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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Dec 1980

Vol. 325 No. 2

Supplementary Estimates, 1980. - Casual Trading Bill, 1980: Committee Stage.

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

I wish to ask the Minister to what extent this will restrict or affect the rights of some markets that have been held consistently through the years. There are quite a number of such markets in different towns throughout the country and people have traditionally attended these markets which take place normally on a fixed day each month and sometimes more frequently. Local people, particularly on special occasions during the year, attend with the intention of purchasing goods in these markets. I should like the Minister to assure the House that such traditional markets and the people who have been conducting those sales will not be interfered with and that those who customarily attend such markets will continue to be able to purchase items in these markets. One sees at these markets in certain towns the buying and selling of many types of items such as clothes, electrical goods and household items. Frequently, people who are not well-off are able to purchase goods there at reasonable prices. These markets are as much traditional in some of our towns as they are in cities or towns throughout the world. Can the Minister assure us that these rights will not be affected?

The section excludes such markets from the Bill. They will be covered by the Bill only if the local authority extinguishes the right. If the local authority in a particular area extinguishes the right to trade it will mean that an alternative trading area must be provided in the vicinity of the traditional trading area. I agree with the Deputy that we have these markets of which we are all aware where people have provided these services for the local community over the years. If the right to trade there is extinguished the local authority will have to provide an alternative area.

I appreciate the Minister's goodwill and understanding of the situation. I understand that if the local authority extinguished the right — and it is a mighty "if"— they would have to provide an alternative site in the vicinity. Some of these market rights have been exercised in the market squares, as they are called, in the main thoroughfares of towns and provided excellent vantage points. I am referring to a very limited number of areas only. Will the local authority have power? Will the elected members, as distinct from the country manager, have the authority? I am aware that this is dealt with in a later section but the Minister might reply to that query now?

The matter is dealt with in a later section but, by way of a short reply, I should like to tell the Deputy that the authority will be vested in the elected representatives.

Will they have the final say over the county manager?

Question put and agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are related and may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 1.

In page 3, subsection (2), lines 23 to 25, to delete paragraph (g) and to substitute the following paragraph:

"(g) selling in respect of which it is shown by the seller—

(i) that any profits therefrom are for use for charitable purposes or for other purposes from which no private profit is derived, and

(ii) that no remuneration, emolument, gain or profit will accrue to the seller or his servants or agents therefrom,".

We are concerned with the same matter in amendments Nos. 1 and 2. It was intended that neither the Occasional Trading Act, 1979, nor this Bill would apply to charities or other worthy causes provided that no promoter of the selling, or any of his servants or agents, was paid a salary, wages or a commission and provided that there was no private profit from the charity or whatever it was this sale was in aid of. It came to our notice that there was a possible loophole in section 221 of the Occasional Trading Act which exempts from the Act selling, the profits of which are used for charitable or other purposes for which no private profit is derived or intended to be derived. We are advised that it would seldom, if ever, be possible for us to prove who was profiting from a sale and the further problen arose from the possibility that a person organising or helping out at a sale could be getting money out of it which could be classifiable as selling costs rather than profits. This being the situation it could be that any trader who made a contribution to a charity out of the proceeds of his selling would be outside the Act no matter how high his wages of selling or commission earnings.

I should like the Minister to clarify that. Is the Minister endeavouring to ensure that people who are conducting such sales do not obtain any profit for themselves? In the case of casual sales on behalf of a charity they are in order as long as there is no profit accruing to private individuals?

We are trying to avoid the situation where an individual might try to make a profit for himself in such a deal. We do not want the clause abused.

Will the section continue to allow such sales to take place on behalf of charity as long as the funds are wholly for charitable purposes?

Who will be the final arbiter as to whether or not the sale is for charitable purposes? If a person with a pet hobby decides to organise a sale who will say whether or not it is for charity?

The onus will be on the seller to show that any profit is used for charitable or other purposes such as churches, hospitals or schools.

Is it to the Minister or to the courts that the seller makes his application?

