I move amendment No. 3:—
In page 5, line 51, Section 12, to insert the words "Save as otherwise provided by this Act" before the words "The board."
This is a drafting amendment and is consequential on an amendment which I shall move later.
Vol. 76 No. 10
I move amendment No. 3:—
In page 5, line 51, Section 12, to insert the words "Save as otherwise provided by this Act" before the words "The board."
This is a drafting amendment and is consequential on an amendment which I shall move later.
I move amendment No. 4:—
In page 8, line 4, Section 19 (2), to insert after the word "may" the words "with the consent of the Minister."
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the board will not compulsorily acquire land without the consent of the Minister. I intimated, during the debate on Committee Stage, that I proposed to move an amendment to this effect on Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 5, but amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 8 may be taken with it as they all deal with the same point. Amendments Nos. 5 and 7 are in my name. During the Committee Stage, the question of having an appeal from the decision to refuse registration or reregistration of a hotel or similar premises was debated at some length and I intimated my willingness to move an amendment which would ensure that the proprietor of such a premises would receive notice of the intention to refuse registration or reregistration, would have the right to appeal against that provisional decision, that, following his appeal, there would be a reinspection of the premises by another officer of the board and that the decision on appeal would be made by the board itself and not by ony of its officers. That is the purpose of amendment No. 5. The purpose of amendment No. 7 is to effect the same thing in reference to reregistration.
I admit that the Minister has gone a considerable distance to meet the view we put forward. He has carried out his promise to the full. He refused to commit himself so far as the board was concerned, but he promised that there would be a reinspection. As regards the amendment that stands in my name, I was anxious that reinspection should be carried out by a more responsible officer, as generally happens in case of appeals, than the officer responsible for the original inspection. As I pointed out on Committee Stage, though the board itself may make the decision, it will make that decision on the report of the inspector and not on personal knowledge. Unless it is provided that a member of the board shall make the report for the purpose of appeal, the board will have to be guided by the report of their inspector. So far as the Minister's amendment is concerned, the inspector for the purpose of the appeal will be a person of the same rank as, or perhaps a lower rank than, the man who carried out the original inspection. I do not know whether the Minister could help us in suggesting to the board that a person of higher standing than the original inspector should carry out the reinspection. That would be more in accord with precedent generally.
Now, that we are on this new section, which deals with one of the Bill's main purposes—registration— perhaps the Minister could give us some guidance. We are appointing a board but we are giving the board no guidance on this question of registration. There is to be registration of four different classes of persons catering for tourists. The House is giving not the slightest hint to the board as to these different classes. If we are not able to clarify that matter, nobody else will. It is generally regarded as the business of a judicial body to determine what the House means but when the House definitely refuses to give any hint as to its meaning, there is bound to be difficulty. There is a great deal of vagueness about this matter. On Committee Stage, an amendment was moved to provide that if a man asked to be registered as a hotelkeeper the board could register him in another category—as the keeper of a guest-house. The view was prevalent that a guest-house was a sort of lower-class hotel. The Minister says that that is not so, but there is nothing in the Bill to guide the board as to whether it is so or not. Neither is there anything to guide a judicial body in coming to a decision as to whether a guest-house is to be regarded as a lower-class hotel. I recognise the difficulties of definition but surely somebody must have told the Minister what the distinction was when he put this provision into the Bill. The board cannot have done so because the Minister says he has no idea of who will constitute the board.
Furthermore, there is power here in this section to refuse registration. What happens then? I think I put this point to the Minister on the Committee Stage and I should like if he would address himself to it now. I have a hotel and I take a name that is not often used in this country, a name that is used more frequently by English and Scotch proprietors. I call the hotel the "Ivanhoe Hotel". I ask that it be registered and it is not registered. I then simply knock out the word "hotel". Does that mean that, so far as I am concerned, the Act is a dead letter? If it does not, does it mean that I go out of business? If the Act is not a dead letter I cannot, according to the Minister's own exposition on the last occasion, act as a hotel proprietor, as the owner of a guest-house, of a camp or so on. In what capacity does the Bill catch me? There is in Section 33, I think, a phrase which I asked the Minister to explain, namely, that a person "describes" or "holds out". It seems to me there are only two alternatives. I can certainly give the place a proper name. If that is described as "holding out", it seems to me that I can go out of business.
