Ryan, Brendan

Thursday, 12 March 1998

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 154 Nbr. 13


Order of Business.

We are a very democratic group and never do anything without consulting each other.More Button

I will not comment on other species, although I am tempted. I support Senator Manning. There are few things which are more infuriating in politics than breaches of the implicit type of trust whi...More Button

My request is that the issue of An Bhlascaod Mór would be resolved before it and other islands are lost to developers. I hope the Leader can provide information on that.More Button

The Senator could be wrong.More Button

Central Bank Bill, 1997: Second Stage.

If you did not spend any of it you would not need to change it.More Button

An unfortunate accident.More Button

I will oppose the Bill for a variety of reasons. Among others things, it introduces issues which were not discussed or put to the people in the referendum. It has pushed the position of the Europ...More Button

Before moving to the Bill, I would like to reiterate some of the points made by Senator Ross. It is funny that the two of us, who come from very different positions on the spectrum, have similar r...More Button

EMU has not seriously been debated in this country. An entirely redundant debate is taking place in the newspapers which should have taken place in 1992. As I said on the Order of Business last w...More Button

One advantage of our membership of the European Union is the cultural impact of our escape from the shadow of the island which lies between us and the Continent. Although we knew countries such as...More Button

I know more now than I did five years ago about Denmark because of my involvement in various environmental research projects with Danish colleagues. The Danes may grumble, but as was seen yesterda...More Button

There are disadvantages to membership of the EU. This is not an argument for not having joined in the first place; it is just that I am a great believer in examining all the figures. I would have...More Button

It is fascinating to observe successive Ministers for Finance lecture the trade union movement about competitiveness and semi-State companies about the need to cut costs because of the need to be c...More Button

Another downside is the intriguing question of how much was given away in terms of fisheries. I reiterate this point not because I believe history can be rewritten but because I believe the sums s...More Button

We should not allow ourselves be pushed into avoiding debate on the difficult aspects of EMU. I have stated frequently since I returned to this House six months ago that, in every debate on the EU,...More Button

We are now in a position of having no option but to proceed with EMU. However, it is important to state explicitly that it is probably a bad idea and contains economic bad news and a huge capacity...More Button

I could not let the occasion go without referring to the Minister's contribution, which was a wonderful collection of contradictions, even on the issue of EMU. After January 2002 we will be in the...More Button

The Minister indulged in some of the usual Department of Finance speak: “Private sector preparation for possible shocks in the EMU scenario is, like all issues of competitiveness in the marketplace...More Button

The Minister also said: “The most obvious measures to concentrate on are to maintain as much flexibility as possible in their cost base”. I am not a businessman but I am an engineer and have some ...More Button

The Minister also advised businesses to take steps to minimise their exposure to sterling. That is great advice to people who had to suffer an incredibly high exchange rate against sterling and ar...More Button

Having advised all this flexibility the Minister mentioned the Government's commitment to share the benefits of Ireland's EMU participation among all sectors of the workforce. This is a case of wa...More Button

The figure quoted for the value to Irish banks of foreign exchange transactions is about £120 million per year, which they will lose in three years' time, perhaps less. They have promised us...More Button

The problem with this legislation is to do with ideology — not mine, because I am a pragmatist, but the one which has driven most modern free market economics for the past 25 years. The craz...More Button

Now that the craze for deregulation has turned out to be the ideological nonsense which it clearly was, we have a new phase of regulation in which regulators must be independent. This leads to the...More Button

In this pursuit of regulation without democratic control we are given this legislation, which is based on the belief that the more independence which the Governor of the Central Bank has the better...More Button

All through the 1980s the Central Bank led the chorus of demands for slash and burn cuts in public expenditure which, if they had been listened to, would have led to the decimation of our education...More Button

I wonder about the independence of central banks because there is no other institution which is so unaccountable and has so much impact on the marketplace. Even the commercial banks are accountabl...More Button

To whom is the new independent European Central Bank accountable? It is independent of government, the banking sector, the marketplace and the European rate of unemployment? It has a primary functi...More Button

I read this Bill with increasing astonishment. Section 4(5A)(2) states:More Button

With effect from the date of the establishment of the European System of Central Banks, sole authority and responsibility for the performance of any function or duty or the exercise of power confer...More Button

I was not told that in 1992. We were told about a pooling of sovereignty. Sovereignty is defined by democratic accountability. If there is another form of sovereignty in Europe not based on demo...More Button

Experience has shown that when people are put in positions like that, they lose the run of themselves. When there is no one to whom they have to explain themselves outside the confines of their ow...More Button

The Minister treats us to this in great style in his speech. He tells us that the primary objective of the ESCB, which will comprise the ECB and the national central banks, is to maintain price st...More Button

Without prejudice to the objective of price stability, the Treaty requires that the ESCB shall support the general economic policies in the Community with a view to contributing to the objectives o...More Button

I can imagine the Governors of the European Central Bank having long, deep and detailed discussions about the promotion of social cohesion in Europe, just as I can imagine the Board of the Bank of ...More Button

Price stability is a desirable part of the achievement of social cohesion. It is not necessarily a cause and effect relationship as bankers believe. They think the lower the inflation rate the be...More Button

The Minister stated: “In carrying out this function”, this is the function of promoting the wonderful 'We are against sin' objectives, “The ESCB shall act in accordance with the principle of an ope...More Button

I wish to draw attention to the extraordinary deference of the Department of Finance, which accepts that the best it can expect from the Governor of the Central Bank in the future is that he should...More Button

Are they going to be patriotic for the next three years?More Button

It will be a big change if they are.More Button

No. Votáil.More Button

Central Bank Bill, 1997: Committee and Final Stages.

