Seanad Éireann - Volume 186 - 22 March, 2007

Pharmacy Bill 2007: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages.

Amendments Nos. 29 to 31, inclusive, not moved.

SECTION 25.

Question proposed: “That section 25 stand part of the Bill”.

  Mr. Ryan: Section 25(2) states:

“3 year minimum post-registration experience” means experience of at least 3 years of—

(a) practising whole-time as a registered pharmacist—

(i) in a retail pharmacy business,

(ii) before the commencement of this Act, in a shop kept open[.]

Does this preclude hospital pharmacists? Are they regarded as not having three years’ minimum post-registration experience?

  Dr. Henry: I am glad Senator Ryan raised this because this was why I asked about the reference to a retail pharmacy business when the first list of definitions was discussed earlier.

  Ms Harney: I would be concerned if that were the case because I do not wish to preclude anyone from starting his or her own business, but I am advised the dispensing role of a hospital pharmacist will count towards the three-year experience requirement.

Earlier this afternoon, I referred to legal advice the IPU had received regarding the contract negotiations, but I was in error. I am sorry if that caused to distress to the IPU officials in the Visitors Gallery. I do not know how I came to the view the advice was from the IPU’s lawyers because it was the legal advice of the PDF, the wholesale group, that brought this to the attention of all concerned. I hope that clarifies the matter and that I am not accused of misleading the House. I also hope the IPU members who were very upset earlier will forgive me.

  Dr. Henry: I will not accuse the Minister of misleading the House. However, I raised the definition of “retail pharmacy business” earlier because of the reference to it in this section. The Minister said the definition did not include hospital work.

  Ms Harney: They are not being included as retail pharmacies.

[1368]   Dr. Henry: I asked if the definition of “retail pharmacy business” on page 8 included hospital practices because that is vital under this section. The Minister replied that such practices were not included. Nobody would set up a hospital pharmacy business if they were not covered under this definition because they would not obtain credit for opening the business.

  Ms Harney: I am assured the hospital pharmacists are included.

  Dr. Henry: The Minister said earlier that the definition of “retail pharmacy business” did not include hospital pharmacies.

  Ms Harney: There is a little confusion. They are included in the context of their dispensing role to outpatients. The bulk of their work relates to patients in hospitals. However, earlier I listed a number of drugs dispensed by hospital pharmacists to outpatients and that is effectively the same as a retail pharmacy business.

  Dr. Henry: It must be ensured these hospital pharmacies provide an outpatient service.

  Ms Harney: Absolutely.

  Dr. Henry: No hospital pharmacy should only provide an inpatient service. That needs to be made very clear. Do all the hospitals we have discussed——

  Ms Harney: Approximately 50 hospitals are registered for that purpose currently.

  Mr. Ryan: As the Minister has a few more bites of this cherry before the Bill is passed, will she review whether we need to be more specific and explicit about hospital pharmacies? There is a considerable amount of unease about it. As the Minister said, one does not want to push people into a blind alley career-wise against their wishes.

  Ms Harney: I will certainly ensure such people are covered because I would not want a situation to arise where somebody who has worked for 20 years in a hospital pharmacy is not able to open his or her own pharmacy if he or she chooses to do so. I will ensure that is certain.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 26.

  Mr. Dardis: Amendments Nos. 32 to 35, inclusive, and amendment No. 39 are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 32:

In page 24, subsection (1)(a), line 33, after “person” to insert “being a registered pharmacist”.

[1369] The amendment states that the person should be a registered pharmacist. The business should be carried out by a “natural person”, which is a lovely term in section 26, who is a registered pharmacists. Section 26 states:

A person carries on a retail pharmacy business in accordance with this section is the retail pharmacy business is registered and—

(a) where the business is carried on by a natural person[.]

Is it necessary to include that again?

  Ms Harney: Section 27 covers that situation. I have tabled amendment No. 39 to deal with the same situation.

  Mr. Ryan: I presume the response to my amendments will be the same in which case there is no point in me wasting time saying the same thing.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 33 to 38, inclusive, not moved.

Section 26 agreed to.

SECTION 27.

Government amendment No. 39:

In page 25, between lines 1 and 2, to insert the following:

“(a) that the person referred to in section 26(1)(a) is a registered pharmacist or the partnership there referred to consists only of registered pharmacists,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 27, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 28.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments Nos. 40 to 42, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 40:

In page 25, paragraph (a)(i), line 30, after “body” to insert “or office holder in the other body”.

An officeholder must sign off as well as the pharmacist who is the person in charge of that part of the business. This amendment is for clarification purposes to ensure the body is aware of its obligations under the Act. It is to ensure the officeholders of the company are aware of their responsibilities under the Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 41 not moved.

[1370] Government amendment No. 42:

In page 25, paragraph (a)(ii), line 33, to delete “body,” and substitute “body or other body,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 28, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 29.

Question proposed: “That section 29 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I refer to section 29(f) which states:

[T]hat—

(i) in the case where the event that gave rise to the appointment of the representative was the death of the registered pharmacist referred to in section 26(1)(c), not more than 5 years has elapsed since that death, and[.]

I do not wish to cause difficulties for people who are bereaved but is five years not a long time to have somebody other than a registered pharmacist in charge? Is there a logical explanation? I appreciate the slowness of the Probate Office.

  Ms Harney: Obviously, a supervising pharmacist must be in charge. There is no question of a pharmacy running for five years unsupervised. I do not know whether there would be an issue if we reduced it.

  Mr. Ryan: I will not make a big issue of it but it struck me as a long time. There could be two elections within that period.

  Ms Harney: I do not know whether it would be a big issue if it were three or four years.

  Mr. Ryan: It is not a big issue. I was just curious whether there was some important reason I did not know about.

  Ms Harney: Clearly, it would be an issue if nobody was in charge of the place and if the business was running for five years unsupervised. It took somebody Senator Minihan knows four and a half years to resolve issues around a pharmacy.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 30 agreed to.

SECTION 31.

Government amendment No. 43:

In page 27, subsection (4), line 14, after “a” to insert “pharmacist or a”.

This is a technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

[1371] Question proposed: “That section 31, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Browne: I understand some pharmacists may have had their General Medical Service contracts revoked last year because they were unable to recruit an Irish graduate despite the fact they advertised for several months. What happens in the case of such pharmacists? As far as I know, section 31 relates to that.

  Ms Harney: Is the Senator talking about pharmacists who had their contracts revoked?

  Mr. Browne: The GMS contract.

  Ms Harney: I am not aware of it. Perhaps the Senator will bring it to our attention. I do not believe it is provided for in this legislation.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 32.

Amendments Nos. 44 and 45 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 32 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: Is there any point including section 32(5) and leaving a list of terms such as “pharmacy”, “medical stores”, “drug stores”, “drug hall”, etc. People who want to will think up new names not included in this subsection. It is an endless and fruitless chase. It would be an appropriate place to talk about Internet drugs, if we wanted to do so, but we will not go down that route as it is too late in the day. I do not see the point of including a list of names.

  Ms Harney: They were referred to in old Acts and it is to ensure people who are not pharmacists do not use these titles.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 33 agreed to.

SECTION 34.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 46:

In page 29, subsection (8), line 33, after “committee” to insert the following:

“and a registered medical practitioner appointed under subsection (9)”.

The Labour Part Members had a concern in this regard. Section 34 pertains to the disciplinary committees and section 34(8) states that “members of a disciplinary committee have, as such, the same protections and immunities as a judge of the High Court”. While no one would argue with that, it is unclear whether a registered medical practitioner who advises such a disciplinary committee would have the same privileges as the committee members. This amendment proposes that the members of the committee and a regis[1372] tered medical practitioner appointed under subsection (9) will have the same privileges in respect of protection from being sued.

