Regional Technical Colleges Bill, 1991: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 10 June 1992

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 421 No. 1

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Debate resumed on amendment No. 96 (a):

In page 8, lines 46 to 48, and in page 9, lines 1 and 2, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:

“(1) Each governing body shall, with the approval of the Minister, from time to time appoint in a whole-time capacity a person to be the Director and chief officer of the college.”.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Prior to the suspension of business the Minister of State made the point that we debated this Bill and a considerable number of amendments in great detail on Committee Stage last Wednesday and Thursday. We have five versions of the Bill. First, there is the Regional Technical Colleges Bill, 1991; second, the amendments as circulated on 11 December which we took to be the final casting of the Bill; then 40 amendments circulated to us just minutes before we entered the Chamber last Wednesday, and we have another list of amendments today.

It has now emerged — and this is of interest to you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle — that a categorical assurance was given at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting today that the Report Stage of this Bill would be delayed and that the Taoiseach and the Government were willing to take on board a substantial list of amendments. We will, therefore, have had five versions of this Bill. This renders meaningless the exercise we are now involved in, that is, amending the Bill. If we are to be faced in four to five weeks time with another list of amendments which will substantially [144] alter this Bill it makes a total mockery of the exercise we are involved in today. We really should suspend deliberations if this is the intention. Could we have some clarification in this regard?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Higgins appreciates that the Chair sits here as Leas-Cheann Comhairle. It is not appropriate for me to comment on any other involvement I have outside this Chair and I will refrain from doing so. If the Minister of State at the Department of Education has any comment he would like to make, I invite him to do so.

Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Aylward): Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I was absolutely amazed that Deputy Gilmore could come into the House just before the break and inform us of what took place at a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting. Earlier, in response to Deputies in the House, I tried to outline the process of consultation that had taken place and I think everybody was happy enough that the consultation had taken place. I further said that lobbying was obviously taking place and that members of political parties had been approached by certain organisations. It is the most natural thing in the world that matters of concern would be raised at parliamentary party meetings. Certainly the matters were discussed at our party meeting because Members were concerned at the direction the Bill had taken. It was in that spirit that the response was given at the parliamentary party meeting that the amendments that I had introduced here this morning, which were widely welcomed, were the amendments referred to and that further amendments were being introduced in the Dublin Institute of Technology Bill indicating that there would be further changes on Report Stage. That was the response that was given to concerned members at the parliamentary meeting.

It is important to re-state, for the record, the position in relation to the role of the vocational education committees and the amendments which I agreed to introduce in response to the views of [145] Members here in the House and other representations which we have received.

The purpose of this Bill is to give colleges appropriate autonomy while defining the prospective roles of the vocational education committee and the Minister. I want to reiterate that this Bill provides for a strong continuing role for the vocational education committees in the regional technical college sector. They have the single largest representation on the governing body. They have the continuing power to nominate the organisations that they consider require representation on the governing body and they have the power to approve or modify the programmes and budgets of the colleges. I have already proposed the deletion of section 7 (5) and this has been widely welcomed in the House.

Nevertheless, concern has been expressed in the House and through representations to me that the role of the vocational education committee has been written out of the Bill or, at best, considerably diminished. I think that I have demonstrated that this is clearly not the case. However, as I have stated, I am prepared to further clarify the position in the following important respects. I have already undertaken to come back on Report Stage regarding the Minister appointing ordinary members on the recommendation of the vocational education committee. I will be accepting an amendment from Deputies Higgins and Ahearn on section 3 (3) of the Dublin Institute of Technology Bill to the effect that the vocational education committee may make recommendations with regard to other institutions to be covered by that Act and I will be introducing a corresponding amendment to the Regional Technical Colleges Bill on Report Stage. I am also proposing to accept amendment No. 145 from Deputies O'Shea and Garland to substitute “approved” for “determined” in relation to the format of the operational programmes in section 13 (1) and amendment No. 149 from the same Deputies and Deputy Mac Giolla to delete “with the agreement of the Minister” from section 14 (2).

The Bill, however, has to strike a balance [146] between this role, the role of the Minister and the objective of establishing these colleges as third level educational institutions with the necessary authority to manage their affairs as intended in line with all other third level institutions. It is a balance which I believe all sides of the House wish to see. It is, however, a delicate balance and I believe that the position, as I have now outlined it, is the best way of achieving it. This is the context in which discussion took place at the parliamentary party meeting and the proposals I have set out are the ones I will be coming back to on Report Stage. I hope that clarifies the matter.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am afraid that all that clarifies is that this Committee Stage debate has become one great waste of time. This House has, on a number of occasions, debated the relationship between the vocational education committees, the governing bodies, the regional technical colleges, the Minister and so on. Various views have been expressed here about the balance to be struck, as the Minister of State has said. We thought a balance had been struck when the former Minister for Education, Minister of State, Deputy O'Rourke, introduced the Bill to the House. Again we thought a balance had been struck when her successor, Minister Davern, introduced a varied version of it. The balance was torpedoed by the set of amendments landed upon us after a bank holiday weekend, with Deputies being given little or no time to consider them. The effect of those amendments was to completely transform the Bill as it relates to vocational education committees and we are now dealing with one of those amendments.

