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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 18 May 1982

Vol. 334 No. 7

Litter Bill, 1981: Committee Stage.


Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, line 18, after "Act" to insert ", save where the context otherwise requires".

This Bill was introduced early last year and Second Stage was taken in May 1981 but the Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the Dáil. It was subsequently reintroduced on Committee Stage by the Coalition Government but was not taken before the Dáil was dissolved. The Bill now before the House is unchanged since the original introduction but I will be proposing a number of new provisions, mainly to strengthen local authority powers for dealing with abandoned vehicles, fly-posting, graffiti, subversive slogans and the like.

There are also a number of technical and consequential amendments, of which amendment No. 1 is the first. This amendment is consequential on amendment No. 20 which will facilitate the removal and scrapping of abandoned vehicles by local authorities in certain circumstances. There is a problem about the removal of abandoned vehicles from a public road or car park under existing road traffic legislation, as a road authority have to store the vehicle for at least six weeks after the removal and must serve or publish a notice stating their intention to dispose of the vehicle. Local authorities, with some justification, are reluctant to incur costs in removing and storing useless hulks of vehicles. It is in order to remedy this problem and prevent it arising in relation to vehicles removed under the present Bill that I am introducing amendment No. 20. This will help a road authority to dispose of vehicles forthwith after removal if the authority are satisfied that the vehicles cannot be restored at reasonable expense. This will avoid unnecessary expense by the authorities in storing vehicles.

The history of the Bill as set out by the Minister is quite correct and we welcomed it when it was debated 12 months ago. The Government then changed before Committee Stage had been reached and I, as Minister for the Environment, asked my Government if we could strengthen the Bill by the inclusion of the two amendments mentioned by the Minister, one to deal with graffiti and fly-posting and the other to deal with abandoned vehicles.

Anybody who has been canvassing in the present by-election campaign will be very much aware of the necessity for these amendments. The number of abandoned vehicles in that constituency is quite extraordinary. In one small private square near Inchicore there are no less than seven abandoned vehicles in various stages of disrepair. Something must be done about this problem and we welcome the proposed amendment.

I once suggested in the Department, half in jest, that the way to deal with this problem was to offer the itinerants £50 for each abandoned vehicle delivered to a central corporation dump. The danger is that temporarily abandoned vehicles might be taken away and a person having a drink or shopping might find that his car had disappeared.

The vehicles in the dump might be removed at night and redumped.

The amendment with which I as Minister was mostly concerned was that dealing with fly-posting and graffiti. Standards in this regard have deteriorated so much in recent years that the place is a visible disgrace to everybody who lives here. Every tree, every closed-up shop or boarded-up window and every smooth wall has some kind of motto or graffiti painted on it or has a fly-poster stuck on it. Most of these are harmless enough in that they advertise local dances or state that so-and-so's rule is OK.

In many respects political parties are as guilty as anybody else. The provision in the Bill that political parties must remove their posters within seven days of the date of poll is a recognition of the fact that even though we are guilty we intend to do something about it. It appears to be the case that the victors in any election remove their posters more quickly than the vanquished and I hope the Bill will remind political parties of their obligations in this regard. It is normal practice for political parties to boost the names of their candidates prior to an election but we have an obligation after the election to remove those posters. However the populace may regard posters at election time, they are offensive environmentally months and years afterwards. However worthy the objective of getting our candidates elected we should not offend the people whose votes we solicit by leaving property visually defaced.

The problem of graffiti has reached enormous proportions. We must make up our minds whether or not we want a tourist industry in which our nearest neighbours in the United Kingdom will be major customers. All during last year we had graffiti of a most offensive kind to both politicians and ordinary citizens of the UK at all points of entry to this country. The very mildest of these was "Brits out" which proliferated throughout the country all last year and for a very long time before that. If, as I believe, 99 per cent of the people of this country do not agree with the aims of those who are daubing our walls with these signs, it is up to that 99 per cent to tell the 1 per cent that they will not tolerate it any longer. The Litter Bill strengthened to deal with graffiti gives legal authority to the owners of the walls or premises in question and the local authorities, whose end responsibility it is, to see that these graffiti are removed, and a necessary part of our function in this House is to give that muscle to the local authorities. Side by side with that, we, individually, as political parties and as a country, must get off the fence in this regard. We cannot have the contradictory situation where, as he was last week, the Minister for Industry and Energy is over there trying to persuade British industrialists to invest in this country and Bord Fáilte over there are trying to persuade tourists from the UK to come here and spend their holidays in this country ——

(Dublin South-East): On a point of order, I appreciate completely and concur with what the Deputy has to say, but we are on Committee Stage now and this is a very lengthy Bill. It is a non-contentious matter and I would be very anxious, as I am sure the Deputy is,——

An Leas Ceann Comhairle

The Chair would indicate to Deputy Barry that we are on section 1, which is the definition section.

Well, I will finish off the point. We must make up our minds here that, if at one level we are endeavouring to get industrialists from the UK into the country and at the same time to get tourists to spend their holidays here, when we do not take steps to ensure that they are welcome when they come here and these very offensive slogans and graffiti are the first thing to greet them when they come into this country, then we are not being consistent. As individuals, as Members of this House and as members of the community at large we must seek to remedy this.

An Leas-Ceann Comhairle

I do not want to anticipate, but this section refers to the definition of vehicles and the amendment refers to that.

I would like, first of all, to offer my full support for the speedy implementation of this Committee Stage through the House. I take this opportunity, because now is the first time it has been afforded to me, to welcome the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment to the House.

I should have done that; I offer my apologies.

He is a Member for my constituency, and I congratulate him. His impatience in getting this legislation through the House is indicative of his own attitude as a member of Dublin Corporation over many years and of his concern in this. I offer him our full support in relation to this, as will be evident as we go through Committee Stage. We support this section.

Is this concerned with abandoned cars?

An Leas-Ceann Comhairle


I have a number of things to say on the question of abandoned cars. I extend my congratulations to the Minister of State here in the House on his appointment. I know of his concern about the litter problem. I have in mind an area with which he is particularly familiar as it is in his own constituency, the area of Poddle Park where a person operates selling off parts of vehicles and the vehicles are on the pavement. There is a veritable mountain of them and this has been an unauthorised development for years. The corporation have been trying to get this man away. He has about 500 vehicles there and many of them are on the side of the road and on the footpath. I want to know if this Bill will empower the authorities to take action against this man? Will the this person be subjected to fines of £500? Also, if he is fined once, can he be fined again as often as he is brought to court if he does not comply? This whole question of abandoned cars is very serious. Too many of these operators are practising in Dublin at the moment and they are using private housing estates to operate these — I cannot call them car sales — wreck sales. The people who buy them are worse, but they come along looking for spare parts for their cars and they do not care what they do to the area concerned. The area around Poddle Park is completely polluted. Bangor Drive in my constituency is another place where this sort of thing is going on. Wrecks are towed in and are left on the roadway. This fellow does not even have them in the field — they are left on the roadway while being dismantled and when he has finished with them the corporation at considerable cost have them taken away by Hammond Lane Metal Company Limited. I am glad to say that the corporation have recently come to an agreement for a piece of land to put them on in Deputy Quinn's constituency in Ringsend where they will be out of sight. What is the position regarding this? Can we with this Bill finally nail some of these people who have been escaping the law on pure technicalities?

