Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Select Committee on Enterprise and Small Business Debate

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Debate resumed on amendment No. 46:

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  This meeting has been convened for the purpose of continuing our consideration of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004. As agreed yesterday, we will consider this Bill from 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today if necessary. At the conclusion of today’s business we can arrange to meet again if that is necessary.

I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, with responsibility for labour affairs, Deputy Killeen, and his officials to the meeting. On the adjournment of the select committee meeting yesterday the committee finished at section 20, amendment No. 46 and Deputy Hogan’s points were being discussed.

Is Deputy Hogan happy that he has finished speaking on that point?

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Yes. I am always happy with my contribution.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Has the Minister of State concluded his remarks?

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen): Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes, the argument was on the choice of one word, “extracts” or “aspects”.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 47:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I move amendment No. 48:

The Minister of State might comment on this amendment.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The wording of the Bill is to make available a copy of a safety statement and so on and so forth for inspection “at or near every place of work”. If this amendment were accepted that would become “every principal place of work” but that could have the effect of preventing access to a safety statement in some places of work. Certain companies, particularly in construction, would be likely to have many places of work perhaps, and if “principal” is accepted here they would not be required to have the safety statement available in all the places of work.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I can understand the Minister of State’s point and it is not the intention of this amendment to do what he suggests. I thought, for example, that a haulage company should not be required to pin up a safety statement under certain conditions in every truck, or that a commercial traveller need not have a safety statement requirement with all its details in every commercial vehicle used in the visits of the sales representatives. My amendment might not relieve companies of that onerous duty but I hoped the Minister of State might look at some suggestions about how to cut down on the number of responsibilities inherent in this section. An inspector could call on any person, irrespective of whether he or she was a haulier or a sales representative or whatever, who might then be subject to a penalty if he or she did not subscribe to the requirements in this section.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  We have already made the change in the previous amendment to use “extract” instead of “excerpt” which, in a sense, deals with the circumstances about which Deputy Hogan is concerned. It would not be necessary to have an entire safety statement in those situations but there may be a couple of relevant points. Many more would be relevant in a workplace where there were many workers, such as a building site.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  While the Chairman should not participate in these discussions I presume CD Roms and so on are an accepted format for the safety statement, as well as print.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is more likely to be a small notice with three points on it.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Maybe the Minister of State can allay my concerns about the delay and reassure me that he has covered this extensively in his previous amendment: what is the difference between “excerpt” and “extract”?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The connotation of “excerpt” apparently is that it is a fairly substantial piece, a lot. In the circumstances about which Deputy Hogan speaks, such as the commercial travellers and the truck drivers, it might be a card with two or three points on it.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  What does “extract” mean?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The smaller or so I am informed.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  We learn something every day.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 49:

I move this amendment without great conviction because I am not sure I want this done. Section 20(8), page 29 of the Bill states:

In essence, this exempts employers who employ fewer than three from providing a safety notice if there is a code of practice. That may be all right but I am not sure about it and that is why I tabled the amendment to delete that section until I hear an explanation from the Minister of State because I do not want any worker to be unaware of the safety practices simply because the employer has only a few employees.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It was felt a full safety statement is an onerous and expensive task for small employers. In preparing the Bill, it was the wish that all employment would be covered. The background to this is that it is proposed that a code of practice be sufficient for employers who have one, two or three employees, including self-employed people and farmers. The intention was that the Health and Safety Authority would prepare codes of practice for particular employment that would have items listed and boxes to be ticked to comply with this section.

The provisions in the section were raised by various interests. I have examined several different wordings. I was looking for an alternative to “code of practice” as it means a particular thing, similarly with “safety statement”. However, we could not come up a better term than “code of practice”. It is a recognised instrument of all employment and covers what is required for small employers. It is less expensive and troublesome for small and medium-sized enterprises than a full safety statement.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I support Deputy Hogan’s case that we do not want to put burdens that cannot be borne on small employers. However, the nature of employment is a more telling issue than the number of employees. If an employment is not particularly risky, why is the threshold set at three and not five employees? Three employees could be doing a risky job, exposing them to more hazards, rather than a simple job that employs five or six. I am simply teasing out the criteria. Three is a low base to specifically exempt a category, allowing for its own code of practice. One imagines that an employment of five employees would be equally meritorious with regard to the argument made by the Minister of State. A better way is if the focus is on the nature of employment rather than the numbers below a reasonable threshold.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The physical agents might have to be introduced.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Will the code of practice be subject to inspection? Will it need agreement from the Health and Safety Authority, for example, before it is recognised as a code of practice or will it be another benchmark within the industry? It is not just Britain’s political border in Ireland that exercises my mind.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There are further horizons in that comment.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I know of a woman in Carrickmacross who has 17 boundaries on her back ditch when Ulster and Connacht and other provinces are taken into account.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Deputy knows it all.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Deputy is trying to sort her out.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I am well used to borders and boundaries there.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Deputy Morgan is very familiar with this particular part of her land.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Is the Deputy familiar with her or the ditch?

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I sympathise with Deputy Howlin’s comments on the issue of numbers. However, if one goes beyond the threshold of three employees, at what stage is one considered a substantial employer? Three is as low as it will get.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I was fortunate that the debate on the numbers was conducted before I came to the Department. Some interests wanted a threshold of ten employees or even more and some wanted one or none. The threshold of three was agreed to as it had a level of acceptance from the interested parties. It is a reasonable figure because most Irish companies are small. The excluded number at three is substantial and includes one-person operations. Having examined the material on this matter, the figure three is a reasonable one with a fair level of support among the interested parties.

The code of practice will be for specific employment. The Health and Safety Authority will prepare a draft code for, say, farmers and small electrical contractors, specific to their areas. The best format would be if the code contained particular points and the individual employer ticked appropriate boxes. The same requirements as to availability for inspection would apply as to the safety statement.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 50:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 20, as amended, agreed to.

Section 21 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 22 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I do not understand the implications of this section? Will the Minister of State explain the practical implications of health surveillance?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It refers to section 19 which provides for hazard identification and risk assessment. Section 22 puts an onus on the employer to ensure health surveillance, appropriate to the risk to safety, health and welfare that may be incurred in a place of work and identified by the risk assessment, is made available to his or her employees. This is where we discussed agents on section 19.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The physical agents.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  It was discussed yesterday at some length.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I do not understand the relevance of the section.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  There are some specific employments to which it would apply, such as in battery production, or perhaps in abattoirs where there could be a risk of brucellosis. There would be an onus on the employer to make employees aware of known health risks.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Surveillance gives the impression of closed circuit television and the like with big brother watching. The Bill states “every employer should ensure that health surveillance appropriate to the risks ...”. What do the terms “health surveillance” and “appropriate” mean in this provision?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Health surveillance is defined in section 2(1):

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  What does an employer do?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It can be construed that employers must check the health of their employees.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  There is an onus on the employer to engage in health surveillance, as defined in the Bill. The Bill requires an employer to carry out a “periodic review, for the purpose of protecting health and preventing occupationally related disease, of the health of employees, so that any adverse variations in their health that may be related to working conditions are identified as early as possible.” Does that mean a medical check?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No, it must be made available if there are specific risks in the employment. For example, arising from the risks, or whatever reason, an employee is suffering ill health, the employer is required——

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  How does an employer know about the adverse variations in the health of his or her employees?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That may arise if an employee is frequently off work sick or has adverse reactions to working conditions. In this instance, it is the employee who has the right to require what is termed “health surveillance”.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  If one takes out the sub-clause in this definition, health surveillance means the periodic review of the health of employees. How does an employer do that?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Section 22 states:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  How does the employer achieve the periodic review of the health of his or her employees?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Clearly, by making the doctor or health monitoring facilities available to them. It is in the context of employment with a particular——

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Are we speaking of every employer now?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That is circumscribed by the section stating that every employer must ensure that whatever hazards “may be incurred at the place of work” are identified by the risk assessment, so that there are already two qualifications there.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Minister of State is placing a very onerous responsibility on the employer in requiring him or her to have detailed knowledge of the potential health risk to employees. An employer is not a medical person. From the point of view of an employer I can see a great deal of insurance risk attached to this in terms of personal liability or employer’s liability. If there is a health and safety onus on every employer to understand the health needs or risks, and a case goes to court under this section, a great deal of time will be eaten up in a court sitting regarding the definition of risks to health and the health surveillance which is “appropriate”. The word “appropriate” will further confuse the issue. What is the definition of “appropriate”? The legal profession will have a field day.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  All the requirements referred to are already in place under the 1993 regulations.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  That does not mean this is right.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No, but it is perhaps the reason the issue has not been raised with us by either the employer groups or the union groups. It is already in practice and has not created the difficulties which Deputy Hogan suggests might arise.

There is another way of looking at it. If the section were omitted, an employer could be aware of specific risks associated with the particular type of employment with no onus on him or her to make that information available in the first instance to the employee and then to make available any specific medical checks or examinations that might be required on foot of that.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  What of a safety statement?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The safety statement is one thing but this section applies only to situations where the employer is aware of a specific and somewhat unusual risk. It puts an onus on him or her.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  We could put it the other way round. Under this section, an employee who might be quite vexatious and not getting on with his or her employer could find an opportunity to engage in litigation with the employer because of the “appropriate” information on his or her health surveillance risks not being brought to his or her attention.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I will make a narrower point. It is stated in the definitions under section 2(1) that “Every employer shall ensure that there is a periodic review of the health of employees.” The following sub-clause has regard to identified risk and so on. Is the Minister of State suggesting that every employer must have some mechanism for carrying out the periodic review? How frequent that period might be is another matter. Will it be annual, bi-annual or what? At any rate it is a review of the health of employees. Will the compulsory medical check be on a bi-annual basis? How is that surveillance to be achieved, given the definition, namely “periodic review of the health of employees”? If employers fail in that regard, is that an offence?