This morning I raised the matter of the information that had come to me that while we were in the Chamber debating the detail of the Bill, and while the Minister of State was here defending the revised Bill, commitments were being given to the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party meeting that the Bill would be changed. As it happens, I am pleased [147] that those commitments are being given because the Bill as it stands and as it relates to the vocational education committees is certainly not acceptable. Neither is it acceptable that we should carry on an absolute farce by engaging in a debate here the purpose of which is to pass the Bill through the Oireachtas, while another meeting is taking place elsewhere in which commitments are being given that the Bill will again be changed on Report Stage. That completely undermines this Committee Stage debate. At various stages since the Committee Stage debate was scheduled for several days' debate each of the parties on this side of the House have asked that it be postponed because it was scheduled to take place without the Green Paper having been published and without the presence of the Minister who apparently authored the set of amendments that have caused so much grief here. The debate is now taking place under the absurdity that it is is acknowledged that the legislation will be changed in some shape or form. I consider that it would be best to abandon this debate now and to return to it when we know what exactly the Government's policy is in relation to the Bill and what exactly the Government's plan is for regional technical colleges. We have heard three or four different versions of Government policy. That is no way to put legislation through this House. The attitude taken by the Government on this Bill treats the House with absolute contempt. I resent it, I reject it and I think that the House deserves better.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Could I explain to the House that we are discussing, as ordered by the House, the Committee Stage of the Regional Technical Colleges Bill.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  A Bill that is going to be changed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  That does not alter the order of the House and there is no power that can alter it.

[148]Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am not arguing with you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy very seldom does, and I am not arguing with anybody except to explain the position. We are responding to the order of the House that we apply ourselves to and deliberate on the Committee Stage of the legislation before us. Time is scarce enough and we must apply ourselves to doing that. We cannot opt out of that. Whatever criticisms we have of something that might have taken place elsewhere, that does not alter the obligation on us by the House to proceed with the Committee Stage of this legislation, and I suggest that we proceed without further delay.

Mr. Garland: Information on Roger T. Garland  Zoom on Roger T. Garland  I agree completely with the sentiments expressed by the two previous speakers, and I shall not repeat the arguments that have been very well made by both Deputies.

This Bill, as amended, as proposed to be amended by the Minister and so forth, is clearly an attack on the whole vocational education committee set-up. The vocational education committees go back as far as 1930 and they have served this country very well. I am sure that the Minister of State would be the first to acknowledge that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  To which amendment is Deputy Garland referring?

Mr. Garland: Information on Roger T. Garland  Zoom on Roger T. Garland  I am discussing quite a number of amendments which are before the Committee. I shall try to be more specific. The amendments deal with the Minister's taking power away from the vocational education committees and giving it back to the Department of Education. With respect, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, until now I have not contributed on these amendments, some of which are mine.

I feel very strongly that the Minister of State should be able to prove that the vocational education committee management structure is inadequate or that [149] the vocational education committees as constituted at present have not done their jobs properly. He has not made that case. This is a case of change for the sake of change or, worse still, of further centralisation of authority in the Department of Education. I am totally opposed to the tenor of the ministerial amendments we are discussing.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I shall move ahead as you have directed, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. We are dealing with the Committee Stage of the Bill. I should like to make a brief comment by way to introduction to a point I wish to make. When debate on the Bill started the post of director of the college was described. We now find that the person to be appointed in charge of the college will be the director and chief officer of the college. The term “chief officer” introduces into the legislation a new concept, a concept that is not dealt with in the definitions section of the Bill. I seek clarification of that term before we proceed from amendment No. 96a. Will the director of a college in their capacity as chief officer of the college be the accounting officer of the college? Heretofore the accounting officer would have been the chief executive officer, as I understood the position, and would be subject to audit by the Local Government Auditor.

Does the new concept now introduced into the Bill signal a major change in emphasis, that the director, in the capacity of chief officer, will now assume the accountability duties that have previously resided with the chief executive officer of a vocational education committee? This query underlines the difficulties that those of us on this side of the House have had with the changes being made under different Ministers. Having been presented with amendments we have been given very little time to absorb them and relate them to other sections of the legislation. I understand that a move is being made away from the Local Government Auditor in the direction of the Comptroller and Auditor General. If that is so, it is further reinforcement of the arguments [150] advanced by Deputies on this side of the House that in terms of accountability the principle of subsidiarity, which is such an important element of the Maastricht Treaty, is being disregarded by the Government — by the Department of Education in this instance — and that the colleges, their control, their accountability and their responsiveness to the local community are further being removed from the ambit of local democracy and again directed towards more centralised control. I ask the Minister to clarify what that concept embraces. What is meant by the “chief officer” of a regional technical college?