  Ms Harney: My understanding is that such doctors are not present on the same basis as members of the committee. They are present purely in an advisory capacity. I must take advice and will have the matter checked.

  Mr. Ryan: While I do not wish to labour the point, it is unclear whether the doctor involved would be protected.

  Ms Harney: I accept the Senator’s point and will make sure——

  Mr. Ryan: A doctor who gave bona fide advice to such a committee could be left wide open to being sued. I am glad the Minister will consider the issue.

  Dr. Henry: Would the doctor’s position differ in that he or she would be a paid adviser?

  Ms Harney: I imagine the doctor would be paid. Does that make a difference? I assume the doctor would be paid.

  Dr. Henry: That would constitute an immediate difference from the rest of the committee.

  Ms Harney: Is that because he or she would be paid to give advice?

  Dr. Henry: That is correct.

  Ms Harney: The doctor would be present in an expert capacity. I imagine that doctors who give advice or are expert witnesses in court——

  Mr. Ryan: Far be it from Senator Henry or me to suggest anything about doctors being paid.

  Ms Harney: Does Senator Henry suggest that doctors should not be paid to do this?

  Dr. Henry: Must I shake my fist on television?

  Mr. Ryan: I am married to one.

  Ms Harney: That is allowed. Does Senator Henry believe a distinction can be made in this regard?

  Dr. Henry: I believe there is a difference when one acts as an expert witness. However I cannot recall the details.

  Ms Harney: Does the Senator mean that those who are paid are not protected? Does one’s own private insurance or whatever offer protection?

  Dr. Henry: I had not expected this issue to be raised.

[1373]   Ms Harney: I will check it. I want to ensure we make it easy to get such advice and avoid making it cumbersome or putting people in a vulnerable position.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed: “That section 34 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I accept that section 34 does not state that membership of the committees is confined to members of the council. However, I would have preferred a more explicit statement that recruitment to the two committees in question was open to those who are not council members. Earlier the Minister commented on the burden of work that could be involved in respect of a preliminary professional conduct committee and a health committee. Moreover, given the prerequisite that a majority of the members of each committee should be registered pharmacists, resources may be overstretched. I understood the Minister to have stated that there would be an entitlement to have people on such committees other than members of the council. I would have preferred this to have been made explicit in the legislation.

  Ms Harney: This is included in paragraph 7(3) of Schedule 1 which states: “A committee may include persons who are not members of the Council.”

  Mr. Ryan: I beg the Minister’s pardon.

  Ms Harney: The matter has been dealt with.

  Mr. Glynn: The Senator should change his glasses.

  Acting Chairman: Does this mean Members are in a position to move on?

  Mr. Ryan: If the Acting Chairman challenges me, I might make it impossible to move on. However, I will not.

  Acting Chairman: I am asking for Senator Ryan’s advice.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 35.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments Nos. 47, 48 and 50 to 52, inclusive, are cognate and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 47:

In page 29, subsection (1), line 41, after “pharmacist” to insert “or trainee pharmacist”.

[1374] Trainee pharmacists should also be included. They have left the schools of pharmacy and are doing what could be described as their intern year. However, the registered pharmacist cannot have eyes in the back of his or her head. I would have thought there was an onus on the trainee pharmacist to abide by the rules and regulations of the society of which they aspire to become members.

  Ms Harney: The Senator makes the point that the supervisory pharmacist would be obliged to have eyes in the back of his or her head. I am trying to recall how the Medical Council legislation deals with interns. They are covered by the Medical Council legislation.

  Dr. Henry: Perhaps the Minister will examine the issue to ascertain the position.

  Ms Harney: I will do so. I am uncertain whether it is reasonable to bring trainees before a fitness to practice committee. I will revert to the issue.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 48 not moved.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 49:

In page 30, subsection (2), lines 15 and 16, to delete “or, if not, in a form acceptable to the Council”.

This amendment is quite important and pertains to the form of a complaint. At present, section 35(2) states: “A complaint must be in writing or, if not, in a form acceptable to the Council.” I do not like the idea of the first half of a sentence using the word “must” when it is followed by the phrase “or, if not”. It should be obligatory for a complaint of this nature to be in writing. While I am prepared to entertain arguments concerning those with disabilities and similar issues, the complaint must be in writing. This amendment suggests the deletion of “or, if not, in a form acceptable to the Council”.

I am prepared to listen if a good reason can be put forward. In principle however, if a complaint is being made which could lead to anything from a reprimand to being struck off from the register of pharmacists, the least one can expect is a written record. The great advantage of written records is there is a clear record as to the nature of the complaint. This is not the case with either verbal or e-mailed complaints. E-mail is still an insufficiently secure or reliable method. I want to hear a reason for an exception because I cannot think of one.

For example, in the GAA one can do little in terms of appealing or complaining about anyone except in a written and prescribed form. Organisations recognise that without a written record, [1375] one enters dodgy territory. If there is a good reason, I am prepared to listen.

  Dr. Henry: I support Senator Ryan in this regard. I could not think of another form that would be acceptable. Perhaps a form could be found that sounds reasonable.

  Ms Harney: It is hard to argue against the Senators’ points. Much of this was done with a view to making it easy for people who wish to make a complaint from a patient safety perspective. However, I accept the need to be fair. Even a complaint that never ends up in a fitness to practice inquiry or that simply goes to a preliminary hearings committee can cause much upset. I will examine this matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 50 to 52, inclusive, not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 35 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I have a minor question in respect of section 35. While I do not wish to be awkward, this matter arose in a different context. I refer to section 35(3), which states: “A complaint may be made on behalf of any person or by the registrar.” I am not being picky when I say this means that a person cannot make a complaint himself or herself. It can be made on behalf of any person or by the council. I suggest that a complaint can be made by, or on behalf or any person, or by the registrar. I ask the Minister to consider this. As it stands, it appears——

  Ms Harney: Is the Senator referring to the wording or to a substantive issue?

  Mr. Ryan: I refer to wording. Given the subsection’s current wording, if I wished to complain about a pharmacist, such a complaint would have to be made on my behalf.

  Ms Harney: I believe this only refers to one option.

  Mr. Ryan: No. Section 35(3) states: “A complaint may be made on behalf of any person or by the registrar.”

  Ms Harney: The wording uses “may” rather than “shall”. Nevertheless, I will examine it.

  Mr. Ryan: The Minister can——

  Ms Harney: Senator Ryan is speaking about English rather than the substance of it.

[1376]   Mr. Ryan: I had this debate with the Minister for Education and Science when discussing the Residential Institutions Redress Board in which a similar phrase was used. The form of drafting would have meant victims could not have appealed to the Ombudsman and would have needed someone to do it for them. This is why I noticed it here.

  Ms Harney: I will examine it.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 36 agreed to.

SECTION 37.

Question proposed, “That section 37 stand part of the Bill”.

  Mr. Ryan: The eternal argument with the Parliamentary Counsel is once again raised in section 37(1) which states: “The council may devise guidelines about resolving complaints by mediation.” Everybody believes resolving complaints by mediation is a most desirable way to do things. In my view it should state “shall” and not “may”.

  Ms Harney: I do not disagree with the Senator and I will examine it. We want a mediation process and we must have guidelines on it. We will do “shall”.

  Mr. Ryan: It should not be discretionary. The word “may” is appropriate in certain areas but “shall” should be used here.

  Dr. Henry: I am delighted to see this section because frequently complaints can be fixed up through a mediation process.

  Mr. Ryan: I have some other questions and I do not believe they are trivial. The Acting Chairman has a wonderful way of looking at me to make me feel like I am wasting the House’s time.

  Acting Chairman: I wonder what would make the Senator think that.

  Mr. Ryan: Section 37(3) states:

No attempt may be made to resolve a complaint by mediation without the consent of the complainant and the registered pharmacist or pharmacy owner.

