach.
Despite the durability of the structures there has been recognised for a long time a need to delegate formally decision making to the museum and library, particularly on issues relating to care and management of the collections. Every commissioned report on the museum — in 1927, 1947, 1949, 1985 and 1995 — has concluded that the departmental structure has been a poor basis for managing and developing the museum. Successive reports of boards of visitors have pointed out in ever more urgent terms the multiplicity of curatorial problems in all areas of work, including storage, conservation and exhibition. The reports have pointed to the urgent need for the appointment of an autonomous board.
Administrative reports in relation to the library have also indicated strongly that its underlying formal basis and structures need to be defined and set out in statute. It is for these reasons that the establishment of autonomous boards for the museum and library is proposed. I believe that autonomy provided by means of statutorily established boards will give these institutions greater discretion and accountability over the handling of budgets; some flexibility over personnel resources; stronger powers to develop policies on acquisitions; the holding of exhibitions and integrating these important institutions into the national culture all within a broad compass of guiding principles set by the Oireachtas, not least on the important subjects of loans and disposal of cultural objects.
A matter of public comment on which I want to spend some time is in relation to the Genealogical Office. The role of the office within the National Library is a valuable cultural resource for the country. For this reason I consider it important that the function in relation to genealogy be set out in this legislation. In so doing the office's interests will be best served by confirming and formalising that its existence lies fully within the framework of the operation of the board of the library. Within the Genealogical Office there has also been a long standing practice of confirming and granting coats of arms by an official known as the Chief Herald.
The appellation Chief Herald has its origins in what was the Ulster Office of Arms, more commonly referred to as the office of the Chief Herald, in existence since 1552 when the title of chief herald was passed in the form of a personal patent from person to person by the British monarch. This practice continued up to 1919 when the Chief Herald was appointed in accordance with long established practice and continued until his death in 1940 with the rest of the office staff being paid by the British authorities. This function has achieved a cultural importance over the centuries and so it is proposed that its title and function be specially recognised in this Bill. The Genealogical Office is regarded as having been established by virtue of the Allocation of Administration (Genealogical Office) Order, 1943, about which there are some questions, I should say, which gave responsibility for this office to the Minister for Education.
Since 1943 the Genealogical Office has existed as a distinct entity within the framework of the National Library as well as being linked administratively to it. Staffing and budgeting have always been treated within the context of the library's function. A separate Government decision in 1943 provided that the function of granting of arms should continue and be performed by the Chief Genealogical Officer or his deputy. The staff working in the Genealogical Office were appointed as staff of the library.
The National Library and Genealogical Office are under the overall responsibility of the relevant Minister of the day, a responsibility that currently falls within the remit of the Minister of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. The proposed continuation of the linkage of the cultural resources represented by genealogy and heraldry with the National Library is regarded as both desirable and necessary in the interests of all concerned. The linkage also recognises that the genealogical function involves important access to National Library sources of material.
In order to ensure clarity in the administrative framework under the new board it was considered necessary that this issue be clarified in the Bill and the function made a responsibility of the new board. The legislation clarifies a matter about which there has been ambiguity in relation to staff, the library, the genealogical functions and the office of heraldry.
For reasons arising from a legal doubt in the 1943 order as to whether a Genealogical Office was actually established, that office must first technically be created and then abolished before pre-existing functions can be formally reconstructed and assigned to the National Library. This technical abolition should not make any substantial change to the operation of genealogy or heraldry within the library as an institution, the intention being to remove any doubt as to the authority in charge of the operation of those functions. This is what is being proposed, no more and no less.
In anticipation of the legislative change and as an interim measure, the director of the National Library was given the title when the Chief Herald and Genealogical Officer retired in the middle of 1995. His role was to act in a supervisory capacity overseeing the work of that office.
I want to turn to the role of the RDS and RIA to whom I have paid tribute in relation to their early valuable work. I have spent some time on the previous point because I believe that, unfortunately, that aspect of this Bill has been misconstrued in some comments in the media. Last week I met the staff of the cultural institutions in an open question and answer session about the new Bill. There have also been talks between the specific staffs and members and my Department to explain the Bill in detail.