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  According to section 19(1), every employer and person to whom sections 12 and 15 apply shall identify the hazards in the place of work under his or her control and assess the risks presented by those hazards and be in possession of the written assessment of the risks. Is that enough for an employer to do with regard to employee responsibility? Must the employer go further and second-guess the potential risk for employee health, which the employer might not realise or know about? The employer would therefore be asked to enter into a qualification that might have nothing to do with the nature of the qualifications of the employer.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  There is a difference between a hazard and a risk on one hand and an occupationally related disease, which is specified with regard to section 22. In this instance it might be something which could arise from employees working with hazardous substances.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  To what does this relate? We are talking of risks to safety, health and welfare.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Under “health surveillance”, it refers to “a periodic review for the purpose of protecting health and preventing occupationally related disease.”

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is that in the definitions section?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes. That is the health surveillance element of this, which is different to risk.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Why then is the Minister of State using the phrase “appropriate to the risks of health, safety and welfare”?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Because this would only apply in employment where there was known occupational illnesses associated with the substances or processes involved.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Such as in abattoirs.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  A small printing firm might have one or two employees, and solvents might be in use there, as they often are. Would there be an onus on the employer to have periodic blood tests carried out on his employees to check the level of solvents?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No. The section provides that the assessment would be available to an employee if he or she chooses to undergo it.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What would be available?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Medical assessment.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  So a company doctor, provided by the company, should be available.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes. A doctor should be made available.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  So my printer, with his or her helper, must pay for the doctor to periodically test the employee. Is that right?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The employer must ensure that in the event of an employee requesting assessment——

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State is stating that the employer shall ensure that the health surveillance takes place. It is not a matter for the employee to call for it to take place. The Minister of State is saying that every employer must ensure it takes place.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Section 22 says that the risk assessment under section 19 is to be made available to his or her employees. It does not say it must be imposed on them. It merely says it must be made available.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Section 22 says that every employer shall ensure that health surveillance appropriate to the risks is available.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Minister of State might want to look at that again and return to it on the next Stage for further clarification.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No. There are two separate issues. First, there are specific risks in certain employment which, if they are known to the employer, which they would be in many circumstances, must be made known to the employee. The section states that every employer shall ensure that health surveillance appropriate to the risk is available. The word is and must be “shall”. Second, the section speaks of the health surveillance being available to employees. The employee can decide whether to make use of it or not. Those two separate issues are being confused today.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State is making this up.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That is what it says.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  There are two different issues.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I think the Minister of State said this is already provided for in the 1963 Act.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No, in the 1993 regulations.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Is it being adhered to? The companies I know do not have general practitioners swanning about, or employees visiting them. However, I see some merit in the section. The example that comes to mind is the issue of army deafness — the other army deafness.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The real army deafness.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The only army deafness.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Under such legislation some of those soldiers could have been tested occasionally for hearing impairment. There is merit in this section if the health surveillance were to be provided as an occasional option. The “shall” element may be forcing this to the limit.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The alternative is to accept the amendment, which would mean removing this section. One of the effects of that would be that an important element of the existing regulations, which are being consolidated in this Bill, would be omitted. The regulation of 1993 came about because of the requirement under the EU directive and was made possible under the 1989 Act. If we ran with this amendment, or a major alteration, we would not be meeting the requirements of the directive in the first instance and would be changing something that has been in place for 11 years without creating any of the difficulties some of the Deputies are concerned might arise if we continue with it. I am certainly not disposed to making that change since there are certain employments where there are very specific risks of which, in the first instance, it seems reasonable employees should be made aware. In the second instance, there might be a specific medical assessment required, and I do not mean a doctor racing around a place employing two people. It might well be a specialist in a medical field.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  A printer now has a consultant. It was a GP a moment ago in the requirements of the Act.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It seems reasonable that, in the first instance, the 1993 directive should be transposed into the consolidating legislation. Second, it does not seem in any respect an unreasonable requirement that access to a medical assessment be available to the employee.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I might ask one separate question on the section.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  A final question on section 22.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It need not be final. The section reads, “appropriate to the risks to safety, health and welfare that may be incurred at the place of work”. Would this include the risk from radon gas if it were in an area identified as being at high risk?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It would if it were identified under the risk assessment in section 19.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  If radon gas is prevalent in an area, is the Minister of State saying it should be identified in section 19 as a risk?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That would be a section 19 requirement to which I will return. The section states, “Every employer and every person to whom sections 12 and 15 apply shall identify the hazards in the place of work under his or her control, assess the risks” and so on. Under section 19, the risk assessment ought to identify this. In so far as preventive measures can be taken, which is true of the Deputy’s example, they should be taken.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Section 19 is enough. The employer identifies the hazards and risks in a place of work and makes the information available in a written assessment to his or her employees. He or she is going to a great deal of trouble to ensure the employees know the extent of the risks and hazards of being employed in that place. Why should we bother doing something notional and leaving something very vague in section 22 which deals with a belt-and-braces approach? Not only is the employer required to identify the risk and the hazard; now we are saying he or she shall ensure health surveillance as defined in page 10, which means the periodic review of the health of employees, even though he or she has just told an employee in a written statement of assessment the types of risks and hazards associated with the work. Now we are saying to the employer that it is not good enough to do this in written form, that he or she must also do something to ensure health surveillance appropriate to that risk to the employee is provided for. In spite of what the Minister of State said about regulations in 1993, they do not mean it is right. It was obviously wrong on that occasion and should not be enshrined in this legislation. It is easier to change regulations than primary legislation, as the Minister of State knows.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  If I understand Deputy Hogan, he is saying it is sufficient for an employer to identify the risk and do nothing about it.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  He or she is obliged to do several things about it.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Under section 19, he or she is obliged to do a little about it.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  He or she is doing a great deal.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Under section 22, he or she is obliged to take action with the effect of monitoring the employee’s health if he or she wishes and addressing the specific difficulty that would arise in an admittedly small number of employments which are nevertheless important. It depends on what our purpose is. If it is to protect the health of workers, it does not seem sufficient to say one has identified a risk and that the employee can take it or leave it.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State keeps saying employees’ health may be monitored if they so wish. Where does this come from? I have repeatedly said every employer is obliged to ensure these things happen. It is not a matter of the employees wanting it, as far as I read it. The Minister of State is making a reasonably convincing argument on health but the way in which this is worded is very vague and burdensome. It is all well and good to say no one has had any bother with it for 11 years. We live in a different time and people will look at this section and ask what sort of surveillance was provided for. It is not a matter of employees coming and asking for it.

The health and safety risks are listed on the wall and there are health and safety standards. However, did the employer check whether there had been an impact? Has he or she conducted tests to ensure radon gas is not prevalent and that solvents are not having an impact? How often did he or she do it? How expert was the surveillance? Did the company GP do it or was the matter referred to an appropriate specialist? I can hear the lawyers in the back of my mind dealing with the issue. Deputy Hogan has a point on the broadness of the provision. The Minister of State is relying unduly on the comfort that it has been all right so far.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The information already available on the regulation is important, since it goes some way towards explaining why neither the employers nor the employee representatives have raised issues on this. I might once again take the example raised by Deputy Howlin of radon gas at a place of employment. Obviously, the first requirement is that it be found. If one leaves out section 22, a requirement to find and do nothing about it is effectively what applies. In section 22 Deputy Howlin is quite taken with the word “shall”. However, the last part of the section reads, “under section 19, is made available to his or her employees”.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Why are we talking about section 19? I am dealing with section 22.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am referring to the last line of section 22 which reads, “under section 19, is made available to his or her employees”. I am not making up a connection with section 19 but reading what is contained in it.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The requirement under the section is that the employer, having identified the risk under section 19——

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State has missed my point. What is made available to the employees is the risk assessment under section 19. This has nothing to do with the obligation under section 22 that the employer “shall ensure that health surveillance” is carried out. They are two separate issues.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Minister of State has made the point that under section 19, there will be identification of risks and hazards. He then says he needs section 22 to do something about it. If a risk or hazard were identified, he says the employer would not do anything about it without section 22. However, section 19(4) reads as follows:

We already have what the Minister of State requires to ensure an employer does something about a risk or hazard identified in section 19(4).

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On my example of radon gas, there would be a clear obligation, once the hazard had been identified, to insert a mechanism for a barrier under section 19(4) but the Minister of State is saying we would monitor the health of employees instead. I realise it is not an “either or”, but it seems appropriate that the right way to proceed once the risk is identified, is to include whatever mechanisms are available to prevent it. That has been dealt with already, as we have passed that section. This is better than having to monitor on a periodic basis, whatever that might mean, the health of the employees, depending on the type of testing required.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Under section 19, the employer is required to take remedial action. That is fair enough, up to a point. However, supposing the remedial action is not effective, is incomplete, has been done badly or whatever. Section 22 leaves it open to the employee to have assessment subsequently carried out to see if the risk assessed under section 19 continues to exist. This is against a background of a loss of more than 675,000 working days in 2002 from occupational injuries. It is relatively easy to identify a physical injury such as a broken hand. Occupational injuries are less easily recognised and there are jobs where people work with lead, asbestos and other dangerous substances quite apart from the fact that on occasion they might have to work in locations where there is radon gas. These are real jobs. It is not notional stuff. I am trying to provide for the protection of the worker’s health to the maximum possible extent. I simply do not accept that when a risk is identified and there is some remedial action, everything has been resolved automatically. Neither would employees thank me if I were to take such a view.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  On careful reading, section 19 requires risk assessment to be carried out, effectively. Is the purpose of section 22 not just to ensure workers have access to risk assessment, particularly in view of the last line in subsection 22(1), which provides for appropriate risk surveillance to be made available to employees?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That is why it is put as “made available to employees”.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Is not that the full import of it?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State has made a reasonable case for it, but it is just too vague. The Minister of State is saying there will be health surveillance “appropriate to the risks”. What level of health surveillance is appropriate to the risks and who will determine that? If one looks at the definition of health surveillance, what does “periodic” mean? Who will determine that? Will the courts determine it?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  There is considerable guidance available from the Health and Safety Authority as regards specific jobs. This is not just a vague provision in a Bill. It has been in existence for some time and has worked reasonably well. It seems reasonable that this provision should be in place. It sits well with the intention of having data available for the future on occupational and related injuries, and with the right of an employee to safe working conditions.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Minister of State has heard the serious views of Deputies on this section. If he can do anything on Report Stage to address some of the concerns raised, he should do so.