Should we insert the phrase “written consent” into this section? The purpose is to ensure everybody operates in the same way.

  Ms Harney: Let me get——

[1377]   Mr. Ryan: This is important. Agreeing to mediation is the start of a process and everybody should know what they agree to.

  Ms Harney: Agreeing to mediation does not mean it will be resolved through mediation.

  Mr. Ryan: One does not want a later court case where people state they never agreed to it.

  Ms Harney: If they do not agree to mediation, it cannot take place. To mediate one must have both parties——

  Mr. Ryan: They might agree and then change their minds or be advised by a lawyer that they should not have agreed to it.

  Ms Harney: We will examine the phrase “consent in writing”.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 38 to 41, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 42.

Question proposed, “That section 42 stand part of the Bill”.

  Mr. Ryan: Many of us received representations from people in the profession and one argument put to me was that this is soft in terms of preference for all hearings to be in public. Section 42 states:

(1) A hearing before the professional conduct committee shall be held in public [This is a great start].

(2) But it shall be held in private if—

(a) the registered pharmacist or pharmacy owner or the complainant so requests, and

(b) the committee is satisfied that it would be appropriate to agree to that request.

I accept on occasion business must be conducted in private. Even the Houses of the Oireachtas have reserved the right to meet in private under certain circumstances. I do not think it has ever happened. The word “appropriate” is a bit weak. A stronger term such as “the greater good or public interest demands it” would be better. Bodies such as this should meet in public and complaints should be heard in public. The bodies are quasi-judicial and we have a strong tradition that all of our judicial activities take place in public.

  Dr. Henry: I know we have a great desire to hold everything in public. However, I worry about the complainant far more than the professional when hearings are held in public. I frequently see court cases where patients have justi[1378] fied complaints against doctors but when they consider what would come out in court, the case falls apart. I would not like too much insistence on it being in public.

The professional would come out of it perfectly all right and he or she would almost certainly have the advice of the professional body and moral support. Frequently, a complainant is not used to publicity and is horrified to discover what may come out. While I understand the desire to hold everything in public, and it should be if everyone wants it, I have seen people dismayed.

I am sure the Minister saw in the High Court recently where a doctor tried to insist cases involving the most serious sexual abuse of adult patients were held in public. He knew the women would not continue with them if they were held in public. It took great courage on their part to go forward anonymously.

  Mr. Glynn: I have certain concerns. It is not unheard of for people to make baseless accusations against professional people, including pharmacists. The problem would be with the complainant. If it were held in public, we would have the old concept of no smoke without fire. It is covered sufficiently and a certain amount of reserved wisdom must apply in this case. I am concerned for any professional person. The merits of each case would have to be studied carefully and the legislation should provide for this.

  Ms Harney: I feel strongly about this issue. Senator Henry made valid points about the complainant and she is correct. Most people are terrified of authority, especially the courts. It is one of the reasons so few people come forward in rape and sexual offence cases. The few I met who did go forward stated the trial, court and adversarial system were terrifying and wondered whether they would go through it again. I do not state a fitness to practise inquiry is at the same level. However, we must make it easy for people to make legitimate complaints. The committee which will make the decision will have a non-pharmacy majority. It will not be a committee composed of pharmacists who will state it will be heard in private.

On the point made by Senator Glynn, I hope that with the new procedure, the preliminary hearings committee, dealing with mediation and health issues being dealt with by the health committee, this will mean only complaints of substance will go before a fitness to practise inquiry. These reasons include time and money and the fact that one does not want vexatious complaints getting past the preliminary inquiry. With all the good things happening in Ireland, I sometimes feel we have full-time complainers and whingers who love to complain about everybody and anything. I hope this legislation will not make it easy for vexatious complaints to be made about phar[1379] macists, doctors or other health care professionals.

I believe we have the balance right. With regard to including the phrase “in the public interest”, if the complainant has a wish to hold the hearing in private, it should be taken into account. Without the complainant we would not have a complaint and the matter would not arise in the first instance. Many people like to remain anonymous. The midwives in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda eventually blew the whistle there and to the credit of the health board, it took the matter seriously. The person most responsible is now involved in the Pharmaceutical Society. Those people do not want to become public figures. Giving the decision to the committee is fair and reasonable under the circumstances.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 43.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments 53 to 57, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Ryan: The Minister has an amendment tabled so let us move on. I will not move amendment No. 53.

  Acting Chairman: Amendment No. 54 is a Government amendment but must be discussed with amendment No. 53. If the Minister wishes to speak on it, amendment No. 53 must be moved.

  Mr. Ryan: I apologise. I move amendment No. 53:

In page 34, subsection (1), line 32, after “the” where it firstly occurs to insert “High”.

  Acting Chairman: If the Minister wishes to comment on amendments Nos. 54 and 55, now is the time to do it.

  Ms Harney: These are technical drafting amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 54:

In page 34, subsection (1)(b), line 35, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 55:

In page 34, subsection (1)(c), line 37, to delete “property.” and substitute the following:

“property, and

[1380] (d) awarding and authorising the recovery of costs.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 56:

In page 35, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following subsection:

“(6) An award of costs under subsection (1)(d) may, within 21 days of its having been made, be appealed to the District Court for the time being assigned to the district where the committee awarding the costs sat when doing so.”.

  Ms Harney: This allows the society to recover its costs.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 57:

In page 35, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following subsection:

“(9) In this section “Court” means the High Court.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 43, as amended, agreed to.

Section 44 agreed to.

SECTION 45.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments Nos. 58 to 60, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 58:

In page 36, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following subsection:

“(2) An order under subsection (1) suspending the registration of a retail pharmacy business may also provide for the closure of the premises in which the business has been carried on.”.

  Ms Harney: The amendment is self-explanatory. The provision would close the shop, but only on a High Court order, which would require the society to make a very strong case.

  Dr. Henry: With regard to amendment No. 60, I am glad the Minister took my advice. I thought it important there should be an immediate shutdown.

  Ms Harney: I should have been gracious enough to say that as well.

  Mr. Glynn: The cheque is in the post.

[1381]   Dr. Henry: I thought it very important there should be an immediate shutdown if there was a really serious problem.

  Ms Harney: Yes.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 59:

In page 36, subsection (3), line 13, after “Part” to insert the following:

“and, in the case of an order containing a closure provision under subsection (2), that the premises there referred to should be closed pending that procedure”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 60 not moved.

Section 45, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 46 and 47 agreed to.

SECTION 48.

Question proposed: “That section 48 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I have a comment on section 48(2), just to prove I read all this stuff. It states “The Council may not cancel the registration of a pharmacist or retail pharmacy business on the grounds of a conviction for an offence”. I take it that is an offence unrelated to the nature of this Bill.

  Ms Harney: Yes. The Senator is reading from subsection (2), which states:

The Council may not cancel the registration of a pharmacist or retail pharmacy business on the grounds of a conviction for an offence unless in the Council’s opinion, the nature of the offence or the circumstances in which it was committed are such that, were the pharmacist or pharmacy owner applying for registration, the Council would refuse the registration.

  Mr. Ryan: I am at least happy about the consistency that must apply the same test to cancelling as it would to refusing registration. Should there not be a little legislative guidance regarding the offences under consideration? It is undefined. Are we speaking about a drink-driving conviction or murder or rape? I presume we are speaking about serious offences.

This is only a thought but it may be the subject of enormous and lengthy discussion by the council before it would agree on what it is because it is so vague.

[1382]   Ms Harney: It is clearly concerned with fitness to practise. The council’s role relates to the capacity of the individual to practise as a pharmacist.

  Mr. Ryan: Yes.

  Ms Harney: If there is a breach of planning laws or some other road traffic incident, for example, it is not a reason for the council to act. It is in the context of the Bill and must be relevant, as the functions of the council would not allow it consider other issues. It must be in the context of professional conduct.

