European Assembly (Irish Representatives) Bill, 1979: Committee and Final Stages.

Tuesday, 26 June 1979

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 315 No. 7

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Section 1 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 2 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I spoke about sections 2 and 3 on Second Stage and I made the point very clearly that this Bill should not be before the House. There are a number of provisions in the Bill which are necessary to protect the interests of the Irish members of the European Parliament. Section 5 deals with disqualification of Irish representatives for membership of certain boards. I presume the boards listed are the same as those which apply to Members of this House and the Seanad. This will hit one European MP fairly hard. I think he is a member of at least two of those boards.

I oppose sections 2 and 3 because they put a charge on the Irish taxpayer which should be borne by the European [1024] Parliament. As I said on Second Stage, this Bill has come before this House because the British Foreign Secretary had a hang up about the levels of pay mentioned in the press for members of the European Parliament. He said that over his dead body—or some equally strong language—members would be paid those inflated salaries. This became a point of honour and it was a significant plank in the election platform of the last British Government.

Everybody knows that there is a sort of club atmosphere. There is a superstition that member Governments should look after each other coming up to election time. A member Government may be in danger and if they all look after that Government, they will rally round the next time. When it was obvious for 18 months that the British Government would have to face an election, this became a point of principle almost, or a point of honour. A significant number of the British Labour Party were anti-European. The referendum earlier in the year was carried by the Government. One of the sops they offered was that they would not allow the European gravy to be spread thickly among members of the European Parliament. At the Bremen conference last July it was agreed that the British Prime Minister could go home and say European MPs would not be paid excessive salaries and that each national Parliament would fix the rate of pay for its own members.

That is why we have this Bill which attempts—illegally, I hold—to limit the rates of pay for European MPs elected from the Republic of Ireland to the rates of pay offered to Members of Dáil Éireann. This is a budgetary matter for members of the European Parliament who will assemble in two or three weeks' time. It can only be decided by the members of the European Parliament tion with the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers may decide this is what they want, but there is no chance that the members of the Parliament will agree. They will want to decide the levels of pay which will obtain for themselves.

This Bill is wasting the time of this House. I know the Minister will say that unless we pass this Bill—because this [1025] principle was agreed at the summit by the Council of Ministers last December—we will be depriving members who were elected to the European Parliament of their pay for the first few months. When they come to strike the level of payment for themselves they will have the payments made from the date of the election in the same way as members of Dáil Éirean are paid. Their levels of pay and expenses will operate from the dates of the election, namely 7 to 10 June. The Minister may say that will not be so, but he has no way of knowing because the Parliament has not yet met. The Bill provides that they will be paid only from the date on which the Parliament first meets. That may be what the Council of Ministers say, but I believe they will be paid from the dates of the election.

Minister of State at the Department of the Public Service (Mr. MacSharry): Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is hypothetical. What is here is factual.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is not. That is the point I am making. The Bill is hypothetical because it will be declared illegal eventually. We are wasting the time of the House debating something which will never come into practical effect. I am opposing sections 2 and 3 and I am not opposing the following sections.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  This is a short Bill. There is a great deal of business to which we could be turning our attention more profitably. I want to reiterate the arguments I put forward last week when we were discussing the Bill. I and the Labour Party believe it is a presumption on our part to be making those in relation to the salaries of the European Parliament members. The understandable argument put forward on Second Stage by the Minister of State was that we would be depriving our own people of money which was their due as a result of their election. I thought about that because I do not wish to deprive anybody of any money which is his due. My view, and I have checked with our own elected members, is that whatever [1026] salary is agreed—and it will not be agreed by us—will be retrospective either to the date of the election, which Deputy Barry referred to, or to 17 July when the Parliament convenes. This matter will not be readily solved. There is no easy formula.

The argument put forward by the Minister of State, Deputy MacSharry, does not hold. It is one that emerged in his defence of a rather shabby political compromise that is now no longer necessary. It is one that made us stop and think before we went on to Committee Stage. I am glad we did that because we have had the opportunity to talk to the people who will be in the largest group in the European Parliament. Their view is that the matter will be solved after considerable discussion by members of the European Parliament in conjunction with the Council of Ministers. Consequently, with all due respect to the Minister of State, Deputy MacSharry, and his officials, we are wasting the time of the House in discussing this. I can understand that the Minister of State has been given a task to do and was told to get this passed before the recess. I am not querying that or giving out to him. That is his job. By the same token, our job is to oppose proposed legal nonsense. If there ever was legal nonsense to come before the House it is this. We are attempting to decide what the level of remuneration will be for a group of European parliamentarians, meeting for the first time, who themselves have been specifically charged with establishing their own rate of remuneration, in conjunction with the Council of Ministers, by the outgoing Parliament. It was not because the outgoing Parliament pretended there was not a problem to solve or felt they would agree with the compromise proposal of the Council of Ministers. The outgoing Parliament rightly felt that since none of them was on salary, because they were an indirectly elected parliament composed of parliamentarians from the nine member states, they had not the right to set the salary level for the incoming Parliament. Despite the matter being raised on a number of occasions they refused to do so.

The proposal to which this draft [1027] legislation would wish to give effect was a political compromise, the sole objective of which was to ensure there would be the kind of democratic turn-out on June 7 subsequently attained. That was the only reason for that deal in Bremen. It worked well. What people want from politicians above all else is a certain degree of honesty. The establishment of international salaries for people with different standards and costs of living in nine member states is not an easy matter. One cannot say it will be the same in every country. At the same time, there are basic principles, such as the same rate of pay for the same job that have to be recognised. There is no simple solution. The proposal we are being asked to give effect to is a political compromise made by one part of a bi-partisan group of people who will ultimately have legal responsibility to make it.

We are being asked to rush into and validate the Taoiseach's participation in a political compromise so that he can, presumably, go back to the Council of Ministers and say that, along with the other states that have agreed this, we have delivered on this legislation. I suspect that at the back of this is a request that at least the President of the Council should be in a position to give good example and state his country has delivered domestically and given legal effect to the deal hammered out in Bremen. If the Minister of State and the Government were to come in and argue on the political pragmatism that is in that, we would be able to listen to an honest political argument and see whether we could do business. As this party have said, we have every desire to ensure that the Irish Presidency will be successful despite the difficulties that are not the fault of the Government and in spite of the difficulties that are partly their fault. We do not wish to diminish the success of the Irish Presidency.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  We are on section 2 of the Bill.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  With all due respect, section 2 is the Bill. The rest is sequential and not contentious. That is not what is being argued. Perhaps when the Minister of State replies he may respond to it.

[1028] We are opposed to this and will be voting accordingly. We do not think we have the right to do it. We suspect that by virtue of coming into the Presidency the Government are being forced unnecessarily to give a lead in this matter. If that is the case perhaps the Minister would so indicate. Irrespective of the motives for doing it, it simply is not on. The Minister would do a better job if he left the matter at this stage, waited for the Presidency to take effect and, after 17 July, put on the agenda the whole question of members' salaries in conjunction with one of the committees which will undoubtedly emerge from the newly elected Parliament.

It is important, though understandable, that we do not have outgoing members from the European Parliament here to speak. There is an understandable shyness in this matter but it is an unnecessary shyness. To come back to section 2 and what is explicit and implicit in it, we are being asked to do something which this party do not feel we have the right to do—to give legal effect to a political compromise which is now no longer necessary and which is wasting the time of the House.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The philosophy of the Bill and of this section is beyond comprehension. It purports to fix the salary of the Irish representatives of the European Parliament. Reference to the Irish representatives runs through the Bill. The Title is the European Assembly (Irish Representatives) Bill. The Long Title is interesting and is related to section 2. We are told that the whole Act is to provide for the payment of allowances to the Irish representatives in the Assembly of the European Community. I wonder in the light of this rather pompous Long Title are the Government proposing not alone to——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  We will come to the Title later on.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Are the Government under section 2, proposing to fix the allowances of Dr. Paisley, Mr. Hume and Mr. Taylor? I do not know how they would go for that suggestion. This is what a reading of this Bill would indicate. [1029] It is another example of how ridiculous the Bill is. We are in a situation where, because of a foolish agreement made by the Bremen Council last December, this Bill is before the House. The new European Parliament is meeting next month.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  This point was debated on Second Reading Stage.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I am dealing with the provision in this Bill whereby the Government are attempting to settle the salaries of the new members of the directly-elected European Parliament. From that point of view the situation that must be considered is that the Council of Ministers reached a decision in this regard in December last. In section two the Government are purporting to pay, by way of funds provided by the Oireachtas, salaries to European Parliament members that are in line with Dáil salaries. However, the Council of Ministers acting alone have not the power at any time to determine the remuneration of members of the European Parliament. The Treaty of Rome provides that the budgetary authority is the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Therefore, any budgetary decision of the Council of Ministers is not binding unless the Parliament is a party to that decision and in the case we are talking of the Parliament has not been a party to the decision and is never likely to be party to it.