Question put and agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 51 is being discussed on its own.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 51:

This is a technical amendment.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What is the import of that?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It would not be appropriate to have just “employee” and this must be qualified by “class or classes”. The legal advice, apparently, is that in this instance it is a constitutional requirement.

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 52 is in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 53 to 55, inclusive, and amendments Nos. 99 to 102, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 52:

With regard to amendment No. 55 in the name of Deputy Hogan, I believe his concerns are covered either in the Bill or in some of these amendments. All of the amendments arise from representations made on medical confidentiality, more than anything else. They would have been relevant in some respects as regards section 22. The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s faculty of occupational medicine made representations to safeguard medical confidentiality. Taken together, the amendments have the effect of dealing with the faculty’s concerns.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  As regards amendment No. 55, I was concerned about what would happen the employee, under this section, if he or she were deemed to be unfit for work for a long period. Under section 23 it is not clear what would happen the employee. Can he or she be dismissed for being medically unfit for work for a specified period? It is not well-defined.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The legal advice available is that the protection provided for the employee under the Unfair Dismissals Act covers this. What Deputy Hogan is seeking is already required in that legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 53:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 54:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 55 not moved.

Section 23, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No 56:

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 57 has already been discussed with amendment No. 10.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 57:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Minister of State please explain that, again?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 10. It is a technical amendment. The wording proposed is considered to be tidier.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 58:

This is also technical, as are all the amendments in that group.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 24, as amended, agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 59 and 60 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I move amendment No. 59:

The amendment seeks to eliminate the possibility of frivolous complaints. Section 25(2)(c) requires a safety representative to investigate all complaints received. This could result in a flood of trivial or frivolous complaints that would take up much of the time of the safety representative and the employer. I seek to restrict this and to prevent trivial complaints by inserting the phrase “breaches of” before the phrase “safety, health and welfare” to ensure reported breaches are investigated rather than mere complaints.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  To accept the amendment would have the effect of restricting the rights given to the safety representative under the 1989 Act. While I understand the point made by Deputy Hogan, the provision of the 1989 Act has not been abused or we have not received complaints that it is being abused. I would be concerned if we were to reduce the rights given to a safety representative in this legislation as this would send a wrong signal. There are no current difficulties that need to be addressed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 25 agreed to.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I move amendment No. 60:

This is an important amendment in so far as I brought to the Minister’s attention on Second Stage that a number of complaints had been brought to my attention in regard to various trainers, how they were assessed and, particularly, how they became part of the panel operating through FÁS. I am concerned many workers might not have the necessary skills as deemed in the context of their training under FETAC courses.

The accreditation of trainers has been the subject of study by FÁS and a consultant’s report. I understand Mr. Spollen carried out an independent assessment of the various skills courses operating through FÁS for the purposes of the construction industry. He found many problems and last October reported to FÁS and made recommendations. While I do not know if it is the case, I am told some of the recommendations are being implemented.

It is important we insert a section in the Bill to guarantee it contains necessary safeguards to ensure there is no doubt concerning the qualifications of trainers and assessors. This would also ensure that those participating in various courses get the proper accreditation and that those bodies accrediting employees are not put at risk because they are doing the paperwork while the relevant course might not be carried out.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The effect of the amendment would be to give a definition to competent persons that would be considerably more wide and open than is the case currently. I would have reservations about establishing by regulation an independent system of accreditation. We already have a number of systems of accreditation and are working towards a situation where accreditation here would be transferable to other European countries and vice versa. We would all aspire to achieving this so that, for example, the FETAC awards recognised here would be equally recognisable across Europe in regard to certain standards and vice versa. NQAI, HETAC and FETAC are already in existence and I am not disposed to set up an alternate system.

In general, the point Deputy Hogan makes in regard to accreditation and training is a reasonable one. However, the matter is already covered and perhaps covered better in the context of the European Green Paper on recognition of qualifications and recent work by FETAC in particular.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The amendment seeks to establish by regulation an independent system for accreditation of trainers and assessors. In a previous amendment, the Minister wanted to insert in primary legislation certain regulations regarding health surveillance or, in other words, to insert in primary legislation a matter already dealt with by the 1993 regulations. This issue is more important than health surveillance given that serious breaches in regard to the accreditation of trainers have been identified in a report drawn up by an independent person on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and FÁS. Recommendations were made in the report and the present system is obviously seen to be faulty as trainers were appointed without necessary qualifications.

Sufficient authority does not exist in this regard, or, if it does, it is faulty. I am anxious that the Minister would ensure there is an onus on the State to protect employees who work on sites. We must ensure trainers on sites are properly accredited, workers on sites are up to standard, in line with what we would expect under the Bill, and workers on sites, construction sites in particular, are not without the necessary qualifications or, for example, are not driving cranes and putting other employees at risk.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The principle of transposing existing directives into law in this instance is what is necessary in consolidating the 1989 Act and the regulations. There does not seem to be any other way to do this, a point which applies in respect of several of the matters already discussed and some to be discussed. With regard to this section, the Deputy seeks that we establish by regulation an independent system for the accreditation of trainers and so on. However, systems are already in place.

The Deputy referred to difficulties that have arisen in this area. While I am not being economical with information in this regard, the Deputy is aware, as are others, that at least one case is currently before the courts. Therefore, I do not want to go into much detail on the issue.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I am talking about the system.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The FETAC accreditation achieves a high level of recognition despite the fact that some of the unions are unhappy with the pace of progress. The situation would not be improved by accepting this. We should support the accreditation systems in place. When difficulties arise, as they undoubtedly will in any system, the matter should be pursued, as it was in an instance of which the Deputy is aware. Ultimately, if a matter ends in court, it will be for the courts to decide. None of us want a situation where people are prevented from having a right of access to the courts if they are not happy with decisions of FÁS or others.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  This is a fundamental aspect of the legislation that deals with the protection of employees. If the accreditation of trainers is abused and there is not proper assessment of training, employees are put at risk and there might as well be no legislation, and we can forget what is being discussed in regard to the Bill. Will the Minister establish by regulation an independent system? It could be the system in place at present but certain changes might be made by regulation to ensure it is a foolproof system and that what happened in the past cannot happen again. It will put an even greater onus on those who accredit trainers to do their job properly in ensuring employees are properly trained to go onto various sites. There have been a number of representations on this issue, in respect of which I have been in correspondence with the Minister. Other Deputies have also received representations, particularly from the trade unions, including SIPTU. These representations indicate significant concern about the operation of this independent assessment of trainers. This concern relates especially to the possibility that certificates may be issued by trainers to recipients who have not undertaken the requisite training. It is important that there be included in the primary legislation an imposition on the State to ensure trainers are probably accredited. There should be no possibility of the silly stuff that happened in the past whereby trainers were accredited and paperwork completed without the relevant training having been carried out.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Deputy Hogan has made a compelling case on this issue. It does not run foul of the equally valid point made by the Minister of State that FETAC is an internationally recognised organisation. Most of us have presented FETAC certificates in the past. It is gaining increasing acceptance, not only in industry in Ireland but across Europe. This is in no way diminished by Deputy Hogan’s legislative proposal which could prescribe FETAC as the competent authority but also set down standards and ensure in primary legislation that those standards were upheld. It is a valid point.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The best test of the current system is that when difficulties arose, they are discovered and pursued. No matter the system in place, there is a risk that people will try to circumvent requirements. When such has happened — it is likely to happen again — the problem has been identified and trainers removed, some of whom are dissatisfied with the decisions made and are pursuing the issue in the courts. I do not wish to give more details about the specifics of the matter. The reasonable test is that where there is abuse, it has been found and dealt with. A recognised system is in place for accrediting trainers and I am reluctant to undermine it.

Question put: “That the new section be there inserted.”

The Committee divided: Tá: 2; Níl: 7

Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.



Níl
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.  

Question declared lost.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 61 not moved.

Section 26 agreed to.

Amendment No. 62 not moved.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 63:

These are technical amendments, some of which arise from recommendations made by the trade unions. They relate to issues concerning the Labour Court rather than tribunals. We discussed the matters involved yesterday in depth. Some are consequent on each other.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 64:

In terms of language, this is a drafting amendment. Section 27 is concerned with protection against dismissal for those taking action to protect their safety. Subsection (3)(f) refers to: “subject to subsection (6), in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent ... while the danger persisted ... ”. My amendment substitutes the word “danger” with “circumstances”. The section is triggered by circumstances of danger. The amendment would ensure the continuance of language, in that where circumstances persisted, they would be the circumstances of danger which the Minister has referenced in line 32.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  We asked the Parliamentary Counsel to examine this issue to determine whether the concern expressed by the Deputy was addressed by the current wording. We were assured it would have the same effect.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It should be accepted in plain English. The fact we are proposing a draft amendment does not mean there is not a drafting error. Neither the Minister of State nor the Parliamentary Counsel needs to defend his or her position. The section is triggered by circumstances of danger. Like me, the Minister of State is a trained teacher. It is logical that the amendment would follow on from when those circumstances persisted.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I try my best to exclude my inner teacher when dealing with such matters. My concern is to ensure the legislation reflects the intent and Parliamentary Counsel’s advice is that “danger” is the appropriate word.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I think that word is wrong.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I note the Deputy proposes its substitution with the word “circumstances”.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What triggers a person to leave his place of employment is the circumstances. We are not changing the ground rules in terms of protecting the position of an employee. Therefore, it is not where those circumstances exist but where the danger exists. The circumstances might not constitute a danger but they might give rise to a belief of danger. The Minister of State is changing the ground rules between the two subclauses. While this appears to be a minor matter, what I propose is logical. I will raise this matter again on Report Stage when the Minister of State might reconsider it.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will recheck the position on it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 65:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 66 not moved.