I would like to speak about abandoned cars. I welcome the Bill and I compliment the Minister of State on his appointment. One difficulty I see in the removal of abandoned cars is the delay occasioned. I have seen abandoned cars lying for months before being taken away. I do not know whether this Bill gives authority to take them away, and I would like to be satisfied that it does. The problem is in establishing that a car is in fact abandoned. Where the registration number appears on a car it is necessary to try to trace ownership and this could cause undue delay in removing the car. It would be advantageous if the section of this Bill referring to abandoned cars could be extended to include abandoned cars on public roads. I hope that the Minister of State when replying will deal with this. As Deputy Briscoe has said, some places are littered with abandoned cars, some of them there for months, but no provision seems to be made in any legislation for the more speedy taking away of those cars.

(Dublin South-East): Deputy Briscoe's point about accumalated vehicles is covered in section 10 of the Bill. As far as Deputy Brennan's point is concerned, certainly the Bill will give local authorities all the powers they need to tackle this problem. Quite an amount can be said about the definition of the word “abandoned”. If the Deputies would like me to elaborate further I will do so, but I think it is clear what an abandoned vehicle is. It is one that has been left to be taken care of or taken into account by someone else. The word was not defined in the Road Traffic Acts. It would be impossible to be absolutely definite about when a vehicle could be termed abandoned. In practice it is usually clear but in view of the fact that the maximum fine for abandoning a vehicle is £500 this could prove contentious in the absence of a definition as given. The definition allows for taking into account the place in which the vehicle is left, the condition of the vehicle — for example, wheels removed, windows smashed, engine dismantled altogether — and the length of time the vehicle has been left in place as indications of whether it might be abandoned. I am convinced that the provisions of the Bill will give the local authorities the power to tackle the problem with full vigour.

Skips are not dealt with in this Bill, as far as I am aware. Should they be put in?

What did the Deputy say?

These rubbish skips.

Sometimes you will find that a dumper is left or you will see an old container for a tractor.

(Dublin South-East): Interestingly enough, that suggestion came to me from Dublin Corporation. Of course, it does not come under the terms of this Bill; it is a road traffic problem rather than a litter problem. I would like at this stage to pay a tribute to Dublin Corporation for the very useful suggestions that they put before my Department in formulating this legislation.

I am on that committee of Dublin Corporation to consider this Bill and a series of suggestions were sent by us to the Department of the Environment. We have had many frustrating meetings because of the existing law and we are most anxious that this Bill should become law. However, we do not want it to become law with gaping defects. Will the Minister state if there is any reason why we should not include skips that have been abandoned? Many of these have been left for six months and they constitute a very dangerous traffic hazard. Can this matter be dealt with on Report Stage?

(Dublin South-East): If a skip creates a litter problem then perhaps a case could be made for its removal under this legislation. However, I gave consideration to the matter and the advice given me was that the matter came under road traffic regulations, that it was not a litter problem.

There is also the matter of the petrol remaining in the tanks of abandoned cars. This constitutes a danger to children and the corporation officials are worried about the problem.

Did I understand from the Minister's statement at the beginning of this discussion that we are dealing with amendment No. 20 also?

I understand that before I came to the Chair it had been accepted that amendments Nos. 1 and 20 would be taken together.

I support what Deputy Briscoe said in relation to skips in terms of the definition of a vehicle or part of a vehicle. I do not know if this could be done on Report Stage. There appears to be general agreement here with regard to this matter. Skips are metal bins that form an integral part of specially designed vehicles and it is a question for the parliamentary draftsman to consider if they can be defined as portion of a vehicle. This is an increasing problem in the Dublin area and members of the committee in Dublin Corporation have experience of it. The problem will not go away: if anything, it will get worse. This is probably the last time we will be dealing with this problem for the next ten years at least and we should get it right this time. If it can be incorporated within the definitions section of this Bill to such an extent that a prosecuting lawyer on behalf of the local authority can construe reasonably that an abandoned skip falls within the definition of an abandoned vehicle or portion of an abandoned vehicle, then I think the rest of the measure would hold. Will the Minister consider this matter for Report Stage?

(Dublin South-East): Yes, I will.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Section 2 agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related and will be taken together.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, lines 1 to 3, to delete subsection (1) and to substitute the following subsection:

"(1) A person shall not—

(a) deposit anywhere, whether in a receptacle or not, any substance, material or thing for collection by or on behalf of a local authority, or

(b) (i) otherwise place or leave, anywhere, or

(ii) throw down, anywhere, any substance, material or thing,

so as to create or tend to create litter in a public place or litter that is visible from a public place.".

The purpose of the amendment is to make a more positive statement about the problem of litter arising from refuse being left out for collection by local authorities. The use of inadequate refuse containers, no lids on bins, open boxes and untied sacks, by both commercial and domestic users has been a continuous source of litter. The provision in subsection (1) will make it an offence to leave out refuse in this way.

Will the Minister state what is the position regarding refuse thrown out of cars? In such a case who is responsible in law, the driver or the passenger? Frequently people throw out cartons or empty ash trays and then drive off. When traced the driver will say frequently that he had a passenger in the car at the time but that he cannot remember who it was. Does the Bill deal with such a situation?

(Dublin South-East): Yes, section 3 (5) covers that situation. It is essential that people become involved rapidly in dealing with the problem of litter and I appeal to the public for their co-operation. Legislation is one thing but it is essential that we get the co-operation of the public. I have been a member of a local authority for the past eight years and I know that the problem needs to be tackled. In reply to the query of the Deputy, both the driver of the vehicle and the perpetrator of the offence will be liable but it will take public co-operation to identify the perpetrators. The on-the-spot-fine will be £5. If the vehicle is driven away the litter warden can get the number and under this legislation will have power to bring the transgressor to justice.

I agree with what the Minister has said. Unless the public are determined to rid the country of the litter problem it will not happen no matter what legislation is passed. We would need a warden for every person if we were to try to get at them through the law. Much more attention will have to be paid to what can be done in schools and in the education of the parents. If parents do not educate their children to be litter conscious, we will only be chasing the problem when those children become adults. We need the goodwill and co-operation of parents if this Bill is to be effective. It is only a minority who cause the problem and I hope this Bill will be able to deal with it.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to a point in this Bill which, if I am reading it correctly, creates an unacceptable division in our legislation — and this is not the only instance where it occurs. My reading of section 3 (5) is that a haulier could find he was liable for an offence because the driver of one of his trucks committed an offence. The section reads that the owner of the vehicle "shall be guilty of an offence in addition to any person guilty of the first-mentioned offence."— for example, that referred to by Deputy Briscoe — but if the person who commits the offence is the driver of a local authority van, a Posts and Telegraphs van or a CIE truck the statutory authority would not be treated the same way. I do not see the reason for this distinction in law. It takes the pressure off management and the owners of the company, whether private or public, to ensure the same kind of discipline. In the eyes of the public this sets up a further division between "them" and "us" and puts the public sector in an unique position. This is unnecessary because it appears that one administrative system is protecting another.

I would like to ask two questions. First, am I correct in my reading of this section? Second, if I am, why is that provision there, because it does not seem to be necessary? If it is not necessary, can we not take it out on Report Stage?

