Debate resumed on amendment No. 4:
In page 5, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following subsection:
"(4) The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, 1956 to 1994, and section 15 may be cited together as the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, 1956 to 1994.".
(Deputy M. McDowell).

Amendments Nos. 4 and 39 are being discussed together. Does anybody else want to comment on either of these amendments before I call on the Minister to reply?

The amendments relate to sections 14 and 26 and deal with the concerns expressed in relation to cases where the actions of one Minister could benefit another Minister. I do not think it appropriate in this legislation to give details of any individual schemes. Public commitments have already been given by the Minister for Justice in relation to putting in place a system which will be open and transparent for the business migration scheme. Deputies can await the promised developments and discuss them with her.

I am glad the Minister for Justice has indicated that there will be a statutory scheme in relation to the business migration issue which will be open and transparent. I take on board much of what Deputy Connolly said on the last occasion that utter transparency may have counter-productive consequences for business migration schemes. What does open and transparent mean in this context?

If the amendment as proposed, Deputy McDowell, was accepted——

I half agree with the Deputy.

——in its present format, we would have no business migration scheme at all. If the amendment were accepted and if I were Minister for Justice I would be very reluctant even to sign a bona fide application. Does the Deputy think I would allow myself to get into an arena similar to that? Nobody who is sane would. I am glad the Deputy saw the light over the weekend and that he is now agreeing with my good sense of judgment in all of this.

Not to mention the humility.

I am pleased that people are now coming round to my way of thinking on this issue. Whatever anyone may think, the business migration scheme was a good one so far as investment in this country was concerned. If it needs to be tightened up so be it. I am glad the Deputy is withdrawing his amendment and that he saw the light and the good sense of all the members of the committee and especially my own way of thinking on it.

If only you could have the same success with the Minister, we would be laughing.

That is my view, but I presume you will allow a short debate on the section afterwards.

That is normal procedure.

I still have not heard from the Minister what she means by the terms "open and transparent". Deputy Connolly and I agree that complete transparency will probably render such a scheme unworkable. I now see the danger that by agreeing with Deputy Connolly, one finds oneself withdrawing and surrendering all points. Will the Minister indicate what she understands by the term "open and transparent" in relation to the business and migration scheme?

Will that not now be the responsibility of the Minister for Justice?

There is no doubt about that.

The Minister might wish to comment to clarify the positions.

The Minister for Justice will deal with that in the amendments she will bring forward and I am sure she will be delighted to discuss them in great detail with the Deputies opposite.

The position is that openness and transparency does not apply. The two amendments in my name were put down because I believed it was important to draw attention to a practical example where I consider ethical considerations have come into focus in the recent past and also where there must be a change in the law. It is not sufficient for any Government Minister to say he is a businessman and his business affairs are his private concern and may not be investigated. It is not good enough for any member of Government to say he may be a shareholder in a company but what it does or how it operates in conjunction with the political process is nobody's concern. That is not acceptable. Neither is it acceptable to the public, especially in circumstances such as these, that somebody who holds public office would tell the Dáil to address all questions to the company in question. The consequence is that they get a blank refusal from the company to supply any information.

The context of this Bill is not one in which I can start rooting around and creating problems for others and I am not trying to do so now——

We recognise that.

——but I will return to this issue in the autumn because it is important. Those who believe that the issue is dead are very much mistaken. I welcome the decision of the Fine Gael Party to address this matter by further legislation in the autumn. Those who think they have foxed the Opposition or given us the slip on this issue are going to be bitterly disappointed. We will be back again and again and that does not apply only to people in the Fianna Fáil Party; it applies to the Labour Party too. We will be back again and again to question their involvement and their apparent whitewash of what has happened. In those circumstances, I am putting the amendment to a vote.

We need to be careful in our use of language. We need foreign investment. Investment from outside this country is giving substantial employment in my consitituency, and we are extremely glad of it.

I agree with the Dputy.

There is a perception that foreign investment could be put in jeopardy by language that is fit for another area. Let those who think that everything has not been as transparent as it should have been stand up and say so. I hold no brief for anybody but I want to make it clear that foreign investment is appreciated in my constituency.

Amendment put.
The Select Committee divided: Tá, 10; Níl, 19.

Aheran, Theresa,

Finucane, Michael,

Boylan, Andrew,

McDowell, Michael,

Connor, John,

McGinley, Dinny,

Currie, Austin,

McGrath, Paul,

Doyle, Avril,

Rabbitte, Pat.


Ahern, Michael,

Killeen, Tony,

Ahern, Noel,

Nolan, M. J.,

Brennan, Mattie,

Ó Cuív, Eamon,

Broughan, Tommy,

O'Keeffe, Batt,

Connolly, Ger,

O'Leary, John,

Ellis, John,

O'Sullivan, Toddy,

Fitzgerald, Eithne,

Penrose, Willie,

Kenneally, Brendan,

Smith, Brendan,

Kenny, Seán,

Upton, Pat,

Walsh Eamon.

Amendment declared lost.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.