Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 27 Nov 1996

Vol. 149 No. 10

National Cultural Institutions Bill, 1996: Report and Final Stages.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I remind Senators they May speak only once on Report Stage, except the proposer of the amendment who may respond to the discussion on the amendment. On Report Stage, each amendment must also be seconded.

Amendments Nos. 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 and 55 are related to amendment No. 1 and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 1:
In page 7, line 2, to delete "an export" and substitute "a".

Amendments Nos. 1, 42, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53 and 55 relate to the export licensing part of the Bill and are mainly technical amendments of a drafting nature. Amendment No. 47 allows the minimum age of paintings to be consistent with the provision that allows for variation in the ages set for documents and decorative art objects.

On Committee Stage I accepted Senator Mooney's proposal that the export licence requirement in relation to documents should be specified as including estate records, parish and school registers and maps. While I am satisfied that the phrase "documents" includes such material I am prepared to make this explicit and amendment No. 52 gives effect to this proposal.

Senators Lee and O'Toole put down amendment No. 46:

(h) archival material in any form (including that defined in The National Archives Act, 1986. section 2) which is not less than 50 years old at the commencement of this Act shall also be covered by the provisions governing restrictions on export."

On Committee Stage I said the Minister of the day is being empowered by order to lower the age stipulation on documents which are covered in subsections (1)(a), (c) and (2) and include archival material.

On the basis of experience gained as to the effect of reducing the current age limit of 100 years set out in the Documents and Pictures Act, 1945, to 70 years, I will consider a further reduction to 50 years. This is the appropriate way to deal with this proposal. Accordingly I do not accept this amendment.

Which amendment is the Minister not accepting?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendment No. 46.

Is the Minister's thinking along the lines that there is a superior way of reaching the same objective in principle? If so, I agree with him.

I had great difficulty finding a definition of "archival material" that is consistent and sustained. Does the Minister have a definition other than that of The National Archives Act, 1986, or is that the definition we are working on?

The amendment the Minister is accepting, amendment No. 52, states:

In page 33, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"(13) In this section ‘document' includes ‘estate records, parish and school registers and maps.'.".

I am grateful to the Minister for including this amendment because of the matters raised on Second and Committee Stages. This means that such records will require an export licence before they can be removed from the country. The Minister might explain how long he envisages that process will take from the point of identification of the documents to the application and granting of a licence.

I seek further clarification from the Minister. On Section 18 (2) (e). I asked whether materials such as autographed manuscripts, photographed diaries, letters, etc., were covered by the Bill. This amendment might cover such material. Could the Minister give an assurance to the House that this specific kind of handwritten material is protected by the Bill in some form?

I am grateful for Senator Mooney's acknowledgement and the Bill is better for the inclusion. I believed the inclusion was always implicit but there is value in making it explicit.

On Senator Lee's point, the mechanism of the order is more flexible and inclusive. We are at one in what we want to achieve. Senator Norris's point is reasonable. The materials to which he refers would be construed as documents and would be covered in that section.

Senator Mooney asked whether documents were covered. They are if they are of the age. He also asked about the length of the process. I will ensure the work is carried out as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

The Minister might reply on the definition of archival material. I do not ask in an adversarial manner but with documents including estate records, parish and school registers, maps, etc., archival material would normally be assumed——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Lee may only speak once on Report Stage but the Minister knows the question the Senator asked and will reply to it.

Senator Lee has a point and I am anxious to be as helpful as possible. There is no definition of archives available outside The National Archives Act, 1986, that would be useful in the context of this Bill. The term would be difficult to set out in legal language but in the framing and terminology of the Bill I have set out to be inclusive. I am satisfied there is protection.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendment No. 2; amendment No. 13 is related and amendment No. 14 is consequential. Amendments Nos. 2, 13 and 14 will be discussed together, by agreement.

Government amendment No. 2:
In page 8, line 12, after "sections", to insert "14,".

As a result of the discussion on general entry charges which arose on Committee Stage, I looked at the procedures set out in the Bill to see if they could be further strengthened. Resulting from this, amendment No. 14 proposes to add a subsection to section 14 of the Bill to the effect that no general charge in respect of entry to the museum, library or gallery can be introduced without the prior approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Amendment No. 2 is a drafting amendment consequential on this, and meets the concerns of some Senators that, if there was a proposal, this is an issue of public policy which would merit discussion by the Oireachtas. Section 14 (2) (d) provides that the board in question can make the proposal for entry charges but, for this to be implemented, the Minister's consent must be forthcoming.

This sub-paragraph seeks for the first time to provide some ground rules, a procedure in which real debate on the contentious issue of general entry charges can be conducted. There is, at present, no specified procedure setting out a framework for debate. As of now, on behalf of the National Museum and National Library, I would be entitled, in theory, to introduce general charges and the National Gallery could do so without my consent. I am satisfied the measures included in the Bill as initiated provide adequate democratic safeguards, not least the proposed consent role for the Minister, that being a guarantee of direct accountability to the Oireachtas. As I said on Committee Stage, this provides an appropriate balance between the autonomy of the board and public policy considerations. That I am prepared now to go further than what is, in my view, essential arises out of an innate sympathy with Senators' concerns on the issue and a desire to strengthen the democratic procedures involved to the maximum level appropriate to the issue in question.

However, the amendment tabled by Senator Mooney and Senator Fitzgerald goes further again, proposing a statutory prohibition on general entry charges. While I can understand the Senators' intent, I consider a statutory bar unnecessary and that my amendment provides sufficient safeguards to meet their concerns. One would have to hear the opinions of both Houses of the Oireachtas, which surely is a way of establishing a change of public policy in the most democratic way.

In setting out my view on the relative merits of the two proposals, my response cannot be brief, unfortunately, because the issue of access is by no means straightforward. I do not warm to any suggestion that people's access to their heritage should be inhibited as this is a basic right of every citizen. That is why the ethos of the Bill is infused with the philosophy of access and is the reason the provisions of the Bill state, among other things, that the duties of the respective boards of the National Museum and the National Library, as appropriate, include such provisions as are required for the dissemination of knowledge of the collections for the benefit of the public, the promotion of research and the integration of the institutions' activities as an integral part of the national culture. To underwrite the basic philosophy, new provisions are being added creating advisory committees specifically geared to take on board the views of the public. These committees will ensure that the public's views must be actively sought and taken account of by the governing boards. All these measures underline that elitism does not and will not inform any part of the thinking behind this Bill.

The issue of access involves many factors and the issue of general entry charges is but one of them, albeit an important one. In taking a critical look at the proposal for a legislative ban on general entry charges, I must ask myself whether this would necessarily and in all circumstances, now and for the indefinite future, save by change of primary legislation, serve the interests of access. I am not convinced that my reservations about general entry charges are so certain as to deny any possibility of a structure of general charge being formulated that will enhance real access. Is there anyone so prescient as to predict that only a negative impact on access is possible? What if a package of proposals were to be put forward showing that a general charging regime would be focused on the once-off visiting tourist rather than the citizen and the resultant new resources created would be utilised to establish new education and exhibition facilities, outreach programmes and permit exploitation of the apparently limitless potential of interactive media? What if it could be shown that the new resources would be targeted at those who have never set foot in the National Museum, National Library or National Gallery or shown any interest in so doing even though the institutions have had free access for decades? Are we to exclude forever one avenue through which the possibility of breaking intractable social barriers might, I put it no more strongly than that, be achievable?

The issue of access is far more complex than the single issue of a general entry charge. I am adamantly opposed to any policy of charging that would conflict with the objectives of the Bill but I stand firmly behind policies which would reasonably enhance the Bill's objectives and for legislation which does not unnecessarily close off all possibilities for progress. On the entry charge issue, I cannot support an amendment which seeks to deny the creation in statute of a pragmatic procedural arrangement established securely within a democratic framework. The approval of the Oireachtas would be necessary and, without predetermining the outcome, debate is warranted on the substantive issue at an appropriate stage in future years. The effect of the Senators' amendment would be to deny the possibility of debating the issue. The introduction of a blanket legislative ban does not, in my view, serve the interest of access to our national cultural institutions.

Accordingly, having regard to no more than the Bill's objectives I have tried, in responding to this debate, to be as amenable as possible but I have concluded that my amendment is the preferable mechanism for progressing the issue of access rather than the amendment proposed by the Senators. My amendment ensures that if a board were ever to make proposals in this area, the endorsement of both Houses of the Oireachtas would be required before they could be implemented.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

In calling Senator Mooney, the Chair is tempted to say: "Follow that".

Will it be inscribed on the doors of the National Library, National Gallery and National Museum forever more?

Until this moment, I was not aware that it took three pages of impressive rhetoric and an equally impressive presentation style to say "no". I stand in total astonishment.

We should issue it as a record.

It would be the Christmas No. 1.

There is great potential in that regard. With the right arrangement, melodic music and the flourishes of the Minister's style, which reaches highs and lows at the correct points in order to emphasise the "no", there is no question but that it could be a Christmas hit.

Equally, my response to the Minister is "no". To put it in context, I fully appreciate everything he has said but to quote the words of the former Cathaoirleach, the late Seán Fallon, in another context, the Minister's reply is like Delaney's dog, it went a bit of the road with everyone. The Minister went a certain distance with all the comments made on Second Stage and Committee Stage. However, to reiterate what I said at that point, the gulf between us is the distance between enshrining it in legislation or leaving it to a board of management to decide. The board will seek the consent of the Minister who, in turn, if it is agreed, will bring it before both Houses of the Oireachtas. In theory that sounds impressive, it is democracy in its purest form. However, the cynical among us will point out that usually the Government of the day in which the Minister serves has a majority in both Houses.

Not at the moment.

No, but it usually does. As a result, I am not sure that the checks and balances suggested by the Minister go any way towards achieving what I or my colleagues on the Independent benches set out to achieve.

One would not have thought that the Financial Times would have strongly supported what it terms “Victorian value”. However, its editorial on 11 November last states:

When the great museums of the Victorian era were built and extended in the last decade of the 19th century, Britain's real income per head was roughly equivalent to that of present-day Uruguay.

Yet in one respect the country was rich: in the vision which established these splendid monuments to culture and scholarship, intended to be open to the public as a means of raising the nation's intellectual and artistic consciousness. Whatever may be thought of such lofty aspirations, they left a heritage which remains an important part of the nation's identity.

One reason was the tradition of free access. It not only allowed anyone to visit museums and galleries, but conferred a sense that the treasures in them belonged to everyone — which, broadly, they do.

Since those days, a progressive squeeze on costs has forced many great museums to start charging for entry. [The editorial makes the valid point that currently only five national cultural institutions in the UK have resisted this trend.]

This is a case in which the price mechanism will act perversely — to limit an activity which should only be encouraged. And if the Victorians could afford to build great museums for the people, surely a much richer nation can afford to let them in.

I was unable to put it better myself.

There is an established trend among the great cultural institutions in Europe to charge an entry fee. However, there are a number of variations in this regard. For example, on one day each month the French authorities do not charge an entry fee into their cultural institutions while other countries operate a free hour or two at the end of a day for people who wish to visit the museums.

