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 Header Item Departmental Publications (Continued)
 Header Item Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad]: Order for Report Stage
 Header Item Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 824 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney] Nobody in my Department is being paid anything extra for this and we are not bringing in any extra staff for it. People are doing it as part of their function within the Department to inform farmers as best we can about the changes in agrifood which are positive and encouraging. If we were not to publish e-newsletters for farmers to access, we would be rightly criticised for not using technology to its maximum effect. At the National Ploughing Championships last year and this year we asked farmers to sign up to the database on a voluntary basis in order that they could get this information, and thousands of them did so. There is interest from my clients, the farmers, in getting this information. They are getting it at no extra cost to the taxpayer. It provides good value for money and interesting reading for many farmers who want to understand what is happening in the Department.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív We all agree with the idea of informing the public. However, are these newsletters political propaganda or informing the public? I have a very simple, specific question. Two newsletters were put out in October. How many pictures of the Minister and the Minister of State appeared in the newsletters?

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes It must be upsetting the Deputy.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív How many pictures in total were in the two newsletters?

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes We will go back and count them for the Deputy.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have no idea. I trust my Department to put these newsletters together. It is my job to be the political face of Irish agriculture and I have no intention of shying away from that. It is my job to encourage, inspire and lead people in an ambitious new direction in terms of building an industry. That is working and it is working on the back of a plan that, to be fair, the previous Government prepared, namely, Food Harvest 2020, which we have built on and are implementing. It is nonsense to suggest I should shy away from that because it is somehow perceived as party political. I spend most weeks travelling the country talking farmers and encouraging them, and introducing new policy to help build the industry. We will continue to do that and I will continue to do that as long as I am in this position.

Part of any newsletter will give coverage to what we are doing. If the Deputy dismisses that as party politics, that is fine, but I do not see it as party politics. I see it as me doing my job as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Similarly, it is the job of the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Hayes, to represent and advocate for the sectors for which he is responsible. If we can do it at no additional cost to the Department and make it interesting to the many farmers who want to get this newsletter, that is a positive thing.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I will give the Minister the information. There were 11 pictures in the two newsletters, seven of which featured the Minister and four of which featured the Minister of State. That means 11 out of 11 featured one of the two Ministers. It would appear that the Minister's opinion is that nothing happens in the Department of interest that does not have the Ministers in it.

Has the Minister or his Department consulted the Standards in Public Office Commission about the appropriateness of this newsletter in its present form? At what level is the draft signed off in the Department before it is presented to the Minister?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I trust the corporate affairs division in my Department to put together a newsletter that is non-party political but unapologetically advocates for our sector and informs people of what we are doing. I am involved in practically everything the Department does that is new and is newsworthy. Of course I am because I am the head of the Department. I do not see why I should shy away from that or be apologetic for it.

This year has been an extraordinary year for agriculture. We have had to deal with a horsemeat crisis and a fodder crisis. We have designed and delivered a new Common Agricultural Policy and a new Common Fisheries Policy. We have had a great summer for grass growth. We have had strong pricing, particularly on the dairy side. Many positive things are happening. As I said earlier, exports this year will be close to €10 billion. Two and a half years ago that was considerably below €8 billion. Farmers want to know about that and they want to see that their political advocate for this growth and expansion plan is out there advocating for them. That is all I am doing in this newsletter

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív Will the Minister answer the question?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am confident there are no issues here.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I asked the Minister two very specific questions.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Let the Minister speak.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney If the Deputy wants to challenge that with SIPO, he is more than welcome to do so.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I asked the Minister if he asked SIPO.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That concludes-----

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív My second question was the level in the Department the version the Minister signs off is at.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt We are out of time now.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív The Minister knows the procedure as well as I do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That concludes Question Time.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív By the way, I will pick up on the Minister's suggestion about SIPO.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad]: Order for Report Stage

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
“(3) The Companies (Amendment) Act 1990 is further amended—
(a) in section 29 by amending subsection (4) to read:
“(4) The functions of an examiner should be performed with the maximum use of the services of the staff and facilities of the company to which he has been appointed to assist him in the performance of his functions, save for exceptional circumstances where the assistance of persons appointed or employed by him for that purpose may be used.”,
(b) in section 29(5) by adding the following sentence:
“, to the proviso to subsection (6), to the Court before which the proceedings is brought, to the value of the work done for the company, its employees, secured creditors and unsecured creditors.”,
(c) in section 29 by adding the following subsection (6) after subsection (5):
“(6) A nominated examiner must provide an estimate of the remuneration, costs and expenses of the examiner to the Court when presenting the petition.”.”.

I compliment the Minister on choosing to fast-track this element of the overall companies consolidation legislation, which is overdue and needed. I appreciate the urgency the Minister has afforded to this Bill.

  I have consulted very widely with the SME sector and particularly with the small number of companies that carry out examinership. We have a very small pool of people with the expertise, and as the Minister knows, it is an extremely costly process. Part of the purpose of the legislation is to try to reduce cost, reduce the jurisdiction, and afford the opportunity to smaller companies to move from the assumed and normal practice of applying for examinership in the High Court and moving it into the Circuit Court. I do not dispute that the likelihood is that by moving the jurisdiction, legal fees can be reduced and can be contained to some extent. The difficulty is that the vast bulk of the cost of examinership is not the legal fees involved but rather the examinership fees themselves. This is proving very off-putting to all companies, especially small and medium-sized companies, in applying for examinership.

  The Minister will be well aware of another problem. The majority of small accountancy firms do not have the skillset to carry out examinership which is why such a small pool of people are involved. To highlight the importance of this to the real economy and the Minister's agenda of job creation, 60% of those employed in this country are employed in the indigenous SME sector.


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