In seeking to create autonomous boards the Government could not but consider carefully the respective roles of the RIA and the RDS, roles set out in the agreements of 1881 and 1890. Their work in establishing, during the 19th century, the core of the collections of the museum and library, and their watchful eyes over the last 100 years demands both a recognition and response from the State, a response required to be founded on the principle of some continuation of both that interest and their roles. To these ends extensive discussions with both bodies have taken place which, I am pleased to say, have resulted in the signing of new agreements building on those of 1881 and 1890. As a central part of the agreements the Oireachtas is being asked, through this Bill, to approve that the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Dublin Society be given the right to make a list of nominations to the new boards from which the Minister would choose a number to serve in a personal capacity.
There are proposals in the Bill dealing with the change of status of the staff of the museum and the library following the establishment of the autonomous boards. I will deal with these later when I come to outline the provisions of the Bill. However, I would like to assure Senators that I and my Department have discussed and will continue to discuss the implementation of the Bill with the staff concerned.
Measures proposed in the Bill to enhance the development of the cultural institutions will heighten the consciousness of the importance of heritage objects, but other elements are important too. Exhibitions showing us the achievements of other peoples allow us to compare with and measure our own achievements. This is particularly important since we live on an island at the edge of Europe and many will only occasionally, if at all, have the opportunity to see at first hand artistic or historic artifacts of international importance.
This Bill will make it possible for regular exhibitions to be held without the Minister of the day having to go to Government for a separate indemnification. For example, I had to make a separate application to the Government for the current Louis Le Broquy retrospective exhibition in IMMA in Kilmainham and many other exhibitions. The Bill makes that unnecessary and provides an easy way to manage it on a regular basis.
An essential component in facilitating such exhibitions is the availability of legal indemnity provisions which offer an appropriate, efficient and cost effective aid to mounting such major exhibitions. At present, a certain level of indemnity is provided by Government on a case by case basis. A clear need exists for a comprehensive statutory based scheme. While such cover is provided only for exhibition areas meeting the highest standards, it has to be recognised that no matter how well a building is secured there will always be an element of risk. It is this risk which the proposed indemnity system covers.
While indemnities are mainly required for visiting exhibitions there have been, and are, rare instances where it is either necessary or highly desirable that long-term indemnities could be offered to encourage certain heritage objects to be brought into the care of the State. Providing cover to the full value of the artifact and, by its nature, for an indefinite period, would be an unacceptable and inappropriate burden on the State. A strictly limited form of indemnity only, therefore, in this area is being proposed in the Bill.
I will now turn to heritage collections. Establishing boards for the National Museum and National Library and providing a system of indemnity cover will be of considerable assistance in deepening an awareness of heritage objects as a constituent part of the culture of the people. However, it is essential that we also provide ways and means whereby heritage items may appropriately be protected from being lost to the country.
At present, only archaeological objects are afforded full protection under Irish law, including the right of the Minister to refuse a licence for export. Under the Documents and Pictures Act, 1945, a licence from the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht must be obtained before documents over 100 years old and pictures are exported. This licence must, in all cases, be given.
A greater degree of protection is required, quite frankly. As a first step in the process of putting in place reasonable levels of protection, I am proposing to establish a register of certain heritage cultural items whose export would be a serious loss to the heritage of the country. In drawing up a register it is not being implied that other objects are not of equal heritage importance, but we must make a start.
We do not want to discourage the inflow of cultural items by private collectors — the discouragement being the knowledge of the existence of an export prohibition — since such collectors may later decide to place such items in the care of a public body. The degree of protection to be afforded must depend on various circumstances, balancing the interests involved. The Bill will apply the strongest regulatory controls only to registered heritage objects already in public care.
A related matter is that of export licences. I envisage that the export licence provisions concerning paintings will be more targeted than is currently the case. Documents over 100 years old already need a licence before being exported and a reduction in the limit to at least 70 years is seen as necessary from the archival perspective, and this is proposed in the Bill.
A new export licence category is proposed in relation to the decorative arts. The decorative arts are Irish manufactured objects, such as antique Irish glass, furniture and Belleek pottery, all of which constitute an important and integral part of the National Museum's collection in the sphere of art and industry. It is timely, therefore, that the decorative arts should be recognised in this way.
The possibility of other categories of cultural objects needing protection from being lost to the country in the future cannot be excluded. The Bill includes a power to permit the Minister to extend the categories for which there is a licence requirement. A fine is being introduced for non-compliance with the requirement to obtain the necessary export licence.