However, in Denmark one basic philosophy underlying its legislation is that the state should encourage rather than direct or control. In consequence, the legislation governing the activities of state art foundations and film subsidy authorities explicitly stipulates that all decisions on financial support in these respective spheres should be made exclusively by special committees or councils of experts. Neither the Minister nor Parliament can influence or alter such decisions. These principles have gradually been transferred to other areas involving artistic decisions. Moreover, a second basic philosophy is that Danish cultural policies are aimed at involving as many people as possible in cultural activities. This effort has no doubt been successful. However, if we allowed this by-law to be passed, it would give carte blanche to the various committees.

One final nail in what I hope will be the Minister's coffin in this regard is a quote from "A Fundamental Review of the British Museum's Operations" by Mr. Andrew Edwards with the help of a professional team, which was published on 8 October 1996. He devotes a chapter to admission charges which states:

Throughout its history, except for a short period in 1973, admission to the Museum has been free. In the world outside, most national Museums and Galleries now charge for admission. [This reinforces my argument in relation to our three cultural institutions.] Some notable exceptions are the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the National Museums of Scotland, and the Smithsonian Institute. The Museum has traditionally been opposed in principle to admission charges on the grounds, in the words of a previous Director that:

"The Museum should be available free to anybody to stretch their minds and stimulate their curiosity. The Trustees hold the collections in trust for the nation and for the world.... It is a sign of a civilised society to make these collections as available as possible."

Others have argued more explicitly that:

it is wrong in principle to deny access to people who cannot afford the entrance fee;

admission charges would lead to some reduction in visitor numbers, thus deterring many people from enjoying a unique and marvellous experience;

An article in The Financial Times on 16 November 1996 stated that the Director of the British Museum, Mr. Anderson—

... is also dubious about the financial benefits of charging. The Edwards report predicts that a £5 charge would bring in £8m a year and reduce visitor numbers by 27.5 per cent from today's 6.1m — the museum is the second most popular visitor attraction in the UK after Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

That is an interesting juxtaposition of cultural and non-cultural activities. Having soaked up the intellectual curiosity of the British Museum, people then get on a train to Blackpool. The article continues:

Mr. Anderson thinks that the decline in numbers would be greater [if a charge was imposed on the British Museum]. The Science Museum saw visits fall by 60 per cent in the year after it introduced charges.

That means that if the National Gallery of Ireland, which currently attracts over 1 million people per year, decided to impose a charge, 600,000 people would not visit it. There is no widespread research on the impact charges would have on such institutions. When library book charges were introduced, it had a deteriorating effect on the reading habits of those who traditionally visited county libraries.

We have talked in general terms about whether charges should be introduced but nobody has suggested what the charge might be. My trawl through British and European cultural institutions over the past two days suggests that if a charge was introduced for the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland, it would be a minimum charge of £5 per person per day. It would not be economically viable to impose a smaller charge due to the huge costs of administering such a scheme.

I am not sure it is in the best long-term interests of those three cultural institutions to impose or endorse such a charge. Not only would a charge be imposed, but it would be increased on a regular basis depending on the financial difficulties of those cultural institutions. If the Government granted an admission charge — I anticipate it would grant it notwithstanding the Minister's impressive statement about placing orders before both Houses — it is highly unlikely there would be any objection to it.

These are valid points in response to the Minister's passionate defence of the indefensible. I do not doubt his bona fides in this matter and it does not detract from his comments about the Bill's ethos. There is only a gulf between us on this issue. It is quite an achievement for the Minister to maintain the Bill's ethos over 68 sections but it will not be diminished by accepting this amendment. Despite the modus vivendi between myself and the Minister on many other issues in this Bill, I am afraid I must go to the wire on this one.

As I listened to Senator Mooney I wondered, if a charge was imposed on people who visited Blackpool pier would it result in an increase in the number of people visiting the British Museum?

The idea of charging to get into a museum or other such institution is anathema to me. I am happy the Minister shares this view. If one looks at the number of school tours and people who annually visit the museums or the National Art Gallery or the Museum of Natural History, the idea of charging a fee would be utterly unacceptable culturally. However, it is only culturally because, as Senator Mooney pointed out, throughout Europe people are charged entrance fees. It is a major expense. In Rome, for example, entrance is free only on the last Sunday of each month. Senator Mooney gave other examples and I oppose taking a step in that direction.

I had intended to support Senator Mooney's amendment but the Minister has put forward a substantial point and made two strong arguments in its favour. Currently the museum authorities have carte blanche should they decide tomorrow morning to charge for entry. There is no legislative means of controlling that and that has always been the case. Senator Mooney proposes that there can never be an entry charge. Without repeating the arguments made by the Minister, I can think of a variety of circumstances, for example, in the case of film companies, tourists and so forth, in which I would not object, although others might, to charging for entry.

While I support the view put forward by Senator Mooney in opposing any attempt to charge at the doors of the National Museum, the National Art Gallery or the Museum of Natural History, the Minister has made it a requirement under the Bill that there be legislative accountability on this matter. Until now the authorities could have decided to impose a charge at their own discretion. Under the Bill that cannot happen without ministerial and parliamentary approval.

The Minister has made a strong argument in favour of that position. I cannot envisage a situation in the future where I would not oppose an admission charge into museums, libraries and so forth. On the other hand, situations that we have not contemplated might arise. In addition, it would be a very brave Minister who would approve an entry charge. He or she would have every national and post-primary school of every hue in the country, their teaching staff, parents and management boards against him or her for a start, because that is the first sector that would be affected by such a charge. It would be, effectively, a surcharge on every parent whose child goes on a school tour. For that reason I cannot see it happening. However, there could be circumstances in which a general admission charge could be levied on a specific group without preventing the average citizen or young person accessing and celebrating the contents of our cultural institutions.

I am sorry to inform Senator Mooney I have weakened on this point. My commitment of support this morning is evaporating by the minute and I extend my apologies.

The Minister read two and a half pages of script to outline his constructive contribution on the amendment. Senator Mooney took a considerable amount of time to say he was not satisfied with the Minister's refusal——

I tried my best to compete.

Listening to the debate, one would think the Minister was legislating that these bodies must introduce admission charges immediately. The contrary is true and the Minister's amendment has the contrary effect. No suggestion should emanate from the House that even remote consideration is being given to levying admission charges to the National Museum or the National Library.

The Minister's proposal is reasonable and commendable. Let us deal with reality. The current position is that the management of these institutions can impose charges if they wish. The Minister is ensuring that this cannot be done in the future unless both Houses of the Oireachtas agree to such a proposal. At present every Member of the House opposes the concept of levying charges and it is their agreed wish that it will not happen. It is also the wish of the Minister, except in exceptional circumstances. I am delighted the Minister has given specific direction about this issue in the Bill. His proposal is commendable and I am delighted to support it.

First, I wish to ride two of my favourite hobbyhorses. I deplore the fact that in a debate on cultural institutions we are following the hateful American practice of turning nouns into verbs. It is a virus from computer terminology to talk about "accessing" things. I have a strong distaste for this and I am distressed that Members of the House would talk about "accessing" anything, although I am aware it is part of computer phraseology. Second, I would like to think, in common with Senator Taylor-Quinn, that impressions go abroad from this House——

——emanate from the House. I thank Senator Lee for his assistance. I do not think too many impressions emanate from this House. I doubt there will be massive reportage of today's proceedings, either in the electronic or the print media.

There will be none; there has been none to date.

There is nobody in the Press Gallery although I am sure they are watching their monitors. I doubt that impressions will emanate.

The Senator makes a magnificent impression abroad.

On you, madam, but perhaps not on the general public.

That is no use to the Senator.

None whatever; it is misdirected. This debate is particularly important because, as Senator Lee reminded me, the boards of management of these institutions will peruse the report of the debate. There is no doubt they will take it from the Minister's eloquent comments and from what every speaker has said that we are firm in our desire that there should be maximum possible access to our cultural heritage, and not one that is determined on financial wealth.

Look at the people who created much of our cultural wealth. Many of the painters were "pulling the devil by the tail". They did not have enough money to scrape together £5 to get into the National Gallery. James Joyce, who used the wonderful facilities of the National Library, did so at a time when his family life, according to reliable testimony from family friends, was so poor that they had to chop down the bannisters and burn them to keep warm. When somebody mentioned a cup of tea to one of Joyce's sisters, she responded: "In our house it is a jam jar of tea". Joyce might have been barred from the National Library if charges had been in effect.

A number of studies have been carried out on this issue, although I am not as conversant with them as Senator Mooney who has trawled widely throughout Europe for such information. However, a member of the staff of the House drew my attention to a survey carried out on a major British institution — I am not sure which one — which introduced an entrance charge. It found its revenue dropped from £30 million to £18 million per annum. That might have been because the income from ancillary products, such as cafeterias, reproduction services and so forth, suffered as a result of a catastrophic decline in attendance. From a practical point of view, therefore, one would have to be extremely careful in introducing such charges.

The Minister has gone a long distance in his amendment and, although I strongly sympathise with Senator Mooney's comments, it would be difficult to press the Minister to go further.

I too admire, without qualification, the Minister's virtuoso performance in terms both of substance and delivery. If this Minister was to remain as Minister sine die I would have no hesitation in accepting the reasoning and assumptions behind the amendment, but he will not. By raising this matter I fear we are beginning to sow seeds in the minds of people who will take decisions later, even though we now say we are strongly opposed to the principle of charging. Senator O'Toole said the institutions would have every parent in the country down on top of them — though not every school child — if they charged for entry. One can envisage a situation, however, where boards could exclude particular categories and therefore the burden would be borne by those members of the public who are not in a position to express the same degree of indignation, resentment and voting power as other groups.

There is a wider issue. Where will these institutions get the money to finance all the extra responsibilities that this legislation imposes upon them? It empowers them in principle but unless the money is there, much of what the legislation contains will be dead.

The temptation of charging entry fees is bound to arise, particularly on boards with a business and market orientation, which in principle is a good idea. It is part of what is happening now. They are bound to think in terms of entry fees as a fall back position at least when funding, which is so necessary to implement the admirable objectives of this legislation, is not forthcoming. I fear that having raised the issue, if we do not take the strongest possible line, which is Senator Mooney's line, we will have launched a counterproductive discussion. Though I accept and admire what the Minister has said, I am leaning towards Senator Mooney's amendment in the light of this point.

Although Senator Norris has left the Chamber, I must say it is strange for a Joycean scholar to object to new forms of the English language. Perhaps the Senator would accept that the computer is to the 1990s what Joyce was to the 1920s and 1930s.

I have a major problem with amendment No. 13 tabled by Senator Mooney and Senator Fitzgerald. It is not that I want to restrict access to museums, but it concerns the wording of the amendment which refers to "the fixing of fees and charges in respect of entry to any part of the Museum or Library...". This would be extremely restrictive because the boards of the museum and library could from time to time attempt to have some kind of fund-raising event, like a wine evening or an exhibition. That would not entail general access as it would be a specific event held in a part of the museum or the library to which one would have to charge an entry fee. Senator Mooney's amendment would rule out something like that.

Not true.

The amendment says: "in respect of entry to any part of the Museum". It can be read that way.

On a point of clarification, that is not so. The by-law states that all those matters can be proceeded with. It specifically concerns the issue of entry charges.

I take the Senator's intention but I still read it the way it is.