The reason I am asking the Minister these questions is that I am very anxious that the Bill should be a success and that there is a great deal of vagueness attached to it. There is an impression abroad for instance, that in reality there will be very few refusals to register, certainly in the case of existing businesses, at the beginning. What they will register as, I do not know. There may be a great deal of tightening up later on, but if a person is not registered, does it mean that he is deprived of his livelihood, because it may be held that he "holds out"? I think that is the expression. Or does it mean that he escapes the Act altogether, and that all he has to sacrifice is the publicity? I do not know what the publicity may amount to, because there is a large number of tourists who never look at these handbooks. For instance, the French, the Italians and the Swiss each publish handbooks. I am sure that millions of visitors visit these countries annually, but the number who look at these handbooks is not 1 per cent. It seems to me that if all a man suffers is the loss of the advertisement afforded by getting into that particular handbook, he will not mind that so much.
The Minister will confess that we are making a considerable act of faith in this Bill. We are blindly giving over or providing a lump sum of £600,000 and £45,000 a year, with all these uncertainties left. I wonder whether, when this Bill comes to the Seanad, the Minister might not clarify a number of these things? I am anxious, as I say, very, very anxious, that this particular industry should succeed and be helped in every way, but I would feel a little more easy in voting for a Bill that involves such an expenditure of public money if I knew precisely what I was doing in particular sections. I must confess that the more I listened to the debates—it may have been due to lack of intelligence on my part—the vaguer I have become as to the meaning of particular provisions in the Bill. It should be the business of the House to clarify these things.
The first point made by the Deputy concerned the possibility of having the second inspection provided for in this amendment, undertaken by a member of the board. I should say that the effect of the amendment would be to make it inevitable that the second inspection would be carried out by an officer of the board holding a senior position. I should not like, however, to make it obligatory that the inspection should be carried out by a member of the board for the reason that it would mean that in the selection of members of the board, we would have to confine ourselves to people who would be suitable for that particular type of work and who would be capable of undertaking it. It is possible that members of the board will do that work, but I think in the selection of the board, we should be free at least to consider adding business people who may not be free to do inspection work themselves, but who would be very competent to arrive at a decision on the inspector's report when it is made available.
The Minister would not care to provide that the inspector who carries out the second inspection should be an official of senior rank?
There is nothing in the Bill about ranks and that would be a drafting difficulty, but I should say that once you provide for inspection by another officer, you make it almost inevitable that the inspection will be carried out by an official holding a senior position.
I hope the Minister is not going to suggest that it would be impossible to provide that the board should do that.
I can see considerable difficulty in putting that into the Bill. In a sense, when you suggest that the second report is to override the first report, the second report must come from some person of greater authority than the person who made the first report, otherwise the internal organisation of the board would be upset. The general question of the standard required for registration is a somewhat difficult one to deal with. I do not think it would be practicable to set down in the Bill particulars of the standards of accommodation required in order to make a premises eligible to be registered on the hotel register. We would have to define the general character, the type of accommodation and services provided and other qualifications requisite. Because it is not possible, practicable, or desirable, I think, to do that in the Bill, we take power to do that by regulation. We are giving power to the board to make these regulations. The board may modify these regulations from time to time. It is extremely probable that all hotels will be registered in the first instance. The attitude of the board to hotel proprietors will not be one of hostility. Their main function will be to encourage and assist hotel proprietors to improve the standards of accommodation provided for their guests. I think, therefore, it is to be expected that the board's attitude will be one of benevolence rather than one of hostility. Their anxiety will be to get hotels registered and, when registered, to encourage and, if necessary, to assist proprietors to improve them generally. The difficulty in mentioning here the standards of service, the type of accommodation and so forth that may be required to qualify an hotel for registration is that we are giving the power of making regulations to the board. The board will have to make these regulations independent of Ministerial supervision. I am sure the board will fix standards which are reasonable at the beginning, but it is a matter for consideration by the board at what point they will make a start. If a premises is not registered, the proprietor cannot describe it as an hotel nor can he hold himself out as carrying on the business of an hotel.
What does that mean?
It means that he cannot conduct the premises as an hotel.
But actually he can carry on the same business as before?
No. That point was made in Committee and I had to consider whether it was necessary to take some general power to prevent a person carrying on the same type of business under some other name. I had the section examined and I came to the conclusion that it was unnecessary, that the phraseology in Section 34 relating to these different classes of premises is sufficient to make it impossible for a person who is not registered to represent himself as carrying on a registered business.
He can carry on the same type of business without representing himself as doing that.