I thank the Minister of State for clearing up my confusion on the double definition. However, why does “Statute” mean “the Statute on the European System of Central Banks” in section 2 and “the Sta...More Button

Is there a reason for the use of “on” and “of”?More Button

I am sorry I missed that.More Button

Section 3 agreed to.More Button

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

Why does the new section 5A(3) of the 1942 Act state “the Governor shall keep the Board informed” but only “may discuss” the matter with the board? Is there a reason to insist on the use of the wor...More Button

Why can it not state “shall discuss”? Why is it contrary to the Maastricht Treaty or the principle of independence for the Governor of the Central Bank to be obliged to discuss what he does in the ...More Button

The explanatory memorandum states “the Governor shall keep the Board informed of, and may discuss with it, the discharge by him of these powers, tasks and duties”. The Governor of the Central Bank...More Button

If the Governor “may” discuss these matters with the board he is not operating with absolute independence. I agree with the Minister of State that the use of the word “shall” might affect some not...More Button

This is a kind of tissue which resembles the sort of institutions which used to be created in South Africa to pretend there was democratic accountability. I am glad the Minister of State has explai...More Button

No, it is not, despite your best efforts. It is only 7.10 p.m. and there are only a few important sections. We might as well pursue this matter a little further.More Button

We are in the extraordinary situation of having an individual, who is not subject to recall except for precisely stated reasons of misconduct, who has a very narrow brief but extraordinary power an...More Button

Perhaps that is the reason two of the more advanced and civilised countries of Europe, Sweden and Denmark, are not joining EMU. They take things like democratic accountability seriously. Openness...More Button

I have permission from the Labour Party to move amendments Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive.More Button

I move amendment No. 1:More Button

In page 5, line 9, after “thereunder” to insert “contributing to the prudential supervision of credit institutions and to the stability of the financial institutions”.More Button

These are sensible amendments. Will the Minister of State explain why he will not accept them?More Button

I move amendment No. 3:More Button

In page 5, line 42, after “Treaty” to insert “and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing the Bank shall have regard to the desirability of attaining a high level of employment and in ...More Button

May I put on the record for future generations that the reason the Members of the Labour Party are not here is that they are celebrating what, in my view, as a left wing Member of the Oireachtas, w...More Button

On Second Stage the Minister of State said that the Maastricht Treaty requires the ESCB to support the general economic policies of the Community with a view to contributing to the objectives of th...More Button

I take a sceptical view that by looking after monetary policy everything else will look after itself. Bankers as much as everybody else need to be reminded that economies are essentially there to ...More Button

I move amendment No. 4: In page 5, between lines 42 and 43, to insert the following:More Button

“(7) Subject to the foregoing provisions of this section and without prejudice to its obligations under the Treaty, the Bank shall act in the interests of the welfare of the people as a whole.”.More Button

This is so innocuous it is difficult to imagine how it could not be acceptable. It is an aspiration. However, when it comes to central bankers, things that are obvious to the rest of us need to be...More Button

This is the substitute section for section 6 of the 1942 Act which provides that, in discharging its functions as part of the European system of central banks, the primary objective of the bank sha...More Button

Why is price stability not synonymous with zero inflation? Everybody accepts that the major role of any central bank includes the supervision and minimisation to the largest degree possible of pric...More Button

Will there be guidelines regarding the European Central Bank? In Britain the Bank of England is given a guideline by the Government about the inflation target and it then does what it deems necessa...More Button

I do not wish to make life difficult for the Minister or the House but that is meaningless. Ireland has a rate of inflation below 2 per cent. If our inflation rate reached the target rate of infla...More Button

Central bankers as a body believe that price stability is the way to achieve all the noble objectives of the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties. They believe that if inflation is kept as low as poss...More Button

It is not defined in the Treaty and I repeatedly made this point during the debate on the Maastricht Treaty. The system will be in operation soon. Decisions will be made in May and they will be i...More Button

This will be my final intervention. The Leas-Chathaoirleach has a way of looking at people which makes them reluctant to pursue matters for too long. It is one of his many fine qualities.More Button

It comes from his family's long involvement in dealing with power.More Button

The real problem is that if external forces generate inflation — for example, if there is another oil crisis — will the European Central Bank do everything to squeeze inflation irrespec...More Button

If there is inflation in Europe because of a major shock from outside the EU, the European Central Bank will not have a timescale or any other objective which it must meet. It can simply state tha...More Button

I move amendment No. 6:More Button

In page 11, after line 30, to insert the following new section:More Button

“21.—(1) The Freedom of Information Act, 1997, shall apply to the Bank as if it stood prescribed pursuant to regulations made by the Minister for Finance for the purposes of paragraph 1(5) of...More Button

(2) This section shall come into operation on the day that is one year from the date of passing of this Act.”. More Button

The obvious question arising from this amendment, is why not? This is a public body as defined by the Freedom of Information Act, which is one of the most innovative pieces of legislation to come o...More Button

I am writing a piece on the Freedom of Information Act and I thank the Minister for telling me when it is to come into force. That saves me some work. The reason these amendments seem appropriate...More Button

The Governor of the Central Bank is becoming a figure of enormous power in our society. That power appears unaccountable, non-transparent, invisible and apparently unguided. It would be a small s...More Button

I have kept my promise to let Members leave before 7.45.More Button

Yes. I find it funny that Members find my determination to raise the issue of family friendly politics amusing.More Button

The Senator obviously thinks it is amusing. I think my family is important and other Members think the same about their families. It is easier for them and for the staff of the House to plan for ...More Button

There is only one issue worth mentioning here, which is the lack of awareness in our society. Not a word of this debate will be mentioned in the media, as has been the case all through the debate ...More Button

The Seanad adjourned at 7.40 until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 13 March 1998.More Button