It is a bit complex.

It is open to a different interpretation than the Senator intended.

I agree.

Therefore, it could be rather restrictive. Money is one barrier to access to our National Library and National Museum but there are far greater barriers. These include a level of appreciation, understanding and knowledge of what such institutions contain. While we may think that money is the only barrier to access, it is not. We are doing a disservice to Members of the House by saying that in future Senators will agree to an astronomical £5 entry charge to the National Gallery, National Library or National Museum. Senator Mooney has little faith in Members of this House.

Not true.

I have no doubt that should an unreasonable proposal come before Members of the Oireachtas, common wisdom would prevail and it would be thrown out. The Minister's proposal goes a long way towards ensuring free access to our cultural institutions for the foreseeable future while at the same time leaving the way open for special events that may occur from time to time.

Some issues do not divide us. First, we are all in favour of access and, second, we are not debating charges today. We are debating what should be in the Bill that will become the Act, and that is important. The issue is simple — whether in future we will close off this possibility forever in all circumstances. That is the argument that is being validly made. I accept that the intention of Senator Mooney's amendment is addressed to general charges and I do not want to misconstrue anything that has been said but we are not debating the issue of charges. At some stage in the future that debate will be possible if my amendment is approved by the Oireachtas. If Senator Mooney's amendment is accepted, that debate will not be possible. One would have to introduce specific legislation to make any kind of charge possible in any circumstances.

While we are not debating charges I could find different examples from the evidence. For example, Trinity College library's exhibition contains even greater numbers than the National Gallery. I have great sympathy with what Senator Mooney described is happening in Britain. Access to such institutions in the Victorian age was different to the present day. However, I would be of the same mind as the Senator in looking at how charges in British institutions are blocking the citizenry's access to heritage institutions. If one wants to have maximum flexibility and options in future a distinction must be made between the citizen's right of access to heritage and the many different refinements of curiosity by travellers, tourists and others who may be charged for entry.

Senator O'Toole raised an important point. The position now is that the National Gallery could, if it wished, introduce a charge without consulting me. The National Library and National Museum could prepare a scheme of charges and if they had my permission they could introduce them. My own amendment says that no one can introduce charges unless such a motion has successfully been put before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The other amendment proposes we write into the legislation that never in any future circumstances shall any of these institutions impose charges. If that arose in future specific legislation would be required. I have sympathy for the second amendment. I am against charges but my purpose in introducing this legislation is to give important cultural institutions good legislation, modern institutional structures, respect for their autonomy and to allow them flexibility.

This constriction should not lie as heavily on them as Senator Mooney envisages. If one had to seek the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas and lay an order before them, the Minister of the day would have to engage in much consultation if there were to be the remotest chance of success. For this reason I am attempting to achieve a balance between the autonomy at the core of the Bill which relates to cultural institutions. I do not wish to remove the possibility for future discussion of that for which I, as the Minister of the day, have responsibility and of which those institutions might not approve.

The balance relating to flexibility rests with my suggested amendment. Members will agree that I have gone a great distance towards putting their fears to rest because I have curtailed the present situation by making the order necessary.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is the amendment agreed?

What about amendments Nos. 13 and 14?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I must dispose of the amendments seriatim and amendment No. 13 will be put to the House when it is reached.

I apologise, I merely sought clarification. The amendments are being taken in sequence.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendments Nos. 3, 8 and 9 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 3:
In page 10, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:
"(1) to foster and promote the Irish language in the course of the performance of its function,".

On Committee Stage, Senator Fitzgerald raised the issue of including a reference to fostering and promoting the Irish language as part of the National Library's functions and powers. I stated that this was adequately covered by the functions and powers set out in the Bill but I agreed to reconsider the issue. These amendments recognise that library material includes material in the Irish language and provide an explicit reference to both boards fostering and promoting the Irish language as part of their activities. I am glad that I could respond to the Senator's suggestion.

Táim fíor buíoch diot toisc gur chuireas isteach na leasaithe seo ins an mBille. It is not that I am a Gaelgóir but I believe a special place should be set aside for the Irish language in Bills such as this. I am deeply grateful to the Minister and the parliamentary drafts people for framing these amendments.

Ba mhaith liomsa comh maith fáilte a chur roimh an leasú seo agus buíochas a ghabháil don Aire.

The Minister is to be commended for the way he has responded to views expressed by Members. It is an example of democracy in action that the Minister is prepared to table amendments resulting from the Committee Stage debate.

This again shows the value of good ideas being put forward in the House.

A Chathaoirligh, tuigim comh tabhachtach is atá teanga an Ghaeilge leis na Seanadóirí éagsúla. Cé gur cheap mé go raibh sé cludaithe, tá sé usáideach é a bheith go rí-sholéir. Sin an fáth go bhfuil mé sásta go raibh seans agam freagra ceart a thabhairt dos na Seanadóirí.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are cognate and amendment No. 7 is related and the three may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 4:
In page 10, lines 37 and 38, to delete "the functions or activities of the Board" and substitute "its functions or activities".

These are drafting amendments which relate to the functions of the National Museum and National Library. Amendment No. 7 aligns the wording relating to the library with that relating to the museum.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 5:
In page 10, lines 41 and 42, to delete "the functions or activities of the Board" and substitute "its functions or activities".
Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 6 and 10 are cognate and amendment No. 15 is related and the three may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 11, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

"(s) to ensure that all archives created and received by the National Museum of Ireland in the course of its business shall be preserved, protected, arranged, listed and made available, in accordance with The National Archives Act, 1986 and the Approved Places of Deposit Order, 21 December 1990, to the public.".

On Committee Stage I raised questions relating to the place of archival material in this legislation and whether it was adequately covered by terms such as "library material", etc. I am particularly concerned with archival material relating to the institutions themselves. It has come to my attention that this may not be fully incorporated into the objectives and functions listed in the Bill, particularly as the question of designating an institution as an approved place of deposit arises under previous legislation. The amendments are designed to ensure that, if not adequately covered, the position relating to archival material created by the institutions in the discharge of their responsibilities, or material related by them in connection with those responsibilities, will be copperfastened by being explicitly referred to in the legislation. The Minister may be able to reassure me in this regard but the amendments from a request for information. I hope he can inform me that the provision I seek is already in place.

I express my gratitude to Senator Lee for raising this matter and I welcome the opportunity to provide clarification. These amendments were intended to ensure that the archival records of the museum and library, proper to the care of the National Archives, will continue to be governed by the provisions of the National Archives Act, 1986. The substance of the amendments was raised on Committee Stage and I stated that I would examine the matter before Report Stage.

I am advised by the Attorney General's Office that the provisions concerning the definitions of "library material" and "museum heritage objects" being introduced in this Bill do not affect existing obligations as set out in the 1986 Act. This is because the National Museum and National Library are already listed as institutions in the Schedule to the National Archives Act, 1986, and this Bill does not affect that recognition. These institutions are already required, in relation to what are defined in the 1986 Act as "departmental records", to act only in accordance with that Act's provisions. I assure the Senator that these provisions include the requirement of the order referred to in the amendments he tabled. Therefore, any amendments along these lines are not necessary.

Again I express my gratitude to the Senator for raising this matter which allowed me to provide clarification.

I thank the Minister for his clarification and reassurance. The amendments can be withdrawn in light of that clarification.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government No. 7:
In page 11, line 8, to delete "Board," and substitute "Board for the benefit of the public".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 8:
In page 11, line 9, after "library material", to insert "(including material relating to the Irish language)".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 9:
In page 11, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:
(h) to foster and promote the Irish language in the course of the performance of its functions,".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.
Government amendment No. 11:
In page 12, line 18, to delete "National".

This is a drafting amendment. For convenience, the word "library" is defined at the beginning of the Bill as standing for "Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann" or "National Library of Ireland". Therefore, the word "library", rather than the institution's full title, is used throughout the text for ease of reference.

Is the Minister saying that the English translation is used just as "library" and not "national library"?

Therefore there was an error on this particular section?

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 12:
In page 12, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:
"(4) (a) The Board of the Library shall as soon as may be after the Library establishment day appoint a committee to be known as the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry (referred to subsequently in this subsection as ‘the Committee') to perform such of the functions of the Board, as in the opinion of the Board, may be better or more conveniently performed by it and are assigned to it by the Board.
(b) There may be included in the membership of the Committee such number (not being more than half of the membership of the Committee who are entitled to vote) of persons who are not members of the Board.
(c) The appointment of a person to act as a member of the Committee shall be subject to such conditions as the Board may think fit to impose when making the appointment.
(d) A member of the Committee may be removed from office at any time by the Board.
(e) The acts of the Committee shall be subject to the approval of the Board.
(f) The Director of the National Library of Ireland and the Chief Herald of Ireland shall be included in the membership of the Committee but shall not be entitled to vote.
(g) The Board may regulate the procedures of the Committee but, subject to any such regulation, the Committee may regulate its own procedure.".

On Committee Stage I put forward a proposal for a Committee for Genealogy and Heraldry. This amendment provides for the board of the library to establish such a committee. The membership of the committee may include non-board members provided they do not form a voting majority.

I thank the Minister for his acknowledgement of the genuine concerns which had been expressed to me and to the Minister and his staff. This amendment clarifies and enhances the status of genealogy and heraldry and removes any scintilla of doubt in the minds of those who may have misinterpreted what this Bill was about in relation to its genealogical and heraldic aspects.

This amendment provides a statutory role for the Chief Herald and the Genealogical Office and sets up a committee to be known as the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. It is now clear that this institution and all its functions have not only been preserved but are enhanced and are placed in statute law. Let us have an end to the argument. I congratulate the Minister.

I welcome this amendment. The Minister has taken on board the concerns expressed and it is the status, role and effectiveness of genealogy and the institutions involved which have to be paramount. The amendment institutionalises genealogy within the library yet gives it autonomy. This will assist its continued development. The Minister is to be congratulated on the new steps he has taken since Committee Stage.

I compliment the Minister on this amendment. There was extensive discussion on Second and Committee Stages in relation to the role of heraldry and the Genealogical Office. By introducing this amendment the Minister has given statutory recognition to the valuable contribution this office can make. I am delighted he has done so and I welcome the establishment of this committee.

I am grateful to Senators for their welcome for this amendment. When people look at the totality of the provisions now being made they will see that we have much more clarity and a more positive assertion of these functions.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 13 has already been discussed with amendment No. 2.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 12, to delete lines 40 to 45 and substitute the following:

"(d) notwithstanding any provisions contained in any bequest or agreement made before the commencement of this section, the fixing of fees and charges in respect of entry to any part of the Museum or Library, as the case may be, or any building or facility therein and the use of its facilities, subject to the consent of the Minister:

provided that bye-laws may not make provision in relation to the fixing of fees and charges in respect of general entry to the Museum or Library, as the case may be,".

Question proposed: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 25; Níl 22.

  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Calnan, Michael.
  • Cashin, Bill.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Cregan, Denis (Dino).
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Gallagher, Ann.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Howard, Michael.
  • Kelly, Mary.
  • McAughtry, Sam.
  • Magner, Pat.
  • Maloney, Seán.
  • Manning, Maurice.
  • Neville, Daniel.
  • Norris, David.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Townsend, Jim.