He does not make an application. If the Department, the local authority or the Garda think a person should not get the exemption the seller would be prevented from operating and it will be up to him or her to prove entitlement to such an exemption. If somebody intervenes on the basis that the seller is acting illegally it is then up to the seller to prove, in the court if necessary, that he or she is keeping to the terms of the Act.

If such a person is successful in making a satisfactory application to the Garda, the local authority or to the Department, that person does not have to take out a casual trading licence or permit? Is that the kernel of the situation?

No. If they are questioned and it is found they are not acting legally it will be possible to bring them to court. Such sellers would have to prove that they were selling in a legal fashion.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

On a previous occasion I mentioned the situation in relation to casual trading on some of our national primary and national secondary roads. These sales which are carried on on such roads outside certain towns are proving a dangerous hazard to traffic. On the main Dublin-Limerick road sometimes between 20 and 40 caravans are parked, doing a brisk trade. This can be seen on the heath near Portlaoise, at the entrance to Tullamore: television sets, washing machines, bedclothes, curtains, carpets, all sorts of things are being sold. This causes a great traffic hazard because it is going on beside national primary and secondary roads. There is also the hygiene aspect to be considered. At the moment when these traders move off all sorts of refuse, cartons, bags, packing and other litter, is left behind. These sites have no hygiene facilities whatsoever. Hundreds of people attend these sales and the area is left devastated, causing a massive eyesore. Local authorities will have to impose strict conditions in regard to this matter, particularly to ensure that trading will not be allowed on national primary and secondary roadsides.

This would be more appropriate on the following section which deals with restrictions on casual trading. The Chair will allow the Minister to dispose of this matter on this section.

I agree with what the Deputy has said about this type of trading along national primary and secondary roads. We have all seen the terrible mess being created. This Bill will empower local authorities to designate places where outdoor trading can be a service rather than a nuisance to the public. When this matter was being discussed by the Restrictive Practices Commission, 40 local authorities suggested that the legislation should be updated. Under this Bill local authorities will be empowered to designate areas and I would be surprised if they do not make the best possible use of the authority given to them to ensure that the nuisance we are so familiar with will not be allowed to continue.

As I have said, it is up to local authorities to designate areas which they think suitable. We are all aware of the concern of planning authorities in regard to sites along primary and secondary routes and I would be amazed if they allowed the trading or the continuation of a nuisance along such routes. I feel certain local authorities will live up to their responsibilities under this Bill when it becomes law, that they will try to implement it in the best interests of the public at large.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 3 stand part of the Bill."

This section and section 2 overlap in certain respects. If occasional trading is carried out in the functional area of a local authority they will have power to impose certain restrictions in regard to distance from roads and so on. They will have to provide properly serviced sites. They will have to have regard to infringement of market rights. They will have to provide hard surfaces which will be tarred. Toilet and water facilities will have to be supplied for cleansing purposes. The licence fee for a casual trader will cost £100 and the permit will cost £20. Surely it is not suggested that this will finance the servicing of the areas to be provided.

It is envisaged that in the designated areas local authorities will provide the facilities the Deputy has been talking about. The intention is to provide proper facilities for traders and the general public. There will be no objection in principle if a local authority impose a charge on occasional traders for the use of any amenities provided or for the use of accommodation and so on. I assume the local authorities will be empowered to make extra charges to cover facilities and amenities.

I appreciate the good intention in the Bill and the genuine efforts by the Minister personally and the Department, but is the Minister honestly telling me local authorities will be able to finance these projects? These areas will have to be provided and maintained. The traders have made a livelihood from this business and they cannot be crossed off completely. They will continue to try to make a living in this way. In future they will be expected to trade in properly serviced and hygienic conditions. The bulk of those serviced areas will be financed by the local authorities, who are having financial difficulties at the moment. I do not believe the local authorities will have sufficient finance to provide those areas. They may have to purchase sites or they may have sites which they have set aside for some other deserving purpose. They could have set those areas aside for playing areas or for housing. If they have lands which they have purchased for specific reasons will they now provide them for casual trading areas? If they do not, will they purchase other lands? Have they sufficient money to purchase them?

