I move amendment No. 1:
In line 20, before "for" to insert "or places under military control or custody."
On the Second Reading I made the point, which the Minister apparently did not think was made seriously, that under section 2 of the Bill as it stands there is no qualification whatever placed on the type of alternative places which the Minister may provide for the detention of juvenile offenders. I made the point that it seemed to me that under the provisions of section 2 of the Bill as drafted it would be open to the Minister to order the transfer of juveniles to military custody. The Minister, as I say, did not seem to think that that point was a serious one.
I made it clear I accepted fully in advance that that was not the intention of the Minister, that that was not the intention of the Bill, but when we are legislating it is intended that the legislation which we enact will outstay the term in office of any particular Minister or any particular Government. While I accept fully that it is not the intention of the present Minister and that it is not the intention behind this Bill that the present Minister for Justice or any Minister for Justice should have power to transfer juvenile offenders to places under military control or custody I make the point which I consider is a valid one that if the Bill remains as drafted that power is inherent in the section. It was only this morning that we got the official report of the Seanad debate. I had only an opportunity of a quick read of the Minister's reply to the discussion. So far as I can recollect the Minister by way of interjection suggested that if a transfer was made to a place under military custody that would be a prison and that the framing of section 2 provides for the transfer to places other than prisons. I do not think that is an answer at all. Detention under military custody does not necessarily mean detention in prison. It is not necessary to labour that point. I think it is self-evident.
In replying to the Second Reading discussion the Minister went on to make the point that under this Bill it is being provided that the Minister for Justice will have the authority to make regulations governing the management and general rule of places to which juveniles might be transferred under section 2. That is so. The Minister is quite right in that. As I see it, that does not of itself preclude the Minister from transferring to military custody. It may be that he would have to get agreement from his colleague, the Minister for Defence, to do that but it is open for him to do it. That is what I want to provide against by this amendment. As I see it, the situation is a simple one. Either the Minister intends—and I am sure he does not intend—that there should be power under this Bill to transfer juvenile prisoners anywhere including to military custody, or the intention is not there. If the intention is not there, why leave the section drafted in such a way that something could be done which is clearly against the intention of the Minister and of the Government in framing the legislation?
If the Minister accepts my amendment it will put the matter beyond doubt. If the Minister has no intention that this Bill should at any time in the future be used for the purpose of transferring juvenile offenders to military custody then the acceptance by him of this amendment will not weaken the Bill or weaken the section in any way. It can only weaken the Bill or the section if it is the intention of the Minister or of the Government to utilise this Bill at some stage for the purpose of transferring juvenile offenders to military custody. I accept that is not the intention and because I accept that it is not the intention I would find it difficult to understand why the Minister would not accept this amendment.