  • Bohan, Eddie.
  • Byrne, Seán.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Farrell, Willie.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Tom.
  • Haughey, Edward.
  • Henry, Mary.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kiely, Dan.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Lanigan, Mick.
  • Lee, Joe.
  • Lydon, Don.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • McGowan, Paddy.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • O'Brien, Francis.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Wright, G.V.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Burke and Magner: Níl, Senators Fitzgerald and Ormonde.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Government amendment No. 14:
In page 13, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:
"(7) Where a bye-law is proposed to be made under subsection (2) (d) relating to the fixing of charges in respect of entry to the Museum or Library (other than to any special exhibition or other event being held in the Museum or Library), a draft thereof shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the bye-law shall not be made until a motion approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.".
Amendment agreed to.

I ask all Members in the Chamber to be seated and Members in the Gallery to be quiet. Amendment No. 15 has already been discussed with amendment No. 6.

What has happened to amendment No. 14?

It has been agreed.

I did not hear the request for its agreement. I oppose amendment No. 14.

It has been agreed.

When was it agreed?

It was agreed when people were talking.

How could I have heard anything over the clamour?

Other people heard.

It was in their interest to hear.

It has been agreed and we shall move on to amendment No. 15.

I accept the Cathaoirleach's ruling under protest because the purpose of the vote related to amendment No. 14.

I ask Senator Mooney to use whatever influence he has on the Members of the House.

Amendment No. 15 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 16, 17, 18 and 19 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

Government amendment No. 16:
In page 16, line 9, to delete "printed matter" and substitute "is a document wholly in print".

I congratulate the Cathaoirleach on his election and wish him well in his post.

In the discussion on Committee Stage, Senators raised a number of issues relating to the disposal of material in the collection of the National Library which I undertook to examine before Report Stage.

Senator Norris was concerned that the phrase "printed matter" might include typed letters which should not be disposed of even if a photographic record could be made of them. While I consider such material would not be included in that phrase, I table amendment No. 16 to substitute for it the phrase "is a document wholly in print" to make it clear that signed letters, etc., would be excluded.

Senator Lee considered that the reference to disposing of material where there were duplicates in the collection of another institution in the State should take account of whether such collections were readily accessible. For example, a duplicate in Galway would be less accessible to a Dublin reader than a book in the National Library. Amendment No. 17 provides for the inclusion of a qualifying phrase "to which members of the public have reasonable access". The phrase "members of the public" embraces everyone.

Senator Lee was also concerned that, in disposing of library material, the board would have regard to the need to support access to such material in areas outside Dublin. Amendment No. 19 imposes an obligation on the board to have regard to the accessibility of such material to members of the public when disposing of material to other cultural institutions. I trust these two amendments meet Senator Lee's concerns.

Amendment No. 18 is a drafting amendment.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh na leasuithe seo. I welcome the spirit in which the Minister has taken the suggested amendments. They go a reasonable distance towards meeting the concerns I expressed and I am grateful for the constructive manner in which he has responded.

I welcome the Minister's response to the matter I raised during earlier discussions on the Bill.

I remind Senators that amendments Nos. 17, 18 and 19 are being discussed with amendment No. 16.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 17:
In page 16, line 12, to delete "in the State, or" and substitute "in the State to which members of the public have reasonable access.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 18:
In page 16, line 15, to delete "national newspapers" and substitute "daily newspapers circulating throughout the State".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 19:
In page 16, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:
"(4) Where the Board proposes to dispose of library material under subsection (2) to a cultural institution, the Board shall have regard to the accessibility of the material to members of the public.
Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 23 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 17, to delete lines 1 to 5 and substitute the following:

"(6) Each member appointed to be a member of the Board of the Museum under subsection (3)(b) shall be nominated by the Royal Irish Academy."

This matter arose on Committee Stage. I regret raising it again but it marks one of the relatively few philosophical differences between the Minister and me in our understanding of how Irish cultural affairs ought to be encouraged and fostered by the State. Citizens working in a voluntary capacity who have contributed over the years to the promotion of a cultural and heritage dimension to our life should be recognised as legitimate partners with the State in the furthering of a common objective. In this Bill, the Minister will be authorised to make all appointments to the boards, 16 to the Board of the National Museum and 12 to the Board of the National Library. He has reserved places for nominees of the Royal Dublin Society and the Royal Irish Academy but will make the selection from names nominated by them. They will propose people who will then become members of the boards. Where the State is so involved, the Minister must have authority to ensure the general direction of policy is consistent with the State's ideas.

However, since the foundation of the State, a great deal of cultural life has been promoted by the activity of individuals in a voluntary capacity. The State has, in many respects, grossly neglected its responsibilities in the areas of cultural institutions, research support, etc. We do not have humanities or social science boards and they are only now being introduced. Many people who have returned to Ireland, perhaps sacrificing careers abroad, and people who remained in Ireland who could have gone abroad have depended on foreign universities and foreign support for a great deal of their research activity.

It would be appropriate for the State to recognise the essential role of voluntary institutions and of private commitment to the furthering of cultural activity in Ireland by allowing some members of boards, which will be dominated by ministerial appointments anyway, to directly represent the major institutions of voluntary activity. I do not think society in this respect ought to be regarded as an appendage of the State. No one can accuse me of being hostile to State activity or anti-State in general philosophical terms. However, it is very unfortunate that the opportunity has not been taken, as it could have in this Bill, to allow a couple of places nominated by these institutions to go on merit rather than being submitted for what will be, in the end, a decision partly influenced at least by party political considerations. It is unfortunate and unnecessary. It does not establish the right degree of cooperation and rapport between public and private and the State and the individual that ought to inform legislation of this type. Although it may seem a minor matter, an issue of principle is involved which could easily have been resolved without subverting the general thrust of this Bill.

I followed Senator Lee's argument on this matter on Committee Stage. I agree with his sentiments and am aware of the concerns he has expressed. If this section goes through without amendment, the RIA can only nominate a number of names for consideration by the Minister. Senator Lee's amendments propose that the RIA have the right of nomination to the boards.

Since a certain status is granted to the RIA in this legislation, I was a little surprised that the Minister, in light of the rather weighty arguments in favour of the change, did not accept this amendment. I do not understand the difficulty in doing this. We acknowledge the role of the RIA and the Minister is going halfway in accepting nominations from them.

Looking at it in a political and pragmatic manner, no Minister wishes to be tied as regards who they should nominate or the quality of those nominated. There is an anti-democratic element to Senator Lee's amendment in that it hands over the right of nomination to an outside self-electing body which does not require public transparency, accountability and openness. I have long argued in this House that we should try to hold the line in terms of democratic openness. There is nobody better than a Minister, who is an elected representative, to decide on the merits of nominees. On the politically pragmatic side I am against the amendment.

On the more emotional side, and in light of the fact that the RIA is given a certain status in the Bill, it seemed to be a natural progression that the Minister would have not have been sent a list of names to pick from but would ask who was wanted on it. I am sure the Minister will act in concert with the RIA and will not accept a list of names and then pick someone else. I am interested in why the Minister decided this amendment was not acceptable.

Senator Lee and Senator O'Toole in amendments Nos. 20,21 and 23 are seeking to make a number of changes to the compositions of the boards. They wish to see the nominees of the RDS and the RIA appointed directly to the boards without the facility for the Minister to select from a number of nominees. They wish to see a person nominated by the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences appointed to the board of the library.

As I said on Committee Stage, the amendments proposed by Senator Lee and Senator O'Toole concerning the RIA and the RDS would be at variance with written agreements recently reached by me concerning their future roles in the museum and library. This involved a long process of negotiation and there was a harmonious result. These agreements amend earlier agreements of 1881 and 1890. Included as an integral part of these agreements are specific provisions in relation to the roles of the RIA and the RDS in the boards being created. These aspects of the agreements are reflected in the arrangements now proposed to be enshrined in statute. I am satisfied these arrangements are in the interests of all concerned and are consistent with my view, that as far as possible, all members of a board should be appointed by the Minister of the day and members should serve in a personal capacity.

The Minister of the day is accountable to the Oireachtas for his or her appointments to a board. Each member of a board is accountable for their actions as members of that board. This is the most democratic arrangement which serves the public interest best. Allowing the Minister to select from a number of nominees also allows for factors, such as regional balance, to be taken on board as well as balancing other factors across all board members to get an appropriate mixture of skills, a point made by Senators on previous Stages. As I explained at length on Committee Stage, I do not favour writing nominating bodies into legislation. The RIA and the RDS are exceptions because of the earlier legal agreements to which I referred. Accordingly, I cannot accept these amendments.

In amendment No. 22, Senator Lee and Senator O'Toole would like the criteria relating to appointments to the boards to be confined to those with attainments in the fields relevant to the museum and library, without an option for involvement by those with an interest in those institutions' fields. As I said on Committee Stage, it is not necessary or desirable that involvement in a board's affairs needs to be confined to those with attainments only. Those with an interest in museum and library matters would be in a position to make valuable contributions to the operations of the boards. I would not like the composition of a board to be overly restricted, as it might be if this amendment was adopted. Therefore, I do not accept the amendment.

The number of issues raised could detain us all evening and I do not want to contribute to that detention. On the Minister's final point, I regard interest as redundant. The distinction between having an interest in an area without attainments in it is subtle. It seems to be an extraordinary achievement to be interested in an area without having what is considered an attainment in it. Liberally defined, I regard interest as being subsumed under attainment. This is perhaps a semantic distinction but there may be something of more substance to it.

I raised the issue of principle where I differ from the Minister. The relationship between what I will loosely call the voluntary sector and the State is very different in cultural life from what it is in most other areas of activity. Much of the cultural life of this society has depended on the unremunerated and voluntary activity of a large number of people whose prime purpose has not been personal advancement and who have not entered into the public sphere in any way. It would be appropriate if legislation of this type could acknowledge the value of that contribution. The State has greatly neglected many cultural areas to which it ought to have contributed over the years. Without the contribution of individuals and institutions such as the RIA, the RDS and the Committee of Historical Sciences, which represents historians North and South, a great deal of activity would not have happened and we would not have the current cultural infrastructure.

I do not see how it is anti-democratic to acknowledge the contribution of people who have been active in an area without any personal gain involved. We acknowledge the contribution and competence of people in a range of areas without saying it is anti-democratic, unless we take everyone equally, including those who have no interest in or have made no contribution to an area. I hope I am as democratic in principle as anyone here but I do not interpret democracy in that way.

I also differ from Senator Mooney as regards self-elected outside bodies not being publicly accountable. I do not advocate any institution of that type having an inside track. It reflects a great deal of suspicion on these institutions that they cannot be trusted to nominate an individual who is competent to serve on these boards. That is not intended, but the imputation one could take from it is that only with ministerial approbation can the calibre of an individual be authenticated even if they represent the institutions. If one distrusts the calibre of people and the capacity of the institutions to nominate an appropriate person in this regard one may as well say they are incompetent to discharge any responsibility in which they are engaged.