Consequently, we here are continuing the codology by debating this Bill. Clearly this debate is a waste of time. It is obvious that the decision reached in Bremen in December last was not acceptable either to the Bureau or to the members of the indirectly-elected Parliament and I have no doubt that the members of the directly-elected Parliament will treat this Bill with the contempt it deserves. We are doing a disservice to the country by providing for payment under this section. Why should this country make payments from its own resources to members of the European Parliament when these members should be paid from EEC resources? Why should we be involved in the payment of [1030] salaries and expenses—and expenses would be considerable in view of the distances to Strasbourg and Luxembourg? It is all very well to say that there was a decision on this matter at the Council of Ministers but why not wait for the outcome of the European Parliament decision on the matter, a decision which must supersede the decision of the Council? We are rushing into a situation in which we are putting an expense on the Irish taxpayer that is totally unnecessary. Having regard to the percentage that we contribute to Community funds, it would be far more sensible for us to allow the members of the European Parliament to be paid from Community resources.

Another question that we must consider is the question of equal pay for equal work. We are providing in this Bill to send to Europe people who have been through a tough election campaign but these representatives will be paid in some cases perhaps only a quarter of what other members will be paid. That is an absurd situation. If we have any suggestion as to how these people should be paid we must have a lot more ambition and vision in regard to any such suggestion. There are precedents for the payment of international officials from different countries. There are different ways in which they can be paid fairly. In many cases, though the standard of living varies in different countries, these officials while not being paid the same amount of money, are in effect receiving the same pay for the same job when tax and cost-of-living adjustments are taken into account. The representatives from here will be spending a certain amount of time in Europe and while in Europe they should be paid in proportion, bearing in mind the amount of time they spend there, to the other representatives in the Parliament. We must bear in mind, too, that our representatives will be spending only a portion of their time in Europe. The standard of living here compared with the standard of living in other EEC countries should be taken into account bearing in mind the proportion of time that the members from this country will be spending in Europe.

It should not be all that difficult to arrive at a formula whereby the representatives [1031] from here would be paid properly but would not be receiving the same amount as, say, a representative from Germany would be receiving. I urge the Minister to consider some such solution but in the meantime I oppose strongly the view that we should send from here representatives who would be receiving far less money than would be the remuneration of their colleagues from other countries merely because they are from other countries. Is there any incentive in such a situation for our representatives to work hard in Europe in the interests of this country? Is it possible that some of them will be at a disadvantage by way of financial constraints and may not be able to attend to their duties as assiduously as might be the case if they were receiving proper renumeration? All these questions arise but what we should do is to shelve this Bill until the Dáil resumes in October by which time the whole problem will have been resolved in the European Parliament. The Bill could then be withdrawn.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): I have not very much to say on this Bill. There are only three points I wish to make and I hope to be able to make them briefly.

My first point is that the salaries of the European parliamentarians should be paid by the European Parliament since that is the assembly that these people will be serving. One would think that the first obligation of any parliament would be to pay the salaries of the parliamentarians who serve there. It is not possible to elaborate at any length on that proposition because it is self-explanatory. When our parliamentarians go to Europe they will be discharging duties not alone on behalf of this country but on behalf of each of the other eight member states. Surely if Europe means anything it means that the European parliamentarians when they sit in the Parliament of the Community will be acting as Europeans and will not be acting as members of nine individual states. Of course they will have to bear in mind the rights and the necessities of their own countries but as I understand the concept of the Treaty of Rome, it is a [1032] bringing together of all the member states to act as one Community in the best interest of the Community as a whole, having regard to the different stages of development of each country. In this measure we seem to be saying, in so many words, that these members are going out as our delegates or representatives, with no other function to discharge than their duties and obligations as our representatives. They are going out as Europeans and should be paid as Europeans from the common European purse.

It is wrong to fix the salary or allowance of an Irish member of the European Parliament on the basis that he will have an extra salary, a salary as a representative of Dáil Éireann. The salary appears to have been fixed on that assumption and, in the very first election, that assumption was proved to be wrong, because we have two members who are not Members of this House or not Members of the Oireachtas at all —Mr. Maher and Mr. Flanagan, both having been returned as European Deputies. Even all the members sent out from here will not draw the same salaries from any public purse. Deputy Lalor for example, will draw twice as much salary from the public purse as Mr. T. J. Maher, which is an absurdity. I am not making individual comparisons; I am just comparing two people, one of whom is a Member of the Dáil and the other is not. These men will be doing the same duties in Europe. The members will have to devote practically all their time and attention, and certainly their energy, to travelling to and from Europe and to discharging their duties there. It is not an answer to say that some people may have two or more salaries.

We have heard much talk about remuneration for work done. All the people going to Europe, whether they go from Germany, from Britain, from France, will be performing the same duties in the European Parliament and yet will have totally different salaries. It could be argued, indeed, that our people will do much more work, or use much more energy in discharging their duties because they will have further to travel, much more time to spend travelling; [1033] everybody knows how exhausting and tiring travel is. In my opinion, it does not make sense to give one salary to a German, or a Frenchman, who is much nearer the base of his work, and a much smaller salary to an Irishman. That is making little of the Irish. It will be much more difficult for the Irish Parliamentarians to fight for our cause. They will be told “After all, in your own salary, you are taking much less”.

This comes back to this business of the individual countries fixing their members' salaries instead of the European Parliament doing it. It is no answer to say that it would be absurd to pay a European Parliamentarian much more than a Minister or perhaps as much as the Taoiseach. The answer is that they are doing different work, in a different place and in different circumstances. They are working in Brussels, or Strasbourg, and not in Dublin.

The only other point I want to make is that the salaries should be laid down without reference to travelling expenses. Far too often is regard had to travelling expenses when fixing salaries. They are two entirely different things. A man should not have to travel unnecessarily in order to get a decent salary and let us not fool ourselves, that is what we are legislating for here. Even when no salaries were paid to European members, it is accepted that travelling expenses were so generous that there was a net profit. I am against that mode of payment.

When we talk about allowances or salaries that is all we should be talking about, and they should be adequate to remunerate the European members, irrespective of travelling expenses. However, expenses should be fixed at a rate that would ensure that the members were not out of pocket and that they would be able to travel at a standard in keeping with their status. If we provide miserable salaries, out of line with those of practically every other member, and if there are generous and even extravagant expenses provided, we are then compelling our members to travel there frequently and sometimes unnecessarily to qualify for expenses. I am against that and the House should be against it. It [1034] cannot be denied that, because there were no salaries paid to European parliamentarians from 1973 up to this year and they were paid only travelling allowances in order to make sure they were not at a loss the parliamentarians travelled at every opportunity. I agree with Deputy O'Keeffe that this Bill should be shelved until the European Parliament meets.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  We have passed the Second Reading and are now in Committee.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): If this section was withdrawn from the Bill the Bill would not have any teeth and would not be much use to anybody. If this Bill was not passed until next session the European Parliamentarians would have met and they would have an opportunity of considering this very important matter of who pays them expenses and what their salaries should be. The European Parliament has control over the European purse strings. It can change the budget. It can add billions to it or take billions from it. If the European Parliament can be entrusted with changing the budget why can it not be entrusted with the power to fix the salaries of its members?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The arguments being pursued by Deputies today on this section are similar to the arguments made on Second Reading. I will not go into detail and repeat the same arguments over and over again. I take a little exception to the personal innuendos by Deputy Quinn about me being foolish about “this foolish legislation”, as he and other Deputies have described it. If I or this country are to be described as foolish there are quite a lot of foolish Governments around the EEC. Germany has already passed its legislation. It is being discussed in Denmark. The Second Stage has been completed in Britain. Luxembourg and France have made their provisions and the others are proceeding with the type of mechanism which is necessary to allow the payment of salaries to their members of the European Parliament. [1035] Deputy Quinn spoke about a statement I made on Second Stage that if this legislation was not passed we would not be in a position to pay our European parliamentarians any salaries or allowances whatever. That fact is the same as it was last week. We can only deal with the situation as we find it.

Deputies suggested last week that there was no necessity for this legislation. When the European Council met last week this matter was not discussed and they did not change what they decided last December. If we are to have any procedure whereby our members can be paid a salary and allowances, we must have this legislation. What might happen subsequently is hypothetical. All the arguments put forward by the various Deputies may or may not arise. We can only deal now with the situation as it is at the moment. This is the necessity for this legislation and this section.

Deputies mentioned the powers and the authority which European members of Parliament will have. How is it that the nominated members of the European Parliament did not fix a salary for themselves? If they had such power and authority I am sure they would have used it. That emphasises the necessity for this Bill. I would like to add, for the information of the House, if the Deputies have not worked it out for themselves, that out of our 15 members of the European Parliament 12 of them will be in receipt of a combined salary of £13,822, one of them will receive £10,979 and two of them will receive £6,911. The differentials between that salary even here and here vis-à-vis the other countries was mentioned by Deputy Quinn, who said that with different standards of living it would be difficult to have a common salary. I assume the way this was catered for in the past by the members of the European Parliament was with the generous allowances and resources available—I do not know the full details of it—to a member from one country as against a member from another country. They have been, as admitted by Deputy Fitzpatrick, quite generous. He said that profits were made out of the expenses which were allowed.