He can carry on a hotel business without calling the premises a hotel, but if he holds himself out as carrying on such a business he commits an offence.
I do not know what the phrase means.
The phrase, I am sure, has that meaning. That is what is intended. Following the discussion on Committee Stage, I had it re-examined from that point of view for the purpose of ensuring that a person carrying on, to use the Deputy's simile, the Ivanhoe Hotel, and is refused registration can continue business by dropping the word "hotel." I am satisfied that is not so. It is not intended that it should be so. It is intended that a person cannot carry on that type of business at all unless he is registered.
With all respect, I do not think it means that at all. He cannot say that he is carrying on business, but he can say that he has rooms, and that breakfasts and luncheons, and so on, can be had at so much per day or so much per week, at such and such house.
If a guest walks up the front steps of any such premises and asks: "Is this a hotel?" the proprietor cannot say "yes."
Is that all the difference? Would the Minister say how is the board to define, by regulation, what we mean when we are legislating?
I do not think that is a fair picture of the situation.
We are distinguishing, in this legislation, between a guest-house and a hotel. If we refuse to say what we mean by that, how is the board to know? It cannot know what we mean.
We are legislating to set up a board which will have the power to make that distinction.
That is not what we are doing.
I move amendment No. 9:—
In page 14, at the end of Section 39, to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) If at any time a registered proprietor is dissatisfied with the grade allotted to his premises by the board such proprietor may appeal against such allocation and the board shall thereupon hear such appeal and give its final award as soon as may be but only after the inspection of such premises by either a member of the board or an inspector of senior rank other than the officer who first inspected such premises.
From the remarks which have been dropped by the Minister, I think the House ought to grasp this fact: that it is not registration that is the important thing: it is the grading.
I think that will appear to be so from the remarks just made by the Minister, namely, that in practice, and at the start particularly, we may take it for granted that all existing institutions carrying on hotel business will be allowed to carry on as hotels. Therefore, I take it that registration is not the important thing, but that the position is to be this: that it is on the grading itself that we are going to rely for achievement in the way of improvement and not on registration. I understood the Minister to say on a previous amendment that registration, especially in the opening years, will be a pro forma matter: that in the benevolent attitude which the board takes it will accept practically almost any registration that is sent in. I asked the Minister whether that would be the attitude, in his opinion, of the board. I gathered that he said “Yes.” He repeated the phrase himself, and spoke of the benevolence and desire of the board to help.
I accept, therefore, that what he means is that the really important section is the one dealing with grading. You may have a number of grades from A to G, and by grading you may decide the fate and the livelihood of a person. In view of that, I would ask the Minister to revise his opinion on this. I put it to him that when the Bill goes to the Seanad he should allow an amendment to be moved providing for the right of appeal on the matter of grading. In my opinion, especially as a result of the debate that we had on the Committee Stage, and the debate that we had earlier to-day, the right of appeal on the question of grading is more important than on the question of registration. I would, therefore, ask the Minister to make the same provisio in the case of grading that he has made in the case of registration, because you are attempting something very big here.
I do not know any country where, officially, grading takes place on the lines that, I gather, it is the Minister's intention the board should introduce it into this country. If you take the French list you find that you have not that grading there. You have a description of the different types of hotels: the hotels that are strongly recommended and others where a guarantee is given with regard to prices. You get information as to what the hotel is: the number of rooms, the rooms that have hot and cold baths, the price of meals, and so on. You have a division of hotels into tourist hotels and furnished hotels— the hotels where you can have bed and breakfast, and family hotels. In all, I think, there are about three divisions, but you have no attempt at grading. In the case of the Italian hotels, if there is grading, it is grading according to price: that is that in each particular grade the prices move within certain limits. You can, so to speak, transfer from a hotel in Grade D to another in Grade E. But there is no attempt to describe the grading according to the value you get for money, or do anything more than indicate the cost of the hotel. All sorts of information is given about hotels, but there is no attempt at grading in the sense that I understand this Bill contemplates, that there should be grading.
I do not know of any country in which you have the grading of hotels in the way that we are attempting grading in this country by a semi-official body that has, so to speak, the cachet of the State behind it. In view of what I have said, I would urge on the Minister to allow an appeal here, because I think that this matter of grading is much more important than the question of registration.