I am further disappointed rather than reassured by the Minister's invocation of the question of regional and other balances. Surely where the Minister already has the direct nomination of the vast majority, it should not be dependent on a couple of names from the RDS, the RIA and the ICHS to achieve those balances on the board. A Minister genuinely committed to regional balance or to other balances, such as gender balance, would have ensured on the basis of his direct nominees that that balance was already attained rather than having a choice made between names coming from these organisations based on criteria other than the innate calibre of these individuals to discharge these responsibilities. It is a tail wagging the dog type of approach.

I fear that difference remains between the Minister and myself and I hope that, between now and the Bill's passage through the Dáil, he will fashion a way in which expression could be found in this legislation to acknowledge the contribution of the voluntary sector in this area. One sees it as a partnership much more than society being a client of the State in this way. Only the Minister can do so if he is so minded. I am not hung up on individual institutions and I mentioned the ones in the Bill already, but there would be far greater acceptance of the ethos of this Bill and a far greater degree of commitment to the principles behind it in the cultural community if the members of that community felt they were deemed worthy, through these institutions, of the nomination of even a tiny minority of the members of the boards.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments 21 to 23, inclusive, not moved.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 25 is related to amendment No. 24 and they may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 24:
In page 18, line 26, to delete "4" and substitute "5".

On Committee Stage, I said I would look at Senator Lee's amendments which sought to raise the minimum quorum levels for the boards of the museum and library. I said that, while I shared his concern, the basic quorum levels should be appropriate given the importance of the decisions being made by the boards. Neither did I wish to tie the hands of boards unnecessarily but I propose to increase the quorum in each case by one; to five in the case of the library and to six in the museum. I hope that I have gone some way to meet the Senator's concerns.

I thank the Minister for going this far in the direction that was requested. This contributes to the amicability of exchanges on this Stage of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 25:
In page 18, line 29, to delete "5" and substitute "6".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 26:
In page 19, before line 1, to insert the following:
23.—(1) (a) The Board of the Museum shall, as soon as may be after the establishment day, establish a committee to be known as the General Public Advisory Committee of the Museum to assist and advise the Board in relation to any matters pertaining to the public exhibition of museum heritage objects in the collection of the Museum and the provision of information and the dissemination of literature relating to those objects to members of the public (including any education programmes undertaken by the Board).
(b) The Board of the Museum may regulate the procedure of the committee established under paragraph (a) but, subject to any such regulation, the committee may regulate its own procedure.
(2) (a) The Board of the Library shall, as soon as may be after the Library establishment day, establish a committee to be known as the Readers Advisory Committee of the Library to advise the Board in relation to any matters pertaining to the provision of a Library and information service to members of the public including the dissemination of literature in relation to the collection of the Library.
(b) The Board of the Library may regulate the procedure of the committee established under paragraph (a) but, subject to any such regulation, the committee may regulate its own procedure.
(3) A committee established under this section (‘a committee') shall consist of a chairperson (who shall, in the case of the Museum, be a member of the Board of the Museum and, in the case of the Library, be a member of the Board of the Library) and 5 ordinary members at least one of whom shall be resident in each province.
(4) The first meeting of a committee shall be held not more than one month after its establishment and subsequent meetings shall held not more than 6 months after the last previous meeting.".

On Committee Stage, I said that I would examine Senator Lee's proposal designed to establish users committees for the museum and library for the purpose of being necessary sounding boxes for the effectiveness of the operations of the institutions. I am pleased to introduce this amendment which establishes two such advisory committees. Each is designed to suit the needs of the general public as appropriate to the museum and the library.

The committee for the library is designed for those wishing to avail of reading and research facilities and the one for the museum is designed for those who would be visiting to view exhibitions and for educational purposes. I propose that neither committee may be dissolved by the boards and that membership should contain people from the four provinces to ensure a strong regional input into the deliberations of the committees. I have gone a great distance in responding to what was put to me.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an leasú. I would like to think that the Minister's heart is in leaning in that direction and that the amendment is not simply a result of special pleading from the extreme south. I hope the extreme west and other areas are on the same wavelength as far as this amendment is concerned.

I have a query concerning the dissemination of literature. If one was to have dissemination of information that would include literature. I am not suggesting a change but information of any type should be part of the dissemination process and it should not be confined to literature.

I welcome this well conceived amendment, particularly as I am chairman of the Friends of the Library of Trinity College. It illustrates the value of this Upper House because it is clear that Senator Lee's and Senator Mooney's arguments, in particular, have had a considerable impact on the Bill. It shows that, by co-operation between Members and a Minister who is so much in control of his brief, legislation can be appropriately amended in this House.

I am not one for saying "I told you so" but when this issue was raised on Committee Stage there was a certain reluctance on the part of a number of colleagues.

Empathy is growing in the Government.

They argued strenuously against the question of users councils. I am delighted the Minister has included this as it is an imaginative amendment. I am not trying to spancel the Minister but he states that the committee established shall consist of a chairperson who shall be a members of the board and five ordinary members, at least one of whom shall be resident in each province. That suggests there will be two members from one province and three from the others. In other words, one province will have more. Will it consist of five ordinary members, one of whom will be resident? It is a rather petty point.

One will be from the islands.

Good point.

The emigrants will have one.

Even better. Will the Minister consider appointing elected members of local authorities who serve on library boards? They have done so since the reorganisation of local government usually without claiming expenses. Those elected members of local authorities who carry out functions as members of library committees do so from a genuine and committed interest to the enhancement of the library system in Ireland.

I am not making an argument for county councillors per se. I suggest that the Minister would give consideration to not only appointing members of the general public but to availing of the experience of those county councillors who have served on county library committees. This is another opportunity for us to highlight the important role of county councillors in the country's administrative and political structures. I welcome the Minister's amendment and I applaud him for his initiative.

On Committee Stage, Senator Lee proposed a users' committee and I was not enamoured of the idea. I felt it was a rather elitist proposal and would only involve a specific group.

Those who can read.

It creates a precedent. However, the provincial arrangements are commendable because we do not want such a committee confined to the Dublin 4 influence with the rest of the country excluded.

There is too much bureaucracy and too many committees. It can be difficult for organisations to carry out their tasks. Although I believe this amendment creates a precedent, I defer to the Minister's greater wisdom. I congratulate Senator Lee on convincing the Minister to proceed with something of this elitist nature.

I thank Senators for their welcome for the amendment. I was not interested only in responding to the points made but also in the functions, purpose and future role of these institutions. There is just one version; it will vary from time to time from being one of repository and security to one involving greater access, different types of usage, and so on. That was the thinking behind this amendment. It is healthy for the institutions to interact with those who use their services. The regional spread will be of value in the context of the balance referred to in relation to the structure, access, opening hours, etc.

As long as they are users, members of local authorities are not excluded, although Members of the Oireachtas and the European Parliament are excluded. I join with Senator Mooney's tribute to those members of local authorities who take a particular interest in libraries and matters of heritage. Although it is not within my remit, I wish that more resources were available to improve the quality of libraries.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 19, line 5, after "Board" to insert the following:

"and give due regard to persons concerned with Genealogical Research, Heraldry and related matters including members of Genealogical Organisations.

This amendment arises from the debate on Second and Committee Stages. It is not intended to restrict the committee's ambit or the Minister's choice. If the amendment were accepted section 23(2) would state:

A committee established by a Board under this section may, if the Board thinks fit, include in its membership persons who are not members of the Board and give due regard to persons concerned with Genealogical Research, Heraldry and related matters including members of Genealogical Organisations.

I hope the Minister will respond positively to the amendment because it would enhance the role of the advisory committees.

On this occasion I have to come down in favour of general principles rather than specific inclusion. The general principle is inclusive of the skills and expertise to which the Senator refers but his amendment would require that the boards of the library and museum should have due regard to appointing people with genealogical experience to advisory committees. The section is designed to meet many circumstances in which an advisory committee might be needed. It would not be appropriate to single out a particular area of expertise for special mention when the requirements would be so broad and would vary with the type of committee.

I am satisfied the general inclusion accommodates the principle but it would be contravened by the specific reference the Senator seeks. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman

Amendments No. 28 and 29 are cognate and may be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 28:
In page 21, lines 31 and 32, to delete "shall be appointed and may be removed from office for stated reasons" and substitute "shall be appointed, and may be removed from office for stated reasons,".

These are drafting amendments clarifying that "stated reasons" applies only to the removal of a director of the museum or library and not to their appointment.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 29:
In page 21, lines 34 and 35, to delete "shall be appointed and may be removed from office for stated reasons" and substitute "shall be appointed, and may be removed from office for stated reasons,".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 30:
In page 25, line 20, after "as soon as may be" to insert "but not later than 12 months after the end of the financial year to which they relate".

On Committee Stage I said on to section 34(5)(c) I could accept that reports of accounts and the auditor's report should be presented to the board and the Minister within a time frame of 12 months as suggested by Senator Lee. This amendment accepts Senator Lee's proposal.

I thank the Minister for his courtesy in considering my point.

I also thank the Minister. If there is a review of the legislation at some time in the future and the arrangements prove not to be as efficient as expected, perhaps the Minister would introduce improved provisions. At present this is the best arrangement.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 25, line 41, after "material", to insert "and archival material".

This amendment aims to incorporate in the text my concern for the archival material dimension which has been expressed already. I am not sure of the best way to include it but I am anxious that the principle should be central to the legislation. Perhaps the Minister has a more effective way of achieving this end.

I second this amendment. I do not have the list of grouped amendments. Are amendments Nos. 32 and 36 being taken with this amendment?

Acting Chairman

No. Amendment No. 31 is being taken on its own.

The principle of the amendment may have been affected by the clarification I gave earlier. Amendment No. 31 would seek to exclude archival material from the proposed transfer of property from the Minister to the boards of the museum and library. Any archival material, such as departmental records which is not covered by the term "library material", would be regarded as being transferred to and becoming the property of the boards of the museum and library. Any departmental records generated once the boards are established would also become their property. However, this transfer of records is not seen as affecting current and future obligations of the museum and library in relation to departmental records as currently set out in The National Archives Act, 1986. Since other archival material including the term "library material" is already excluded from the transfer of property, it is not necessary to accept this amendment to achieve what the Bill does.

I thank the Minister for that clarification which I hope will allay the unease expressed about this. So much of this relates to the National Archives Act, 1986, that it is very important that the incoming boards would be absolutely clear as to their responsibilities imposed by the due legislation and not simply take their responsibilities from this Act alone. From this perspective, the National Archives Act, 1986, becomes very important to these people and measures should be taken to ensure they are fully aware of that. Otherwise very unfortunate oversights could occur. I presume the Minister will ensure that happens.

I assure the Senator I will put the necessary administrative procedures in place to achieve that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman

Amendment Nos. 32 and 36 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 26, line 43, after "material,", to insert "archival material".

This comes back to what appears to be my obsession with archival material. This is to ensure that, wherever there is a possible danger of archival material falling between two stools, the phraseology ensures it could not be overlooked. Maybe the National Archives Act, 1986, anticipates that and is adequate. If so, I ask for assurance that the same procedure be followed and that the incoming board be fully alerted to their responsibilities under that legislation as well as this.

I can give that administrative assurance. I appreciate the intention but am happy that the definition of cultural object is sufficient. The amendment would add archival material to the list of objects encompassed by the definition. The Senator can be assured that the definition is wide enough to cover any sort of archival material appropriate to be exhibited by any of the bodies covered by the provisions. Accordingly it is not necessary to include the amendment.

