Wednesday, 24 October 2007
The legislative priorities for my Department are formulated in the context of the implementation of the programme for Government. The following are my current legislative priorities for the Thirtieth Dáil.
The Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 has been published. The purpose of this Bill is to regularise the position in Ireland as regards the lending of copyright works through the public library system in order to bring Irish legislation into full compliance with the EU Directive on Rental and Lending (92/100/EEC). This Bill has passed all Stages in the Seanad and is now awaiting Second Stage in the Dáil. The Control of Exports Bill 2007 has also been published. Its purpose is to update existing legislative provision for control of exports, which dates from 1983, and to bring Ireland into line with best international practice. This Bill has been passed by the Seanad and completed Second Stage in the Dáil on 4 October last.
As part of the Government's commitment under the partnership agreement Towards 2016, two priority Bills, the employment law compliance Bill and the employment agency regulation Bill, are being prepared by my Department. With reference to the employment law compliance Bill, it is my intention to bring a draft scheme of the Bill to Government shortly with a view to having the Bill published by the end of the year. I am considering the final elements of proposals for the draft scheme of a Bill to regulate the employment agency sector. It had been agreed under the partnership agreement Towards 2016 but the social partners wanted some changes made to it and that has delayed the Bill. I intend to submit a memorandum to Government very shortly seeking approval to have the Bill drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government. While I am anxious that the Bill be published as soon as possible, the date of publication will depend on the date it is submitted to the Attorney General's office and on the priorities agreed with that office.
In regard to the Company Law Consolidation and Reform Bill, the company law review group, CLRG, was established in 2000 following the Government's decision to implement the recommendations in the report of the working group on company law compliance and Enforcement. The CLRG was set up by statute to advise the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on companies' legislation and, more specifically, to promote enterprise, simplify legislation and enhance corporate governance. The proposed legislation will consolidate the existing 13 Companies Acts, dating from 1963 to 2006, as well as other regulations and common law provisions relating to the incorporation and operation of companies, into a single Act, comprising 1,263 sections approximately. It may be necessary for a special committee of the House to deal with it, with all that entails in terms of man hours and so on. That will form much of the activity for the Oireachtas.
I am glad that the two priority Bills are the employment agency regulation Bill and the employment law compliance Bill. I urge the Minister to give those priority in the context of the priority question I tabled in regard to it. I am certainly very eager that they be addressed.
The company law consolidation and reform Bill is extremely important. It is important that the law is clear, not just for directors, members or shareholders but also for employees. It is a major undertaking and I am eager that we should facilitate a committee to examine it in detail and make further improvements even at a prepublication stage and thus expedite the passage of the Bill. If the Minister leaves behind a good codified company law consolidation Act with some reforms he will have left a reasonable legacy.
There is merit in what the Deputy has said and it is constructive. While the Parliamentary Counsel can begin drafting the Bill, it would do no harm to set up a committee to devise a general scheme. I will discuss this with the Whips. The committee dealing with enterprise would normally have enough on its agenda, but I will initiate discussions with the spokespersons to see what the best methodology would be.