(Dublin South-East): This is an interesting observation. This is covered in the road traffic regulations. I do not interpret this the same way as the Deputy. I take the point he is making, but the local authorities should set an example. This legislation will enforce a new awareness among the people and in my capacity as Minister I will use my influence to make sure local authorities set this example.

I will take note of the Deputy's observations but I doubt if such a change could take place. To say people engaged in collecting refuse would also be engaged in littering would be a contradiction in terms.

But it exists.

(Dublin South-East): I will take note of this and see if anything can be done, but my interpretation is that it will remain general practice.

Perhaps I need clarification on what the definition of "other than a public service vehicle". For example, if a "public service vehicle" is a van or truck owned by local authority or the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, will the registered owners be exempt from any sanctions contained in this legislation while the owners of a private company would be so exempt? Why make the distinction? I am objecting to this distinction being made. If the definition of a public service vehicle constitutes a precise kind of vehicle, then there is an out for the Minister, but if not, we should delete the clause.

(Dublin South-East): It does. “Public service vehicles” means a mechanically propelled vehicle used for the carriage of persons for reward.

I am not sure that the Minister has answered the point raised by Deputy Quinn. If a bus driver leans out the window and empties an ash tray, will CIE be exempt from any fines or prosecutions?

(Dublin South-East): CIE would be, but not necessarily the perpetrator of the offence.

The driver or the conductor will not be exempt?

(Dublin South-East): The company would be exempt but the perpetrators of the offence would not automatically be exempted.

CIE would not be legally responsible but the bus driver or conductor, if charged would be responsible?

(Dublin South-East): Yes.

If a private tour company were involved, would the driver committing the same offence be responsible and liable to the same degree, and would the registered owner of the vehicle also be responsible? I do not see why there is this distinction. it creates a very bad precedent, even if it already exists elsewhere, and it creates further unnecessary divisions between the public and private sectors.

It is reasonable for management, particularly in the public sector, to be able to point to the fact that not only will the driver of the vehicle in question be liable to a fine but that the company, too, will be directly liable. The company of necessity must enforce by way of discipline the kind of awareness to litter to which the Minister referred. Why not keep this additional incentive in the legislation? I do not understand the logic used here.

In my view litter is the result of thoughtlessness and carelessness. The major problem is to make people aware of it and to get their co-operation to eradicate it. This can be done by education and legislation, but both methods, particularly education, can be slow and tedious. Education is the long-term solution. To eradicate this litter problem we must use all the media at our disposal — newspapers, radio, television and so on. Until littering is recognised as a social crime, the problem will be with us.

Many of us remember written on the sides of the old trams "Spitting prohibited, fine 40/-". It was not until the campaign against tuberculosis brought home to the people that this practice was injurious to the health of the community that this disgusting habit was controlled. We will not solve this litter problem until we develop the same social attitude to littering. I would like to hear the Minister's comments on this.

I want to get back to the point Deputy Quinn raised. I understand that under the law at present a bus driver driving a vehicle which gives off excessive fumes is responsible for this pollution and can be prosecuted. I was speaking to a bus driver about this recently and he told me drivers are often told to take their buses back to the depot. Is the bus driver or the company liable to be fined in that case?

We are not asking the Minister to adjudicate on pollution. This is a different matter.

This is a similar point to that raised by Deputy Quinn, where the bus driver or conductor was throwing rubbish out the window. In that case who is responsible, the man or the company?

(Dublin South-East): It would be helpful if we stayed on litter. Air pollution comes under the road traffic regulations and does not come within the framework of this legislation.

Is Deputy Quinn satisfied with the Minister's reply?

I am not. I have not had a reply to my question but that may be because of my inability to clearly identify what I see as a contradiction. For example, the general manager of a private bus company in whose name the vehicle is registered would in addition to the bus driver be liable for an offence of, for example, tipping the ash tray out. The general manager would be equally responsible and liable in law if that were a private bus company but the general manager of CIE would not be so liable. That is an unnecessary distinction, an exclusion of the public sector, to begin with, because it is not equality in the eyes of the law. Secondly, given our experience of public service management practices the removal of such an additional sanction would weaken the position of management in relation to being able to enforce the good practices we all wish to see achieved. I do not see the logic of having this exclusion in the legislation unless the Government want to avoid the embarrassment of having the general manager of CIE also in court along with the bus driver. jointly charged for littering.

(Dublin South-East): There is no distinction in this legislation between private and public. I should like to make that unequivocally clear.

There is.

If a CIE bus driver empties an ash tray on the road the driver of that vehicle is liable to prosecution but the general manager is not. If a private company, not a bus company — because a bus could be a public service vehicle — has a vehicle on the road say a van, and an ordinary van driver working for company ABC, and if he empties an ash tray on the road the driver of the van will be liable to prosecution and so also will the general manager of the company ABC. Could we establish if that is so?

(Dublin South-East): That is correct, yes.

I must be very dense. I did not appreciate that until Deputy Quinn raised the point. If that is so Deputy Quinn has a very good point.

(Dublin South-East): I do not want any misinterpretation to occur on this point because it is very important. I want Deputies to be absolutely sure that every aspect of the legislation covers even what could be interpreted as a minor littering offence. I appreciate the contributions made by Deputies Quinn and Barry in this respect and by Deputies Briscoe and Brennan. The liability of vehicle ownership is really what we will elaborate on. Littering and roadside dumping is often caused by persons from vehicles and identification can be difficult. The person may be an employee acting on instructions. Under subsection (5) the owner of the vehicle will be held liable apart from the liability of anyone else. If the vehicle is the subject of a hire-drive agreement as defined in section 1, the hirer will be liable. If the vehicle is being used by someone else that person will be liable but the owner or hirer may be excused if in effect he can show that the vehicle was being used on the occasion in question by another person and that such use was not authorised, or in addition, in the case of the owner, that the vehicle was the subject of a hire-drive agreement — that is in subsections (6) and (7). I do not see any distinction between public service vehicles or a private company in that respect.

I thought that earlier the Minister said there was a difference, that in the example I quoted the management of CIE would not be responsible but that the management of the private company would be responsible while the drivers in both cases would be responsible.

(Dublin South-East): There is a difference in that one is private and one is public but there is no distinction when it comes within the framework of the legislation to issue prosecutions to the driver of either vehicle.

The management of CIE could be prosecuted?

(Dublin South-East): I am directing my remarks to the driver, the perpetrator of the offence.

The Minister's intentions are clear and good in that he would like to see the responsibility equal on both public and private sectors. I suggest that what Deputy Quinn has said is also correct. If the Minister is so minded he could introduce an amendment on Report Stage. Perhaps I am misinterpreting this but it is not clear yet what the law will be when the Bill is passed. The Minister could bring in an amendment on Report Stage saying that no matter who owns the vehicle, whether it is public or private, the liability for littering ultimately rests with the owner of the vehicle.

(Dublin South-East): I am determined that the legislation will be all-embracing. I shall take a look at the matter to make sure the Deputy's point is covered.

I do not think it would harm the intention of the section if the Minister were to remove the clause in parentheses beginning on line 29 — just remove the sub-clause "other than a public service vehicle." Then there would not be a false division introduced.

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 3:

In page 12, lines 40 and 41, to delete "disused vehicles or other disused articles" and to substitute "vehicles or other articles (being disused articles)".

