Private Members' Business. - Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Bill, 1989: Report Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
In page 4, to delete lines 7 to 16, and substitute the following:
"(a) the repeal of subsection (3), and".
—(Deputy Gilmore.)

I was about to conclude my remarks on this amendment before the change of business. There are just a few other comments I want to make in support of it. The first is that when the Water Pollution Bill was first mooted one of the areas where it was felt that the 1977 Act was deficient was the good defence clause in section 3 of that Act. In the explanatory memorandum, which was initially circulated with the Bill, it was stated that one of the purposes of the Bill was to provide an amendment to the good defence provision to put a greater onus on the person charged to prove that he could not reasonably have foreseen that his act or omission would have caused pollution. That change was to alter the wording of the 1977 Act which provided that the person charged took all reasonable care. The Bill that went through the Seanad, therefore, changed it to "could not reasonably have foreseen". Unfortunately, as this Bill has passed through the Committee Stage of the Dáil, it has reverted virtually to the same set of words that applied in the 1977 Act which were repeatedly found to be unworkable. As far as the good defence clause is concerned, we are back to square one with virtually the same wording as was in the 1977 Act which was found to be unworkable.It was found to be unworkable by the regional fisheries boards to the extent that they did not use it at all and tended to rely mainly on the 1959 Act. It was found by the local authorities to be unworkable. We had a debate on Committee Stage about the extension of the good defence provision to the 1959 Act. I have a letter here from one of the fisheries boards which states that if the amendment suggested by the Minister was included it would be impossible to get convictions in a wide range of cases, including cases involving local authorities and farmers, and they give specific instances of these cases and outline how the amendment could make the section ineffective.

In fairness, the Minister accepted that line of argument as far as the 1959 Act was concerned, and agreed to delete the good defence provision from the 1959 Act. It seems inconsistent then to leave the good defence provision in the Water Pollution Bill. If it has made it difficult for local authorities or regional fisheries boards to be effective in dealing with polluters, then it should be omitted. My amendment is to repeal the good defence clause that made the 1977 Act ineffective.

We spent a lot of time dealing with this issue on Committee Stage. I am conscious that there are a number of amendments on the Order Paper to be dealt with within a fairly limited time, so I have no intention of talking at any great length.

The matter I want the Minister to give us some explanation about relates to the selection of the section relating to fishery Acts. This was discussed the last day and, as Deputy Gilmore correctly said, it gave rise to some concern on the part of fisheries boards. I do not want to be unduly technical on this but it deals directly with section 171 of the Fisheries Consolidation Act of 1959 which lays down a particular offence. At subsection (1) it says that any person who steeps in any waters any flax or hemp — which has no great relevance any more — or throws, empties, permits or causes to fall into any waters any deleterious matter shall, unless such act is done under and in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister, be guilty of an offence. The fisheries boards expressed concern about the defence that would be available expressly under subsection (2) of the Fisheries Acts, or an amended version of that, and the defence available under the Water Pollution Act. I have a concern about this that I want to put on the record of the House. On this side of the House we have made two points very clearly all along. The first is that the legislation we enact must be effective in preventing the problems arising from water pollution. It must act as a deterrent against people polluting. It is better that pollution does not happen, but we have to prosecute after the event. So the offences must be there and the penalties we impose must be severe. Equally, we have made the point that we do not want to find that someone can be convicted of conduct that is no fault of theirs.

I very much take into account the concerns of the fisheries boards. The IFA and ICSMA have also expressed concern that people may be wrongly convicted. I do not think there is any substantial evidence of people being wrongly convicted under the Fisheries Act of 1959. I do not think the Minister has a duty to explain to the House the difference between the offence that will arise and the defence of that alleged offence as it pertains under section 3 of the 1977 Act, as amended by this Bill, and the offence that arises under section 171 of the Fisheries Act, 1959 and the defence that is available there. Deputy Gilmore has said that there is an inconsistency between having an express defence and not having an express defence. On the other side of the coin there will be a concern that the difference between the two may in fact give rise to some of the concerns that were raised by the IFA and ICMSA being proved valid.

I would ask the Minister to put on the record of the House the specific differences between the sections. I do not want to detain the House by giving my own analysis of those differences. We should be assured that the Department and the Minister are clear as to what the differences are. Are there specific circumstances in which prosecutions could be brought under the Water Pollution Act, 1977, as amended by this Bill, where prosecutions cannot currently be brought, and will not be able to be brought under the 1959 Fisheries Act? I want to know how the different provisions with regard to providing a defence in a prosecution will actually apply.

On Committee Stage we asked the Minister to reconsider this matter and she has done so. We welcome the fact that she has responded to the concerns expressed, but I am anxious that problems are not created on the other side of the coin and that we do not bring about a position where increased fines under the Fisheries Acts could be imposed on people who are not at fault. I would like an assurance from the Minister that, by deleting in its entirety section 25 (2) and by not proceeding with the amended version as proposed by the Minister and discussed on Committee Stage, people who are not at fault will not be convicted and have large fines or possible terms of imprisonment imposed on them. It is important that the matter is clarified and put on the record of the House.

I arrived a minute or two late for the debate but I understand we are discussing amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 41. Is that correct?

I also understand that the rules of the House allow only someone who has an amendment down to speak on Report Stage. Is that correct?

Not entirely. The rule governing Report Stage is that the Deputy who moves the amendment is the only Deputy who has the right to make a second contribution.

I stand corrected. On reflection, I would like to withdraw my amendment No. 2 and support amendment No. 1 in the name of Deputy Gilmore, because that is a better way of dealing with the matter. I think there will be no problem with amendment No. 41. The only party who have not put their name to that amendment is the Fine Gael Party. Even if Deputy Shatter has not seen the light, I am delighted that at least the Minister has seen it.

I would remind the Deputy that I saw the light on Committee Stage and assisted the Minister in bringing forward this amendment.

