Harbours Bill, 1986: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am very pleased at having the opportunity of initiating this Bill in the Seanad and I look forward to a thoughtful and well considered debate on the issues embraced by the Bill. This is about the fourth or fifth Bill that I myself have actually initiated in the Seanad and, considering the fact that I have not initiated many Bills anywhere, that, I suppose, is a reflection of the esteem that I have for the Upper House and the result as far as the Bills are concerned has been a very mature, thoughtful and well considered debate. It may be purely coincidental with your presence in the Chair, a Leas-Chathaoirligh but I notice that many of the Bills also have to deal with Shannonside or generally that area of the country.

The principal purpose of the Bill is to provide for the setting up of a unified harbour authority, to be known as the Shannon Ports Authority, which will take over, manage and operate the existing harbours at Limerick and Kilrush together with publicly-owned piers at Tarbert, Saleen, Kilteery and Clarecastle in the Shannon Estuary. The proposed new authority will exercise jurisdiction over all the waters of the Shannon Estuary from Sarsfield Bridge in Limerick to a line drawn from Kerry Head to Loop Head excluding Foynes Harbour. The Bill provides enabling powers for the future amalgamation of Foynes with the new authority.

The Bill also proposes to provide powers to enable the Minister for Communications to dissolve, reconstitute or amalgamate any of the harbour authorities specified in the First Schedule to the Harbours Act, 1946.

The principal provisions of the Bill are to be found in the following sections:

—section 3, which provides for the establishment of the proposed Shannon Ports Authority and defines its jurisdiction;

—sections 4 to 7 which set out the membership of the authority and frequency of authority meetings and provide for the establishment of a board of management to carry out, with certain exceptions, the functions and duties of the authority;

—sections 8 to 10 which provide for the transfer of staff from the present authorities to the new authority; preservation of their terms and conditions of service and pension rights;

—section 13, which enables the future amalgamation of Foynes Harbour Trustees with the new authority; and

—section 15, which enables the Minister to reorganise the various harbour authorities scheduled to the Harbours Act, 1946.

The concept of a single authority for the Shannon Estuary is one which has been the subject of debate for many years. It may be of assistance to Senators if I outline briefly the background to the present Bill.

The question of amalgamating the various harbour authorities in the Shannon Estuary has been raised periodically from 1958 onwards and in 1977 a Bill designed to establish the authority was introduced but lapsed on the dissolution of the Dáil that year. Since then successive Ministers have entered into consultation with the various interests concerned with a view to trying to reach agreement on the composition and establishment of a Shannon Ports Authority. Development over the last few years have confirmed the enormous potential of the Shannon Estuary for heavy industry. These include the ESB coal burning power station at Moneypoint; the Alumina project at Aughinish and the oil jetty at Shannon Airport. These developments have given a great impetus to the establishment of a Shannon Ports Authority.

Since assuming Ministerial responsibility in this area, the Minister for Communications has had many detailed discussions with the various interests concerned in the region and, with some notable exceptions, a broad consensus has emerged among interested parties in favour of a single ports authority which, it is generally believed, would lead to a more economical development of port facilities and facilitate the further development of the already recognised advantages of the Shannon Estuary. These advantages include its geographic location, its width and its natural sheltered deep water which can at present cater for vessels of up to 200,000 tonnes deadweight and, with dredging, could cater for vessels of up to 400,000 tonnes deadweight.

This, then, is the background to the present Bill. It is essentially a Bill to enable us, the legislators, to meet the wishes of local interests in the estuary region in regard to the management of what is probably their most valuable natural amenity and, as such, I am sure it will be welcomed by the House.

The main advantages that can be expected to flow from the establishment of a unified ports authority for the Shannon Estuary are that it will bring about a more cohesive approach to the future planning, development and promotion of the estuary. It will also help to eliminate the possibility of undesirable dissension between different harbour authorities in the estuary, particularly in relation to questions of jurisdiction and entitlement to harbour dues. Unnecessary and costly duplication of facilities and services can be more easily avoided, leading to a better overall deployment of financial resources. I also believe that the existence of a unified ports authority will have a crucial role in helping to attract further industrial development to the estuary.

I have already indicated that the view that a unified ports authority for the region is the best solution is not unanimous. Foynes has been historically opposed to inclusion in the proposed Shannon Ports Authority and they are supported by Limerick County Council and by the Foynes and District Community Council. They are anxious to maintain their independence and believe that their present set-up with a "small competent board" is the best arrangement for their purposes.

In approving the establishment of the Shannon Ports Authority in August, 1985 the Government had decided that Foynes should be included in its scope from the outset. However, following intensive consultation with local interests the Minister came to the conclusion that, however desirable the inclusion of Foynes at this stage, their forced inclusion could prove counter-productive and the Government subsequently decided to establish the authority excluding Foynes at this point in time but making provision in the legislation for their inclusion at a later date. The Minister recently performed the official opening of the east jetty expansion in Foynes and was most impressed with the drive and determination of the Foynes Harbour Trustees to see their port thrive and expand. However, he still remains convinced that it is in the best interest of the Shannon region as a whole that Foynes should be part of the Shannon Ports Authority. I hope that the Foynes Harbour Trustees will soon come to see the new authority not as a threat but as an opportunity and that they will take steps to join the authority in the very near future.

In the course of the Minister's consultation with various local interests about the Bill, it is safe to say that no issue has aroused more comment and I might add, controversy, than the question of the size and membership of the proposed authority. Many people have advanced cogent reasons as to why one area should have greater representation than another and so on. It must be accepted ultimately however, that a successful ports authority for the entire Shannon Estuary can only be built on compromise and in today's competitive environment must act commercially. There is no end to the possible number of permutations of representation and size of the proposed authority. Ideally the Minister would wish to have an authority of 10 members or less which seems to be the maximum size for the most efficient conduct of its affairs. However, it must be borne in mind that Limerick Harbour Commissioners alone, as at present constituted, is a 27 member body with wide representation, including local authority interests.

The legitimate desire for representation of a wide variety of interests along the estuary makes it all the more difficult to contain the size of the new authority. Bearing in mind these factors, the Minister has decided that the proposed authority should have 21 members and that the composition should be on the basis of eight local authority members, divided equally between the counties of Clare, Kerry and Limerick as well as Limerick Corporation, two chamber of commerce members, two members from the Confederation of Irish Industry, two elected shipping representatives, two representatives of labour interests and five Ministerial nominees. This is provided for in section 4. It is the area that aroused more comments than any of the other provisions of the Bill.

I am also taking the opportunity of the establishment of the Shannon Ports Authority to make provision to change from the traditional structure under harbours legislation of a single harbour authority comprising, as in the case of Limerick Harbour Commissioners as at present constituted, 27 members, appointed mainly to present sectoral interests, which has full responsibility for the management and operation of the particular port or harbour. This structure originally emanated from a recommendation in the report of the Ports and Harbours Tribunal, 1930, which considered that the management of a port was primarily a matter for the local bodies and that the citizens of the locality should be responsible for its operation, subject always to the supervision of the State in the public interest.

It is the Minister's view that present day commercial considerations and the competitive requirements of a modern port require a less unwieldy and more dynamic structure than that enshrined in existing harbours legislation which has now operated for 40 years. He has decided, accordingly, that, while responsibility for overall policy and future planning and development of the Shannon Estuary will rest with the proposed new Shannon Ports Authority, responsibility for the day to day administration of the estuary will be delegated by the authority to a smaller board of management. Section 5 of the Bill provides for the establishment of a board of management comprising the chairman and vice chairman of the authority, three members of the authority, the chief executive and another officer of the authority.

The Minister believes that the proposed two-tier structure will be more in keeping with the modern-day requirements of a major harbour and that the new arrangements will have the effect of facilitating efficient operation and administration. They should enable the Ports Authority to divorce itself from the execution of settled policy in most areas, thus allowing it more time to concentrate on policy formulation and overall direction and control of the Shannon Estuary. The Minister believes that the smaller board of management will be able to deal more effectively with the various pressures and problems which will undoubtedly arise in the early years of the new authority and that it will be less subject to potential conflict of interests which can so easily arise in a large representative body such as the proposed Ports Authority.

In formulating these proposals for the establishment of the Shannon Ports Authority, one of the Minister's main concerns has been to ensure that the interests of staff being transferred will be fully and totally protected. Section 8 of the Bill provides for the transfer of staff from the existing Limerick Harbour Commissioners and any staff in the service of Kerry County Council and Kilrush Urban District Council at any pier or harbour to be covered by the proposed authority to the new authority on terms or conditions not less favourable than those which they at present enjoy. Sections 9 and 10 provide for the interim continuation of existing superannuation schemes and the introduction of new schemes.

The Minister would now like to deal with those provisions in the Bill which will enable the Minister by order to dissolve, reconstitute or amalgamate a number or any of the harbour authorities specified in the first column of the First Schedule to the Harbours Act, 1946, as amended. Section 15 of the Bill deals with this.

In the Green Paper on Transport Policy, published in November, 1985 reference was made to the need for the rationalisation of the organisation of ports. It was stated that rationalisation of the structure of harbour authorities to prevent unnecessary competition for scarce Exchequer resources is desirable and that the overall concern must be to ensure that there are sufficient and adequate portal facilities nationally and for each of the regions. The Green Paper went on to state that local loyalties, however, sometimes cloud commercial judgment and rivalry between neighbouring ports sometimes acts as the main spur to unnecessary and costly portal development.

In recent years many comments and criticisms have been made with regard to the structure and membership of the scheduled harbours. The Dublin Docks Review Group, for example, in its report of October, 1984 stated that the structure of the Dublin Port and Docks Board was no longer attuned to the competitive requirements of a modern port and that a new Dublin Port Authority should replace the existing board. The Green Paper also pointed out that some ports are clearly dominated by user interests, which, particularly in the case of increases in rates, have an inhibiting effect on the harbour authorities. The Minister is convinced that large representative authorities are not the most efficient way of managing ports and harbours. He indicated in the Green Paper that he proposed to introduce amendments to harbours legislation which would provide for the disbandment of existing boards or authorities and their replacement by smaller boards some of whose members would be appointed by the Minister, that the Government had decided that legislation should be prepared for the reconstitution of the Dublin Port and Docks Board and that the management structure for the new Dublin Port Authority, as well as for Cork, Waterford and the new Shannon Ports Authority would be a two-tier structure, modelled on the lines of the division of responsibilities in local authorities between executive and reserved functions. Accordingly, the opportunity presented by the current Harbours Bill is being availed of to provide the necessary enabling statutory provisions in relation to these matters.

In the case of Dublin, the Minister has already indicated publicly that he envisages early reconstitution of the Dublin Port and Docks Board. This is in line with a previous Government decision in the context of the financial restructuring of the Dublin Ports and Docks Board.