The source of these amendments is not very clear. However, I do not intend going over that ground again. Will it add to the duties and responsibilities of the director of the college? Does it mean that there will be a further undermining of the role of the vocational education committee in relation to the colleges?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  This debate has been sidetracked as a result of hearsay information picked up in the corridor by Deputy Gilmore. I went out of my way to clarify the position and I gave a reasonable explanation. Changes in any shape or form — to use the Deputy's words — are in the amendments introduced by me this morning as a result of concern expressed by Members in this House and in other amendments which I accepted. The only other changes are those to which I said I would refer on Report Stage. Again, I did that at the request of Deputies who were concerned at the direction in which the Bill was going. Deputy Garland did not seem to be aware of what was going on but it would have been difficult for him to keep track of the debate as he was in and out of the House. In reply to the point made by Deputy O'Shea, the director and the chief officer will be the accounting officer. The role of the director is also dealt with in the Third Schedule which says that the director shall control and direct the activities of the college and shall control and direct the staff of the college. It was correctly pointed out that the role of the director [151] should properly be dealt with in section 9. As I said, the chief officer will be the chief accounting officer in other third level institutions.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I wonder if the question could be put. I remind the House that I will be putting the omnibus question at 5 p.m. Is the House satisfied that it has applied itself sufficiently to these amendments?

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I seek your indulgence to elicit further clarification. Will the Minister explain whether this change, by the inclusion in section 9 of the term “chief accounting officer,” has changed the thrust of the Bill in terms of how it was originally published and in relation to the amendments which have been tabled? Has this been a fundamental change in terms of the accountability of the colleges? He did not make that clear.

Mr. Alyward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  No, Deputy, there has not been a change in the thrust of the Bill.

Amendment put and declared carried.

Amendment No. 97 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We now come to amendment No. 98 in the names of Deputies O'Shea and Garland. Amendments Nos. 113 and 145 are cognate and I propose, therefore, for discussion purposes, to take amendments Nos. 98, 113 and 145 together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I move amendment No. 98:

In page 9, subsection (2), line 5, to delete “determined” and substitute “approved”.

I do not want to delay the House. I understood from earlier contributions by the Minister that he is agreeable to taking these amendments on board. If he is so inclined, I will not make a case for them.

[152]Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  It is intended here that the procedures will be determined as once-off measures. I wish to emphasis that and it is not intended that approval would be required for individual selection boards. “Determined” is, therefore, more appropriate than “approved” in this context.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  In terms of selection boards will the Minister inform the House what exactly is intended by the Department regarding putting selection boards in place? Will he comment on the proposed membership and the terms of reference of such boards, which will put the amendment in a clearer context?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  There is really not any great argument here. Our opinions on this matter seem to coincide. We are striving for a balance of academics, business and vocational education representatives. However, if the Deputy wishes I will clarify the matter on Report Stage.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  Will the Minister inform the House whether there is any question of the local appointments commission having any role regarding an appointment to the college?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  No.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 9, as amended, agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We now come to amendment No. 99 in the names of Deputies Higgins and Ahearn. Amendments Nos. 101 to 106, inclusive, are related. It is proposed, therefore, to take amendments Nos. 99 and 101 to 106, inclusive, together for debate. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I move amendment No. 99:

In page 9, subsection (1), lines 9 [153] and 10, to delete “appointed by the governing body”.

This section states that each college shall have an academic council appointed by the governing body to assist it in the planning, co-ordination, development and overseeing of the educational work of the college. The amendment is in relation to the composition of the governing body, their formulation and appointment. Members on this side of the House felt that the academic council should not be appointed in toto by the governing body.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  While elections are considered appropriate for representatives of staff and students on a governing body — we have already debated this — they are inappropriate in the case of an academic council. This is evident from the functions of the academic council, for example, to design and develop courses of study and appropriate structures to implement them. Such functions require appropriate senior academic staff and their appointment, therefore, must be left with the governing body which are ultimately responsible for the operation of the college.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Will the members of the academic council be handpicked by the governing body? Paragraph (2) (b) states that the majority of members shall be holders of academic appointments within the college and that at least one shall be a registered student of the college. Will these people be handpicked by the governing body?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  No, they will not be handpicked by the governing body. It is my understanding that they will be the professional arm of the institution and will comprise members of the academic staff but, more likely, the heads of certain departments.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  There appears to be a lack of clarity here. While I would go a certain distance with the Minister of State with regard to the difference between [154] electing members to bodies and establishing other bodies, such as an academic council, at the same time we would like to know what is envisaged in relation to the membership of the academic council. Who will pick the members of the council and what criteria will be used? Will it comprise the heads of departments? The Minister of State will note that we have tabled amendments in relation to the membership of the academic council. For example, we suggest that the members “shall be holders of academic appointments within the college” and “elected by the wholetime members of the academic staff” to ensure that they would not be handpicked. What selection process will be used in order to determine who should be members of the academic council?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  As I said, the council will comprise members of the senior academic staff, for example, heads of departments. With regard to the student representatives, these will be selected by the students. I have made that quite clear already. There is no doubt that the governing body, following consultation with the heads of departments, will finalise the make-up of the academic council. It is envisaged, however, that it will comprise heads of departments.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  May I ask the Minister of State if he would be willing to take another look at this matter before Report Stage so that he can be more specific?