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, subsection (4) (d) (ii), lines 25 to 27, to delete "or the European Communities (Waste) (No. 2) Regulations, 1979 (S.I. No. 388 of 1979)" and to substitute "the European Communities (Waste) (No. 2) Regulations, 1979 (S.I. No. 388 of 1979), or the European Communities (Toxic and Dangerous Waste) Regulations, 1982 (S.I. No. 33 of 1982)".

The need for the amendment came about by the making of the European Communities Toxic and Dangerous Waste Regulations, 1982 on March 3. These regulations embody the legitimate means of disposing of toxic and dangerous waste and the exemption under the section is therefore being extended to that.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment No. 5. Amendment No. 14 is related and Amendment No. 17 is cognate and these may be taken together by agreement.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 5:

In page 6, subsection (3) (b), line 23, to delete "any" and to substitute "the".

This is a drafting amendment to bring the section into line with similar wording in section 9. Amendments Nos. 14 and 17 involve a similar change in wording. As at present drafted, the provisions might be taken as empowering local authorities to enter on any land. This would not be the intention. If the local authority have to cross over neighbouring lands to deal with a litter problem they would have to seek permission from the occupier of these lands and in normal circumstances it is unlikely to be refused.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment No. 6. Amendment No. 12 is related and by agreement Nos. 6 and 12 may be discussed together.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 6:

In page 7, subsection (1), line 10, after "form" to insert "or in a form to the like effect".

This again is a drafting amendment which will bring the form of words in relation to prescribed notice into line with the usage in other sections of the Bill, for example, section 9 (2), section 11 (1) (a) and (b). Amendment No. 12 is similar. This is an accepted form of words for use in these cases.

In relation to (1) (b) which says the person may during a period of 21 days beginning on the date of the notice make a payment to the local authority specified in the notice of £5 accompanied by the notice, the trouble about specifying a fine of £5 is that it is on the Statute Book but in ten or 15 years time £5 may be like five shillings and this renders the penalty useless. Is there no way we can cover this by regulation?

(Dublin South-East): This is a very important point. Of course, there is provision to change on-the-spot fines in line with inflation just by regulation.

The provision is in the Bill?

(Dublin South-East): Yes, section 5 (4).

Are any local authority litter wardens employed at present? If so what are they and how many?

(Dublin South-East): Certainly Dublin and Cork have litter wardens. From memory Dublin Corporation may have as few as six. I only hazard that as a guess.

Would it be unfair to ask how much has been collected in fines?

(Dublin South-East): I have not that information available at the moment. As the Deputy realises, one of the problems is that the regulations were so out of date. The perpetrators of an offence could literally dump a dustbin of rubbish in Kildare Street and be fined a maximum of £10. The maximum fine will now be increased to £500.

How effective has this type of action been? Have there actually been fines collected for the dropping of litter?

I think the answer is no.

(Dublin South-East): The answer to that is that litter wardens have not been effective in the past. The simple reason is that they did not have the power to fine on the spot. Now local authorities will be empowered to fine on the spot. It must clearly be understood that the emphasis will be on the local authorities for an on-the-spot fining system for litter offences. As the Bill proceeds through Committee Stage, we will have more time to elaborate further on that. The local authorities will engage litter wardens who will be empowered to issue fines on the spot. If the perpetrator of an offence is not prepared to co-operate and pay the fine, he or she runs the risk of being brought before the courts and given a maximum fine of £500 for refusing to pay the on-the-spot fine.

There is no provision in the current Bill regarding graffitti, of which there has been an alarming increase here in recent years, as in Britain. This ranges from scribbling in public conveniences to huge descriptions on gables of buildings.

(Dublin South-East): On that point, for the information of the Deputy, a major amendment is being introduced on graffiti in this Bill.

That includes the Department of Justice.

An Leas-Ceann Comhairle

There is no provision for discussion on that subject in this amendment. However, we are moving towards that.

On the appointment of litter wardens, giving them teeth to do their job is an esential part of this Bill. Equally important, given the nature of the Irish character, is the quality and attitude of the wardens appointed. I imagine the money collected would be very little. The best possible solution would be that the litter wardens would do themselves out of a job, because they would be so effective that there would eventually be no fines to be collected because no litter would be dropped. That would be a mark of their success. Women might here be more appropriate than men because rather than fining children, they could point out to them the damage being done to their own quality of life by littering streets by dropping sweet papers and other litter. Even though it will be a long haul, the educational aspect of wardens must be seen as important and complementary to the role of the teachers and parents. The Bill gives greater powers to local authorities, bringing the legislation more in line with modern conditions, but a careful selection of the wardens would, in the long term be more beneficial, given the character of the Irish people, than slapping a fine on somebody who dumps a cigarette packet on the street. In Austria a few years ago, I saw an old lady coming out of a restuarant prodding a small boy for throwing a sweet paper on the road and she told him to pick it up. She was her country's litter warden, although she was just a citizen of the city. She was very concerned that her city should be a place in which she would like to live and was going to see that it was not litter-strewn. She was going to see that other people did not make it unacceptable to her.

At the moment there are litter wardens in Dublin, but probably the reason why they have not been observed is that the uniform is very similar to that of the Garda. Very often, when people are approached by these wardens they do not realise that it is a litter warden and not a garda who is addressing them. They are probably shown a great deal more respect because they are thought of as gardaí.

The Deputy should not say that. The press will disregard that comment.

Never once has there been a complaint alleged about their conduct. Very often, a warning to somebody dropping litter can be effective. I am not making any defence of the kind of mess we see about us and the litter wardens should be given more powers and recognition. It is important that there have been no complaints about these litter wardens. It may be a good idea to appoint some women litter wardens as well, but what will make the warden's job more effective will be the on-the-spot fines. That is much easier than bringing people to court.

My point was the reverse of that.

I wish briefly to commend the Minister — although I suspect more appropriately the parliamentary draftsmen — for bringing in this amendment. The effect of it, as the House should be aware, is to frustrate the efforts of smart lawyers at getting their clients acquitted on a technicality because the notice of service was not in the exact format set out under the law. It is a very healthy development by the relevant section of the Minister's Department. I hope that it will be picked up right across the board in terms of Government legislation so that people will not get off on technicalities when they are clearly guilty of an offence.

(Dublin South-East): I would like to comment on Deputy Barry's constructive suggestions here and to appeal for co-operation on the part of the public. Unfortunately, we have an ingrained attitude to acceptance of litter, while the lady mentioned by Deputy Barry would not accept that, even in the winter of her years. To amplify the Deputy's comments, what is important is that it will be an educational process. It is my intention that the litter wardens will be properly trained and have the correct approach, not so much in apprehending and pouncing on people but that it will be an educational process, as well as the last resort of fining. I will be appealing, if cases go to court, for the justices to mete the heavy penalties, certainly in the early stages of this legislation to give it the necessary teeth and impact to which Deputy Quinn referred earlier. Examples are made early on, to ensure that the legislation is thought about.