I do not believe that any new points [1036] arose out of the discussion today. There was the question of the authority of the Parliament to change the budget but I will not go into the detailed mechanics of the European Parliament budget or the budget for the European Communities. As a member of the Budget Council I know that the various technical problems would take some time to explain. It is very hard to understand even one of them never mind the elaborate procedures which are there. The Council of Ministers and the Parliament are the budgetary authority. There is a break-up in the expenditure between obligatory expenditure and non-obligatory expenditure. The Parliament have not any say in relation to obligatory expenditure. They have a say up to a certain percentage in the increase of the maximum rate from one year to the other in the non-obligatory area. A blank statement talking about the authority of the Parliament to change the budget might lead people to assume that the Parliament just set down X, Y or Z, that they can pay themselves £100,000 a year or whatever it might be, but that is not the case. If that were the case why did they not do it for the last few years? This Bill is before us to enable us to pay those allowances to the members of the European Parliament at the same rate as paid to Members of this House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I have not heard the Minister of State argue legislation before in this House and I must say I was impressed at the way he stuck to a difficult brief——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It is quite a simple brief. It is so simple that it can be understood by everybody.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  His defence of the legislation on the grounds that Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Britain, and France are already enacting such legislation——

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  They have not enacted this legislation.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  They are in the process of doing it.

[1037]Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It has been passed in Germany.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Then, if this is silly legislation we are in very silly company. It is no surprise that these countries propose to enact domestically the agreement that was hammered out in Bremen among the nine heads of state. Of course they have done this; they would be silly if they did not try to do so.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  We had to do it.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Government side have to attempt to do it——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Dáil have to do it.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Government have to try to give effect to a political deal done at Bremen just as have their counterparts in their domestic parliaments and that is the reason we are debating this legislation. I believe it is silly. I have no argument about the drafting but it is silly to try to give legal effect to a political compromise that is no longer required because 60 per cent of the electorate went out on 7 June. That has been well argued and I do not wish to go over that ground again.

We should turn to a more important point, one that has not yet been raised but which is central to section 2 of the Bill. In his Estimate speech the Minister for Foreign Affairs talked about the new relationship that would result as a consequence of a directly elected European Parliament between that Parliament and the Council of Ministers and while there was no question of changing the legal powers of the European Parliament which were a function of the Treaty of Rome and amending treaties there was every intention to ensure that the relationship and influence of the European Parliament with regard to the Council of Ministers would be far greater than that of the selected parliament of which we have seen the end.

Before Fianna Fáil got locked into an anti-European alliance with the Gaullist Party the Minister was a fairly fervent European. He responded positively to [1038] the idea that as President of the Council of Foreign Ministers he should facilitate and encourage such a positive relationship. Do the Government really think the whole business is getting off to a good start if the first thing the Council of Ministers try to do is to say to the 410 representatives that the domestic parliaments of the member states will decide the rate of pay and that the representatives will have no role whatever in it? Is the Minister of State seriously suggesting that we start a relationship with a unique multi-national Parliament on the basis of the nine domestic parliaments deciding the salaries without any attempt being made to integrate what will be a difficult equation? To the principle of equal pay for equal work for people living in an economy with a constant standard of living we have to add equal pay for equal work in nine separate countries where there are different costs of living and, consequently, the equation becomes that much more different. However, it can be worked out and it should be attempted. It should be attempted in conjunction with the European Parliament or else the whole business is a nonsense.

By attempting to rush through this legislation in the domestic parliaments of the member countries we are preempting one of the roles of the European parliamentarians—a minor role but an important one. Much more important, from the outset we are setting the tone of the relationship between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. If that is the case all the talk from Ministers in the various countries and from the Fianna Fáil Government in particular, who were very strong on the idea of direct elections, must be seen as nothing more than verbiage, that in reality the Parliament will be under the thumb of the Council of Ministers despite the fact that there was a great song and dance about 300 million people going to the polls in an historic election. In the indecent haste in which the Minister is trying to get through the legislation, are we seeing the first real effort of Fianna Fáil opposition to extending any powers to the European Parliament? Is this the first test of the Chirac-Gaullist-Fianna Fáil alliance, that irrespective of what happens in [1039] other parliaments the Irish Parliament will say by way of section 2 of this Bill that the salary for members of the European Parliament will be decided in the nation states and not in the European Parliament?

My third point is that if we were talking about the remuneration of officials of the Department of the Public Service, of Agriculture or of any other Department who were going to work in a European institution, does anyone in this House—whether stenographers, ushers or journalists—serious think that we would be talking about nine different rates of pay? When we joined the EEC did the officials who were seconded, many of whom are still on secondment from various Departments, go in at differential rates of pay? We know the answer to that—they did not. There was no question at any stage that it was even on the agenda. If that applies to everyone else, why can it not apply to us with the qualification I propose? We recognise that it is not a simple issue that can be easily resolved but neither can it be resolved to the exclusion of the 410 members who will take their seats on 17 July.

Finally, if we were applying the same logic to members of the European Parliament as we apply to Members here, why does not the salary take effect from the day of election, not from the day on which they take their seats? There is a gap of six or seven weeks. My reading of the legislation is that the salary will take effect as from 17 July yet in respect of all Members of this House it takes effect from the time they are elected. If I am wrong in my reading of the section I hope I will be corrected.

I shall sum up the three points I have made. The fact that the legislation is being pursued by other member states is the result of the political compromise of the heads of state at Bremen without recognising that it is no longer necessary. My second point was how this will determine the influence of the Parliament vis-à-vis the Council of Ministers. My third point was why we are applying different standards to elected members when we would not dream of attempting to apply them to officials of the European [1040] Parliament or of the Commission.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  In reply to Deputy Quinn's last point, I think the answer is that the European Parliament operates on the same basis as our Seanad. Members of the Dáil are paid from the day of the election, while Members of the Seanad are paid as from the date of the first meeting of the Seanad.

We have wasted a lot of time on this section. Obviously the Minister has no intention of deleting sections 2 and 3. The Minister is intelligent enough to see that there is a logic in what we are saying but the Government, for the sake of their pride, think they must have this legislation. We are opposing sections 2 and 3.

The Minister misrepresented Deputy Fitzpatrick slightly. The point the Deputy was making was that the Council of Ministers trust the Parliament to have a say in the framing of the budget. They do this under the Treaty of Rome. Whether it is a voice in the obligatory part or the non-obligatory part does not really matter. The point the Deputy was making was that the Parliament have a say in the framing of the budget. If they can be trusted with framing a budget that involves billions of pounds, they can be trusted to fix the level of their own salaries.

The Minister said that if we did not pass this legislation, the people elected from Ireland to the European Parliament would have no salary until something happened in the future. That is not a major point. There are many ways they can be given money if they want it. The Department of Foreign Affairs could be given a Supplementary Estimate—I am sure if I look at the Order Paper I will see they are already in for such a Supplementary Estimate—part of which could be used as a loan to members of the European Parliament and which could be repayable in future when salaries are fixed.

The Minister also seeks to give the impression that Ireland is the only country out of step. This is not so. In Belgium only the Lower House has passed this legislation. Denmark and Germany have passed the legislation. It is [1041] significant to note that they are the two countries where the levels of pay of their Members of Parliament are extremely high.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is right.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  In France the Bill has been adopted in the Lower House and is going to the Upper House. Italy, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg have done nothing about it. Although they may be talking about it in the civil service nothing has appeared in public yet. In Britain the Bill has been circulated but has not yet come to the Lower House.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It has completed its Second Stage.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It must have been completed within the last week. The point the Minister did not make is that in Belgium the legislation as introduced—and we do not have a similar provision in our legislation—cannot operate into the second assembly of the European Parliament. In Germany the Bill dies after two years, in 1981. This is a purely temporary measure. Is that right?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I do not know.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is a fact.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Bill is passed.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is passed as a temporary measure to take care of the same minor point the Minister is making here about members not being paid. It is not permanent legislation for Germany and Belgium. Under this Bill all future members elected to the European Parliament will be paid at the rate equivalent to that paid to Members of Dáil Éireann.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The term of office of each representative shall begin and end at the same time as the period referred to in section 2 which says that the five-year period shall begin at the opening of the first session following each election. That date determines the date of pay too. I will not argue with Deputy Barry [1042] about what stages the required legislation, resolutions or motions are at in various countries. Each country is doing exactly the same as Ireland in carrying out the decision taken before Christmas last year.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  They are doing it on a temporary basis; we are doing it on a permanent basis.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  As the Deputy is aware, legislation is amendable at any time.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  No. A great deal of legislation put through this House dies——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  A great deal of legislation goes through this Dáil which is amended for various reasons from time to time. The Deputy must accept that too.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Would the Minister of State be willing to accept an amendment on Report Stage which would put a closing date on it?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Another point I wanted to mention was in regard to rushing this legislation through the House. There was ample time for a Second Stage Reading. When the Second Stage was completed last week, the Dáil ran out of business because it did not take the time we expected. Let us face facts. We were not trying to rush this Bill through the House. We are now on Committee Stage. I am not pressing any particular section. Several Deputies have already contributed. No amendments have been put down except for the bald statement by Deputy Barry that the section is opposed. If amendments had been put down we could have examined them.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I spent all yesterday trying to draft an amendment that would have the same effect as the deletion of the section and I could not do it.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Taking into account the statements made by Deputy Barry and other Deputies, I appreciate that it is not easy to write their arguments into [1043] legislation simply because they said they would like to see an allowance greater than that given to a TD. The Leader of Fine Gael said this afternoon that he could not envisage a situation where the members from Ireland would be getting the same as the members from Germany or France. That is the type of argument being pursued and it is not as easy as the Deputies might think——

[1044]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Deputy Quinn made the point that it was extremely difficult.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I am making the point again. Deputy Quinn made the point that because of different standards of living it is difficult to have a common salary. We all know that but in the absence of any specific amendment to the section as it now stands, I have nothing further to add.