One final point in relation to the restructuring of harbour authorities should be mentioned. The Government have already decided in the context of devolution to local authorities that harbours, which now cater for little or no commercial traffic, would be handed over to local authorities. It is intended that this decision be catered for in the present Bill and section 15 makes enabling provision accordingly.

The remainder of the Bill before the House is concerned with tidying up minor matters and standard provisions which are in the main self-explanatory. In particular, section 16 of the Bill implements standard provisions in relation to the remuneration of officers and servants of harbour authorities in accordance with Government policy. Section 17 deletes the Limerick Harbour Commissioners and Kilrush Urban District Council as harbour authorities and inserts the Shannon Ports Authority in the First Schedule of Harbours in the 1946 Act. Section 18 rectifies a technical drafting defect in the Harbours Act, 1976, which established the Bantry Bay Harbour Commissioners. Section 19 provides for the repeal of the Clare Castle Pier Act, 1933 on the establishment of the Shannon Ports Authority. Section 20 provides that every regulation made under the proposed legislation will be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and will be subject to annulment and section 21 contains the short title and collective citation.

The Bill, as I have stated, is primarily designed to give statutory effect to the wishes of local interests in the Shannon Estuary region to establish a unified harbour authority for the geographical unit of the estuary and to enable the structure of harbour authorities generally to be made more appropriate to the needs of the closing years of this century. I have confidence that, as such, it will command the full support of the House and I have no doubt also that, now that the local interests in the Shannon region are about to achieve their long-sought objective, they will unite in their efforts to ensure that the new authority becomes the dynamic force it is expected to be in meeting the needs for a developed portal infrastructure in an expanding local economy.

The proposals before the House are the result of 20 years consultations and discussions. The measure is a major disappointment and will not assist in the development of the estuary. Therefore, we can only give the Bill a guarded welcome. There is one section which I am extremely concerned with and I will deal with that later.

The explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill points out the main purposes of the measure are to provide for the establishment of a harbour authority to take over, manage and operate the harbours at Limerick and Kilrush as well as certain other small harbours and public piers within the Shannon Estuary with provision for the future amalgamation with the Authority of Foynes Harbour Trustees; and to enable the Minister to effect a reorganisation of other harbours scheduled in the Harbours Act, 1946, in accordance with Government policy.

I have always given encouragement to any effort by any Minister of any Government to develop and make progress on behalf of the people of that region and the nation as a whole. This I would do having regard to the fact that we have about 240,000 people unemployed and any effort to provide additional employment is to be welcomed. I have studied the Bill, as published by the Minister, to see if there is anything in it to help in this regard and, as yet, I have not found anything definite or concrete that would give the many young people in Counties Limerick, Kerry or Clare the least hope of employment in their own environment.

The Minister wants the establishment of a single harbour authority to operate the ports of Limerick and Kilrush. I will deal, first of all, with Kilrush and give a Limerick man's view on the operations there as I see them, and I stress that and I am open to correction from anybody who would have a greater knowledge of the operations there than I have.

Kilrush is a small port which can handle only smaller vessels up to a maximum of 700 or 800 tonnes because of the difficulty of access. In the past, it has played an important role in County Clare and its future role is something which I am sure we are all concerned about and is open for discussion.

I would welcome any development which would provide additional employment, additional business or anything which would improve the standard of living for the people in the western part of County Clare. I will help them in any way I can by speaking for them and giving them my support and help as a public representative for the Clare area. It is not necessary to have legislation enacted in either the Dáil or Seanad for the purpose of providing a management structure for the development of Kilrush. The people who have been already nominated to look after the pier at Kilrush are well able to do so with what is involved and are more familiar than any outsider who would be brought in. I would like to know what the present operations at Kilrush Harbour are and I would like to know the tonnage and frequency of vessels so that Members of this House would be aware of its role in the present day trading in the Estuary of the Shannon River and what, if anything, Kilrush can expect from an estuarial authority on which County Clare would only have two representatives. I am not certain that there was need to introduce legislation for the purposes of doing anything to provide management for the Limerick Harbour. Indeed, anyone who is familiar with the situation in Limerick will readily know that the general impression of management structures in the Limerick Harbour is that they are top heavy.

I have spoken to individual members of the Limerick Harbour Board and what I learned from them would indicate that the management team there are doing the job as best they can. Nevertheless, the numbers employed to do what has to be done in Limerick Port must be adding additional cost to the running of the port and, therefore, may be making it less competitive than it would be if it were to succeed on its own merits. I should like to hear from the Minister or somebody who supports the Department's view of the situation in Limerick Port. For instance, I should like to know the number of ships that came up the estuary into Limerick Harbour, the tonnage of these ships, the volume of shipping and the actual revenue turned over during the operation of the port and docks at Limerick, and, more importantly, the House is entitled to know the actual cost of running Limerick port itself and the income from ships docking there. These figures should be circulated as a matter of urgency by the Minister's Department to Members of both Houses.

The development of the Shannon Estuary as a major port must be welcomed. It has been the subject of much discussion over the years. The proposals before us are a result of 20 years consultation and discussion and are a major disappointment to all in the region. The people on both sides of the Estuary in Counties Kerry, Limerick and Clare are fully aware of what has to be done to make the port successful. Much criticism has been levelled at the agencies of Government, in particular the IDA and SFADCo on the question of greater efforts by them to promote the development of the estuary but, in fairness, it is not altogether their fault. There are already facilities at Moneypoint in County Clare where large ships up to 200,000 tonnes can unload coal for the ESB and there are berthing facilities at Tarbert Island where the ESB also import large quantities of oil for the oil generating station there.

It is ridiculous, to say the least, that the docking charges to shipping lines for the use of these facilities both at Moneypoint and Tarbert Island go to the Limerick Harbour Commissioners 40 to 50 miles up river who have not spent one penny of their own in providing for the building of any of the facilities which I have just mentioned. Perhaps the Minister would explain why this is so. Why, for instance, could not the moneys being generated as a result of the docking facility at Tarbert Island be used by Kerry Council for the purposes of providing roads, communications and improvements in this area? I am sure the same applies to Moneypoint in County Clare as well as to the Shannon Airport.

The legislation does not provide for major industrial developments in the region and will not create any new jobs or investment in the Shannon Estuary. There are specific problems resulting from the construction of the major generating station at Moneypoint in the Clare region of the estuary has damaged roads. The project interfered with the running of farms and created local environmental problems. All the dues and fees from that development, are at present being paid to the Limerick Harbour Commission, which sustained most of the inconvenience and destruction of community life but there are repercussions in Clare. The Clare County Council have to maintain the roads and uphold the environment structure and they could do with the moneys. The same would apply to Kerry as regards the fees for docking at Tarbert terminal. I have no doubt that the members of Clare County Council would have little or no difficulty in determining for themselves how best the moneys could be spent in the improvement of the facilities of County Clare rather than the present situation, which allows no money whatsoever for the development of County Clare, County Kerry or County Limerick.

A similar situation exists at Aughinish Island in County Limerick, 12 or 15 miles from Limerick, where Aughinish Alumina have ships bringing up raw materials and are processing them in the smeltering plant of Aughinish Island. Even though Limerick Harbour spent none of their money — if they had it to spend — on the development of this facility, nevertheless they have taken the moneys there for the berthing or the docking of ships at this harbour. This is wrong. Limerick County Council, the taxpayers and the ratepayers of the county have been involved in the colossal expenditure in this area by way of road construction, by way of supply of colossal water supplies on a 24 hour basis to the island and many other improvements such as bypasses. I saw the water supply being constructed and it definitely interfered with many farms and was a source of hardship during the course of construction. I know the farmers were adequately compensated; nevertheless the Limerick County Council should be rewarded with any berthing fees in that area.

Only recently I was present at the opening of a £2.5 million bypass which Limerick County Council had to provide to facilitate the extra traffic on the stretch of road in Askeaton because of the development at Aughinish Island. The water supply, which I mentioned, has cost something in the region of £6 million, but not one penny being generated as a result of the provision of these facilities is coming to the local authority to relieve the burdens of the taxpayer. Instead the money which is generated by these facilities, provided by State expenses from the Exchequer, is going straight up the river again. This is totally unfair, unjustified and should not continue in the future.

I am satisfied that there are sufficient bodies, costing a lot of money to the taxpayers and working at State expense, in operation who can promote development of the estuary of the Shannon River. I am talking about the IDA, the Shannon Free Airport Development Company, Kerry County Council, Clare County Council and Limerick County Council. These bodies have all the expertise available to them to examine the many plans, reports and studies already done on the estuary; they would have little or no difficulty in sitting down with officials from the Department of Finance and working out the best development necessary for the area generally.

I do not see that the Minister has any hope of succeeding in making the progress we would all desire in the development of the estuary as we would want it developed under the new type of board which he seeks. Surely the Minister has enough sense at this stage to recognise that there are too many vested interests represented on the type of board he is talking about. Is the Minister serious when he presents to us in his Explanatory Memorandum, a note to the effect that there are no Exchequer costs of staffing implications for the Departments of State, State bodies or local authorities as a result of this Bill. It appears to me that we are creating just another level of bureacracy which cannot succeed because it has not been given the necessary finances to do whatever has to be done.

With regard to section 13, which deals with the dissolution of Foynes Harbour Trustees we want the Minister, here or on Committee Stage, to make a firm statement to the effect that Foynes Harbour Trustees cannot be forced by the Minister into the estuarial authority unless they themselves agree. I was in Foynes recently when the Minister visited the Harbour — the Minister of State mentioned it in his address here today — to open the extension at the pier. I heard him say during the course of his speech that he could not force Foynes, against their will, into the estuarial authority. But who knows? The present Minister might be replaced in office in the event of another Cabinet reshuffle. Any personal commitment which he might have given in all good faith would certainly not have any binding effect on his successor in office. I want the Minister to seriously consider an amendment to this section 13, to the effect that the Foynes Harbour Trustees cannot be forced against their will into the authority.

In 1890 the Commissioners of Public Works made an order transferring the property in Foynes to the Foynes Harbour Trustees, who are established under the same order. In 1932 a further order was introduced and passed by the Oireachtas. This was the Pier and Harbour Provisional Order Confirmation (No. 2) Act, 1932. This empowered the trustees to construct new works at, and for the maintenance and regulation and improvement of, the harbour and for other purposes. It also defined the jurisdiction of the trustees. In 1946 legislation was passed to make further and better provisions in relation to the membership of the harbour authorities and to the management, control, operation and development of their harbours; to provide for the charging of rates by such harbour authorities and to make certain provisions in relation to pilotage authorities and to provide for other matters. The legislation in 1946 did not alter the jurisdiction of the Foynes Harbour Trustees as defined in the 1932 Order.