Neither an interruption nor a second contribution is permissible.

This is a statement of fact.

It is true that under this Bill the good defence clause in the 1977 Water Pollution Act is being amended rather than dropped entirely, while the good defence clause is being dropped from the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959. However, the two situations are not identical.

There has always been a good defence provision in the 1977 Act while there is no such provision in the 1959 fisheries legislation. The concept of a good defence in the context of the 1977 Act has not been seriously questioned until tonight. In fact, both Fine Gael — Deputy Shatter on Committee Stage — and the Workers' Party — Deputy Gilmore — put down amendments on Committee Stage proposing different forms of wording. This indicates that they, too, support the principle of such a defence under the Water Pollution Act. It is clear Deputy Garland also supports this principle, as he has proposed an amendment for the defence provision, which he has now withdrawn. In the circumstances, I am somewhat surprised at Deputy Gilmore's latest amendment which seeks to remove the good defence provision entirely.

My amendment No. 3 is designed to improve the good defence provision accepted on Committee Stage in respect of the Water Pollution Act, following concerns expressed by some Deputies about aspects of the wording already agreed. Deputy Gilmore in particular referred to the phrase in that amendment on Committee Stage, "having regard to all the circumstances". He felt it was too wide and could lead to an abuse of the defence provision. On reflection, I agree with him and that is why I have decided to put down an amendment to remove it.

There is no evidence that the existence of the good defence clause under the 1977 Act has impeded the implementation of the legislation by local authorities. The authorities prosecuted in 156 cases in 1987 when fish kills reached their highest ever level — 122 and in 102 cases in 1988, the latest year for which complete statistics are available — dropped to 50 that year.

Local authorities, unlike fisheries boards, have an extensive range of pollution prevention powers available to them and so are not as reliant on prosecutions to deter potential polluters. Almost 1,000 notices were issued by authorities under section 12 of the 1977 Act in 1988. These require specified measures to be taken to prevent pollution.In addition, advice or warnings were issued in over 12,000 cases following investigations carried out by local authorities.Accordingly, I consider it appropriate to retain a good defence provision in the Water Pollution Act and cannot accept Deputy Gilmore's amendment.

In relation to the query raised by Deputy Shatter as to what the difference may be, effectively what we are doing in relation to the fisheries legislation is reverting to the status quo. Farmers will be no worse off now in relation to the good defence provisions or lack of them than they were prior to this Bill. We are leaving the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act intact as far as that is concerned. The only difference is that penalties in the form of fines and prison sentences are being substantially increased. The other main difference is that under the Fisheries Act local authorities can be prosecuted.The last day we discussed this matter Deputies brought to my attention the concerns of the fisheries boards — the first time they had been brought to my attention. A letter from the fisheries boards arrived some time after that debate. My officials met with members of the fisheries boards and, on reflection and from listening to their arguments, I felt their case was a reasonable one. The legislation, as far as they are concerned, has been effective and I see no reason to change it. The Minister for the Marine suggested that it be changed but following the views expressed by the fisheries boards' officers, the people who implement the legislation, he has agreed to drop the good defence provision from the Fisheries Act.

In the course of an earlier debate Deputy Bell quoted Arthur Scargill. Perhaps I will be permitted to quote Len Murray who had a saying: "little fish are sweet." I suppose the Minister's amendment proposing to drop the phrase "having regard to all the circumstances" is welcome. The Minister is not correct in stating that I accept there should be a good defence clause in the legislation. On Committee Stage I specifically stated that there should not be a good defence clause in the legislation but, having regard to the debate that had taken place on Second Stage, I felt an amendment to delete the good defence clause from the 1977 Act would be unlikely to have the support of the House. I thought an amendment which would at least restore the form of words that was in the Bill as it went through the Seanad might be more likely to succeed, but I regret very much that did not succeed either.

Hairs are being split here as between the 1959 Act and the 1977 Act in order to justify why there should not be a good defence clause in the 1959 Act but there should continue to remain virtually the same good defence clause in the present legislation as was in the 1977 Act and which was found to be defective. The deletion of the good defence clause does not in any way diminish the right of people who are prosecuted for polluting from entering a defence in court. We are either serious about tackling water pollution or we are not. I am slowly coming to the conclusion, that the more this Bill is amended or watered down and, particularly in this case, the more it goes back to the unsatisfactory state of the 1977 legislation, will not effectively tackle the problem of water pollution. Therefore, I wish the Chair to put my amendment.

Question: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand", put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 2 not moved.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, lines 14 and 15, to delete ", having regard to all the circumstances,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 4, to delete lines 17 to 32 and substitute the following:

"(b) the substitution for subsections (5) and (6) of the following subsections:

`(5) The Minister may, after consultation with any other Minister who, having regard to his function, he considers ought to be consulted, by regulation make exemptions from subsection (1) and attach conditions to and restrict such exemptions.

(6) Where it is proposed to make regulations under subsection (5), a draft of each such regulation shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, and the regulations shall not be made until a motion approving of the draft has been passed by each House.'.".

I expressed some satisfaction earlier that the Minister had taken on board a suggestion made on Committee Stage. I have to express some regret on this occasion. While she gave an indication on Committee Stage that she would consider the question of exemptions, she has not given any concession on the issue. I have put down the same amendment that I withdrew on Committee Stage.