There are many good points in the Bill and this side of the House welcomes it. I do not want to see the Bill coming in with a flourish, because of the good points in it, and in one year or two years' time being useless because proper areas have not been set up by local authorities. I do not want to see it breaking down because proper tarmacadamed areas have not been provided which people can drive in and drive out of. If toilet facilities and water supply are not provided for those areas they are useless. The amount of money coming in from the licence fees and permits will not be sufficient to pay the considerable cost which will be incurred on providing those casual trading areas.

The Bill does not preclude local authorities from making any extra charges they consider necessary to provide the facilities which the Deputy refers to. The provision of those amenities is a matter for other Ministries. The local authorities may collect £20 per licence issued and, if it is found that this amount is inadequate, there is provision in the Bill to bring in an order to increase it. While it may not be the complete answer at least it leaves it open to increase the fees if local authorities find it necessary to have those extra charges made.

If it is found that the licence and permit fees being charged by local authorities are not sufficient, the initial cost may be increased. I believe it will be difficult to get those casual trading areas set aside. The Minister is faced with a double-edged sword here. Unless proper areas are set aside there will be difficulty in getting the casual traders to go into them. Those people will do everything humanly possible to avoid going into those areas if the proper facilities are not provided. They will continue their casual trading in the areas where they have been accustomed to do business. The local authorities will have to provide proper areas and I do not believe they will have sufficient funds to provide the proper facilities. I am deeply concerned about this because I would like to see the Bill working properly. If areas have not the proper facilities, it will be impossible to get casual traders to go into them.

Many of the arguments are being repeated. Apart from that, some of the matter being raised by the Deputy now would be more appropriate to section 7, which deals with the designation of casual trading areas.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 4 stand part of the Bill."

(Cavan-Monaghan): On second stage I spoke about the fee which it is proposed to charge for a licence under the section. A licence granted under this section will authorise a casual trader to carry on business directly himself or through a servant or agent. This means he could be operating in a number of towns at the same time and on the same day. The charge for this licence is to be £100. That is ridiculous. It might be adequate for a small casual trader who operates in one particular town, but it is absurd to prescribe a licence fee of £100 for a chainstore merchant, a man operating in a number of towns on the same day.

Under one of the subsections of this section the Minister has authority to vary the licence fee as he sees fit, but as of now we are specifying that we think the fee of £100 is adequate to act as a deterrent or to compensate for the fact that the casual trader does not contribute rates to the town in which he operates. I am convinced that the fee of £100 is inadequate. The section should be amended to provide that a fee of £100 will cover the casual trader in a named town or two named towns, but if he wants to spread his wings and multiply his selling outlets to cover more towns he will have to get a further licence and will have to pay a further fee. It was announced on the radio this morning that a person who violates an Act — I cannot recall what the Act is — is guilty of an offence and he will be fined £100 or six months in jail. A fine of £100 is laughable in today's terms and could not be expected to be a deterrent. The Department should have second thoughts about matters such as this when introducing Bills. I mentioned this on Second Stage and I got the impression then that the Minister agreed with me. That is why I am surprised that he has not brought in the amendment.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by the Deputy in relation to the fee so far as certain types of traders are concerned but in regard to having a graded system of licensing, there would be some problems. We must bear in mind the type of people whom Deputy Enright referred to — those small operators who have been providing a service and who attend at local fairs and marts. These are people who could not be regarded in any way as being well-off. But there are the other people, those who are operating in a big way and who are moving around from town to town. At least what we are doing is a step towards trying to bring them into the net. First, because of their having to pay a licence fee, they will be making some contribution to the State. While a £100 fee may not be adequate in some cases, there would be many problems in endeavouring to have a graded form of licence and this was the dilemma facing the Department in arriving at this figure.

There is provision in the Bill to have the fee amended by way of order. If the legislation is found not to be operating successfully the Minister will have the authority to amend it and, if necessary, to increase the fee substantially.

There is the question also of the areas that will be designated by the local authorities for those traders, a number of whom are likely to find themselves restricted to a great extent if the local authorities implement the legislation properly. Because the elected representatives will be responsible for designating the areas we can be confident that the local traders and any others who should be protected will be taken into consideration in the process of designating areas and of trying to restrict as much as possible the abuses that we all know are being perpetrated.