I would like to make the point that Foynes Harbour has developed more rapidly than any of the other two harbours. The progress at Foynes far exceeded the development of any other harbour in this county in the same period. They have carried out improvements in jetties, roadways, land, plant and machinery, buildings, other equipment and services, dredging, reports, surveys etc., which cost a total of £6,250,000. After all that they only got in State aid and Government grants over 25 years, £570,000. They got less than 10 per cent of the cost in Government grants. That should let everyone know the work which has been done by the Foynes Harbour Trustees in developing that harbour to the fine port it is today.

In 1963 when the proposed Shannon Ports Authority was being discussed the annual tonnage throughput at the port in Foynes was 41,394 tonnes. It is anticipated that the tonnage for the current year, the year ending 31 March 1986, will be in excess of 800,000 tonnes. It should be noted that progress is being made at Foynes and the port is being developed to the benefit of the local community. The number of trading vessels using Foynes in 1963 was 32 and the net registered tonnage of such vessels was 22,850 tonnes. The number of trading vessels in the current trading year will be in the region of 300, which is an increase of 1,000 per cent, and the net registered tonnage of such vessels will be approximately 460,000 tonnes.

The numbers employed in the port, by ports users, ship agents and stevedores have increased substantially in the past 25 years. The number employed on a permanent basis in 1961 was approximately 25 people while the number now employed on a permanent basis is in excess of 320 people. It is also estimated that a further 100 permanent positions arise from spin-off services as a result of activities in the port. It is envisaged that if trade at the port continues to increase the number of jobs will increase accordingly. As a result of the development which has taken place and the employment which has resulted, the port of Foynes plays a major part in the welfare of this region. It plays a significant role in the agricultural industry as it now provides the required facilities for the importation of all types of animal feed, molasses and fertilisers. Substantial quantities of meat, sugar, cereals and ores are also exported through the port.

The port also has facilities for the importation of all types of oils and domestic and industrial coal. The port pays duties and it is estimated as a result of a recent survey that £1.5 million per annum is paid to the Revenue Commissioners in respect of PAYE and PRSI contributions on earnings in the port. There are plans to further develop the port at a cost of £2,720,000. It is imperative that there should be an amendment to section 13 to provide that Foynes Harbour Trustees will not be forced into this Shannon Harbour Authority without their consent. All port users such as Foynes Harbour Board, Foynes Shipping Agents, Foynes District and Community Council, ITGWU, Molloy and Sherry Transport Ltd. and Floyd International Transport are concerned that the port remain independent.

Section 4 concerns many of the people involved in this. The total number in the authority is 21. Is it balanced? The Limerick Harbour Commissioners hold the view that the previous proposal submitted by them suggesting a main board of 30 members is the best way forward. The importance of having adequate local authority representation on the Shannon Port Authority they say cannot be over emphasised. The four local authorities in the mid-west region together with Kerry County Council are closely involved in the planning and development of the estuary particularly in relation to major maritime industrial projects. Tipperary North Riding County Council should be represented having regard to its present association with Limerick harbour and the considerable volume of exports emanating from the county. Tipperary North Riding County Council have always actively helped in the development of the Shannon estuary and from the overall regional aspect should have representation as a right. They are included in the mid-west region for other purposes and it would not be out of line if they got representation on this Shannon Port Authority.

Section 4 provides that the Shannon Port Authority shall include two Chamber of Commerce members. The feeling in Limerick is that the Limerick Chamber of Commerce should have these members. The Limerick Chamber of Commerce are regional in composition with 300 members throughout the mid-west region. They have been closely associated with the Shannon estuary since 1815. Prior to the establishment of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners the Limerick Chamber of Commerce were responsible for all harbour operations. The Bill, therefore, should be amended to reflect the active and important role the Limerick Chamber of Commerce have played in the progressive development of the Shannon estuary over the years.

With regard to financing, harbour authorities are expected to operate as commercial undertakings. The Limerick Harbour Commissioners are seriously concerned at the proposed imposition of additional restrictive controls as set out in sections 6 and 16 which would further inhibit commercial operations. It was hoped that this Bill would lift the minor restrictive legislative controls and update the outmoded provisions in the existing legislation particularly in relation to financial matters, for example, the outdated provisions of section 120 of the Harbours Act 1946 which requires the consent of the Minister for Finance for borrowings of over £50,000 which is completely unrealistic in the light of changes in money values since 1946. This is something that the Minister should bear in mind.

We will be tabling amendments in relation to the representation on the board. Clare has only two representatives on the board which I think is unjust. They have only two members of the county council. Kilrush Harbour Commissioners and Town Commissioners should be entitled to some representation as they are responsible for the port in Cappa. I would like some clarification of this from the Minister in his reply. I give the Bill a guarded welcome; we will be tabling amendments on Committee Stage.

First, as a Member of this House and as Mayor of Limerick I would like to welcome this Bill, the principle purpose of which is to provide for the setting up of a single unified harbour authority to be known as the Shannon Port Authority to take over, manage and operate the harbours at Limerick and Kilrush and certain other smaller harbours and piers within the Shannon estuary with further provision for the future amalgamation with the authority of the Foynes Harbour Authority if they so decide.

I believe that the setting up of this broadly-based port authority offers the best way forward for the orderly development of the Shannon estuary. In the words of the Green Paper on Transport Policy published by the Minister for Communications in November 1985:

A single authority is necessary for the future exploitation of the Shannon Estuary and will lead to the more efficient use of resources.

I believe, therefore, that this new harbour authority will facilitate the future planning and development of the estuary and will be a considerable help to the local interests scattered throughout the mid-west region in promoting the estuary as a suitable location for further large scale industrial projects.

It is interesting to recall here today that following the report by Dr. Nathaniel Lichfield, the regional planning consultant, in which he advocated the establishment of a unified, broadly-based estuarial authority, negotiations commenced in 1966 — exactly 20 years ago — under the chairmanship of Dr. Brendan Regan, who at that time was chairman of the Shannon Free Airport Authority. Dr. O'Regan and his team put great expertise and effort into this concept. As a result of that the Mid-West Regional Development Organisation took over from Dr. O'Regan in 1969. I would like to pay a tribute to them also for the great work they have done in advancing and promoting this concept of a single ports authority for the area.

I would like to congratulate all associated in the past 20 years with this effort for the setting up of a single estuary authority to administer port affairs in the Shannon estuary. It is a matter of great regional and national importance. I would also like to congratulate the Minister for Communications and the Minister of State for having this Bill introduced in the Seanad.

While I welcome the Bill I also have some reservations regarding certain of its provisions, mainly section 4 which deals with membership of the proposed new authority, section 5 which deals with the board of management, section 6 which deals with the restriction of the frequency of meetings and section 15 which deals with the dissolution, reconstitution and amalgamation of harbour authorities. With regard to the membership of the new authority, the view of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners, the body who have a special standing in the region, is that a 30 member authority is the best way forward embracing all the interests in the area. The importance of adequate local authority representation on the proposed new body cannot be over-emphasised. I support the case that has been so ably put.

The four local authorities in the mid-west region, Limerick Corporation, Limerick County Council, Clare County Council, Tipperary North Riding County Council together with Kerry County Council are closely involved with the planning and development of the estuary particularly in relation to that important matter of the location of major maritime industrial projects. I would also strongly advocate that the organisation specified in section 17 of the Bill to appoint the chamber of commerce members should indeed be the Limerick Chamber of Commerce. Limerick Chamber of Commerce of which I was president in 1979 and 1980 is regional in composition. It has representatives from all over the mid-west region and from the Kerry area also. It is for that reason that I think the Limerick Chamber of Commerce should be the nominating body and not the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Ireland for which I have great regard and respect. A body such as the Limerick Chamber of Commerce which has been so closely associated with the promotion and development of the Shannon estuary since it was chartered, as far back as 1815, should be given due recognition in regard to their nominating right.

Prior to the establishment of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners the chamber of commerce were responsible for all harbour operations in that area. Therefore the Bill should be amended to reflect the important and active role of the Limerick Chamber of Commerce in the progressive development of the Shannon estuary over these past years.

In regard to section 7 the present relationship between the executives and the Commissioners of the Limerick Harbour Authority has worked very well over the years. If anyone were to suggest otherwise, that there was friction or anything like that it has not existed between the general manager and his staff and the commissioners. The Limerick Harbour Commissioners are noted for their decisiveness and united approach. I would argue then that the insertion of an intermediate board could diminish the overall effectiveness of a new authority. I ask the Minister to have that matter considered.

The development of the Shannon estuary is a matter of great national importance. For that reason the provision in section 6 of the Bill which purports to restrict the meetings of the authority to not more than six in the year except in exceptional circumstances is very restrictive. I suggest therefore that it should be deleted in the interest of the new authority because I have absolute confidence in their commonsense and commercial ability.

I question the wisdom of section 15 in regard to the dissolution, reconstitution and amalgamation of harbour authorities. Reserving that power to the Minister is too far reaching. Therefore the decisions concerning the reorganisation, dissolution or the reconstitution of harbour authorities is so important to the people of those areas that it should only take place after the circulation of a parliamentary Bill and full debate in both Houses of the Oireachtas. I know there are other Members of the House here who are anxious to get in on this matter. I do not intend to detain them any longer except to say that these matters can be more fully discussed and debated at Committee and Report Stages.

I welcome this Bill and congratulate all associated with its preparation.

I should like to join with Senators Kiely and Kennedy in welcoming this Bill in the Seanad as it means establishment of a Shannon Ports Authority which will take over, manage and operate the existing harbours at Limerick and Kilrush together with the publicly owned piers between Tarbert and Clarecastle in the Shannon estuary. I believe, as Senator Kennedy has stated, that it is the way in which you will control the Shannon estuary. I join with him in his tribute to Dr. O'Regan for his foresighted approach to Irish industry especially industry along the Shannon estuary and the way in which he has campaigned for many years to have one single Shannon ports authority established. I wish also to pay tribute to the Minister for taking this opportunity to bring this legislation before us. However, the Bill misses an opportunity to review the Harbours Acts of 1946 and 1976. Instead of one Harbours Act, 1986 we will have three Harbours Acts, one of which is nearly 40 years old. However, we are dealing with a particular legislation now, the Shannon Ports Authority.

I agree with Senator Kiely, in regard to the amount of revenue that has passed through these ports and the amount of help that it gives to industry and agriculture in the whole area, that the new ports authority would stimulate industry and agriculture. It would be a basis on which to attract industry to that region. The number of employees it will have could be immense and the whole area could be rejuvenated. I do agree that one cannot restrict an authority to having six meetings in a year. The authority should have as many meetings as it wants. Having the chairman and vice chairman and three members with the chief executive and an officer from the authority on the board of management working together is a very good and progressive way of dealing with the ports authority. It brings people on to the management and the board. First of all, there is the chief executive from one member of the authority and he is mixed with the chairman, vice chairman and the local members. That is an integration and a very simple way of operating any body. I hope that with the transfer of staff, whatever facilities they enjoy at present they will continue to enjoy under the new ports authority. That is implicit in the Bill and it is also implicit in the Minister's statement which says this proposal goes back to 1958. It could have gone through in 1977 except for the dissolution of the Dáil. It is good that it is here before the Seanad. It is non-contentious. I believe the reservations which Senator Kiely has are agreed. He has a right to put them forward, as Foynes have historically opposed the inclusion of the proposed Shannon Ports Authority. They are naturally supported by Limerick County Council. This should be investigated by the Minister to see if those views could be accommodated.