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Kit.
Andrews, David.
Andrews, Niall.
Aylward, Liam.
Barrett, Sylvester.
Brady, Gerard.
Brady, Vincent.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, Seán.
Callanan, John.
Cogan, Barry.
Colley, George.
Conaghan, Hugh.
Cowen, Bernard.
Cronin, Jerry.
Daly, Brendan.
de Valera, Síle.
Doherty, Seán.
Fahey, Jackie.
Farrell, Joe.
Faulkner, Pádraig.
Filgate, Eddie.
Fitzgerald, Gene.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Dublin South-Central).
Fitzsimons, James N.
Flynn, Pádraig.
French, Seán.
Gallagher, Dennis.
Gibbons, Jim.
Haughey, Charles J.
Hussey, Thomas.
Keegan, Seán.
Kenneally, William.
Killeen, Tim.
Killilea, Mark.
Lalor, Patrick J.
Lawlor, Liam.
Lemass, Eileen.
Leonard, Tom.
Leyden, Terry.
Lynch, Jack.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacSharry, Ray.
Meaney, Tom.
Molloy, Robert.
Moore, Seán.
Morley, P. J.
Murphy, Ciarán P.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Connor, Timothy C.
O'Donoghue, Martin.
O'Leary, John.
Power, Paddy.
Reynolds, Albert.
Smith, Michael.
Tunney, Jim.
Walsh, Joe.
Walsh, Seán.
Wilson, John P.
Woods, Michael J.
Wyse, Pearse.

Barry, Peter.
Begley, Michael.
Belton, Luke.
Bermingham, Joseph.
Boland, John.
Bruton, John.
Burke, Joan.
Byrne, Hugh.
Clinton, Mark.
Cluskey, Frank.
Conlan, John F.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Michael J.
Creed, Donal.
D'Arcy, Michael J.
Deasy, Martin A. [1045]O'Connell, John.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Leary, Michael.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Ryan, John J.
Desmond, Eileen.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Enright, Thomas W.
FitzGerald, Garret.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Cavan-Monaghan).
Harte, Patrick D.
Hegarty, Paddy.
Horgan, John.
Keating, Michael.
Kelly, John.
Kenny, Enda.
L'Estrange, Gerry.
McMahon, Larry.
Mannion, John M.
O'Brien, Fergus.
O'Brien, William. [1046]Taylor, Frank.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Tully, James.
White, James.

Question declared carried.

Question proposed: “That section 3 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  For the information of Deputies I wish to state that members of the European Parliament in the past received allowances in respect of travel, subsistence and secretarial expenses, and it is understood that these payments will continue to be determined by the Assembly budget. It is not envisaged, accordingly, that any expenses will fall to be met from voted moneys at present.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The reason I announced my intention to oppose this section was because I could not understand it. The section states:

The Minister may, if he thinks fit, by order provide for the payment of allowances for expenses to representatives in the Assembly or appointed to the Assembly in the manner described in section 2 (1) of this Act.

If, as the Minister stated, allowances and out-of-pocket expenses that were previously paid by the Assembly will continue to be paid in the future what is the necessity for section 3?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  In case the necessity arises in the future that they be paid from voted moneys here.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I cannot understand why it is necessary to introduce a system to cater for something that may happen if the present arrangement collapses in the future. It does not make sense. The Minister has not given me any good reason why this is necessary. The arrangement exists and if the intention is that it should continue the section is unnecessary. I am suspicious that that arrangement may discontinue if the section is allowed remain. I do not want a Minister deciding by order that a mistake was made and that the expenses of MEPs should be doubled, or halved, or that a peppercorn or caraway seed be given instead of expenses. If the present arrangement is deemed satisfactory why introduce a section that will change that system in the future? The Minister has told us that we must deal with things as they are, that we must deal with the actualities, the facts and the fact is that the expenses and allowances paid to MEPs are to continue. Why should we agree to a provision which will allow a future Minister who may not be a Member of this House and who has the idea that those elected to the European Parliament should go there for the love of the country to change this situation?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The expenses are paid from the European Assembly budget and it is not envisaged, as far as we can ascertain, that there will be any necessity for the payment of expenses out of voted moneys here. However, it is considered desirable to include such a provision in the event of a situation developing whereby the Assembly would not pay any expenses. It is a practical arrangement.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Is it not true that the inclusion of the section, and the Minister's defence of it, demonstrates the weakness of the argument in the first instance? The Minister is making provision in this section for a situation that may change and, implicitly, is suggesting that it will change. By including this section he is recognising that the whole system of payment will change in the not too distant future. On the one hand we were [1047] arguing about fixing salaries, as we did on section 2, but in section 3 we are being asked to deal with a situation that may arise if the Assembly changes the way in which it pays its members. While that may be a practical belt and braces operation in the context of the debate we had on Second Stage and the protracted debate on section 2, it demonstrates a contradiction within the Bill. In principle, along with section 2, this section should be opposed.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I do not see any contradiction. Section 2 arises from the agreement reached at the summit conference and section 3 arises because no decision has been made for a continuance of the payment of these expenses by Parliament. In the event of that Parliament not agreeing to continue the payment of the expenses this section will be brought into being.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  There is a contradiction. The argument the Minister is using in connection with this section is the direct opposite to what he used on section 2. This is a ridiculous piece of legislation. The Minister warned us about dealing in hypothetical cases but there is nothing more hypothetical than this section.

It is very unlikely that the European Parliament will decide not to pay expenses but in the event of that happening the Minister could amend this Bill to cater for that situation. The section does not say that the Minister must get the permission of the House for such an order. At the stroke of a pen the Minister concerned may make any change he wishes in regard to the payment of allowances to representatives.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Section 6 takes care of the point referred to by the Deputy.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I accept that that is taken care of but the section is a nonsense.

Question put and declared carried.

Question proposed: “That section 4 stand part of the Bill.”

[1048]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The section deals with the pensions of MEPs, including those who are not Members of this House. Are the proportions of the pensions related to the double salary or to a single salary? In other words, would Members who are Members of either House all get the same level of pension or a proportion of the money they draw from the Exchequer?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The scheme has not been fully worked out yet but where there is double salary or dual mandate involved there will be double contribution. It will be a contribution scheme introduced for European parliamentarians and they will all contribute in the same way towards this fund. If they happen to be Deputies or Senators they will continue to contribute in the normal way to the pension fund for Deputies and Senators.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  What about the years of service?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Details of the scheme have not been worked out yet and when they are they will be laid before the Oireachtas.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Suppose in the future the European Parliament decide to pay their own Members and this legislation falls, as I believe it will, what happens the pension scheme then or the contributions made under it?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  We are having a scheme in the absence of knowledge about any other scheme from Europe at present, but if this scheme has to be amended subsequently arising from any arrangement made in Europe, it will be amended.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Suppose the salary scale is fixed by the Parliament and paid by the Parliament, out of whose salaries can they then contribute to a pension scheme in Ireland under this Act?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That will be part of the amendment that will be necessary for the scheme finally accepted here.

[1049]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  If this legislation is passed before the Dáil and Seanad rise as appears to be the intention, the probable effect will be that Members from 17 July in receipt of money as a result of this legislation will have pension contributions deducted?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Yes.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  In the absence of a scheme specifically for European Members, am I right in assuming that for the time being they will be added into the existing Oireachtas pension scheme? We are talking about a period of three weeks in which we could work out a pension scheme which will be separate from the Oireachtas pension scheme currently existing.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It will have nothing to do with the Oireachtas pension scheme. It will be totally separate from it.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I know that but the Minister in his speech stated that the provisions will be set out in the scheme itself which will be generally on the lines of that already applicable to members of the Oireachtas and such a scheme will be laid before the House in accordance with section 6 of the Bill. What I would like clarified is this: it appears from what the Minister stated that from day one of a salary cheque being issued here on foot of this legislation there will be a deduction for pension. Is that correct?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Subsection (3) makes provision for this being retrospective whenever the scheme is eventually decided on from 17 July when payment begins.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  If the Minister does not know, fair enough, but is it proposed at this stage to deduct pension contributions from day one or will this wait until the scheme is in operation?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It will wait until the scheme is introduced but there is provision in subsection (3) for retrospection back to 17 July.