The Minister has touched the kernel of the problem in referring to the different types of traders involved. I know of many small traders who have been trying to make a living in difficult times. They have their problems. Even those who operate from flashy caravans and who have colour television sets are very often only barely making a living. However, there is a large number—perhaps the majority of those involved in casual trading—who are making sizeable profits and who up to now have made little or no return to the State in the form of VAT, income tax or social insurance contributions. Neither have they ever paid rates. In some cases hot goods are being sold.

It is still possible to amend the Bill so as to allow for a graded type of licence and thereby to ensure that the larger traders involved in this type of business would be levied at a far higher rate of licence fee than would be the case of the smaller man. The same applies in respect of rates so far as business people are concerned. Those with the larger premises pay more. They also have higher overheads. Perhaps the problem could be resolved by basing the fee on the number of employees engaged by the applicant. In this way the family outfit, consisting, perhaps, of husband, wife and one child, would be protected against the higher outlay. Many of those bigger traders who move from area to area are very wealthy. A fee of £100 would not mean anything to them. Those traders have a responsibility towards anyone employed by them in that they should ensure that any such employee is paying income tax and social insurance. All of this could be operated by way of graded licence and permit fees. I would not suggest that the smaller type trader should be interfered with.

There is a danger, because of the way this section is worded, that a trader who obtains a licence can have many people working on his behalf. I should like some clarification from the Minister on this point.

In my opinion that is the way the Bill reads. If that is correct the Minister will have to bring in an amendment on Report Stage. If necessary, we will draft an amendment ourselves.

The House will note that the Minister makes the regulations in relation to fees and he may vary them at any time. If in the light of experience we find it necessary to increase the fees, appropriate regulations will be made. In addition, there is provision in the Bill for special rates of fees for specified classes of traders. If the Department receive representations on the matter naturally we will take them into consideration.

I accept what Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Enright have been saying in relation to this matter. At least the Department will have authority to deal with the specific matters the Deputies have raised in relation to fees. At the moment we must accept that with regard to some small traders who have been providing a service during the years the Bill might be a little harsh on them in the matter of increased fees. I ask the Deputies to bear with us on this point. We are aware of the questions they have raised. We have authority under the Bill to introduce the kind of restrictions they have mentioned and we will be glad to deal with these matters when representations are made by interested parties.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I appreciate that there is machinery in the Bill to enable the fees to be increased but I have been around for long enough to know that this kind of inadequate provision can remain unchanged for a very long time. At one time there was a licence known as a general dealer's licence which enabled a person to buy scrap. The person had to apply to the District Court for a licence and for 50 years the fee for that licence was half-a-crown in old money terms. The fee was never changed.

There is a danger that once this section goes through with a provision for a charge of £100 for the entire country for 12 months, it will remain that way. I suggest to the Minister that this proposal does not merit serious consideration. Let us take the example of a small trader who has a PLV of £25. He contributes in rates at least £300 to the local authority and if the rate is more than £12 in the £ he will pay more. If that person's valuation is £50 he will pay between £600 and £900. In addition he has to pay social insurance and other charges.

In this Bill we are enabling a casual trader to operate every day of the week and in as many towns as he has agents to work for him. That is nonsense. We suggest that £100 for that kind of permission is ridiculous. I agree that there is a case to be made for the small casual trader or the person who operates in only one town. However, I do not think there would be any great difficulty in confining the licence to a specific town or towns. It is my view that even in respect of a person who comes to a town each week during the year in opposition to local traders, the sum of £100 is not sufficient. If one divides £100 by 50 one gets £2 as the answer. That is what a person who trades in a town once a week will be charged. We must take inflation into account. Money is not nearly as valuable now as it was but we do not seem to recognise that fact in this Bill. This measure deals in antiquated money terms. I did not put down an amendment on this point but if the Minister will not amend the section I will be forced in the interests of commonsense to draft an amendment for Report Stage.

Will the Minister tell the House if the casual trading licence is to replace the existing hawker's and pedlar's licence or is it a completely new form of licence?