Section 3 of the 1977 Act lists pieces of legislation which are exempt from the provisions of that Act regarding water pollution. We dealt with this in some detail on the last occasion and instanced section 27 of the Turf Development Act, 1946, which a number of people have referred to. I have here a letter from the Ballina and Cloghans Anglers Association concerning the problem that section 27 has given rise to in Lough Conn, an area in which the Minister for the Environment would have an interest. The latter states:

We have already been in communication with the North Western Fishery Board and we understand that they are in discussion with Bord na Móna. As the level of the lake falls the silt is becoming more obvious and our members find the amount carried down into Lough Conn by the winter floods to be very much greater than anticipated.In addition to causing damage by polluting the lake itself, the silt is recognised to be extremely harmful to salmon and trout spawning redds. We are told that the North Western Fishery Boards have proved, to the satisfaction of all concerned including Bord na Móna, that extensive losses of spawn and eyed ova have already occurred. Although, as we are aware, discussions are taking place, there appears to be no progress and Bord na Móna continue to harvest peat on their property, draining into the Deel system without taking any steps to prevent the silt getting into the river and ultimately to Lough Conn.

The letter goes on to explain that the problem in dealing with this matter is largely due to the exemption provided in section 27 of the Turf Development Act.

The same problem is identified in the Environment Action Programme, which I have great interest in reading. On page 5 peat silt is identified as a problem and it states that silt run-off from intensive peat development is having adverse effects on inland and coastal waters in a number of areas. It goes on to say that the Water Pollution Bill will enable the Minister for the Environment to introduce a package of controls over such development. Nevertheless the 1977 Act as it stands exempts section 27 of the Turf Development Act from the ambit of the legislation.

The same problem arises in relation to section 6 of the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1949 which enables local authorities to deal with emergencies such as storm damage. If there is a heavy flood the local authority could be exempted under section 6 of that Act from the provisions of the Fisheries Acts. I have correspondence from one of the regional fisheries boards which states that more and more local authorities are using the defence provided by section 6 of the 1949 Act in order to avoid prosecution or in the course of prosecution. A growing number of local authorities are being prosecuted by regional boards for pollution and the defence they offer is that the works are of such an emergency nature that they came under the 1949 Act. The same kind of argument applies to the other pieces of legislation. The Foreshore Act, for example, would enable infill of any kind of material to be used; even ashes are identified in the Act as a material which is appropriate for infill and is exempt from the terms of the Fisheries Acts and the 1977 Water Pollution Act.

I felt that the Minister was reasonably sympathetic on Committee Stage to the possibility of removing at least some of the exemptions. I am disappointed that she has not made any concession in that area. My amendment would allow the Minister to introduce exemptions by way of regulation if they were found to be necessary in an emergency and these regulations would be passed by the Oireachtas. Therefore it would still be possible to allow for exemptions if a case could be made. In enacting modern legislation it is not appropriate to take on board the baggage we have inherited from the 1977 Act, which exempts sections of legislation going back to the early years of this State when the degree of awareness, knowledge and scientific evidence about the extent of water pollution did not exist. Indeed the problems that give rise to water pollution were not there in 1925 when the electricity legislation was passed. It is not appropriate in 1990, when dealing with modern pollution problems, that we should be saddled with exemptions which come from an age when current problems were not seen or anticipated. I am proposing that the exemptions be deleted.

I support Deputy Gilmore's amendment.

As indicated by Deputy Gilmore, he is seeking to achieve a situation where all exemptions to the offence of causing water pollution would be terminated while provision would be made for the Minister to prescribe certain exemptions under regulations which would incorporate controls to protect the environment. Essentially the amendment would reverse the position provided for in the 1977 Water Pollution Act and in this Bill.

The Deputy had an identical amendment on Committee Stage which was debated at some length. As I stated then, the amendment, if adopted, would lead to a number of undesirable consequences.First, it would render all licensed trade effluents subject to prosecution under section 3 thus removing any incentive for industry to comply with the licensing provisions of the Act. Second, it would extend the ambit of the Act to waters outside the functional area of local authorities and to discharges which are already adequately catered for and controlled by the various Acts referred to in section 3. I believe that the approach adopted in the amendment is incorrect in that it would take the axe to exemptions that have not given rise to problems generally and indeed are necessary for the orderly operation of an effective régime of water pollution control.

I think it is important to recognise the distinction that exists between the exemptions allowed under subsection (5) and those catered for under subsection (6) of section 3 of the 1977 Act. The activities covered by the former are either caught by the controls under other sections of the 1977 Water Pollution Act — as, for example, is the case in relation to trade effluent discharges which are required to be licensed under section 4 — or under other legislation, such as the Fisheries Acts and the Harbour Act, 1946, or the activities take place in areas such as the foreshore which are outside the functional area of local authorities.

The pollution of tidal waters by any matter discharged from, or dumped by, vessels is also listed among the exemptions allowed under subsection (5). Such activities are subject to control by the Minister for the Marine, under legislation such as the Oil Pollution of the Sea Acts and the Dumping at Sea Act. The control regime in this area will be improved under the Minister for the Marine's proposed Sea Pollution Bill to be discussed in this House later this week. The exemptions in respect of vessels, the foreshore and harbours are essentially intended to avoid duplication of controls under the specific legislation dealing with each of these matters and under the more general Water Pollution Act. The various exemptions allowed under subsection (6) restate exemptions provided under earlier legislation in respect of the Fisheries Acts. These exemptions follow a similar pattern in that the Minister for the Marine may require the particular body concerned to take such precautions as he considers adequate to protect fisheries when executing certain works. The works may include the execution of schemes by the Electricity Supply Board, or drainage schemes by the Office of Public Works, the production of peat by Bord na Móna or a range of activities by local authorities, including the making of drains, the removal of obstructions in water courses, the widening or deepening of water courses, the diversion of water and the construction or repair of walls or embankments.

Clearly these works may be carried out on an extensive scale and in view of their nature it would not be practical to expect that they could be executed always without some material entering waters which could have adverse effects on quality, fish life or other users. Similarly, they would not, in all cases, be amenable to the kind of control regime available under the licensing system for fixed point effluent discharges as operated under section 4 of the Water Pollution Act.

