I know it is unusual to speak on the Fifth Stage of any Bill, but I do so because of the importance of the Bill. We are enacting what is a major change in our criminal law. It is very many years since we had a change as widespread as this change in the law. I suggest to the Minister, because of the inherent difficulty with which she was faced in relation to the drafting of the Bill, which makes it a difficult Bill even for lawyers to understand, lawyers in Ireland who in essence have not had an effective trade description code for the last half century, that she should consider publishing a guide to this Bill. I know that there are problems for the executive in presenting what the executive understands any Bill, or Act as it then would be, to mean, but that should not make the Minister hesitate. Everyone in Ireland is a consumer and everyone will be affected by the change in this law. Traders are consumers as well as the final purchasers, and they also will be affected. It is exceedingly difficult to understand the Bill. It would be a very worth-while job for the Minister to employ somebody with skills of the kind that lawyers do not normally have, to make things lucid, to produce a document which would give information to the consumer about what the Consumer Information Bill contains.
I had determined to make this speech earlier today, and I went into my office and I happened to put my hand on a document on my desk entitled, Wildlife and the Law, a guide to the Wildlife Act, 1976, and I found that what I was proposing as something new has already in fact been done in relation to a much less important code than this one. I know this is not quite the Minister's job, but the Minister can talk to other Ministers. In relation to this and other what I call, legal legislation of this kind, whenever, a new code comes in or a fundamental change is made consideration ought to be given at Government level to subsidising some young scholar to produce the Act with a commentary, elucidating it for practitioners. There is not one lawyer in 100 at the moment who knows a thing about trade descriptions law, and these are the people who will have to advise their clients with regard to it. They cannot be expected to understand it by reference to the UK code, which is different in a number of respects. They will need the guidance of study and study will not take place. There is youth unemployment, and it would be a very useful employment of young skills, to get these young people to produce by subsidisation a work of this kind, which, incidentally, would not merely be of use to consumers. If people intend making investments here, they will want to know the law on all sorts of things. There should be some easy way whereby one could tell them what the trade description code here is. They will not be as interested in the wildlife law as they will be in the trade descriptions code. They are assisted at the moment by a guide produced by the IDA on the tax relief for export profits. There should be a similarly lucid document available for them, so that they can obtain fast answers; they do not want to be held up for weeks while somebody down at the law library decides that this means something or other. I strongly urge the Minister to take up my first suggestion, which would be within her competency, and to encourage the promotion of a study on the full meaning of this.
Here we have a new code. On the whole I welcome it. I am unhappy about some aspects of it, such as this business about the history and contents of books. I am unhappy about how that will work or about what is in mind. I am a little unhappy about the invasion of privacy aspect of it, in relation to certain people, the endangering of confidentality, if people enforcing it get information which it really is important to keep secret. On the whole it is a good measure worth enforcing. There is no point in having a Bill unless it is enforced. There must be some scheme or structure for implementation.
What will happen when the President signs this Bill? There will be a director of consumer information and we will have the local authority enforcement officers. Will additional people be taken on? Will there be a method for training them? Is there a booklet of instructions for them ready or when will it be ready? The Bill comes into effect immediately. How quickly will it be enforced? I am pressing, now that we are getting a Bill, that it should not simply be a dead letter. The Merchandise Marks Act which existed before has been a dead letter. The existing code has been a dead letter for 50 years. I could find only one case on it reported, in the 50 or 60 years since this State was founded. We must see that this new code which is bringing up to date an important area of our laws is real, and that there will be an efficient, intelligent, wise and just system of administering it by the executive. There are problems and we want to feel that they are not going to be fooled about what these problems are. You have the sort of problem a doctor has in telling his patient what is wrong with him. He may have to tell the patient the opposite of what is wrong with him. He must not be in any danger of being prosecuted under some section of the Consumer Information Bill even though it does technically apply to such situations. One would like to be sure that the administrators are alert and made sensitive to all the nuances and problems involved in this.