I listened with interest to the Minister. The litter wardens in Dublin should be identifiable as such, if they are to be effective. People should know that they are there and their presence will have a deterring effect. If these people look like the ordinary local authority worker, it will be unfair to fine people. I am glad that the Minister is considering the training of litter wardens for the job on hand, but I do not see that mentioned in the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment No. 7 is consequential on amendment No. 8. Amendments Nos. 9, 13, 21 and 22 are related. Amendment 23 is consequential on amendments Nos. 8 and 9, so, by agreement amendments Nos. 7, 8, 9, 13, 21, 22 and 23 together will be taken together.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, subsection (2), line 47, after "section 3", to insert "or 7* (other than an offence under the said section 7* to which subsection (2) of that section relates)".

This amendment is consequential on the introduction of amendments Nos. 8 and 9 and enables a litter warden to request the name and address of a person whom he catches in the act of fly-posting or writing graffiti. This is a major part of the legislation and it covers the area that Deputy Brennan referred to a few moments ago. The existing provisions in the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, have not proved adequate to deal with the problems of fly-posting, graffiti, slogan writing and so on. These provisions are directed only against the person who puts up posters or writes graffiti slogans. This can be done at night of course and offenders are difficult to apprehend or identify. In addition, no penalty is incurred by those responsible for the advertisements or those who benefit from them. The local authorities should also be able to take action directly to remove the offending material or to have it removed. The new sections 7 and 8, which I am proposing for inclusion in the Bill, meet these needs.

Section 7 relates to fly-posting, graffiti and slogans on buildings and other structures in or fronting any public places to which the owner, occupier or person in charge has not consented. The section provides for the creation and the prosecution of the offence and the taking of remedial action by the local authority if the occupier is agreeable. The principal effect is that the offence is extended so that the person on whose behalf an advertisement is exhibited or, in the case of an advertisement for a meeting or other event, the person promoting or arranging the meeting or event will be liable for prosecution as well as the person who actually does the damage. The range of offences is being extended to cover the exhibition of articles such as banners or flags put up without permission. There is an exemption for advertisements for public meetings and public elections, provided the advertisements are subsequently removed. Likewise, advertisements that are exempted development will not be liable to prosecution under this provision. Section 7 does not deal with advertisements or slogans put up by an occupier or with his consent and it does not enable a local authority to take action if the occupier is not agreeable. The proposed section 8 provides for this.

If a local authority considers it is in the interests of the amenity or of the environment, they can secure the removal of an article, advertisements or slogans, whether or not it was put up with the consent of the owner, occupier or persons in charge. The local authority may themselves remove the article, advertisement or graffiti with the agreement of the occupier or serve a notice on the occupier requiring him to take remedial action. If he does not do so, the local authority may remedy the situation and recover any expenditure reasonably incurred. The occupier has a right of appeal to the courts where a notice is served and other defences are included also. The effective use of the provisions in these two additional sections by the local authority will go a long way to eliminating the unsightly fly-posting earlier referred to which is now so widespread and will facilitate the removal of graffiti and slogans in the future. Amendments Nos. 13, 21, 22 and 23 are consequential on the introduction of the new sections 7 and 8.

This is the most significant of the amendments which the Minister is introducing and I am very glad it has come before the House. I am sure it will be passed with the agreement of the House. I apologise for being unwittingly disorderly earlier on. I understood the Minister was making an opening statement to which I was supposed to reply.

I want to refer to the proliferation of these slogans, although the visual effect on the environment of tattered posters hanging from hoardings all over the city are very offensive visually. The local authorities should have some means — as they will have if this Bill becomes law — to ensure that these sites are cleared up, hoardings painted and kept clean. I hope this section will be effective. It puts the onus on the local authorities to ensure that cities and towns are kept in a condition that is not offensive — primarily to those who reside there, because it is important for people who live in a town or city to be proud of them — but also for the sake of visitors who we are so keen to encourage to visit here. Many of them come from countries which have stringent laws on litter, graffiti and so on. When I was in Switzerland last year — you will think I am a much-travelled man — I was shocked to see that even the clean Swiss are having an outbreak of graffiti. That is very disturbing because, if their standards are slipping, there is less chance for the rest of us in this regard. I have been saying for ten or 12 years that what I find extraordinary is this. We vote money in this House and we give a very large subvention to Bord Fáilte, probably in the region of £13 or £14 million a year. We continually boast about our nearest neighbours who are our best friends. We send teams of hoteliers, airline officials, travel agents and members of Bord Fáilte to travel to England to encourage the British to come over here, and then we allow a most unrepresentative minority to daub slogans at points of entry such as "Brits Out" and offensive remarks about their Royal Family and political leaders. They are a most tolerant people to come, but the success of this daubing was very evident on the tourist figures last year. A number of cross-channel television companies showed shots of entry points to the country with offensive slogans which was the first thing that met the visitors. For the last 12 months the fly-over on the Stillorgan Road outside the Montrose Hotel has had `H-block' painted on it. I encouraged the officers in the Department of the Environment to get on to the county and city managers to ensure that this sign was blotted out, but it is still there. There are also offensive personal references to the Taoiseach, of whom I am no great lover, on a wall in Cork for the last 18 months and to his predecessor. It is time we decided what we want. We can no longer be ambivalent. We must have an open, democratic country and have sufficient self-confidence not to need hysterical slogans. It should be a matter of education to see the rapport between the Germans and the British — and their differences were much deeper and more bitter than ours were with England. We should have enough self-confidence to say that we are equal and independent, that we want the British to come here on holidays, spend their money and that we welcome them.

Ninety-nine per cent of ordinary Irish people would say that of all the tourists who come here the friendliest and the most welcome are the British. We must remember that the British themselves had their problems in this regard after the war, with "Yanks Go Home" plastered all over their walls. We are not the worst in the world in this regard. I hesitate to name one country I have visited. The Americans, with their architecturally beautiful cities, have the approaches to them defaced by mile after mile of advertising hoardings. We moved reasonably effectively against that in the 1963 Act. I hope the effect of this amendment will be to awaken an awareness among our people not simply for commercial tourism reasons or for the sake of getting industries in here but to give ourselves the confidence and the self-respect that an independent people should have. We must make it clear that because we disagree with people we do not hate them. If this Bill encourages that awareness it will have been worthwhile for that reason alone.

I support this amendment not only because it was one of the major suggestions of Dublin Corporation when they considered the Bill, and of course I work in both chambers. I should like to record a tribute to Dublin Corporation in this respect, but the Minister has already expressed appreciation. I agree with Deputy Barry in regard to posters but I think the Minister should change the period for removal to 14 days.

I would not object to that.

The maximum fine is now £20. I do not know the figure the Minister has in mind but I hope it is at least £100.

(Dublin South-East): I will consider extending the period to 14 days, although personally I should like to see it at two days. The maximum fine will be £500. If I find it necessary to promote awareness in people of this measure, the Department through the local authorities will have signs erected along roadways, and if necessary notices in the media, drawing attention to the provisions of this Bill. In America they have signs indicating that fines of $500 will be imposed for breaches of the regulations. If necessary I will inform the people of these provisions continuously to ensure in every way I can that the legislation will have continuing effect. Knowing the goodwill of local authorities, I am sure they will be delighted to have this legislation behind them.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 8:

In page 8, before section 7, to insert the following section:

7.—(1) Where any structure or other land, door, gate, window, tree, pole or post is in or fronts any public place, a person who is not the owner, occupier or person in charge thereof shall not—

(a) exhibit or cause to be exhibited thereon any article or advertisement, or

(b) carry out or cause to be carried out any defacement thereof by writing or other marks,

unless he is authorised so to do by such owner, occupier or person in charge or by or under any enactment.