After this legislation is passed I will be conducting an in-depth review of all exemptions to see to what extent, if any, they could be repealed and, in particular, how a higher level of environmental protection could be achieved by the imposition of restrictions or conditions appropriate to the particular works and activities. Priority will be given to the review of the situation in relation to Bord na Móna developments which are a cause of great concern in a number of areas. Account will be taken of the findings of a special study currently under way for the environmental research unit of my Department on a possible link between organic substances originating from developed bogs and nutrients which give rise to eutrophication problems in fresh waters. I believe that exemptions should remain only where they are absolutely essential for the provision of public utilities and, where such exemptions exist, the works should be carried out under the direction and guidance of the proposed environmental protection agency.

With regard to the point made by Deputy Gilmore, there is only one case to my knowledge where the fisheries board have prosecuted for works carried out under the Local Authorities Works Act, 1949, and in that case they were not successful.They took a case in relation to works that were being carried out on a reservoir at the Dodder River, but the court found that the works were essential in the interest of safety and that they had to be carried out on an emergency basis and in the manner in which they were carried out. It was not possible to secure a conviction in that case. We have to ensure that we do not restrict either local authorities or other State agencies from providing essential public utilities in the interest of the common good but at the same time, when those works have to be carried out under exemption, they should be done in a specified manner and in accordance with the highest possible environmental protection standards.

Following the implementation of this Act, which will give me power to review these exemptions, I propose to review them all and to repeal or limit them where it is found necessary and where they remain to ensure that works be carried out in accordance with the highest standards as laid down, perhaps, by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Again, let me refer to the Government's bible on the environment, An Environmental Action Programme which states on page 2:

..... the principle of precautionary action even where there is no definitive scientific evidence to link emissions or discharges with detrimental environmental effects;

is to be one of the three guiding principles of the Government in relation to the environment.

As I understand the precautionary principle, it would certainly mean that this fairly lengthy list of exemptions would be excluded and that the problems the Minister referred to would be tackled in the way I have suggested in my amendment — in other words, the case for exemption would have to be made in the first place rather than the other way round. It would appear to me that, as far as the legislation is concerned, at the first test the precautionary principle is far from the mind of the Government.

Second, I was not referring to an individual case or group of cases which were taken against local authorities under the Public Works Act, 1949, but I was saying that when regional fisheries boards in the normal course of their functions prosecute a local authority, increasingly the local authority are entering the defence that they were carrying out works under the 1949 Act and, therefore, are exempt from the legislation.

Third, I find it strange that the Minister on the one hand seems to be accepting the principle that it is not appropriate to have a long list of exemptions from the 1977 Act and from this new legislation and that she will review them to see which have to be repealed. However, the repeal of an exemption, if they are left in legislation, will require another Bill to be brought before this House. I see the Minister shaking her head but if it is to be done by way of regulation we have an unhappy experience that regulations that are intended to be introduced after the passage of legislation take a very long time to come into effect. It has taken this legislation the best part of 18 months to get this far and it will be longer before it is enacted. Then, we will have to wait a further long period before regulations are brought in. We have the problem whether the exemptions should remain but my argument is that exemptions should go and, it there is a case for exemption, the Minister can bring in a regulation and put it before the House to justify that case; otherwise we will end up with seven or eight very serious exemptions to the water pollution legislation — exemptions which have demonstrably shown they have caused difficulty in the enforcement of water pollution legislation.

Question: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand" put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 4, between lines 46 and 47, to insert the following:

"4.—Subsection (3) of section 4 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the substitution for paragraph (b) of the following paragraph:

`(b) In considering whether or not to grant a licence under this section and in considering the terms of any such licence a local authority shall have regard to the objectives contained in any relevant plan under section 15. It shall also base its assimilative capacity estimates on a seven day sustained low flow criterion.'.".

In reintroducing this amendment on Report Stage I want to comment further on the response I received from the Minister on Committee Stage. She seemed concerned that my amendment would impose obligations on local authorities, when EC Directive SI 293 of 1988, EC Standards, already imposes such an obligation.All local authorities and An Bord Pleanála seem to accept the 95 per cent flow criterion which the Green Party finds unacceptable due to our experience in dealing with pollution problems — for example, the pollution caused by Kerry Co-op to the River Feale over a period of 15 years. The 95 per cent flow criterion takes no account of the fact that drought periods have been known to last for months and that rivers are particularly sensitive at the lowest flows during these drought periods.

If the Minister's words — and I quote "I share the Deputy's concern"— are to be meaningful, she would impose a seven day flow criterion in the Bill as a substitute for the present informal rule of 95 per cent. Such a change would be supported by environmentalists, fishery officers and many authorities. I believe some authorities in the United Kingdom have switched to this criterion, and since we follow the UK in using the 95 per cent flow, we should once again follow the leader, sooner rather than later.

On Committee Stage the Minister complained that this amendment would impose the uniform approach and could cause difficulties with dangerous substances.I see nothing in the current legal framework which is any better. All we hear about are fish kills and PCBs, so much for our Green Presidency. As it is, EC Directive SI 293 and the 95 per cent flow criterion are the de facto uniform criteria and we should improve on them. There is nothing to prevent anyone dissatisfied with the outcome appealing to An Bord Pleanála but we must also ensure that rivers are protected at all times.

My understanding of the word "waters" as defined in the 1977 Act, does not include the sea, which the Minister included in arguments against my amendment on Committee Stage. I cannot think of any inland water where this criterion should not apply since we must protect all waters.

The Minister said that the seven day low flow criterion is not amenable to legislative solution but suggested that a new legal body — the much awaited EPA — could take care of it. We heard all sorts of promises about this Bill, now hollow in the light of the Government's amendments and we will have to wait for the EPA. I am advised that this Bill could perfectly well set this standard without waiting for the EPA.

Section 4 (3) (b) of the 1977 Act already requires a local authority to have regard to the objectives contained in any relevant water quality management plan made under section 15 when considering whether to grant an effluent discharge licence. As the attachment of conditions to a licence is an integral part of the process of granting a licence, I consider that Deputy Garland's point in this regard is already adequately catered for.