In the interests of consolidation, all the relevant export licensing requirements are to be grouped together. This consolidation process will permit the repeal of the Documents and Pictures Act, 1945, in its entirety, as well as separate export controls on archaeological objects contained in the National Monuments Acts.
I will turn now to the issue of compulsory purchase. There are many valuable cultural objects in the long-term care of public authorities but not in the outright ownership of the State. As a result of instances that have arisen occasionally in the past, there is always the real possibility that a private owner may seek to reclaim from a public authority an important heritage item in its care for many years with a view to its export and sale on the international market, and where the public authority would be virtually powerless to avoid the loss.
This is not an abstract point, I am sorry to say. A person might be motivated by the beauty of an object and the ethical impulse to share it as part of a wider cultural heritage. However, through succession, others in later generations may seek to change the terms on which the original gift was made. Clearly there is potential for controversy unless provisions are put in place now that attempt to balance — which I stress — the rights of the owner and the interests of the common good. To deal with such potentially fraught situations procedures are set out in the Bill whereby the State may acquire registered cultural objects in public care, compulsorily if necessary.
While the National Gallery's legislative structure has served it well for a long time, some of the new provisions for the museum and library would be useful and appropriate if they were to be applied to the gallery. Such provisions would include a power for the gallery to draw up by-laws on the same basis as the museum and library and provisions in relation to annual reports and accounts and borrowing powers. The opportunity afforded by the Bill is being taken to provide for these.
At present, the National Library can purchase library material that is not subject to the book deposit requirements of the Copyright Act, 1963. With the development of new technologies the range and volume of such material has expanded substantially. However, the scope for extending collections through purchase in the ordinary course is limited to what can be afforded by way of annual grant allocation. A lack of sufficient resources over a long period of time has led to fragmented private sector activities in various archival fields, for example, in the subjects of theatre, film, music and architecture. We have often been very grateful to those who have risen to meet an urgency for which provision was not made.
Clearly, to bring greater cohesion to the function of collecting items representative of our past the remit of the National Library needs to be strengthened to respond adequately to the broad range of interests and in ways that do not impose too onerous a cost on the collecting institution. Accordingly, the Bill will allow the National Library on a planned and phased basis, as storage and retrieval resources permit, to gradually expand its collection and take into account the development of new technologies since 1963.
I would like to turn to more material matters. At present the rating position of our cultural institutions continues to be founded on the Scientific Societies Act, 1843, which provides that scientific and fine arts societies are to be exempted from rating. This provision is founded on the premise of what constituted the arts in the middle of the 19th century just before the Famine. It is not established yet that the National Museum, the National Library or Heritage Council would automatically be adjudged "scientific societies" for rates exemption purposes.
In addition, while a centrally important cultural institution, the Irish Museum of Modern Art has managed to attain rates exemption in respect of its activities. The Abbey Theatre, also centrally important, has been refused rates exemption. The Bill ensures, therefore, that certain listed cultural institutions, including the National Museum and the National Library, engaged exclusively in the fields of the arts or heritage shall be exempt for rates.
Other provisions enhancing the independence of cultural institutions include a facility permitting the issue of intoxicating liquor licences for certain of the key collecting institutions. It is extraordinary in a Bill with about 68 sections that this is the one which received prepublicity, almost to the exclusion of every other provision. Perhaps this is a real need for many which I was glad to address. Only those bodies with important collections and under the aegis of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht will be included.
The Bill also makes provision for desirable changes which on their own might not justify separate legislative action or which arise from the establishment of the museum and library as autonomous boards. These provisions include the repealing of redundant legislation relating to theatres; requiring the main collecting institutions to provide assistance to the Heritage Council; widening the basis of membership of Marsh's Library at the request of its Board of Governors and Guardians; making some minor adjustments to specific provisions in the National Monuments Acts and affirming that the maintenance of the premises of the museum and library will remain the responsibility of the Office of Public Works.
I will now deal with the main provisions of the Bill. Part I, sections 1 to 7, is of a generalist nature with provisions which are relevant in one or all of the other Parts of the Bill which cover defining terms or necessary technical issues. Part II, sections 8, 9 and 10, establishes Bord Ard-Mhúsaem na hÉireann and Bord Leabharlann Náisiúnta na Éireann, sets out the names by which these institutions will be known and provides for separate establishment days for each of the boards. Each board is to be a body corporate with powers to sue and be sued and to acquire, hold and dispose of moveable property, subject to the provisions of the Bill, and land, with the consent of the Minister.
