Before we reported progress we had raised the possibility of the Minister agreeing to the provisions in section 31 (4) being either deleted in their entirety or amended by her on Report Stage so as to enable all or most of the provisions of the Bill to come into operation after it has gone back to the Seanad and been signed by the President. Has the Minister had an opportunity to consider that proposal and, if so, perhaps she will indicate to the House her attitude to it.
Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Bill, 1989 [Seanad]: Committee Stage (Resumed).
I had an opportunity during the break to discuss the possible change in the Bill with the parliamentary draftsman. Obviously it was not possible during the short time available to get a decision as to whether I should give a final commitment but I will bring forward an amendment on Report Stage to cover the points raised by the Deputies, which I share — that is, that the vast bulk of this Bill must come into effect immediately it has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and signed by the President. I will bring forward the best amendment possible on Report Stage.
In regard to the number of fish kills, I made inquiries about this matter during the break and have been informed that there have been 13 fish kills so far in 1990.
I thank the Minister for coming a long way with the Members of this side of the House. I think all of us would agree that it is very important this Bill becomes operative as soon as possible. In these circumstances we will not be passing section 31 to a vote. I urge the Minister to come back to the House with Report Stage, if not next week, no later than the following week so that we can get the Bill on the Statute Book.
I concur with what Deputy Shatter has said in regard to section 31 and the Bill generally. I raised the question of the number of fish kills this morning and I should like to thank the Minister for her reply. Can the Minister give an indication of the number of fish involved in those 13 fish kills? It is still early in the year. I hope that the number of fish kills stays at that relatively low number compared with the 115 kills last year. It has been our experience that fish kills occur mostly during the summer period in conjunction with silage making, low water levels, etc.
I do not know the precise numbers of fish involved but I know that four of the 13 were regarded by the fisheries authorities as serious fish kills and that would obviously indicate that large numbers are involved. There were 111 fish kills last year.
Is Deputy Garland anxious that we put the question on his amendment?
No. I am pleased that the Minister has shown a willingness to have a look at this subsection again and on that basis I am not pressing my amendment.
I, too, am pleased that it is the Minister's desire that this legislation should go into effect at the earliest possible date. There is one point I would like to make. This year water levels in public supplies are at an extraordinarily low level and there is the same problem in the rivers. The fish population, therefore, is much more vulnerable this year because there will not be the same dilution factor in the rivers. On behalf of the Labour Party I accept in good faith what the Minister has said and will not be opposing the section.
When is it proposed to take Report Stage?
It is proposed to take Report Stage on Tuesday next, subject to the agreement of the Whips.