Section 27, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 67:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 68:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 69:

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 70 is in the name of the Minister and Deputy Howlin.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 70:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  In other words, the Minister of State wanted to accept my amendment and add his name to it.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  There is an occupational agreement between the Minister of State and the Deputy.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I did not have the wording proposed in Deputy Howlin’s amendment when I tabled this amendment, but I knew his intent in this regard and his wording and my wording happen to be the same in this instance.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 71:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 28, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 72:

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I draw to the attention of members that this amendment, which inserts a new section, contains a typographical error. Paragraph (f) of subsection (4) which currently reads “any matters consequential on, or incidental to, the matters referred to in paragraph 5 (a) to (e).” should read “any matters consequential on, or incidental to, the matters referred in paragraph (a) to (e).”

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The new section proposed in the amendment is required to make the change in relation to the Labour Court. It is consequential on the two previous amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 72a, 72b and 73 not moved.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 74 cannot be moved.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Why can it not be moved?

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I am advised to refer to note 11.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I do not have that. Perhaps the Chairman would share the contents of it with us.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The same is proposed in respect of amendment No. 76.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No, I am asking about amendment No. 74.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  If amendment No. 72 is agreed, amendments Nos. 73 to 76, inclusive, cannot be moved.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That is because of the new rules of the Labour Court as opposed to the tribunal.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  That is correct.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No, I heard that somewhere. With three lists, it is difficult to know what I heard about which amendment. This provision is related to the procedures of the Labour Court.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Chairman explain why amendment No. 73 and the following amendments cannot be moved?

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I must refer to note 11 where this arises. I do not want to be repetitive but my notes indicate that if amendment No. 72 is agreed, amendments Nos. 73 to 76, inclusive, cannot be moved. Amendment No. 72 proposes the insertion of a new section.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  My understanding is that the operation of the tribunal is somewhat akin to that of a court in terms of an oath, affirmation and so on, but the operation of the Labour Court, as the Deputy is aware, is a different process which does not involve that.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  A party may appeal to the Labour Court from a decision of a rights commissioner under section 28.

Amendments Nos. 74 to 76, inclusive, not moved.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is section 29 agreed to? I note that this decision should be in the negative.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes, because amendment No. 72 proposes the replacement of that section with a new section.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The question, in effect, is that section 29 should not stand part of Bill.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It should be replaced by the new section.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That is not agreed then.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  It is not agreed. The Deputy is being mischievous and the Chair will not forget that.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  However, the new section needs to be agreed.

Section 29 deleted.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 77:

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is the amendment agreed?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It relates to the principle regarding the Labour Court rather than the tribunal.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is it agreed that section 30 should not be part of the Bill and should be replaced by the new section? Agreed.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 30 deleted.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 78:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 79:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 80:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 81:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 82:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 83:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State might give us a sentence on this amendment.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  This relates to section 39(7) of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 as applied to this Act by section 29(7). It is necessary to insert this change in view of the changes prior to this proposed change.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is consequential on those.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes, it is consequential. I am advised that there would be an omission if such wording were not included.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 31, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 84:

This is a consequential amendment. Section 1 states that the Bill, when enacted, can come into effect at various times, which is normal, although I have concerns about the length of time it takes some legislation to come into effect. To be consistent, I suggest that the words “of this Act” should be replaced with the words “of this section” to facilitate different provisions coming into effect at different times under section 1. It is a drafting amendment.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  My advice is that this amendment is unnecessary. We dealt with this to some extent yesterday in regard to the question of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Yes, the “No. 1 Act”, so to speak. However, in fairness to the Deputy, he wanted amendments Nos. 84, 85 and 158 to be discussed separately and we agreed on that.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The advice I have——

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  It is the same as amendment No. 111.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes. It would be a drafting amendment but it would not be helpful or positive for what we need to achieve.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is a minor matter and I do not wish to delay with it but it appears it will be known under its new name at such time as the Act comes into force. Does it mean that when all sections of the Act come into force, as opposed to the commencement of this section, the title will be generated?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  First, there is the commencement order and then there are regulations arising from the enactment of the various sections. There is a good deal of work to be done in some cases but the intention is that the commencement order would include a number of the principal——

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We are drafting primary legislation. Section 32(1)(a) states:

Unless the word “Act” is changed to “section”, the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health will continue to be that until such time as the entire Act comes into force. It would be more appropriate to specify that it will be when the section comes into force.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  We sought advice from the Parliamentary Counsel about this.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Again.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The advice was strongly to the effect that “Act” rather than “section” is what is appropriate.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Minister ask him again? It would be simple English.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Deputy is a former Minister with enormous experience. His views must be taken into account at this stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 85:

This is the Irish version of what I wanted to achieve in English yesterday.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 32 agreed to.

Section 33 agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 86:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 34, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 35 and 36 agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 88 to 92, inclusive, are related to amendment No. 87. Is it agreed that amendments Nos. 87 to 92, inclusive, be discussed together?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Can they be taken separately? Gender balance and the role of the chief executive are quite separate.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I am in the members’ hands. Is it agreed that they be discussed separately? Agreed.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 87:

This is an important principle and I have tabled a similar amendment to other legislation. The provision deals with the membership of the authority. I propose that the chief executive not be a member of the authority. It is a matter of corporate governance. The new commission is getting instructions on corporate governance, although we did not take it on board ourselves with regard to our chief executive. It is important there be a separation between the board and the management headed by the chief executive. The chief executive and management are responsible to the board and the board makes board decisions. That type of separation is important.

It is an argument I have made on a number of occasions. The Minister for Transport has accepted this point in the Driver Testing and Standards Authority Bill and has ensured the chief executive has the right of attendance at board meetings but is not a member of the board. One separates, therefore, the line management, which has a reporting role to the board, from the board, which makes board decisions. I hope the principle will be accepted by the Minister.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I support the amendment. Chief executives are responsible for the daily operation of the company or authority but they are answerable to the board. If the chief executive is a member of the board, there will be a dilution of the responsibilities of the board due to the influence, perhaps, the chief executive may have on board members for one reason or another. The chief executive will have to make available to the board all necessary information that is required by the board to make decisions. However, the separation of the executive from the board is an important principle.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am at a considerable disadvantage with regard to this amendment. I am on record as arguing strongly for good corporate governance in the past. There is a strong argument for it.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We were going to make that point.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I strongly believe good corporate governance is more likely to be delivered in a situation where the chief executive operates in the capacity described by both Deputies rather than in the capacity of a member of the board. It is somewhat complicated in this instance by the fact that I know the chief executive and he is doing a wonderful job.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Yes. The amendment is no reflection on that.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Everybody accepts that. That always has been the case with the Health and Safety Authority. It has been one of its great strengths. However, I do not believe the authority would be better served in the future by having the chief executive as a member of the board. I am disposed to accepting the amendment.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  That is the 15th amendment accepted by the Minister.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  In principle, if sometimes in different words.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I remind the Minister and members that we are only halfway through Committee Stage. The continued co-operation is much appreciated.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 88:

This deals with the requirement for gender balance on the board. It has been stated Government policy for more than a decade that at least 40% of the members of each State board would be of each gender. The Minister will have no difficulty accepting the amendment to ensure the proper gender balance of a minimum of 40% is achieved in the new HSA.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The employers and the unions have the right to nominate half the members of the board. I have written to the chief executives in both instances and advised them that the filling of the board vacancies arises early in December. I have asked them to nominate their three members each and to take account of this provision. I hope they will. If they do not, however, and if I accept this amendment, it would create potential difficulties in the nomination of the remaining members.

I assure members of the committee that I will attempt to comply with the spirit of the amendment. It might be difficult, however, because I have only the remaining places to fill and I do not know what the partners will do.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I have some experience in trying to get gender balance on boards and I appreciate the difficulty when there are outside nominating bodies. However, if there is a legal requirement in the legislation, the nominating bodies will be simply told they must provide a panel that is gender balanced from which the Minister will select members.

If the nominating bodies are aware of the legal requirement from the beginning, the Minister’s job will be simpler. If it is not included in the primary statute, the nominating bodies can nominate whom they wish and the Minister is left trying to redress an already imbalanced board. He might exclude members of a gender he might wish to include because others are not compelled to provide the nominations. The strongest way of avoiding that is to provide for it in the legislation. Nobody can resile from it and everybody must accept that it is not a distant aspiration.