The amendment also seeks to impose an absolute obligation on local authorities to set licence conditions based on the receiving water's assimilative capacity as determined on a seven day sustained low flow. Such an obligation would interfere with the basic powers extended under the 1977 Act to local authorities to determine the conditions attached to discharge licences. These decisions should be based on all circumstances relevant to the particular licence application and the conditions imposed should seek to safeguard water quality and the legitimate uses of the waters concerned. Should any party consider that the conditions are inadequate they may appeal them to An Bord Pleanála.

The adoption of the uniform approach put forward in this amendment would be most inappropriate where particularly dangerous substances are contained in an effluent discharge. Licence conditions in such situations should seek to reduce and, as far as possible, eliminate such substances from the effluent — the concept of tackling pollution at source — rather than limit discharges based on the assimilative capacity approach. The latter would provide a much poorer level of environmental protection. There would also be situations in which the seven day low flow criteria would not apply, for example, where discharges are made to estuaries or to the sea.

I would refer Deputy Garland to the definition of "waters" in the 1977 Act which does include estuarial and tidal waters. Section 1 of that Act states "tidal waters' includes the sea and any estuary up to high water mark medium tide and any enclosed dock adjoining tidal waters".

I do not believe that the issue which the Deputy seeks to address is amenable to a legislative solution involving a rigid, uniform approach. Local authorities must continue to be allowed to determine licence conditions taking account of all circumstances relevant to the particular licence application. I regret I cannot accept the amendment.

Like the Minister, I believe in tackling pollution at source. This amendment is not about tackling pollution at source; it is about measuring and determining the condition of rivers at all times which will show if there have been any serious effluent discharges. I cannot accept the Minister's facile dismissal of my proposal for the seven day sustained flow system. This would give a much better measure of the condition of a river than the usual criterion, the 95 per cent flow. For that reason, I am pressing my amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 5, line 1, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".

This amendment relates to section 6 of the Principal Act which deals with regulations for the purpose of sections 4 and 8 of that Act. Section 4 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, deals with licences for the discharge of trade or sewage effluent into waters and section 8 provides for appeals against these licences. Amendment No. 6 proposes the substitution of the word "shall" for the word "may" in section 4 (2A) of the Bill so that it would read "Regulations under this section shall make provision for...".

On Committee Stage the Minister showed some acceptance of this amendment and said she would consider it between then and Report Stage. The Labour Party believe section 4 needs to be strengthened because it deals with the payment to a local authority of a fee of such amount as may be specified in respect of an application to them for a licence under section 4 and the payment to An Bord Pleanála of a fee of such amount as may be specified in respect of an appeal to them under section 8. I look forward to hearing the Minister's comments on this amendment.

Deputy O'Shea moved the same amendment on Committee Stage. The amendment would entail deleting "may" and substituting "shall" in the introduction to a new subsection to be inserted in section 6 of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977.

On Committee Stage I indicated that I would have the proposal examined in advance of Report Stage. This has been done in the interim. I am advised that this amendment would be inappropriate as the new subsection in question will be governed by the provisions of section 6 (1) of the 1977 Act which indicates that the Minister may make regulations for certain purposes. In view of the range of matters which may be the subject of regulations as already provided for in the Principal Act, I am satisfied that the proper course to adopt is to retain the general enabling powers set out in section 6 (1) at present. In these circumstances it would not make sense to specify an obligation to make regulations by using the word "shall" in a later subsection of the same section. I intend, accordingly, to retain the word "may" in the Bill.

Deputies may be assured that it is my intention to avail of the new powers to prescribe fees for licence applications to discharge effluents and so enable local authorities offset at least some of their costs in processing such applications. Section 4 of the Bill, which is the subject of this amendment, also restates existing powers to charge fees for appeals to An Bord Pleanála against the decisions of local authorities on licence applications. Again, I intend to use these powers to review and, as appropriate, revise the fees which are payable at present for such appeals.

Is the Minister saying that because "may" is in the first line of section 6 of the Principal Act, technically it is not possible to accept the amendment?

It is legally possible to do that but I do not think it would make a lot of sense to do so because all the subsections are governed by the introduction which says that the Minister "may". I do not think it would make sense to accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, to delete lines 33 to 38 and substitute the following:

"(iii) in case an appeal or appeals is or are brought against it and the appeal or appeals is or are withdrawn——

(I) if the period referred to in paragraph (a) has expired, upon such withdrawal, and

(II) if the period aforesaid has not expired, upon its expiry.".

This is a minor drafting change which is intended to clarify exactly when the decision of a local authority on an application for an effluent discharge licence under section 4 of the 1977 Act will take effect.

The present text of the Bill is unsatisfactory.It makes provision for situations in which appeals are withdrawn and the one month period allowed for appeals has expired. However, there is no provision for the situation which could arise where appeals are withdrawn before the expiry of the one month period with the possibility of further appeals being lodged within the permitted deadline. The amendment will correct this obvious oversight in the drafting of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

We now move to amendment No. 8 in the names of Deputies Quinn and O'Shea. I note that amendments Nos. 8, 18, 22, 25, 28, 30, 33, 34, 36, 38 and 40 form a composite proposal and it is proposed therefore, with the agreement of the House; to take those amendments together for discussion purposes. Agreed.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 9, line 36, after "fine" to insert "exceeding £250 but".

There is a basic principle underlying those amendments, that the concept of a minimum fine would be introduced on the basis that, on summary conviction, 25 per cent of the maximum fine would be the minimum fine implemented and, on conviction on an indictment, that the amount of the fine would be 10 per cent of the maximum fine. The problem I want to see solved is that created by the imposition of trival fines by the courts for serious pollution offences.