  Mr. Ryan: We discussed this earlier when I raised the equal status matter. I do not want to go off on that again.

  Ms Harney: They certainly cannot counsel on the grounds of sexual orientation.

  Mr. Ryan: No, there is no reason to go over that again. I believe it was a valid question but the Minister answered it satisfactorily and I am sorry for interrupting her. There is a clear statement here that people convicted of some undefined offences are not fit to practise. The matter could do with a little teasing out. It is only an opinion but the area could end up with enormous arguments. There is either a minimum penalty or an offence.

  Ms Harney: We will have it clarified by our legal advisers that it is foolproof to deal with just the issues I mentioned.

  Dr. Henry: It is something councils must be very careful about. The term “moral turpitude” came up earlier. I do not know what it is but it sounds absolutely dreadful.

One must be very careful with professional people if their livelihood and profession are to be removed because of convictions in a totally unrelated area.

  Ms Harney: Sure.

  Dr. Henry: Of course the conviction cannot be of murder or something similar, as they would be in prison as a result. We should be very careful that we are not acting as some kind of moral supervisor for people——.

  Ms Harney: Absolutely.

  Dr. Henry: ——when what is being done could take away their whole livelihood.

  Mr. Ryan: Asking the county council to build a fence, for example.

  Dr. Henry: I brought up the term “of unsound mind” when we were discussing a Bill relevant to whether a person could run a gun shop. What is [1383] unsound mind? Is it somebody who is forgetful? There was no definition of the term. We would be taking away the person’s livelihood and we should be very careful when making moral decisions about issues that will have such a serious effect. It may have nothing to do with a person’s professional actions.

  Ms Harney: Absolutely. I will have that checked with the Parliamentary Counsel in case there is any doubt.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 49 to 51, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 52.

Question proposed: “That section 52 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I am unsure whether it is the temerity or caution of the drafters but section 52(3) states “The High Court may but need not confirm the Council’s decision.” I am absolutely certain there was never any need to put into legislation that the High Court had the power to say no to anything.

  Ms Harney: The Senator makes a valid point.

  Mr. Ryan: I have never found it slow to say no. Subsection (3) is probably unnecessary as the High Court is more than capable of making up its own mind.

  Mr. Glynn: It is making sure to be sure.

  Acting Chairman: Perhaps we are entering into another discussion.

  Ms Harney: I will have to take legal advice but I take the point made by the Senator. We know the ultimate decision in these matters comes from the High Court.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 53 to 56, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 57.

Question proposed: “That section 57 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I have made notes about sections 56 and 57 and decided to wait for the debate on section 57. When in God’s name could it ever not be in the public interest to give public notice of any of the issues listed? What is the point of cancelling the registration of a pharmacist and not giving public notice? The same applies to restoration, suspension, expiry or attachment of con[1384] ditions etc. These should clearly always be a public matter and it is entirely pointless to suggest there would ever be a reason not to give public notice.

  Ms Harney: I would agree with the Senator. We will consider the matter. We could otherwise use “shall”.

  Mr. Browne: The point concerns a public notice but will a sign go up in a pharmacy itself if, for example, a pharmacy was to be closed down? Would there be a newspaper advertisement?

  Ms Harney: If it is closed down a sign will go up indicating so.

  Mr. Browne: The problem is if a pharmacy was to be closed down for a reason, the public might not be aware why it happened. It may have been closed for other reasons. Will a sign be clearly displayed in the pharmacy?

  Ms Harney: If it is closed down, the pharmacy will be closed.

  Mr. Browne: Will there be a notice indicating why it is closed down?

  Ms Harney: I am not certain there would be a sign. If we do what Senator Ryan is suggesting it would be a matter of public knowledge.

  Dr. Henry: That is a good idea.

  Mr. Ryan: That is reasonable.

  Ms Harney: If a doctor is struck off we do not expect him or her to walk around with a sign indicating they have been struck off.

  Mr. Browne: This pertains to a pharmacy being closed.

  Ms Harney: If it is closed down it will be shut. We can take Senator Ryan’s comments into account and I could put the word “shall” in the section. I take the Senator’s point of when it would not be in the public interest. Bad news usually makes big news anyway.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 58.

Question proposed: “That section 58 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I refer back to the doctor and remind the Minister again of expert advice being given. This relates to defamation and whether we believe a doctor should be exempt from a defamation suit or not, we should at least make up our minds which side we are on. Expert witnesses in the High Court have qualified privilege. Unless [1385] they are proven to be acting in bad faith, they cannot be sued for the evidence they give. We must make the same true in this case.

  Ms Harney: I will clarify that in terms of the person giving advice.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 59.

Question proposed: “That section 59 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: This section relates to the cancellation of registration on request. In respect of the person applying for the cancellation, it states, “at the time of applying, the subject of a complaint”, meaning the registration cannot be cancelled. What occurs in the case of a person who has cancelled his or her registration, but against whom a complaint is subsequently made? He or she cannot be struck off a register he or she is not on, but who will investigate the complaint? In such an instance, could the person apply to be re-registered two years later?

  Ms Harney: The complaint would need to be pursued at that point. I will clarify for the Senator, as I take his point.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 60.

Question proposed: “That section 60 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: As a perennial late payer, I want to protest. There are complicated procedures to go through to cancel a registration if a complaint is made against that person, but the Bill makes no reference to any court in the case of someone who loses his or her registration for failing to pay a retention fee. I would appeal to the council, if not to the Minister, to work out a procedure involving a few steps along the way to address such cases. A person’s registration could be lost in the same way and with the same impact as is the case of someone accused of selling drugs to half of the city’s addicts.

  Ms Harney: This is a self-financing organisation and we want to ensure funding. I have prohibited the council from charging trainee or student pharmacists.

  Mr. Ryan: I have no difficulty with the fee.

  Ms Harney: Going to court would cost more than the fee and would not be a good idea. People will be given reminders.

  Acting Chairman: Perhaps it should be like the Irish Turf Club, namely, always in credit.

[1386]   Ms Harney: What happens in the Senator’s trade union if he does not pay his fees?

  Mr. Ryan: I could not vote in elections or in ballots, but I would have the protection of my union, which would represent me if I had a problem.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 61 and 62 agreed to.

NEW SECTIONS.

Government amendment No. 61:

In page 41, before section 63, but in Part 6, to insert the following new section:

“63.—(1) For the purposes of section 35 and so much of this Part as relates to that section, it is professional misconduct by a registered pharmacist if—

(a) he or she, or

(b) to the knowledge of the registered pharmacist, his or her partner or employee,

has a beneficial interest in a medical practice.

(2) For the purposes of section 36 and so much of this Part as relates to that section, it is misconduct of the kind referred to in that section by a pharmacy owner if—

(a) the pharmacy owner, or

(b) to the knowledge of the pharmacy owner, a partner or employee of the pharmacy owner,

has a beneficial interest in a medical practice.

(3) For the purposes of section 46 of the Medical Practitioners Act 1978 and so much of Part V of that Act as relates to that section or any enactments re-enacting those provisions, it is professional misconduct by a registered medical practitioner if—

(a) he or she, or

(b) to the knowledge of the registered medical practitioner, his or her partner or employee,

has a beneficial interest in a registered retail pharmacy business.

(4) For the purposes of this section, an interest consisting of the ownership of a medical practice or registered retail pharmacy business (or part thereof)—

(a) is not to be taken to be a beneficial interest in the practice or business if the benefit deriving from the interest consists of the benefit of ownership alone, but

(b) is to be taken to be a beneficial interest in the practice or business if the benefit so [1387] deriving consists of or includes a financial benefit accruing to the registered pharmacist or registered medical practitioner in the exercise of his or her profession as such or, as the case may be, to the owner of the registered retail pharmacy business in his, her or its capacity as such.