[1050]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is all right. What I did want to find out is that for the time being members would be treated similarly to those under the Oireachtas scheme and that deductions would be made on a similar basis. There will be no pension deductions until such time as a scheme is provided?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Yes, and then it will be retrospective to 17 July.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I presume the State will be an extremely heavy contributor to this pension scheme?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  If it is similar to the Oireachtas scheme, yes, that will be the situation.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Unless you make a much longer qualification period, more than the eight years required here. There are only 15 members. I think the chance of any one of them doing three terms is not great. I think the contributions in this case will have to be nearly one third of the salary to make it a viable scheme unless the State is going to contribute 80 or 90 per cent.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It is inevitable that the State will contribute.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  But it will have to be a very high contribution from the State.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Until a scheme is worked out I could not give the percentage of the State contribution.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  We are debating the scheme. The section only provides for a scheme.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It is only an enabling section.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Will we have a chance to look at it?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Yes, when the order is made laying it before the House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We are simply enabling the Minister at this stage to deduct pension contributions and as this is an [1051] enabling section should we not enable members to claim a pension also? Should not the legal right of a member to draw a pension be written into the legislation?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That will be covered in the actual scheme that we are enabled under this section to set up.

Question put and agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 5 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  As regards the bodies referred to in the schedule, is this a complete list drawn from all the Acts that went through this House in 50 years saying that Members nominated for or who were existing members of the boards of all these companies could not be Members of Dáil Éireann or nominated for election to Dáil Éireann? There is no body left out?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It is not sufficient to say yes or no: I shall give the reply. Of the 41 listed, 32 have similar restrictions affecting both members and staff already applying in relation to both Dáil and Seanad membership. Six have partial restrictions affecting members but not staff, already applying in relation to Dáil and Seanad membership. There are three to which no restrictions apply in relation to Dáil and Seanad membership because the opportunity to introduce them has not yet arisen.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Will the Minister name them?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Two of them are Board na gCon and Bord na Móna. For the moment I cannot state the third one.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  One may be a member of Bord na gCon or Bord na Móna and be a member of this House?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  In their legislation one could be, but this position is now being reversed in that they are now covered under the Members of the European Parliament legislation.

[1052]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  If I am a member of Board na gCon I may become a Member of Dáil Éireann but I cannot become a Member of the European Parliament?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  There are three boards in the case of which we have not yet got the opportunity to update the legislation. As the Deputy, as a previous Minister, is well aware, this was done in many cases.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Bord na Móna is there since 1936 and Bord na gCon since 1958. I cannot see the sense in a member of Bord na Móna being forbidden to be a Member of the European Parliament. Even less do I see the sense of a member of Bord na gCon being forbidden. In fact one might extend that argument to almost the whole list. It might even be useful to have directors of these companies Members of the European Parliament where they could argue the case of their particular company and perhaps get increased funds or influence loans to some of them. I cannot see the sense in forbidding members of Bord na gCon or Bord na Móna to be Members of the European Parliament. Has the Minister the third body?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  BIM.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  There is even less case for BIM. Would the Minister at least withdraw the three of them? If the Minister has to introduce legislation to include them the matter can then be debated. However, the Minister should not impose restrictions on board members that do not apply to Members of the Oireachtas.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Deputy will appreciate that we are trying to approach the matter uniformly.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I am not sure that that is a good idea.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is the way the matter is being pursued. It was pursued in that way by the Deputy when he was in Government.

[1053]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It was not.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  What has been operated here is being carried forward according to the Schedule in the European context. When legislation in relation to Bord na gCon, Bord na Móna and BIM comes before the House, the opportunity will be used to insert this provision.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Equating the Oireachtas with the European Parliament and equating the relationship of semi-State bodies to the executive of the Dáil and Seanad with the non-executive situation in the European Parliament is simplistic. I wonder if section 5 is necessary. Suppose one of the medical representatives in a health board subsequently becomes a Member of this House, will he be automatically requested to resign from the board? The health board may well feel that there is an advantage in having a Member of either House on the board. I can understand the provision excluding Members of both Houses from membership of the boards of semi-State companies. As Deputy Barry said, there can be advantages in having members who are members of a board. Membership of boards of semi-State companies is not an onerous or time-consuming task. The relationship of a semi-State company to the European Parliament, particularly in the context of the regional fund or the social fund, could be critical. What is the thinking on this matter? Is it merely an extension of the rules that apply here?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Exactly.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Would the Minister not agree that it is a false premise to equate the European Parliament with this House and to equate Members of this House with members of the European Parliament?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It is a question of applying the same procedure to MEPs. If a Member of the Dáil becomes a member of the European Assembly, it could be argued that he could become a member of a board even though his membership [1054] of the Dáil disqualifies him from such membership under another Act.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I can see why the provision is being made. Members of the Oireachtas cannot be members of semi-State boards because of the relationship of Parliament to the executive. As Ministers have powers to appoint members to boards of semi-State companies they are open to the charge of partiality. That situation does not apply to the European Parliament. If Mr. Maher, who headed the poll in Munster by a large agricultural vote, had been appointed to the board of the ACC, he would now have to terminate his membership of that board despite his considerable influence and expertise in matters agricultural. In what way would the public interest be served by such a hypothetical suspension?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  In case of conflict of interests.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Where would the conflict arise? I can see where it would arise if he were a Government backbencher or an Opposition spokesman.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The European Parliament passes legislation which affects us.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Of course it does. The person responsible for defending the interests of the legislation that would affect a semi-State company is the relevant Minister who has designated powers under the Act. When the terms of Bord Bainne were changed as a result of EEC legislation, the Minister was quick to ensure that their position would not be undermined. There will be no conflict of interest there. By the same logic of the Minister's argument one could debar from membership of this House anybody who had a directorship in any company, contending there would be a conflict of interest because we do not even have a register of interests in this House.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  State or semi-State companies are what we are talking about.

[1055]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I can see the Minister's position. I should have thought that this section could have been deleted. It is simplistic and is part of a hurried Bill. The Minister has answered as well as can be answered the point concerning the block of rules and regulations applying to TDs and Senators simply being taken over and applied to members of the European Parliament. In this instance the logic does not stand up because the European Parliament does not have the same relationship to the Exchequer as does this Parliament. Consequently, the need to remove any potential conflict of interest does not arise and, in my view, section 5 is invalid.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is my understanding that legislation was introduced in this House incorporating a section saying that the members of that board, if they became members of either House of the Oireachtas—and in the case of Radio Telefis Éireann and perhaps others, if they were nominated to become Members of either House of the Oireachtas—could not retain their seat on the board of that company. My understanding is that there was a fear, because of the history of this country, that such a member could use his position on the board of such a company to his political advantage. I am not even sure how they thought it would work. I can see it would work in Radio Telefis Éireann, but in regard to the boards of some other companies it escapes my notice how a member of the board could gain political advantage. Perhaps, for example, in the Electricity Supply Board he could arrange that, say, the rural electrification scheme would serve his constituency before that of somebody else, an Opposition Member or somebody else. There must have been that kind of thinking.

It is obvious that the same argument does not apply when these men go to Europe. As was mentioned by Deputy Quinn, Mr. T. J. Maher is a member of two of the boards here—as far as my recollection goes, of the boards of the Irish Sugar Company and the B & I. I am not absolutely sure about that but I think that is so. Perhaps he is a member of other boards as well. I would think it [1056] would be a distinct advantage to the B & I—and we will be discussing legislation in regard to them here tomorrow—when trying to raise capital, when going to the European Investment Bank, to have one of their directors who was also a member of the European Parliament. Exactly the same would apply to the Irish Sugar Company. Indeed it would be of great advantage to such commercial companies. Indeed, there might be a good case for saying that every European Member of Parliament, given the level of salary being offered them, should be a member of company boards as well. But to add three boards to a Bill going through this House prohibiting Members of this House being members of the boards of those companies, namely, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bord na gCon and Bord na Móna, does not stand up. They are already prohibited from having on their boards Members of either House of the Oireachtas. To say to them now: “You can have a TD, you can have a Senator but you cannot have a Member of the European Parliament” is not logical. Unfortunately none of the Members of the European Parliament is a member of these boards already, but it would be a very big advantage to any one of those boards to have a member of the European Parliament one of their directors.

