Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

We are dealing with a very important subject. It is significant that we are enacting decisions taken at the meeting of Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg yesterday afternoon. Fishing has always been a lucrative activity in the west, particularly in County Donegal. It has provided a livelihood for thousands of families where unemployment is high and there are few natural resources. It is important that everything possible is done to promote and protect that industry which has provided an income for many people down the years. At present the industry is experiencing difficulties due to weather conditions and restrictions imposed in recent years.

The fishing industry has been the sacrificial lamb on the table of the EU, whether in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg, since our accession to Europe in 1973. Fishing has always taken a back seat when compared to other industries. Fishing interests have been sold short and were not properly promoted. Perhaps we traded our fishery rights for rights in agriculture and so on. Instead of the industry employing several hundreds of thousands of people in an island nation, it employs about 20,000, inclusive of fishermen and those engaged in onshore activities.

After yesterday's meeting it will be very difficult to develop this natural resource to its full potential. From 1 January 1996 the Spaniards and others will have unimpeded access to our lucrative fishing waters, namely the area known as the Irish Box, which was protected to enable the Irish fishing industry to develop. We started from a low base in 1973 and we have been handicapped ever since. It was recognised at the Hague Convention in 1976 and when the Iberian countries joined the EU in the 1980s that we needed time to develop this natural resource to its full potential, but now we only have another year or two to do so. Considering the illegal fishing activities of other countries in recent years, one shudders to think what will happen when there is unimpeded access to our waters. We all heard of the Spanish Armada — this was mentioned earlier by my colleague, Deputy Sheehan — who arrived in 1588, but did not stay very long. The likelihood is that after 1996 Spanish trawlers will be in permanent residence off our coast.

I wish to refer to the restrictions on our fishing industry. A young man or group of people who want to take up fishing as a livelihood will find it almost impossible to do so as they will have to buy a fishing boat, get a licence and purchase tonnage. People will not be able to automatically take up fishing as a livelihood in the future. Under EU regulations fishermen cannot increase the size of their boats to enable them to go to the lucrative fishing grounds unless they purchase extra tonnage at great cost. Instead of witnessing the development of this important industry which would provide employment in areas of high unemployment, we are witnessing its demise in the face of greater competition from Europe.

When discussing these matters reference is always made to fishery protection. What steps can we take to protect our existing rights after 1996? On a news bulletin last night the Minister said some concessions were available for the Irish fishing industry and that more would be made between now and the end of the year. How can we ensure that the concessions given to us on paper will be delivered? Fishery protection seems to be exclusively confined to the south west and south east coasts. Apart from the salmon fishing season, when fishery protection officers seem to take up permanent residence off the Donegal coast, there is very little protection along the north west coast.

The Government recognises that there is a crisis in the fishing industry, particularly the white fish sector. Since last October-November many fishermen have been unable to go to sea mainly due to the inclement weather. How will the aid package of £5 million announced last week be distributed? Who will get this money? Who can apply for this money and will application forms be issued? These questions may not be relevant to the Bill but they are to the fishermen who are looking for direction and an indication of what will happen. Having regard to what happened yesterday, I cannot help but think that this aid package was designed to lessen the blow and sweeten the bitter pill delivered at Luxembourg. I hope this is not the case, but one cannot blame people for thinking that this is what happened. Some of the fishermen I was in contact with last night and today suggested that this could be the position.

Is it proposed to introduce a scheme of compensation for fishermen who are put out of business after 1996? Fishermen who do not have the same boats or equipment as Spanish boats will be put out of business as they will not be able to compete. Can those who will be forced out of this economic activity as a result of what happened in Luxembourg yesterday expect to be compensated by the Government or the EU? That question requires an answer soon.

The Bill is designed to implement the decision reached in Luxembourg yesterday. Section 5 deals with licences, an issue which has been the subject of much controversy for many years. Very few of those involved in the fishing industry or those who intend to become involved in it know how to get a licence. Up to now only the Minister had the power to grant a licence. Two or three years ago approximately 20 licences were granted on Christmas Eve, of which, I think, half a dozen went to Donegal, while the majority of the remainder went to Dingle and a few to Cork and other places. We never found out the basis on which these licences were granted or the criteria used. They seemed to have been given at the discretion of the Minister. This gave rise to the impression that all was not well and that these very valuable licences were issued more on the basis of who one knew and who one's friends were rather than on one's commitment to the fishing industry. The Minister of State who represents a midland constituency originally came from the west and I am sure he knows what fishing is all about. When we were young fishermen did not need a licence to fish. However, it is now as necessary to have a licence to fish as it is to have a licence to drive a car.