Amendment No. 36 is designed to expand the concept of the Register of Cultural Objects to include library materials, museum heritage objects, etc. As I said on amendment No. 32, the definition of cultural objects is broad enough to encompass the material referred to in the amendment.

On Committee Stage the reason for defining such cultural objects was to avoid repetition of the different types of object that constituted different sections of the Bill. To expand, the Register of Cultural Objects is designed primarily to cater for objects whose export or destruction would be a serious loss to the country. The concept of the Register of Cultural Objects is particularly for single objects, such as centrally important archaeological objects of gold and silver, the valuable paintings in the Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio or valuable manuscripts like the Book of Kells.

The problems of using the definition in a much broader way would give rise to problems of practicality, such as the difficulty of identifying what is meant by a collection of material. The real danger would be that the meaning would become so broad as to make the provision unworkable. I appreciate the intention behind the amendments and the Senators can be assured that the definition is adequate. The necessary support and administrative measures of clarification will be implemented.

I thank the Minister. I am more concerned here than in some other cases because not everybody might think of "cultural objects" as including archival material. The Minister should reassure himself particularly that the interpretation is crystal clear as "cultural object" is defined in section 41 and it is not defined elsewhere. The Bill states:

"cultural object" has the meaning assigned to it by section 41.

That is the only definition, and archival material is not specifically mentioned. The Minister and I would interpret it to mean that but not everybody would. In this case it might be worth reconsidering whether it should be listed there to guard against that eventuality. One cannot go on ad nauseam and break this down into smaller and smaller components but archival material is a wideranging concept, however uncertain we are about its precise frontiers. I would be grateful if the Minister gave this further attention.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 34 and 35 are related; Amendments Nos. 33, 34 and 35 may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 33:
In page 27, line 31, after "amount", to insert "standing".

These are drafting amendments.

If this amendment were accepted the Bill would then read:

...would cause the aggregate amount standing of liability...

This does not appear to read properly and I seek clarification.

The legal drafting office advised that the usage is standard legal practice in legislation of this kind. The word "standing" means "existing".

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 34 has already been discussed with amendment No. 33.

Government amendment No. 34:
In page 27, line 34, after "amount", to insert "standing".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 35:
In page 27, line 35, after "amount", where it secondly occurs to insert "standing".
Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 36 has been discussed with amendment No. 32.

Amendment No. 36 not moved.
Government amendment No. 37:
In page 31, line 30, after "or", to insert ", after consultation with the Heritage Council,".

On Committee Stage I said I would accept part of Senator Lee's proposal to the effect that an entry in the Register of Cultural Objects should be deleted only after consultation with the Heritage Council and this amendment gives effect to my commitment.

I thank the Minister.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 are out of order as they do not arise from Committee Stage proceedings.

Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 not moved.

Acting Chairman

I ask the Acting Leader to move the motion for recommittal.

I move: "That the Bill be recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 40 and 41."

Could that be explained?

Acting Chairman

Recommittal means that these amendments are considered as if they were Committee Stage amendments; Members are allowed to speak more than once.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 40 and 41.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 40 and 41 are related and may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 40:
In page 31, line 34, after "old", to insert "of a value exceeding such an amount (if any) as may be specified by order made by the Minister".

The purpose of these amendments is to address points relating to minimum value thresholds on export licences for documents and paintings. These amendments propose to permit the Minister to establish the value limits under which no licence would be required for the export of paintings or documents. As the text is currently worded, a value limit is only required for objects relating to the decorative arts. While no minimum limit is applied under the Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export) Act, 1945, and this was reflected in the Bill as initiated, it does mean that a painting valued at £5, of little cultural heritage value and sold in a small shop to an American tourist, would be covered. Equally, a painting by a member of a family which an individual might bring abroad when changing residences and which is only of sentimental value might be covered. I understand that, in practice, no export licence is currently sought in many of these cases.

In revising the export licence provisions and introducing penalties, I am anxious to ensure the provisions are effective and enforceable. It has been represented to me that if the provisions were left as proposed they would place an undue burden on traders, particularly those outside Dublin who would not have the same speedy access to the National Gallery for the issue of licences. They would also lead to a large volume of applications and consequent administrative work, much of which would fall outside the core objective of protecting our cultural heritage. Accordingly, I propose a provision whereby the Minister may by order set minimum value limits below which a licence would not be required. While I do not anticipate the same difficulty in relation to documents, I am providing for a minimum limit in case similar difficulties arise.

It is also being proposed in these amendments that any value limit set by the Minister may also be changed by ministerial order. That is an important flexibility on matters that might arise from time to time. The change will give reasonable flexibility in the administration of these licensing requirements without affecting the broad thrust of the main proposals.

I welcome what the Minister has said, although it may not go as far as the Antique Dealers Association wishes. Amendment No. 41 was certainly not drafted by the Minister because it is ungainly and tautologous. It reads:

In page 31, lines 35 to 37, to delete "any paintings (other than paintings in the ownership of the person who painted them) not less than 25 years old of which are painted" and to substitute "any painting (other than a painting in the ownership of the person who painted it) not less than 25 years old of a value exceeding such amount (if any) as may be specified by order made by the Minister which is painted".

How can one have a painting which is not painted? Or is it the Minister who is painted?

The 25 year rule is out of kilter with practice in the rest of Europe. The Antique Dealers' Association wrote to me as follows:

Our association is deeply concerned about part of the National Cultural Institutions Bill, 1996. By applying a ruling that any painting over 25 years old will require a licence before exporting it will have a disastrous effect on our trade. It will deter people from buying as this applies to paintings of any monetary value from one penny upwards. Many sales are done on an instant decision to people outside Ireland and if they were told that an export licence was required they would not purchase. Licences cannot be issued instantly and will take considerable time to issue. The granting of a licence can be subject to a delay of up to a year in the proposed legislation, which is unacceptable. We propose that the length should not be more than six months for articles of major historical importance.

Section 49 (2) (c) of the Bill states:

in any other case, the Minister shall grant the licence and any such licence may be subject to the condition that the object shall not be exported before the expiration of one year from the date of the application of the licence.

The Antique Dealers' Association proposes that the legislation should be the same as the EU legislation for the export of cultural goods, controlled by EC Regulation 3911/92, Official Journal No. L395, 31 December 1992. This proposed legislation will not only apply to commercial activity but also to items removed out of the State in household removals. In the opinion of the association, the legislation is unjust and unworkable.

The Minister has addressed a certain amount of the association's concerns but he might go further. I have not put down an amendment but the Minister will take the Bill to the Dáil where further arguments will be made. I ask him to consider the time limit in particular. In the UK, for example, there is both an EU licence and a UK licence. I will not read the full regulations into the record but, as an example, the provisions which apply to drawings cover those more than 50 years old, executed entirely by hand on any medium and in any material — for the UK licence the value is £39,600 and for the EU licence it is £11,900; for original engravings, xerographs, lithographs and their respective plates and original posters — again more than 50 years old - the same considerable values apply for the UK and EU licences. As to photographs, films and negatives thereof, more than 50 years old, the UK licence applies at £6,000 and the EU licence at £11,900 — the same time limit applies to these materials, which many people would regard as less significant. As to the painted materials, for portraits and likenesses which are more than 50 years old of British historic persons, the qualification for a UK licence is a value of £6,000, for an EU licence it is £119,000; for paintings in oil or tempera over 50 years old, excluding portraits of British historic persons, the figure for both UK and EU licences is £119,000; for paintings over 50 years old in other media, excluding portraits of British historic persons, the figures are £39,600 for a UK licence and £119,000 for an EU licence.

There are two principles and the Minister has gone some way to meet them; first, a 25 year limit includes work of comparatively modern, almost immediate production — it is a short time in the art world. A period of 50 years is standard in Europe and applies in our closest neighbouring jurisdiction. I have placed considerable detail on the record but I have not trespassed on the House by including too much parallel information; I mentioned what is directly relevant. Second, these are items of some considerable value and, to be modest, the threshold must be at least £10,000. Paintings worth less than that are in the world of commercial transaction and availability. I wondered whether the Bill should specify these values in terms of a cut-off period of 50 years and a specific and sizeable value.

The Minister has addressed some of the principles involved; his argument is that in controlling it by ministerial order he retains flexibility in terms of market fluctuation so that he can respond to immediate circumstances. I would be happier if "25 years" could be changed to "50 years", which is the practice in comparable jurisdictions, and if a specific and reasonably modest limit of £10,000 could be imposed, particularly when it is £30,000, £50,000 and £100,000 in the neighbouring island. I look forward to the Minister's response.

The time limit should be 50 years. An antique of 25 years could only be considered a fledgling. I understand the Minister reduced the time limit to 25 years because recent paintings by Yeats and other artists came on the market. However, United Kingdom and EU legislation has adopted a time limit of 50 years. We want to be seen as modern people so our legislation should be in accord with the rest of Europe. The EU and the UK adopted a value of £119,000. I know the Minister has the power to do that in the legislation. I congratulate him for tabling these amendments which go a long way towards addressing the problem. However, he should give further consideration to these points.

Many artists reside here because of our fiscal system. We should be careful not to introduce legislation which would adversely affect that. The export of good art and beautiful objects from this country enhances our image abroad. We should not do anything to harm that image. The United Kingdom has established itself as a great sales market. People sell their objects of art at Christies and Sothebys and this generates much money in the UK. This legislation will not affect that but if we legislate for more than the EU requirement, it will not convey the right image.

There is nothing in this legislation about documents. This means letters written by our grandmothers could be included in this category. A substantial value should be placed on documents. The Minister has gone a step further than the EU requirement because he has put a time limit of 70 years on documents, whereas the EU time limit is 50 years. Perhaps the Minister would consider changing it to 50 years. We should also include furniture which is not less than 50 years old.

The legislation does not clarify if paintings are crayon drawings, water-colours or oils. EU and UK legislation outlines the difference in a Schedule to the Bill. I hope the Minister takes these points on board.

Senator Norris and I seem to have received the same correspondence. The age of the paintings is particularly relevant because it means that paintings from 1970 onwards are covered by this legislation. Having bought paintings before and since that time, I would be surprised if those from the 1960s were considered antiques and those from the 1970s were not. Perhaps the Minister could ensure that the legislation is in line with European Union requirements. I do not know many artists who are fortunate enough to still have some of their earlier works in their collections, but they are only 30 years old. It would be difficult for them if they could not sell these outside the country. I realise how important it is to keep our national heritage, particularly the early works of our more famous painters who have gone abroad. One must remember that as well as the antique dealers who are involved in this, there are also artists living here.

It also states: "(other than paintings in the ownership of the person who painted them)".

I had missed that phrase in the amendment. That is why I need Senator Norris beside me.

The Senator will not export me although I am over 50 years old.

I would not dream of it.

He must be a certain value first.

I ask the Minister to reconsider the time limit of 25 years.

I want to deal with the issue of language and I have great sympathy with Senator Norris in this regard. It is not the suggestion that the Minister is a painted Minister or the order is a painted order. If the wording is inserted in the text of the Bill, it would mean painted entirely by hand or in any medium or material which contextualises, to use an unfortunate Americanism, a little better.