(2) Without prejudice to the liability of any other person under subsection (1) of this section, where there is a contravention of that subsection—

(a) in the case of an advertisement relating to a meeting or other event, the person who is promoting or arranging the meeting or event, and

(b) in the case of any other advertisement, the person on whose behalf the advertisement is exhibited.

shall be deemed also to have contravened that subsection.

(3) A local authority may, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by it and the occupier concerned, in the case of an article, advertisement or defacement in its area in relation to which there is a contravention of subsection (1) of this section—

(a) by its servants or agents, remove the said article or advertisement or, as the case may be, remove or otherwise remedy the said defacement, and

(b) for those purposes, by its servants or agents enter on the structure or other land concerned or the structure or other land on which is situated the door, gate, window, tree, pole or post concerned.

(4) In a prosecution for an offence under this section in relation to a contravention of subsection (1) of this section, it shall not be necessary for the prosecution to show and it shall be assumed until the contrary is shown by the defendant, that the defendant was not the owner, occupier or person in charge of the structure or other land, door, gate, window, tree, pole or post and was not authorised as referred to in subsection (1) of this section.

(5) A person who contravenes or is deemed to have contravened subsection (1) of this section or who obstructs or impedes a local authority or its servants or agents acting in the exercise of the functions conferred on a local authority by subsection (3) of this section shall be guilty of an offence.

(6) A prosecution shall not be brought in a case in which an offence under this section is alleged to have been committed in relation to an advertisement if—

(a) the advertisement is exempted development within the meaning of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, or

(b) the advertisement—

(i) advertises a public meeting, or

(ii) relates to a presidential election within the meaning of the Presidential Elections Act, 1937, a general election or a by-election, within the meaning, in each case, of the Electoral Act, 1923, a local election, a referendum, within the meaning of the Referendum Act, 1942, or an election of representatives to the Assembly of the European Communities,

unless the advertisement has been in position for seven days or longer after the day specified in the advertisement for the meeting or the latest day upon which the poll was taken for the election, by-election or referendum concerned.

(7) Notwithstanding section 17 of this Act, section 80 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, shall not apply in relation to an offence under this section.

(8) In this section and in section 8 of this Act—

"occupier", in relation to a door, gate, window or tree, means the occupier of the structure or other land on which the door, gate, window or tree, as the case may be, is situated and, in relation to a pole or post, means the owner of the pole or post;

"structure" has the meaning assigned to it by the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963.

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 9:

In page 8, before section 7, to insert the following: 8.—(1) Where any structure or other land, door, gate, window, tree, pole or post situated in the area of any local authority is in or fronts any public place and it appears to that authority that it is in the interests of amenity or of the environment of an area that any article or advertisement exhibited thereon should be removed or any defacement thereof by writing or other marks should be removed or otherwise remedied or that other specified steps should be taken in relation to the article, advertisement or defacement, as the case may be, it may serve a notice in the prescribed form or in a form to the like effect on the occupier concerned requiring him to remove the article or advertisement, or remove or otherwise remedy the defacement, or to take other specified steps in relation to the article, advertisement or defacement, as the case may be, within a period specified in the notice that is not less than one month after—

(a) the date of the service of the notice, or

(b) if there is an appeal against the notice under subsection (2) of this section, the date of the determination of the appeal, or

(c) if there is such an appeal and it is withdrawn the date of the withdrawal.

(2) A person upon whom a notice under this section is served may, within 21 days of the date of the service of the notice, appeal to the District Court against the notice and the District Court may confirm the notice with or without modifications or annul the notice.

(3) Where a notice is served upon a person under this section—

(a) if the person does not appeal against the notice under subsection (2) of this section, he shall comply with its terms within the period specified in the notice, and

(b) if the person appeals against the notice under the said subsection and the notice is confirmed with or without modifications by the District Court, he shall comply with its terms, or its terms as modified by the District Court, as the case may be, within the period specified in the notice after the date of the determination of the appeal, and

(c) if the person appeals against the notice and withdraws the appeal, he shall comply with its terms within the period specified in the notice after the date of the withdrawal.

(4) In confirming a notice under subsection (2) of this section the Court may, if it is satisfied that—

(a) the article or advertisement concerned was not exhibited, or

(b) the defacement concerned was not carried out,

by or with the consent of the occupier concerned, direct that the whole or part of the expenditure reasonably incurred in implementing the notice shall be met by the local authority concerned.

(5) Where, in relation to a notice under this section, there is a contravention of subsection (3) of this section, the local authority concerned may, subject to the provisions of this section, by its servants or agents—

(a) give effect to the terms of the notice, and

(b) where necessary for that purpose, by its servants or agents enter on the structure or other land concerned or the structure or other land on which is situated the door, gate, window, tree, pole or post concerned.

and may recover such part (if any) of the expenditure reasonably incurred by it in so doing as has not been directed by an order under subsection (4) of this section to be paid by the authority from the occupier concerned as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(6) Before exercising any functions conferred on it by subsection (5) of this section, a local authority shall, not less than 7 days before the date of such exercise, serve a notice in the prescribed form or in a form to the like effect upon the occupier concerned of any structure or other land, or of any door, gate, window, tree, pole or post to which the notice relates stating its intention to do so.

(7) A local authority may, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by it and the occupier concerned, in the case of an article, advertisement or defacement to which subsection (1) of this section applies—

(a) by its servants or agents remove the article or advertisement or remedy the defacement or, as may be appropriate, take other steps in relation to it, and

(b) for those purposes, by its servants or agents, enter on the structure or other land concerned or the structure or other land on which is situated the door, gate, window, tree, pole or post concerned.

(8) A person who contravenes subsection (3) of this section or who obstructs or impedes—

(a) a local authority or its servants or agents acting in the exercise of the functions conferred on a local authority by subsection (5) or (7) of this section, or

(b) a person or his servants or agents while engaged in complying with the terms of a notice under this section,

shall be guilty of an offence.

(9) In a prosecution for an offence in respect of a contravention of subsection (3) of this section, it shall be a defence to show—

(a) that the exhibition of the advertisement concerned was in accordance with a permission under Part IV of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, or

(b) that reasonable steps were taken to comply with the provisions of that subsection, or

(c) that, in all the circumstances of the case—

(i) compliance with those provisions would have been unduly costly or difficult, or

(ii) it would have been unreasonable to require compliance with those provisions.

(10) Any development, within the meaning of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, carried out pursuant to a notice under subsection (1) of this section or under such a notice as modified under subsection (2) of this section shall be exempted development, within the meaning of that Act.

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 10:

In page 8, subsection (2), line 17, to delete "fix from time to time with the approval of the Minister" and to substitute "consider reasonable and fix from time to time".

I do not think local authorities should have to get ministerial approval if they wish to impose charges or to change the amounts of charges. The amendment will leave this to their discretion.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
Section 8 agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 11:

In page 9, lines 9 to 11, to delete subsection (5).

This is a drafting change. It was decided that subsection (5) is not required because all powers necessary are conferred on local authorities by the general section.