(5) In this section—

(a) “beneficial interest” in a medical practice or registered retail pharmacy business includes—

(i) where the practice or business or a part of it is owned by—

(I) a company, the interest of a director of or shareholder in the company,

(II) a corporate body which is not a company, the interest of a member of the body,

(ii) where the practice or business is carried on in leased premises, the interest of the landlord in the rent or other consideration for the tenancy where that rent or other consideration—

(I) does not represent the rental value of the tenancy on the open market and the difference may reasonably be attributed to the existence of an economic relationship between the parties other than that of landlord and tenant, or

(II) is ascertained by reference to the receipts or profits of a registered retail pharmacy business or a medical practice,

and a person shall be regarded, for the purposes of this section, as having a beneficial interest in such a practice or business if his or her spouse or dependent child has such an interest in it;

“dependent child” means, in relation to a person, a child of that person who is under the age of 18 years or, if he or she has attained that age, is a child to whom paragraph (i) or (ii) of the definition of “dependent child of the family” in section 3(a) of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976 applies;

“employee” means a person who works under a contract of employment (or has entered such a contract in order to do so) and includes a fixed term employee and a temporary employee;

“partner” shall be construed in accordance with the Partnership Act 1890;

“registered medical practitioner” has the meaning given by the Medical Practitioners [1388] Act 1978 or any enactment re-enacting that definition;

“shareholder” does not include a shareholder in a company whose holding does not exceed one half of one per cent of the total value of shares issued by the company;

“spouse” does not include a spouse who is a registered pharmacist, a registered pharmaceutical assistant or a registered medical practitioner; and

(b) references to leased premises, the landlord, the tenancy, the rental value and the tenant include, in a case where premises are made available for use or occupation on licence or similarly, references respectively to the premises so made available, the person who makes them available, the use or occupation, the value of that use or occupation and the person who uses or occupies them.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 62:

In page 41, before section 63, but in Part 6, to insert the following new section:

“64.—(1) A registered retail pharmacy business and a medical practice shall not be carried on—

(a) in the same premises as each other, or

(b) in premises which, although separate—

(i) are such that public access to the one is available only by way of the other, or

(ii) share a common public entrance with each other,

if there is an arrangement of the kind described in subsection (2).

(2) An arrangement is of the kind referred to in subsection (1) if it—

(a) is between the owner of the registered retail pharmacy business referred to in that subsection or the registered pharmacist in whole-time charge of that business and a registered medical practitioner practising in the medical practice referred to in that subsection, and

(b) provides for, acknowledges or regulates a financial benefit to any of them arising from or facilitated by the co-location or juxtaposition described in that subsection.

(3) A registered pharmacist or a pharmacy owner shall not recommend any medical practice or registered medical practitioner to a member of the public otherwise than in the exercise of his or her professional judgment as a pharmacist, or, as the case may be, in the proper carrying on of the business.

[1389] (4) In subsection (3), “proper” means in a way not intended to result in a financial benefit to be derived from the medical practice or registered medical practitioner referred to in that subsection.

(5) A registered medical practitioner shall not recommend any pharmacist or retail pharmacy business to a member of the public otherwise than in the exercise of his or her professional judgment as a registered medical practitioner.

(7) A registered medical practitioner who is aware of a contravention of this section shall report it to the Medical Council.

(8) A contravention of this section—

(a) by a registered pharmacist shall for the purposes of section 35 and so much of this Part as relates to that section, constitute professional misconduct by the registered pharmacist,

(b) by the owner of a registered retail pharmacy business shall for the purposes of section 36 and so much of this Part as relates to that section, constitute misconduct of the kind referred to in that provision by the pharmacy owner,

(c) by a registered medical practitioner shall, for the purposes of section 46 of the Medical Practitioners Act 1978 and so much of Part V of that Act as relates to that section, or any enactment re-enacting those provisions, constitute professional misconduct by the registered medical practitioner.

(9) Subsections (1) to (4) and (10) and such much of the remainder of this section as relates to those subsections shall apply in relation to a registered retail pharmacy business or medical practice which was being lawfully carried on immediately before the passing of this Act only with effect on and from such later date as is specified by order made by the Minister.

(10) In this section “registered medical practitioner” has the same meaning as in section 63.”.

  Mr. Browne: On a point of clarification, the amendment states, “share a common public entrance with each other”. Would it be helpful to insert a provision stating, ”if, in the case of (a) or (b), there is an arrangement of the kind described in subsection (2)”? Does the current provision only apply to (b)?

  Acting Chairman: Could we deal with it when we address the relevant section?

  Mr. Browne: Unless we insert “in the case of (a) or (b)”, the proposed section 64(1)(b)(ii) [1390] would relate only to (b) and exclude same premises.

  Ms Harney: It would not.

  Mr. Browne: I might leave the matter until Report Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

SECTION 63.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 are logical alternatives and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 63:

In page 41, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:

“ “premises“ includes any aircraft, hovercraft, ship, stall, or vehicle;”.

It is important to ensure the term “premises” is broadly defined. My definition is from the Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006.

There is a considerable problem with the smuggling of counterfeit drugs, a matter on which Senator Glynn has spoken frequently at the Joint Committee on Health and Children. It is important for the authorised officers to be in a position to examine any drug brought into the country and being sold here. For example, I saw pharmaceutical drugs being sold at a car boot sale in England, for which reason the word “stall” is relevant. I hope the Minister accepts my amendment.

  Mr. Ryan: I have no idea from where my amendment came, as I am not as well informed as Senator Henry, but the point has been made. The definition of “premises” must be clarified. Therefore, it would be no harm to include a broader definition.

  Ms Harney: I will take advice, as the Senators have made a valid point.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 64 not moved.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 65:

In page 41, paragraph (a), line 37, before “a” to insert “computer data,”.

While the argument will always be that this provision is implied, we would suggest referring to computer data, disc, tape, soundtrack or other device on which to store information.

I will refer to a new way to do something on the Internet that has developed in the past three or four years. Google is an example. Instead of having documents on a computer, there are Google documents, Google spreadsheets, etc. Google [1391] guarantees privacy and presents a server through which one can work. Microsoft will do likewise. For further consideration, I suggest that this way of storing records is not covered by the Bill. I am not certain it would be covered by our amendment. The records would not be stored on the premises. Before being passed by the other House, it would be worthwhile to examine a definition encompassing new ways of storing data without a physical record on the premises or in the possession of the owner. The material is probably stored on a Google server in California.

  Ms Harney: I will clarify the matter, but I am advised that section 63(a) at the bottom of page 41, which refers to “a disc, tape, sound-track or other device in which information, sounds or signals are embodied so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other instrument) of being reproduced in legible or audible form”, covers computer data. I will check for the Senator.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments Nos. 66 to 70, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 66:

In page 42, paragraph (a), line 15, after “medicinal” to insert “or veterinary medicinal”.

  Ms Harney: Some of the amendments are the same.

  Mr. Ryan: The Government has tabled an amendment to this effect.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 67:

In page 42, line 15, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 68 not moved.

Government amendment No. 69:

In page 42, line 18, to delete “product;” and substitute “product, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 70:

In page 42, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

“(c) any veterinary medicinal product;”.

[1392] Amendment agreed to.

Section 63, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 64.

  Acting Chairman: As amendments Nos. 71 to 73, inclusive, are related, they may be discussed together by agreement.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 71:

In page 44, subsection (3)(n), line 15, after “facilities” to insert the following:

“or courier facilities or other means of transportation”.

6 o’clock

I will not argue with the Minister on this one. I proposed this amendment to ensure that forms of delivery other than the traditional forms of delivery are identified in the definitions. However, the Minister has tabled an amendment that includes the words “other means of delivery”, thereby covering the issue I intended to raise, so I will withdraw my amendment.

