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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Jul 1995

Vol. 455 No. 5

Casual Trading Bill, 1994: Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"Dutch auction' means a sale of goods by auction in which the price is reduced by the auctioneer until a purchaser is found;".

The previous Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, undertook, during the select committee's discussion on 17 May 1994 of section 1 of the Casual Trading Bill, 1994, to consider an amendment on Report Stage to provide a definition of the term "Dutch auction", which now appears in section 2. This amendment meets that commitment.

I support the amendment, which is the same as an amendment tabled by me on Committee Stage. This is a matter of definition and clarification. I am grateful that the Minister has taken it on board and that the term "Dutch auction" has been clarified.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

"(d) selling newspapers, magazines, wrapping paper and other printed matter,

(e) traditional stall-holders selling fruit, vegetables, flowers or other perishable goods,

(f) the selling of fish by traditional fishmonger stall-holders or the crew which catches them,

(g) any person whom the local authority knows to be a traditional street trader until after such time as that person is offered a reasonable location from which to trade.".

I do not intend to repeat the arguments I made on Second and on Committee Stages, but the Minister's arguments on these amendments on Committee Stage were unsatisfactory. The Minister argued that the purpose of the Bill was to devolve powers to the local authorities and that they could then take on the task of assessing who should come under this Bill. I do not accept that because the Bill has introduced categories of street traders who were excluded up to now. It is now being left to the local authorities to decide.

If it is simply a matter of devolving power to the local authorities, the 1980 Bill should stand and certain categories, such as people who sell newspapers, for example, should be excluded. The harsh provisions, such as the large fines are inappropriate for people, both young and old, who traditionally sold newspapers on street corners. I also include those who sell team colours outside football matches, etc. It is unjust and unnecessary to include such people under this Bill. I do not understand the Minister's argument that he is devolving power to local authorities. If that was the case, he would not make these changes nor would be introduce these additional categories.

This Bill legislates for social justice. I predict as I did on Committee Stage, that the small trader — the Molly Malone who does not have a pitch from which to trade — and the woman selling fruit and flowers in the centre of Dublin will bear the brunt of the harsh aspects of this Bill. For that reason, I will continue to press the case for these people and I will oppose the Bill.

I acknowledge the Minister has changed some sections substantially and has helped categories of people such as those in Moore Street who met him and made a strong case. It is only fair to acknowledge the Minister's efforts on their behalf, the changes he has made, the concessions which I and other Members, who have campaigned for these people, have won and the efforts of those who lobbied the Minister. While I acknowledge the substantial changes which are beneficial to some categories, the heavy fines and harsh provisions in this Bill will be directed against some of the most disadvantaged people in this State. For those reasons, I will press these amendments.

I tabled similar amendments on Committee Stage which we thoroughly discussed. Unfortunately, the Minister did not accept the principle that we should either allow the local authority to define what categories should be exempt, or we should specify a range of categories which we thought were important. A certain number of categories are exempt under section 2. I table amendments which included the range of exemptions under the 1980 legislation, but the Minister has decided not to accept them. It is being left to the local authority to make a decision on matters which it considers pertinent. I would prefer if we, as legislators, made decisions on matters of overriding concern which should be defined here, but the Minister will not accept that.

Many people will now break the law because the net has been spread too wide. This means that everyone will have to be licensed and policed. How will the local authority operate this system? What structural changes and costs will be put in place? A wide range of activities take place throughout the country during the summer and people sell ice cream and team colours at football matches. It is impossible to have a licence for such seasonal activities, therefore, I do not know how the local authority will be able to observe, supervise and police these people.

I am worried about introducing legislation which is not pragmatic or effective in its implementation. Those who sell The Big Issues on the streets of Dublin and in most large towns and cities are either homeless or semi-destitute. They get 50 per cent of the proceeds which helps them to make a living. What will happen to these people under this Bill? There is a danger that we have widened the definition of casual trading too far. These people will now be arrested. How and where the axe will fall is another matter, but many people will go to prison as happened in the aftermath of the 1980 legislation and for the past 15 years.

While I accept the Minister's argument about devolving powers to the local authority, I would prefer if this legislative body decided on matters of concern to the Minister because then we could have included or exempted certain categories if we wanted to do so. The arguments have been well rehearsed and the Minister is adamant that he will not go down that road. He accepted some of my amendments and those of other Deputies, but I am disappointed he will not accept this one.