I simply should like to know if the Minister proposes to draw the attention of local authorities to their powers under these sections. Many man-hours could be occupied in removing vehicles and so forth and I hope the Minister will use this opportunity to alert all local authorities to the powers they now will have. I also hope he will let them know they have been enabled to proceed quickly.

(Dublin South-East): The local authorities will be informed immediately the legislation has been enacted.

The local authorities will have an important part to play. They will have to provide facilities such as adequate bins, properly sited. Is there provision in the Bill in regard to this?

(Dublin South-East): That is the purpose and the essence of the legislation. Heretofore they did not have the powers. Now they will have them.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 9, as amended, agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 12:

In page 9, subsection (1), line 23, after "notice" to insert "in the prescribed form or in a form to the like effect".

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 13:

In page 9, subsection (2), lines 35 and 36, to delete "before the day (not being less than one month after the date of the service of the notice) specified in the notice in that behalf," and to substitute "within 21 days of the date of the service of the notice,".

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 14:

In page 10, subsection (4) (b), line 10, to delete "any land," and to substitute "the land to which the notice relates".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 15. Amendment No. 19 is cognate and both may be discussed together.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 15:

In page 10, subsection (4) line 13, to delete "costs and expenses" and to substitute "expenditure reasonably".

This amendment provides that only expenditure reasonably incurred by local authorities will be recoverable. This is in line with the new wording used in the new section 8 dealing with fly-posting and graffiti.

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 16.

In page 10, subsection (4), line 14, to delete "occupier of the land" and to substitute "person upon whom the notice was served".

This amendment arises because the occupier may not be the person responsible for keeping the disused vehicle or disused article on the land. In these circumstances he would not be the appropriate person from whom expenditure should be recovered. The person on whom a notice is served under subsection (1) of this section requiring him to take action with regard to the disused vehicle or other articles is the person from whom the expenditure should be recovered and the amendment provides for this.

Will always be possible to identify the person involved?

(Dublin South-East): That is a difficult question to answer in all-embracing terms. It is an important amendment. It gives power to cover all circumstances. It will be up to those involved to see that the moneys are recoverable.

What would be the position of I drove my car on to the Minister's land and removed the number plates?

(Dublin South-East): One can attach a notice to the vehicle.

That is what the Bill is trying to cure.

(Dublin South-East): There are ramifications pertaining to abandoned vehicles and litter. We will have teething problems. I appreciate the suggestions made from the far side of the House. It is an interesting observation. Provision must be written into the law to enable local authorities to cover all eventualities. It will be up to each local authority to make sure they work strenuously to ensure that the legislation is effective. In my capacity as Minister of State with responsibility for urban affairs I intend to make sure that the local authorities do their work in this respect.

Is a person responsible for litter which is outside their door if they did not put it there? Deputy Barry raised the question of a person removing number plates on a car. I know people living in a village and when the wind blows from the west the refuse from the village collects outside their houses. Are they responsible for the garbage outside their doors?

The legislation uses the word "deposit". They could not be deemed to be liable.

I am happy about that.

Is the Minister of State happy with the reply given by Deputy Quinn to the wild west wind?

(Dublin South-East): The west wind is very pleasent.

It nearly always blows from the west.

(Dublin South-East): I would not let anyone say anything about it. Is the Deputy asking who would be responsible if a person drove a car onto a field and left it there?

That is the point I was making.

It is the same kind of point but mine was about litter.

(Dublin South-East): The occupier of the land could be liable for prosecution in such a case under the framework of this legislation.

Does this amendment mean he will not be liable? Is that the purpose of it?

(Dublin South-East): It is to give effect to cases where someone deposits refuse on another person's land. It would not be fair that such a person should be prosecuted when the perpetrator was someone else.

I do not think the point is worth pursuing. If I drive my car onto the Minister's land and remove the number plates, with this amendment the Minister would not be liable. The Minister proposes that the local authority should affix a notice to the car saying the owner must remove it. Another section tries to stop fly-posting yet the local authority are now being encouraged to fly-post an abandoned vehicle on someone else's land. We should face up to this and say where a car is abandoned the local authority must ultimately accept responsibility for removing it.

(Dublin South-East): In those circumstances the local authority could remove the car. The hands of local authorities were always tied because they could not enter private property. Deputy Quinn made many contributions in Dublin Corporation on this issue.

Scully's field was the hardy annual.

(Dublin South-East): Under this legislation the local authority will have power to act.

It will be removed at no charge to the person on whose property the abandoned vehicle is.

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 17:

In page 10, subsection (6) (b), line 32, to delete "any" and to substitute "the".

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 18:

In page 10, subsection (8), line 38, to delete "proceedings" and to substitute "a prosecution".

This is a drafting amendment to bring the section into line with other sections of the Bill, for example, the old section 8 (3).

Amendment agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 19:

In page 11, subsection (2), line 31, to delete "costs and expenses" and to substitute "expenditure reasonably".

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 20:

In page 11, between lines 52 and 53, to insert the following subsection:

"(6) (a) Where, in relation to—

(i) a vehicle removed by a local authority under section 9 or 10 of this Act, or

(ii) a vehicle (being an abandoned vehicle or a vehicle which appears to have been abandoned) removed by or on the authority of a road authority under section 97 (inserted by the Road Traffic Act, 1968) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, the local authority or the road authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the condition of the vehicle is such that it is incapable of being used as a vehicle and cannot by the expenditure of a reasonable amount of money be rendered capable of being so used, the local authority or the road authority, as the case may be, may, notwithstanding anything in this or any other Act, dispose of the vehicle at any time after the removal aforesaid without having stored it and without having served upon any person, or published, a notice in relation to the vehicle.

(b) In paragraph (a) of this subsection `abandoned' and `road authority' have the same meanings as in the Road Traffic Act, 1961.".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 11, as amended, agreed to.
Section 12 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 13 stand part of the Bill."

Can these penalties be controlled also by regulation? Twenty years from now £500 may be worth what £5 is worth today.

(Dublin South-East): No. We have to make a start somewhere and £500 is the maximum fine written into this legislation.

Can the Minister say why it has to be fixed at £500? This has been the bane of the lives of many people. Legislation was enacted in 1894 in which £5 was levied. That type of legislation is still in existence. Is not this an opportunity to get away from that? We should not have to introduce a new Bill because the fines are inadequate. If we have runaway inflation, in ten years' time this will be useless and it will still pay a man to empty a truck of rubbish in O'Connell Street, as one person did recently and was fined only £10. We should have a hard look at this now.

(Dublin South-East): I take the point. Given the co-operation we have had on the Committee Stage of this Bill this afternoon, I have no doubt that, if needs be, we can introduce enabling legislation to increase the maximum fine. As I said, a start has to be made and £500 will be the maximum fine at this stage.

If the Minister takes that point, will he not take the amendment suggested from his own side of the House, if he will not take mine, and increase the fine to £1,000? If there is a valid reason, such as a limit on the fine which a court can impose, I accept that as a legitimate constraint. The figure of £500 is an arbitrary figure. I share Deputy Briscoe's faith in the ability of successive Ministers for Finance, whether they be Fianna Fáil or otherwise, to control the rate of inflation over the next 15 years. We will not have this type of Bill in the House in the foreseeable future. Why not provide for £1,000 if we can do so? It is a maximum fine and the courts will not always impose it.

A figure of £1,000 may be equally irrelevant in 15 years' time.

