As members of the Seanad will be aware, when this Bill was circulated to the members of the Dáil a fairly full White Paper, by way of memorandum, was circulated at the same time. In that memorandum the provisions of this Bill were explained in some detail. I think, therefore, that with that memorandum before the members of the Seanad, as well as a record of the discussion that there was in the Dáil on the Bill, it will not be necessary for me at this stage to enter into any very long exposition of the terms of the Bill.
The memorandum that was circulated also indicated the circumstances why it is necessary that this Bill be now enacted. Senators are aware that it was considered desirable, as far as possible, to provide that more permanent legislation would be introduced to cover those matters which were formerly dealt with under the Supplies and Services Act which has been reenacted every year for some years past. That Act was, of course, as its very title indicated, a temporary Act. It is better and more desirable, however, that the work involved under it should be enacted in another form, and for that reason this Exchange Control Bill, together with other Bills of a similar nature, are being brought before the Oireachtas.
The Exchange Control Bill now before the House is modelled on the Order that was made first of all under the Emergency Powers Acts, and then under the Supplies and Services Act. In so far as the framework of this Bill is concerned, it has been drafted on the basis that it is desirable to take less power than there was under the previous Order, if that were possible. The Bill, therefore, does not include any power that was not in the previous Order made under the old Act. In fact, certain powers that were in that Order have now been dropped. There was, under the Act, and there is still at present until this Bill is enacted and until the old Order is revoked, power to acquire gold coin, bullion and securities. That power has been abandoned, and is not included in this Bill. The other changes which are being made are minor changes and are introduced for the purpose of facilitating administration. They certainly do not include any new restrictions.
Senators will have noticed that this Bill expires in 1958. It is so expressed because the Government feel it is desirable to show on the face of the Bill that it is not a measure which we hope will be permanently necessary. No one can tell at this stage whether it will be possible to end exchange control before that date or not, but the House may rest assured that, at the earliest possible opportunity, it will be the desire of the Government to end that control. I must, however, make it clear that the present indications are that such an event as the ending of control on both capital as well as on current account, and the free convertibility of sterling, are not likely to occur for some years.
The Bill, as Senators will have noticed, is framed as an enabling Bill so that detailed administration can be carried out by Order. The necessity for that arises because we hope to ease controls bit by bit and it would, obviously, be impossible to come to the Oireachtas every time it was feasible to ease some little control. Therefore, it is better to arrange for the enabling provisions which are set out in this Bill in order to be able to carry out detailed administration by the Orders made under it. I think that what I have said covers the general scope of the Bill. Having regard to the memorandum that has been circulated, and the discussions which have taken place in the other House, it is not desirable for me I think at this stage to take up the time of the Seanad by going into any further detail as regards the provisions of the Bill. Of course, if any member of the House wishes to get an explanation of any provision in the Bill, I shall be happy to afford such explanation as it is in my power to give.