The method of controlling the Shannon estuary through the Shannon Port Authority should rejuvenate the whole area and bring life and increased employment and trade. For this I welcome the Bill. I hope that it succeeds in doing what it has set out to do and that the staff are properly accommodated. I would welcome this Bill and commend it to the House.

I would like to deal with sections 15 and 16 of the Bill. It would be best if I began by looking at section 15. This is the section which gives the Minister power to dissolve by order or to reconstitute by order or to amalgamate by order the existing harbour authorities. While it is true that any order made by the Minister under that section is subject to review by the Houses of the Oireachtas within 21 days, nonetheless, it does seem that this is a very sweeping power indeed and one that is undesirable. I am thinking of the situation whereby it is clear to all of us that there should be a reconstitution of the Dublin Port and Docks Board. It does not seem appropriate that that reconstitution should be capable of being carried out by the Minister by order. I wrote to the Minister some months ago asking if it would be possible to discuss with him his views on the reconstitution of the Dublin Port and Docks board. It obviously has not been possible for the Minister to accede to that request to date. I hope that we can have discussions on this in the days ahead.

There is no doubt but that the Dublin Ports and Docks board require reconstitution. A recommendation to do so is contained in the report of the Dublin Docks Review Group, chaired by the present Chairman of the Labour Court, Mr. Horgan, and published in 1984. They come to the conclusion that I and many other people — indeed the Minister — had come to, that the present body is unwieldy. It is too large. Some of the persons on the board are in a position where a conflict of interests is virtually inevitable. By and large it is not the proper form of board to manage and develop a commercial operation the size of Dublin port. The present membership of the board comprises of five persons nominated by Dublin Corporation, four nominated by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, four elected by port users, four appointed by the Minister for Communications, two representing livestock exporters, two representing trade union interests and two representing manufacturers. As the Dublin Docks Review Group said in their report, such a body is not suited to the task it is given. Instead, they recommended in that report that a new port authority, comprising of not more than eight members should be appointed by the Minister for Communications and that the new authority should be a commercial semi-State company.

It is not for me at this point to say whether a commercial semi-State company is the only option available in relation to making Dublin port a dynamic and viable entity in the long term. It is very clear to me and to everybody that the present arrangement is not suitable and is not acceptable. However, that is a long way from being in a position to say that the Minister should have the power to change the situation by order. Most Senators would be concerned about that power, not just in this legislation but in any legislation. It does seem to be an excessively broad or extensive power to give to the Minister.

In reading the Minister of State's introductory speech one can get the impression that the Minister for Communications may be considering a solution similar to the Shannon/Limerick estuary solution in terms of composition of the authority and that he may be thinking of a two tier system for Dublin also. I would question very much the idea of having a lot of user groups on the authority, either in relation to the Limerick estuary or Shannon or Dublin. Apart from that I notice that there is no provision of any substance in the proposal in relation to the Shannon estuary which may be the kind of formula which the Minister has in mind for Dublin for the work force. One of the things that I, and my party, too, am very committed to is ensuring that the work force is adequately represented in any new arrangement for the management of Dublin Port.

If the model which the Minister has in mind for Dublin were to be similar to the model he has proposed in relation to the Shannon estuary, then it is most unlikely that the work force would have any representation at all directly on the board of management, which will be the body charged with the administration of the port and which would be the more powerful of the two institutions proposed, in effect. That is not acceptable. It is also noteworthy that, in relation to the membership of the Shannon Ports Authority, that is, the larger body in the two tier structure, the body charged with long term policy development and planning — and again I am assuming that this model might be transferred to the Dublin Port situation — of the 21 members proposed for that authority, only two would be representatives of the work force, the same number as would be representative of the Chambers of Commerce or the same number which would be representative of the manufacturing community. I do not think that is acceptable. It is, of course, possible that representatives will emerge from the local authorities who would be representative of the labour interest generally. Direct representation of two out of 21 seems to be an insult, to put it at its best. As I said, when we come to the matter of the composition of the board of management which will effectively be the executive authority, it is most unlikely that there would be any representation at all on that body. Despite the fact that it is conceived of as being largely an executive board that is neither here nor there, because the work force are quite as well able to make a contribution to day to day administration and to the execution of policy as any other section of society. In many cases their contribution might well be better.

I feel most strongly that when we get to Committee Stage we will have to look very closely at section 15. I can see that it would be appropriate, perhaps, to give the power of making orders to the Minister of the day in relation to smaller matters or the reorganisation or amalgamation or dissolution of certain authorities involved with smaller ports or harbours around the country where there would not be a great deal of national significance but the power to reconstitute by order the Dublin Port board — the port of Dublin is a multi-million pound commercial operation and carries about 40 per cent of the total tonnage coming through our ports each year — is an excessive power and one that we must look at. It is a matter of debate whether it is best to opt for a commercial State company solution — and that I would expect would involve a one-third representation for the workforce on the board if the principles and spirit of the 1977 Worker Participation Act are applied — or whether we look at another form or organisation which might not be a commercial semi-State body but which would meet the criteria of a smaller board, a board which is competent, a board which does not include among its members persons representing, for example, livestock exporters who obviously could have a vested interest. The size is important. The Minister is moving towards that idea here, correctly in my view. Whether it is a commercial State body we opt for or some other institution comprising small numbers of relevant and competent people is something that would obviously be open to discussion. I do not think giving the Minister power to do this by order would make good legislation.

By way of a small point in passing but a relevant point in relation, certainly to the commercial port, it is a pity that the opportunity was not taken to repeal certain sections of the 1946 Act which put constraints in the case of the Dublin area on the Dublin Port and Docks Board in relation to its pricing policy. If we are going to conceive of the port authorities as being in the commercial world and out there doing the business, then we have got to give them greater control and flexibility over the pricing systems which they can apply, making them accountable, of course, in the long run if they fail to use the control effectively.

I want at this stage, the Minister not having had the opportunity to meet me on the matter over the last few months since I raised the matter, to say that I feel most strongly that section 15 will have to be looked at very carefully indeed on Committee Stage. From what has been said so far I think other Members of the Seanad share that feeling.

I would like to move on to section 16. I do not want to labour the point greatly because the matter has been discussed extensively during the passage through this House of the Transport (Re-organisation of CIE) Bill, 1986 and the same arguments apply here. Section 16 is the section which makes it incumbent upon a harbour authority in determining the remuneration or allowances for expenses to be paid to its officers or servants or the terms and conditions subject to which such officers or servants hold or are to hold their employment, to have regard to Government or nationally agreed guidelines which are for the time being extant or to Government policy concerning the remuneration and conditions of employment which are extant and in addition to the foregoing, to comply with any directives with regard to such remuneration, allowances, terms or conditions which the Minister may give from time to time to a harbour authority with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service. That provision, as I argued during the passage of the CIE Bill is a recipe for industrial chaos because what that provision does is that it takes from both the union side and the authority the ability to negotiate in the end of the day the pay and conditions of employment and service of the employees. As things now stand, it seems to me that a process which ends up at the Labour Court is an effective process by and large. It has been proven to be a useful process over many years. The injection of a section such as this into the existing industrial relations process will have a very detrimental effect.

The correct approach for Government — and we all understand that there is not a bottomless pit and that Government cannot keep putting sums of money into any of its subsidiary agencies — is to set a financial framework within which the subsidiary agencies, in this case harbour authorities, must work. Within that framework, dependent on their effectiveness commercially and their ability to exercise effective industrial relations processes, pay settlements will arise and will be dealt with. To inject extraneously certain directives or guidelines in relation to pay from outside is to dismantle in effect the industrial relations system which has by and large served well in the area of public sector bodies generally.

I would urge the Minister most strongly, between now and Committee Stage, to delete the provisions of section 16(2) on the grounds that I have given, and to allow to the harbour authorities the flexibility which one would normally expect in any commercial operation in terms of its ability to negotiate pay and conditions with its workforce. I understand that this provision does not arise from within the Department of Communications. It is a provision that is included in all new legislation relating to State agencies or public authorities generally. That policy, which was adopted some years ago by the Department of the Public Service, seems to me to be the Department of Public Service in effect trying to evade its own responsibilities by having an ability to impose blanket directives, and it is not acceptable. The provision has been taken out of the CIE Bill. All of us were pleased to see that happen. I have no doubt that if the Minister and the Government have time to consider the matter before Committee Stage the provision will be deleted from this Bill also.

The proposal to establish an estuary authority has been under consideration since 1964. All efforts before now to establish such an authority have run into difficulty mainly because there was never an agreement on the type of representation we would have on the said boards.

The Bill introduced by the present Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Peter Barry, when he was Minister for Transport and Power, fell with the last Coalition Government in 1977. I wish to express now that the present Bill will have the same fate because, as far as can be established, the present Bill is unsatisfactory and is clearly the subject of widespread criticism in County Clare and, indeed, other counties.

The main complaint in Clare is that only two nominees will be on the authority from that county. The fact that no representative will be on the board from Kilrush harbour commissioners, who are being dissolved, is the subject of widespread upset in the west. Mr. Jim Mitchell, Minister for Communications, who is not here, has me confused. I am convinced that for some reason I do understand — because generally he is a nice kind of a guy — he is certainly determined to make as many mistakes as he can before he leaves Government. The reason for my saying that is that we had the CIE Bill which had to be amended, watered down and changed. Having listened to Senator O'Mahony I believe we are going to have a repetition of the "Is, We's and Us" in this legislation.

The Minister said this morning that there were consultations with various local interests about the Bill. With due respect to the Minister here present, I would say that somebody should have talked to their own two Fine Gael TD's in Clare to know what was the Clare reaction to this legislation. All I can do is come in here and say sincerely what I feel about this legislation. In fairness, any Minister — and it would be a good exercise for the Minister Mr. Jim Mitchell, we are not supposed to make reference to persons in their absence — should get the map of the coastline that we are talking about. I have one here and I will give it to the Minister, Deputy Mitchell, willingly if he wants it because he obviously did not see one. He is talking about giving two representatives to Clare with a stretch there of water of the Shannon estuary and then he is going off and making five ministerial appointments. We know where they will go. He is making eight others — I do not know who they will be — and 13 only of local persons elected by the people.