I argued strongly on Committee Stage for the exemption of certain categories of activities, the selling of newspapers by news vendors who are not the owners of retail properties, the selling of strawberries, of fish on quay sides and of other seasonal products. I argued strongly for their exclusion and it is regrettable the Minister did not accept the argument. We would have a much better Bill if at the outset we, as legislators, made a judgment to exclude certain categories of trade. We have done that regarding certain activities referred to in section 2. We have excluded selling by Dutch auction which has been clearly defined, selling at a place adjacent to where a person resides or carried on a business and a number of other areas of activity. I would have more confidence in the effectiveness of this legislation if the Minister excluded the activities Deputies Gregory, Costello and I sought to have written into the Bill. The principle of devolving power to local authorities is worthwhile provided they are given the personnel and resources to exercise that power fully in their areas, but that is not the case.

Nothing draws law more into disrepute then law which is not enforced from the outset. Sections of this Bill when enacted will be unenforceable. No matter how hard we try to visit a level of bureaucracy on people, enterprising people will run the risk of breaking the law by putting their products on sale, but inevitably some of them will be caught. As Deputy Costello said, when the Bill is enacted some of the most innocent categories of people will end up in prison because it will be impossible to police the new by-laws in all cases. We would have better law and I would be more confident that the Bill would be effective if we decided to exclude the categories to which I referred. As legislators, there is an onus on us to make and abide by a judgment. As we have failed to do that I am not confident that the Bill will be effectively implemented. That is disappointing. When it was introduced I thought we had the bones of good Bill, that it was timely and would have beneficial results, but I am not confident about that now. It is foolish that we will be using a steamroller to crack a nut.

A good deal of money is being spent on setting up enterprise boards and bottom up development and so on. Those in small and medium-sized industries agree that the biggest single impediment with which they must deal, after taxation, is bureaucracy. The level of bureaucracy in this Bill is retrograde. I regret that the Minister did not see his way to excluding, for example, the sale of newspapers by news vendors.

I have no problem with the intent of the amendment. Most of the practices outlined in it will have to be excluded under this legislation or at local authority level. We do not want street vendors arrested or a tag of illegality attached to their activities and we must decide whether to introduce legislation to cover their activities or to deal with the matter at local authority level. The amendment refers to the selling of wrapping paper, newspapers and other items by vendors and we could have excluded vendors selling such items in the legislation.

I wish to raise a broader point with the Minister regarding the sale of cars on the side of the road. I hoped there would be a reference in the Bill to this subject. That activity comes under section 2. Two offenders in my area who line up 20 to 40 cars daily and display "for sale" signs on them have avoided being caught, despite provisions covering that activity in various Acts, including the road traffic Acts. I had hoped this legislation would prevent such practices in residential areas. Until now the local authority and the gardaí have been unable to prosecute people who park a number of cars for sale on the side of the road. They are causing a great nuisance, but they seem to get away with it. On the last occasion I spoke I thought that practice would be illegal in future, but I cannot find a reference to it in the Bill. I am disappointed the legislation does not cover it.

I am pleased to contribute as I chaired the Committee Stage of the Bill and did not consider it was appropriate to comment on it then.

This is important legislation for the constituency of Louth. Casual trading has posed a major problem in Drogheda as the main street is blocked virtually daily by people selling all sorts of goods on the footpaths. Vendors sell vegetables outside vegetable shops where traders must pay fairly high rates to Drogheda Corporation. Now the traders are selling their vegetables on the footpath outside their shops to compete with illegal traders outside the main shopping centre. Strawberries supplied by shopkeepers from outside the town are being sold by children, many of whom should be at school. Spanish onions, supposedly grown in vendor's back gardens, are being sold and those traders are getting away with that under the 1980 Act.

I congratulate the Minister for introducing the Bill. He bent over backwards to deal with many of the problems that arose when it was introduced. I agree with his approach. He has been fair in trying to address the many problems raised by the Opposition. The only way this matter can be effectively dealt with is by local authorities because the problems in Dublin can substantially differ from those in Cork, Drogheda, or Dundalk. Local authority members know how such problems should be dealt with. On Deputy Quill's point regarding administration, local authorities are better equipped than Dáil Éireann to administer the provisions of the Bill. Their members are familiar with their communities.