It is, perhaps, not worth while having a debate as to which is the more important: registration or grading. The position is that when a premises is on the register it is open for business, and the proprietor can carry on hotel business in the premises. The question of grading is a different question altogether. On that question, I listened very carefully to the representations that were made to me in favour of having some sort of appeal board, but I felt that it would be impracticable. I came to the conclusion, when it is a question of grading, that you must give the board certain arbitrary powers—I recognise that they are arbitrary powers—if the thing is to work properly. I cannot say that the board will not in practice make its grading on the basis of price, as is done elsewhere, but I think we must leave that matter very largely to the discretion of the board. Here we have a premises. It is registered. The proprietor is entitled to carry on an hotel business in that premises. There is no question of preventing him from carrying on that business, because he has succeeded in getting his registration, but, when it is a question of determining the standard of the hotel by way of a grading system, it is the opinion of the board that will matter—not the result of a controversy between the board and the hotel proprietor. The board will give its opinion, in the same way as private associations which undertake the grading of hotels for the information of their members are at present giving their opinion, and the opinion of their officers, as to the standard of the accommodation provided at the hotel. They are doing that by a grading system. That is exactly what the board will do for the information of tourists, and I considered that it was impracticable and not desirable to provide for a formal grading system, in the same sense as we have a formal registration system, but, instead, to give the board the right to come in and, having got this list of hotels, to grade them on the best information it is able to ascertain.
Hotel proprietors at the present time have no appeal against the grades they are given by any of those associations. They know how the system works, but they may not be always satisfied with the way it works. I think they can trust this board— which will have a somewhat different attitude from the executives of those organisations—to deal with them as fairly and probably more fairly than they have been dealt with in the past, because, of course, the function of this board is to improve and to assist hotels, and not merely the negative one of giving people information concerning them. They will have the dual function of giving information, on the one hand, and seeing that the accommodation is improved, on the other, and they will have resources to assist them in improving the accommodation. The hotel proprietors, who are familiar with the system at present in operation, will find the system under this board more satisfactory.
It looks to me as if, from the internal point of view, the first grading will mean a lot to the average hotel. After all, there will be a good deal of talk about it amongst those who regularly travel through the country, apart from tourists. They will be very curious to know how certain hotels with which they are familiar are graded. The position it gets in the list of graded hotels may make or mar an hotel, and I think there is reason for an appeal. It might happen that the board would grade an hotel on its appearance on inspection. An hotel which was not particularly clean, for instance, would not get a good trade, but that is a matter which could be remedied immediately; the change of a manager or manageress might enable the hotel to claim a higher grade than had been given to it by the board. As far as I can see, once a decision has been given the hotel must wait for a year or more before the grading can be changed.
There is nothing about that in the Bill.
It can be altered at any time?
I am glad of that. At the same time, I think that—at the beginning, at all events—the grading of the hotel might establish for it a reputation which would be unfavourable and in some cases not altogether desirable.
The Minister says it is the board which will do that grading, but in the amendments dealing with the registration, he thought it necessary to insert a sub-section which said that a reference to the board does mean the board and not its officers. No such sub-section applies to the grading, so in practice it will be the inspectors who will do it?
That is quite so.
So there will not be a common grading throughout the country.
The intention is that there will be a common grading.
But it will be done by different people.
There will be co-ordination of their work. I take it that it will not be done by the individual officers; the board, I take it, will ensure that the actual decisions are made at the central office. The grading may be upon the basis of price. One can easily contemplate a situation where the hotel proprietor will not want to get the top grade. He may say: "If I get the top grade it is going to keep away the class of customer I am catering for, namely the persons who want a cheaper class of hotel". It must not be assumed that only such hotels as are on the highest grade will get business. Quite the reverse may be the case. Neither should it be presumed that the only communication between the hotel proprietor and the Board takes place when the inspectors come on a formal visit. There will be constant contact between the hotel proprietors and the Board, and questions involving a change of grade on a change of management or some alteration in the hotel can be dealt with at any time.
Actually, once more we do not know what we want?
In fact, what we are doing is we are setting up an authority, and we are leaving it to that authority.
I move amendment No. 10:—
In page 15, line 15; Section 41 (1), to insert after the word "times" the words and brackets "(subject to the production by him if so required of his appointment in writing as inspector)".
This is an amendment providing that an inspector of the board, if requested to do so, will produce his authority to enter and inspect a premises. I promised this amendment on the Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 11:—
In page 15, line 19, Section 41 (1), to delete the words "any person employed in" and substitute the words "the person in charge of".
