Deputy Brady, quite rightly, says that many other cities have taken the initiative in this, so why should we not do so. That is the reason for the legislation before the House. It is not being introduced to end up on the shelf. It is a matter for implementation. If the local authorities cannot find it in their hearts to implement it, then executive power is given to me to take the initiative on their behalf if I have to, and I will.
I take issue with Deputy Brady where he says that control is only possible by law enforcement. I would like to think there was another way. Control by law is the last means of getting the desired result. It would be a pity if we could not bring about the desired result through the educational process to which Deputy Brady referred or by developing the areas of research and development of new fuels or appliances. In that way we might reach the targets we set ourselves without always having recourse to forcing people by law. It is not the ideal way to do business and it is not the ideal way here. It always ends up by being done for a period, and then we slip back into the bad old ways. If we have an educational process which brings people to recognise the right thing to do so that everybody pulls their weight in achieving the targets it will last and it will be less expensive.
In relation to the implementation of this legislation, I will ask the local authorities what they propose to do. Once the legislation is passed I will have an ongoing supervisory role. Surely there will be enough dedicated local authority members to bring the matter up on a continuing basis, members who will press their executive to do something about it? If we fail to get the proper response, I have no doubt this will be the subject matter of some nice questions at the back end of this year when the smoke levels are rising again. I do not expect these questions will be necessary because the local authorities involved are waiting to implement this legislation. That is the message conveyed to me. There is now a great public awareness of the value of a clean environment. Nowadays it is talked about more often and there is great media coverage of the importance of a clean environment. People are more aware of it. There is great concern now among the people about the control of items and pollutants that are the cause of bad health in themselves and their families. That is well and truly documented. However people took it for granted and asked what we could do about it in the past, that is not so now. People are not prepared to spend the rest of their lives coughing and having all kinds of illness brought down on them because of pollution when they recognise that there is a way of remedying it. This is part of the remedy.
People might think that the Minister should crack the whip and he will get a better response. I did not have to crack the whip too hard. Some of the people involved in the distribution of fuels in this city came in to see me recently. I gave the opportunity on Second Stage for people to come and see me when I said that I was open to suggestions from all those who had an interest. Not too many showed the interest but some of the big distributiors showed an interest, maybe because they had their own reasons, but it was not necessary for me to crack the whip at them. They appreciated and supported the thrust of this legislation and all they were concerned they would at least make the point that we should try to identify the sources before the control area order was finally put in place. That was reasonable because the coal distributors or whoever are not the only people in this city causing the serious emissions of smoke and SO 2. Some very large industrial concerns are creating a very serious level of pollution in this city over and above the domestic users. When I said that to the people who distribute these fuels, they more than readily gave their full support to trying to do something to remedy the situation.
Deputy Colley referred to applications made through local authorities for planning permission for new developments. It is most proper that the technical officers would take notice of legislation like this in developing their schedule of conditions as applied to the developments for which they seek permission. It is most proper that they do that and I expect that the authorities will do so. We do not want to pass legislation to correct something later on if permission is granted on the other hand to elements who are going to increase the incidence further still. I see it the other way round, that planning authorities would take due cognisance of the reason behind this and the need to correct what is already a crisis here in certain areas of the city.
I take the point also in relation to the design of new housing. It is much less expensive to have in place a suitable appliance in the domestic area from the point of view of design at the initial stages rather than a conversion later which invariably seeks support from the State, again by way of grant assistance. There is a point to be taken there in regard to having this type of appliance available in any new local authority housing that we might be considering grant aiding or assisting by way of capital injection in the future. I will bring that point to the notice of the powers that be in the design of those areas.
At the first available opportunity, once this legislation is in place, we will be licensing new industrial plant that will be coming on stream. Such plants will not be able to go into production without the licence, and I would expect that the licence will be gone into in some detail and will in effect give the overall control necessary to keep the emissions and the smoke levels at least at the level they are at now and lower by new measures to be taken subsequently, but certainly not increasing the levels that exist already. This legislation can go a long way towards that.
Deputy Barnes made a good point about the cost factor involved in all these things. The control of emissions and the reduction of air pollution from smoke by putting money and resources into such areas must be preferable by far to subsequently having to put it into health services which are hyped up in their need for cash because we did not take the step first of controlling the basis for the type of illness that has been referred to. Our health services might not cost quite so much if we had all the controls in place and spent some of the money in creating the environment in advance of the disease.