We have had praise given to another body — and I will get to it in a few minutes — and it is a pity that that was not continued. In fairness, the Foynes body has been a success. I do not know why it should be changed to a quite different composition of 21 members.

Section 15 of the Bill gives far too much power to the Minister. I am sure he will take another look at it before we take Committee Stage or on Committee Stage. I agree with Senator Kennedy. The Shannon Estuary is not just a local facility like Kerry, Limerick and Clare. The Shannon Estuary is a national asset. I well remember the time of Dr. Lichfield, because my husband, Derry, was very involved at the time. He would be better able to deal with this Bill if he were here today than I am, because the Shannon was sacred to him. He understood it and knew it. He knew the authority that should have been set up on the Shannon. He was not small in his thinking about how many persons should be on that authority, but I could not, in his absence, agree to just two members. While I accept that Limerick, Kerry and North Tippperary are well able to look after themselves and, indeed, should have higher representation and higher numbers, I do not like the composition of the board proposed, 13 of whom will be composed of "these others". That is a phrase which worries me, a Chathaoirligh, and you are in the lovely position where you do not have to comment but I am sure it would worry you too.

We, on the Fianna Fáil side have been in favour in principle of a harbour authority. I cannot agree that the proposal is adequate or capable of meeting the development potential of the estuary.

The shortcomings of this legislation are that it does not represent Clare or the northern bank of the river. I have made reference to the map. It proposes a board within a board which could lead only to conflict and disagreement. There will be conflict and disagreement in a board within a board. There is little or no power in the Bill which would enable a major scheme of development to be undertaken. If such power is in the Bill maybe the Minister in his reply would tell me where it is. There is an option to Foynes to stay out of the authority, which is the major weakness, and which will drastically reduce the effectiveness of the authority to plan the overall strategy for the area.

Foynes Harbour is a credit to its trustees. They have opted to stay out of this. I hope they take note of section 13 of the Bill because they can be brought in by the Minister at a later stage. The Foynes Trustees, I understand, are of the opinion at present that they are safe and may not be taken into account after this legislation is passed. It should be noted that the Foynes authority is composed mainly of elected persons who have commonsense. Usually where there is commonsense there are good business results. The Foynes Authority is most successful on the river and has been left out at their own request. As I have said, the trustees are mainly composed of public representatives. It is regrettable that they have opted out but it would be better that the trustees of Foynes should be made aware that this Minister, granting unto himself the powers that he does in section 15, can do a lot of things when this legislation is passed.

This is a poor Bill. The Minister should take another look at many of the remarks that have been made and that will be made here today. The board of management with a composition of seven members, two staff, a chairman and vice-chairman and a maximum of only three public representatives is designed to ensure that the real control of the estuary will not be left to the representatives of the people of the region. This goes back to a remark made by Senator Kennedy early this morning. Maybe I took him up wrongly. In his contribution he asked that there be more discussion with the people before other decisions in the region are made. It would be wrong for Senators to say that there is conflict between Kerry, Limerick, Clare and the Limerick Harbour Board. It is only together that we can make the whole Shannon Estuary a success.

The Shannon Authority, as envisaged in the Bill, will be a policing authority and will regulate existing shipping traffic instead of being, as many of us had hoped, a developing authority whose main function would be to exploit the estuary for major projects in the future. When all the talk on this took place earlier on those living on the western coastline thought it was a developing authority. Maybe I am reading it wrongly. I do not think this Bill will give the power and the finance to the Authority for the future and for the major developments that are looked forward to by most of us.

Clare County Council have done quite a bit of research on this. They have stated that the Shannon Estuary is one of the finest national harbours in western Europe because of its deep water port facilities, availability of fresh water resources, availability of waste water disposal facilities, adequate road, rail and air communication systems. The Shannon Estuary Industrial Location studies prepared by An Foras Forbartha indicated ten sites suitable for major industrial development of which four are in Clare on the northern shore of the estuary, three are in County Limerick and three in County Kerry.

I am deeply worried about the representation. I am not saying that Clare should have so many, Limerick should have fewer and Kerry should have fewer still. What I am saying is that 13 out of the balance of 21 should give more representation to people elected who know what is going on, not these presidents of chambers of commerce in Dublin or the Isle of Man. All the mistakes have been made by past Governments and by this Government in giving the places on these boards to people who would not know one end of the Shannon from the other. I am not asking for more. I am quite happy about the representation for Kerry and Limerick providing Clare gets more than two.

It is daft for a Dublin Minister to come in here and talk about an Authority like this and then give us two representatives — big deal. I would like to know if it is true because it is fact in Limerick that the head office for this Authority have been located in Pery's Square, Limerick. What is wrong with putting the head office of this Authority in Shannon Airport? There is no point coming in here one day with a Bill about Shannon and giving us nice talk. The elected people in Kerry and Limerick would be quite happy if this office were in Shannon Airport. Is it true that there are offices already earmarked? Maybe the name is not outside the door on a gold plate but is it true that the location of the head office has already been decided?

The port authorities will not have the freedom to borrow in order to develop. Borrowing over £50,000 will have to get Government approval. If a body like this who have been approved by the Government have to go to the Government for anything over £50,000 to do anything, what, in the name of God, are we doing? You would spend £50,000 on a small yacht that the big shots have, never mind developing some of what we think should be done when this Authority is set up. It is leaving far too much power with the Minister.

I see the structure, in the financing of this body, as being cumbersome. You can only run into trouble. Would the Minister tell us how this Authority will be financed? Every Bill that comes into this House has to be cleared by so many Ministers after it has been passed that one is not too sure where it might end up. I am quite sure that the people who are interested in this and who eventually will be on the Authority, elected or otherwise, will want to know how it will be financed. It is from day one that you talk about finance.

The Minister in talking about the background to the Bill said:

It is essentially to enable us, the legislators, to meet the wishes of local interests in the estuary region in regard to the management of what is probably the most valuable natural amenity and, as such, I am sure it will be welcomed by the House.

Those lines in the Minister's address are fine but the local people are not happy with the Bill. I accept that this type of legislation for the Shannon is needed. I beg the Minister to let us take our time with it. I have no worries at all that it will be one party against another in this House. I am absolutely happy that once the right thing is done for the Shannon Estuary in this Bill that it will be a better Bill going out of here to the Dáil. It is not right now. That is not what the people on the west coastline want. The Shannon Estuary is not just ours. It is for the benefit of the nation as a whole. I ask the Minister to redraft the Bill. I hope that when it goes into the Dáil after leaving here that it will be a far different Bill from what is before us now.

There is a general welcome for the concept of a united harbour authority on the Shannon. I welcome the Bill in general terms. Basically it is a good measure that can be made better by improvements to it as we go along. I was a member of a deputation from County Clare, the Clare County Council and the Kilrush Urban Council, who had discussions with the Minister yesterday. It emerged from those discussions that the Minister was willing to consider suggestions as to how the Bill could be improved, how certain fears could be met and how certain additional safeguards could be included. That is a welcome development and it is in that spirit that I intend to address my remarks this evening. While, in the course of my contribution, I may be critical of certain people and certain agencies, I will be so because of the obligation I have to ventilate the fears and concerns that are held by individuals and public bodies in relation to the implications of this measure.

I congratulate the Minister on having brought this Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas after a lapse of 23 years since a unified harbour authority for the Shannon Estuary was first talked about. The Minister said this morning that he seemed to be coming here constantly with legislation relating to the mid-west. He was in here yesterday with another very welcome measure in relation to preinspection. As I see it this Bill is a welcome measure which can be much improved by the contributions that are made in this House and the other House and particularly by the willingness, as expressed yesterday by the Minister, to consider objectively the views that are being put forward.

The Minister this morning spoke of the developments in the past few years that have confirmed the enormous potential of the Shannon Estuary for heavy industry. He referred to the ESB coal burning station at Moneypoint, the Alumina project at Aughinish and the oil jetty at Shannon Airport. I, and I am sure many others, have for many years looked upon the estuary with its depth of water, its size and its shelter as being the greatest natural resource that the mid-west — if I might as a Clare man say this — and County Clare has available to it. Therefore, there is a coming together of minds as to how this great natural resource that we have in the mid-west can be developed to the advantage of the people of the region and of the nation.

Clare County Council through their estuarial sub-committee, have certain reservations that I will be dealing with at length but, as is clear from the second paragraph of their report, they are in agreement with the concept of a unified authority to develop the estuary. We have to concentrate on ensuring that the vehicle that emerges from this Bill is the vehicle best equipped to carry out the development that that estuary has the potential and capability of providing. The concern expressed in County Clare is largely aimed at ensuring that the type of personnel who will be at the helm in promoting this project will be people with the capacity and the enterprise that is needed to get the best possible results. There is great fear that we may not get that type of personnel at the helm.

The Minister and others may feel that a lot of these fears are parochial. There may be a certain amount of parochialism but that is on the other bank of the river and not on the northern bank. The concerns that prevail in my county do not deserve to be classified as parochial fears. They are aimed at ensuring that the best possible management team are available as there is a possibility that we may not get the best management team. To ensure that, the question of the balance of representation comes into it. My argument will be based on the rights and potential of the north bank versus the south bank, although they are complementary to one another. The northern bank of the Shannon has a potential that is equal to that of the southern bank, if not greater, and therefore in representation and the development of the estuary they must be balanced equally. If the balance of representation proposed in the Bill remains unaltered there will be a serious imbalance and this will be against the northern bank.

The northern bank extends for a total of 93 miles and it is under the jurisdiction of one local authority while the bank on the other side of the river is at least 20 miles shorter and is shared equally by two local authorities. Nonetheless, the local authorities on the southern bank with 20 miles less of coastline are being given a total of six out of eight representatives. The river bank which is 20 miles longer is being given 25 per cent of the representation at local authority level. The balance has to be restored in the Bill by the insertion of one or two amendments.

I want to express certain criticisms of the Limerick Harbour Authority. I have no personal axe to grind with the people who compose that body. I enjoy a very good relationship with some of those people but I have an obligation to raise these criticisms that have been expressed to me and publicly around my county so that they can be ventilated, dealt with and proved either to be justified or unjustified. If they are not justified they can be eliminated from the balance we have to strike at the end of the day. Either way I intend to leave many questions to be answered because that is the best way to clear the air. At the end of the day a clear course will ensure the successful development of the estuary.

What are the criticisms being made in my county and, indeed, also in Foynes? I have with me a submission made by the Foynes Harbour Trustees and other interested parties to the Minister in January of this year. There is a fear that the Shannon Estuarial Authority may well in the worst set of circumstances represent nothing more than a new title for the Limerick Harbour Authority, that it could consolidate the control that the Limerick Harbour Authorities have tried to exercise over the Shannon estuary in recent years and that by virtue of sections 8, 11 and 12 it is the same management personnel that will assume control, direction and development of the estuary under the new harbour authority. I hope the Minister will clarify that point in his reply. One of the principal fears prevailing in County Clare and along the northern bank of the river is that a management that would not appear to have distinguished themselves as far as development is concerned in the past 20 years in Limerick docks, will now have the responsibility of ensuring development of the entire Shannon estuary with the exception for some time of the Foynes harbour area.

