(Cavan): We did not succeed. We put that to a vote. Such are the rules of procedure that we cannot again oppose it in toto on the Report Stage; it would not be in order, the matter having being decided on Committee Stage. Therefore, we did the next best thing. In amendment No. 7 we attempted to exclude the Press, radio and television from the offence of encouraging the commission of a crime. We hope to do that again in amendments Nos. 9 and 10. I cannot honestly believe that the Minister will get responsible members of his party to make a reasoned argument here against amendments Nos. 9 and 10 or vote against them, but if I were to discuss these amendments now I should be out of order because they have not been reached. We must lose no opportunity of ensuring that this objectionable section 4 will be amended if it must remain in the Bill. We want to ensure that the rights of the Press, among other rights, are protected. There are many other rights involved and I shall deal with them in detail later. There are the rights of Deputies in this House, the rights of local representatives on county councils and corporations and local authorities that we are told so much about. But we want to protect the rights of the Press to report and comment on matters of public importance.
Again, the Minister has successfully resisted our efforts to amend the Bill on Report Stage. This amendment proposes to delete two words, "encourages or". At present subsection (1) reads:
A person who encourages or advocates the commission of an offence under section 2 or 3 of this Act shall be guilty of an offence.
I clearly understand what the word "advocate" means; it means to call upon somebody to do something, to call on somebody to take forcible possession of, or sit in. I do not know what the word "encourage" means. It is a vague word that can mean anything—to hearten, to inspirit, to comfort, vague things like that. I was at a considerable loss to know where this word "encourage" came from. I am sufficiently experienced in the law—in a general sort of way I hasten to add—and in Parliamentary activities in a general sort of way to know that people who are drafting things look for precedents. The Minister knows that in a solicitor's office, if somebody is drafting an agreement which he did not come across before, he will say: "Would my uncle or my grandfather or somebody ever have had anything like this?" And he will look up old cases. If he cannot find what he wants he will go to an encyclopedia of precedents where he will find something that will help. I imagine Parliamentary draftsmen work on some similar basis having been instructed, of course, by the Government on the type of legislation they are expected to draft and on the type of sections they are to put into that legislation.
I did some considerable research on this matter and if I had the Minister's facilities I should probably have done much more. I went through the Acts since the foundation of the State and the only Act I found that contained the word "encourage" was the Offences Against the State Act, 1939. That leads me to believe that this Bill is patterned on that Act. This Bill is introduced to deal with a nuisance, an objectionable nuisance, I agree, but a nuisance. It is not a Bill introduced to deal with any extremely serious offences. I find that the word "encourage" appears in section 6 (2) of the Offences Against the State Act which prohibits the usurpation of the functions of Government. It appears in section 7 (2) of the same Act which deals with obstruction of Government. It appears in section 8 (2) of the same Act which deals with the obstruction of the President and it appears in section 9 (2) of the same Act which deals with interference with military or other employees of the State.
It appears in all those sections of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, which was passed by the Oireachtas at a time of world upheaval when the second World War was either on or imminent. I respectfully suggest that it is a classic example of the Minister and the Government proposing to put on the Statute Book what is in effect a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
This word "encourage" appears in another Act, in section 2 (1) of the Treason Act, 1939, which deals with the crime of treason and provides a penalty of £500, which was a great deal of money then, or, at the discretion of the court, sentence of penal servitude for a term not exceeding 20 years, a fairly lengthy period of time. That in my opinion is where this word "encourages" comes in. It may appear in other Acts of Parliament and if it does I am sure we will have reference to them by the Minister when he intervenes. It certainly appears in the ones I have mentioned.
It is dangerous word. We understand what the word "advocate" means. To advocate is to call on a person to do something, to say that it is right to do something, to demand that something should be done or to speak in favour of something that is being done. One could encourage a legal squat or sit-in, forcible entry or forcible occupation in a variety of ways. The Minister has said it has always been an offence to incite a person to commit a crime. We agree with that but I would like the Minister and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party to consider this in a calm and collected way and try to forget that because a measure has been introduced into this House the Government's prestige is at stake and it cannot be amended substantially on principle.
I should like to ask the Minister, his party and the Government to consider that we are creating here a new offence or at least that we are writing into the statute law of this country in a clear and unambiguous manner the offences of forcible entry and forcible occupation. I do not disagree with the creation of those offences, as I have said as early as the 26th May, 1970, but we are now creating for the first time these offences. The Minister will not get away with saying that these offences have been there at common law. He will not even get away with saying that my esteemed colleague, Deputy Thomas F. O'Higgins, has stated they were there all the time at common law because the Minister has said that the Attorney General has said that he could not prosecute under those offences at common law and the courts would not convict anyone. Therefore, I think the Minister and myself are ad idem in saying that we are now for the first time creating in an unambiguous clearly cut and defined way the offences of forcible entry and forcible occupation.
I want to repeat that I do not quarrel with the creation of those offences but we must remember that the offences of forcible entry and forcible occupation, which are popularly known as squatting, first emerged in recent years to draw public attention to national and social problems—the failure of the Government to deal with the housing problem, which is a national disgrace, the monopolising of the fishing waters of this country by foreign interests and the destruction of buildings of an architectural value in this city and throughout the country. These are some of the problems which have been highlighted with what will be offences under this Bill. These are some of the topics that have been highlighted by what will be illegal squatting if this Bill goes through.
I would ask the Minister to bear in mind that the problems of the housing of our people, monopolising of the fishing waters of this country, the destruction of beautiful Georgian buildings in this city and buildings of architectural value throughout the country were not highlighted for the first time by these activities which the Minister is to declare illegal. The national and provincial newspapers of this country have campaigned for years for better housing for the people. They have campaigned for years, both in editorial comment and other comments, which the Minister resorts to now and again, for better housing for the people, the protection of buildings of architectural value and for the liberty of Irishmen to fish in Irish waters without the permission of foreign landlords.
Those are some of the matters that have been agitating the minds of Irish people for years and some of the causes that have been championed by the newspapers of this country for years. Are these newspapers to cry a halt to their campaign for better housing, fair play for fishing and for the preservation and protection of buildings of beauty just because somebody chooses to indulge in illegal activities to further the same campaign? That is what we are doing here. The newspapers have been reasonable in their campaign for years, but because somebody decides to indulge in illegal activities in furtherance of the same objectives the newspapers are being muzzled.