On Committee Stage I instanced three court cases in my constituency. In one case there was a prosecution for the discharge of toxic effluent into a bay which turned out to be as high as one thousand times the permitted discharge. There were two separate convictions by the court and the paltry fines of £50 and £100 were imposed. Subsequently, animal blood was discharged into the Clodagh River which supplies the east Waterford water scheme which in turn supplies water to Waterford city and a number of large towns in the eastern part of Waterford.Animal blood contains virus and, therefore, the treatment which the water would receive at the east Waterford treatment plant would not have any effect on the virus. If that virus had got into the water system it could have had horrendous effects on public health.

I do not intend to go off on a tangent and give too many details about those cases but I must point out that, on conviction in that case, a fine of £100 was imposed by the court. When environmental officers of local authorities succeed in obtaining convictions in court — in this regard I welcome the provision for the payment of compensation to local authorities — they must feel vindicated by the amount of the fine imposed by the court. The fines imposed in the cases I have referred to were insulting to the public and those who brought the prosecutions.I realise that there are problems as outlined by the Minister on Committee Stage, in regard to the legality of minimum fines. The courts should impose fines appropriate to the offences.

The purpose of these amendments is to make provision in the Bill for minimum fines. Since the last debate I have consulted with the Attorney General who has strongly advised against a provision for minimum fines. He has emphasised that such a provision would result in an unwarranted interference with the discretion of the Judiciary to deal with each case on its merits. He has expressed the view that such a provision could prove counter-productive.

I appreciate that Deputies O'Shea and Quinn are seeking to give more teeth to the legislation and that their objective is to ensure that the new penalties being provided for in the Bill act as a real deterrent to pollution. While I sympathise with their objectives I am concerned that their suggested approach could have the opposite effect to that intended. Apart from the interference aspect I have already mentioned, I believe that justices would be more reluctant to convict defendants when faced with the prospect of having to impose a certain mandatory level of fine where the special circumstances of the case or the efforts of the defendant to prevent pollution merit some recognition.

In the event of an individual being charged with a similar offence on another occasion, in the absence of a conviction in respect of the earlier offence, it would be dealt with by the courts as a first offence. The willingness of the court to convict given the obligation to impose a minimum fine would once again arise. Even if the decision was to convict there is every likelihood that the minimum fine would be imposed.

On the other hand if the courts did not feel constrained by the existence of a minimum fine there would be a greater prospect of a guilty verdict on the initial prosecution. Should a similar offence be committed a second time the courts would be inclined to take a more serious view of the situation and would be likely to impose a heavy penalty in such circumstances.

In the case of successful prosecutions the Bill also provides for the payment by the guilty party of the costs and expenses incurred by the local authority in taking the case, including the costs of water sampling, analysis and the remuneration of employees, consultants and advisers. There is also explicit provision for measures to be taken to mitigate or remedy the effects of pollution, again at the expense of the guilty party.

I am satisfied that these provisions constitute a real deterrent and, when taken together, will involve a greater financial burden on polluters than would be achieved simply by providing for a minimum level of fine. I also believe that the increase in environmental concern and awareness in the country will reflect in the decisions of the Judiciary. From now on there will be an inclination on their part to impose higher fines than was the case in the examples given by Deputy O'Shea. It is because of the advice of the Attorney General that I cannot accept the amendments.

I accept the spirit of the Minister's response. Obviously, legal advice is against these amendments but I hope it will go out loud and clear from the Department of the Environment that trivial fines are no longer acceptable and that fines appropriate to the offence will be implemented. On the basis of the Minister's remarks, I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

We now come to amendment No. 9 in the name of Deputy Gilmore. I observe that amendments Nos. 9, 19, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35, 37 and 39 form a composite proposal. I suggest, therefore, that we discuss them together, by agreement, although a separate decision will be required in regard to each. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 9, line 36, to delete "£1,000" and substitute "£2,500".

We are coming to the end of the debate on the Water Pollution Bill, as I understand it will conclude at 10 p.m. This is probably as good a time as any to take stock of its provisions because there are claims being made in respect of this Bill which it does not warrant. For example, in all the public relations hype about this Bill, we were told that there will be very big fines imposed on water polluters of up to £25,000. However, the reality is very different. A fine of £25,000 will apply only to cases taken on indictment. To the best of my knowledge since the 1977 Bill became law in 1978 there has not been a case taken on indictment. The reason is that cases which were referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions were returned on the grounds of the defence provisions of the Water Pollution Act, 1977. Much to my regret, it has now just been decided by the House that those defence provisions will fundamentally remain in the present legislation. Consequently, the fears of potential polluters that every time they break the law they could be fined £25,000 are groundless. Therefore, this legislation will be relying on the normal prosecutions pursued by local authorities or fisheries boards. Given the kind of damage that water pollution causes — and everything that has been said in this House about water pollution — the maximum fine of £1,000 is unacceptably low and should be increased to £2,500.

The kind of situation to which Deputy O'Shea referred in his earlier amendment where derisory fines were imposed, is because the signal to the courts is that, while the maximum fine is £1,000, the courts are free to impose a much lower fine and do in practice. The very least this House can do is to increase the minimum fine to £2,500.

I should also like that to be the case. Deputy Gilmore is seeking to increase the maximum fine on summary conviction from £1,000 to £2,500. I recall that Deputy Shatter speculated that such a maximum might be in order during Committee Stage debate. Since then I have consulted the Attorney General on the matter. He has advised that it is the policy of his office from time to time to fix a "maximum" level of fines for summary offences which, based on certain Supreme Court judgments, it is possible to say with safety do not infringe the constitutional requirement that only minor offences be tried summarily. The sum is calculated on the basis that there are judicial decisions that a penalty of £100 in 1960 did not take an offence out of the minor category.

The Attorney General has drawn a distinction between the level of fines on summary conviction and awards made in civil cases. He advises that in civil cases the Constitution permits the District Court to be conferred with "local and limited" jurisdiction, which need not necessarily be of a minor nature. In criminal cases, however, only "minor" offences may be tried summarily.