I have been a member of a local authority for more than 22 years and I am sure my colleagues would take into account the problems that are unique to particular areas. The local authority of which I am a member facilitates people who keep the law. As legislators our job is to introduce watertight legislation and close off loopholes which might facilitate those who wish to break the law. People who were supposedly growing vegetables and selling their own produce took advantage of a loophole in the 1980 Act. For the past 25 years two spaces on the main street of Drogheda have been designated trading areas for named fish mongers. Those spaces were designated by agreement between members of the corporation and there has not been any quibble about them.

The Minister's proposal is the best way of dealing with the problem. We cannot introduce legislation that would deal with every difficulty that arises, particularly for those who wish to break the law.

I wish to deviate from the amendments to make a point, lest I do not have an opportunity later. Many retailers have expressed grave concern about the practice whereby people rent hotel rooms or other such places and advertise the sale of carpets, furniture and so on. They go into towns, make a killing and then leave. As a result the ratepayers of the towns suffer. This is somewhat similar to the concern expressed by Deputy Bell but, although it is of a sporadic nature, it is on a larger scale. Chambers of commerce and groups of retailers have asked me to ascertain if local authorities will have the power to stop such sales taking place.

I am also concerned about people with large vans and trucks selling expensive carpets and furniture along the side of the road. They erect large signs stating, "Carpets for Sale" and people flock in their hundreds to purchase them. I do not believe that is free trade because in general those people do not pay taxes. I take the point made by Deputies Gregory, Ahern and Quill about taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut and preventing people from barely making a living, but I am talking about very rich people with large vans selling carpets, etc. on the roadside. One wonders where the vans or the carpets were purchased. What control will the Revenue have over such people?

Before the fall of the previous Government, we had reached an impasse on the type of tax return which might be proffered by such people. Deputies Ahern, Gregory and Costello acknowledged that the Minister met some of the concerns they expressed on Committee Stage and agreed with the mechanism they suggested. Will this have the opposite effect in the case of suspect traders who do not pay taxes and set up large-scale operations on the side of the road or in hotel rooms and swipe the legitimate and small profits of local traders?

Given the object of the Bill, which is to achieve greater decentralisation, efficiency and flexibility in the regulation of casual trading by local authorities, Deputy Gregory's amendments are not appropriate. Decisions as to what should or should not be exempt from regulation in individual local authority areas are best left to local government. Local authorities may decide, as appropriate, to exempt, for example, newspaper sales. At the end of the day, the decision is best left to the local authorities. The Bill provides for this object under section 2 (4).

Local authorities are already empowered to delete a class of trading which it previously exempted under their general power to revoke by-laws under the Interpretation Act, 1937. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to accept the amendment.

On Deputy Ahern's point, selling by garage owners on a street beside their premises will be subject to the casual trading regulations under the Bill. They would be only selling to a person at the place where they reside or carry on business that is excluded. Deputy Ahern will recall that he raised that point on Committee Stage when he asked would it not be more precise to insert the word "in" instead of the word "at". I have taken legal advice on this matter and was informed that the existing formula should remain, as the substitution of the word "in" in this exemption would lead to undesirable consequences; for example, selling by the coalman, the milkman and so on would become regulated. I, therefore, propose to leave the exemption as it stands and it meets Deputy Ahern's concern.

The selling of cars on the side of the road can be an intolerable nuisance in estates and residential areas generally. It will become a matter for enforcement under the provisions of this Bill. Deputy O'Rourke expressed concern about occasional rather than casual trading. Selling at weekends in hotels, warehouses or wherever is covered by the Occasional Trading Act, 1979. Enforcement is the responsibility of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment and is carried out on his behalf by the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs. It is a separate and distinct act and I will be glad to pursue the matter with Deputy O'Rourke at some point.

I hope we can dispose of these amendments once and for all.

Perhaps the Minister would answer my query about roadside traders about whom I had the greatest complaint — people selling commodities like carpets.

I thought the Deputy was talking about people who hired premises, who blitzed a local town, who hired a——

No, I expressed concern about families who sold carpets and the like on the side of the road.

They will be subjected to the provisions of this Bill by the relevant local authority, as it deems appropriate.

Deputy Bell made the fundamental point here — I do not intend to rehearse his arguments — on which we voted on Second Stage, which is whether Members of the House accept that what we are doing here is devolving these powers to local authorities who, as he said, are best equipped to make such decisions. I am in no position to say where fishmongers should conduct their business in, say, Drogheda; that is a matter for the relevant local authority.