As on and from their respective establishment days, by virtue of sections 11 and 12, the boards of the National Museum and National Library shall have the general duty of maintaining, managing, controlling and expanding their collections and have all such powers as are necessary for these purposes. Section 13 provides that the business and administration of the Genealogical Office is to be carried out by the Board of the National Library and the functions of researching, granting and confirming coats of arms shall be performed by a person designated by the board as Chief Herald.
As I said earlier, I am specifically providing for the functions of genealogy and the appellation of Chief Herald in legislation in order to strengthen their status as a valuable cultural resource. It is envisaged that the title of Chief Herald will be held by the person who has the expertise in this sphere of activity while under the supervision and control of the board of the library.
The boards of the museum and library will be empowered to draw up by-laws under section 14 governing the care and protection of the collections, to charge for services rendered and, subject to ministerial consent, to charge admission fees for their institutions generally and/or in respect of specific exhibitions. Section 15 allows the Minister to confer on the boards additional functions.
Section 16 provides that the respective collections of the museum and library are, in general, to be held in repositories authorised and listed in the First Schedule and that items from the collections may only be removed from the repositories for specified reasons as provided for in the Act. The national repositories will consist in the first instance of the existing museum and library buildings contained within the Leinster House complex. Provision is also made for the designation of further repositories in the future. It is envisaged that other buildings will also be designated by order at the time of the establishment of the bodies. It is envisaged that other buildings, such as Collins Barracks, will be designated in parallel with the establishment day.
Sections 17 and 18 set out provisions governing the lending of artifacts by the museum and for the lending and disposal of material by the library. Separate arrangements are proposed for the treatment of the collections by either board having regard to the distinct and particular circumstances involved. Consultation with the Heritage Council is provided for. Section 19 sets out the numbers and composition of the persons to comprise each board, including the chairperson, 14 to 16 in respect of the museum and ten to 12 in respect of the library with provision for a number in each board to be chosen from a list of nominees provided by the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Dublin Society. A minimum of board members for each gender is provided for.
Sections 20 and 21 set out the terms of office of members of the boards and chairpersons and the conditions under which they would serve on the boards. Standard provisions such as the period of office, remuneration of board members and conduct of board meetings are provided for. Sections 22, 23 and 24 set out provisions governing meetings of the boards, establishment by the boards of advisory committees and the acquisition of a seal.
Section 25 provides that a person nominated or elected to become a Member of either House of the Oireachtas or of the European Parliament will cease to be or may not become a member of a board. Where the person concerned is a member of staff of a board that person will be regarded as seconded from his or her employment. Sections 26 and 27 provide for the making of grants of amounts each year to the boards, and basic criteria are set out under which a board may accept and invest gifts of money, land and other property.
Section 28 sets out the respective roles and functions of the directors of the National Museum and the National Library. The directors of the respective institutions are to be the chief executives of the institutions to be appointed by the board with the consent of the Minister. A director in place on the establishment day is to be deemed to have been appointed by the boards on their current terms and conditions.
Sections 29 and 30 provide for appointment of staff of a board. The numbers, levels of remuneration, terms and conditions, would be for the board to determine with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance. All persons currently employed exclusively for the performance of duties within the National Museum or National Library shall become members of the staff of the relevant board on the establishment day.
The Minister is empowered to designate those of his general staff to be staff of the National Museum and the National Library. This will facilitate general civil servants who wish to stay in the museum and library after establishment day. Transfers to the employment of the new boards are to be on the basis of conditions not less favourable than before the transfer and this is explicitly recognised in the Bill.
Under section 31 a board, when determining such topics as remuneration and allowances, shall be subject to relevant guidelines and directives issued from time to time. Sections 32 and 33 set out provisions governing superannuation of staff and empower a board to borrow money.
Sections 34 and 35 set out basic provisions concerning preparation by the boards of accounts and audits of those accounts, preparation of annual reports and the supplying of information to the Minister. Section 36 provides for continuance in force of any pending legal proceedings; and sections 37 and 38 provide for transfer of certain types of property, rights and liabilities to each board. Section 39 empowers a board to employ consultants and advisers subject to any relevant guidelines and directives issued from time to time. Section 40 provides a board with an exemption from stamp duty in certain circumstances.