All Governments have paid lip service to this over a period of years but we have not achieved gender balance. In other countries it is a matter of routine that there is a balance of gender on state boards and administrations. We must get our act together and do that. The only way to do it is to insert it in the Bill. It is an important issue notwithstanding the good faith of the amendment.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Will the Deputy amend his proposal to 50% from the outside nominating bodies? That would cover the difficulty the Minister has.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  If the end product must be 40% of each gender, the Minister can make regulations to ensure that each of the nominating bodies has to live with that. It is difficult to get 50% if there are three nominees, of course.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  There is that difficulty. To be fair to the social partners, they have each nominated 33.3% previously, although I do not know what they will do on this occasion. I hope they will do that at a minimum. If they do, it obviously creates a much smaller difficulty for me in meeting the quota. However, if I were to accept this amendment and seek a panel from them, they could reasonably maintain that I was reducing their own say in nominating members because I would be picking from a panel rather than letting them nominate directly. That might create a difficulty. I am disposed to co-operating within the spirit of this amendment. If the social partners do what they did heretofore I will be able to be there or thereabouts.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is the amendment being withdrawn?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No. It is an important issue. Whatever the goodwill of the Minister of State, being there or thereabouts is not good enough. We are either determined to do this and put it into Statute law or else it is a case of saying: “We’ll all give it our best effort and if it doesn’t work on the day, sure it doesn’t work on the day”. Notwithstanding the Minister of State’s best efforts, if any employer’s body or trade union has an objection to providing a gender-balanced panel, let them answer to their own membership.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The effect of a 40% requirement would probably be that each of them had to nominate 66.66% to be over it: two women out of three. That would make the Minister’s job easy and that is what I should welcome but it would be a little unfair. History has shown that they have nominated one out of three, which is not quite the 40% quota but is probably reasonable. If they do that we will be able to meet the quota requirements or be close to them. If they do not, however, I do not think I could undertake to nominate five women members myself out of five places.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Then we have no commitment at all that we will reach the target. It is more of a hope than an expectation.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  In order to do it, I genuinely think the social partners would have a difficulty with this provision. In a sense, I suppose a mathematical problem is the least of the difficulties. It is a practical difficulty.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  What about increasing the membership numbers?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is a matter of tick-tacking. One can decide that, for the next board, the employers will nominate at least two women and one man, and the trade unions would not have the obligation then except to have two men and one woman. On the next tranche, the responsibility would reverse. There is a mechanism for doing this if there is a will but the will has to be driven by somebody. If one is simply not legally entitled to constitute a board without a gender balance, then one will have gender balance. However, if one can constitute a board without a gender balance, I would bet a substantial sum that there will not be gender balance because there is no imperative to do it and everybody is lazy about it.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Where there is a will, there is a way.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  If there is a requirement, there is a way.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Where there is a requirement, there is a way. How can we deal with this, Minister?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State should be brave and say, “Do this”. He should put it up to the social partners to have gender balance and say: “Let’s stop talking about it and let’s do it.”

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Does the Minister of State want time to reflect?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  To be fair to them, they would say they are meeting the 33.3% mark, which is not quite the quota requirement. It seems a better deal to me than reducing their complete independence to nominate members. I am not really disposed to making it mandatory.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I will think about the amendment again and will reintroduce it on Report Stage. The Minister of State might talk to the social partners in the interim.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I have already done that, Chairman. I have written to them and have also spoken with them.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Minister of State might use his influence. The matter will be brought back on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 89:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 37, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 90:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 38, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 91:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 39, as amended, agreed to.

Section 40 agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 92:

The amendment provides a mechanism for public information regarding interests and potential conflicts of interest on the part of members and staff of the authority. It basically is a transposition of the sort of general ethics legislation and right of information procedures that are gradually permeating anybody who holds public office to ensure that there is transparency in the operation of all public administration.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Section 41, as drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel, is the standard text in these circumstances. I am interested in what Deputy Howlin has said. If he would like to re-enter it on Report Stage I will examine the matter in the meantime. We have both served on committees where we were fairly cognisant of some of these considerations. I will re-examine the matter if he re-enters it on Report Stage.

Deputy Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I will withdraw the amendment on that basis.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 41 agreed to.

Sections 42 to 48, inclusive, agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 93:

This is an important amendment the progressive Minister of State might well be disposed to accept. It deals with the role of the chief executive and his attendance to give evidence before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Committee of Public Accounts in particular. With all due respect to the civil servants present, section 49(2) is a classic civil servant’s section. It states:

I am proposing to delete that gagging procedure. It is right and proper that it should be deleted. The notion that a chief executive of a public body would not be able to express an opinion on Government policy sounds like something the newly re-elected President of Belarus might propose rather than the progressive Minister of State from the banner county.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I do not like to see anybody being gagged. Deputy Howlin has made a good case.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am in a very charitable mood, but there may be a day in the future when the Deputies opposite are in the position of Minister and might appreciate the value of the entire section. Everybody who looks at the entire text of section 49 would have to concede that there are many areas where the chief executive is empowered to give the evidence which is important in terms of his or her appearance——

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The chief executive can comment on anybody except the Minister or the Government.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Whatever my views on this matter, that has been the practice heretofore. It has served the State very well. There are considerable advantages to it. I am not convinced that the disadvantages come close. On balance, I think——

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  A strong point was made by the Deputy.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  My faith in the progressive new Minister of State has been shattered. There is a new view of the way public administration works. It would be uncomfortable for a Minister to have a chief executive of a State board or company disagree publicly with Government policy because, for example, it works against the interest of health and safety in a particular workplace or not enough is being done. That might cause difficulties but it would be good for public confidence in the operation of State boards and would ensure that Ministers have regard to the views of a chief executive. I am disappointed the Minister of State will not consider the amendment and I hope he might reflect further on it between now and Report Stage. On that basis, I will not divide the committee.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 49 agreed to.

Sections 50 to 57, inclusive, agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 94, 150 and 151 are related and may be discussed together.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 94:

This is a technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment Nos. 121, 124 to 133, inclusive, and amendment No. 157 are related to amendment No. 95 and amendment No. 130 is an alternative to amendment No. 129. Amendments Nos. 95, 121, 124 to 133, inclusive, and 157 may be discussed together.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 95:

I will have no idea how these amendments are related until I go through them. I put in my normal caveat that when we reach the amendments, the Chairman will allow me to make points. If there is an issue which we have not covered, I would like to——

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  There is no difficulty.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Amendment No. 95 seeks to insert a new subsection (10) that regulations under this section may not create an indictable offence. The purpose of this amendment is to reflect the provision of the European Communities Act 1972, on which the Minister of State will be briefed, which was emphasised by the Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. the Minister for the Marine.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is that the Deputy’s colleague?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No, it is another Brown. The effect is that regulations implementing an EU directive should not create an indictable offence. I know the Minister of State is not one to run foul of either European legislation or, more importantly, the Supreme Court.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Section 78(3) already provides that nothing in the penalties section can be construed as creating an indictable offence of the type referred to in this amendment. I am also advised that there are many situations in which failure to comply with requirements set out in regulations results in death and serious accidents at work. These are requirements which have already featured in prosecutions taken on indictment under the 1989 Act. I am advised the provision in section 78(3) covers the concerns of Deputy Howlin. If the amendment was inserted, it might create a difficulty in regard to situations where failure to comply has resulted in death or serious accidents.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am looking at the Minister of State’s reference, that is, the penalty section 78(3). It states nothing in this section should be construed as creating an indictable offence. What I am saying is that regulations under a previous section should not create an indictable offence. I am not talking about the creation of an indictable offence in primary statute law. I am saying that the regulations cannot do the same, that is, create an indictable offence under that section. Is the Minister of State giving me the assurance that is captured by this provision?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I understand this section was created to deal with the specific circumstance that arose. I think it deals with what Deputy Howlin is trying to cover.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What section is the Minister of State talking about?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am talking about section 78(3).

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is section 78(3) being specifically included to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court decision I instanced?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Apparently.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I will take further advice on it and will accept the Minister of State’s word on it in the interim.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 58, as amended, agreed to.

Section 59 agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 96 to 98, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 96:

These are all technical amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 97:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 98:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 60, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 61 and 62 agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 99:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 100:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 101:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 102:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 63, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 103:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 104:

That is a normal provision. It may be dealt with elsewhere. If so, perhaps the Minister of State will indicate where.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The Deputy wants to delete the word “Act” and put in its place the word “section”.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No, that is not correct. We have already dealt with that amendment. Amendment No. 104 reads, “Documents subject to legal professional privilege shall not be liable to production under this section.”

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  This is listed with the provisions we made in respect of the Labour Court instead of the tribunal. It does not seem, however, to have a particular connection, unless I am mistaken.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That is why I wanted it to be dealt with separately.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am unclear as to what the Deputy intends.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We are dealing with section 64 which relates to the powers of inspectors. Under the section, inspectors are empowered to take measurements and photographs and do many other things. My amendment states documents subject to legal professional privilege would not be liable to production under the section. In other words, an inspector should not be able to require such documents to be produced.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Under current provisions, an inspector would need a court order to require such documents to be presented. I understand they are covered by the legal professional-client relationship.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There are a range of powers conferred in this section which will enable inspectors to require the production of documentation. In the interests of clarity, my amendment suggests that documents subject to legal professional privilege — that is, the sort of documents to which the Minister of State referred — should not be liable to production under the section.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The rules of the High Court, for example, would protect information of this nature.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Would it be explicit? Perhaps the Minister of State will reconsider the position before Report Stage.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That might be the sensible thing to do.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 64, as amended, agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 105 to 114, inclusive, 116, 117, 135 and 136 are related. Amendment No. 136 is an alternative to amendment No. 135. They will all be discussed together.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  May we discuss amendments Nos. 105 to 108, inclusive, together initially?

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Yes. We will, therefore, discuss amendments Nos. 105 to 108, inclusive, together. Is that agreed? Agreed:

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 105:

These amendments arise from representations made to the committee and individual members and relate to improvement notices. In the Bill, as drafted, there is no provision for the removal of a notice at any stage, regardless of whether it is complied with. The effect of the amendments will be that in the event that an employer complies with an improvement notice, he or she will be empowered to remove it. Amendment No. 108 reads, “the inspector shall, on being satisfied that matters have been so remedied, within one month of receipt of such confirmation, give written notice to the person concerned of compliance with the improvement notice”.

