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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 22 May 1974

Vol. 272 No. 13

Food Standards Bill, 1974: Report Stage.

Amendment No. 1 in the name of Deputy O'Malley was deemed out of order.

I received a letter from the Chair this afternoon informing me that my amendment was out of order. The amendment is substantially different to the one which was negatived on Committee Stage. I took steps to make it different. It covers what was in the Committee Stage amendment but it goes a good deal further than that. I hoped by putting down that amendment to give the Minister an opportunity of putting down a similar one.

On the last occasion the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries expressed himself in agreement with the amendment I had down on Committee Stage in relation to this matter. He asked me not to press it because of the fact that it would be covered in a Bill to be brought in by the Minister for Industry and Commerce at some future date. We have no idea yet when that time will come. We have the experience of waiting a long time for Bills. Would the Minister—I am glad to see him here today—consider an amendment if not precisely in these terms at least on these lines to cover the question of the advertising of food?

We had examples the last day which I myself gave, and on a previous occasion the Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke on the Bill and gave examples. Perhaps the greatest of abuse in relation to advertising is in the food sector and the quasi-medical food sector. We are all in agreement that this is undesirable and dangerous as well as misleading. I suggested to the Parliamentary Secretary that an amendment on these lines should be inserted in this Bill. If necessary it could be repealed if and when the Minister for Industry and Commerce comes in with a general Bill covering advertising claims. The Parliamentary Secretary did not accept this suggestion. Perhaps the Minister would do so today.

I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy. I have noted what the Deputy has said. It does not alter the decision. The Deputy's amendment has been deemed to be out of order and cannot be discussed.

Amendment No. 2 is in the name of Deputy O'Malley.

Before moving that amendment I should like to refer to Volume 272, column 1501 of the Official Report, which is the beginning of the Committee Stage debate on this Bill on Wednesday, 15th May, 1974. Before the Committee Stage it appears in the Official Report that the House went into Committee on Finance to consider a Money Resolution and that the Minister for Health moved a Money Resolution. The question was put and agreed to and the Money Resolution was reported and agreed to by the House. I was present on the last occasion from before the beginning of Committee Stage until after the end of it. The Minister for Health, Deputy Corish, was not present in the House. Neither he nor anyone else moved this Money Resolution at the beginning of Committee Stage.

It seems to me that I should draw this to your attention since Standing Orders lay down that you are responsible for the proper and accurate preparation of the Official Report and that what appears at column 1501 is quite incorrect and could not be correct because the Minister for Health was not present, nor was any Minister present. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries was the only representative of the Government present. There was no Minister present who could have moved a Money Resolution. I understand that under Standing Orders a Money Resolution must be moved by a member of the Government. I would submit that in the interests of accuracy that entry in the Official Report should be deleted. In order to keep the matter right the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, who is now present, might now move a Money Resolution. Otherwise difficulties could be encountered afterwards.

My recollection of the matter is not the same as the Deputy's, but I will have the matter looked into.

It should be, a Cheann Comhairle. That is as it happened.

The matter will be investigated.

The Ceann Comhairle can rest assured that the Minister for Health was not present at any time in the course of this debate. I am sorry—I might be slightly inaccurate there. There were Divisions on the Committee Stage. There were two Divisions and I imagine he was present at each of those. Outside that —and they would not be at all relevant to this because this purports to refer to something before the beginning of the Committee Stage proper— he was not present.

I can assure the Deputy that this matter will be fully investigated.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7 to delete lines 1 to 7.

Amendment No. 2 in my name proposes to delete lines 1 to 7 on page 7, that is, subsection (3) of section 6. Section 6 has given rise to a great deal of difficulty and there was a lot of discussion on it the last day. I referred to it at some length when I spoke on the Second Stage. As a result the Minister brought in certain amendments which were designed to do good but, as I pointed out the last day, did not achieve what they set out to achieve and in certain respects made matters worse so far as subsection (4) is concerned. I am glad to see that the Minister has put down today a further amendment to that subsection. This further amendment, if it does not bring the position to what it should be, at least is an improvement on the rather intolerable position which was arrived at as a result of the Committee Stage amendment and which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries sought at great length to defend vehemently last week. Unfortunately while the Minister, happily, has seen fit to accept much of what I and others said in relation to subsection (4), no change is proposed in relation to subsection (3).

