Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1974: Committee and Final Stages.

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

On section 4, this is the section dealing with the power of arrest of offenders, and it refers to the point I made during the Second Stage of airport security guards having the right to become involved in the arrest procedure, rather than the Garda Síochána, within the confines of the airport area. I am glad to hear the Minister is looking into the matter. Could he give the House some idea when he expects some decisions from this committee?

The Deputy will appreciate that very obvious difficulties exist in giving powers of arrest and powers of charging to anybody except the Garda Síochána but, within that context, it will be considered.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 5 stand part of the Bill."

During today's debate, the Parliamentary Secretary in his speech drew a parallel between this Bill and the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill, particularly in regard to extradition and so forth covered by section 5. No parallel can be drawn between the two Bills. Section 5 is in compliance with the Extradition Act, 1965. We reject completely his allegations regarding our approach to this Bill as compared with that on the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill. They were completely unwarranted. As my colleague stated today in the House, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach had an opportunity of having the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill debated in this House recently and he preferred to send it to the Seanad. That was the time for him to introduce it here and have a full debate on it instead of trying to come in the back door, as he did here today, and draw a parallel between it and this Bill and our approach to the two Bills.

I do not wish to answer for the Parliamentary Secretary but I think that he drew attention to the fact that this Bill allows people to be tried in this country for crimes of hijacking not committed within the recognised jurisdiction of the country. He said if the same philosophy could be applied to all crimes of violence then the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill would not be opposed. I think that was the point he made.

The insinuation went slightly further than that. There is no comparison and no parallel whatsoever between this Bill and the iniquitous Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill in the Seanad despite the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary attempted to draw a comparison. I contest the point made by the Minister about it. There is no comparison whatsoever between the two pieces of legislation.

I am sorry. What I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say was that this Bill allowed people who commit crimes of violence outside the recognised jurisdiction of this country to be tried in the country for those crimes. He said if the same philosophy or the same attitude was adopted towards all crimes of violence then the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill would not be opposed.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 6 stand part of the Bill."

On this section a person guilty of an offence under section 3 of this Bill shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life or for such other term as the court considers proper. We are in full agreement with stiff sentences for hijacking in any form and the risk it places the lives of innocent people in. Will there be consistency between the contracting countries to this Convention? In Article 3 of the Schedule it says "each contracting State undertakes to make the offences mentioned in Article 1 punishable by severe penalties". I feel there could be a great discrepancy between sentences in the different countries. There should at least be some consistency. If there is life imprisonment in one country for an offence such as this, it should apply to all the contracting countries and not have an inconsistency between the sentences.

Not necessarily. The stiffest sentence which can be imposed under Irish law is a life sentence. In fact some of the signatories to this Convention have death penalties as well and the severe penalty they may choose to impose may be that. Under our law the most severe penalty we can impose is a life sentence and we have put it up to the limit of what is possible under the law.

I think the point made by Deputy Barrett was that while we have put it up to the limit of our severest penalty of life there are others that could have the other approach to it and make them minimum penalties rather than severe. You have to question the relevance of the word "severe". Is a year severe in the context of one country? Would two years in gaol be considered severe in one country? Surely there must be some consistency between the various countries.

I imagine the approach of all countries and the attitude of all Parliaments would be the same as the attitude of this Parliament to it. I think every country, who are conscious of their obligations internationally to sign this Convention and to ratify it, will incorporate in the legislation for the Convention severe penalties. We have done our part by making the penalty as severe as possible under our law. I am sure every other country will adopt the same attitude. I see the point Deputy Burke is making. I do not think there is much danger that someone taking the crime of hijacking seriously enough to sign this Convention would consider giving what might be a trivial penalty for the crime.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 7 stand part of the Bill."

On this section and the Eurocontrol, which the Minister has mentioned again in his reply, as far as we understand it the policy of Eurocontrol is to employ Irish staff, where at all possible and where they are qualified. We also understand that our people are qualified to operate Eurocontrol in the same way as other nationalities are. Some of them have already received the necessary training. As the Minister has stated we are now operating as an agency and running Eurocontrol with Irish staff. We must assume from that that they are fully qualified to operate Eurocontrol installations here and that they would be employed if Eurocontrol took over complete responsibility for it, as was originally intended. That as a reason does not stand up very well in our opinion.