I have been thinking over the debate which took place on the last day, and I can quite see the reasons which induced the Minister to take up the attitude he did, but I wonder whether considerations of public policy ought not induce him to change his mind. If you look at any particular matter, and look at that alone, there are strong reasons why power should be given to do a certain thing; for instance to give the Revenue Commissioners power—I do not know whether or not they have it—to look into the whole banking accounts of everybody, whether they got permission from the individual or not. If you argue on the individual merits of investigating business of that kind, a case can always be put up, but public policy ought to be against the principle of having the sort of inquisition that is provided for in this particular section, and that the amendment in the name of Deputy McMenamin and myself strives to prevent.
I can quite understand the Minister saying: "Well, the inspector must get information as to the type of hotel—get it where he can." That looks all right, but I think it is a bad principle, namely going behind the back of the employer to get evidence against the employer from one of the employees. From the point of view of general business, I think that is bad, and I think public policy ought to induce the Minister to think over it and change his mind. I think, apart altogether from this kind of inquisition provided for in the section as it stands, there is already sufficient power. Apart altogether from hotels, or anything else of that kind, I think that in general it is bad policy to introduce this principle. For that reason, I think the Minister should amend this particular section.
I am putting that to him on the general consideration, not on the desirability of getting this particular type of information. The inspector can go in and dine there and hear of things. He can question people, or ask the proprietor to allow him to question certain people in his presence or anything of that kind. But that he should ask an employee to do practically what would be looked upon in the ordinary way as spying on the person running the business, I suggest is bad policy. It does not conduce to the smooth running of that or of any other business. I should like the Minister to give some assurance that he would consider this when the Bill is passing through the Seanad. I am putting it on the ground of general policy and on no other ground.
I should like to say to the Deputy that I have considered the matter already, and I think it desirable to leave the section as it stands. We have considerable experience of the working of similar sections in other legislation, legislation of very long standing, like the Factories Acts, the Trade Boards Acts, and so forth. Under these Acts we have the same power.
The Butter Act.
That does not come under my Department and I cannot say anything about it. It has been the experience of factory inspectors, shop inspectors, and Trade Board inspectors that without this power their ability to carry out their functions is considerably restricted, although they exercise that power very rarely indeed, because, of course, they always feel that if they speak to an employee in some factory or similar establishment they are jeopardising that employee's livelihood if, as a consequence, the proprietor is subject to a prosecution. Therefore, they do not often use that power except there is real need for it, but they find that having possession of the power makes it easier for them to carry out their functions. The same thing would apply in this case. You must assume that the inspectors will be reasonable men anxious to carry out their functions with the least possible trouble to all concerned and get their job done without causing annoyance or difficulty. It is to be assumed that they will not exercise the power except there is need for it, and, if there is need for it, I think they should have the power. It has been our experience in connection with other legislation that the possession of the power reduces the need for it and that the inspectors concerned are always able to get the information they want from the man in charge, because the man in charge knows that if he does not give it the inspector has power to get it otherwise.
I was opposed to this as a general principle when it first appeared and I tried to get it amended in Committee and my view has not changed. The general principle is really bad, I think. If this is left in its present form it will give the impression of spying. You can have cases where a subordinate employee may give information which he in fact believes to be true, but owing to the fact that he is in a subordinate position he may not be in possession of full information and as a result of that he may, in fact, give information which is wrong. These cases occur and we know they will occur. Everybody knows that in this country the Government inspector, except he is handing something out, is generally treated as a suspect and people try to conceal things from him. The inspectors are alive to that. That sort of thing does not arise here. What is involved here is a visit to the premises and an inspection of the furniture and the rest of the equipment and the menu.
And the charges— where a particular tourist was overcharged.
As to the charges, all the inspector has to do is to go into the hotel at breakfast, lunch or dinner time and see the menu card. Is not that the whole problem? Anyone who comes along can see that. There is no reason for this at all.
The ordinary type of case would be where somebody writes in: "I went to spend a holiday in your country. I went down to this part of the country and I was grossly overcharged in the following hotels". That is the complaint the inspector has got to investigate.