I gave examples on the Second and Committee Stages of the Bill of the undesirability of the kind of concept contained in subsection (3). This must be looked at in the context of the subsections which precede and succeed it. Subsections (1) and (2) fairly and squarely place the onus of proof on the defendant in different but important matters. Subsection (3) goes even further. Not alone does it put the onus of proof so far as the prosecution is concerned on the defendant, but it puts the onus of proof on him in relation to a matter which nobody would be entitled to assume against him. If it is alleged by the prosecution that this is such a serious matter it should most certainly be proved by the prosecution.

The example I gave on the last two occasions was perfectly valid. I was told by the Minister on the Second Stage that it was a bit far fetched. But, I am afraid, it is not. I was not told that on Committee Stage. I have looked at the situation again and I am afraid that it is very much a possibility. If on any premises on which human food is manufactured, prepared or offered for sale, non-human food is found by an inspector there will be a presumption that that non-human food was used in the manufacture or preparation of the human food unless the defendant can prove to the contrary. To allege that, on the part of the prosecution in the first instance, would be a serious matter. One would imagine that a responsible prosecution would not allege that unless they had grounds to substantiate it beyond reasonable doubt.

The situation which we find as a result of subsection (3) is that all they have to do is to allege it; all they have to do is to show that there was non-human food on one of these premises. The example I have given of non-human food clearly relates to animal feedingstuffs of one kind or another. All they have to do is to show that there was some kind of animal food, whether for dogs, cats or any other animal, on the premises and that the premises were used for the manufacture or preparation of food intended for human consumption. Having shown that, there is an immediate presumption that the occupier of the premises did in fact use the animal food in the preparation or manufacture of food for human consumption. The onus is on him to prove he did not do it.

That is a serious allegation to make on the part of the prosecution. A provision such as this, which enables them simply to allege it and to have it presumed to be true until the defendant proves otherwise is, in my view, untenable. This is not the sort of legislation which should go through this House. This is one of the Bills which, because it has no great public interest, the newspapers do not bother reporting. The public do not read these Bills. Nobody worries too much about what is in them.

If this section is passed in its present form and in six or 12 months' time somebody finds himself in court with this allegation made against him, which he knows to be untrue, and then finds that the prosecution do not have to prove it but that he has to prove his innocence, there will be an outcry. Part of that outcry will be directed against this House for not pointing out the consequences of this Bill and for not stopping it passing through the House. On the last day and again today I pointed out the consequences but I cannot unfortunately stop it going through. I cannot command enough Deputies on this side of the House to do it. I can only do my duty in this respect and point out to the Minister, as I did to the Parliamentary Secretary the last day, that this is wrong.

This is not just a question of the ordinary transfer of onus of proof, which to some extent we tend to come to expect and accept in food and drugs legislation. That is the type of transfer of onus which is in subsections (1) and (2). This goes much further. It is a different matter and much more serious. It relates to a more serious matter and is patently more unfair to a defendant than the ordinary transfer of onus. It is open to serious abuse, if people were so disposed to abuse it. It is not enough for me to get an assurance that the vast majority of people who would enforce this would not seek to abuse it. One should not have in legislation powers which would allow one in a hundred, or one in a thousand, who might seek to abuse it the opportunity to abuse it. They should not be given that opportunity. Indeed the temptation should not be put in their way. That is why I ask the Minister, in the interest of all fairness and particularly in view of the other transfers of onus in subsections (1) (2) and (4), to agree to the deletion of subsection (3). This is not a matter which could arise very often. If it were not there it would not cause any serious additional difficulties for the prosecution.