First, I should like to reply to the points raised by Deputy Fitzpatrick. All of us accept that there may be some individuals who will not be caught to the degree that Deputy Fitzpatrick and many of us would like, but because of the provisions in the Bill the Revenue Commissioners will be able to catch those people for payment of the various taxes they have been avoiding up to now. In itself that is a step forward and it will help to get rid of the unfair competition that existed previously.

The local authority will designate the area in which these people may operate. They can designate an area which will prevent them from operating on the large scale on which they operate at the moment. I should like to assure Deputies that we will keep a close watch on the situation and try to ensure that traders will not get away with things to the extent suggested by Deputy Fitzpatrick. The Bill is a step in the right direction in that we are introducing necessary controls that have been demanded by traders, local authorities and by a large section of the community. That is the purpose of the Bill. We are trying to eliminate abuses that exist.

In reply to Deputy Deasy, a holder of a casual trading licence will not require a hawker's licence. This matter is dealt with under section 19 of the Bill.

Is the casual trading licence to replace the hawker's licence and also the pedlar's licence, or is it supplementary?

(Cavan-Monaghan): It is supplementary.

They are two separate things. The casual trading licence replaces the hawker's licence—that is in so far as casual trading goes.

I am just looking for clarification on this. I wish to know if there is at the moment such a thing as a casual trading licence, in additon to a hawker's licence and a pedlar's licence?

There is no casual trading licence available at the moment.

So it will actually be replacing the hawker's licence? That is another name for the casual trader's licence?

We shall call them casual trading licences from now on?

Yes, that is in so far as casual trading is concerned.

Yes, I appreciate that. In reference to the number of such licences issued over the years, the Minister may remember that on Second Stage I asked if he had any idea of the number of such licences issued in 1969 and in 1979. I thought that there had been a huge increase in the number of licences issued because of the huge increase in the number of such traders around the countryside, particularly in the provincial towns. I was surprised at the numbers given to me by the Minister for Justice, Deputy Collins, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy O'Kennedy, in reply to my question. The Minister for Justice, in a reply on 27 November, stated that the number of pedlar's licences issued in 1969 was 65 and only 34 were issued in 1979. In reply to a question about hawkers' licences the Minister for Finance said that there were 822 such licences issued in 1969 and 829 licences issued in 1979. In actual fact there is an overall decrease whereas from my observations the numbers of such people have increased enormously. They are a multiple of what existed in 1969. Can the Minister explain the reason for the huge increase in such trading and the fact that the number of licences overall has decreased? I wonder if many such traders are utilising the one licence, trading in Birr, Thurles, Cavan and Dungarvan and all using the one licence — a number of people working for that licence fee and actually operating in a number of different centres. Could that be the explanation?

I am not sure that Deputy Deasy's question is relevant to the Bill before us at the moment.

It is not all that relevant, but it does come under casual trading licences.

The question of limiting the number of these people will certainly be covered in the Bill. From now on we shall be in a position to ensure that only people with licences will be entitled to trade. The Bill gives a great deal of authority to the Garda to ensure that we shall not have illegal trading in future. If, as is evidenced in the reply to Deputy Deasy's question, the indications are that the number of hawkers' licences have decreased rather than increased despite the fact that we all see this type of trading along the various roads and in the various towns, it shows how necessary it is to implement this Bill as quickly as possible.

I fully agree. I am asking specifically could one licensee have a lot of agents going around the country on his behalf on the basis of that licence? Is he allowed to trade in that manner? Or is it that there have been a whole lot of people trading without licences over the last ten years?

Again, in the absence of positive information, I assume that it is a mixture of both, that probably there are a number of people trading under cover of one licence and also a number trading without any licence.

That is the exact point that we were discussing earlier, that one person would take out a licence and extend that to cover his own family, and a number of people employed by him, or agents. Can people get away with the one licence for a large number of people and so evade the spirit and intention of this legislation?

(Cavan-Monaghan): The Minister has said that the Bill is an improvement on the present position and there can be no doubt about that. Of course it is a big improvement and we welcome it. However, because of the absurdity of section 4 with which we are dealing at present, the Minister is put in the position of apologising for the shortcomings of the Bill before it even leaves this House. That is a great pity. No imagination whatever has been shown in the drafting or in the instructions to the draftsman in respect of section 4.

