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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 Jun 1980

Vol. 94 No. 6

Packaged Goods (Quantity Control) Bill, 1980: Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 2 stand apart of the Bill."

The interpretation of the word "container" includes a bag, bottle, box, case, carton, envelope, net, sack or wrapper and also an inner container. Is the Minister satisfied that this would cover the use of aerosol containers which can sometimes be used on their own without any outer packing or outer container?

Would the word "container" and its interpretation as outlined cover the use of an aerosol container which would not have an outer packing or an outer container?

I would say yes.

According to the section the word "packer" means, in relation to a package, the person who in the course of carrying on a business placed or caused to be placed in the container included in the package the goods so included and I should like to know if the Minister is satisfied that this interpretation would exempt a worker or employee on a factory premises.

Yes. I am completely satisfied. As a result of a discussion we had in the Dáil we went to extreme lengths to bring in an amendment to ensure that the worker on the floor, or the packer, would not be involved if there was any negligence found or criminal proceedings. Our concern was to ensure that the worker, or the packer on the floor, would not be the person who could be prosecuted in any circumstances. That is why we introduced an amendment on those lines.

From the wording it is not too clear that the worker or employee will be excluded from any responsibility or obligation. The section states that "the person who in the course of carrying on a business placed or caused to be placed in the container included in the package the goods so included". What was the original wording?

The original wording meant placing in the package.

Were the words "carrying on a business" added?

We wanted to indicate that the person carrying on the business, the proprietor of the package industry, was the one responsible.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 3 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 10 stand part of the Bill."

In regard to the points raised by Senators Keating, Brugha and others in relation to the dual marking of packages with metric and imperial quantities, I should like to inform the House that it will be in the regulations to be made under the Bill that the system to be used will be prescribed. I promised to look into that and am prepared to give full consideration to the matter between now and when the regulations are made and to contact interested parties to see if, notwithstanding the reservations I expressed earlier, the points can be met. I appreciate the co-operation of Senator Keating in facilitating the taking of Committee Stage today.

This section raises a query in regard to packing which I have seen displayed in shops in a language other than English or Irish. There are a lot of imported articles from France, for instance. One item—without identifying it—is totally and solely in French. Is the Minister satisfied that this Bill gets over that sort of problem which can confront the consumer?

The Bill is tied up with EEC directives to which I have alluded several times. If Senators read them they will see how the points raised are covered and what the definitions are under the directive. As Senators probably are aware when the "e-mark" comes in it will give a right to sell goods throughout Europe.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 11 to 18, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 19 stand part of the Bill."

As regards the size and amount of the fines in the case of offences, £1,000 and in the case of a second and subsequent offence a fine not exceeding £10,000, these would appear to be large, and I wonder on what the Minister has based the size of the fine and what association there might be between the amount in this Bill and the amount of the fines in, for instance, the Act dealing with consumer information?

As regards size, the maximum penalty of £10,000 on conviction and indictment, which really applies in a case of a second or subsequent offence, is the same as the maximum penalty provided in the Consumer Information Act, 1978.

The same amount?

The £1,000?

The inspectors will act mostly in an advisory capacity, but if they meet a firm or a packer who is not anxious to co-operate and who will not co-operate then the crunch will come.

The penalties have to be stiff all the way because by the time that would happen we would have given them a very fair hearing and given them every chance to rectify the situation.

It says in the case of a first offence, if the inspectors call into a premises and see that the Act is not being complied with that is an offence. In that instance it appears to me that the inspectors have little option.

The Senator should not get mixed up between an offence and a prosecution.

What is intended there is that the inspector will give due notice of an infringement rather than prosecute.

The inspectors will mostly be acting in an advisory capacity. They will point out the faults or defects and if there is no co-operation they will prosecute.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 20 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.