Committee on Finance. - Firearms (Proofing) Bill, 1968: Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 4.
Question proposed: "That section 4 stand part of the Bill".

The Minister is taking power to cover use—not only use, as I understand it commercially, but private use. Is that not so?

It depends, therefore, on the terms of the order, how wide or how narrow it is.

This is true. The section is deliberately designed to allow a good deal of flexibility in this regard.

Question agreed to.

SECTION 5.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, to delete lines 27 to 31.

Section 31 of the Industrial Research and Standards Act, 1961, prohibits the registration of a trade mark containing the letters CE—Caighdeán Éireannach —or IS—Irish Standard. The effect of the subsection would be to ensure that the Minister would not be precluded by that section 31 from registering a proof mark which will in fact consist of an adaptation of the present standard mark comprising the letters CE. It would not preclude the Minister from registering that as a certification trade mark under the Trade Marks Act, 1963.

Since the Bill was drafted, the Patents Office have revised their view of the situation. They now advise that it would not be appropriate to seek registration of the mark as a certification trade mark under the Trade Marks code. It would appear that there are sufficient safeguards contained in section 6 against the misuse of the proof mark. It is, therefore, not proposed to seek formal registration of the mark under the Trade Marks Act. For that reason, I propose in this amendment to delete the subsection.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 5, as amended, stand part of the Bill".

Will the Minister seriously consider, as the requirement, the year in which the proofing was made?

I shall certainly give consideration to that.

It could only be the year. It is not necessary to go into any more detail than that.

I do not think it is international practice.

No, but it is a practice in which we could lead.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 6 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That section 9 stand part of the Bill".

As a matter of interest, can the Minister tell the House what would happen guns which have been seized?

I am not too sure, but I should imagine that, in the event of a seizure of this nature, there would probably be a prosecution also and the disposition of this would be ordered by the Court.

Take, for example, persons who have brought guns home from other countries, particularly hand-arms, for which they have not a licence and which have been allowed to remain in the possession of those people providing there were bored through the barrel a few holes to create a situation whereby the gun could not be used. It could be an antique. A couple of tiny holes could be bored in the barrel or some defect could be created in the gun so that it could not be used and it could then be given back to the owner.

There is also the type of firearm that is kept for sentimental reasons. If somebody is being officious, he might decide to take such a gun away. As this reads, it could simply mean that they would have to go through the rigmarole of the courts, and so on, and might certainly lose it. Could the Minister do anything about it?

Then there are the guns we see hanging on walls, and so on.

I do not visualise any such order being made under this Bill which would prohibit the keeping of an unproofed antique gun. As I said earlier, the provisions in regard to the order are very flexible. I would therefore hope that any order made under this would make exceptions of such cases.

But section 9 very definitely states that they may seize. If somebody starts to use an unproofed gun and, as a result of that, an inspection is carried out and other unproofed guns, which are antiques, are found in the place then, according to this section, they would have the right to take them away. I should like that point cleared up.

This would be on the assumption that the order, in the first place, covered this kind of gun. Next, the Deputy will notice that this power is given by reference to section 21 (2) of the principal Act. Section 21 (1) of the principal Act gives authority to any member of the Garda Síochána to enter specified classes of premises or vehicles. Subsection (2) of the principal Act empowers the Garda to inspect any firearms or ammunition, or any case, box or package found by him in any premises entered by him under the authority of this section or upon or in any public place, and may open any such case, box, or package which he reasonably believes or suspects to contain firearms or ammunition, and may seize any firearms or ammunition found in any such place as aforesaid and which he reasonably believes or suspects are being imported into or exported from the State or are being or have been removed from one place to another within the State. This is a ready-made machinery which we want to use for this purpose but it would be used here only in so far as an order made under this Bill, when enacted, applied. I do not visualise in any circumstances an order being made under this Bill which would cover something like an antique gun.

I am sure the Minister would agree that there are guns which might be antiques but which are capable of being used. This is the whole point. Deputy Donegan mentioned a few minutes ago that the system of boring through the barrel of the handarm is quite easy. However, if it is a gun which is being kept for antique or sentimental reasons and can be used—all of us know of such guns— it can be seized by somebody who is officious.

The remedy taken by the Garda authorities was to say: "Bore a hole through the side of the barrel and it is no longer a gun"— which seems the sensible thing.

I would think it is. This is primarily an industrial Bill. The objective is to ensure that the situation in regard to unproofed new guns can be dealt with. I think the situation Deputy Tully has in mind is, to say the least of it, most unlikely to arise under an order made under this measure.

Section 9 should be restricted industrially, if that is the case the Minister wants to make.

Section 9 takes in the seizing of firearms that might be 80 years of age.

Lest the Minister should say that it applies only to guns made after the passing of this Bill, when enacted——

The power to make these orders is very flexible. It is visualised that any order which might, in rough terms, be deemed to be operating outside the normal industrial approach to this matter would be made only after consultation with the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Lands from the point of view of his responsibility in regard to game and shooting. The House may rest assured that no order will be made under the Bill except with reference to the existing situation. I am speaking now of an order other than one dealing with new guns, where we propose to impose the obligation of proof of having had it. Apart from older guns, no order will be made without consultation with those two Departments or without regard to the situation in the country. This is an incidental to the Bill and it is not intended to interfere unduly with the existing situation.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 10 to 14, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment.

Before the Bill goes to the Seanad, perhaps the Minister will be able to consider the question of the year and announce in the Seanad whether he is able to do that or not?

Yes, I will do that.

Bill received for final consideration and passed.