Subsection (10) of section 4 gives the Minister authority to vary, either generally or in relation to a specific class, the amount to be paid for the licence fee. The Minister is very cleverly — and I admire him for it — taking refuge in using this subsection as an umbrella and as an excuse for the weakness of the Bill as it stands. I wonder if subsection (10) gives him power to do any more than vary, by increasing or reducing, the amount of the fee charged. Does it enable him to say that a man who is operating in a number of towns should be charged more than a man who is only operating in one town? I could see legislation being necessary in the future to enable the Minister to do what we say he should do. What we are saying is that a casual trader who is genuinely trading in a small way in one town should not be bled white because he is giving some sort of a service but, if a multi-town trader appears on the scene, he should have to pay and he is not being asked to pay at the moment. Section 3 (1) provides:

A person shall not engage in casual trading in a casual trading area unless he is, or is the servant or agent acting as such, of a person who holds a casual trading licence....

There is no doubt about the wording of that subsection. A casual trading licence will cover every town in Ireland if the person operating under it is the servant or agent of the licensee. That will be the only question and it will be a hard one to check on. It might land him in other difficulties with the Revenue Commissioners or the Inspector of Taxes if he is operating all over the place. It should be confined to named towns. The Minister should bring this section back to his draftsman and have a further think about it. He should bring in an amendment on Report Stage. Any amendment we bring in will not be adequate. It is very likely that it will be no more than a platform on which to mount an argument and we have made the argument fully.

This is a flaw in the Bill. It is a shortcoming. The object of the Bill is to do two things. First, to regulate the place where these casual traders trade in a town. The Bill will succeed in that objective. The local authorities have power to acquire the market rights, and they have power to override rights given by charters in certain towns. The Minister assured me of that on Second Stage and I accept it. When this Bill is enacted it will enable the local authorities to regulate the places in towns where these people can trade. That is an enormous improvement.

The second objective of the Bill is to restore some sort of equality and equity between resident traders in a town and the people who come in one day a week or a month. The Bill fails miserably to achieve that objective because the licence fee mentioned is absurd. It would not buy more than a drink for the salesman and the lorry driver. It would not buy a meal. I appeal to the Minister to have second thoughts about this and to bring in an amendment on Report Stage.

Deputy Fitzpatrick has covered a number of points. I will not repeat myself on the question of the fees. On the question of a number of people using the licence as a cover to trade in different areas, the problem is that a shopkeeper, for instance, can have any member of his family doing his business for him. We are advised that it might be unconstitutional to provide a restriction which would limit the licensee in such a way that only he himself could carry on the business at a particular point.

(Cavan-Monaghan): The Minister could get over that by naming the towns.

If the local authorities operate this Bill in the spirit in which it is intended — and they will have tremendous power — they can restrict the big operators in many ways.

(Cavan-Monaghan): They are confined to £20. One would think the big casual traders drafted this section. It is drafted to protect them and not to protect the resident traders.

I accept what the Deputy is saying. I do not want to repeat myself. We have authority in the Bill to have grading in so far as we can introduce separate licences for certain types of trading. If we find the Bill is not operating in the manner in which it is intended, we can introduce these extra fees.

The Deputy has raised a point which is worthy of consideration. I am not brushing it aside when I say this. On the question of using one licence to operate in many towns, if the local authorities limit their casual trading areas they will restrict the movement of many of these people who can move around quite easily at present. We do not envisage large areas being made available to these people for their trading. Consideration will be given to the local people who have been providing a service and who have been carrying out their operations over a long number of years.

It is not very easy to cover all aspects of this type of trading. In fairness to the Department, they have done a very good job. They looked at every possible angle. This type of trading has been going on over a number of years. Representations have been received from many people and, in the light of those representations, this Bill has been prepared. We have gone as far as we can possibly go in relation to most of the matters raised by Deputy Fitzpatrick. I know there are certain loopholes and certain snags which people will try to avail of, but that happens in the case of every Bill introduced.

Deputy Deasy. We are having a good deal of repetition.