I have listened carefully to this discussion. My Department officials had a meeting last Monday with the Irish Antique Dealers Association. It was worried about different types of limits. My officials pointed out that in making a ministerial order we would bear its views in mind. Before I make the ministerial order on specific categories, I can take many of its arguments into account.

I am not as certain about valuation or age as those who buy and sell these objects. I have a clear ministerial obligation in the legislation to protect such objects. I do not have the power to refuse a licence except in the case of a listed cultural object. The purpose is that in the interests of the people and the State one will at least have an idea of the flow. We have to balance what is fair with what is practical. As somebody looking from outside who has an interest in painting, I am not enormously moved by arguments about modernity. We are commercially modern and in harmony with Europe. However, a flat figure of £119,000, for example, would exclude many of the Jack Yeats paintings that have been sold. I had to incorporate flexibility in the provision so I can adjudge the context of an object within its category of objects and its importance within the categories of culture that are important to people. It is possible that in practice I can move to meet many of the points being made by the Irish Antique Dealers' Association but to do that I will need flexibility.

I am concerned about specifying value limits in legislation because different categories will require different treatments. I have undertaken to discuss appropriate limits with the Irish Antique Dealers' Association before introducing an order and I will do that across the categories of objects. It is crude commercially to take a figure as the European standard in relation to my attitude to the mosaic that is the Europe in which I believe and which acknowledges cultural diversity. I insist on the right of the Minister of the day to have a specificity that is adjudged within the cultural terms of this country. In some countries, for example, the category of objects is different from others.

If one has the discretion for which I have provided in the amendments, one has the flexibility to go up or down and to act quickly. Where, for example, something within a certain class of objects may not in value terms meet the criterion for protection but might be valuable otherwise, one can move to protect it. That arises particularly in relation to furniture.

Under amendment No. 47, the Minister can vary the age limit of 15, 25 and so forth. Current legislation has no age limit. The provision for 25 years improved the situation but the amendment permits that limit to be changed. I have already discussed the age limit for documents in the context of Senator Lee's amendment. I am reducing the age limit for documents from the current 100 years to 70 years. However, I have the power to vary it to 50 years when I see how the reduction from 70 years to 50 years will work.

There might have been a misunderstanding about the 12 months rule. The power to defer a licence for 12 months applies only to category G items on the cultural register to allow time for the purchase of these significant items within the State. An alert, as it were, is set up and there is a period in which to act in the public interest. With regard to other licences, I have given an undertaking that they will continue to be done on a timely basis.

I listened with great care to the points made. I do not want a system that is unworkable. The discretions we are seeking in these amendments and the ability to vary time limits will be useful. People will see that rather than having a specified common European valuation we will be better able to protect all categories in different circumstances if we proceed on this basis. Before I make ministerial orders I will meet the Irish Antique Dealers' Association and discuss limits within categories.

I thank the Minister for his valuable consideration and contribution on this matter. I accept that he has discretion in this regard. However, I appeal to him to start with a limit of 50 rather than 25 years to avoid setting the wheels in motion and then having to reverse them. Ireland is becoming a great centre for antique dealing. A number of visitors come here seeking antiques and a number of antiques of Irish origin return to this country and are moved out again. I do not wish the wrong message to be sent to these people if our legislation is tightly drawn in this respect.

With regard to documents, we need more clarity. There is not much point in introducing legislation that is unworkable, if something is not clear it will not work. If every object which is 25 years old is covered by the legislation people will be coming out of the woodwork looking for licences and the legislation will not work. I thank the Minister for his tolerance and ask him to think again about the matter.

Between now and introducing the Bill in the Dáil I can look at what should be included in the orders. I wish to make one point perfectly clear because Senator Haughey made a point that would be made by the Irish Antique Dealers' Association. There are people who do not submit themselves to the discipline of an association such as the Irish Antique Dealers' Association and who are sending valuable material out of the country. It is happening throughout the country. I am familiar with cases of people who have, in some cases, stolen items. These items are gathered in yards and exported every day of the week.

As Minister I must ensure there is a system that allows people to work but I am also motivated by the protection of heritage. While we must strike the necessary balance, I wish I had greater and speedier power to clamp down on the irresponsible, who are well known. I heard an argument from a professional association in Britain which suggested that legislation I introduce is so tough it might be a disincentive to certain people. I am deeply committed to the concept of the people's heritage and I accept that disciplined associations such as the Irish Antique Dealers' Association are making reasonable suggestions. I will bear them in mind but I also must bear in mind the bigger picture. I wish we could move more quickly and come down like a ton of bricks on people who have no responsibility to anything except their personal greed.

What the Minister describes is true. It is not known how many houses have been stripped of furniture, paintings and so forth which are moved out of the country before one can say a word. Anything the Minister can do to stop this practice will receive my support.

The Minister is right. The Irish Antique Dealers' Association have been important in alerting us to the fact that goods of unique Irish origin are being exported without any thought about the loss to the country. I am glad the Minister has pointed out that we must deal with two types of people, those who are reputable, have the interests of the country at heart and who wish to maintain what we can of our heritage, and those who are plundering our heritage and selling items where they wish with no thought for what it might mean for a locality and its history or for the country.

I echo the concern eloquently expressed by the Minister as well as by Senators Henry and Kelly. There should be no mercy for the plundering mentality and the disallowed amendments Nos. 38 and 39 were not entirely unmotivated by that mentality. There must be a system establishing institutional safeguards against that as well as education to raise local consciousness. The relationship between national and local is one of the areas which is not as adequately treated in this legislation as one would ideally wish it to be. The Minister cannot do everything simultaneously but relations between local authorities, curators' groups, the National Museum and the Department should be kept in mind. I hope the Minister will proceed as fast as he can from where he has begun with this legislation. It sounds ungrateful to ask him to continue when we have not completed this Bill but the Minister is going in the right direction. I hope he will know from the Seanad that it is right to continue in that direction as quickly as possible. However, it means elevating local matters to national level and incorporating the totality, otherwise there will be escape routes and exits from all the good intentions in the Bill.

I agree with the Minister and support his efforts to retain artefacts of great value to our heritage. Something that is 25 years old cannot be considered as an antique. I presume the Minister is referring to the great fireplaces and pieces of furniture that are being exported. However, introducing legislation which makes it more difficult for people who wish to conform and who are sincere about protecting what we all wish to protect, will only be unhelpful. Changing the period from 25 to 50 years will not make any difference in that respect. Any legislation that is not good may be enforced but it will not work.

A two-pronged problem has arisen involving antiques and our cultural heritage. Various values can be put on either but the fundamental principle of the Bill is the protection of our cultural heritage. It is reasonable to place a limit of 25 years because some of our finest works have been created within that period.

Trading in antiques is a commercial and monetary issue but our cultural heritage goes far beyond that. It is of value to us as a nation and as a people. This Bill should have been before the House 25 years ago because the amount of valuable cultural objects that have been cleaned out of the country during that period is a national scandal. It is a shame that so much damage has been done in this way. So much has been exported to the United States, Australia and to various parts of Europe. With this legislation I am glad that now something will be done to stop the plundering of our assets.

In rural areas some sort of blackguarding goes on every day. In the dark of night some old house that has been closed up is broken into. They rip out the fabulous antique fireplaces which disappear across the water before we know they are missing. Old furniture and paintings are also stolen. The amount of plundering that has happened is despicable and, unfortunately, it continues to happen. In addition, some of our beautiful monastic ruins have been robbed of their arches and old stones which are exported illegally.

The tighter the restrictions the better, and 25 years is too short a limit. The Minister should make strong ministerial orders to convey a distinct message. The powers of law and order should be used against those involved to stop this from happening.

In a spirit of reasonableness, I deeply appreciate the support of Senators. We are at one in relation to securing the heritage. In response to Senator Haughey, when I come to look at the categories I can address many of the problems of the antique dealers' association. For example, I am sure this association would have a different view as to whether material brought into the country and then sent out again would be caught in the restriction. There is a difference between that and material produced 25 years ago by a significant Irish painter within a tradition. Therefore, looking at the categories we can seek that which we are protecting and be both flexible and reasonable about it.

I agree with Senator Taylor-Quinn and others that we should have had better protection in years gone by. It is upsetting to see holes and gaps where significant objects were. There is a difference between an object that falls within the categories affected and something that is essential and crucial to the cultural history of the people. We will be able to discuss that under the flexibility of the amendment and we can have further talks with the association as well.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment reported and agreed to.

Acting Chairman

There is a correction to amendment No. 41. In the third line of the amendment the word "of" should be deleted.

Government amendment No. 41:
In page 31, lines 35 to 37, to delete "any paintings (other than paintings in the ownership of the person who painted them) not less than 25 years old of which are painted" and to substitute "any painting (other than a painting in the ownership of the person who painted it) not less than 25 years old of a value exceeding such amount (if any) as may be specified by order made by the Minister which is painted".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment reported and agreed to.
Government amendment No. 42:
In page 31, line 40, to delete "have" and substitute "has".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No.43:
In page 31, line 44, to delete "objects" and substitute "object".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 44:
In page 31, line 46, to delete "archaeological objects" and substitute "any" archaeological object".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 45:
In page 32, line 4, to delete "any classes of cultural objects" and substitute "any cultural object falling within a class of cultural objects".
Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 32, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

"(h) archival material in any form (including that defined in The National Archives Act, 1986, section 2) which is not less than 50 years old at the commencement of this Act shall also be covered by the provisions governing restrictions on export."

Acting Chairman

Is the amendment being pressed?

I am not pressing it in the light of the Minister's assurance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No.47:
In page 32, line 11, to delete "paragraph (a)" and substitute "paragraph (a), (b)".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 48:
In page 32, line 39, to delete "a cultural object" and substitute "an article to which this Part applies".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 49:
In page 32, line 40, after "is", to insert "a cultural object".

Acting Chairman

Is amendment No. 49 agreed?

No. I would like to speak to the amendment, if I may.

Acting Chairman

The matter has already been discussed. I am sorry.

On a point of information, is it possible for Members to make an overall contribution before the conclusion of Report Stage?

Acting Chairman

No, they may contribute on Fifth Stage with regard to the content of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 50:
In page 33, line 7, to delete "a cultural object" and substitute "an object".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 51:
In page 33, line 24, to delete "specified in" and substitute "falling within".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 52:
In page 33, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:
"(13) In this section ‘document' includes ‘estate records, parish and school registers and maps.'.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No.53:
In page 33, lines 29 and 30, to delete "which shall be known as an export licence and is".
Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No.54 is out of order as it does not arise out of Committee proceedings.

Amendment No. 54 not moved.
Government amendment No. 55:
In page 34, line 17, to delete "an export" and substitute "a".
Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 56 and 57 are out of order as they do not arise out of Committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 58 and 59 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Amendments Nos. 56 and 57 not moved.
Government amendment No.58:
In page 34, lines 34 and 35, to delete "library material, to the Board of the Library" and substitute "documents, to the Board of the Library or the Director of the National Archives".

This amendment arose from discussions on Committee Stage on the issue of archival material and the role of the Director of the National Archives. I re-examined various provisions in the Bill, some of which were already discussed, and I consider it desirable to amend the power to delegate functions in respect of export licences to refer to "documents" rather than "library material" to be consistent with phraseology used in section 49. I am also providing for the possibility that some functions in this area will be delegated to the Director of the National Archives rather than just the library, depending on the category of the document involved.