I appreciate that the Deputy is genuinely concerned about this subsection since he opposed it so vigorously at every Stage. At the same time, I would not feel justified in dropping it because it is similar to section 64 (2) (c) of the Health Act, 1947. If Deputy O'Malley is not familiar with that section I will recite it for him:

(c) any material or article which is found in any such establishment used for or in the preparation or manufacture of food for human consumption and which is capable of being intended for use in such preparation or manufacture shall be deemed, unless the contrary is proved, to be so intended,

(d) In any prosecution of an offence under this Part of this Act in relation to any such food, the food shall be deemed, unless the contrary is proved, to have been kept for human consumption in such establishment.

That is an exactly similar subsection in the 1947 Health Act, if we were looking for a precedent. The Deputy has given the example that a food manufacturer that kept dog or cat food in his premises for his own pets could be presumed to have it there for use in human food. It is not unknown for such a thing to happen, and there is at least one such case on the records.

I cannot but remark in passing that it would not be very sensible to keep such products in premises where human food is manufactured or prepared for sale, and anyone who did so would obviously be asking for trouble. I think the Deputy would agree that such a person would be looking for trouble if he were to keep on the premises where he is manufacturing food for human consumption what the Deputy has described as cat or dog food.

On a more practical level, the Deputy should realise that this is not a conclusive presumption. It can be rebutted and, to my mind, would be very easily rebutted. It is true that the defendant is required to prove the contrary, but I have been advised that under the law of evidence in criminal matters it would be sufficient for the defendant to raise any reasonable doubt. The Deputy knows more about how such cases go than I do, but that is my advice.

On the other side of the coin, if I were to drop this subsection, there would be very little chance of securing a conviction, even in the most suspicious circumstances. How can you prove the state of a man's mind? How can you prove his future behaviour? If it were not for this presumption you could never get a conviction, unless you actually saw the defendant use the offending substance in manufacturing food and then could prove he disposed of it for human consumption.

I would ask the Deputy to withdraw the amendment. It certainly does not seem to be a serious matter and does not seem to stand up to examination, and we have the precedent which I have quoted on exactly the same lines in previous legislation.

I do not accept it is not a serious matter, but I accept that there is apparently a precedent for it in the Health Act of 1947. When I was speaking earlier I referred to the fact that there are many of these presumptions in food and drugs legislation, but I cannot agree that something must be accepted simply because there is a precedent for it. The fact that something similar is in the Health Act of 1947 does not mean, if it is unsatisfactory, that that type of legislation should be continued indefinitely. It may be that the Dáil in 1947 was not as vigilant as perhaps it should have been, and if one calls in aid any single precedent for future legislative or other activities of that kind one is getting into a very dangerous logical situation.

A lot of things have happened and have been done in this country in recent years which are scarcely good precedents. I venture to think we saw a very good example of it last night; unless there was a considerable change of heart—and conscience, I am reminded by Deputy Collins—on the part of the present Government in relation to prisons, a lot of dangerous people would have be released from custody at the end of this month. The precedent was set, if you like, by 20 or more Deputies now on the Government side of the House who thought that the legislation which was passed in 1972 and which is due to expire at the end of this month should be allowed to expire; instead we find it prolonged for longer than its own original period.

The Minister's argument about precedent is a dangerous one because there are many bits of legislation which have gone through this House in the last 20 years often without examination of any kind by Government side or Opposition side and which have been found subsequently in the Supreme Court to contravene the Constitution. It might well be that some of the pieces of legislation which the Minister might call in aid as precedents would be found to be similarly defective. In regard to provisions such as food and drugs legislation and the relevant part of the Health Act, 1947, there is a danger—I do not push it any further than that—that with the mood of the Supreme Court in recent years, it might well take a very different view of these provisions from what a court 20 or 30 years ago might have felt about them.