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I have a major difficulty in relation to the use of the word “appointed” in the section which states that “each college shall have an academic council appointed by the governing body ...”— the phrase Deputy Higgins is seeking to have deleted. It seems that if the staff are to be represented on the academic council it is only fair and just that this be done by way of universal suffrage. It is undemocratic that the governing body should nominate heads of departments to be members of the academic council as the members of the academic staff would not have a voice.

I have always had a difficulty with what [155] could be termed selective democracy. Therefore, I ask the Minister of State to explain why the Department consider it more appropriate to include this provision whereby people will be nominated rather than elected by way of universal suffrage. Members of the academic staff should have a vote and the right to put their names forward. It seems that this amounts to a negation of democracy in its true sense.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Subsection (2) (a) states:

Each governing body may by regulations made under this section provide for the membership and terms of office of the academic council.

We have already discussed the question of staff and student representation on the governing body and it was agreed that it was appropriate they should be elected. However, I felt this would be inappropriate in the case of the academic council for the reason that it will be their function to design and develop study courses and recommended appropriate structures. The section states that it will be a matter for the governing body to decide on the question of membership.

Deputy O'Shea raised the question of universal suffrage but it would not be appropriate to select the members of the academic council by way of universal suffrage. It has already been agreed that it is appropriate that the members of the governing body should be elected and that body in turn, following consultation, will select the members of the academic council. I go along with Deputy Higgins's suggestion and I will clarify the matter on Report Stage and specify how the members of the academic council will be selected.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 100 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 101 has already been discussed.

[156]Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Would I be in order in moving amendment No.——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  While the Deputy could move it he may not discuss it as it has already been discussed. This does not deprive the Deputy of the right to move it and have the question put, if he so desires.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I would like to move amendment No. 100 in the name of Deputy Mac Giolla——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  In respect of Deputy Mac Giolla's amendment, unless he has empowered the Deputy——

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Do I need the permission of Deputy Mac Giolla to move it?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Yes.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  May I take it that I cannot assume that he would like me to move it on his behalf?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Instructions are not provided for. I thought the Deputy was referring to his own amendment, amendment No. 101.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  There is a meritorious amendment in the name of Deputy Mac Giolla.

Amendments Nos. 101 to 106, inclusive, not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We now come to amendment No. 107. Amendments Nos. 109 and 110 are related. It is proposed, therefore, for discussion purposes, that we take amendments Nos. 107, 109 and 110 together.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 107:

In page 9, subsection (3) (a), line 23, to delete “implement” and substitute “assist in implementing”.

[157] It has been represented to me that the academic council should assist in implementing rather than implement the study courses referred to in subsection (3) (a) and similarly assist in implementing any regulations which may be made by the governing body under subsection (3) (j). Amendments Nos. 107 and 110 replace the word “implement” with the words “assist in implementing” in these two subsections, respectively. It was also pointed out to me that the governing bodies should implement the academic regulations made under subsection (3) (e). Accordingly, amendment No. 109 removes the words “and implementing” from that subsection.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 108:

In page 9, subsection (3) (d), lines 33 and 34, to delete “, subject to such requirements as the Minister may from time to time specify,”.

This amendment removes the reference to requirements specified by the Minister in relation to an academic council's function of making recommendations to the governing body for the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students from a college. This is in line with the intention referred to in dealing with section 5 of removing involvement of the Minister wherever possible in order to allow colleges maximum autonomy in managing their affairs.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 109:

In page 9, subsection (3) (e), line 38, to delete “and implementing”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 110:

In page 10, subsection (3) (j), line 3, [158] to delete “implement” and substitute “assist in implementing”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 10, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 110a:

In page 10, subsection (1), lines 20 to 26, to delete paragraph (a) and substitute the following:

“(1) (a) A college may appoint such and so many persons to be its officers (in addition to the Director) and servants as, subject to the approval of the Minister given with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, the governing body from time to time thinks proper.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 111 and 112 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 113 in Deputy O'Shea's name has already been discussed. If the Deputy wishes he is entitled to move amendment No. 113.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I move amendment No. 113:

In page 10, subsection (1) (b), line 29, to delete “determined” and substitute “approved”.