If the Minister withdraws those three names from this list then when legislation referring to them comes before this House he can put his case forward, or the appropriate Minister can do so. He can then include a section for these three companies prohibiting such people from being a Member of either House of the Oireachtas and also from being Members of the European Parliament, when we can then argue the merits or demerits of the case. But we should not put the cart before the donkey at this stage. Rather we should delete these three names now when there would be some uniformity as regards the rest of the list, but by inserting those three names the list is being unbalanced the other way. Is that not correct?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is correct, but only in so far as the merits and demerits [1057] of such a provision have been well and truly argued.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  No, never. This is the first time this has been argued.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Last January 12 months, in relation to the consolidation of the EEC legislation, I was arguing this point, fully and openly in this House.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Not in relation to members of the European Parliament.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I said the merits or demerits of such a provision have been well and truly argued. The only context in which they could have been argued before was in relation to this House.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  But not in relation to the European Parliament.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I did not come to that yet. What I said earlier, and I am now repeating, is that the situation in relation to this House is now being provided for in this Bill. In addition, these three other State bodies are mentioned. As soon as the occasion arises for any legislation in relation to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bord na gCon or Bord na Móna, a provision such as exists for the other boards mentioned will be introduced. There is no point then in coming back and having them added to the Schedule of this Bill. That is my view, and is the view expressed here by having them included.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I do not agree. I think the Minister agrees with what I am saying. I cannot remember how old An Bord Iascaigh Mhara is now; I think it dates back to the late 1940s. Bord na Móna is coming up to 50 years old. I remember putting through an amending Bill in regard to Bord na Móna which did not contain a section such as that referred to by the Minister. Bord na gCon went through some time in the late 1950s, in 1957 or 1958; therefore it has been there for 20 years. Bord na Móna has been there for 40 years at least and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, I think, about the same, but I am not sure.

[1058]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Bord na Móna was postwar, 1950.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I am not sure. But I would think the Minister should delete those and when the occasion for amending each one arises we can then argue the merits or demerits of including them. There is some good reason that they are not included. Certainly in relation to Bord na Móna legislation has gone through before now, because I put it through myself, when there was not a section included which prohibited their board members from being a Member of either House of the Oireachtas. I cannot remember the reason; I do not remember being asked to put it through. I do not think Bord na gCon has been amended since its inception, but I am not sure about that. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara certainly has been amended without having a section introduced prohibiting their members from being a Member of either House of the Oireachtas.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  This development has taken place in regard to many Bills in the last few years in which the provision has been inserted disqualifying Members of the Oireachtas from membership of such boards. In the past five to seven years the provision about which we are now talking has been introduced in every Bill regarding any of those boards.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  No, because I remember putting through a Bill in relation to Bord na Móna.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Perhaps there has been one since. They are being inserted here because it is the intention, at the next available legislative opportunity concerning them, to have this provision inserted. That being so, the request for me to leave them out should not really arise because as soon as legislation comes up in regard to any of these boards, this provision will be put in and that will mean just amending this schedule again.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  That is a far better way of doing it.

[1059]Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  What is the difference?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The difference is as I have been saying, they are not there now so we cannot argue the merits of it. Why is Irish Shipping not in?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Articles of Association for Irish Shipping are in the course of being amended.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Why are they not included in the list?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The reason they are not included is that the Articles of Association are being amended.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Minister is saying that the next legislation coming here in relation to Bord na Móna, Bord na gCon and Bord Iascaigh Mhara will include this provision that they cannot have Members on their boards.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is right.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Articles of Association of Irish Shipping are being amended at the moment and presumably that will come before the House. Why will that not have a section saying that directors of Irish Shipping may not be Members of this House? If that will be included why is Irish Shipping not included in this list?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  All I am told is that the Articles of Association of Irish Shipping are being amended at present and that is why they are not included.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Minister is making it very difficult for me to allow him out of the House.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I can only give the information requested.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Minister is putting forward legislation applying the same constraints on any fees that apply to Deputies and Senators. That is fairly clear, although one could argue that it does not necessarily follow. If we are to live with that application, with all its internal [1060] contradictions, let us be consistent, let us simply apply, to any fees the exact same legal constraints that currently apply to Deputies and Senators. The Minister is taking both sides of the road at the same time. The Minister said that they will be treated exactly the same, because the Minister proposes at the next available opportunity to introduce amending legislation, or to attach this provision to any semi-State bodies that do not have the exclusion principle, and then in reply to a question from Deputy Barry the Minister contradicted that stand by saying that Irish Shipping was not included because they are in the process of amending their Articles of Association. By the logic of the Minister's first argument Irish Shipping should automatically be included. If Irish Shipping is excluded logic dictates that the three bodies that currently do not have it, should also be excluded.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  What about an Bord Bainne?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is a co-operative. Why is AnCO not included, for instance?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  There are various types of provision and the standard provision used in all these cases does not apply in AnCO but only to the chairman of AnCO. The standard provision operated for the 41 listed here, covers members and staff but in some cases such as AnCO it covers only the chairman.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Could the chairman of AnCO be a member of the European Parliament?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  He could.

Mr. Boland: Information on John Boland  Zoom on John Boland  But not a member of the Dáil?

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  That is another contradiction.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Deputy Quinn is in possession.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  How long was this legislation [1061] in draft form? With all due respect to the Department this section is extremely shabby. It should not be there at all but if the Minister saw fit to include it he should have done the homework and included all of the semi-State bodies, because it is the principle we are talking about here. We are talking about the principle of a possible conflict of interest between membership of the European Parliament and membership of a board of a semi-State company. That conflict is assumed, not argued either in the Minister's speech or in any subsequent contribution made by him. To add insult to injury, having made that global simplistic assumption, it now appears that the Department of the Public Service have not done their homework to the extent that they know what State companies the Minister is talking about. The way section 5 has been handled is a reflection on the Department, on the way in which they analyse a problem and on the way in which they brief their Minister. The information is totally inadequate and contradictory. The reason for Irish Shipping being excluded is contradictory to the reason why three other semi-State bodies are included. AnCO is excluded for a totally different reason. All of this is because of a possible assumed conflict of interest between membership of the European Parliament and membership of the board of a semi-State company. That is making the assumption that one parliament is the same as the other. The section is really very sloppy.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It may be so but I did not create it.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Unfortunately the Minister is standing here with responsibility for it.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I accept the responsibility. I gave the information that first prompted this discussion. There is a standard provision pertaining to 32 of the listed bodies on this schedule; there are different types of procedures in relation to six others, and three are not included as there is no provision in relation to Dáil and Seanad members at present. [1062] The on-going process of having a standard provision affecting all of these, is what has been taking place for the last ten or 15 years. Even in relation to membership of the Dáil and the Seanad and membership of certain boards there are anomalies. What we are trying to do in this legislation is to have a schedule which includes all of the boards that are or will be, as soon as the opportunity arises, affecting the Dáil and Seanad membership. I do not see any real basis for the argument being put forward about why one is left out, or why it affects only certain members of certain boards. We are talking about having a standardised provision that will pertain to every State or semi-State board affecting membership of the Dáil or Seanad or the European Parliament.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Why was the section and the schedule not drafted to include all semi-State and State bodies. Some bodies are excluded for irrational, illogical reasons—Irish Shipping and AnCO for instance. I accept that the Minister will include this provision, but having left the principle aside we are talking about the administrative competence of getting all the semi-State bodies listed into it, so that we will not have to go back again. The Minister has left out two. I have still to be convinced as to why Irish Shipping and AnCO, who at some time in the future will be brought into line with the other companies, are excluded, when three companies which are not in line at the moment, have been included. The thing is just incompetent.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  To come back to the cases of Mr. T. J. Maher, and perhaps Mr. Seán Flanagan, did the Government put ex-Deputy Seán Flanagan on any board since he lost his seat in the Dáil two years ago? Is the effect of this that neither Mr. Flanagan nor Mr. Maher will have any other salary from the Irish people outside their European one? Every other Irish MEP will draw a Dáil or Seanad salary. Therefore, the effect of this legislation is that no matter how small the fees Mr. Maher receives from the State boards of which he is a member—I understand he is on B & I [1063] and Comhlucht Siúicre Eireann—he will be deprived of them.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is correct.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Mr. Maher makes very valuable contributions to these boards and they will be deprived of his membership and of his influence as a negotiator in Europe if this section is passed. Therefore, I suggest that the Minister withdraws this section completely.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Hear, hear.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Such action would not make any difference to the principle of the legislation. The section will deprive Mr. Maher of the only salary he has outside any private income he may have. When the legislation in respect of each of these State companies comes before the Oireachtas the appropriate Minister could amend the relevant section so as to exclude Members of the European Parliament from being deprived of membership of the boards concerned. Three such Bills will be before the House tomorrow relating to three State companies, and the Minister will have an opportunity to amend them in the way I have suggested. That would not make any difference to the principle of this legislation. Mea culpa, I did not realise how important this section is until about half an hour ago when we came to discuss it. The Minister now in the House should ask the appropriate Ministers, when legislation concerning State boards comes before the Oireachtas, to amend the relevant section which prohibits Oireachtas Members from serving on those boards in such a way that MEPs would not be included.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It could take anything up to 20 years to have such an amendment put into legislation pertaining to the boards. All that is being done here is providing that the same procedure will apply to MEPs as applies to Members of the Oireachtas.