We are enacting here that the list of charges must be displayed in a number of places in the hotel. If I walk in there and consider the charges too high I can go out. There can be no concealment. If a person is overcharged at the table, all he has to do is to refer the person who is serving him to the list of charges. I do not want to press this, but I am defending it on principle. I do not see any necessity for this provision for I cannot see any case which will arise. I think it is a dangerous thing. A person can make a bona fide mistake in giving information, or, on the other hand, can act maliciously. In either case, it is bad. In the running of an hotel there can be no necessity for this. The building can be inspected and the bedrooms and other rooms can be inspected. The Bill provides that price lists must be exposed in various places in the hotel. Everybody can see them. If you are overcharged, you can say: "This differs from the price list. I am only going to pay the price on the list. If you want any more you can sue me for it." You can take a copy of the price list. Where valuable property is involved, I do not think that this provision should be inserted and that the Minister should amend it either now or in the Seanad.
How does the Minister really think that the power that he is taking in the Bill will get over overcharging?
That is not the question. I was giving typical circumstances under which the inspector would go to an hotel when there was some complaint of that kind received.
How can he prove it?
He does not have to prove it. He has got to investigate and find out what he can. In certain circumstances, of course, he would have to produce proof to the board.
It seems to me that in what the Minister regards as typical cases everything now will be clear as in many of the Continental hotels as to what the charges are. There can be no question of overcharging. If a person wants to protest, the only time he can satisfactorily protest is there and then. He can say that there was an attempt to overcharge. He has his bill and can keep it and produce the written evidence to the board. I think the Minister is violating an important principle and that he will get very little for it.
I do not think it is a principle at all. I say that we would be acting contrary to the usual practice if we were to amend the section.
I know it is useless trying to argue with the Minister.
What is practical in regard to one matter is not practical in regard to another. When you are dealing with a question of so many cwts. of something, or with a person concealing his means, it may be difficult to get information. But that does not apply in this case at all. The facts cannot be concealed. Everything is there, the house and the bedroom. Valuable property is involved here. On principle, where valuable property is involved, it must be remembered that the remedy may be too late. There is a danger here of doing many things by working in the dark. We are passing a Bill and handing over power to men to do what they like. This House will have no control of them. They are not like civil servants, men who have been trained under senior men to do things in a legal way. I am very loath to give any power to anyone that might afterwards be a menace.
The only thing the board will do under this section is to get information.
There is no case for this proposal. No one could put up a case for it.
I move amendment No. 12:—
In page 15, line 29, Section 41 (2), to delete the words "or negligently."
I undertook during the Committee Stage to delete these words.
I move amendment No. 13:—
In page 15, line 34, Section 41 (3), to insert after the word "appointed" the words "in writing."
I move amendment No. 14:—
In page 16, lines 5 to 9, to delete Section 43 (1) and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—
(1) The board may require the registered proprietor of registered premises to display in such places in the said premises as it thinks proper such and so many lists in easily legible form as it thinks proper of the charges for the time being current in respect of rooms, meals, or other services provided in the said premises.
Some objection was taken to the proposal that a list of prices should be displayed at or near the principal entrance to premises. I considered the matter since the Committee Stage and came to the conclusion that there was force in the objection and, in any event, the provision might be difficult to observe at times. The amendment is intended to provide a way out, by giving discretion as to the way the card should be displayed.
I move amendment No. 15:—
In page 16, line 11, 43 (2), to delete the words "the requirements of" and substitute the words "a requirement under"
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 16:—
In page 16, line 18, Section 44 (1), to delete the words "and indicating the standard thereof".
I undertook to do this on the Committee Stage.
May I not say this is purely a matter of drafting?
In a sense it is.
I move amendment No. 17:—
In page 16, line 44, Section 45 (1), to insert after the word "hostels" the words "premises registered in the register of youth hostels".
This is also a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 18:—
In page 16, before Section 45 (2), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the immediately preceding sub-section, where the registered proprietor of any registered premises requests the board to omit such premises from the list under this section in respect of any year, the board may omit such premises from the said list if, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it so thinks proper.
This amendment gives the board authority, if it thinks fit, to omit premises from the printed list. The amendment is intended to meet the case of establishments with select clienteles which desire to avoid publicity. Reference was made to a case, and I undertook to produce an amendment on this stage. Deputy O'Sullivan has an amendment down, but I prefer to deal with the matter in this way.
Again I cannot see the argument of the Minister. If a hotel wants to run a business in a certain way, I think it should be allowed to do so at its discretion. The Board has information if a hotel is there, and what it is catering for, but that the public should get information, so that the proprietor would be compelled to do a business he does not want to do is not right.
In the ordinary course the Board would assent to the deletion of the information as requested, except it was of opinion that it was not a bona fide business. What will arise here will be mainly a question of charges, and the board, under the circumstances, might feel that the deletion from the board's publication of information as to charges might be for some purpose other than the desire to reserve the business to a select class of clients.