I thought the Minister had intimated that he was in favour of that amendment.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  It is the same as amendment No. 98.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Yes, but on amendment No. 98 the Chair listened carefully and was not convinced that the Minister had established that he was absolutely accepting them.

[159]Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  Might I have that position clarified by the Minister?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I said I would examine the matter between now and Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I move amendment No. 114:

In page 10, subsection (1) (c), line 34, after “college” to insert “and one member of the academic council”.

This provision concerns appointments. Section 11 (1) (c) says:

In the case of academic appointments such procedures shall provide that the selection board shall consist mainly of appropriately qualified academics and shall include the Director of the college.

The House will notice that in the subsection, as drafted, the phraseology used is “appropriate qualified academics”; it does not actually say members of the academic council; it means people deemed to be suitable to make such selections, presumably, people with degrees, diplomas or third level qualifications who would be generally recognised as being qualified within the term “academia”. We are seeking here to be somewhat more specific. We are saying that, in addition to the director of the college and in addition to appropriately qualified academics, there would be one member of that academic council appointed to the selection board, again for the purposes of continuity.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I am satisfied that the existing provision that selection boards shall consist mainly of appropriately qualified academics adequately covers the need in this area. Consequently, I am not prepared to prescribe further for the composition of the selection board.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  While not wishing to detain the House or to bring about a vote unnecessarily, we have a more specific [160] idea of who exactly should serve on the selection board, or what should be its composition, numerically in addition to what categories of people the Minister may have in mind. The Minister contends that the subsection, as at present drafted, is adequate. I should like to know who exactly, or what type of academics, the Minister has in mind.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  In the spirit of goodwill that obtains in the House at present I will agree to examine that for Report Stage as well.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 115 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 115a. is in the Minister's name. Amendment No. 115a. is consequential on amendment No. 125a. and amendments Nos. 127 and 128 are alternatives to amendment No. 115a. Accordingly, amendments Nos. 115a., 125a., 127 and 128 may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 115a.:

In page 10, subsection (2), line 35, to delete “subsection (8) and to”

This is a drafting amendment consequent on amendment No. 125a. which proposes the deletion of subsection (8).

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 116 is in the names of Deputies O'Shea and Mac Giolla. Amendment No. 125 is related and amendment No. 124 is an alternative to amendment No. 125. Accordingly, amendments Nos. 116, 124 and 125 may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  In view of assurances which I understand were given the Teachers Union of Ireland on matters that arose out of these amendments, I do not now have any particular problem. I [161] will wait until the Minister moves later amendments relating to these areas.

Amendment No. 116 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 116a is in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 119 and 120 are alternatives. Therefore, I propose that amendments Nos. 116a, 119 and 120 be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 116a:

In page 10, lines 43 to 50, to delete subsection (3) and substitute the following:

“(3) A college shall not remove or suspend any of its officers (including the Director) from office without the consent of the Minister.”.

This is a standard provision in legislation and has been included consequent on the changes made in amendment No. 96a which provides that a college shall not remove or suspend any of its officers from office without the consent of the Minister. This provision is in line with that of appointments which can only be made by the college with the approval of the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I might inform Deputy O'Shea that acceptance of amendment No. 116a will mean that amendments Nos. 117, 118, 119 and 120 may not be moved.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Before Deputy O'Shea gives his final assent to that may I draw his attention to amendment No. 120 in my name and that of Deputy T. Ahearn which seeks to insert, in page 10, subsection (3), line 48, after “governing body” the words “and after such officer or servant has been given a chance to defend himself/herself”. Rather than just a straight suspension we are seeking to enshrine there a fundamental right, that is to have one's case heard, the right to advocate one's viewpoint, the right to [162] defend one's actions before being suspended. That is an elementary human right that any individual confronted by possible suspension should have, to at least be allowed defend himself or herself.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  Certainly I would support that principle of natural justice just outlined by Deputy Higgins. I should like to refer to one matter briefly, that is the definition of officers and servants of the college. I would have to say I consider the term “servant” to be offensive; it is Dickensian, Victorian and is the type of terminology that should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Would the Minister explain why it is necessary to retain such terminology in a Bill such as this? Obviously we want to give the colleges as modern, a “go ahead” an image as possible. Referring to employees of colleges as servants in legislation appears to me to be moving back into a bygone age.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Like the Deputy, I would not be too pleased with the term “officers and servants” but it is necessary for the purposes of the Superannuation Act. With regard to the other point made by Deputy Jim Higgins, I appreciate what the Deputy seeks to do in his amendment No. 120. I should say that the suspension issue will be elaborated further on Report Stage also.