The Minister has taken a small step forward to defuse this problem. He said that in future the Minister of the day, or an authorised officer appointed by him, would have the power to dispense licences if the applications were accepted. However, I do not think the Minister is going far enough in merely giving an authorised officer the power to dispense licences. I am sure that like me the people engaged in the fishing industry would not like to see this happening. Why has the Minister decided not to give this power to an authority? Will he agree that it would be better to give this power to an authority made up of reputable people who would decide whether a licence should be issued to an applicant and who would give the reasons for a decision not to grant a licence?

Apart from the High Court — one would need more resources than those available to the average fisherman to take a case to that court — up to now those who wanted to take up fishing as a livelihood but who were refused a licence could not appeal the decision to a court. The Minister should on Committee Stage replace the words "authorised officer" with the word "authority" and include a provision under which an applicant could appeal to the Minister or some other person if their application is unsuccessful. The Minister must do this if he wants to improve people's perception of the licensing system and the basis on which licences are granted.

Licences are a tradable asset. I may be wrong but I think fishermen can sell their licences. It should not be left to the political head of a Department to decide who is issued with a licence.

Before many of us were elected to this House there was a similar procedure in the local authorities. One could apply for planning permission to the Department of Local Government or the Department of the Environment and if that was not granted at local authority level one could always appeal to the Minister. We were all brought up on stories about how planning permissions were eventually obtained through ministerial intervention. We do not want that to happen to the fishing industry. This activity gives a bad name to politicians and politics in general and it is not right. I would like this matter cleared up.

Another section deals with the protection afforded to fishery protection officers. Coming from an area where sea and inshore fishing play an important part in the community, I would support any additional powers or protection for these officers who are merely implementing the legislation for which we are responsible for enacting. I admit that for many years there has been an impression that the fishing rights of this country belonged — to put it as simply as I can — to the landed gentry but times have changed. We have been looking after our own affairs since 1922 and I fully support any additional powers that would be given to these officers. I am glad this matter has been addressed in the Bill.

Fishery protection officers should not be simply chosen from a list. They must have certain qualities and indeed should be given training. They will now be given the same status and protection as that afforded to members of the Garda, who are allowed a training period of two years. What training period is granted to fishery protection officers? If they are to be granted additional powers they should at least be trained professionally for the sensitive job they do. I ask the Minister to take that into consideration.

I wish to refer to the provision relating to eels in which my colleague, Deputy McGrath, is interested. I was always of the opinion that the most lucrative eel area in this country was Lough Neagh and I know it is an important industry there. It seems that the eel industry will have the same status as the salmon industry and, coming from Donegal, I am acquainted with the rules and regulations governing catching, transporting and selling salmon. Eels appear to be a lucrative part of the fishing industry and if the trade is to be properly developed I would be in favour of affording it the same status.

The Bill is necessary, particularly in view of what took place yesterday. I hope, however, that it will not sound the death knell of the Irish fishing industry as we have known it up to now.

I welcome this Bill. Many of my colleagues have spoken on various aspects of it and I intend to contain my remarks to Part III.

I thank the Minister for his kind comments about me when he introduced the Bill. I would like also to thank the Minister of State at the Department of the Marine, Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan, who is at present on sick leave and to whom I send my good wishes. The Minister and the Minister of State were very approachable when we discussed the eel fishing problems in the midlands area and were courteous and helpful. I also met officials from the Department and, through the Minister, I pass on my thanks to them for their help.

Two or three years ago my interest in eels was limited. I regarded them as repulsive creatures that lived in the lakes in our area. However, in May last year it was brought to my attention that a fishery protection officer living in the town of Mullingar, who worked for the ESB and whose responsibility was fishery protection in the midlands area, had been intimidated and beaten. His wife had also been intimidated and they were forced to move to an area where they were not known.