It is only in the last eight or ten years that legislation in this House other than that of great political content began to get any sort of careful scrutiny. Twenty or 30 years ago if a Bill introduced was of a technical nature it was let go through, and that was that. The country paid for that former tradition of this House in that section after section of Bill after Bill has been knocked down in the High and Supreme Courts in recent years. I feel it is the duty of a modern Opposition in a modern Parliament, conscious of the liberal action taken in recent years by the Supreme Court, to examine this sort of thing carefully. The fact that there is, as the Minister says—and I grant him that—a close precedent for this subsection does not make the subsection good. I hope, for example, nobody would ever want to claim that what happened in this city last Friday would be a precedent for something like it to happen again. It is a very dangerous thing to depend on the concept of precedent, to say that because a thing happened before it can and should happen again.

I do want to say this much, however, in relation to what the Minister has just said now. What he said was short, concise, and was to the point, accurate and straightforward. There was no messing or bluffing about it. This is in stark contrast to the manner in which this Bill and the amendments down to it were met on the Committee Stage, when we had a long, waffling five hours on it, when, unfortunately, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister did not really deal at all with the points that were put and the Committee Stage debate was prolonged beyond all necessity. What the Minister has said today, even though I do not agree with all of it, at least is to the point and has relevance and some compellability about it.

I would ask the Minister again, if he cannot rely on anything more than precedent, to consider this amendment again. I do not think it is a situation that would be likely to cause difficulty from a health point of view if this subsection were not there. I do not know whether any great use ever had to be made of the roughly corresponding subsection in the Health Act of 1947.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 3 in the name of Deputy O'Malley and amendment No. 4 in the name of the Minister are related and may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, lines 12 to 14, to delete "and that he notified" down to "hearing of the prosecution,".

I am happy the Minister has put down amendment No. 4 because we were told at considerable length on the previous occasion when this Bill was discussed that there was no need for it and that it would be wrong and foolish to make any change in subsection (4) (a) as it stood after the amendments that were made the last time. One of the things we were told by the Parliamentary Secretary was that if someone was going to be convicted because of the terms of (4) (a) as it stood after it was amended, he should apply for an adjournment and that if he did he would probably get off. I found it quite unacceptable that legislation which contained provisions that necessitated that kind of thing being done should go through this House. I am glad that wiser counsel than that of the Parliamentary Secretary prevailed and that at least some gesture is made in relation to this matter.

Without question, the Minister's amendment improves the situation from the blatant injustice which would result if the amendment were not put down, but it is not altogether satisfactory. It would be much more satisfactory to remove all the words from "... and that he notified the prosecutor..." to the words "before the hearing of the prosecution" at the end of paragraph (a).

Under the Minister's amendment there is still an obligation on a prosecuted person, even though he is innocent, to convey to the prosecutor the fact that he has this warranty. This obligation to convey that information only arises under the section after he has been prosecuted. Subsection (4) states:

If the defendant in any prosecution for an offence under section 2 of this Act in relation to food proves—

and then there is set out (a), (b) and (c). In other words, the question of showing the warranty and bringing it to the attention of the health inspector or the relevant prosecutor, under this section even as amended by the Minister, will only arise after a prosecution had been initiated and a summons served. The Parliamentary Secretary said at considerable length on the previous occasion that all the person had to do was to show the warranty and there would be no summons. I tried to point out, without success, to the Parliamentary Secretary who did not seem able to grasp it that the subsection did not relate to that situation, that it only relates to a situation post-prosecution.

There is no provision in this subsection for a pre-prosecution showing to the prosecutor of whatever warranty the person relied on. It would be much fairer if that were provided for, rather than the situation that the person has to notify the prosecutor of the fact of the warranty and the contents without unreasonable delay, as is proposed by the Minister, before the hearing of the prosecution.

The whole concept of having to notify the prosecutor at this stage is wrong. A much cleaner way of dealing with the matter would be to cut out that part of the sentence and to remove that obligation of having to notify the prosecutor in advance. I am on the point of saying there must be very few precedents for that kind of obligation to notify a prosecutor but I stop short of saying that because I have no doubt the Minister's advisers will be able to hawk up some precedent to tell me it happened before. However, I can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that it is not a common or usual provision and it is not one that should be introduced lightly into our law. It is not desirable in principle.