Part III of the Bill establishes the statutorily based State system of indemnity in respect of important cultural exhibitions imported from abroad and for valuable cultural items on long-term loan to the major collecting institutions of the State. Section 41 defines key terms used in Part III of the Bill and section 42 establishes a procedure for indemnification against the loss of, or damage to, a cultural object while on loan to certain institutions for public exhibition. The institutions are listed in the Second Schedule to the Bill.
Section 43 sets out an upper monetary limit of £150 million on total indemnities outstanding above which indemnities may not be given. A lower limit of £1 million per indemnity, subject to certain exceptions, is also cited. A procedure may be invoked permitting temporarily the setting of a new upper limit, subject to approval by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas.
Section 44 provides a mechanism whereby the list of institutions and authorised areas for indemnity purposes set out in the Second Schedule to the Bill may be amended by the Minister by order, subject to approval by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas. The institutions to be cited must have current or planned equipped exhibition areas to high standards, be in full or substantive public ownership, be experienced in presenting exhibitions of major importance or are otherwise already responsible for caring for collections of national or international importance.
Section 45 provides for giving long-term indemnities for loans of certain cultural objects to cultural institutions for periods of indefinite duration. The objects must first be registered in accordance with section 47. The value of any object must be not less than £250,000 and the cumulative amount of liability against any form of loss is set within an overall ceiling of £20 million. Indemnity against loss or damage is capped at 10 per cent of the value or £1 million, whichever is the lower. The Minister may, by order, vary the monetary amounts to which I have referred subject to approval by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas.
Part IV of the Bill sets out provisions in relation to heritage collections. Section 46 empowers, inter alia, the main collecting institutions to lend to, borrow from, or exchange with each other any cultural objects in its collection, and there is a provision to deal with the unlikely event of a conflict arising from any overlap in collection policy.
Section 47 provides for the establishment by the Minister of a register of certain classes of cultural objects whose export from the State would constitute a serious loss to Ireland's heritage. The register will be limited in size by virtue of categories and considerations as directed by the Minister.
Section 48 consolidates and updates existing export licensing provisions. Export licences will continue to be required for archaeological objects. The scope of licences in relation to paintings and old documents not in print is revised. New categories of cultural objects to which an export licensing provision will apply are established to include classes of decorative arts objects listed in a Schedule to the Bill and other classes of cultural objects so designated, by order, by the Minister. Various levels of penalty upon conviction depending on the level of offence are set out in the section.
Section 49 applies the export licensing provisions. In general, apart from archaeological objects and registered cultural objects, the applicant will be granted the export licence. Section 50 provides for delegation of export licensing and enforcement functions to the boards of the National Museum, National Library and National Gallery. Senators can see from these four sections that it is a substantive Bill with regard to the new organisation and possibilities it creates for the new institutions.
Part V of the Bill sets out procedures within which acquisition by the State of registered cultural objects in public care may be effected. I have given the background in my earlier remarks and, as I said, it may be effected compulsorily if necessary. Section 51 establishes the objects to which it applies. Under sections 52, 53 and 54, should the return of such an object be sought by an owner, there is a procedure permitting the State to acquire the object by way of vesting order.
Section 55 provides for payment of compensation. Section 56 prescribes the form and time limits for claims. Sections 57 and 58 deal with the situation where, if an offer is made and refused, the claimant may apply to the High Court in a summary manner for compensation and the High Court is empowered to fix the amount to be paid subject to criteria. Upon application by the Minister, the court is empowered to have the order discharged, in which case compensation may be awarded by the court arising as a result of the proceedings. The provision will not apply to objects brought into public care after the passing of the Bill. Cultural objects, as well as being registered, must have been in the care of a public institution for at least five years prior to commencement of the provision.
Part IV of the Bill applies certain provisions of the Bill to the National Gallery of Ireland. Under section 59 additional functions for the gallery shall be to contribute to an increase and diffusion of knowledge of the visual arts to which I attach some importance as it is an educational function, dispose of land it has acquired and engage in fund raising activities. Section 60 applies to the gallery certain provisions which are to apply to the National Museum and the National Library.
In Part VII of the Bill section 61 provides certain collecting institutions with granted licences to sell intoxicating liquor under certain conditions. The on-licence will be subject to the normal opening hours of the museum or library and otherwise be bound by general intoxicating liquor licence provisions.