The Attorney General concludes that there is clear legal authority to support the view that a penalty of £1,000 constitutes an offence as minor, but once one goes above that figures one enters the realms of speculation.

In the circumstances I am satisfied that the proper course to adopt is to leave the maximum penalty on summary conviction at £1,000 as provided for in the Bill and I must reject Deputy Gilmore's amendments.

I suspected — and expected — that the Minister would come back with that reply from the Attorney General's Office. I am always a little sceptical of some of the advice given by the Attorney General's Office in these matters but I appreciate that the Minister is bound by it.

As I said in support of Deputy Gilmore on Committee Stage, a fine of £2,500 would come within the area of the "minor offence" provisions as they apply to the District Court. Nevertheless, I am as anxious as the Attorney General to err on the side of caution. We do not want to create a situation where the section is constitutionally challenged and, as a result, a number of sections are inoperable.If this amendment cannot be accepted I urge the Minister to take whatever action is necessary and to advise fisheries boards and local authorities that, where there are serious incidents of pollution, they should not, for ease of application, resort to the District Court in cases which would more appropriately be dealt with on indictment.

This Bill will only work as an Act with regard to serious incidents of pollution if it is seen that the agencies acting on behalf of the State are willing to bring prosecutions on indictment to bring about an imposition, where appropriate, of the maximum penalties which can be imposed. The trend up to now has been that normally these cases are dealt with in the District Court but this should be changed. I suggest to the Minister that prosecutions in the District Court should only be brought in extremely minor cases. It should be the practice that, normally, prosecutions are brought on indictment and that it is the exception to bring them to the District Court as minor offences.

I urge the Minister to enshrine this in any guidelines sent to local authorities or fisheries boards. I hope that, if a serious incident of pollution takes place when the Bill becomes operative, prosecutions on indictment will be successfully brought. On this side of the House we will be watching very closely to see what prosecutions are brought on indictment. We will be tabling Dáil questions on an annual basis to the Minister seeking information as to the number of prosecutions brought on indictment, the number brought by way of summary procedure, the results of those prosecutions and the sentences or penalties imposed when they are successful.

A brief comment from the Minister of State who has already spoken.

I fully accept Deputy Shatter's good suggestion and I will put it into practice. I reiterate that I regret we cannot increase the fine. It was my wish to do so and my officials consulted very widely and wisely with the Attorney General but it just was not possible and I am bound to accept his advice.

I have two points. The first is that the agency who are charged with the responsibility of enforcing this legislation will themselves wish to take cases on indictment. The difficulty that arises is that the legislation such as it is will not enable them to do so for the reasons I mentioned. I very much fear that the defence clause which remains in the Bill will render it as impossible for the agencies to take cases on indictment as the 1977 Act did.

Secondly, like Deputy Shatter, I am not surprised at the Minister's reply to the amendment. We got a similar reply to a similar amendment during the course of the debate on the Derelict Sites Bill. I have not available to me the kind of legal advice that is available to the Minister. If she says it is not possible to do this legally, then I take her word for it and I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 not moved.

We now proceed to deal with amendment No. 12 in the name of the same Deputy, Eamon Gilmore.I observe that amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15 are related. I am suggesting, therefore, that we discuss amendments Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 together. Is that satisfactory. It is agreed.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 13, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

"(a) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (1):

`(1) Each local authority shall make a water quality management plan for any waters situated in its functional area or which adjoin that area.',".

Again we had a debate on this issue on Committee Stage and I do not wish to repeat chapter and verse the entire debate. This centres on whether each local authority should be obliged to make a water quality management plan or whether it should be left largely to the discretion of the local authority as to whether they do so and the only circumstances in which they would be required to do so would be where they would be directed by the Minister to make a water quality management plan. I know we differed on Committee Stage as to the exact number of water quality management plans that had been made. If my recollection is correct it was five, but it is certainly very few in the 13 years since the enactment of the 1977 Act.

Local authorities have a multitude of functions. They operate under a very large number of pieces of legislation. The things they are required to do by law by and large they make every effort to do although, given the constraints on local authorities with regard to staffing and finances in recent years, they are finding it increasingly difficult to comply and to do the things they are required to do.

That means in practice that functions which are given to local authorities and which they may or may not do tend to fall by the board. My fear is that unless local authorities are required to make water quality management plans they will not do so and the evidence is that they do not do so. It is 13 years now since the enactment of the 1977 legislation where local authorities had the discretion as to whether to make water quality management plans. They have not done so. The time has come to change that to ensure that local authorities make water quality management plans, that they are required to do so, that the question of water quality is taken seriously by local authorities and is given priority.

Given that the legislation we are now enacting is weak and feeble the very least that can be done at this late stage is to put a requirement on local authorities to make water quality management plans so that at least we get within the next few years local authorities making those plans.

I wish to speak about amendment No. 15 in my name which provides that the local authority shall prepare plans within one year of being directed so to do by the Minister. When this was dealt with on Committee Stage the Minister stated that there were only seven plans available. That was in March. It would be interesting if she could let us know this evening whether, three and a half months later, any further plans have emerged. She stated that further plans were in the course of preparation, some at an advanced stage. I would appreciate if she could tell us whether any progress is being made in that area.

It strikes me that if the best part of my amendment and the best part of Deputy Gilmore's amendment No. 12 were put together we would have a very good amendment. I support Deputy Gilmore totally in that the local authorities should be required to produce a water quality management plan. The difficulty is that he does not put a time limit on it. I suggest even at this late stage that the Minister could accept Deputy Gilmore's amendment which is very simple and very carefully worked out, with the addition of the words " within one year of the enactment of this Bill". It is ridiculous that these things drag on for years. One year or maybe 18 months would be a reasonable period. Some reasonable period must be imposed. These water quality management plans must be produced mandatorily by the local authorities. There has been too much lead-swinging over the years and too much water has run under the bridge.