That case highlighted the activities of a group of criminals operating in the midlands. The eel business is lucrative — live eels fetch £1.90 per pound on the market. When I began to research the eel business I became aware of various incidents reported in the newspapers — and others not reported — of legal fishermen who had been beaten up and whose catches and nets had been stolen on a regular basis. Unfortunately, very few prosecutions resulted.

When I spoke to the local Garda and other people about this problem I was informed that the law was not sufficiently strong to deal with it. At that stage I decided to become involved and to do something about this problem. With the assistance of the departmental officials and further research the Bill reflects accurately my sentiments in relation to what should be done. Elevating the status of eels to that of salmon is a worthwhile measure.

I will be proposing two or three amendments on Committee Stage which I hope will be accepted. The Minister mentioned earlier that he was building in improved protection measures for fishery officers in the Bill. I welcome that because fishery protection officers put their lives at risk on a regular basis patrolling the lakes and rivers of the midlands area and around the country in the dead of night to protect fishermen who have been issued with legitimate licences. They put themselves at risk with little support. The ESB has employed one officer to protect the lakes and rivers of the midlands north of Portumna Bridge and on Monday last recruited another employee on a temporary basis — two people to protect Westmeath alone, the lake county of Ireland. How can they possibly do so as it simply is not sufficient staff. I would ask the ESB to do something about it since the rivers and lakes are owned by it.

In May last I connected the activities of these illegal fishermen with many other activities in which I understood they had been involved. For example, a car used in the shooting of three RUC constables was stolen in the vicinity of Multyfarnham in County Westmeath; a lorry stolen in the Mullingar area was used to ram a British Army Border checkpoint and a tractor stolen in that area was found subsequently in County Monaghan where it was being adapted as a mortar bomb assault vehicle. I mentioned the fishery protection officer and his family who had to leave their home. There have been numerous bank and post office raids, all linked to this small group operating out of Multyfarnham area in County Westmeath. They have helpers coming in from countries Meath and Cavan and operate regularly to terrorise and rob.

They have very clear connections with subversives, demonstrated by the fact that in October last they terrorised two fishermen on the shores of Lough Ennell in County Westmeath. As the House will be aware, eel fishing is done at night. Those two men were going about their business when a group of something in the region of 25 men swept in off the lake in boats, tied them up, put them lying on the ground, beat them severely and fired shots beside them. I brought it to the attention of the House at that time. Indeed in certain quarters I may have been seen to be exaggerating for not putting across the correct story. However, the activities in my area over the past three months have demonstrated very clearly — and the Minister has said so to me — that what I said then was very accurate because in the Multyfarnham area the security forces have found a massive supply of guns, ammunition and Semtex after an intensive search which had lasted approximately one month. Not only one cache of arms was found. The ammunition, guns and so on were found in ten locations within that area after a tremendous effort to locate them.

I believe there is more ammunition, guns and Semtex in that area, that further searches are needed, and further support from the local community to ascertain the location of these arms dumps. During the last search of the area there was a certain amount of support from the local community in establishing their location — but we need to move more Army officers into the area to clean it out and remove the items of death and destruction stored in those localities.

How in a rural area could so much deadly merchandise be stored without people's knowledge? It is because many people in that locality are afraid for their lives; they are afraid to talk about the activities they see; they are afraid to point the finger at the people they know to be involved. A very good friend living in that locality, a decent, upright, honourable individual, saw goods being dumped by these people but he was afraid to disclose their whereabouts because they saw him. They know that he knows so the information will go to the grave with him. Is it not a terribly frightening scenario, that we in the midlands, or anywhere in Ireland, can be controlled by these terrorists? These people do not engage in that activity for any ideological reason but because of the money involved and because they are thugs at heart. These people are aligned with subversives, because it gives them a certain amount of status and the wherewithal to terrorise anybody who crosses their path. We must remember that it is a very lucrative business. For example, I am aware that four of these people each amassed £10,000 over a four-month period last summer, yet those same people are drawing the dole. Is it not remarkable? Are we not a great little country that we can afford such tremendous luxuries?