Deputy Briscoe appreciates that any outstanding issues can be raised by way of amendment on Report Stage.

Perhaps the Minister will consider this between now and Report Stage.

I support Deputy Briscoe's suggestion that the £500 should be altered by regulation if that is possible.

(Dublin South-East): A figure of £500 is a good deal of money to many people. If examples are made of perpetrators of litter offences in the early stages of this legislation, there will be a dramatic change in our habits and attitudes.

Five candidates could stand in an election for £500. That would need to be raised.

(Dublin South-East): I agree totally. We are increasing the fine from £10 to £500. If a litter addict pays £500 a few times, he will change his habits. I take the point about the fine being written into legislation and inflation eroding it. There is the safeguard of the on-the-spot fine which can be changed by regulation. That is an important aspect.

I am not sure if I am in order in raising this matter on section 13. This is a one-off penalty and a one-off fine. There is no fine for a repetition of the offence. If people have litter on their property and they are fined in court and pay the fine, do they have to remove the litter or is there a fine for every day it remains?

(Dublin South-East): The fine would be the end of it. Of course the person would be obliged to remove the litter.

If he does not, can new proceedings be brought for the same offence?

(Dublin South-East): No, not for the same offence.

I must apologise for my status as a blow-in in this debate. I am waiting for the next Bill to start.

The Deputy is always welcome.

May I ask the Minister of State whether under the Bill he is promoting any special status attaches to potential litter which, unless something is done about it will become litter, namely, and in particular, election posters tied to lamp posts? Unless they are promptly removed after the election, and even if they are left up for the duration of the election, they will fall on to the ground and prolong the squalor which is inseparable, apparently, from our form of democracy. Is there any provision in the Bill to penalise parties who permit their election posters to remain up after the day of the election, or to penalise them if their posters are fixed in such a way that they do not stay up but fall on the ground?

(Dublin South-East): I suppose election litter can offend people in different ways according to their persuasions. I totally agree with what Deputy Kelly is saying. I was determined in this Bill to make sure that political parties were covered. They will be obliged to remove posters, flags, or whatever, within seven days of the election.

Of course the Minister realises that very often, without any default on the part of a party, a heavy rainstorm may have the effect of littering the ground. Undoubtedly the heavy storm this afternoon has not added to the amenities of Dublin West in the context I am describing. Would he consider in some future legislation, if he is there long enough to be in charge of it, introducing some rule whereby special stands or hoardings could be made available to political parties on which they could stick their literature side by side, like so many stamps in a child's stamp album? This would have no less effect on the voter, and it is done in many continental countries which are just as entitled to be called democracies as we are.

When I came into Dublin today I saw posters belonging to all political parties on ESB poles. In the country the ESB told us that we could not put our posters on ESB poles.

On the roadways in the country they are still there for General O'Duffy 50 years later.

Have the ESB rules for the city and different rules for the country?

In the country you can still see, "Up O'Duffy".

Deputy Briscoe, to take us away from election matters, I hope.

Yes, back to section 13. I am not happy about the situation and I am reverting to the famous people about whom I was talking up in Blarney Park. They can be fined £500 and after that they can leave the stuff there — if they pay the fine — and they cannot be prosecuted.

A very good point.

Is that the situation?

(Dublin South-East): This is a very important point. It is my old constituency to which the Deputy refers and——

Deputy G. Mitchell has been working as hard as myself in endeavouring to have those cars taken away.

(Dublin South-East): I want to reiterate — so that no misunderstanding will occur — that the local authority are empowered to remove abandoned vehicles or litter under this Bill. They are now given these powers to remove abandoned vehicles. If a £500 maximum fine is brought against some offender and the article is left there a local authority will still have the power to remove that litter or abandoned vehicle. I think that answers the point the Deputy has been making.

Reverting to the question of local authorities not having the power to do that in the past, I should say that this is a completely new situation in which local authorities will be empowered now to effect such removals and indeed to impound or destroy such vehicles.

Will the provisions of this Bill cover the case of a person who maintains that he is carrying on a business, that these abandoned cars all over the place are part of his business, that they are not abandoned but owned by him? Is the Minister satisfied that we can catch such a person, because these are the worst types of offenders?

(Dublin South-East): We have passed the section covering that. We covered that in the opening stages in regard to the definition of “abandoned” and also in section 10.

The Minister has other instruments available to him to improve the general situation in relation to litter. When this Bill becomes law perhaps in the circular the Minister will issue to local authorities he will draw their attention to the fact that if they are successful in obtaining a prosecution for litter of the type we are talking about they will then be obliged to proceed and remove the article in question so that the offence, in real terms, does not continue. Will the Minister ensure that if a local authority go to the trouble of prosecuting somebody in respect of an abandoned vehicle in a field or wherever, that as far as his Department are concerned they are then obliged to make arrangements for its removal since they will have the power under this Bill?

(Dublin South-East): I would hope that that procedure would follow anyway, that the local authority——

Would the Minister put it in the circular to them?

(Dublin South-East): I would not give a blanket commitment in respect of a directive to local authorities like that because I think it could be misconstrued that their powers were being somewhat undermined. I know that is not the intention of the Deputy at all. Certainly we will be working in tandem in that respect to maintain maximum co-operation with local authorities but I appreciate Deputies' anxieties in this regard.

With regard to the hundreds of abandoned cars in different parts of the city in respect of which people are running a sort of business, I doubt that one can use the word "abandoned" there, where a fellow is carrying on a business in them. I am not satisfied that the provisions of this Bill are sufficiently restrictive in respect of such people because in my area ther are hundreds of such cars——

(Dublin South-East): I do not mean to interrupt the Deputy but I should say that all of that has been covered in earlier sections.

If a fellow is fined £500 how will a local authority remove 400 or 500 cars from him?

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 14 and 15 agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 20a:

In page 13, subsection (2), line 6, to delete "availability" and to substitute "validity".

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 16, as amended, agreed to.

Amendments No. 21 and 22 in the name of the Minister were discussed earlier with amendment No. 7.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 21:

In page 13, line 8, to delete "Section 52" and to substitute "Sections 52 and 53".

Amendment agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 22:

In page 13, line 9, to delete "is" and to substitute "are".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 17, as amended, agreed to.
Section 18 agreed to.

(Dublin South-East): I move amendment No. 23:

In page 3, line 12, after "LAND", to insert—

"to provide for the prevention of the placing of unauthorised articles, advertisements and writing in or near a public place,".

Amendment agreed to.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

Date for Report Stage?

This day fortnight.

(Dublin South-East): Given the wealth of positive contributions this afternoon I should be delighted if it could be taken next week.

It would be an elaborate upstaging of the Minister, Deputy Raphael Burke——

Could it be put down for this day week?

Given the amount of thought that the Minister is going to give it and the research that will have to be undertaken I think this day fortnight might be soon enough.

(Dublin South-East): Deputy Kelly always realises that when he is pointing one finger there are three pointing back at him. I am not so sure about the upstaging comment he made on two occasions. He must feel some inward guilt about that comment. Certainly it is not my intention to upstage anybody. I appreciated Deputy P. Barry's constructive contributions during the course of the afternoon and I shall be happy to co-operate in whatever way he wishes.

This day fortnight.

(Dublin South-East): Thank you very much.

Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 1 June 1982.