The reason the Minister put forward to the President of the Commission was that by the introduction of Eurocontrol staff at Shannon in particular, where most of it would be operational, these people paid at Eurocontrol levels and working beside Irish controlled staff discharging similar duties at substantially lower levels of remuneration would increase unrest among the air traffic control and related grades of the Irish aviation administration. This unrest, because of the established relationships with remuneration of corresponding grades in other Departments of the Government, would likely extend rapidly throughout the entire public service and stimulate sharply the inflationary wage and salary situation.

This is the only reason that we know of that was put forward for not complying with the original agreements under Eurocontrol from 1st January, 1976. We believe the people who are now operating as agency on our behalf for Eurocontrol should be entitled to the full benefit of the rates of pay which are available anywhere Eurocontrol will be operating, in other words, by European standards.

We know of no reason why this should not be made available to them. They are fully entitled to it because they are now doing, and will continue to do, work at a lower rate of pay than the people directly employed by Eurocontrol would be getting for the same service. We do not believe that there would be an escalation of salary increase claims all over the public sector if this were to happen. It is already happening and it is accepted by people in the public sector that the people employed by European institutions or Eurocontrol and paid at European standards get the proper rate and the rate available from these institutions for the work. We already gave as an instance today the foundation for improvement of living and working conditions announced by the Minister for Labour which will be here in this country. It is a European foundation.

I am sorry, Deputy, but I fail to see the relationship between what is developing in respect of wages and conditions of employment and section 7, which is a very brief section. I simply cannot relate it to matters appertaining to wages and conditions of employment.

The Minister has mentioned it today and we already debated it. However, with respect, a Cheann Comhairle, section 10 of the Air Navigation Eurocontrol Act, 1973, is specifically mentioned here, hence the references to Eurocontrol.

In the interests of giving the best possible facilities and service to air naviation, as a participating nation we should ensure that this is made available. If Eurocontrol take over and run these installations, pay the same people at the higher rates of pay now prevailing under Eurocontrol, they should at least be allowed to do so. Irish people are now running this as an agency at lower rates of pay, and as the Minister said will continue to act as agents for Eurocontrol. We do not believe they should be expected to do this, whereas by complying with the original agreement under Eurocontrol they would be paid by European standards.

I asked the Minister on Second Stage to indicate Government policy in relation to the future of Eurocontrol; whether he wanted it phased out or developed and I did not get a satisfactory answer.

To take Deputy Herbert's point, we do not want it phased out. We would like to see it grow, as it was originally decided it should grow, in 1963. However, this has already been watered down, and we felt that because of the watering down and of the fact that the United Kingdom and France had not accepted the Convention as drawn up in 1963, we should also protect the interests of our workers and see that we retain as much control as possible over the operations of upper air space control.

I should like to refer to the points made by Deputy Barrett. Eurocontrol would get their revenue from the users of the upper air space. Therefore, the higher the charges being levied for the use of that air space, the higher would be the charges to the aircraft. That would include Aer Lingus, who would be one of the prime users of our upper air space. The higher the level of the costs of Eurocontrol within the Shannon region, the higher the level the charges would be to Aer Lingus— raising their costs and air fares for a large number of Irish people. The prime purpose of our refusing to go ahead with Eurocontrol on 1st January was the protection of jobs for Irish people. It is true that some people at Shannon at present could be recruited into Eurocontrol, but there was no guarantee they would all be recruited, nor was there any guarantee that anybody who was recruited into Eurocontrol would be given employment at Shannon: they could be employed wherever Eurocontrol has a base. I believed it was preferable to ensure that those who are presently working in upper air space control in Shannon should be retained in their positions. That was one of the reasons I refused to go ahead with it.

Is the Minister aware that the people we are talking about —the air traffic control officers at Shannon—find the conditions under which they would go into service in Eurocontrol acceptable to them? From my discussions with them and my knowledge of the situation there, they are all in favour of it, and they do not see any reason to be afraid that their employment will be interrupted or that their conditions of employment will disimprove in any way. They are the people directly involved and it would be acceptable to them. The Minister says we are protecting their employment, but they will continue to work as agents for Eurocontrol at the lower rates of pay, whereas they are willing to go under the umbrella of Eurocontrol for the benefit of the higher wages, and to continue to do the same work. They do not see any risk involved about shifting around Europe. They are people who usually go into minute detail about most things but have no fear of this happening.