Mr. Higgins:  We shall have a very long Report Stage.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  We had already so decided before the Deputy's intervention.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  As regards an earlier reference by Deputy O'Shea to discussions between the Teachers Union of Ireland, the Minister and his officials, arising from which and from subsequent correspondence certain assurances were given to the Teachers Union of Ireland, we are dealing here with the whole contract of employment of employees of vocational education committees, now regional technical colleges and so on, [163] which is quite complex and involves various Acts relating to their contracts, superannuation provisions and so on. Perhaps it would be helpful if the Minister could put on the record of the House the assurances which have been given to the Teachers Union of Ireland in relation to this area, or perhaps he could put on the record the correspondence which has been given to the TUI from which I understand commitments were given that new amendments would be introduced on Report Stage dealing with the various aspects of the employment issue which had been of some concern in the TUI prior to that.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I can confirm to the Deputy that, as with other groups, consultation has taken place with the TUI and as a result of those consultations they were quite satisfied that they were being provided for in this Bill. However, the fundamental issue on staff is that the Bill provides they cannot be less well off than under existing employment. I am glad to be able to report that to the Deputy.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I find myself at a loss at this stage. Obviously, the amendments before us are very important and crucial in relation to the staffs of the colleges. A very pertinent point was raised by Deputy Higgins in relation to natural justice. The Minister has given us an assurance on that. In relation to existing staff, under the new arrangement I understand that their conditions cannot be any worse than they are at present. Does this apply categorically to new staff? In other words, will the same pay and conditions in every sense apply to staff recruited after the establishment date? Is there any weakness or any possibility that new staff would not be as well catered for as existing staff? I would like a definite answer to that.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I have clarified the position as regards existing staff and I assure the Deputy that new staff will be equally catered for.

[164]Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  On a small point of clarification, I understand from what the Minister says that staffs of the colleges will not be worse off than they are under their existing employment conditions, but will existing employees of vocational education committees and new staff also carry with them into the colleges conditions in relation to the review of their employment conditions which are no less favourable than those they have at present?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Yes, that is the position.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  One final point of clarification—the conciliation and arbitration system as it exists for the colleges at present involves the IVEA as representing the employers' side, so to speak, in the context of the colleges. Will this position remain following the establishment date of the new regime in the colleges when this Bill has passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas and become law? Basically I am seeking clarity about how the Minister envisages the conciliation and arbitration scheme will be put in place.

The other point relates to the Minister's response to me on the matter of “officers” and “servants”. Do the Government intend to look at the superannuation legislation with a view to deleting this insulting and archaic anomaly?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy O'Shea, it would not be the responsibility of the Minister for Education if such a move were contemplated and I do not know whether the Minister of State is disposed to answering it. That would be the responsibility of some other Department and some other legislation.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  That is correct. As I said, it is because of the superannuation Act that that term is in the Bill. It is similar to the position we discussed earlier in regard to the chairperson. At this stage I cannot indicate what legislation may or may not be introduced to alter that. The conciliation and arbitration scheme can be amended and the [165] employer position will be clarified in the amending scheme but that is not appropriate to the legislation at present.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  When the Minister talks about an amending scheme is he talking about regulations or orders introduced by the Minister that would arise from this legislation or is he talking about further legislation which would have to come before the House?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  No.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 117 to 120, inclusive, not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Amendment No. 121 in the name of an tAire. Amendment No. 122 is an alternative and amendment No. 123 is related. I propose, therefore, for discussion purposes to take amendments Nos. 121, 122 and 123 together.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 121:

In page 11, subsection (4), line 2, to delete “teaching” and substitute “research”.

This amendment to subsection (4) substitues research assistantships for teaching assistantships in response to a concern expressed that the original clause sought to introduce a new grade of “cut-price” teachers. This was not the intention. The subsection is to make arrangements for the offering of services on a temporary, part-time or contract basis and would mainly relate to research and development activities. The term “research assistant” is therefore, I think more appropriate to what is envisaged.

This amendment will meet the concerns of Deputy O'Shea in amendment No. 122 and Deputies Higgins and Ahearn in amendment No. 123. I will not therefore, be accepting those amendments.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  What the Minister is proposing [166] here is progressive and I thank him for coming a long way down the road to meeting the concerns that were expressed here. These teaching apprenticeships as previously defined in the Bill are now to be amended in the new term “research apprenticeships”. Do they relate solely to college staff, or when we get into the area of research and development as is provided for under section 5 of the Bill, is there provision for extra staff to be employed as part of campus companies which can be formed under the legislation to deal with consultancy research and development and so on? Where exactly do research apprenticeships fit into the scheme of things? Are we talking here about students of the college becoming research apprentices? What in general is the concept of assistantship about here?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Amendment No. 123 in my name and that of Deputy Theresa Ahearn reads: “In page 11, subsection (4), line 6, after “Finance” to insert “and such persons shall not be used to replace academic staff.” We are talking here to fellowships, assistantships and so on, and the Minister of State has said we are talking about staff on temporary, part-time and contract basis.

