McDowell, Derek

Wednesday, 28 May 2003

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 173 No. 5

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Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Bill 2003: Committee Stage.

When is it intended to enact the Bill? Will the entire Bill come into force at the same time?More Button

When will the audit requirements take effect?More Button

I appreciate that. Is it intended to enact the legislation within a matter of months rather than years?More Button

I do not agree with Senator Leyden; this is a critical point in the Bill. As it is about regulating accountants, if we do not define the term “accountant”, at the very least the Bill can be evaded sim...More Button

Unlike Senator O'Toole and not having been a member of the audit review group, I still do not understand the cogent argument against simply requiring a person to be a member of one of the groups in or...More Button

How commonplace is this?More Button

How commonplace is it?More Button

On a point of clarification, section 6 sets out the membership of the company, because this is a company limited by guarantee. There are a dozen or so bodies, mostly commercial bodies or State bodies,...More Button

I am genuinely confused about the relationship between sections 6 and 11. Section 6 sets out the eight designated bodies and then there is a catch-all which refers to the prescribed bodies which are b...More Button

It sets out the membership of the company.More Button

Section 11 sets out the membership of the board. The membership of the board includes a representative of each of the designated bodies referred to in section 6, of which there are currently eight, pl...More Button

Is the Minister of State increasing it by one?More Button

I wish to reiterate the earlier point I made. The consumer protection element of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, IFRSA, should be represented on the board. While it is right to say ...More Button

I do not see why it does not. If we are looking to regulate the accountancy bodies effectively and to ensure their disciplinary procedures are operated in the interests of consumers—More Button

We are giving a specific power to the supervisory body to investigate whether a member of the public or a company was properly treated by an accountant. There is clearly a strong consumer protection e...More Button

Is one not still stuck with the cap of 15 members?More Button

A later amendment, which we have already discussed, states that the prescribed bodies must agree among themselves who should be their representatives. If they do not do so, it would be wise to provide...More Button

What if they do not agree? It It seems that a default mechanism appointment is required if there is no agreement among the six bodies that exist at present.More Button

I am not entirely clear on section 8. It gives extremely wide-ranging powers to the authority to prescribe what should be the accountancy bodies' regulatory and disciplinary procedure. I know that the...More Button

The articles of association of the company have to be set up with the consent of the Minister. I accept that this does not give him direct power to set out what should be the disciplinary procedure. D...More Button

Deputy Michael Ahern is the Minister of State. He should anticipate everything.More Button

The reason I am making this point is that other parts of the Bill presume that the disciplinary procedures that are currently in place, including the disciplinary committee and the appeal mechanism, s...More Button

It can do almost anything. It can go to any of the prescribed bodies and tear up its existing disciplinary rules or constitution or refuse to recognise it.More Button

I am not objecting to that. I believe it is reasonable.More Button

That is what I wanted to know. Question put and agreed to. SECTION 9. Question proposed: “That section 9 stand part of the Bill.”More Button

The question of what exactly is meant by the word, “standards” has been causing some grief to the accountancy bodies. It is used in section 9(2)(f) which lists one of the functions of the supervisory ...More Button

Is that because of the extra director?We can push this a little far at times, Sir.More Button

This section sets out the funding mechanism for the authority, 40% of which will be paid for by the State through a grant from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the remainder appo...More Button

Perhaps my confusion arises out of the fact that I do not totally understand the distinction between section 23 and section 24. No doubt we will come to that in due course. Since the funding mechanism...More Button

I accept the clarification by Senator O'Toole. It is sensible. I am not sure that, on the face of it, the Bill is clear in this area. Section 24 requires that there should be a public interest element...More Button

Not section 23. The normal review of the mechanisms will be—More Button

And the annual budget? The same sum or a bit more?More Button

The memo says something about the Department providing a figure such as €600,000. That was the estimate.More Button

I always think it is a good idea to allow bodies that are set up on a statutory basis to retain any money they have left over. To provide for a clawback, saying in effect that money not spent in one y...More Button

This is a point about which the accountancy bodies are agitated. I understand their point as I referred to it some minutes ago. We may unwittingly leave the supervisory authority open to becoming a co...More Button

It would be possible to address the substance of the amendment.More Button

The accountancy bodies are concerned with the definition of “the public interest” and with the discretion of the supervisory authority, which seems unlimited, to determine that it should carry out an ...More Button

Is there any reason in principle why we cannot set that out in a subsection of the Bill?More Button

Can the Minister at least provide that the authority would consult with the prescribed bodies even if it does not say that it will refer to their disciplinary procedures? That is not too onerous.More Button

I can conceive of circumstances where the authority might want to—More Button

Why not? It would not kill the authority.More Button

If the authority still has the power to investigate, requiring it to consult with the bodies in the first instance is hardly that onerous. It can simply ignore what they say. I cannot see that any har...More Button

The subsection allows the supervisory authority, on its own initiative or following a complaint, to start an investigation without any requirement that there should a prior investigation by the accoun...More Button

It does not have to act reasonably; it merely has to determine what is in the public interest and proceed from there.More Button

If the Minister of State does not come any distance towards us on this point, I will signal my intention to put down a Report Stage amendment on this matter. The basic principle is that this is an ove...More Button

I am not sure if I am on the right section, but perhaps the Minister of State might be of assistance. I am aware that this section requires the High Court to confirm certain payments – fines, effectiv...More Button

Perhaps I could ask at this stage whether it is the view of the Minister of State – I presume this is done on legal advice – that the supervisory authority could not impose fines without confirmation ...More Button

With regard to the supervisory authority as opposed to the disciplinary procedures, is it the Minister of State's advice that it cannot impose a fine? Section 28 deals with the authority fining accoun...More Button

Is there a reason for that?More Button

We are told the High Court has to do it.More Button

It cannot be done by the authority.More Button

Is it clear that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the supervisory authority? I presume it would have to be added to the list of bodies covered by the Freedom of Information Act 1997 an...More Button

Is it intended that it will apply?More Button

While it would be reasonable for the actual operation of the authority to be subject to the FOI Act, if files dealing with individual cases were to be accessible under it this would run counter to the...More Button

We have a genuine problem in this respect. The accountancy bodies currently impose fines on errant members. I understand such fines are not high and are imposed in most cases following an internal dis...More Button

Will the review take place before the Bill is brought before the Dáil?More Button

Are they big family businesses?More Button

I endorse what Senator O'Toole said. It is always a little difficult to insert sections into Acts. My understanding of this section is that it only applies to large private companies where the balance...More Button

I know the committee is in place to protect the public and shareholders. However, private companies deal and trade and the people with whom they deal and trade need some protection. I know the committ...More Button

Are they large companies? More Button

The Senator will not get any now.More Button

I could hardly have put it better myself.More Button

I would not disagree with anything Senator Leyden said which was all perfectly fair and reasonable. On the face of it, the requirement in the Bill is very simple. It simply states directors must sign ...More Button

On face value, one would be inclined to say, “Maybe so.” Although I do not have any evidence, I suspect that in smaller companies and family business the board, as such, works less effectively in that...More Button

Is not the difficulty that charities, in particular, go for high profile directors, big names, men and women who are well known and which they only really want as a rubber-stamp? They do not want them...More Button

Last Updated: 10/09/2010 14:33:26 First Page Previous Page Page of 13 Next Page Last Page