Amendment No. 59 clarifies that the Minister may not simply transfer all or none of his or her functions in relation to offences. However, he or she could delegate functions in relation to some classes of offence while retaining and not delegating functions in relation to others. Both amendments are designed to provide flexibility.

Questions arose on Committee Stage in connection with the role of the Director of the National Archives. This is a wise move on the Minister's part and I acknowledge his initiative in that regard.

I welcome the Minister's response but I wish to highlight two points. The first involves the relationship between the Director of the National Archives and the National Library. This will be an issue of continuing relevance and any legislation introduced or decisions taken in respect of one should take cognisance of the implications for the other, at producer and customer levels.

The second point, which Senator Haughey raised in a different context, relates to the definition of "document". I am loath to repeat definitions ad nauseam. However, the Minister correctly accepted an amendment tabled by Senator Mooney and under this section “document” includes estate records, etc. The implication is that in other sections this is not the case. I am not stating that this is correct but there are those who would argue along those lines. It would be worthwhile considering this matter before Report Stage in the Dáil to see if the definition can be tightened without supplicating or choking.

I am satisfied with the section as it stands but I will consider the text to ensure that is the case.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 59:
In page 34, line 38, after "offence", to insert "or any class of offence".
Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendment No. 60 is out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Revenue.

Amendment No. 60 not moved.
Government amendment No. 61:
In page 38, line 11, after "property", to insert "(other than cultural objects in the collection of the National Gallery)".

On Committee Stage, in response to a query from Senator Henry, I undertook to ensure that the provision in section 59(1)(b) allowing the National Gallery to dispose of property did not allow it to dispose of paintings or other cultural objects in its collection. This amendment provides for that.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Amendments Nos. 62 to 69, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 62:
In page 40, line 2, to delete "material first published in the State" and substitute "material to which this section applies".

On Committee Stage I signalled that, arising from representations made by interested parties, amendments to section 64 might be introduced on Report Stage to permit a more comprehensive deposit of material relating to Ireland in the National Library. This is my attempt to respond to those representations and I believe it will recommend itself to Members. I am now in a position to introduce amendments to section 64, which make significant changes in the scope of the requirement of mandatory deposit of library material by publishers in the National Library, for the purpose of strengthening the provisions. This is to be achieved by removing a provision which could permit a publisher to avoid the deposit requirements, ensuring that any material relating to Ireland distributed in the State, and not first published in the State, can be subject to deposit in the National Library and enhancing the prospect of developing new reciprocal arrangements with the United Kingdom regarding library material other than books.

The changes are somewhat complex and are explained as follows. The provision whereby library material of any sort must be first published in the State to be depositable is to be dropped. The effect of this change will be that library material published in the State, whether or not published here first, must be deposited with the National Library. Senators will be aware of the problems experienced by people who first published work abroad and then tried to publish it in the State. Because we are dropping the concept of first published in the State we must consider a revised definition for "published" if everything distributed is not to be covered. Accordingly, a definition of "publisher" will replace that of "publish". Except as specifically set out, the word "publisher" will apply to persons who publish or cause to be published books or other library material in the State.

A new requirement being introduced is that persons who do not publish in the State, but who distribute library material in the State which includes subject matter relating substantially to Ireland, will be required to make a deposit of one copy of such material in the National Library. As the class of material that may be subject to become depositable in the library is wider than first envisaged, I also propose that the making of regulations by the board of the library, with the consent of the Minister, will be required before any classes of material are deposited. As currently worded, regulations are not required before the various types of material must be lodged, unless a class has been excluded.

The definition of "publisher" and the deletion of the requirement in relation to "first published" are also being applied to the mandatory deposit of books under the Copyright Act, 1963, for consistency.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 63:
In page 40, line 3, to delete "the" and substitute "its".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 64:
In page 40 to delete lines 9 to 20 and substitute "the quality and format of material to which this section applies in cases where the copies of such material are not of uniform quality or can be published in different formats".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 65:
In page 40, line 24, to delete "material" and substitute "‘material to which this section applies' means material that is of such class as may be specified in regulations made by the Board of the Library with the consent of the Minister and in this definition' material' ".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 66:
In page 40, to delete lines 32 and 33 and to substitute the following:
"‘publisher' means—
(a) in relation to material to which this section applied, a person resident in the State who publishes or causes to be published the material to the public or a section of the public, and
(b) in relation to material to which this section applies that relates substantially or primarily to Ireland, a person who distributes the material in the State to the public or a section of the public.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 67:
In page 40, to delete lines 41 and 42 and substitute the following:
"(1) Section 56 of the Copyright Act, 1963, is hereby amended by—
(a) in subsection (1), by the substitution of ‘any book published' for ‘any book first published', and
(b) in subsection (5), by the substitution of ‘£500' for ‘twenty pounds'.".

Amendment 67(1)(b) involves the substitution of "£500" for "twenty pounds". Will the Minister clarify whether this merely modernises the amount paid in penalties by publishers who do not adhere to the requirements of book deposit?

I replied to this on Committee Stage but I am delighted to tell the Senator that it is adjusted for inflation. There is £100 of a difference which brings it up to £400 and added £100 as an additional disincentive.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 68:
In page 40, line 43, to delete "publish" and substitute "publisher".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 69:
In page 40, line 44, to delete "publish" and substitute "publisher".
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

This is comprehensive legislation on which the Minister is to be complimented. The Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht must now ensure adequate resourcing and funding of these important national cultural institutions. With the help of the Minister we have passed a much strengthened Bill. However, much of this good work will come to nothing unless there is a follow through commitment.

I do not doubt for one moment the 100 per cent commitment of the Minister or his understanding of the difficulties faced by our three cultural institutions. At the same time, I hope that a collective message will go out from this House that it is not sufficient to bring forward important legislation relating to these institutions if the noble aspirations contained in them and the weighty arguments advanced in support of them are overruled especially by the financial considerations of Governments who have traditionally placed culture on a much lower priority level than even the Minister would like. I am making a global request for a follow through commitment that those cultural institutions will be adequately financed to allow for their orderly development.

There is a great need to bring the National Library and the National Museum into the modern era. Much of what is contained in this Bill will address that in terms of the granting of licences and the ability to generate finance even though I was not in favour of this happening through entrance fees. The Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht should not be fighting this case alone. It is vital that the Government collectively discharges its responsibility in the area of culture as it relates to the provisions contained in this Bill. This view is shared by all the members of my party.

I echo what Senator Mooney has said. This Bill will lead to frustration if its objectives are not properly resourced. It will be like the new obligations imposed on school principals in the White Paper on Education whereby it is assumed they can do more work without any additional resources to support them. The Minister will have to battle with the Minister for Finance and he has our support in that.

It is important that we establish the right relationship between national and local level. There is much work to be done including meeting the concerns of the local authority curators group, the question of designated areas under the National Monuments Act and so on. I know the Minister's heart is in the right place and I hope we can build on this and assist a much wider range of institutions, both public and private, at national level. I congratulate the Minister. Gabhaim buíochas don Aire agus a Stáit Seirbhísí a thug tacaíocht dho. Gúim rath ar an mBille seo.

I echo the remarks made by Senator Mooney particularly on the Government's attitude towards protecting and enhancing our national heritage. There are no incentives provided in the Bill for members of the public at home or abroad to make contributions towards our institutions. If we want to enhance and enlarge our assets in this area it would have been helpful to do so.

I did not get an opportunity to speak on section 49 but I would like the Minister to make a statement at an appropriate time on the level of efficiency we can expect from civil servants when applications are made for licences. I am not suggesting that they are inefficient but one can imagine how much of a disincentive it would be for tourists to buy an artefact if they have to wait 12 months for a licence. The Minister is shaking his said indicating this will not happen but I would like him to make a statement to that effect.

The Minister and his officials are to be complimented on this landmark Bill. I regret it was not introduced 25 years ago. I thank the Minister for initiating the Bill in the Seanad and responding to suggestions made by Senators. It has been a worthwhile debate.

I thank the Minister for taking this long overdue Bill. This is just the beginning of his work and I wish him well.

I am grateful to Senators for the thoroughness with which they approached this Bill. It is true to say that the legislation is long overdue. Some of the agreements we are discussing come from the last 20 years of the 19th century. The Bill is very comprehensive and at times public attention was drawn to one or two sections of it. This may have deflected attention away from other sections but on Committee Stage and Report Stage we have gone through it very thoroughly.

The is a better Bill as a result of the interest Senators have taken in it. In putting it through the Seanad I sought to respond as much as possible to the suggestions made.

On Committee Stage we touched briefly on the point Senator Haughey made about financial incentives but the conclusion was that this is a matter for the Finance Bill. While I have a positive view in relation to that matter, I must negotiate with my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

When preparing the institutions for the 21st century I identified three areas of need. First, legislation must be adequate and modern; second, we need flexible and accountable institutional arrangements which satisfy the professionals, the staff who work in the institutions and the public; and third, we must have adequate resources. We cannot have one without the other. The cultural institutions are underfunded. I am not making a political point because it was made by both sides of the House. I am pleased the Seanad supports attempts to provide the cultural institutions with more resources. We have progressed further and the House has put its imprint on legislation which will be followed by good institutional arrangements. We will fight for adequate resources.

As regards the Bill's implementation, I hope there will be no tardiness as regards any outcome of the legislation. I have great confidence in the staff of the institutions and I would like to express my gratitude to them. Over the years they have had to look up while those with political responsibility should have taken greater care and appreciated the importance of the institutions. Tá mé thar a bheith buíoch don obair a chuir an Seanad isteach, do na leasuithe agus don díospóireacht agus níl aon amhras orm ach go bhfuil an Bille i fhad níos fearr dá bharr.

I express my appreciation to the Minister and his staff who, as tradition dictates, one does not name but that does not diminish my admiration for the manner in which they debated the views which led to proposals from this side of the House. It is unprecedented, certainly in my ten years in the House, that a Bill initiated here should be so amended not only by Government but by the Opposition. Amendments were accepted by the Minister graciously and a good spirit permeated the mood of the debate. I wish him well with this Bill.

I thank those outside the House, especially the Dún Laoghaire Genealogical Society, the CIGO and individuals who adopted a positive approach. The Minister and I made valid criticisms of media distortions on aspects of the Bill. However, it is only fair that I single out the Dún Laoghaire Genealogical Society as an exception in that it was extremely positive at all times. Its newsletters testify to that fact among its 300 plus membership.

I express my sincere thanks and that of my party for the manner in which this debate was progressed and on the way the amendments were accepted. I hope the Minister will not have to spend as long in the other House as he has done here; that it would be a tribute to the activities of Members of this House.

I thank the Minister for his courtesy, understanding and for graciously accepting amendments. I thank my colleague, Senator Mooney, who has been my master because I am a mere fledgling in this business.

I would not like to smother the Minister in cream. However, we appreciate he is doing an excellent job and this Bill is testimony to that. We hope he continues the good work. The debate was enjoyable and I was reeducated by my former lecturer, the Minister, the august professor from Cork, and a lecturer from Trinity College.

Question put and agreed to.