I am a little worried about the very sweeping powers that are being taken in this section from the point of view of their possible effect on industrial employment. While we are all agreed that it is desirable to control pollution of the atmosphere, and prevent pollution as far as we possibly can it is a matter upon which there are bound to be in almost every case two divergent views. It will always be a matter of degree and, when things reach the stage of being a matter of degree, the point at which it is desirable to take action is always a matter of opinion. I rather feel that the power of the Minister to make regulations in vacuo, and that is the power given here, is a power which will possibly have such wide repercussions that we ought to consider it a little more carefully.
In normal practice, there are, of course, two types of regulation. First, there is the type of regulation we have under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act whereby the Minister for Industry and Commerce makes a regulation—it is called an order, but really it is a regulation—and then comes and asks this House for a positive motion of approval. The other type is the regulation which is made and power is given to veto it within the next 21 days after the House sits. In relation to these matters, which will be, must inevitably be, matters of pure opinion, I feel it is undesirable for the Minister to have the sweeping powers conferred by this section.
Nobody knows better than the Minister that, when I want to be political in a Party sense, I am well able to be so; in this case I do not mean the "Minister" in any Party sense; I am referring to the Minister in charge of the Department of Local Government. He is bound, so to speak, to be on the side of regulation. We might be wise in this, therefore, to follow the practice in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act rather than the practices laid down here, certainly in relation to the main regulations made. This is entirely new ground and we should have some form of positive motion of approval brought before the House. I am not clear exactly what type of regulation the Minister has in mind. It seems to me very difficult to determine in an absolute way the degree of pollution that will constitute an offence. When we are starting off on an entirely new uncharted sea so far as regulation or legislation is concerned, it behoves us to consider very carefully where it could take us.
I could visualise here under this a whole factory having to close its door, the people employed in it being disemployed, all arising because of a genuine misunderstanding and mistake as to the effect of a regulation made in relation to any industry.
It would be desirable to provide some form of consultation. I cannot see how we can provide a form of statutory consultation. It seems to me, therefore, that the only way we can do it is to provide, as we do provide in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, the publicity that is involved by the Minister giving notice of his intention to come to the Dáil to ask for a motion of approval. Once a Minister gives that public notice that he will ask the Dáil for specific approval, then the matters under discussion are brought in a very special way to the notice of persons who may likely be affected. Without that publicity, I cannot see how one can avoid the possibility of considerable damage and disturbance to industrial employment.
After all, this is not a case in which the Minister can know of all the ways in which his regulation will affect individual industries. It is impossible for him to know. It is only the people who are in the individual industries who would appreciate what was involved in the regulation. The Minister cannot get in touch with him, following publication by him of the appropriate draft regulation he intends to make.
I appreciate that no Minister likes to bow to the view that it is necessary for him to come in here and seek time and a positive motion of approval, but in the line of country we are travelling in this section—this desirable section, let me say—we should, at least until we have fixed the pattern, make it the position that the House will have an opportunity of expressing a view before individual industrial employment could be affected, as otherwise it may seriously be affected without the Minister having the fainest idea in making the order that he was so affecting such employment.