Mr. Boland: Information on John Boland  Zoom on John Boland  There is no doubt, generally speaking, that the electors chose as Irish MEPs candidates whom [1064] they recognised as tough, experienced negotiators. They chose such candidates because they felt they were the sort of people who could best represent Ireland in the European Parliament, people who could win for Ireland influence and finance. Tomorrow we will be asked to discuss a Bill to extend the capital borrowing powers of B & I to enable them to purchase more and expensive ships.

Here we have an instance when one of our representatives in Europe is a serving member of B & I, and whatever else the Minister may think about him, he will have to concede that he is a tough, experienced negotiator. The provisions of this legislation will debar him from being a member of the B & I board who urgently need additional capital. It will debar the B & I board from availing of his services to fight for additional finance from the European Investment Bank. The same applies to all the other companies of which he is a member. This section is contrary to Ireland's best interests in the European context.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  This discussion has unearthed the full implications of this provision, which is based on the principle of extending to MEPs the same constraints that apply to Members of the Oireachtas in relation to State boards. The two Parliaments are not the same and therefore the same constraints should not apply. Deputy Boland has just illustrated graphically how we are cutting off our nose to spite our face. It is obvious that those who drafted this legislation did not analyse the role of the European Parliament.

The argument that has been made in this respect is substantial and clear. I do not want to press it, but I suggest that the Minister should drop section 5 and come back to it on Report Stage. We will be sitting through until Friday and it would take less than an hour to complete this legislation. We are not talking about a piece of legislation that will die in a couple of years; this is something quite different, because in the context of the Regional Fund, the Social Fund or the European Investment Bank, it is vital to have someone representing us who knows the detailed workings of a company. [1065] A person who has been serving on Irish companies set up by this House on behalf of the Irish people to promote Irish welfare is being deprived of exercising extra leverage in Europe on behalf of such companies. It seems to be nonsensical. In any formula open to him, I suggest the Minister should withdraw this section and come back to us tomorrow when he will get the Report and Final Stages without delay. To force section 5 now will be simply going down a path of which I do not think the Minister realises the full implications.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Is Mr. Maher a member of the B & I board?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Yes.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Is he also a member of Comhlucht Siuicre Éireann?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I do not know.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  He may be a member of other boards as well. When he stood for election to the European Parliament did he know he would be deprived of membership of State boards to which he had been appointed for a fixed period, possibly for five years from the beginning of January last year? He could not have known that. Were candidates in the European elections informed of that?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  They were informed when the legislation was published, 29 May.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Therefore Mr. Maher could not have known when he was nominated that he would be deprived of membership of these boards.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Nobody would have known.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Yes, but we can see the road we are travelling now. Suppose he comes along in the morning and makes that point. A Cheann Comhairle, I suggest that we suspend the whole Committee Stage debate until the morning to give the Minister a chance to discuss it.

[1066]Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I need no further time to discuss it.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  With due respect, the Minister does need time. I do not want to make this into a Government-Opposition issue. I, and I suppose Deputy Quinn also, are trying genuinely to point out that there is danger for the country in this legislation and we are asking the Minister to look at it again. This is a genuine effort to improve legislation which is before the House on Committee Stage which is the least glamorous stage of any Bill. Without any acrimony, I suggest that we suspend discussion on this until some time tomorrow and the Minister will have a chance to look at it again. If at that stage he comes back and tells us that it is necessary, we promise that we will not keep him more than ten minutes for the rest of the Bill.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The main arguments pursued by Deputy Quinn and Deputy Barry are that it is to the advantage of a board, semi-State particularly—and B & I is the board mentioned specifically—to have as one of its members a Member of the European Parliament.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  That is it.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  And consequently an advantage to this one.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Deputy Barry is well aware as a former Minister for Transport and Power that it is the Minister for Tourism and Transport who will deal with the business of B & I in Europe.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I know that.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I see Deputy Blaney laughing without contributing. He is entitled to laugh all he likes——

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  He is entitled to laugh now.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I have not heard anything as stupid as this for a long time.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Deputy Blaney or any other Member of the European [1067] Parliament should also be a member of a State or semi-State board on that argument made by Deputy Quinn and Deputy Barry.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Those are two different things. I am sick listening to this thing that what you do on one you must do on the other.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is what is being done in the legislation.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It is being made a ham of like everything else that is being done at the moment.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  This provision has been going on for many years.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It never happened before.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  We are talking about the conflict of interest that might arise vis-à-vis membership of State boards and membership of the European Parliament. This applies to membership of the Dáil and the Seanad and the provision that applies there is now being provided for in relation to MEPs.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The same in each and every one.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is the position.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I make one last appeal to the Minister to listen to what I am saying.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are getting into a lot of repetition.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I have not had my tea yet and I do not wish to delay the House any longer.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  I am sorry about that, Deputy.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Minister is not responding to the question of the totally different natures of the two Parliaments. Unless he defines what the conflict of interests will be in the European context the rest does not apply. There is no [1068] justification for the legislation and all that we can assume is that it is slaphappy legislation lifted from one Parliament House to another. While the Minister carries the democratic responsibility in the House that is a reflection on more people than himself. I say that without personal acrimony towards him. That has been argued as well as I can argue it.

Another point has arisen which requires legal interpretation. Supposing Mr. Maher refused to resign from the membership or contested the termination of membership of one of the boards that we are talking about on the grounds that he was nominated and elected validly and that at the time he nominated himself for the European Parliament he had no knowledge that this was to happen——

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  And could not have had knowledge.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  ——and could not have had knowledge, is there a case here in which this could be queried? This is the road we are about to travel. Lest the Minister did not take it up, we are suggesting that he might like to consult with the Attorney General on this. We are talking about a piece of nonsense legislation. We have lost the battle on section 2, but let us not compound the nonsense. There is only a quarter of an hour on this entire legislation in this House as far as I, and I am sure Deputy Barry, are concerned. The rest is proceeded with and there will be no amendments on Report Stage. We want clarification on this. Could the Minister, if necessary, come in with an amendment on Report Stage? We have until Friday. We have got this thing through. The Taoiseach can now go back to the Council of Ministers and tell them that he has delivered on the squalid compromise that was cooked up in Bremen, that he has done his part of the deal and that it has been got through the lower House in the Irish Parliament. This is a separate issue altogether. We are talking about defending Ireland's interests in the European Assembly and that is separate from putting legal window-dressing on a political deal which was hatched out in Bremen prior to the direct elections. I [1069] suggest respectfully that the full implication of this has not been picked up by either the Minister or the Department. I suggest that the Minister go away and think about it for the night and, if needs be, come back in the morning.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Irish Members of the European Parliament will not in any way be failing in their defence of Irish interests whether or not they be members of semi-State boards. That issue does not arise, and that is the main argument being made. The legislation before the House is the legislation produced, accepted and approved by the Government and put before the Dáil for its deliberations. I cannot and will not change the section or drop it. The matter has been discussed fully. I do not accept the arguments made. It is a matter for the Deputies to press it to a vote.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I would like to intervene. It is not a matter of arguments that have been made against this legislation. No arguments have been made for the legislation, and that is the Minister's job. I ask him in respect of each and every company named in the schedule to give us the reason why there would be a conflict of interest if a non-Member of the Oireachtas who is now a Member of the European Parliament were to be a member of any one of those. It is for the Minister to tell us why there would be a conflict of interest, not for the House to tell him why he should not do it.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Jnr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Jnr.  I am not for or against Mr. Maher being on or off the boards, but the reason that Mr. Maher was on the board of the Sugar Company was that he was the leader of the Irish farmers. Even apart from the arguments put up legally, I consider that that post should be now vacated and given to Paddy Lane who is the leader of the Irish farmers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are not filling the post.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Jnr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Jnr.  What we are talking about is a technicality.

[1070]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is not.

Mr. Killilea: Information on Mark Killilea Jnr.  Zoom on Mark Killilea Jnr.  The position on the board belongs to somebody on the earth here. In both the Sugar Company and the B & I board the positions belong to somebody who has a contribution to make not in the European context but in the Irish context. We are losing sight of that fact. I am not saying that Mr. Maher is not a great man, but the position on the board in the case of the Sugar Company belongs to the Irish farmers and in the case of B & I to Irish interests. It is not a matter of a conflict.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I am not arguing that. Perhaps Mr. Maher should not be on the board. He is on the board. He was a member of the board of B & I when he nominated himself to stand for the European election. He did not know at that stage that he could not remain a member of that board if he was elected to the European Parliament. It may have made a difference. It would mean that he went in there with one hand tied, not knowing that legislation was pending which would deprive him of his seat on the board if he was elected to the European Parliament. He knew nothing about it. It is not good enough for the Minister to say that he put forward all the arguments. I know how all these things work. A memorandum goes to the Government and the Government decide that because a decision was taken in the Council of Ministers that must be translated into Irish legislation. It was introduced to the Cabinet by the Minister for the Public Service, Deputy Colley, having been assured by the Minister of State, Deputy MacSharry, that the points were covered. The legislation was drafted and was passed by the Government based on the assurance to the Minister. I would guess that with all the problems the Government have had during the past six months very little time was devoted to the fine print of this legislation. Even if ten weeks' solid time were given to this Bill it would not be enough. It is our job to point out any defects we see and to have them corrected. Ministers of whatever party are too slow to take up points made by the Opposition on Committee Stage.