I have considerable respect for the intelligence of Members on the far side of the House and the older I become the more respect I have for others' intelligence. However, I do not understand some of the more confused blather I have listened to again today. I am not outlawing selling newspapers or anything else anywhere; that is a matter for the relevant local authority. Deputy Quill said the principle of devolution is a good one. Either it is a good principle or it is not; one either believes in devolving power to local authorities or one does not. It is for the relevant local authorities to deal with these issues. If they want to exempt newspaper sellers or anybody else they can do so. It is none of my business. I presume they will and that life will continue just as it has heretofore in this regard. As Deputy Bell said, traders who pay their rates and taxes also have rights. Therefore, it is appropriate that we would regulate this area and the appropriate body best equipped to know local conditions is the relevant local authority.

I know Deputy Gregory acknowledged I have effected a number of changes to this Bill consonant with arguments he has been advancing here, but he is almost hopelessly and irrevocably committed to hyperbole when he talks about this Bill legislating for social injustice. This Chamber is no stranger to hyperbole but that is so fantastic I cannot allow it to remain on the record without comment. Deputy Gregory accepts I have made beneficial changes for the people who endeavour to eke out a living in Moore Street — for the Molly Malones he mentioned. While he may not have had sufficient time to study the Bill thoroughly, I have effected changes here that those Molly Malones could not have anticipated. For example, instead of a summary fine of £1,000, I am suggesting one of £50 in one of my amendments today. Another amendment will afford them an amnesty in respect of past convictions which will mean they start with a clean sheet. I have had discussions with the City Manager and Dublin Corporation to try and provide traders with pitches. I really do not see what more I can do in the circumstances. The trading community who have premises from which to carry out their businesses and pay rates and other taxes, also have rights and entitlements which have to be acknowledged if we are to maintain any kind of balance, as Deputy Bell advocated.

Therefore, all that is at stake here is whether or not one believes that devolution is a good principle. We are here devolving powers to local authorities. Deputies Costello, Quill and others appear to be engaging in St. Augustine-type devolution — not yet, Lord; we do not want to take these decisions to local authorities. I believe they should, that it is the most sensible arrangement and strikes a reasonable balance.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

"(d) selling of `colours' etc., outside football stadia, matches, sporting events; by hand only and not from any vehicle.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 4 in the name of the Minister. As amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related perhaps we may discuss all three together by agreement? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 6, lines 35 and 36, to delete "or the Act of 1980 (other than an offence under section 6 of that Act) during the period of 5 years" and substitute "during the period of 3 years".

In the Committee Stage discussions on section 4 (6) and (7) I undertook to consider for Report Stage concerns raised by some Members, particularly those regarding the five-year ban from holding a casual trading licence following a conviction for an offence.

I have considered this matter further and have concluded that a five-year ban is unnecessarily harsh having regard to the general nature of casual trading offences. Therefore, I propose that the five year periods referred to in both subsections be amended to three years which will not seriously diminish their deterrent effect.

I also propose in these amendments to delete the reference to the Casual Trading Act, 1980, the effect of which will be that all casual traders will commence trading under the new regime with clean records. This measure, while somewhat unusual, is essential to resolve the particular circumstances of a large number of traditional traders in Dublin city who would be unable to benefit for a considerable period from the more flexible powers of Dublin Corporation and other local authorities under the new regime which will entail licensing under the designated casual trading area system, or licensing under general by-laws for special events.

It is essential to take this opportunity to deal with the position whereby traders do not qualify for trading pitches, being debarred under the present five-year ban relating to two or more offences. In this context I have contacted Dublin Corporation and I hope progress can be made on this front. The proposed deletion of offences under the Casual Trading Act, 1980 is an essential part of the process of resolving this problem. It constitutes an amnesty for the women affected in respect of whom Deputies Gregory and Costello argued strongly on Committee Stage.

I warmly applaud the Minister on these two amendments which reflect two I had tabled earlier, which I regard as key elements in endeavouring to wipe the slate clean for such traders. We are talking essentially about women who were granted licences from the relevant Department, now the Department of Enterprise and Employment, but who were not designated pitches on which to trade by the local authority. While they had licences, they did not have the wherewithal to trade and the relevant local authority did not deign to give them pitches on which to trade. They were then convicted for trading illegally, were constantly harassed, intimidated and, ultimately, imprisoned.