Our system of criminal trial is an accusatorial one, in which one side accuses the other, while the continental systems are inquisitorial and are quite different from ours. The concept there of having to show the prosecutor something in advance of the actual trial is not foreign to them because they have examining magistrates who look into matters and who question the defendant before he is prosecuted. It is quite different here and in England and the question of showing the prosecutor one's defence in advance before the case is heard is alien to us. While there may be some precedent somewhere, it is certainly not common in our law and it is not desirable that it should be introduced.

To some extent my amendment and the Minister's tried to achieve the same objective within reason, but it would be achieved much more cleanly and in a more clear-cut fashion if the Minister would delete the words I have mentioned and let paragraph (a) end with the words "with a written warranty to that effect". I can see considerable difficulty in a court trying to decide what is "unreasonable delay" in getting in touch with the prosecutor to inform him that a person has the warranty. Most people in that situation would probably produce it on the morning of the court and they might be told that was too late. The trouble is that if they are told it is too late, if they fail to prove (a), (b) and (c) in this subsection, they must be convicted because the end of the subsection states that if the defendant proves (a), (b) and (c) he shall be discharged from the prosecution. Assuming amendment No. 4 goes through, he must prove that he notified the prosecutor without unreasonable delay. It might be taken that the morning on which the case was heard was unreasonable and there might then be the situation that even though he can prove his innocence, and the warranty he produces makes this clear, nevertheless because he did not produce it quickly enough he will be convicted. The court will have no option but to convict him.

The obvious corollary from that is that if the defendant does not prove (a), (b) and (c) he cannot be discharged from the prosecution. Therefore the court could be faced with a situation that a warranty is produced in court which clearly exonerates the defendant, he proves (b) and (c) but, because the warranty was not produced in time, the court has to convict him even though all know he is not guilty. While the Minister's amendment goes a fair share of the road to meet the point I made on the previous day, it does not go the whole way. It still can allow a ridiculously anomalous situation to arise. The man has the warranty which proves he is not guilty but still, because he cannot prove that he produced it without unreasonable delay, the court has no option but to convict him.

Frequently we are accused in legislation of making a rubber stamp of a court, of laying out things in such a way that the court has very little discretion. This is going beyond rubber stamping. It is bringing it to an extreme degree, because it is forcing the court to convict somebody it knows is not guilty. It is a form of legislative coercion of the judiciary. That is wrong. I do not think the Minister would wish to have that sort of situation.

I am satisfied it can be avoided if he accepts my amendment rather than his own which, while a great improvement on the situation which existed after Committee Stage, still allows injustice to be perpetrated and, more than that, forces the court to do something it knows is wrong. I do not think we should reduce our courts to the level of a rubber stamp in the first instance. Worse than that, we should not reduce them to the level of having to convict somebody they know perfectly well is innocent other than by the terms of paragraph (a) of this subsection.

I shall move amendment No. 4. I know that the wording of this section came in for a lot of criticism at earlier stages and again today, mainly from Deputy O'Malley. Naturally I am prepared to listen to his arguments.

Acting Chairman

Is amendment No. 3 withdrawn?

I understood that we were discussing both together.

Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 are being discussed together.

Acting Chairman

I am reminded that Standing Orders require that, while they can be discussed simultaneously, amendment No. 4 may not be moved until we have disposed of amendment No. 3.

I suggest that the Minister might talk about amendment No. 4 without actually formally moving it. That would get over the difficulty.

Certainly. They are so related that it would be difficult to discuss them in isolation. I know the Deputy is concerned about this and that he made quite an argument about it on earlier Stages. He has done the same again today. I have drawn his attention to the fact—I know he does not like precedents— that we have a precedent in the 1947 Act. It is identical with this. As well as that, it should be borne in mind that the subsection provides a complete defence for a person who, through no fault of his own, handles substandard food, provided he can produce a warranty. I doubt that it is asking too much to ask him to produce this warranty in time to save the time of the court.