How could that be general? If a man asks to be registered as an hotel, then he must display the charges.
This is publication in the register.
Precisely. He is bound to display the charges. He cannot do what the Minister suggests, namely, charge a different scale from the scale he puts out, and that he has been told by the board he cannot do. The Act catches him there. All I want is that if a man wants to do a certain type of business he shall not be compelled to do a different type. That is what the board could compel him to do.
The board might compel him to do what he might not want to do.
If it is a question of an hotel anyone who goes in must be served.
Supposing it is a guest house. Why interfere with business that a guest house deals with or give discretion to anyone to do so unless there are very substantial grounds for it?
Is it not safer to leave this as it is, under the assumption that the board would act in a reasonable rather than in a mandatory fashion?
Why give the board power if there is no necessity for it?
Why give an example in a remote case?
We cannot overcharge. If a man is registered he is put on whether his name appears on the list or not. He has to put up the charges. He cannot overcharge guests.
There are several safeguards.
If that is the best case the Minister puts up for interfering with a certain type of business house, he has put up no case. Power is given to the board without justification. I think that is wrong.
I have gone a long way to meet the Deputy's point of view. I think he will largely agree with that.
I want the Bill to be a success.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 16, before Section 46, to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) Where a notice is required by this Part of this Act to be served on any applicant for registration or renewal of registration, the notice shall be served in one of the following ways, that is to say:—
(a) by delivering the notice to the applicant,
(b) by delivering the notice to any person, of not less than sixteen years of age, who is in the employment of the applicant, and
(c) by sending the notice by post in a prepaid letter addressed, in the case of an applicant for registration, at the address where he carries on business or at his last known place of abode or, in the case of an applicant for renewal of registration, at the premises in respect of which his application is made.
(2) For the purposes of this section a body corporate registered within the State under the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1924, shall be deemed to carry on business at its registered office, and every other body corporate and every unincorporated body shall be deemed to carry on business at its principal office or place of business within the State.
I suggest to the Minister that he should omit paragraph (b). I think it is a danger.
That is the normal form.
The Minister cannot convince me that he comes here in a strait-jacket. What applies in one case does not apply in another. Does he not see a danger about this, if a notice that concerned registration or some important matter which might involve difficulties in the next year was given to a page boy or "boots"? Quite innocently the notice might be taken at a time when the person who got it was in a flurry attending, perhaps, to the Minister. He might put the notice in his pocket, where it might be forgotten. The notice should go to the owner.
The postman might give the notice to the "boots." However, I will consider the matter. I take it that the prepaid post will be the normal method.
I move amendment No. 21:—
In page 17, at the end of Section 48, to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) Whenever the Minister confers by order under this section powers on the board for the preservation of the amenities of an area to which this Part of this Act applies, and the said area or any part thereof is or is part of the area to which a planning scheme under the Town and Regional Planning Act, 1934 (No. 22 of 1934) relates, the Minister shall have regard to the provisions of such planning scheme.
I undertook during the debate to put in a section of this kind, which will require the board to make a plan having regard to any scheme that may be prepared.
I have a few remarks to make on the Fifth Stage. In discussing this Bill we have devoted attention mainly to hotels and their improvement. In my opinion the hotels in this country have improved considerably during the last ten years. I think there are a number of hotels here which give you better value than you would obtain across the water for anything like the same price. There are certain things that have an important bearing on the tourist traffic. I think they do come within the powers that we have actually conferred on the board—at least some of them do, while others do not. First and foremost, I should like to take the roads. The road problem might not have been so important 20 years ago as it is now, but it certainly is a highly important problem now.
I know a man who is in touch with tourist people. I met him in town and he told me that he could not advise certain people to take their cars to certain tourist districts in this country as the cars, because of the roads, would probably come back wrecks. If that sort of thing is going to continue I do not think you will develop what is an important side of the tourist traffic. First of all, you have the improvement of the existing roads. I think that is a more urgent problem than the grading of the hotels. We have made an advance with the hotels, but I know of no country with such scenic attractions as ours that is so badly provided with tourist roads. I expect it would involve the making of new roads. I should like to stress that aspect particularly—the need for providing better roads.