There is a very good livelihood to be made from eel fishing. It is a very lucrative business on the midland lakes, the vegetation in the lakes there being so rich apparently eels can grow to a substantial size. We must take control so that people can obtain licences and fish, knowing they will not be assaulted, intimidated, or have their catch stolen. I spoke to two fishermen in the last couple of weeks who, since their nets were stolen, have been unable to fish because they have not the wherewithal to purchase more nets. The situation must be taken in hand. That brings me to the provisions of this Bill. I welcome the provision whereby one must account for the origin of eels in one's possession. It will be the key to success. The other provisions of the Bill are good also. Nonetheless there are a couple of other proposals dealing with the possession of eel fishing nets which should be included. Many people, known to be illegal fishermen, have sheds full of nets suitable for catching eels, yet there is nothing in this Bill to control their activities. For example, if one were found to be in possession of housebreaking tools one could be prosecuted on that basis. Surely we could devise some provision within this Bill which would render it illegal to have eel nets in one's possession without being able to acount for them. Perhaps the Minister could request his officials to examine this matter and perhaps table some amendments on Committee Stage or, when summing up, give me a legitimate reason for not doing so.

I am somewhat concerned that somebody can hold a licence which entitles him to possess eels in other areas. For example, if I hold a licence in County Mayo does that afford me the right to possess eels in Mullingar orvice versa? I ask that knowing what happened in a court case which arose in Mullingar on Friday last when a number of people before the court were charged with possession of eels, the Garda and fishery officers have done their homework very efficiently. They had observed how these eels had been caught, and from the time they had been taken out of the lake and so on. However, on Friday last in that courtroom, a man stood before the court, holding a legitimate licence from County Cavan, and told the judge that those eels belonged to him, were merely in transit and were put into the lake so that they could drink fresh water while in transit. The remarkable thing was that that man had a licence to fish with a line and hooks. There are two ways of catching eels, one is in a net when they are kept alive and the other is by means of a long line with several hooks hanging from it. Frequently when eels are caught on the hooks they die and have to be cut off the hooks. This man had a licence to catch eels on this line and hook, yet he said that all these kilos, hundredweights, of live eels were his. Thankfully the judge had a tremendous amount of wisdom and rejected that evidence. A heavy and substantial fine was imposed on those people, and rightly so. The measures contained in this Bill will help the Garda. I ask the Minister to consider whether a licence should restrict a person to catch eels in the locality in which the licence applies. It is a legitimate point which perhaps the Minister will address later.

Legislation is only as good as its enforcement. I welcome this legislation and I think it will be a great help but unless we have the resources to enforce it, it is merely more paper being stacked on shelves.

The Garda do a tremendous job in my constituency watching out for the subversives who are also involved in eel fishing. They co-operate with and give protection to the fishery protection officers; unfortunately, the fishery protection officers have to be protected because there have been so many incidents. Unless the Garda and the fishery protection officers are given more resources and manpower, this legislation will be wasted and the subversive organisations will continue to collect huge sums of money and use it for illegal purposes on the backs of legitimate fishermen. We must provide the necessary resources to enforce this legislation. With that in mind I ask the Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, to ensure there are sufficient resources in the midlands during the limited period the eels are running so that we can catch those people in possession, when they are in breach of the law, and bring them to justice. Only by doing that can we say that this legislation is worthwhile.

I wish to quote from the reply to Question No. 56 which I put down to the Minister for the Marine on 21 October 1993 — Official Report column 2182:

In the case to which I think you refer in the Lough Ennell area, the eel fishery there is the property of the ESB and again their protection staff are working closely with the gardaí in controlling this illegal activity.

I agree that they are working very closely with the gardaí but with limited resources. We must have more manpower and resources. It is crazy that the Garda who are involved, some on a full-time basis, in this work do not even have access to a boat to go out on the lakes to see what is happening. They have to rely on the fishery protection officers. Recently a high powered boat was given to the Civil Defence in that area for rescue missions and so on. Could the Minister initiate co-operation between those groups so that this boat could be used occasionally by the Garda to bring the illegal fishermen to book? In that way they could help wipe out a terrorist gang which is operating in the area and perpetuating the terror campaign that exists in Ireland.

I welcome the opportunity to make a few brief comments on this Bill. We are all aware of illegal fishing at sea, the Minister fought a battle this week to try to rectify a situation he had inherited but that battle did not end as we wished. Nonetheless where it is within our power to protect our fisheries we have a duty to do so.