The Deputy holds that it is a post-prosecution provision. In strict theory he is right, but it is most unlikely that there will be a prosecution if, at the time of the inspection, it is made known that a warranty is available. It is not unreasonable to require anyone who has a warranty to produce it within reasonable time. Surely the court will be reasonable in its estimation of what is, in fact, reasonable time in which to expect a warranty to be produced. I put it to Deputy O'Malley that my amendment covers fairly adequately what he is looking for in his amendment. I would ask him to accept my amendment in substitution for his own.

The Minister's amendment is perfectly reasonable where you are dealing with an efficient shopkeeper or supermarket manager, or an efficient person, or somebody who is geared for having a proper filing system and who is able to locate this warranty or guarantee at a moment's notice, or fairly quickly. We all know there are several people involved who are not efficient and that others have not got the time to keep their files properly. As a result of that type of inefficiency they could find themselves being prosecuted for something of which they were innocent. Deputy O'Malley is trying to protect against that.

I can see the Minister's point of view. He assumes that everybody will be efficient. I am afraid that does not happen. As legislators we must be very careful to ensure that only the guilty are found guilty. Deputy O'Malley's amendment would obviate the necessity to convict somebody who was innocent.

I am sorry, but I cannot accept the Deputy's amendment.

Could the Minister tell us why his amendment must be made rather than Deputy O'Malley's? Is there something which would weaken the Bill if his amendment were withdrawn and Deputy O'Malley's accepted?

I do not know who is right about it, quite frankly. I think either amendment covers reasonably anybody who is involved in such a case. There is no serious difference between my amendment and Deputy O'Malley's, but I think mine meets the situation reasonably.

There is this difference that with my amendment nobody will be convicted who should not be convicted and with the Minister's amendment it is possible that some people will have to be convicted by the court, even though the court does not want to convict them. I grant that the position is much better under the Minister's amendment than it was under the amendment which the Parliamentary Secretary moved on his behalf on Committee Stage. Hundreds of people would be potentially caught there, and here the number of those who will potentially be convicted of something of which they are innocent will be much fewer. At least we have achieved that much as of today in getting this amendment from the Minister. We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary last week that there was no need for anything at all. While the position is now much better that should not stop us from seeking to achieve perfection.

As the Minister says, there is not much difference between the two. The only difference is that some people will be convicted under his amendment who should not be convicted, and nobody who should not be convicted will be convicted under mine. The Minister mentioned that there is a precedent in the Health Act, 1947, for this type of provision. I should like to know whether the precedent refers to "one week" or to "without unreasonable delay"? Unfortunately I do not know which section it is of the Health Act, 1947.

It reads:

such defendant shall be discharged from the prosecution, but shall be liable to pay the costs incurred by the prosecutor unless he gave due notice to the prosecutor that he proposed to rely on the said defence.

I am much obliged to the Minister for quoting the relevant section of the 1947 Health Act but it is significant that the phrase used there is different either from the phrase in this Bill, as amended in Committee, which is "not less than one week" or the phrase used in the Minister's amendment No. 4 which is that the notice would be given "without unreasonable delay". Frankly, I would be happier, if I had to choose between the three, with the phrase that is used in the 1947 Act because it would give rise to fewer problems but while it would give rise to fewer problems than what is in the Bill as it stands, or in the Minister's amendment, there would still be some problem. We can overcome that now if the Minister would accept amendment No. 3 which is very similar to his own. I want to reiterate, just before I sit down, that the only difference is that under his amendment some people who should not be convicted will be convicted while under mine nobody who should not be convicted will be convicted. It is not unreasonable, because of the small difference anyway, to ask the Minister to accept that.

My objection to the Deputy's amendment is that under it one does not have to notify the prosecutor at all and one can waste the time of the courts.

If that is so, would the Minister, now that we are so enamoured with precedent, use the phrase that is in the 1947 Act which is better than the one in the Bill and better than the one in his amendment?

"Due notice"?

I accept that.

It would then read:

and that he duly notified the prosecutor of the warranty and its contents before the hearing of the prosecution,

In other words, in the Bill as it stands, as amended in Committee, the words "not less than one week" would go out and the word "duly" would go in between "he" and "notified".

Yes, I accept that.