There is another important matter. A certain form of tourist traffic is developing here and in England, and also on the Continent. A man comes to this country and he does not bring his motor car. He prefers to hire a motor car in the country. I have heard very serious complaints of the type of motor car that is given to a tourist who all innocently hires a car of that kind. He finds that the vehicle is not merely incapable of working, but almost endangers his life. I am afraid the board has no power to deal with that, but possibly the Minister might look into it and see if he can increase their powers in order to cope with that aspect.
I take it for granted it is the intention of the Government to develop the tourist traffic and advertise it. There is a very peculiar advertising campaign going on at the present moment, a campaign of a distinctly negative character, so far as tourists are concerned. I have seen, in tourist districts here, signs put up that are calculated to keep certain tourists, who have money to spend, out of the country, and ten yards away from those signs indicating that we do not want their money, I have seen advertisements showing how delightful Scarborough and other places are. I take it for granted that is not our policy. I do not know what can be done to prevent things of that kind, but they certainly are having a harmful effect.
I presume the Minister knows about it. It is a peculiar form of patriotism. It says to the Englishman, for instance: "We do not want your money, but we have no objection to our people carrying our money over to you." Those are matters that the Minister might consider, as he is interested in this particular type of traffic. I believe that the tourist traffic can be made a source of real wealth much more than it is at the present moment, but every effort will have to be made to develop it and not kill it. I am afraid that some of the matters to which I have referred may tend to kill it. Bad roads will certainly not help a better tourist traffic and the particular type of advertisement I have drawn attention to is not calculated to help in attracting people from outside, no matter from what country they may come.
With what Deputy O'Sullivan said on the matter of roads, I am in complete agreement. There can be no question about the importance of good roads, particularly in the tourist districts. Of course, the provision of these roads is largely a matter of finance. Any general plan for the development of the tourist business must take into account the roads just as it must take into account the railway services and the steamer services, and other forms of transportation for tourists, in addition to hotels and the general provision of holiday facilities.
The matter of the suitability of cars available for hire is one that the board could give attention to. They would have power to assist in the establishment of an agency. I do not know would that power cover the establishment of an agency for this purpose, but I am quite sure that they could induce somebody to get into that business simply by undertaking to direct whatever business they could to the particular persons concerned.
With regard to the advertisements, I understand that in Killarney some notices were painted up, the effect of which would be to discourage visitors coming to that district. My information is that these notices were painted up by an individual who had been employed in some hotel as a waiter and had lost his job, and this was his way of getting his own back on his former employer. Whether that is correct or not, I feel that the people of that district did not make their attitude sufficiently clear. It would be quite easy for them to stop that type of nonsense if they fully realised how important it was for them. Apparently they did not realise it. If they are not prepared to co-operate fully in stopping that type of nonsense, I am afraid there is nothing the State can do to help them.
How can they co-operate?
That is a question which I cannot answer. My point is that if the public attitude in matters of this kind is right, these things do not happen or, if they do happen, they will not be allowed to continue. One individual can do much damage, but that damage can be repaired by the attitude of the rest of the community. There was one aspect of the Killarney incident which rather worried me. That was the apparent unwillingness of the community there as a whole to express their resentment, even though they must have realised how seriously it would affect the main business of that locality.
There is no legal power?
Legal power is not always necessary.
I am glad to have that statement from the Minister.
Lest any harm might be done to certain firms arising out of Deputy O'Sullivan's criticism of the motor cars, and the inconveniences that tourists have to put up with, so far as Dublin is concerned I happen to know two or three firms who specialise in that business and I am aware that they keep extraordinarily good cars. One of them does probably the best business of any concern in Ireland in that line and I think its cars could hardly be bettered by a similar concern in any other country. They are really wonderful people, they keep such excellent cars for that purpose. A German gentleman who has been in Ireland during the last fortnight and who toured a great deal on business, not altogether pleasure, remarked to me again and again how wonderful our roads are. He said that, apart from the new military roads in Germany, their roads on the average were not equal to ours.
I am glad the Deputy intervened so far as the motor cars are concerned. I am glad he intervened in order to allow me to clear that matter up. I did not intend to make a general charge. I know there are certain places in the country that are capable of providing excellent cars, just as there are high-class hotels to be found in many parts of the country. But there are institutions of which the opposite may be said. As regards the roads, I think the Deputy gave the case away. He said that the man was here on business. I never said the road from here to Cork was not a good road, but go down to the tourist centres, go there for pleasure——
South Kerry, for instance?
Portions of West Kerry—South Kerry is no longer my care—and I venture to think you will have a different opinion.
Question agreed to.