The amendments are consequent on each other. When they are accepted, there will be provision for an employer to remove a notice when the difficulties have been addressed.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 65, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 106:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 107:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 108:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 66, as amended, agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments. Nos. 109 and 110 are related and may be discussed together.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 109:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 110:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 67, as amended, agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 111 to 113, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 111:

Section 68(1) states:

Why should there be a need to go to the High Court? Amendment No. 111 suggests a person be empowered to go to either the Circuit Court or the High Court. The purpose of the amendment is to save on legal costs and provide for people’s convenience by allowing them to go to either the Circuit Court or the High Court. If it would be less costly and more expeditious to go to the Circuit Court, I do not understand why that court could not have jurisdiction in matters of this nature. Amendment No. 116 which relates to section 71 also suggests the Circuit Court should have jurisdiction.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am advised that the provisions of the 1989 Act have been used very successfully by the HSA. The authority has obtained nine High Court orders under the equivalent section of the 1989 Act. In the remainder of cases it has clearly not been necessary to proceed to the High Court and employers have taken the required action. The High Court provision in the original legislation has been effective. In view of existing practice and the success obtained, I am better disposed to the High Court route.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I do not know why that is the case. The Minister of State should not be a captive of what occurred in the past. We have sought, under the most recent legislation, to increase the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform came before the committee to discuss the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court in terms of monetary penalties. It is more accessible than the High Court, particularly in terms of geography. The High Court sits almost exclusively in Dublin and infrequently elsewhere. The Circuit Court seems to be highly competent, particularly with its growing jurisdiction. It also seems to offer a less costly and more expeditious way of dealing with the matters dealt with in the section. My amendment would not preclude people going to the High Court, if that was their preferred option. I recommend that the Minister of State reconsider the position. There is no compelling reason the Circuit Court would not be an appropriate body to which an application could be made under section 68 where a prohibition notice had been served and where activities were being carried on in contravention of such a notice. It might be expeditious and in the interests of public safety to nip down to a more accessible court.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The question of accessibility has not proved to be difficult. The section proposes a major undertaking, the closure of a workplace, similar to the 1989 Act, but this is not the first option for an inspector. On the basis of the evidence available and the practice heretofore, the procedure in place is highly effective. The High Court carries a deterrent element that perhaps the Circuit Court does not. These are serious cases and I do not wish to give the impression that we are taking a less serious view of them, notwithstanding the points made by the Deputy. The High Court is the correct place to go with such cases.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am not convinced but I am not convincing.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 112 and 113 not moved.

Section 68 agreed to.

Deputy Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I move amendment No. 114:

The section deals with the display of notices but no period for their display is provided for. Is it one day or one week? If one is making a planning application, one is aware of the prescribed period involved. Certainty should be given to the time a notice should be displayed up to a maximum, for example, of ten days. It would be unduly punitive to require the display of a notice for longer than ten days without a review of the change in circumstances. I ask the Minister of State to provide for clarity on the display of such notices by prescribing a time.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The concerns expressed by the Deputy and others were taken on board using a different timescale through amendment No. 108. It provides for a longer period than that set out by the Deputy and a slightly different procedure. However, the amendment acknowledges the concern expressed by employers that the prohibition notice lasted forever under the legislation, as drafted.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 69 agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 115:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 70, as amended, agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 116 and 117 not moved.

Section 71 agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 118:

We have covered this issue but I seek a similar assurance from the Minister of State that he will insert a safeguard that information subject to legal professional privilege shall not be liable to production under the section.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will come back to the Deputy regarding section 74(c) which addresses this issue.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 72 agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 120 and 134 are related to amendment No. 119.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 119:

These amendments refer to the recommendations by coroners which included a technical amendment. They take account of the relationship between the Health and Safety Authority and the coroners and their respective interests as regards information on the causes of fatal accidents involving workers. On the one hand, information can be given to a coroner, despite the general prohibition under section 73 on the unauthorised disclosure of confidential information arising from the performance of the functions of the authority.

The deletion of section 86 takes account of representations made and the agreement arrived at between the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Health and Safety Authority and the coroners’ society. Under this agreement, provision will be made in a new coroner’s Bill, whereby coroners will inform the HSA about an inquest following the death of a worker, giving the authority an opportunity to be present at the inquest and take note of evidence that may be useful for the purposes of its investigations.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Section 73(1) reads, “Save as otherwise provided by law and subject to subsection (2), a person shall not, unless duly authorised by the Authority, disclose confidential information obtained by the person while performing or as a result of performing any functions as...”.

Section 73(2), as amended, reads: “Subsection (1) does not prohibit the disclosure of information by means of a report made ... (c) to a coroner holding an inquest...”. Can the information, therefore, be given to a coroner’s inquest?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes. The procedure is that the HSA is entitled to be informed of the coroner’s hearing and to be present.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 120:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 73, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 74 to 76, inclusive, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 121:

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 123 is cognate on amendment No. 122 and they will be discussed together.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 122:

These are technical drafting amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 123:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 124:

This is also a technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 126 is related to amendment No. 125 and both may be discussed together.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 125:

Where the affairs or activities of an undertaking are managed or organised in a way that fails to ensure that the health and safety of persons liable to be affected (including employees) is not thereby threatened, and where such failure amounts to conduct falling far below the standard of care and attention it is reasonable in the circumstances to expect would be paid to ensuring that the health and safety of such persons is not so threatened, and where such failure is the cause or one of the causes of the death of a person (notwithstanding that the immediate cause of the person’s death is the act or omission of another person), the undertaking (and any director or manager of the undertaking whose recklessness or gross negligence contributed to or caused the failure) shall be guilty of manslaughter.

This is an important amendment, the objective of which I have pushed for a long time. A new offence of causing personal injury, including death, through contravention of the legislation, would be provided for. I want to establish a crime of corporate manslaughter, for which trade unions have been pushing for a long time. I thought there was consensus on this. The Labour Party introduced a Private Members’ Bill on this issue and I seek to take the section on corporate manslaughter from it and insert it in this legislation. The requirement not to disregard the safety of workers must be expressed in the strongest terms. If safety is disregarded to the extent that an employer recklessly endangers the life of an employee, there must be a severe consequence. That is why I propose this subsection.

My intention is to provide in the legislation for the strongest possible mechanism to ensure those who operate a company in such a reckless way as to expose their employees to death would face a severe consequence. That is important.

Amendment No. 126 proposes to delete the Minister of State’s effort at addressing the issue. His proposal creates a new offence of causing personal injury, including death, through contravening the Act. That is a welcome progression from the 1989 Act, the wording of which is defective. However, the section creates an opt-out in that in the case of personal injury, but not death, the injury must be directly caused by the contravention. It is illogical that an offence of causing injury or death by means of contravening the Act should be committed while the injury is caused directly or indirectly. I propose that we delete the opt-out clause in the Minister of State’s proposed section. That is the purpose of amendment No. 126.

I hope the Minister of State has reflected carefully on the strong lobby, particularly from the trade unions involved in the construction industry, to send the strongest possible signal that the Oireachtas will act against those who are so reckless as to contribute, almost wilfully, to the death of a worker.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  During the debate on Second Stage the Deputy indicated he would be pursuing this issue. In the meantime, I have had a chance to examine the various provisions already in place and what is provided for in the Bill which is considerably stronger than the provisions of the 1989 Act. In this regard, Government policy is to await the review by the Law Reform Commission and to then decide what is to be done with regard to the issue of corporate manslaughter. In view of this, I am not in a position to accept amendment No. 125.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Law Reform Commission has reported. What is happening to the report?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I understand a review is under way and that the final report is awaited.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State is reviewing the report which suggests the creation of an offence.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The review is being undertaken by the Law Reform Commission. There will be a consultation period and so forth. I know the initial report proposed the crime of corporate manslaughter but in a wider context, not this specific context. The provisions in section 80 are considerably stronger in relation to directors and managers of companies than any provisions in the 1989 Act. Given that the Government has decided to await the review, it would be wrong to proceed with this amendment, not knowing what the outcome of the review might be and taking account of the fact that the provisions in section 80 are considerably stronger than anything provided heretofore.

Amendment No. 126 seeks the deletion of paragraph 77(9)(b). This would also be premature, given that a Government decision on the corporate manslaughter issue is awaited.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I discovered recently why some Ministers’ heads appear to be in the clouds. It is because they are sitting on so many reports. I do not ascribe this reason to the Minister of State who is new to the job. I also understand he took the chief executive off the board of the national authority for occupational health and safety while I was away. I am particularly pleased that he accepted that amendment.

Deputy Howlin was correct when he said this was a very important amendment. It is the acid test of the Bill. The Minister of State has received the commission’s report and knows it recommends the introduction of the crime of corporate manslaughter. The Bill will be weakened if it does not include this provision and there is no reason for delaying it further. The Minister of State should consider these amendments carefully. They would make or break the Bill which contains other important elements but this is the acid test.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I did not hear any compelling reasons from the Government side. Because I signalled my intention on Second Stage I thought the Minister of State might have had some compelling reason or view. Delay is not a reason. This issue has been talked about for years. The Government has read the interim conclusions of the Law Reform Commission. One can review the review for as long as one likes but, ultimately, Ministers make decisions. This is an important new health and safety Bill that will probably be law for the next ten years before another vehicle to transpose health and safety regulations is enacted. If the review of the Law Reform Commission and further submissions reach the same conclusion as the Law Reform Commission, that such a crime should be provided for, we might wait another decade before there is a suitable vehicle to do this. I ask the Minister of State to be decisive.

The terms of the amendment are stark. It refers to an undertaking “whose recklessness or gross negligence contributed to or caused the failure”. That is not an easy case to prove. However, where there is such recklessness and gross negligence——

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  There is.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  ——there must be a consequence commensurate with the result of the death of an individual. Either workers’ lives are regarded with the absolute sanctity they must warrant and those who show reckless disregard for their safety are called to the most serious account or the Bill is flawed. I ask the Minister of State to reflect carefully on this amendment.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I have considered this matter very carefully. Even if the Government had not decided to await the review, my own decision would be to take full account of it. When it comes, it will undoubtedly set the crime of manslaughter in a far wider background than health and safety which is the focus of this legislation. When a review is under way and a report expected before the middle of next year, it is not reasonable to insert the proposed provision. It will form part of legislation creating the crime of corporate manslaughter which will cover the eventualities foreseen by Deputy Howlin and others. If it were included here, the other circumstances which might arise would not be covered.

