I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. When we passed the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936, we made provision therein for the payment of subsidies to the company to be established under that Act for the operation of air transport services. The Act provided that these subsidies should be paid for a period of only five years. At that time, there was very little experience of the financial results of the operation of air transport services from this country, and it was not known whether or not the circumstances would permit of these services being placed on a paying basis which would avoid the necessity for any subsidy. The general idea was that if, after five years, the situation had not developed to the point at which subsidies could be dispensed with, the Dáil should be again consulted on the question of the continuance of these subsidies. That is what the introduction of this Bill involves. Although air transport services have developed considerably—in fact, the existing services are unable to cater for the traffic offering—the difficulty of getting equipment to extend the services, and other problems arising out of the state of emergency, have made it impossible to contemplate dispensing with the payment of subsidies at the present time.
It is, consequently, proposed to amend the law so as to permit of the continued payment of subsidies. It is not necessary to amend it in any other important respect. The actual limit placed upon the amount that could be advanced by way of subsidy to the company by the Act of 1936 has never been reached. That situation is largely due to the fact that war conditions have prevented the development contemplated in respect of transatlantic services and confined us to those at present operating to Great Britain. The total effect of the amendment contemplated by this Bill is to permit of the continued payment of subsidies to the Air Transport Company established by the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936.
Under the existing law, it is necessary that a subsidy order should be laid before the Dáil and approved before coming into operation. That procedure has involved considerable delay in the actual payment of the moneys and considerable inconvenience to the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Air Transport Company. It is proposed to amend that requirement so as to provide that subsidies can be paid when the order is made and that these orders will then be brought before the Dáil, which will have power to annul them, if it so desires. These are the only two changes in the Principal Act which this Bill contemplates.