  Ms Harney: It is covered in another amendment.

  Mr. Ryan: It would be nicer for my vanity if the Minister were to accept my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 72:

In page 44, subsection (3)(n), line 20, to delete “mail.” and substitute the following:

“mail, courier or other means of delivery or transportation.”.

I understand that people sometimes seal their mailboxes to avoid getting things that can only be delivered by mail. Therefore, it is important to provide for other methods of delivery. Who would have thought that people would be so wicked?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 73:

In page 44, subsection (3)(n), line 20, after “mail” to insert “or other means of delivery”.

Amendment agreed to.

  Acting Chairman: As amendments Nos. 74 and 75 are related, they may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 74:

In page 44, subsection (4), lines 26 to 28, to delete paragraph (c) and substitute the following:

[1393] “(c) persons with expertise relating to the relevant thing, as he or she considers appropriate in the circumstances of the case.”.

  Ms Harney: This amendment has been tabled to provide that the authorised officer can choose to be accompanied by people with “expertise relating to the relevant thing”. I am surprised that the phrase “relevant thing” is being used in legislation.

  Mr. Ryan: It is a wonderful piece of drafting.

  Ms Harney: It does not sound like good legalese.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 75:

In page 44, subsection (6)(c), to delete lines 43 to 49 and in page 45, to delete lines 1 and 2 and substitute the following:

(3)(a)(ii) are being stored or kept in any dwelling,

may issue a warrant authorising a named authorised officer accompanied by such other authorised officers, members of the Garda Síochána, or persons with expertise relating to any relevant thing, as may be necessary, at any time or times within one month of the date of issue of the warrant, to enter the dwelling and perform any of the functions of an authorised officer under subsection (3)(b) to (n).”.

Amendment agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 64, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Browne: I would like to ask the Minister about a thought that has just struck me. Perhaps I should have raised it earlier in the debate, but I will try to sneak it in now. When a pharmacy is closed down, do its patients or customers have the right to access the information on their records?

  Ms Harney: I have been informed that such circumstances will be covered in the regulations we will make under section 18. We will engage in consultation before we draw up such regulations.

  Mr. Ryan: I am a little puzzled. I was curious when I saw that section 64(10) states that ”a statement or admission made by a person pursuant to a requirement under subsection (3)(e) shall not be admissible”. When I consulted section 64(3)(e), I found that it states that an authorised officer may “require any person at the premises or the owner or person in charge of the premises and any person employed there to give to him or her such [1394] assistance and information and to produce to him or her such books, records or other documents ..... as he or she may reasonably require”. What type of “statement or admission” would be likely to be made by a person under section 64(3)(e)? Is this provision being introduced to ensure that people are not compelled to incriminate themselves?

  Ms Harney: Yes.

  Mr. Ryan: Okay.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 65.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 76:

In page 45, subsection (1)(b), line 41, after “separate” to insert “suitable”.

I am sure the Minister will find it hard to believe, but I remember pathological specimens that failed because they had been placed in totally unsuitable containers. Evidence that would have been valuable, not necessarily in court cases, was lost. People sometimes have to be reminded to be sensible. Therefore, I have suggested that authorised officers be required to place each part of the specimen in “separate” and “suitable” containers.

  Ms Harney: I think the Senator is right. I will have that proposal checked.

  Acting Chairman: Is the Minister accepting the amendment?

  Ms Harney: I will return to the Senator’s proposal on Report Stage after I have checked it with the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. Senator Henry has made a valid point. One might assume that the container would be suitable, but we should specify that it should be.

  Dr. Henry: The Minister would be astonished if she knew what people get up to.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 65 agreed to.

SECTION 66.

Question proposed: “That section 66 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: Having read section 66(1) a few times, I am not sure whether there is a drafting error. Perhaps my brain is too slow to understand what is intended. I refer to the part of the section that begins:

In any proceedings for an offence under this Act, a certificate in the form specified in Schedule 3 to this Act signed by—

(a) either—

[1395] (i) the State Chemist, or

(ii) another chemist employed or engaged at the State Laboratory and authorised by the State Chemist to sign the certificate,

(b) either—

(i) a public analyst appointed under section 10 of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act 1875, or

(ii) another analyst authorised by such a public analyst to sign the certificate,

I wonder whether the word “or” should be included before (b) above. As it stands, it could mean that the certificate would have to be signed by one of the people mentioned in (a) and one of the people mentioned in (b). I am not being awkward. It seems to me that this section, as it is written, could mean that the certificate would have to be signed by both a chemist and an analyst, whereas I believe they are alternates.

  Acting Chairman: The word “or” is used later in the section.

  Mr. Ryan: That is right.

  Ms Harney: I agree with Senator Ryan that this section needs to be examined.

  Mr. Ryan: All right.

  Ms Harney: I have been told by my officials that the “or” is implied, but we should make it clear.

  Mr. Ryan: That is what the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is for. The officials behind the Minister are wonderful, but the draftsman always says that these things are implied.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 67 agreed to.

SECTION 68.

  Acting Chairman: As amendments No. 78 and 79 are alternatives to amendment No. 77, and amendment No. 80 is related to amendment No. 77, amendments Nos. 77 to 80, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 77:

In page 47, subsection (2), lines 27 to 29, to delete all words from and including “the” where it thirdly occurs in line 27 down to and including “Prosecutions” in line 29 and substitute the following:

“any public body or authority exercising functions which are relevant to the matters [1396] considered by the Council when directing the action referred to in that provision”.

  Ms Harney: This technical amendment has been introduced for the purposes of clarity.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 not moved.

Government amendment No. 80:

In page 47, subsection (2), lines 34 to 37, to delete all words from and including “as” in line 34 down to and including “be” in line 37 and substitute “as that body or authority”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 68, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 69.

  Acting Chairman: As amendments Nos. 81 to 83, inclusive, are related, they may be discussed together by agreement.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 81:

In page 48, subsection (3), line 16, after “director,” to insert the following:

“shadow director as defined in section 27 of the Companies Act 1990,”.

I did not know there was such a person as a “shadow director” until I was told about his or her existence. We need to ensure that such people are included in the Bill. I will not delay the House if the Minister agrees it would be a good idea to make this change.

  Ms Harney: I have covered this issue in amendment No. 83.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 82 not moved.

Government amendment No. 83:

In page 48, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following subsection:

“(4) In subsection (3), “director” includes a shadow director within the meaning given by section 27 of the Companies Act 1990.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 69, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: This section outlines the penalties for all the offences under this legislation. It provides that they will all be subject to the same [1397] spectrum of penalties. Are we sure that all the offences that could be committed under this Bill are of equivalent gravity, or has this section been drafted in this way as a convenient catch-all device? I do not want to delay the House, although we are doing reasonably well for time. It seems strange to me that every offence under this legislation will attract a penalty from the same spectrum.

  Ms Harney: It is clear that there is a standard distinction between summary conviction and indictment. What is the Senator suggesting?

  Mr. Ryan: I would have to have more time.

  Ms Harney: If the Deputy could give an example of something that does not warrant the penalty proposed for it, I would be happy to consider that point.

  Mr. Ryan: I will not get into such a discussion at this hour of the evening.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 70.

Government amendment No. 84:

In page 48, subsection (1), line 24, to delete “Apothecaries” and substitute “Apothecaries’ Hall”.

  Acting Chairman: As amendments Nos. 84 and 97 to 102, inclusive, are related, they may be discussed together.

  Ms Harney: These technical amendments will provide for more clarity.

  Mr. Ryan: I must say that I am sorry to see the end of “Poths Hall”, which was part of our student days. We were never quite sure what “Poths Hall” was, but we knew it was there somewhere. It entertained us enormously, although we were never quite sure what it did. I suppose, therefore, there is a certain feeling of nostalgia about it.