A review is being conducted by the Law Reform Commission which clearly considers a review to be of some merit. I do not wish to short circuit that process.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is the Minister of State giving a timeframe for such legislation? Can he assure the select committee that he will be back within one year, for example, with legislation on this matter? I do not think he is in a position to do so.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It may well be the Attorney General’s advice that legislation in a different area is required which might not be my responsibility. In fact, that is the likeliest outcome. Therefore, it is not for me to give such an undertaking.

Amendment put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 4; Níl, 7.

Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.



Níl
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.  

Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 126 not moved.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 127 has been discussed with amendment No. 95.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 127:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Minister of State explain the amendment?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is a proposal to delete the word “Where” and substitute the words “Without prejudice to subsection (12), where”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 128:

This amendment proposes the insertion of a new subsection (11). I am advised by one of our legal advisers that there is a drafting problem with the relationship between section 77, the offences section, and section 78, the penalties section. Section 78 is intended to create penalties for the offences created by section 77. It also penalises certain conduct not specifically made an offence by section 77.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The advice of the Parliamentary Counsel is that it is covered. The Deputy is correct. Section 78 refers to section 77 and vice versa. If the Deputy wishes to resubmit the amendment on Report Stage, I will reconsider it but I am advised that the matter is adequately dealt with as the Bill stands.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (2) of section 78 should be more properly inserted in section 77. That is the purpose of my amendment. My legal adviser on these matters is seldom wrong.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 77, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 129:

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 95.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It was not. It is related to the previous amendment. It is a drafting amendment to make sure section 77 creates the offence while section 78 provides the punishment. The Bill, as drafted, in section 78(1) only provides for a fine for the offences mentioned in section 29(4)(e) or section 77(1). Some of these offences such as failing to make a risk assessment could be serious and might in appropriate cases warrant imprisonment but the Bill does not provide for this; it simply provides for a fine of not more than €3,000.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The amendment proposes the deletion of subsections (1) and (2) of section 78 and the insertion of a new subsection which would have the effect of dropping the lower tier offences envisaged under the existing subsection (1) and making all offences liable on summary conviction to a fine and a 12 month jail sentence or the higher penalties on indictment. The amendment also appears to delete the provisions relating to licences. It is somewhat tied with the previous amendment.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  In looking at it, it depends on the outcome of the previous amendment on Report Stage.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is linked to the previous amendment in that there is a correlation between sections 77 and 78. The penalties should be appropriate. I ask the Minister of State to consider both amendments. Does he understand the point I am making?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I do. The two are tied. It is difficult to look at one without taking the other into account.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Section 78(1) only provides for a fine for the offences mentioned in section 29(4).

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will check that point before Report Stage.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Depending on when Report Stage is taken, I will tidy up my Report Stage amendments. It would be useful to hear the Minister of State’s views. If he can tidy up this matter, there will be no point in me retabling the amendments.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will speak to the Deputy.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Very good.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 130:

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendments Nos. 131 to 133, inclusive, may be discussed together.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 131:

These amendments relate to penalties. Amendment No. 131 proposes to increase the maximum punishment for a summary offence from six months to 12 months to reflect the seriousness of the offences being created under the Bill.

Amendment 132 proposes to insert after “€3 million” the words, “or 10 per cent of the annual turnover of the defendant as ascertained by the court concerned, whichever is the greater”. By any standards, €3 million is a powerful fine but if one is dealing with a huge conglomerate, it might not be as awesome a fine as it would seem to most of us. The amendment would allow the court, following a conviction on indictment, to impose a larger fine than €3 million if such a fine was less than 10% of the annual turnover of the defendant. I imagine that this would rarely, if ever, be exercised but there might be circumstances when it would be warranted. Such a level of flexibility is advisable in the Bill. It would be a matter for the courts to come up with a punishment commensurate with the crime.

Amendment No. 133 proposes to increase the maximum period of imprisonment on conviction from two years to ten. This may sound a lot but some of the offences under the Bill could result in death for employees. This links with the debate the committee had on the issue of corporate manslaughter. A maximum tariff of two years for a person’s life seems to be too low.

The imposition of any of these penalties would be a matter for the courts but this committee should give a signal. A minor theft could earn a penalty of two years. This is being proposed in a case where somebody is so negligent as to cause the death of an individual. This is not sending the signal the Oireachtas wishes to send with respect to these offences.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will deal with the monetary proposal first. Amendment No. 132 proposes to add to the maximum penalty of €3 million an option of a fine of 10% of annual turnover. I am advised this is a difficult concept in terms of how it would apply to companies in multiple locations and to multinationals in particular. Difficulties would arise in terms of establishing the nature of the operation and whether it applies to the Irish operation or the multinational operation and whether it applies to a subsidiary or a parent company. I am advised these issues would be unduly complicated. In any event a maximum fine of €3 million sends a very strong signal to any employer.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It would not buy a house in parts of Dublin these days.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  My recollection is that no amount was specified in the 1989 Act and it is being specified for the first time in this Bill. While I accept the point the Deputy has made, I would not aspire to be in the market for the kind of house to which he refers and would hardly know where to find one. I believe a fine of €3 million sends a very strong signal. Considerable discussion on both fines and imprisonment took place long before my involvement with the Bill and some people were of the view that €1 million would be sensible and others felt a much larger amount should apply. The same applies to the length of imprisonment. Just as with our discussion about one, three, ten or 20 employees, we settled on this figure. I am not sure any principle would be addressed by my changing it. As it stands, it appears to have a level of acceptance or non-acceptance depending on one’s perspective. I am disposed to sticking with what is in the Bill.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Some companies are earning hundreds of millions of euro annually. While the fine in the Bill may appear reasonable, given how globalisation is going, turnover is ever increasing. We are not trying to put the boot into companies. We are giving the court the option of imposing a heavier fine and a reasonable term of imprisonment. While I do not criticise the Bill, it could conceivably pay some companies to ignore some provisions of the Bill as it stands. This amendment is laudable, as the fine would not be imposed unless the court first finds a company guilty and second decides it is sufficiently guilty to warrant such a heavy fine. As they are very reasonable amendments it would be unfortunate if they were not accepted.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  In general the practice heretofore has been for more than one charge to be made against a company. Recently a very high fine was applied across a range of charges. We all agree the courts should have discretion, as is the case in particular where many charges are made on which a company is found guilty and must pay very large fines.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  When a company is found guilty of many charges, it should pay many fines.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That will happen.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  The Minister of State is leaving it up to——

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  In the most recent case a very reputable company was fined €1 million.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The same principle applies to the other two amendments.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What is the Minister of State’s view on the issue of a person being found negligible resulting in death where the maximum tariff applies?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  These tariffs were agreed following considerable discussion prior to publication of the Bill. One could say no amount was appropriate. It is generally accepted that for the person who would be the defendant in such cases the deterrent value of a prison sentence is considerably more important than the time to be served.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I want to focus on amendment No. 133. When considering motor offences, reckless driving causing death has a tariff of considerably higher than two years imprisonment. While I cannot remember the tariff, I can think of recent cases where sentences of at least four years were imposed. If we determine that a much higher tariff applies to a person driving a car in a reckless way thereby endangering a passenger, another road-user or a pedestrian, why should a director of a company not be faced with at least a commensurate penalty for similar reckless endangerment?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  As I have already indicated the levels of penalties including the prison sentence provisions comprise a package, which followed very detailed consideration. While I understand the Deputy’s point, the kinds of charges, which would arise in these cases, are charges against senior personnel in companies and the circumstances are not exactly comparable to those which give rise to road traffic accidents.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  They could be worse.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  They might be worse. However, they are somewhat different and on the basis of the considerations involved it was decided a two-year sentence was commensurate with what is involved in such cases.

Mr. Callanan: Information on Peter Callanan  Zoom on Peter Callanan  On a building site, would the contractor or the builder be liable for such fines?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is the employer who is liable. However, for the first time in the Bill section 80 makes provision for directors and managers to be charged with offences. While the HAS, in deciding whom to pursue, would need to take account of the level of responsibility and the provisions of the Bill, in general it would be at that level.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Deputy Callanan’s point was the property owner who gets a contractor to build a——

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is the employer.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is that the contractor?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes, because we are referring to the health and safety of employees.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is that the contractor as opposed to the person who owns the property and allocates the job?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  No, it is the employer.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  So it is the employer who is the contractor.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  This Bill relates to health and safety at work and so applies to employers.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 132 not moved.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 133:

I am reluctant to withdraw this amendment. The Minister of State speaks of the tariff as if two years was it. As he has acknowledged, circumstances arise in which the culpability might be much greater than in the case of a person driving a car recklessly resulting in death. With my amendment, I am arguing for a maximum tariff of ten years available to a court so that in cases, perhaps involving multiple deaths from gross negligence, where imprisonment beyond two years is clearly warranted, a court could make that decision.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Would the Minister of State consider the amendment on Report Stage?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I would still probably view it negatively in view of the evolution of the Bill and the strong deterrent of any prison sentence in the circumstances we are discussing.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We will discuss the amendment again on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 78, as amended, agreed to.

Section 79 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 80 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Section 80(1) relates to the liability of directors and officers of undertakings and refers to, “or is attributable to connivance or neglect on the part of, a person”. What is the definition of connivance?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I doubt if it is included in the definitions.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I also doubt it, which is why I am asking the Minister of State.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Will the Minister of State come back to the Deputy?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is a legal term with no positive connotations in any event. I will get some information for the Deputy.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I would like to see——

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  It is a legal term without any positive connotations.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I understand.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 81 agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 134:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 82, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 83 and 84 agreed to.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I move amendment No. 135:

Section 85 provides for the publication of the names of people who have been fined or penalised. Members are aware that I have no difficulty with naming and shaming people, as it can be a valuable and effective remedy. That this Bill allows the naming and shaming of those who have been forced to pay fines is to be welcomed.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is the Deputy’s amendment related to amendment No. 136, in the name of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment?