We must wipe the slate clean in regard to the convictions that had accumulated under the 1980 legislation and which disbarred people from applying subsequently because of them. People will no longer be convicted under the 1980 legislation. Effectively this will be a new regime under new legislation and the five years referred to in the previous legislation will be reduced to three years for future offences.

This is an important development which I welcome and I am sure it will be welcomed also by the women who have been trading in the streets of Dublin for generations. They were penalised and criminalised by the 1980 legislation and have remained in that position for the past 15 years. Those women will now be able to start afresh as a result of this Bill.

I am not normally given to hyperbole and today will be no exception. I will explain to the Minister how this legislation legislates for social injustice. I acknowledge that the Minister met a group of women who had been criminalised by the 1980 Act in the past week and I believe these changes are partly in response to that and to arguments that other Deputies and I made in relation to their particular difficulties.

I welcome what is, effectively, an amnesty but I am not satisfied with the Minister's amendments. I am not happy with the three year period for the same reason that I was unhappy with the five year period in the previous legislation. If a person is convicted of illegal casual trading, a penalty will be imposed, they may be fined or imprisoned. The effect of this section will be to impose an additional penalty on those people; it doubly penalises them. That goes beyond natural justice and more importantly, the offences they would have been convicted of are trivial in many cases — selling bananas from a pram. Yet this provision legislates for denial of that livelihood or, as Deputy O'Rourke described earlier, denied their attempts at maintaining subsistence. The effect of this section will be to deny them their livelihoods for a period of three years.

The Minister mentioned that he reduced the fines to £50 but that is only for the first offence. For a third offence, the fines are increased — as they were in the previous Bill — to £1,000. The Minister failed to mention that. This Bill will not be effective against the large scale operators referred to by Deputy O'Rourke but it will adversely affect the women trading in Henry Street and North Earl Street who live in disadvantaged communities near the commercial centre of Dublin and try to make a few honest shillings to supplement their incomes. They are the people who will bear the brunt of this Bill and that is why it legislates for social injustice. There is not any attempt in the Bill to provide some degree of protection for people in those special circumstances.

The motivation behind the Bill is to protect the interests of large businesses. Even when the matter is referred to the local authority, everyone knows that the powerful business interests in Dublin will have far greater influence on the local authority than the small number of women who are only doing what their families before them traditionally did. They are the people who will suffer as a result of the Bill. If the Minister dismisses my argument as hyperbole, I will be quite happy to come back into this House two years from now — if the Minister and I are still here — and debate the effects of the Bill and the people who are suffering as a result. I am certain it will not be the large operators to whom Deputy O'Rourke referred; it will be those very disadvantaged people living in the centre of Dublin.

Will the Minister tell us who will be responsible for vetting and outlawing the type of roadside trading to which I referred, which is widespread?

Deputy Gregory does not accept that this Bill has empirical application. It is not a Bill for Moore Street or for the north Dublin inner city; it applies across the country. There are myriad complaints about the impact of illegal trading in other parts of the country, although we spent a great deal of time on Committee Stage, and again this morning, dealing with the situation peculiar to the north inner city of Dublin. Some of the offences may indeed be trivial but others are not. In terms of the changes I made and the fines that may be imposed on summary conviction, contrary to some of the arguments on Committee Stage, I requested that investigations be carried out into the fines applied by the courts in recent years. A total of 90 per cent of the fines imposed by the Dublin District Court since August 1990 for offences under the 1980 Act were less than £50.

The segment of traders trading illegally in Moore Street do not have pitches. They do not have licences either because many of them have convictions. It is wrong for Deputy Gregory to argue that those traders will be penalised as a result of this Bill. It is open to him to argue that they are being penalised under the existing legislation but this Bill will improve their position. I am quite sure that the large business interests will be very unhappy with those improvements. I regret, therefore, that I cannot go any further than I have gone in this regard. In answer to Deputy O'Rourke's question, it is the local authority concerned.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 5 has already been discussed with amendment No. 4.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 6, lines 43 and 44, to delete "or the Act of 1980 (other than an offence under section 6 of that Act)".

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 6 has already been discussed with amendment No. 4.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 6, line 45, to delete "5" and substitute "3".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, to delete lines 12 to 16.