  Dr. Henry: I can remember it very well. I was one of those who took part, as a junior, in the last examinations for Poths Hall, after which a Chinese gentleman threatened to kill one of the examiners. It was a very colourful outfit and while I am sorry it is no more, the standing of medicine and pharmacy in Ireland is better because of it.

Amendment agreed to.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 85:

In page 48, line 35, to delete subsection (2).

[1398] The lawyer from whom I take advice on these matters is a man of delicate sensitivities. He suggests subsection (2) is unnecessary because repeals are announced in section 4 and further stated in Schedule 4.

  Ms Harney: I am sure he is wonderful but I am obliged to take the advice of the Attorney General. I will ask the Parliamentary Counsel to examine the matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 70, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 71.

Question proposed: “That section 71 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: I am not trying to be awkward but to be helpful. This deals with an amendment to the Poisons Act. Subsection (1), in referring to section 18 of that Act, reads:

A person who . . . keeps open shop for the sale of poisons commits an offence.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to the keeping of open shop by a person of a class specified in regulations under section 14 who is keeping open shop in accordance with those regulations.

(3) This subsection is complied with if—

(a) the person referred to in subsection (1) is—

(i) a registered pharmacist,

(ii) a registered druggist,

(iii) the personal representative ...

(iv) the Official Assignee ... or

(v) is a corporate body ...

I suggest the word “or” should be included after the reference to a registered pharmacist, a registered druggist and following the words “was lawfully keeping open shop for the sale of poisons”. I do not believe a person must meet all those conditions, rather he or she must meet only one of them.

  Ms Harney: I will have that matter examined.

Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 72.

Government amendment No. 86:

In page 50, lines 14 to 21, to delete subsection (2) and substitute the following:

“(2) Any reference (however expressed) in a prior enactment to a person who is keeping open shop for the dispensing or compounding [1399] of medical prescriptions under the Pharmacy Acts 1875 to 1977—

(a) where that person is, in relation to a pharmacist, a representative within the meaning given by section 25(2), shall be construed as a reference to such a representative, and

(b) in any other case, shall be construed as a reference to a registered retail pharmacy business.”.

  Ms Harney: This amendment seeks to clarify legally what the section applies to. It includes previous references in the current section 72 reference.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 72, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 73.

Question proposed: “That section 73 stand part of the Bill.”

  Mr. Ryan: Subsection (1) reads, “A code of conduct having effect under sections. . . and regulations made under section . . . shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas . . .”. That is a great idea and I have no problem with it. Subsection (2) reads, “If a resolution annulling these regulations . . . ”. Codes of conduct are not regulations; they are codes of conduct approved by the Minister. That is all they are. I have no problem with them being made known and available to the Houses of the Oireachtas. That is a good idea, but I doubt if they are regulations under any meaning of legislation I have heard.

  Ms Harney: The Senator is right but subsection (1) reads, “A code of conduct having effect under sections . . . and regulations . . .”. It is those regulations to which we are referring.

  Mr. Ryan: That is fine.

Question put and agreed to.

SCHEDULE 1.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 87:

In page 51, paragraph 2, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

“(2) A disqualification pursuant to an order of a court referred to in subparagraph (1)(a), (c), (d), (e) or (f) shall not take effect until the ordinary time for appealing against any such order has expired, or if an appeal is lodged within that time, until any such appeal, or a further appeal therefrom is determined.”.

[1400] This relates to a disqualification from office of the council. It is standard practice that where a person has been convicted and appealed, he or she cannot be punished until the matter is resolved that he or she is worthy, if that is the right word, of being punished. This would be a significant punishment. Somebody in that position would be well advised to resign but we should not provide for a situation where somebody who has been penalised and then cleared on appeal is punished by being disqualified.

  Ms Harney: I will have the matter examined.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 88:

In page 51, paragraph 2(3), line 29, to delete “paragraph (21)” and substitute “paragraph 21(2)”.

  Ms Harney: This amendment addresses a technical issue.

Amendment agreed to.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Amendment No. 89 is a Government amendment. Amendment No. 90 is related, while amendment No. 91 is a logical alternative to amendment No. 89. Amendments Nos. 89 to 91, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 89:

In page 51, paragraph 4(1), line 36, after “members” to insert “who are registered pharmacists”.

  Ms Harney: This amendment is to ensure the president and vice-president are pharmacists.

  Dr. Henry: I am glad the Minister has agreed to this because it is important that the profession has confidence in the council. The general public must have confidence but the profession must also have confidence in it.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 90 and 91 not moved.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 92:

In page 54, paragraph 9, after line 44, to insert the following:

“(8) A disclosure under this paragraph or paragraph 10 shall be recorded in a register together with particulars of any interest of members of the Authority or persons to whom paragraph 10 applies, and the register shall be available to public inspection during office hours.”.

[1401] This amendment is to ensure the interests, if so recorded, would be a matter of public record. Where members disclose interests, they should be a matter of public record.

  Ms Harney: I am not certain that is necessary but it is a matter for the council to decide. Members are covered by ethics in public office legislation. The council must keep a record.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 93 not moved.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 94:

In page 56, paragraph 12(2), line 9, after “surplus” to insert the following:

“including any surplus following the disposal of its assets”.

This is to ensure that when the society is wound up, if it has any funds from the sale of assets, they would not go into the great maw of the Department of Health and Children.

  Ms Harney: I am advised that we need an amendment in this regard. I will arrange for it to be made.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 95:

In page 58, paragraph 21(2), line 42, after “himself” to insert “or herself”.

  Ms Harney: The purpose of this amendment is to make the Bill gender friendly and include the word “herself” after “himself”.

Amendment agreed to.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 96:

In page 58, after line 42, to insert the following:

Accountability to Houses of the Oireachtas

22. When required by a committee of either or both Houses of the Oireachtas, the President of the Society shall appear before the committee to account for the general administration of the Society.”.

A body which has the level and scale of responsibilities that the society will have ought to have a formal accountability role to the Oireachtas. I am happy to leave discussion of the details for a longer consideration but essentially these bodies are set up under legislation. Therefore, there ought to be a process to ensure that when they work, they are clearly aware of their obligations under the legislation. This appears to be the most efficient way to do this. However, I [1402] will not be hung on the amendment because I do not want them to be summoned every second week to discuss the price of drugs but there should be at least an annual reporting to the appropriate Oireachtas committee, presumably the Joint Committee on Health and Children. That would be a useful exercise.

  Ms Harney: I will examine that matter. I would like to do it. Obviously, it relates to their administration functions, not inquiries and so on, which issues they cannot deal with. I will have a look at the amendment and take advice. I agree it would be good if we could make that happen.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed: “That Schedule 1, as amended, be Schedule 1 to the Bill.”

  Dr. Henry: On the situation regarding connected relatives, this goes even further than the ethics in public office connections. I do not think brother and sister are included or the spouse of a child of the person.

  Ms Harney: Even step-children are included.

  Dr. Henry: Are brother and sister included in the ethics in public office legislation?

  Ms Harney: I think so.

  Dr. Henry: I thought they were not because I thought I remembered the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Noel Dempsey, saying he would be unable to check up on his ten brothers.

  Ms Harney: The Senator makes a valid point and I will consider it. Sometimes brothers and sisters do not talk to each other.

  Dr. Henry: The Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey has plenty of brothers and I remember him making that comment.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is the Senator referring to the additional declaration required of office-holders?

  Dr. Henry: Yes.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: It only concerns the spouse and family.

  Dr. Henry: This is quite a lot further than that.

  Ms Harney: The requirement of spouse and family includes the children.

  Dr. Henry: But not brother and sister.

  Ms Harney: I will take that out.

