I will change the basis of my criticism altogether. The section says that the Government may by Order permit nationals of other countries to have ships on the Irish register. The implication is that the Government is given a power to do something which it may or may not exercise. If the Government has already made up its mind that British nationals and British companies are to be entitled to have ships on the Irish register—and I agree that that should be the position so long as Irish nationals and Irish companies have the corresponding right in Britain—this Bill should so provide, and the question of the further extension of that privilege to the nationals of other countries, or the termination of that privilege, so far as Britain is concerned, should be a matter for governmental Order.
It seems to me that it is a wrong arrangement to take power to do something which the Government have already decided should be done, and for which they should have made the requisite provision in the Bill. Nor do I see why there should be any delay, because the Minister can produce the draft of his Order forthwith and submit it to the Dáil, and, so far as I am concerned, I will support the approval of that Order, because nobody wants to terminate the arrangement by which British companies, like the B. and I., keep their ships on the Irish register and sail them under the Irish flag.
The device of merely taking power to do something when a decision to do it has already been made is, in a sense, misleading, and I think that the Bill should have been framed, if that was the intention, to provide in its terms for the granting of this facility to British nationals and companies, and only for its termination by Government Order, if and when circumstances required its termination—either internal circumstances or alteration of practice in Britain. I will go further and repeat the view which I have asserted over many years—that the power of making Orders which only the Dáil can annul should be confined to administrative details which would be too cumbersome to set forth in the legislation itself. Where the Government or a Minister takes power substantially to extend the scope of a measure, to do something which is, in effect, legislation, the prior approval of the Oireachtas should be sought.