Thank you.

That is agreed by the Minister?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman

The Minister's amendment now is to insert the words agreed to in his amendment and to get the House to agree to that.

I move amendment No. 4, as amended:

In page 7, in line 12, after the word "he" to insert "duly" and in line 13, to delete "not less than one week".

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, lines 32 and 33, to delete "the transport or storage of food but does not relate to the actual" and to substitute "food in the course of transport or storage but does not relate to the".

On Second Stage Deputy O'Malley pointed out that a licensed haulier might be prosecuted even if he knew nothing about the food he was carrying. I accepted this as a valid point and I put down an amendment to subsection (6) to ensure that this would not happen. Unfortunately, it appears that Deputies have some difficulty in understanding that amendment. I hope the form of words I am now proposing to substitute is clearer although it is still rather complicated. Its purpose is to provide a defence for any person transporting or storing food for hire unless the standards enforced for the food concerned laid down the conditions under which that food must be transported or stored. To take an example, a haulier would have a defence if a load of tinned vegetables he was carrying turned out to be substandard since this is obviously none of his business. However, he would commit an offence if some food, ice cream for example, was supposed to be transported under certain conditions of hygiene and refrigeration and he did not comply with those conditions.

If he did not use a refrigerator, for example?

Amendment agreed to.
Bill received for final consideration. Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I should like to say that I am grateful to the Minister for making quite a number of amendments which I think have improved the Bill. He has met nearly all the points which we made on the earlier Stages.

I quite appreciate the contributions made by the Deputies. I think the proper thing to do at all times it to listen carefully to what Deputies on all sides of the House have to say and if there is something worthwhile I believe it should be incorporated in the legislation. The combined wisdom of the House should be reflected in whatever legislation we produce here.

It was a pleasure for us this afternoon to do business with the Minister. We regretted very much his unavoidable absence on the day we took Committee Stage. I am glad to see that reasoned argument has prevailed and that suggestions from this side of the House were not regarded as invalid or useless just because they did come from this side. I was very glad to hear the Minister say that the combined wisdom of the House is something that is welcome. I should like to compliment the Minister personally on the way he handled the Bill. We are dealing with food standards and his personal contribution here has set a political standard that many people should aspire to if they are to be successful.

I should also like to compliment the Minister on the way he has handled the amendments and, indeed, the whole discussion on this Bill. If we had more Ministers operating in this fashion we would have much better legislation going through the House. He has shown he is a Minister of common sense. That is the greatest compliment that can be paid to him. On Committee Stage I referred on a number of occasions to the sale of alcohol. I believe the Minister did not make any statement on it.

When he goes to the Seanad with the Bill I should like him to introduce some amendment to prohibit supermarkets from selling alcoholic beverages. I pointed out the dangers of young people going into supermarkets and buying bottles of alcohol. We should not condone this. I am not sure if the Minister has power under this Bill to do something in relation to my proposal but the situation is very serious in the country at the moment. Young people have easy access to alcohol. As I said before, 15 per cent of the people who go into mental institutions do so because of alcoholism. We should use every effort in this House to highlight this matter and indeed to try to combat it.

The Deputy must confine himself to what is in the Bill at this Stage.

I am only discussing what we raised on Committee Stage. I am only asking the Minister to try to introduce an amendment on this when he brings the Bill to the Seanad. I know the Parliamentary Secretary said a much broader Bill would be introduced by the Minister for Industry and Commerce at a later stage which may cover this. I would feel much happier if we could restrict as much as possible the sale of alcohol in supermarkets. I know the Minister is very concerned about this.

Of course it would be possible but I do not think it is appropriate. We have been trying to keep as closely as possible to the Codex Alimentarius standards and what they have done. They have not covered advertising or places of sale. It is important that we should keep within that.

Will the Minister use his influence in regard to the other Bill which will be coming in?

Naturally. I believe my Parliamentary Secretary did an excellent job on the Committee Stage.

He used his master's voice to perfection.

That would also be a compliment.

In fairness to him he knew nothing about it.

Question put and agreed to.