[1403]   Dr. Henry: It seems a little harsh if they must do more than office-holders.

  Ms Harney: I agree.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedules 2 and 3 agreed to.

SCHEDULE 4.

Government amendment No. 97:

In page 62, column (1), line 3, to delete “Year” and substitute “Session and chapter or year”.

  Ms Harney: This is a technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 98:

In page 62, column (1), line 5, to delete “1791” and substitute “31 Geo. 3.,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 99:

In page 62, column (2), line 5, to delete “Apothecaries” and substitute “Apothecaries’ Hall”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 100:

In page 62, column (1), line 6, to delete “1875” and substitute “38 & 39 Vic.,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 101:

In page 62, column (1), line 8, to delete “1890” and substitute “53 & 54 Vic.,”.

Amendment agreed to.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Amendment No. 102 is in the name of Senator Henry. It has already been discussed with amendment No. 84.

  Dr. Henry: I move amendment No. 102:

In page 62, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

8 Edw.7.,55

Poisons and Pharmacy Act 1908

The whole Act

”.

[1404] The Government has agreed to this amendment.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Minister has already tabled this amendment.

  Dr. Henry: I was advised an Act had been omitted and I am grateful to the Government for having agreed the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

TITLE.

Government amendment No. 103:

In page 7, line 18, after “PRACTISE” to insert the following:

“AND TO PREVENT PHARMACISTS, PHARMACY OWNERS AND MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS FROM ENTERING INTO CERTAIN INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS”.

Amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

  Mr. Browne: The Minister has agreed to accept some amendments.

  Ms Harney: I will be coming back to the House.

  Dr. Henry: In view of what the Minister has said and she accepted a great deal of our concerns, it would be very difficult for her officials to study them now, would it be agreeable to accept the Bill to go forward in that way?

  Mr. Browne: The Minister plans to make changes to the Bill in the Dáil and will she return to this House then?

  Ms Harney: Many reasonable and useful points were made in this House which informed me and maybe my officials on some issues. We will discuss the points over the next day and it will be necessary to return to this House with further amendments. If the Bill is amended in the Dáil, I intend to take up some of the issues I mentioned here today and we will have to come back here with the amendments.

  Mr. Browne: I will agree to this arrangement but it is not the ideal way to do business. It is a bit presumptuous to have the Bill in the Dáil tomorrow in an incomplete form. The Minister is [1405] proposing changes to the Bill even before it goes before the Dáil.

  Ms Harney: I accept it is not ideal but there are constraints of time.

I thank the Members for a very constructive and informative Committee Stage debate today. It is clear that Members did a considerable amount of work in a short period of time. I was impressed and we had a good debate. There is clearly much interest from the pharmacy profession in this Bill which has been sought for many years. Due to time constraints I am unable to return at this stage with the amendments I have agreed to consider but I will do so in due course.

I thank the Leader of the House for facilitating all Stages of the Bill this week. I thank my officials who are a small group of people sitting behind me. They have been up all night finalising the amendments because I placed a very short timeframe on the work. It is normal to have a longer period of time between Second and Committee Stages but because of time considerations and events that will happen in the summer of this year, time was not available to us.

I also thank the two parliamentary draftsmen who have been involved with this legislation and who will be involved in considering some of the very good amendments put forward. We have already accepted a number of them and the Bill is the stronger for that.

I will check the issue of brother and sister to ensure we are reasonable in what we do.

  Mr. Browne: I thank the Minister and her officials. We support the Bill in general and we welcome the fitness to practise aspect of the Bill which we hope will ensure patient safety. Fine Gael is very keen to have a patient safety authority to cover all areas of medicine as there is a need for such a body. I do not envy the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland because it will have a lot of work to do when it is reformed and the legislation is somewhat vague in some areas. It will be its responsibility to decide on rules and codes of conduct. Pharmacies have changed in many ways and this Bill will enable them to change further and to meet the needs of patients. It is important that we follow the New Zealand and Northern Ireland example where pharmacies dispense drugs but will also ensure the patient is taking medication correctly.

I repeat my call that the pharmacists from the South would be permitted to work in the North and this is an issue which the Minister could take up with her European and Northern Ireland counterparts. The biggest threat we face is the growing sale of drugs on the Internet to which there is no easy solution but we must redouble our efforts.

  Mr. Glynn: I thank the Minister and her officials and the Members on all sides of the [1406] House who have contributed in a positive way to bringing forward this legislation which consigns the previous older legislation. I commend the IPU and the IPS and the hospital pharmacists, who are often forgotten, on their input. They have made a very positive contribution and lobbied in a realistic and responsible manner. I accept what the Minister has said. She has been forthcoming and accommodating.

When the Bill passes into law, the pharmaceutical profession and the general public will be the beneficiaries. I welcome what has been done. I am looking forward to seeing the Bill back in the House to endorse the amendments made.

  Dr. Henry: This is a much needed Bill. I hope that when it is passed, it will last for 30 years. With the changes in pharmacy, we need something on which we can rely. It is a pity everything had to be rushed. We could have had a great time for weeks, just like when we dealt with the Bill relating to the Veterinary Council when we had really good sessions.

There is much interest in the House in legislation such as this. I am very grateful to the Irish Pharmaceutical Union, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, hospital pharmacists and individuals who all provided us with support and information. I look forward to seeing the Bill back in the House. I am sure the Minister will address all of our concerns when she brings it before the Dáil.

  Mr. Minihan: I compliment the Minister and her officials on bringing the Bill before the House. It was a long time coming, but the Minister made a commitment which has been honoured. The Bill is for the betterment of the profession and patients. The pharmaceutical profession and society can now move forward. The profession has been recognised as an integral part of the health service. Pharmacists can enter the profession and deal with patients on a sound legislative footing. I thank Members for their contributions and look forward to the early passage of the Bill in the Dáil before it is brought back before this House.

  Mr. Ryan: The Minister deserves compliments. This is a good Bill which is dreadfully overdue. It takes political will and clout to get the job done. There is limited political kudos for either the Minister or the Opposition in dealing with a Bill such as this. It is not the stuff that persuades the colourful writers in the Sunday newspapers to talk about it. If they do, they will state we spent a lot of time talking about it and will think that funny too.

It was a worthwhile debate. I thank the Leader of the House for allocating extra time which enabled us to go take Committee Stage in a reasonably civilised fashion. I thank the Minister for her responsiveness to the various amendments tabled by this side of the House. It was [1407] a positive engagement, as it usually is when the Minister comes before the House.

I compliment the representatives of the pharmaceutical profession who have shown a capacity to respond to rapidly changing events, given that the Bill and the amendments to it were quickly produced. I also thank them for their maturity. There is a campaign which suggests that a lay majority on a regulatory body marks the end of civilisation as we know it. It does not. It is one way of winning over the public to the belief that a self-regulating profession is also accountable to it and that it is there to serve it, not the self-interest of the profession. I hope other bodies will begin to listen and learn that a lay majority does not pose a threat, but is a way of advancing the cause of a profession.

I compliment the Minister and I look forward to seeing the long list of amendments that Dáil Éireann will have to deal with because of the diligence of Seanad Éireann.

[1408]   Ms O’Rourke: I commend the Minister. It is always a pleasure to have her in the House. She gives of herself and engages with Senators. This is a fine Bill and the pharmaceutical profession will be well served by it. It is historic because it took so long to be brought forward, but the Minister did it, for which I congratulate her. We have been sitting after the Dáil adjourned. This is a legislative Chamber in which Bills are subject to great scrutiny. The Bill was subjected to terrific scrutiny, but the Dáil adjourned three hours ago.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: They are afraid of what might happen at the weekend.

  Ms O’Rourke: That may be, but we are still here.

Question put and agreed to.

  The Seanad adjourned at 6.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 23 March 2007.