This amendment refers to the direction to the local authority that upon the grant of a casual trading licence the local authority concerned shall notify the Minister for Social Welfare in writing of the name and address of the person to whom the licence was granted. I oppose this on principle because it is unnecessary and, more important, it is discriminatory. I know of no other legislation that contains such a provision. Landlords make millions of pounds from this State in rent subsidies and the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners have great difficulty in obtaining information about that, yet we include this special provision in legislation which will impact on people who are among the poorest in this State. It implies that such people are guilty of something when they are simply doing what the State should have done by giving them an adequate income. They are on social welfare and, according to the report of the Commission on Social Welfare many are living on inadequate incomes. They are merely attempting to supplement their incomes and to single them out as targets for this type of innovation is discriminatory, unjust and unnecessary.

I also have difficulty with this section and tabled an amendment on Committee Stage to try to do something about it. What is involved is compulsory notification and, to my knowledge, no such provision exists in any other legislation. If we are to be even-handed about this it should be a matter for the Department of Finance and the provision should be included in all legislation I am concerned that it is in legislation which will impact on poor people that we tried to include a provision providing for compulsory notification in relation to tax clearance certificates — which, thankfully, has been deleted — and compulsory notification of the Department of Social Welfare. The implication is that this category of people would avoid paying taxes and would break the law on social welfare. We should have one law for all the citizens. If the Minister intends to persist with this he should consult the Minister for Finance and request that the principle be established across the board.

It must be borne in mind that my colleagues are talking about a category of casual traders who, for one reason or another, have been operating illegally. Social welfare consolidation Bills since the formation of the State have not allowed for people doing casual work of any kind. People who engage in casual work are not paid social welfare for that working period. That applies to casual traders, casual fishermen, people doing casual work on building sites, etc. all of whom are said to be supplementing low incomes. I agree that social welfare incomes need to be supplemented and would like to see higher social welfare payments.

Our job is to legislate for people who keep the law; we cannot condone breaking the law whatever category people belong to and whatever their income. It is not true that employers are not obliged to pass on information about social welfare. All employers are obliged by law to indicate to the Department of Social Welfare who they employ, how much money they earn and what has been deducted from their pay. That has to be done under pain of heavy penalties. Only recently I dealt with a social welfare case relating to a man who was working in a bookie's shop marking up a result board while in receipt of social welfare. He was reported by one of the punters and fined £10,000. The law must protect people who are in receipt of social welfare and those who are paying for social welfare. Otherwise the people who work legally and pay their taxes would have to pay the people who work illegally and operate outside the law.

I understand the concerns of my two colleagues, but the people I speak of operate illegally on the main streets of my town, pay nothing to the State, take everything from it and also draw social welfare. Everybody, rich and poor, must pay their fair share in accordance with the law.

The requirement in subsection (12) to provide information to the Minister for Social Welfare regarding licences issued under the Act is a specific requirement contained in the Government decision approving the general scheme of the Bill. I do not, therefore, propose to accept this amendment.

In this connection the Department already provides to the Department of Social Welfare information on all casual trading licences issued on a regular basis. This is a statutory requirement arising from section 31 of the Social Welfare Act, 1988 which provides for the exchange of information between the Minister for Social Welfare and the Revenue Commissioners and with any other Government Minister. Section 5, as amended in Select Committee, in any event requires that a person's licence number be displayed at the place where he or she is trading.

There is nothing new about this. It is wrong to imply that this is the result of this Bill. It is like the charges I was subjected to that it will be the end of Moore Street, of the "Molly Malones", of the "Echo" boys, of strawberries at Wexford, of the Puck Fair of Killorglin, of the Connemara Pony Show, of religious objects being sold at Knock, and all of the other things. Deputy Gregory could have the people concerned being asked to produce tax clearance certificates, which happens elsewhere. I did, indeed, discuss it with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, who initiated the Bill and this section of it. The alternative is to produce tax clearance certificates. Deputy Gregory has convinced me it is not practical to require the category of people we are talking about to produce tax clearance certificates. I accept that.

It would be practical in the case of big traders.

Yes but I am dealing with the Casual Trading Bill. The point made about landlords is not accurate. I am proud that the Minister for Finance introduced a mechanism in the Finance Act which, I hope, will be more successful in tracking down landlords to whom reference was made. I thank Members for their contributions. This will not be the end of civilisation as we know it.

Acting Chairman

As it is now 12.30 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with the Order of the Dáil: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed. Is that agreed?

Question put.

As only one teller has been appointed for the Níl side, I declare the question carried in accordance with Standing Orders.