The first item concerns the Committee on Social Affairs and Employment of the European Parliament, which is holding its annual meeting with representatives from corresponding committees from national parliaments in Brussels on 29-30 November 1994. The theme for the discussion is the employment situation in Europe. It will focus especially on the situation and policies at national level and on the possibilities for common action within the EU. The chairman of the committee has invited me as Chairman of this Committee to attend. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The Committee has also received an invitation from the WHO, which is holding a conference on European health policy and opportunities for the future in Copenhagen from 5-9 December 1994. The organisation is hoping to establish closer links with parliamentarians in Europe, and especially with parliamentary committees dealing with health issues. I suggest that the two Convenors and myself as Chairman should attend, accompanied by the Clerk. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The Bills before the Committee address a number of issues regarding the appointment of Government bodies to the regional technical colleges and to the Dublin Institute of Technology. Under section 2 of both Bills, the provisions of section 6 (4) of the Regional Technical Colleges Act, 1992, and of the Dublin Institute of Technology Act, 1992, are amended with regard to participation in elections for governing bodies, gender balance on governing bodies and method of selection of student members of governing bodies.
The Bills also provide for a situation where a vocational education committee does not comply with its statutory obligations to ensure gender balance. In such a case the Minister, after giving the vocational education committee an opportunity to remedy the situation, may appoint a body of persons as she sees fit to fulfil the role of governing bodies for up to one year. Provision is also made that where a member of the governing body who was elected by staff to that position ceases to be a member of the staff of a college or institute, he or she shall automatically cease to be a member of the governing body.
Section 5 of both Bills addresses a difficulty which arose from the striking down by the High Court of regulations made last year by outgoing governing bodies. This section would allow the Minister, in the exceptional circumstances where an outgoing body failed to make the regulations necessary for its replacement, to appoint an incomplete governing body which could then make appropriate regulations.
Amendments have been tabled by the Minister for Education and by Deputy McGrath and Deputy Gilmore. I propose that we first consider Committee Stage of the Regional Technical Colleges (Amendment) Bill, 1994. Is that agreed? Agreed.