There are two other factors which are not helping to eliminate the fears I have referred to. The first is the opting out of the Foynes Harbour Trustees. There can be little doubt that the Foynes Harbour Trustees have been a most progressive and successful agency in relation to the development of that port. The opting out of Foynes from the new estuarial authority plus the exclusion of the Shannon Development Company from having an effective role in the future development of the estuary is a cause of concern. These two agencies have a track record second to none in their respective fields where development, promotion and the effective utilisation of resources are concerned. The fact that neither of these excellent agencies are to have an input into the development of the estuary is a matter that needs to be reconsidered. An attempt should be made to establish whether an input can be arranged for both these successful development agencies so that they would have a role to play in the development of the estuary.

The non-participation of the Foynes Harbour Trustees and the exclusion of SFADCo and the fact that the management personnel of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners could in certain circumstances be the promoters of the new estuarial authority is causing considerable concern in my county. As Senator Honan mentioned, there are certain indications of a jumping of the gun going on at present by the Limerick Harbour Commissioners. She identified one example of that as the premature opening of the headquarters of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners with all the implications that this is to be the headquarters of the new estuarial authority.

I wish, in amplifying that point of view, to refer to a meeting of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners as reported in the Limerick Post of Saturday, 14 June, 1986 and to quotations from members of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners as they appeared in this report. One harbour commissioner criticised the intention of the Minister to reduce in the provisions of the Bill the number of the Limerick Harbour Commission from 29 to 21. There is no doubt whatsoever in that man's mind that the new estuarial Authority is the existing Limerick Harbour Authority under a new name. Another member expressed the view that he was totally opposed to the Bill and failed to see how it had anything to recommend it to the harbour commissioners. Another member spoke of the harbour commissioners having worked very well up to now with the current structure and that it was hard to see what was wrong with that arrangement but apparently it has not worked so well in other areas. The same member concluded by saying that the Bill inhibits the whole idea of harbour boards operating as commercial concerns. Therefore, in that man's view, this Bill will inhibit the Limerick Harbour Commissioners at the Shannon Estuarial Authority from operating as a commercial enterprise. When statements like that appear in the public press giving the clear example that members of the Limerick Harbour Authority are satisfied that all that is involved here is a change of name for them with additional new controls over a waterway over which certain controls they have exercised have often been disputed, the level of fear which people have already is expanded.

I wish to apologise for appearing to be anti-Limerick Harbour Commissioners. I am not. I am simply putting forward the reservations that so many people hold, as I feel it is my duty to do, in the expectation that these can be resolved and the fears lying behind them can be allayed. If the management of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners were to be the new management of the estuarial authority it must be said that they have not shown much interest in developments in relation to the northern bank. I will be quoting some examples later of how they have shown that they have a capacity to frustrate and smother certain interests on the northern side who want to participate in the commercial activities on the River Shannon. I consider it crucial that steps be taken to ensure that there is a balance in the representation of the northern bank on the new estuarial authority. At its worst, the northern bank — which is effectively County Clare — could end up with just two of the 21 members of the new estuarial authority. That is a possibility. If that happens the problems I have spoken about will not fade away. They will grow and that will be to the detriment of the entire development.

There are many examples — I do not intend to go into all of them but I will use one or two — of this capacity, as it is perceived on the northern side, to frustrate certain interests from participating in activities on the Shannon. I read that one of the factors which gave rise to this legislation was the setting up of a tribunal of inquiry into the position in ports and harbours by the then Government in 1926. There is one significant column in the report which was issued three years later. Page 199 dealt with pilotage on the River Shannon. As far as that tribunal was concerned, they clearly stated that the limits of pilotage for the Limerick Harbour Authority were not defined. They recommended that these limits should be defined and that the jurisdiction of the Limerick Harbour Authority should be clearly established. That has not happened.

I referred to certain frustrations that private enterprise in the northern bank has encountered from the Limerick harbour Authority. They have experienced a dog in the manager type attitude. CW Shipping at Fountain Cross, Ennis, County Clare, are an Irish company. They recently purchased tugs for use on the Shannon in anticipation of the movement of coal from the Moneypoint station. They employed fully qualified staff. In fact, their vessel captain has the highest qualifications of any similar officer operating in the Shannon estuary. They applied to the Limerick Harbour Authority for permission to operate on the River Shannon. They were led on a merry-go-round which brought them nowhere. The Limerick Harbour Authority claim to have the authority to issue an exclusive licence for tuggage or towage on the Shannon estuary. That is given to a company called Shannon Marine. When one tries to establish what Shannon Marine is, one is led into a maze of associate companies — Marine Transport Services in Cork, Clyde Shipping, Irish Marine Holding. It is almost impossible to discern which company is which, with overlapping shareholding interests and so on.

The Limerick Harbour Authority claim total jurisdiction over the Shannon Estuary despite the recommendations of the tribunal of inquiry which was established in 1926. Its recommendation was that the jurisdiction of the Limerick Harbour Authority over the Shannon should be clarified. The harbour authority in Limerick did not respond positively to the application made by an Irish company on the northern bank to operate commercially in the Shannon Estuary. In fact there was indecent haste in providing, through one of these companies I have referred to, similar towing facilities on the Shannon, the aim of which would appear to be to eliminate the enterprise which was appearing on the northern bank.

The concern in County Clare, therefore, is quite understandable. There is also the saga in relation to harbour dues in respect of coal landings at Moneypoint. I ask the Minister to let me know, when he is replying to the debate how much has been collected, where these dues are now, under whose control they are and how much, if any, has been expended. Clare County Council are the legal harbour authority for Kildysart harbour on the Shannon. They have operated since 1952 in that capacity. Clarecastle harbour trustees, as reconstituted by the High Court two years ago, are a harbour authority also on the northern bank. They are now determined to exercise their rights in the area of pilotage and towage on the Shannon. We may be facing a situation where the justification of rival claims will be tested somewhere near Loop Head.

I want to know what are the precise limits. They are not defined in relation to the Limerick Harbour Authority. How can harbour dues, in relation to harbours on the northern bank, be claimed by the Limerick Harbour Authority? I appear to be quite hard on the Limerick Harbour Authority. That is not my intention. My intention is to bring out into the open arguments which are being made, for the purpose of clarifying where everybody stands in relation to rival claims. It is only when we have such clarification and know precisely the limitations of the various agencies involved at present on the Shannon, that we will be in a position to argue and to debate the issue in a clear and open fashion.

The refusal of Foynes to participate has caused considerable concern in Clare. For the last 25 years we have witnessed remarkable growth and development in Foynes harbour. There has been a major investment in harbour facilities there with £6.5 million being spent. It is planned to spend an equivalent sum in further development over the next few years. Foynes will claim, as they do in this report, that during that period they experienced a steady decline in activity in the docks. This has been complicated by restrictive practices among the work-force, the cost of redundancies and the fact that now only one-seventh of the workforce who were employed at Limerick docks 25 years ago are employed there today. Of the 50 or so workers employed by the Limerick Harbour Commissioners, 50 per cent are in a management or supervisory capacity. The docks are witnessing a declining trade in cargo. The tonnage capacity of the docks in Limerick was 495,000 tonnes during 1985, roughly half the total tonnage at Foynes. I am sure Limerick Harbour Commissioners will refute that figure. They will possibly advance a figure of about 3 million tonnes. That, of course, is related to landings at Tarbert, Moneypoint, Aughinish and the oil jetty at Shannon.

I do not wish to do down Limerick. There could be an excellent future for Limerick docks if it is understood that the Limerick Harbour Commissioners will not have total control over developments on the estuary. The future of Limerick docks, the northern bank and, I am sure, the southern bank, which hopefully will include Foynes in time to come, can be assured provided that there is equal and balanced co-operation from all interests involved in the development of the estuary. I am sure that, at the end of the day, Limerick docks may well experience very substantial growth, but that growth can only come in tandem with growth along both banks of the river. It cannot and must not be achieved at the expense of growth on the northern bank.

Concern was expressed by other Members in relation to the two-tier management system. That is a new concept. I am told that this has been successful in continental ports. We have a lot to learn from our continental neighbours. Perhaps there are advantages in that system. For it to win general acceptance it must have balance within it. The estuarial committee of Clare County Council are totally opposed to the concept of a board of management. My viewpoint may not be on all fours with their's.

The board of management will be comprised of seven persons. These will be two officers, one the chief executive of the Authority and the other nominated by the chairman of the Authority following consultation with the chief executive officer of the Authority. Therefore, we have two officers and five members. Senator Honan said that not more than three of these would be members of local authorities. I admire her faith. It might not even be as good as that. I say that, because the board of management will be elected from an overall authority in which local authority members will be a minority of eight out of 21. Therefore, it is conceivable that no elected member of a local authority would find their way on to the board of management of the estuarial Authority.

The Minister should consider amending this if it is his intention to proceed with that proposition. The proposal could read: "The Chairman of the Authority, the vice-chairman of the Authority, the chief executive officer of the Authority and three members who shall be elected by the Authority at least one of whom shall be from each county." Other members may feel that it could be strengthened further by the addition of the words "at least one of whom shall be a member of a local authority from each county".

I want to put the Minister on guard, as it were, so that he can anticipate some of the points that I will be making on Committee Stage. It is in the interest of the northern and southern banks to achieve a balance. As far as local authority members are concerned this could be done by having four from either side or by having an equal number from either side.

As regards non-elected members, where will the two chamber of commerce members come from? What influences will be used to ensure their election? That provision could be tightened in order to ensure balance. The words "one from the northern bank and one from the southern bank" could be added. In relation to the two manufacturing members and also the two elected members, who I understand represent shipping interests, again the same principle applies. We have a mechanism in the Bill which would ensure a balance in representation and, through that, confidence and encouragement for the proposed Authority.

I would also like to have clarification of what is proposed in section 7 because it relates to what I have just referred to; concerned shipping members and the manner in which these will be elected so as to constitute a balanced representation from both sides of the river.

I have referred to the fears that exist concerning certain sections of the Bill particularly sections 8, 11 and 12. It is feared that the Limerick Harbour Authority will attempt to use these sections to transform the control they presently exercise over the estuary into a permanent arrangement. I might have been very critical of certain agencies and people but I have criticised them with the best of intentions. It is necessary to clarify the matter so that interested agencies and parties can continue the debate in an atmosphere which is as free as possible from misunderstanding and ambiguity.