[1071] The Minister should justify the fact that a member of the board of Aer Lingus should not be a Member of the European Parliament and show that it is not of benefit to Aer Lingus to have him as a member of their board. Otherwise the Minister should suspend this discussion and assure himself that the points raised here are not valid. He should discuss the matter with the Minister for the Public Service and extract section 5 from the Bill.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The principle here is one of the possibility of conflict of interest between a person operating in a political and commercial capacity. The same principle applies in relation to each of the boards mentioned here. The provision applying to membership of this House will apply also to membership of the European Parliament.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  There is a lot of repetition. We are going over the same arguments again and again.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I will introduce a new argument. Senator Brennan recognised that the lessons of these direct elections cannot be learnt because the next direct elections will be different and will probably be based on some variation of the national list system which is used in continental countries. It is probable that fewer Deputies and Senators will be elected as a result of the change in the system, because the requirements of popularity will not apply in the list system. People will be asked to vote for a particular party. The possibility arises that political parties may put on the list specialists in certain areas who would have a technical contribution to make to the European Parliament. By virtue of its committee system the European Parliament is complex and handles legislation in a detailed manner. It is conceivable, if not probable, that the Labour Party could nominate the assistant general secretary of a trade union to be an MEP because of his specialist knowledge. Frequently trade unionists are members of the boards of State companies.

Section 5 now applies only to one individual but after the next election it [1072] could apply to far more people who might be members of State companies. I cannot see why it should be included here. There will be new legislation when the new system of election is introduced. There are so many loopholes contradictions and inadequacies in this legislation, the consequences of which will be to deprive this country and the public sector of additional allies in European institutions, that I cannot see the benefit. The Minister of State has been asked very reasonably to consider the points made during the evening and assure us——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I gave the answer to the general question in the last contribution I made.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I raised the question of the legality of section 5 in relation to a person who was nominated on 25 May and did not know——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  It would be a matter of law subsequently.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am not a professional lawyer. It would be nice to be told by the Minister that the Attorney General had seen this section and was aware of the situation of the Member for Munster and that there would not be any legal question arising.

Mr. L. Lawlor: Information on Liam Lawlor  Zoom on Liam Lawlor  If Mr. Maher speaks in the European Parliament on transport or food processing issues he will be treated with great scepticism by his colleagues on the basis that he is speaking with a vested interest because of a company of which he is a director. His view on budgetary matters will be clouded. A single MEP will be influencing policy for a couple of semi-State companies when it is the duty of the Minister responsible for those organisations to speak for them at European level. I cannot understand why Deputies opposite cannot see that Mr. Maher will be in a very awkward position. One assumes that Mr. Maher will spend a lot of time in Europe and will miss many board meetings. Surely it would be better to appoint a new board member. I can see complications at European level if Mr. [1073] Maher should seek fiscal aid for either of the companies of which he is a director.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I can see a certain amount of sense in what Deputy Lawlor has said.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  I do not think we should discuss Mr. Maher in particular.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  He is the one most concerned in this, unless Mr. Flanagan is a member of a board. Much of the work of the European Parliament is done by committees. Let us suppose that legislation in relation to ports was to be discussed in committee. If there is not corresponding legislation in Britain, British Rail could have a board member who is an MEP.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  They have the same legislative provision as we have.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Does it apply to Bell Ferries?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  My information is that the British legislation contains a similar provision in relation to State-sponsored bodies.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The French and the Germans do not have such provision. Would not Mr. Maher be able to match the member of a French board? Perhaps we should not follow that argument. The Minister must justify prohibiting board members using influence on behalf of Ireland. What is Mr. Maher's legal position, having being nominated for the European Parliament before he knew [1074] that he could not continue to be a board member? I would ask the Minister to suspend this discussion and clarify these points tomorrow.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Attorney General saw this legislation when it was drafted and I am satisfied that the matter is legally in order.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  The Bill was published on 29 May and was drafted and seen by the Attorney General before Mr. Maher became a candidate. The position had not arisen at that stage.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  This legislation was introduced for the purpose of prohibiting MEPs from being members of State boards. The individuals concerned should not be brought into the discussion.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Many of the arguments put forward are based on the fact that a board member may not now put a case for a company at the European Parliament.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  It is the other way around.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Deputy may put it any way he likes but that is what it means. The Minister concerned will put the case to the Council of Ministers on all occasions affecting this country.

I cannot add much more to this discussion. There seems to be deadlock in the misunderstanding of the position.

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Kit.
Allen, Lorcan.
Andrews, David.
Andrews, Niall.
Aylward, Liam.
Barrett, Sylvester.
Brady, Gerard.
Brady, Vincent.
Briscoe, Ben. [1075]Farrell, Joe.
Faulkner, Pádraig.
Filgate, Eddie.
Fitzgerald, Gene.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Dublin-South-Central).
Fitzsimons, James N.
Flynn, Pádraig.
French, Seán.
Gallagher, Dennis.
Gibbons, Jim.
Haughey, Charles J.
Hussey, Thomas.
Keegan, Seán.
Kenneally, William.
Killeen, Tim.
Killilea, Mark.
Lalor, Patrick J.
Lawlor, Liam.
Lemass, Eileen.
Leonard, Tom.
Browne, Seán.
Callanan, John.
Cogan, Barry.
Colley, George.
Cowen, Bernard.
Cronin, Jerry.
Daly, Brendan.
de Valera, Sile.
Doherty, Seán.
Fahey, Jackie. [1076]Leyden, Terry.
Lynch, Jack.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacSharry, Ray.
Meaney, Tom.
Moore, Seán.
Morley, P.J.
Murphy, Ciarán P.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Connor, Timothy C.
O'Donoghue, Martin.
O'Leary, John.
O'Malley, Desmond.
Reynolds, Albert.
Smith, Michael.
Tunney, Jim.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Woods, Michael J.
Wyse, Pearse.

Barry, Peter.
Begley, Michael.
Belton, Luke.
Boland, John.
Bruton, John.
Burke, Joan.
Collins, Edward.
Conlan, John F.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Michael J.
Creed, Donal.
D'Arcy, Michael J.
Deasy, Martin A.
Desmond, Eileen.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Enright, Thomas W.
FitzGerald, Garret.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Cavan-Monaghan).
Gilhawley, Eugene.
Griffin, Brendan.
Harte, Patrick D.
Hegarty, Paddy.
Horgan, John.
Kelly, John.
Kenny, Enda.
L'Estrange, Gerry.
Mannion, John M.
O'Brien, Fergus.
O'Brien, William.
O'Donnell, Tom.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Leary, Michael.
O'Toole, Paddy.
Quinn, Ruairi.
Ryan, John J.
Taylor, Frank.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Tully, James.

Question declared carried.

Sections 6 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Question proposed: “That the Title be the Title to the Bill.”

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I should like to make a point to which I referred earlier. It is an insult to the Irish representatives from Northern Ireland to have a Long Title such as this to the Bill. We have a Bill with a Long Title which is purporting to provide for the payment of allowances to the Irish representatives in the Assembly of the European Communities. There are three representatives from Ireland in that Community, Messrs. Paisley, Taylor and Hume, who will not be covered under this Bill—fortunately for themselves. It is an insult not only to them but to the people who elected them for us to purport to enact a Bill here which will provide for payment to them. I would like the Minister to consider the matter at a later stage and I will accept an assurance if he will take my point of view in principle. It is utterly wrong that he should come to this House and ask us to accept a Long Title which does not cover all the Irish representatives in the [1077] Assembly of the European Communities. In that situation it would be fraudulent to a degree to let this Long Title stand. Consequently, I ask the Minister to amend it accordingly.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  I have allowed the Deputy to make a point on the Title but it is most unusual to debate the Title to a Bill when there is no amendment involved.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I appreciate that.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The simple answer is that this measure is to provide for the payment of Irish representatives but the three people the Deputy is talking about are not Irish representatives in the context of this provision. They are elected under the UK legislation in the constituency of the UK.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I appreciate the technical point raised by the Minister but I regard these people as Irish representatives. I think most people in this island would agree and in that situation we should cover the point.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Unfortunately, it is covered for us.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Chair has allowed the Deputy to make the point but in the absence of an amendment to the Title it is most unusual to have a debate on it.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I would merely record my objection to the Title as proposed.

Title agreed to.

Agreed to take remaining Stage today.

Bill reported without amendment and passed.


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