Deputy Ahearn and I are seeking an assurance from the Minister that these will be ex-quota staff who will not in any way infringe upon the existing staff complement. In other words, we do not want a new category of staff to be taken in who will infringe on the existing staff and be used to replace staff. They should, so to speak, be added value additional staff who will be brought in on a part-time or contract basis to do fellowships or carry out additional research. They should not be used to replace existing academic staff.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  The people involved in research assistantship will include students and a wide variety of people from industry, They will assist with college-based research and will be regarded as ex-quota staff within the overall budget for the college.

[167]Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I take that as clarification that these people will in no way be used, so to speak, as cheap lecturers; that they will be completely removed from the budget allocated to the college each year.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I clarified that point.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 122 not moved.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I move amendment No. 123:

In page 11, subsection (4), line 6, after “Finance” to insert “and such persons shall not be used to replace academic staff”.

Am I right in construing from the Minister of State's remarks that he accepts that these will be ex-quota staff?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I have already clarified the matter.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  Is the Minister accepting the amendment?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I have clarified that they will be ex-quota staff within the overall budget for the college.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 123a:

In page 11, subsection (5), lines 8 to 10 to delete all words from and including “officer” in line 8 down to the end of the subsection and substitute “of its officers or servants.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 124 not moved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 124a:

In page 11, subsection (6), lines 12 and 13, to delete “appointed to it or deemed to be appointed to it” and substitute “of the college”.

[168] Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 125 not moved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 125a:

In page 11, lines 22 to 28, to delete subsection (8) and substitute the following:

“(8) The Local Government (Superannuation) Act, 1980 shall apply to officers and servants (including the Director) of a college under this Act as it applies to officers and servants of a vocational education committee.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 126 to 128, inclusive, not moved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 128a:

In page 11, lines 29 to 31, to delete subsection (9).

Amendment agreed to.

Section 11, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment No. 129 not moved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 130:

In page 11, subsection (1) (a), line 34, to delete “or part of an institution”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 131:

In page 11, subsection (1) (a), line 35, after “this Act” to insert “or specified in section 3 (1) (b) of this Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 132 not moved.

[169]Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 132a:

In page 11, subsection (1) (a), lines 40 to 43, to delete all words from and including “and” in line 40 down to and including “committee” in line 43.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 133 not moved.

Mr. O'Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I move amendment No. 134:

In page 11, subsection (1), lines 44 to 52, to delete paragraph (b).

This amendment seeks to delete section 12 (1) (b) which deals with the provisions in relation to existing staff. I have already raised this issue with the Minister and in view of the assurances given by him at that stage I will not press my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 134a:

In page 11, subsection (1) (b), lines 48 to 52, to delete all words from and including “in” in line 48 down to the end of the paragraph and substitute “who is designated by the Minister for employment by the college shall, with effect from the establishment date, become and be an officer or servant of the college as appropriate.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 135 not moved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 136:

In page 11, subsection (1), between lines 52 and 53, to insert the following:

“(c) A person who, at the commencement of this Act, is employed as the Principal or the Director of an institution specified in section 3 (1) (b) of this Act shall, if such person so consents, be appointed by the vocational education committee to be [170] Head of one of the schools established by that provision.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 137:

In page 11, subsection (1) (c), line 53, to delete “Subject to subsection (2),”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 137 (a):

In page 11, subsection (1) (c), lines 53 and 54, to delete “appointed or deemed to have been appointed under this subsection” and substitute “to whom subsection (1) applies”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 138 not moved.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 138 (a):

In page 12, subsection (1) (d), lines 10 and 11, to delete “a person appointed or deemed to have been appointed under this subsection” and substitute “any such person”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 139 to 141, inclusive, not moved.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I move amendment No. 142:

In page 12, subsection (2) (a), line 18, after “consultation” to insert “and agreement”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  I move amendment No. 142 (a):

In page 12, subsection (2) (a), lines 21 and 22, to delete “who are appointed or deemed to be appointed [171] to a college under subsection (1)” and substitute “to whom subsection (1) applies”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 12, as amended, agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  We now come to amendment No. 143 in the names of Deputies Higgins and Ahearn. Amendment No. 146 is cognate and I propose, therefore, for discussion purposes to take amendments Nos. 143 and 146 le chéile.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  I move amendment No. 143.

In page 12, subsection (1), line 31, to delete “college” and substitute “governing body”.