The concept behind what we are seeking to achieve deserves support. We can make the necessary improvements and the changes within the Bill which will be required to ensure the co-operation of all concerned in bringing about in the Shannon Estuary a development of commercial activities which will benefit not alone the mid-western area but the entire country. Above all, we must be guided by a determination to ensure that the means, personnel and systems that are used to achieve the development of the Shannon Estuary are the best available and they are free of all constraints, parochial or otherwise, so that at the end of the day we will have an estuarial authority which will provide the employment, benefits and the many other good things that can come from such a development.

When I heard of this Bill it aroused my interest given that for ten years I served as a member of the Dublin Port Authority and had the honour and distinction of serving as its vice-chairman and subsequently as its chairman, throughout a difficult time for Dublin Port. I was intrigued to see what would be produced by way of a Harbours Bill, 1986. When I read the Bill it occurred to me that there was a major preoccupation with the proposed reorganisation of the harbour authorities in the Shannon Estuary. It may be highly desirable to weld into one single authority harbour authorities and bodies that service maritime requirements from the Shannon Estuary right up to Limerick. When one reads the Bill carefully, one finds that many of the provisions which were technically designed to deal with Shannon could be applied with remarkable ease to all ports in the Republic.

Sections 15 and 16 are relevant to all port authorities. Section 15 is the most far-reaching. It virtually allows for legislation by the stroke of a pen rather than by due process. The Minister can, for example, by order dissolve, reconstitute or amalgamate any one or more of the authorities listed in the First Schedule of the Harbours Act, 1946, and in that order he may, if he so desires, specify the name of the new Authority. He can specify the membership and constitution of that Authority. Here the experience I had as a port authority member comes into high relief because I was a lone voice in proclaiming to all and sundry that the Dublin Port and Docks Board was the last vestigial reminder of Victorian England with representatives from almost every conceivable interest managing the board.

We all know about the committee that sat down to devise a horse and because it was a committee surfaced with a camel. Section 4 of this Bill provides:

The Shannon Ports Authority shall consist of the following members:

(i) eight local authority members appointed as to two each by the local authorities mentioned in the second column of the said Part I opposite the mention in the first column of the said Shannon Ports Authority;

That is language which is designed by parliamentary draftsmen to obscure one's normal view. It also provides for two Chamber of Commerce members, two manufacturer members, two labour members — I suppose I could hardly argue about the addition of that element into the composition — two elected members and five nominated members. I recall telling everybody on the Port and Docks Board that to expect that kind of brew to effectively oversee and administer a port like Dublin, Cork or the Shannon estuary simply boggled the imagination, particularly bearing in mind that they merely attend port authority meetings at best for a couple of hours once a fortnight. I suggested at that time that perhaps the Minister would be well advised to at least envisage a type of a board that could effectively guide, help, assist and direct the executive authority. Curiously enough the only catalyst which moved anybody in that direction was the claim that Dublin Port was the exemplar for industrial unrest. The then Minister for Labour set up a group under the chairmanship of John Horgan, the chairman of the Labour Court, and he issued a report in which he stated that the Dublin Port and Docks Board as presently constituted was, to say the least, antiquated — I am taking some liberty with the language he used — and that a smaller more effective and much more dynamic board should be appointed. I had the distinction and honour of being the only board member at the time who offered his resignation in order to give full implementation to that recommendation. Apparently there was some difficulty at ministerial level. There appeared to be some discontent on the part of the Minister for Transport that the Minister for Labour should interfere in an area for which he was responsible and somewhere along the line the report prepared by John Horgan got buried and joined all of the other dusty tomes which decorate most of our Parliamentary buildings. Nevertheless, that report is still there. The argument for the composition of the type of board which should service the various ports through the country is still valid.

This Bill, for example, makes provision that the Minister has the authority, if he so wishes, to transfer the assets of the Authority and, indeed, the liabilities, to anybody he may specify. It also provides that he can make an overall blanket provision for any matter he considers necessary or desirable in the maintenance of the operation of the authorities. In fact, when I read the Bill, the only conclusion I could come to in respect of the only brake that appeared to be extant in respect of the exercise of the Minister's powers, is that an order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas before such an arrangement or such an order becomes effective, unless a vote to annul it is passed by either House within a specified period.

Again, and I may be wrong on this, this is a subjective judgment, such an order can only be either effective or annulled. It cannot be amended. I stand correction on that but I searched long and diligently through the various documentation to arrive at that conclusion. I hope I am right after all the work I put into it but if I am wrong, I will accept it. That is how I view it. There is a body of opinion among constitutional lawyers, or so I am advised, that that type of broad enabling legislation is extremely dangerous, for reasons that should be clearly obvious to the Members of the House.

If we take section 16 of the Bill, this is a section which affects all harbour authorities and, most particularly and, indeed, almost to the point of exclusivity, all of the employees of harbour authorities and makes provision for the alteration of the conditions of employment in so far as they will be inhibited from negotiating their contract of employment, their wages rates and their general conditions of services freely as they have been able to do up to now. For example they can run into extreme difficulty in negotiating allowances and the terms and the general run of the conditions of service under which they work.

This proposal is to be achieved within the parameters of this Bill by an amendment to the 1946 Harbours Act and the logical conclusion to section 16 is that harbour authorities will no longer have the power to negotiate freely with their employees and that it would be as well for the Department of the Public Service to conduct all the negotiations in this area, particularly the negotiations on remuneration, allowances and conditions of service.

Section 14, subsection (3), of the Transport (Re-organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986 had a virtually identical provision to the provision in section 16 of the Harbours Bill. Section 29 of the Transport Bill and section 2 of the British & Irish Steam Packet Company Limited (Acquisition), (Amendment) Bill, 1986 are also identical in this area. The passing of section 16 into the law itself represents a change in the conditions of service and the overall prospects of employees of the various authorities. Notwithstanding that six months ago the Minister issued a Green Paper on Transport Policy in which there was a chapter relating to ports and on which I commented at the annual convention of the Chartered Institute of Transport. Apparently in general terms this had a forward looking perspective and was accepted by those who read it as an indication that Government thinking was to encourage commercial reality in port affairs. The present Bill, in so far as I view it and in so far as I can understand it, enshrines regressive elements deeply reflective of current Government thinking. I am aware, for example, that the Association of the Irish Ports made a submission to the Department on the Green Paper and in that submission, I am advised — I am no longer a member of that body but I still have some friends who are members — the association welcomed the positive proposals contained in the Green Paper and, indeed, made further proposals which in their view would be of benefit to the commercial and trading life of the nation. As far as I am aware and as far as I can ascertain, there has been no reaction to these proposals. They would appear to have been ignored by the Department.

There are implications for all harbour authorities in those sections of the Bill which relate to the Shannon ports in so far as they can be applied beyond the Shannon ports by order of the Minister. For example, the Minister may, by regulation, determine reserve functions to the new board or the board of a new authority. The exercise of the powers, duties and functions which are not reserved will be performed, according to the Bill, by a board of management.

Other sections deal with transfers of staff, superannuation schemes and the continuation of legal proceedings, the maintenance and the devising of by-laws and various orders which go to make up the administrative ramifications of large and small ports. Of particular interest to me is the aspect of the Bill as it affects those ports which operate pilot facilities, for example, the continuation of pilotage authority functions through existing statutory pilot committees which are of longstanding and, perhaps, to most outsiders, appear as convoluted as The Irish Times crossword. Nevertheless, they exist on a substantially singularly, egalitarian basis in that the pilots themselves constitute 50 per cent of the dichotomy which determines the level of pilotage services. These all appear to have been ignored in the Bill.

It is proposed that the boards should be reorganised. In my view and with respect, this is a view set against the backlog of some 12 years' experience in the administration of ports, occasionally stopping them but only occasionally, this is bound to give rise to some problems in complying with the pilotage orders which have been made and which, it was expected, would continue to be made under the Pilotage Act, 1913.

Finally, I want to again re-emphasise what many people have described as a mental aberration on my part, that the constitution of these various port authorities, as set out in the Bill, is merely an extension and a continuation of the Victorian principle of paying obeisance to all of the various interests which allegedly use the ports. For example, again if I take the metropolitan area of Dublin, for no reason other than that it is the biggest port and serves one third of the total population of the State, we have representatives of the Chamber of Commerce on that board. They subscribed to the production of this document by John Horgan and actually recommend it as being their policy, the Chamber of Commerce policy, on which ultimately John Horgan produced his recommendation that as the board, as currently constituted, was antiquated, a vestigial reminder of imperial days it should be reconstituted on a much more efficient and businesslike arrangement. Yet on that Dublin Port and Docks Board the Chamber of Commerce nominees voted against this document. We have on the Port of Dublin representatives from the cattle trade. It has been so long since a cow walked up the gangway in Dublin port that the marine employees there would not know what it was if they saw one coming up. We still have two representatives of the Cattlemens' Association. One of them is the father-in-law of the Minister for Finance. We also have on that board representatives of the Confederation of Irish Industry who continually and consistently over the years have complained about the level of service being offered by the port and who encourage their members to send all of their containers — more than 60 per cent of the total movement of container traffic in the State — out through land to Stranraer. Apparently, they allege it was cheaper to meet the transport charges by sending containers or boxes by road to land and have them dispatched at Stranraer to serve the United Kingdom area.

This is the type of people with their dual loyalties whom it is suggested that the Minister should continue as the bodies to maintain these ports. There is an urgent need to dispense with the "Yes, Minister" mentality in the Department of Communications. Somebody had better dig up people with sufficient vitality to say that if we are about to tell people in the market place how to run their business, then we will have to have a go at it ourselves, if for nothing else but to demonstrate to those to whom we lecture that at least we can do it. If you talk turkey to a port authority and say you should run it on a business basis, with due regard to all the dynamics and the movements of modern business, trade and commerce, you do not penalise them by producing a Bill which has deeply embedded in it the Dickensian appreciation of how a port should be administered.

I will be very brief. This is something well beyond my normal area of interest. I have had an interest in the constitutional operation of harbour commissioners since my period as a member of the Cork Council of Trade Unions and particularly my period as President of that body. I have had my attention drawn to the same two sections that Senator Kirwan referred to at some length. I will refer to them fairly briefly. Neither myself nor Senator Kirwan has any objection to the involvement of the State in commercial enterprises. Nor would we particularly believe that the involvement of the private sector necessarily enhances anything to any great extent. It is one thing to have a position about the role of the State in the area of enterprise and development and another thing to identify what looks like a gratuitous transfer of power back to a central body for no particular reason. In the context of a Bill which is identified as having a specific purpose to do with one area of development to stick in clauses which have enormously far-reaching implications for every harbour authority in the country seems to me to raise serious questions. To make a whole range of areas administratively and politically far less difficult for a Minister, whoever he might be, suggests that what we have here is an attempt to get rid of the inconvenience that is known as the Oireachtas in return for a far more convenient way of dealing with it. I have a memo here from the Deputy General Manager of the Cork Harbour Commissioners to the Commissioners dated 11 June 1986 which was supplied to me and which therefore I presume is for public use:

...Section 15 has most serious implications for the Board as the Minister may, by Order, dissolve, reconstitute or amalgamate all schedule one ports which includes Cork. The Bill does not specify the manner of such reconstitution but it is possible that the proposals for Shannon Port Authority might be used as a model for other ports. This could result in a two tier system with reduced membership of the main board.