Deputy McGrath spoke about the illegal fishing in his constituency. It is well known that this has been going on for a number of years. Perhaps it goes back to the original system of licensing and disposal of the fish caught. It might be no harm to find out where a home is being found for those illegal fish and what price is being paid for themvis-à-vis those caught and sold legitimately. There are rumours that the prices being paid to the legitimate fishermen vis-à-vis those paid to illegal poachers for eels have a discrepancy of from 50p to 70p per pound. The question is where are these eels finishing up? Who is the receiver of these illegally caught eels? Who are the fish dealers who deal with them? A salmon dealer must show where the salmon came from. It is important from here on that that should be done so far as eel fishing is concerned.

There is a new trend, which I hope will not be with us for long, that is poaching of coarse fish by continentals who come here on alleged holidays. I know of lakes in my own constituency where all the pike, bar those less than 1lb weight, have been cleaned out during the number of years by illegal foreign fishermen. They come here on alleged holidays with their campervans and return with large quantities of pike and perch especially in their freezers. This annoys me. This is a resource which has enormous tourist potential if properly used. What is being done to enforce the regulations regarding the number of fish that may be killed by any fisherman on a day's fishing or on a holiday trip?

I must give credit to the British anglers who are more than careful that they return the maximum number — in many cases 100 per cent of their catch — to the waters from which they have taken them at the end of the day. I appeal to the Minister to ask customs officials and the Garda to carry out regular checks at our ferry ports to see the quantity of fish these returning holidaymakers have in their feezers.

As Deputy McGrath said, the enforcing agencies have no resources or manpower. Are we going to allow our resources to be cleared out for want of manpower when we remember the number of people we have unemployed? Under existing schemes can we not use these people to maintain a presence on some of our coarse fishing lakes? If we do not do this, we will have water and no fish and no tourism potential.

This Bill is welcome and I hope it will strengthen the hand of the law in dealing with those who are caught. We must see where the benefit is lost to the economy. Criminal justice legislation contains provisions relating to those handling stolen goods. Are there similar provisions in this Bill covering those in possession of illegally caught fish?

If a greater number of eel fishing licences were made available and proper marketing structures were put in place we might not have the problems mentioned by Deputy McGrath. How many families in Northern Ireland make a good living from the resources of Lough Neagh? There are a number of lakes in my county, as there are in Deputy McGrath's county, but do we benefit from them? If our coarse fishing lakes were commercially fished we would not have the protection problem mentioned by the Deputy. If we have local support, existing fisheries will be protected. We must ensure this is the case in the future. We all know cases of illegal fishing and netting but since we do not have sufficient resources or manpower to provide full protection we should issue more licences. Some people earned £10,000 in four months last year; how much could have been earned if the fishing had been legal and above board? This activity would benefit local communities.

Being an angler the Minister understands the problems. There must be local involvement. If locals were granted licences for eel fishing there would be greater co-operation and fewer problems. However, we will not be in a position to deal with the matter while there are people prepared to handle illegally caught fish. So long as a two tier price system exists between legally and illegally caught fish, there will be problems. I hope as a result of the legislation that there will be a greater availability of licences and greater controls over people who deal with the product.

I thank Deputies for their contributions which were much appreciated. This is a complex Bill. Deputy Bradford indicated it would help a great deal if we had a fisheries consolidation Act for ease of reference. He pointed out there are many cross-references in the Bill, and I agree with him. I will take note of what Deputies said and they will have an opportunity to improve the Bill on Committee Stage. I will pay close attention to any amendments submitted.

The provisions of the Bill are tough and I am confident that owners of vessels who engage in illegal fishing, which effectively amounts to industralised poaching, will think twice before doing so in future. The severity of the penalties is fitting because of the potentially disastrous results which over-fishing and the catching of immature fish wreaks upon the industry. It is not only the jobs of fishermen which could be put at risk but those of the many thousands who work in the processing and ancillary areas. Deputy Sheehan said 15,000 people were involved in the fishing industry, and that forms 1.4 per cent of the workforce.

The dedication of the Naval Service which is responsible for fisheries protection is not in question. Up to now, however, there have been times when the penalties did not sufficiently reflect the serious nature of the offences. Penalties ranging from £10,0000 to £50,0000 are proposed in the Bill. Some Deputies, particularly Deputy Sheehan, thought these derisory and suggested penalties in the region of £500,000. I will look carefully at any amendments proposed in this regard.