This amendment proposes to delete the word “college” and substitute the words “governing body” in section 13 (1). The section would then read: “The governing body shall, on or before the 1st day of March in each year, prepare and submit to the vocational education committee in such format as may be determined by the Minister from time to time, operational programmes for the next two following academic years (in this section referred to as “the programmes”) together with the relevant budget as proposed by the college for the following financial year”. We discussed this issue on an earlier section and we got an assurance from the Minister in relation to the participation by the vocational education committees. We accepted the spirit of that assurance. Deputy Ahearn and I believe that the word “college” is too loose. Earlier sections provide that the college shall consist of a conglomerate of various groups, composite bodies and so on. We believe that, from the point of view of a compact unit which at the same time will be fully representative of all the interests, [172] it would be better to use the term “governing body” rather than the word “college” which is a looser, broader and a more amorphous term.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  I support the points made by my colleague, Deputy Higgins, on this amendment. We tabled it from the point of view of clarifications—after all, the governing body will prepare the report. As Deputy Higgins said, the word “college” is too loose. We hope, in the interests of clarification, that the Minister will accept this amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  It is almost 5 p.m. at which stage I am required to put the question. However, the Minister of State may wish to make a brief comment.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Due to the time constraints and in the spirit of goodwill that has existed throughout the afternoon, I accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Question put: “That amendments 145 and 149 and the amendments set down by the Minister for Education and not disposed of other than amendments 159, 182, 186, 187 and 189 are hereby made to the Bill; in respect of each of the sections undisposed of and the section or, as appropriate, the section as amended is hereby agreed to; that the First and Second Schedules, as amended, and the Third Schedule are hereby agreed to and that the Title, as amended, is hereby agreed to and that the Committee accordingly reports that it has considered the Bill and has made amendments thereto and has amended the Title to read as follows: an Act to provide for the organisation and development of regional technical and other colleges to define their functions and to modify the provisions of section 7 of the Vocational Education (Amendment) Act, 1944, and to provide for other matters connected with the foregoing”.

Ahern, Dermot.
Andrews, David.
Aylward, Liam.
Barrett, Michael.
Brady, Vincent.
Brennan, Mattie.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Burke, Raphael P.
Calleary, Seán.
Clohessy, Peadar.
Collins, Gerard.
Connolly, Ger.
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullimore, Séamus.
Davern, Noel.
Dempsey, Noel.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fahey, Jackie.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Flood, Chris.
Flynn, Pádraig.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Harney, Mary.
Hillery, Brian.
Hilliard, Colm.
Hyland, Liam.
Jacob, Joe.
Kelly, Laurence.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael P.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
Lenihan, Brian.
Leonard, Jimmy.
Leyden, Terry.
Lyons, Denis.
Martin, Micheál.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, Jim.
McEllistrim, Tom.
Molloy, Robert.
Morley, P.J.
Nolan, M.J.
Noonan, Michael J.
(Limerick West).
O'Connell, John.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Leary, John.
O'Rourke, Mary.
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Power, Seán.
Quill, Máirín.
Roche, Dick.
Treacy, Noel.
Tunney, Jim.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Woods, Michael.
Wyse, Pearse.

Ahearn, Therese.
Allen, Bernard.
Barry, Peter.
Bell, Michael.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, Richard.
Byrne, Eric.
Connaughton, Paul.
Connor, John.
Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
Cotter, Bill.
Creed, Michael.
Currie, Austin.
D'Arcy, Michael.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Doyle, Joe.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Enright, Thomas W. [175]O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Gerry.
O'Sullivan, Toddy.
Pattison, Séamus.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerry.
Ryan, Seán.
Farrelly, John V.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
FitzGerald, Garret.
Flaherty, Mary.
Flanagan, Charles.
Foxe, Tom.
Garland, Roger.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Harte, Paddy.
Higgins, Jim.
Hogan, Philip.
Kavanagh Liam.
Kemmy, Jim.
McCartan, Pat.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Jim.
Moynihan, Michael.
Nealon, Ted.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East). [176]Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick J.
Spring, Dick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Taylor, Mervyn.
Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Yates, Ivan.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  When is it proposed to take Fourth Stage of the Bill?

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  On Tuesday.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins  This is very important. The Chair will recall that on the Order of Business during the past couple of months we have been pressing for the enactment of this legislation. Now we have discovered that a decision has been made that there will be a time lapse— and this is being confirmed—between Committee Stage and Report Stage. We want to know, in relation to this importand Bill, who is calling the shots. Is it the Fianna Fáil county councils who came en masse to Dublin today? Is it the ghosts of former Ministers for Education or is it the Minister?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The question now is when the Fourth Stage of this Bill will be taken. It cannot give rise to debate. This is a question to the Minister of State and the Whips have to decide. That is the procedure.

Mr. Aylward: Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  It will be taken on 24 June, subject to agreement between the Whips.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  Is that a guarantee?

Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 24 June 1992.


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