With regard to the higher charges for the upper air space, surely the Eurocontrol air space charges would be in line with other areas throughout the world, where our national air line has to fly. Where our country is concerned, as far as I am aware, it would mean that the responsibility for the upper air space would be from West Germany to midway across the Atlantic. Surely, this would bring honour, as well as better employment, to our nation to have it operated from our shores. We have already done a lot of the initial work by having the installations completed. We fail to see the reasoning of the Minister and we believe that we should go on with our commitment to Eurocontrol from 1st January, 1976.

Technically the last point made by Deputy Barrett is wrong. Under Eurocontrol we would operate from about 15º west to about 5½º west. Eurocontrol is an umbrella organisation over the whole of Central Europe and we would then pass out of that into other Eurocontrol centres in Europe. There would be no question of us operating this because the radar or other instruments would not extend to Germany and would not be technically capable of doing that.

I should like to refer to the point about people being recruited to Eurocontrol. It is true that the people at Shannon now are perfectly capable and the terms of employment with Eurocontrol are very acceptable to them. However, I wish to make the point that there would be no guarantee that they would be employed by Eurocontrol, nor if they were employed, is there any guarantee that their place of employment would be in Ireland. While they are under Irish control and while we operate as agents for Eurocontrol we can guarantee them employment. If they transfer to Eurocontrol, we could not guarantee them employment.

These people would be willing to transfer to Eurocontrol and take their chances. As far as we are aware, it is the declared policy of Eurocontrol to employ nationals here or anywhere else, where such people are available. We see no reason why they will suddenly depart from that policy. Our people would accept the risk, even though—as the Minister says—they would be taking a chance. They are confident that they would be employed and would be—as the Minister agrees—capable of doing the work.

I am afraid we must again disagree: the reason put forward does not warrant our fulfilling our commitment, as a nation, to Eurocontrol.

Is it not a fact that it is Eurocontrol policy to employ local staff, when they are available? They only employ non-nationals where there is not sufficient local qualified staff. The Germans, the Belgians and the Dutch are concerned about the future of Eurocontrol. They want to see it expand, as was the original intention.

I should like to ask the Minister how Eurocontrol is financed? Is it a percentage of the GNP of the member states? I would ask the Minister what was our contribution to Eurocontrol last year?

I am sorry, I have not got that figure, but as regards the Dutch wanting to see Eurocontrol expand, one of the Eurocontrol centres is in Holland, so the Dutch Government have not passed over the control of the upper air space to Eurocontrol, even though the Eurocontrol station is in their own territory. I am sorry I have not got the figure for our contribution.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 8 and 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

There are a couple of points I should like to make on this. One is the question of Article 1. It was a point I raised earlier regarding the responsibilities that are being placed on the shoulders of the pilots as the commanders of the aircraft. The Minister in his reply on Second Stage mentioned the question of a man, for example, having a few drinks; if violence arose the pilot would have to consider for himself what was hijacking and what was violence. If you look at Article 1 of the Schedule you will see that in respect of any person who commits an offence, the responsibility for dealing with the situation is placed on the pilot at all times. If the pilot, in the ordinary course of his flight report, reports an incident on a flight, is that sufficient notification under this measure to the police? Is the responsibility then on his employers, the airline company, or does the pilot himself have to go along personally and notify the police? What would be the interpretation of this?

If somebody even attempted to attack or commit an act of violence on the plane the pilot would decide to have him removed from the plane, and he would then be bound, under this Bill, to report that fact to the Garda who would take whatever further action was necessary.

But the point I am trying to get at is if the pilot, after an incident such as that, comes back and reports to his own airline, is that sufficient notification if, for example, the airline did not pass on the message? In that case would the liability go back on to the pilot? Does the pilot have to go to the local Garda station after getting off the plane to notify the guards of an incident on the plane or is it sufficient to notify his own flight control?

No, the airport authority.

But it falls back on the pilot at all times rather than the airline company as his employers.

The pilot has complete charge of the aeroplane.

He is the one responsible?

He is responsible, yes.

Rather than that he should notify the airline?

Question put and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.