These amendments in the names of Deputies Garland and Gilmore are similar in nature. They would in my view impose impossible demands on local authorities and result in the preparation of unnecessary water quality management plans.

The preparation of a water quality management plan is a complex process involving the consultation of numerous organisations and the carrying out of extensive and detailed research over long periods so that variations in flows, inputs and conditions generally are fully observed. Were local authorities obliged to prepare plans within one year of being directed to do so by the Minister, as Deputy Garland's amendment would require, such plans would inevitably be based on inadequate research and consultation.In many cases the plans produced would be worse than no plans at all.

The amendments also seek to commit local authorities to preparing management plans for all the waters in their functional areas. This would commit local authorities to preparing plans in respect of waters which are in no way threatened by pollution or likely in the foreseeable future to be the subject of development. It is essential that the resources of local authorities be targeted at problems of the highest priority. Time spent on preparing a water quality management plan for low risk waters may entail time lost in tackling serious pollution problems in other waters in the authority's area. Deputies must realise that we have 12,000 kilometres of water in the country. It is for the same reason that I cannot accept another of Deputy Gilmore's amendments which seeks to place an obligation on local authorities to revise their water quality management plans at least once every five years. Such a rigid approach would lead to much time being spent by local authority personnel on unnecessary work in revising plans which are not in need of revision. Section 15 (8) (b) of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977, empowers the Minister to require a local authority to revise a plan in relation to matters and in a manner specified by him and at such intervals as he may direct. This provision enables the Minister to ensure that plans are revised where revision is clearly necessary and the local authority has failed to do so. This to my mind is a far more sensible arrangement than the institution of an inflexible and potentially wasteful obligatory revision period.

Deputies asked about the current situation in relation to water quality management plans. The situation has not changed much since March. We still have seven plans in place in relation to the Barrow, the Nore, the Suir, the Moy, Bantry Bay, the Munster Blackwater and the Cavan catchments. The situation in relation to the Shannon has advanced a lot since March. The plans for the upper Shannon and for the Shannon Estuary are currently on display and a plan in relation to the point between the Estuary and the upper Shannon will shortly be put on display.

It is important that local authority resources are effectively spent. It is neither feasible not desirable to waste local authority resources on preparing water quality management plans for water which will not be the subject of pollution or development in the foreseeable future. I would add that the proposed environmental protection agency will take over the role of co-ordination between the various authorities for the preparation and arranging of water quality management plans, which will ensure that the resources are targeted to the areas where the greatest priority lies.

It may be a bit unrealistic to expect that water quality management plans could be prepared within a year of the enactment of the legislation. I say this from my own experience of the slow pace at which local authorities often do their business, for example, their slow pace in making and reviewing development plans with regard to land use.

I am fascinated by the Minister's reply to the amendments because her logic suggests that there is no point in having a provision in the legislation that local authorities can make water quality management plans. The Minister effectively says that the making of a water quality management plan is too time-consuming for local authorities to engage in, that it is not a priority for local authorities, and that the only time local authorities should make a water quality management plan is when a water course is threatened by pollution. Indeed, in the cases of the rivers and lakes the Minister has identified where water quality management plans have been made, it has been a case of the plan being made after the problem has arisen. Taking the Cavan catchment area, it is a bit late in the day to make water quality management plans after some of the lakes and rivers in Cavan have been badly polluted.

The time to make a water quality management plan is before rivers have been polluted. The guiding principle of the Government in relation to the environment should be a precautionary principle, a principle which says that one takes actions and makes plans before the pollution occurs. One should make a plan to prevent pollution occurring rather than wait until there is an immediate threat and a storm of public outrage after a major spill or discharge into a waterway, and after a hue and cry that something must be done, the Minister announces to a great fanfare that she is directing the local authority to make a water quality management plan. That is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. The time to make such a plan is before the pollution occurs so that the local authority can, for example, know how to respond to applications for licences and so on. What I am proposing for water is similar to what exists for land use — the making of a plan and its revision hopefully every five years. That is the very least that is required. The logic of the Minister's position suggests that there is no point in local authorities making these plans, but if that is the case why is there provision in the legislation for water quality management plans?

What the Minister has said is a very interesting giveaway of the Government's thinking in relation to water pollution. I am coming to the conclusion that the legislation we are debating here is nothing more than rhetoric, a pretence at dealing with the problems of water pollution. If anything, this Bill may make the situation worse. We have the abolition of the water pollution advisory council and the reimposition of the 1977 wording of the good defence clause, and now a situation where the making of water quality management plans is left to the discretion of local authorities. In the 13 years since the 1977 Act only seven water quality management plans have been made and there is no sign of any further plans.

A Cheann Comhairle——

I am sorry Deputy Garland but Deputy Gilmore concluded the debate by his reply now.

As I put down amendment No. 15, does that not give me the right to reply as well?

I am sorry to disappoint you Deputy, but it does not.

Amendment put an declared lost.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 13, line 29, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".

Question "That the word proposed to be deleted stand", put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

As it is now 10 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with a resolution of the Dáil of 29 June, as amended: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill, that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 61.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar. Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, J. Higgins and Howlin.
Question declared carried.

This Bill which is considered by virtue of Article 20.2.2º of the Constitution as a Bill initiated in Dáil Éireann will now be sent to the Seanad.

On a point of order, just to get the procedures right, I think I am right in saying this Bill was initiated in the Seanad. I think it has to go back to the Seanad for the amendments made in this House to be confirmed. That may be the procedure. I am certain it was initiated in the Seanad in January 1989.

May I repeat, Deputy. The Bill which is considered by virtue of Article 20.2.2º of the Constitution, as a Bill initiated in Dáil Éireann will now be sent to the Seanad. That is the position.