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  No.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  They are somewhat related.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Slightly.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I would like them to be considered together, if members wish to do so.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I will agree to that. Section 85(1)(b) allows for the publication of the names of persons or organisations on whom a prohibition notice has been served. Such a notice can be served at the discretion of an inspector who would be acting unilaterally. It is somewhat harsh that someone could be named and shamed after being summarily tried in this way. It could happen that the prohibition notices would be tested.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  One might encounter a cranky old get.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Yes, one might encounter a cranky old get, human nature being what it is. Many unnecessary appeals may be made if my amendment is not accepted.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment No. 136, in the name of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, is an alternative to amendment No. 135.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  All right.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Amendment No. 136 proposes to replace the word “and” with the word “or”.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Will we consider the amendments separately?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes. Although the amendments are related, the provisions envisaged in amendment No. 135 were dealt with to some extent in an amendment which was accepted earlier, which related to the ending of prohibition notices.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Okay.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will speak about the specific issue raised by amendment No. 135. The publication of lists of prohibition notices is an important new provision aimed at prevention, with the objective of having an exemplary effect. It recognises the public’s right to know. Experience has shown us that cases in which prohibition notices are served are often those which result in the most serious accidents and deaths at work. On balance, it is felt the value of the public’s right to know, which is the basis for the publication of prohibition notices, outweighs the inconvenience on the employer’s side.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Given that human nature is what it is, decisions may be made for vexatious reasons. The behaviour of a person acting unilaterally can be open to question and subject to appeal. One could eliminate many appeals if one had a different system.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The Health and Safety Authority has sought to ensure uniformity across inspectors. A number of provisions in the authority’s procedures have moved in that direction.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I am concerned about planning applications, for example.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  We all accept the vexatious element has to be excluded by whatever means and that is being done.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I assure the Minister of State that I see a certain level of consistency across the board. I refer to driving tests and planning applications. If that is anything to go by, I will hold my breath in this instance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 136:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 85, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move: “That section 86 be deleted.”

It is proposed to delete this section as part of the provisions which arise from the agreement with the coroners and others.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  This decision should be in the negative.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State is deleting the entire section in respect of the inquest——

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is in the wrong Bill. It should be in the forthcoming coroners Bill. That is the agreement that has been reached.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  When will that Bill be brought forward?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Agreement has been reached between four Departments about it. We expect to introduce the Bill early in the new year. The provisions of section 86 of this Bill would be more appropriate in that Bill, apparently. We accepted an amendment to that effect.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I remember.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It works better in the coroners Bill.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Okay.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 87 and 88 agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 137:

I am occasionally annoyed when provisions of this nature are slipped into Bills. Section 89(9) of the Bill states that “a decision of the High Court on an appeal under this section shall be final save that, by leave of that Court, an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court”. Why would anybody want to restrict somebody’s right to appeal to the Supreme Court? People have a right to appeal a High Court decision to the Supreme Court. There should not be a requirement in the law for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court to be granted by the High Court. It is a restriction on people’s right to appeal to the courts. I have seen it in a couple of Bills lately, but there is no reasonable case for it.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  We have noticed that leave to appeal has been refused in various cases. I assume this provision has been inserted on foot of that. The legal advice given to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment by the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is that the provision is in accordance with other legislation.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I do not dispute that it is in accordance with other legislation, but it is not right.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Why does it have to be included at all?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is the usual practice.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  If a citizen feels aggrieved by a decision taken by the court of first instance — this Bill prescribes the High Court as the court of first instance, although I have tried to amend the Bill to change it to the Circuit Court — he or she should be entitled to appeal it to the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land, without requiring anybody’s leave to do so.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The practice has been that the High Court has decided whether appeals stand a chance of success or are frivolous. In view of the case made by Deputy Howlin, I will discuss the matter with the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel before Report Stage. The Deputy, who has made an interesting point, has much more experience of these matters than the rest of us.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I certainly have.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The matter will be discussed again on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 89 agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 138:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  This is subject to a resolution of the House.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  This amendment arises from a deficiency in legislation which was passed some years ago.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It did not take this long to discover it.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The deficiency came to light when the legislation did not work.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It was passed in 1996.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The purpose of the amendment is to rectify the legal deficiency that is preventing the Director of Consumer Affairs from enforcing a number of product safety orders, mainly made under the Industrial Research and Standards Act 1961. The orders relate mostly to fire safety for furniture and the safety of a number of goods used by children. The Department was asked to remedy the deficiency, which has come to the notice of the National Standards Authority, in this Bill.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  It shows that everyone is human.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I support the amendment because I understand the deficiency in question. That the National Standards Authority could prosecute but could not investigate was a bizarre safety arrangement. Does the Long Title of the Bill need to change as a result of this provision being parachuted into it? Is it appropriate merely to make this amendment?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Amendment No. 159 will deal with that.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Yes, I see.

Amendment agreed to.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Amendment Nos. 139 to 149, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Amendment No. 139 has been tabled in the names of the Minister and Deputy Howlin.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Why is it when scheduling inaccuracies are discovered by the Opposition, the Minister must put his own name to the amendments rather than accept them?

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Minister of State is not in opposition.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Does that mean he must claim the amendments?

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  The Deputy and the Minister of State are in agreement on amendment No. 139.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 139:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 140:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No 141:

This amendment corrects an omission. The Bill should have been drafted with these words. Apparently, the Licensing of Indoor Events Act updates the Fire Services Act.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  We received strong representations on this issue.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is there a Licensing of Indoor Events Act?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes. The reference in the Bill is incorrect.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is there a figure attached to this whereas there was not previously?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The reference in the Bill is to “associated provisions” which are outlined in the Licensing of Indoor Events Act. This relates to safety at work.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is this what the Irish Hotels Federation has been lobbying everyone about for the last few days? I have a vested interest as a shareholder, not a director, which I must declare. We will certainly have a look at this on Report Stage. It is never the wrong time to do the right thing. This is the right place to address these matters.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 142:

I do not know why amendments Nos. 142 and 143 do not have the Minister’s name on them also. The amendments are tabled as they contain the more correct references to include in Schedule 2. They reflect the fact that a 1995 Act amending the 1987 Act should also be repealed.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Close but not quite right. There is no 1995 Act; it was an order.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State should be very careful. He does not know how touchy my legal adviser is on these matters.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I will send him a message, if that is all right.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Is the amendment withdrawn?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Subject to clarification by the Minister of State.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  There was an order in 1995 rather than an Act.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Very good.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 143 not moved.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 144:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 145:

Amendments Nos. 145 to 148, inclusive, simply involve additional references.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 146:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 147:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 148:

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 3 and 4 agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 149:

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 150:

This is a drafting amendment. It is incorrect to say the Minister may make regulations in respect of any matters. Surely, they must be matters related to the purpose of section 58. Though I am sure it is implicit, I would like it to be explicit.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I am advised that this is covered by a provision outlined on page 55 of the Bill.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am sure it is.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  The provision includes the words “in the matters”. Section 58(1)(c) provides that, without reference to the generality of paragraph (b), the Minister may make regulations for or in respect of any of the matters set out in Schedule 7.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That brings one back. Schedule 7 provides the Minister can make regulations for any matter.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  He cannot now, as I have been caught by this.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Section 58(1)(c) provides that, without reference to the generality of paragraph (b), the Minister may make regulations for or in respect of any of the matters set out in Schedule 7.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Regulations can be made only in respect of those matters. In other words, the Deputy got it right but the problem has been addressed.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I do not see why it should not be made explicit again.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  It is not bad to have it in one place.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 151:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 152:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 153:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 154:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 155:

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 156:

This is a technical drafting amendment consequent on the Labour Court.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 157:

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Why is the Minister of State deleting the words “the variation of the amount standing specified for the time being in section 79(2)”?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  According to legal advice, the matter is covered in section 79.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment No. 158 not moved.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I move amendment No. 159:

Amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Chairman: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I thank the Minister of State and his officials for their help and the courtesy they have shown the select committee in its deliberations. Members look forward to working with them for the remainder of the lifetime of the Government. I thank members for carefully considering and paying attention to the minute detail of this important legislation during our discussions over two days. I also thank the Minister of State for being forthcoming and agreeing to 17 amendments tabled by Opposition Deputies.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  I thank the Chairman and his staff for their courtesy and members of the Opposition for their generally constructive approach, even though they occasionally tried to irritate me by refusing to concede that I was accepting amendments. I realise, having been a back bench Deputy for nearly 12 years, that the role of Government Deputies in dealing with legislation is extremely frustrating and boring but I thank Government members for their involvement and support. I thank, in particular, my officials who stayed up for most of the night on one occasion due to the late circulation of some of the required material. This created difficulties for Opposition Deputies, the officials and me. I thank everybody present for managing a large job in a spirit of co-operation. I look forward to dealing with some of the outstanding issues on Report Stage and completing consideration of the Bill.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I presume the Minister of State wants the Bill to be enacted before Christmas. As next week is budget week, we are prepared to take Report Stage during the following week if parliamentary time is allocated for that purpose.

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  That is fine.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On a general issue, this legislation will impose a series of new regulations. Is it envisaged that all the provisions related to health and safety will be comprehensively pulled together at the end of this process in a type of consolidation document which would be available to employers and employees?

Mr. Killeen: Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Yes, that will be done in so far as it is possible but there will be delays in repealing legislation and enacting legislation to replace it. In general, however, the major body of the legislation should be ready with guidance from the Health and Safety Authority on the new provisions.


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