The Control of Exports (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1956, which was enacted for a period of three years and has been renewed at the end of each three-year period, will expire on 31st March, 1974.
The purpose of this Bill is to continue the 1956 Act in force until 31st December, 1977.
The Act empowers the Minister for Industry and Commerce to prohibit by order the export of industrial goods save under a licence issued by him. Such orders have a life of 12 months only and may be annulled by resolution of either House of the Oireachtas at any time during this period. Control is at present in force on a range of goods under the Control of Exports (No. 2) Order, 1973, and the Control of Exports (Southern Rhodesia) Order, 1973. Copies of these orders have been distributed to the House so that Senators may be aware of the controls which are currently in force.
On Ireland's accession to the European Communities it became necessary to harmonise our legislation relating to export controls with that of the Community subject to the concessions relating to specific commodities which had been negotiated for Ireland in the Treaty of Accession. In effect this resulted in a continuance of our existing export controls with a single exception—horns and hooves of animals—but a control on the export of pure copper waste and scrap was added in order to comply with the Community export control on this scrap.
I should explain that while Community law is based on the principle that exports to third countries should normally be free it does provide a framework for imposing export control on a specified range of materials whenever the needs of Community users so require. Such controls would be imposed because
(1) the materials were in short supply within the Community
(2) their unrestricted exportation would distort the price structure within member states to the detriment of Community users.
As a member state of the EEC, Ireland is of course obliged to comply with the requirements of Community law as it affects trade in ferrous and non-ferrous waste and scrap to Third Countries. Since the supplies of iron and steel scrap and of waste and scrap of aluminium, lead, zinc and copper alloy arising in this country are essential to the needs of Irish users, it is in our interest to comply with Community controls on the shipment of these scrap metals to third countries. As regards trade in them to the Community market, we are entitled to maintain our controls on scrap of nonferrous metals until 1st July, 1975, and on iron and steel scrap until 31st December, 1977.
For the following reasons therefore I consider it necessary to have continuing powers to maintain the existing export controls and to enact the appropriate legislation for the purpose :—
(a) to conserve supplies of scarce raw materials—for example, scrap metals—for the benefit of home industry particularly in view of the exorbitant cost of replacing these materials from sources outside Ireland;
(b) to ensure that strategic materials are not exported from this country to undesirable destinations, or that this country is not used as a base for such trade from elsewhere;
(c) to comply with the mandatory resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council requiring member states to prevent the exportation of goods to Southern Rhodesia;
(d) to have immediately available a means of dealing with any emergency which might denude the country of essential materials before corrective legislation could be enacted and to impose such new export controls as may be required in the interest of Irish and Community users up to 31st December, 1977.
The Treaty of Accession provides that, in the event of difficulties arising in a new member state, which are serious and liable to persist in any sector or which could bring about serious deterioration in the economic situation in a given area, the state affected may apply to the Commission for authorisation to take protective measures in the form of export restrictions in order to rectify the situation. This safeguard clause, effective until 31st December, 1977, ensures that during the transitional period the necessary legislative measures can be taken to resolve difficulties.
For the reasons mentioned, I commend this Bill to the favourable consideration of Seanad Éireann.