With the enactment of this Bill I feel confident that the powers it provides and the sanctions the court may impose will be availed of in full. I disagree with Deputy Sheehan that the fishery protection service is inadequate and underfunded. The last few years have seen a greatly increased investment in the service and chief among that has been the provision of a CASA maritime patrol aircraft in June 1991. It is my intention to try to hold on to it. As the House may be aware there is an option to either retain or return it. I hope to retain it to add to two new CASA aircraft which will come on stream between June and September this year. They are an extraordinary aircraft. I went to Spain to see how they were built. By any standards they contain the most modern technology and equipment. These interesting planes are effectively flying laboratories. The CASA aircraft can stay in the air for some eight hours. One can appreciate the extent of the area it can cover in the context of fisheries protection. In addition to the existing CASA two new CASA aircraft costing in the region of £30 million and aided by the European Union are due for delivery later this year. I am pleased to inform Deputy Sheehan that this aircraft has been a major success in its maritime operations. Its capability of staying airborne for up to eight hours has greatly increased the operational proficiency of the Air Corps in its fisheries protection role and allows it to cover a large area of the European economic zone within a short period.

I congratulate the main Opposition spokesperson for the Marine, Deputy Bradford and I assure him that I will give him as much assistance as I hope he will give me in terms of co-operation. It is not all about confrontation as more can be achieved in this House by consensus.

The capability of the CASA aircraft compared with the previous maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Air Corps on fisheries protection duties means that the Air Corps spends a higher proportion of flying time on fisheries protection patrol missions. During the period 1983-92, investment in buildings, computers and software, inspection vehicles, surveillance vessels and aircraft has amounted to £45.2 million. In November 1992 annual operating costs were estimated to be in the order of £31 million. Planned expenditure for the period 1993-97 amounts to approximately £103 million. Deputy Bradford wondered whether the provisions relating to the economic link might be challenged in the High Court. That possibility cannot be ruled out but I doubt if the courts would find the requirements set out in this Bill in conflict with its previous ruling in this regard. The considerations which were identified give substance to the principles contained and the finding of the court on the subject of economic links. The rigorous application of these principles would help ensure that the operation of vessels on a register will benefit the coastal communities that our quotas are meant to benefit. I am confident this will ensure that convenience registration will no longer be the soft option it once was. Deputy Bradford also raised the question of delegation of authority by the Minister in the matter of sea fishing licence. If the Deputy reads the section further he will see that the decision delegated will be based on guidelines which the Minister will decide. This will ensure that applicants are given consistent and fair treatment. However, I am still open to views the Deputy might wish to express on Committee Stage.

A number of Deputies referred to the need for improving the safety of fishing vessels and there is a number of important measures in the pipeline. Ireland has acceded to the Torremolinos Convention on fishing vessels safety which sets the safety standards for larger vessels. The Commission has issued a directive on fishing vessels safety which caters for the immediate classes of vessels and national regulations are proposed in respect of smaller inshore craft. These measures will be put in place during the next year or so under the 1992 Merchant Shipping Act.

We face difficult negotiations on the question of sensitive areas and new conservation criteria to be applied under the terms of the framework regulation on the accession of Spain and Portugal to the fisheries resources off our coast.

Deputy McGrath made a valuable contribution on eel fishing, an area in which he has had a consistent interest. He very bravely confronted the bully boys who tried to intimidate genuine and legitimate eel fishermen. That was a gusty performance. It is in the best traditions of this House that we are not intimidated by anti-democratic people.

This Bill sends out a clear signal of our concern about the serious damage that offences of this nature can inflict on stocks and will empower the courts to effectively convey that concern to those convicted of violations. The message being sent out to those who cynically abuse our fisheries and see the occasional prosecution as an occupational hazard is clear: "we mean business". As I said earlier, a number of additional provisions will be introduced on Committee Stage which will further strengthen the deterrent effect of the Bill. This will mean, for example, that a boat convicted of having a hidden hold containing undersized nets will face fines of up to £100,000 for those offences alone plus the confiscation of gear and catch. However lucrative their illegal activities may have been, fines of this order will be a financially painful experience, not soon forgotten.

I thank the Deputies for their contributions and I will certainly take them on board during the Committee Stage deliberations of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.