Section 62 makes changes to the governance framework of the board of Marsh's Library, established under an Act of 1707, permitting the Minister, with the consent of the Governors and Guardians of Marsh's Library, to appoint two additional persons to the board. This provision, as I have explained, is included at the request of Marsh's Library.
Section 63 provides that certain listed cultural institutions and bodies, whose remit comes within the sphere of arts and heritage, shall be exempt from the rate chargeable by a local authority. The listed institutions either come directly under the aegis of the Minister or arise from the special arrangements agreed between the Minister and the Arts Council involving the Concert Hall, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Abbey Theatre.
Section 64 creates a requirement that library material, other than in the form of books and first published in the State, be delivered to the National Library within one month of first publication. The provision includes engravings, play scripts, photographs, and any form of non-print media on which information is placed. A monetary fine of up to £500 is provided for non-compliance. An enablement is provided permitting the provision to be applied to other existing deposit libraries cited in the Copyright Act, 1963. The enablement is intended to be invoked as and when the UK authorities are deciding whether to continue with such arrangements in respect of library material other than in the form of books. This would allow such material to be deposited in Trinity College under UK law with the Irish providing for reciprocal deposit of Irish material with the relevant UK deposit libraries. Section 65 applies the new penalty level to books which are already subject to deposit arrangements.
Section 66 provides that the Minister may request a board, the Director of the National Archives or the Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery to make available such advice to the Heritage Council as required to assist it in performing its functions.
Section 67 makes minor adjustments to the National Monuments Act, 1930. Section 68 provides that the Commissioners of Public Works shall be responsible for maintenance and improvement of any premises occupied by the museum and library, acting under the supervision of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
The Bill is necessarily focused on the many structures and mechanisms needed to aid the development of our national cultural institutions and help them reach their full potential. Nonetheless, legislative action, while essential, cannot be relied on to be the only building block in the process of regeneration. To seek to enact procedural changes without putting into place the resources to develop these institutions would be tantamount to frustrating the intent behind the legislative measures. The optimal development of the museum and library requires the development of their financial and staff resources in a sustained manner. While developments must take place within the framework of relevant Government policies, I am personally fully committed to making the maximum progress possible in these areas.
Ba phointe siombalach tábhachtach i bhforbairt síceach mhuintir na hÉireann é bunú an Roinn Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Gaeltachta i 1993. Ba chomhartha an cinneadh sin ar mhian na ndaoine indibhidiúlacht an náisúin a chosaint agus a chothú, indibhidiúlacht atá éagsúil agus ilghnéitheach tríd úsáid a bhaint as struchtúir pholaitiúla agus as bearta polaitúla cruinn, agus trí chinnithe éagsúla cosúil le bunú stáisiún teilifíse nua, nó cinneadh ar fhorbairt a dhéanamh ar uiscebhealach intíreach.
The decisions to which I referred were taken to establish the cultural space in Ireland as a place where significant initiatives will be taken in the areas of audio-visual and film, inland waterways, parks and monuments, land acquisition, the various collections and proper care for the institutions of the State. If the Bill meets the approval of both Houses, it will join the other legislation I have put through the Oireachtas to become the framework of heritage legislation which will enable the institutions to draw on their rich past, be secure in the present and be flexible in a new era.
These decisions were taken for the purpose of deepening a sense of a nation that will be pluralistic and will respect the complexity of things. It will also be enlightened, tolerant, appreciative of the natural environment and receptive to the world of ideas and the imagination. It is important to state that respect for the integrity and complexity of the past makes possible a tolerance in the present. However, it is also the only guarantor regarding the integrity of the imagination in the future. We must adopt this integrated view of the legislation which guides the institutions, the practices and the making of provision. The decisions we take and the structures we put in place can be no more than conduits through which to protect and nurture what is intangible, yet crucial, in the life of the people. Any test of our work during the last three years and six months, not least through the actions we take in this Bill, must, of necessity, be judged by reference to those intangible values. I would welcome such a test.
Let our work be measured by how the people have lived, by what is achieved by the writers, the poets, the artisans; in due course, let measurement be by those who seek to appreciate and study what is collected, cared for and recorded for posterity in our national cultural institutions.
Molaim an Bille don Teach.