If the Bill is to be of any value, this is probably one of the most important aspects of it and it should be discussed at length.

The Chair agrees with that, but we cannot repeat the arguments over and over again.

I could not agree with the Minister's counterpoints to Deputy Fitzpatrick's arguments. A good deal of the purpose of the Bill will be defeated if we leave it as open-ended as it is at present. It could mean, in effect, that one casual trader who has a licence could have 50 or 60 agents operating in different centres. That defeats the purpose of any licensing system. It is unfair to draw a comparison with the fixed shopkeeper. His location is known and his hours of business are fixed. This is not the case with the casual trader who can have 50 or 60 different locations on any one day because of the open-endedness of this legislation. There must be a definite restriction in this regard.

I put it to the Minister that other people operating under a licensing system are restricted in order to keep their numbers at a tolerable level. A man engaged in the licensed trade has to state on his licence where he is doing business and within what hours. This is not the case with the casual trading licence. A salmon fisherman has to work within certain hours on certain days and within certain weeks of the year; his licence is extremely restrictive and if he wishes to move from one area to another he must relinquish his licence and get sanction for the new area. The casual trader is having the best of all worlds: he can operate in 50 or 60 different locations with the one licence as the Bill stands. The casual trader should be restricted to one location and he should have to say in what hours he will operate. The location need not be constant, it could be Birr on Monday, Nenagh on Tuesday, Thurles on Wednesday and so on. That is the only way in which to get control. Otherwise there will be a proliferation of casual traders. There is nothing in this section to restrict the number of licences. There is no mention of an upper limit. The number for last year was 829 but 800,000 people could have the credentials to qualify for such a licence. The Bill is not restrictive in that regard and it does not go as far as it should to solve the problem.

I do not agree with the Minister in his most recent statement. This Bill is like a colander it is so full of loopholes. It will cause more problems than it will solve. A trader with one licence can trade at many locations on the same day. The licence should not be as open as that. The person should have to apply to trade at different locations.

In the Dublin city and county area people are coming in, sometimes straight off the boat, to trade for a few hours on bank holiday weekends at Easter and Christmas holiday periods, when the money is there and the local authority are not at hand to take any action. Deputy Fitzpatrick has said that this Bill confines the trading to a particular area but I am not sure that it does. If traders who come off the boat on Saturday are approached by a garda for a licence, they can fool the garda for a few hours and they are away again on Monday morning. The only remedy for this is a fine on the spot for those who cannot produce the licence. We have this sort of trading in Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Swords and so on. The Minister need only go to any of the satellite towns around the city to see the kind of casual trading that goes on. This Bill will not tie these people down although many people looked forward to it to get rid of this terrible nuisance. People are being scourged by roadside traders selling anything from potatoes to window frames and carpets. Many of these traders are not even now operating within the law. They go around in 504 or 604 Peugeots — cars for which most of us have to wait — which are untaxed and in many cases uninsured. How would the Minister pin these people down? I appeal to the Minister not to push the Bill through today, to take it back and have a look at it and introduce some amendments so that he can be seen to be wholeheartedly tackling the problem. This Bill will only restrict the man who is trading to earn a living for his family but the person who is trying to fool us is the person who will not be caught under the Bill.

Deputy McMahon has missed the whole point of the Bill. The local authority will decide when these people can trade and they will designate the trading areas so that people will not have a problem in relation to where casual traders operate.

If a man moves in on a Saturday?

The local authority have not that authority at the moment. Casual traders can set up anywhere that is suitable to them. Under this Bill the local authority can designate trading areas. They can also decide on the hours of trading. It will also be necessary for a trader, even though he may have a licence to operate in a number of areas, to have a permit in each area. The interested elected representatives, whether at local level or here, will ensure that this Bill will operate so that casual traders will not get away with the things they are getting away with at the moment and so that small grocers and shopkeepers who are paying rates and all the other taxes to keep the town going will not be put out of business, as has been the case up to now.

Is it just one permit per licence or can there be a number of permits per licence?

A permit does not relate to the licence.

Permits come up on the next section.

The casual trader must first have a licence to get a permit and he may have a number of permits.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
Business suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.