...It will be noted also that the Minister may, by Regulation, determine reserved functions of the Board of a new authority and the exercise of powers, duties and functions, not so reserved, would be performed by a Board of Management.

They go on to worry about the implications of section 16 of remuneration of staff. It is quite astonishing that the section proposes to bring control of all rates of pay, conditions, etc. directly under the Department of Communications and the Department of the Public Service. I have no great faith in the regulation of wages by central authority. This is the second time inside a period of less than two months that we have been presented with legislation in which there is an attempt by central Government to interfere further in the remuneration policy of what are effectively delegated companies. It was attempted in the case of CIE and it is being thankfully removed.

We now have it again here. I find it difficult to understand that Governments which are in some part ideologically opposed to the principle of price control and regard it as a serious inhibition and interference with the operation of the market and have now abolished price control — and given the present rate of inflation that is perfectly justified — can apparently claim to themselves at the same time and retain for themselves the right to control the price of labour and the right to insist on particular rates of payment for every schedule one port in the country.

I do not have any particularly intense views about the composition of harbour boards, although as Senator Kirwan rightly says, there are certain anomalies in their composition which defy all logic in my view. Nevertheless, it is not something that I feel strongly about. I do feel strongly that any attempt to draw further powers into the Minister's office or to the Minister himself in the area of control of remuneration and any attempt to give the Minister carte blanche by way of statutory instrument to restructure harbour authorities, needs a good reason. Convenience is not a good reason or the fact that it can be done easily is not a good reason. Statutory instruments, in my view, ought to be methods of administering details and they would be inappropriately covered by legislation.

It is a nonsense to regard as "administrative details" major vehicles for commercial development, industrial development and for transport development like harbours as big as Dublin or Cork to be regarded as a nonsense. This is, in fact, a major instrument of policy being reserved to the Minister to be handled by statutory instrument. I would be very interested — and we can come back to this again on Committee Stage — to know the reasons in detail if there are any reasons in terms of overall policy for the provisions of sections 15 and 16.

I should like to congratulate the Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy Mitchell for bringing this very important and vital legislation before this House today. From the Kerry point of view, it is more than welcome and has been long sought for. Unfortunately, having listened to previous speakers, I fear for the success of this Bill. Having listened to people even from my own side of the House speak about fears and suspicions before the proposed new body has even taken off the ground I genuinely fear for the future success of the proposed harbour authority.

I am very disappointed with the sentiments expressed by both Senator Kennedy and Senator Howard today in that respect. Given the Kerry point of view, I feel that in any future development along the Shannon Estuary we could only benefit. It is well recognised that the Kerry coastline is probably the most suitable for development. This is recognised in the Foras Forbartha report which was produced and presented in May 1983. It recognised the Ardmore Point-Bally-longford area as an exceptionally good site and, perhaps, the only one capable of satisfactorily accommodating the most onerous industrial types, particularly oil-related. For that reason, I feel that if we had such a body to vigorously promote the Shannon Estuary abroad, and that because of our location and because of the advantages we enjoy along the Kerry coastline we would only benefit. Since the Lichfield report in 1965 which recommended the establishment of a unified port authority, representatives of all interests on both banks of the estuary and various Ministers responsible for harbours, have favoured the idea of a single unified authority for the Shannon estuary. However, despite the efforts and goodwill and support of various Ministers responsible, no real progress has been made. But for the 1977 Bill introduced in the Dáil by Deputy Peter Barry, which subsequently lapsed on the change of Government, there was no real honest effort.

The present legislation, whereas it may not provide everything that was sought and it may not represent the single estuarial authority that was promised, is a positive effort and should be given a chance. This is the first step towards the formation of the type of ports authority envisaged by Dr. Lichfield in 1966.

Since pre-Viking times the Shannon estuary has been the centre of commerce and trade. In his book, Maritime Ports of Ireland Anthony Marmion wrote:

The immense capability of the Shannon will then be called into action, creating new objects of commercial and manufacturing enterprise, giving remunerative employment to thousands, perhaps millions, of the population and diffusing over its contiguous districts animation, wealth and abundance where lately apathy, poverty and want so appallingly prevailed.

Indeed, his words could be equally as applicable today to the current scene. Marmion also discussed the possibility of foreign capital being invested in the development of the estuary at that time. At that time also Tarbert was being proposed as a trans-Atlantic package station and there was considerable commercial activity along the estuary from Kerry to Limerick city. Numerous historians of the time have commented on the amount of trade and commerce carried on between places like Saleen Port and Ballylongford and Saleen Pier and Tarbert with Limerick city.

Marmion, although his dream is not yet fully fulfilled, would be rather happy with developments along the estuary over the past 20 years. Since 1965 the development of maritime industry in the estuary has been quite spectacular. In that year the oil terminal, which caters for 60,000 ton vessels was completed at Foynes Island for Irish Cement Limited. This was followed in 1969 by the opening of Tarbert Power Station with its marine facilities which have accommodated vessels up to 80,000 tons. In 1973 the oil jetty at Dernish Island was completed to serve the aviation needs of Shannon Airport. This, no doubt, led to the decision by Aeroflot — the Russian airline — to locate their aviation fuel tank farm near the jetty, thereby giving extra employment and revenue to Shannon Airport.

The construction of the Aughinish Alumina plant was completed in 1983. At full production the plant is expected to generate cargoes of 3 million tons per annum and give permanent employment to almost 800 people. In 1979 the ESB commenced construction of their coal-burning power plant at Moneypoint. When completed, it is expected to consume 2 million tons of coal per annum and give employment to approximately 350 people.

Recently there has been a further extension to the east jetty at Foynes which will accommodate vessels up to 35,000 tons. In 1983 Kerry County Council granted planning permission to Aran Energy for a refinery at Tarbert. However, due to the absence of a commercial oil find off our coast, it is unlikely that any developments will take place at this location in the near future.

The developments that have taken place in the Shannon Estuary are ample evidence of the many natural advantages the estuary possesses. For example, since 1979 the amount of cargo coming through the harbours has increased from 1.6 million tons to 3.5 million tons at present level. Prior to 1980, the largest vessel to enter the estuary was just under 80,000 tons. In April 1985 the Berge Master a vessel of 143,745 tons berthed at ease at Moneypoint. Both these aspects are indicative of the real potential we have in the estuary. I will refer briefly here to the Lievense report prepared for the Limerick Harbour Commissioners which was published quite recently. This report was set up to examine the feasibility of dredging a channel for large vessels. I will quote from a report in the Limerick Leader at that time:

The Shannon Estuary could be opened as a trans-shipment gateway to the rest of Europe if a £5 million dredging operation, which would allow access to ships of 400,000 tons, was carried out it was claimed this week by one of the top port designers.

Mr. L.W. Lievense, who headed the team of Dutch consultants who completed a report on the estuary for Limerick Harbour Commissioners told the Limerick Leader: The Shannon Estuary is like a sleeping beauty awaiting to be kissed awake from the technical and nautical point of view.

I agree totally with the sentiments expressed by Mr. Lievense. If a channel was dredged to a depth of 25 metres, it would allow vessels of up to and over 400,000 tons to come up the Shannon quite easily. The cost would be in the region of £6 million and for such a small sum of money serious consideration should be given to having this work carried out as soon as possible. If it was carried out, the estuary would then rank among the finest in the world. It would be a major attraction for foreign investment and would also become a major trans-shipment centre for bulk commodities from giant vessels to smaller ships which could enter the shallower European ports.

In the past 20 years enormous sums of money have been spent by European and Japanese ports in dredging, land reclamation and ancillary harbour works to cater for the rapidly increasing ship sizes. Rotterdam, Antwerp, Le Havre and Marseilles are specific examples. As a result, Rotterdam has spent £30 million to raise its capacity in accommodating vessels of 250,000 tons to 350,000 tons. When we consider the potential of the Shannon estuary vis-a-vis other ports, in particular Rotterdam, a case must be made for having the estuary properly dredged to ensure that ships of this size can come up along the estuary, thus making it more attractive for foreign industrialists to locate industry here. It is against this background of growth and development that responsible and various groupings of people along the estuary have seen the need and promoted the concept of a unified and representative authority to promote and develop the estuary in the best interests of the region and the nation as a whole.

I am delighted that this Bill is before us to provide for the establishment of a Shannon Port Authority to take over, manage and operate the harbours at Limerick and Kilrush as well as the piers at Tarbert, Clarecastle, Saleen and Kilteery. As I have said, it is not the total or ideal solution as Foynes is not included — at least for the present. Nevertheless, it will have the effect of setting up a unified and broadly based authority to control, promote and develop the great natural advantages of the estuary. Hopefully in time Foynes will see the advantages of joining the authority and will come in. As has been mentioned already by Senator Howard and other speakers, Foynes has every right to stay out of the proposed new authority until the trustees are certain that it is workable and that it will operate in the best interest of the whole estuary not as in the past, when I feel it was associated too closely with Limerick and controlled too much by the Limerick Harbour Commissioners.

Some criticism has been levelled at the Bill in general here this morning. I have some reservations which I would like to state. Some criticism has been made of limiting the membership of the board of the new authority to 21. Limerick Harbour Commissioners in a submission to the Minister some time ago put forward the idea of having 30 members on the board. But I feel that it should be pointed out that in the UK and on the Continent almost all the harbour authorities are small boards of eight to 12 members,. Belfast has 12 members, all appointed by the Government. Copenhagen is an exception with a board of 19 members. I feel that a large, unwieldy type of board would not be workable as has been proven in the case of many boards which have been set up in this country in the past. A small board of interested members would be far more effective in vigorously promoting the estuary than a group of county councillors arguing over their respective sides of the estuary. This was demonstrated here by some speakers this morning.

The choice seems to be either a small board of eight to 12 members all appointed by the Minister or a large representative board with a smaller management board to look after the day to day operation of the port. The Minister describes it as a two-tier system. I feel the Minister opted rightly. With his experience he, more than anyone, recognises the fact that large unwieldy boards are almost unworkable: smaller boards tend to be more effective.

Concern has been expressed also about local authority representation on the port authority. A case could be made for having an extra representative from Clare County Council and from Kerry County Council to achieve a more even balance. The point has been made that with four local authority representatives, two from Limerick County Council and two from the corporation, it will mean that there will be a balance in favour of Limerick. A case could be made for having one representative each from Kerry and Clare added to the list of local representatives.

Under the terms of the Bill the main board will meet every two months. This is not popular with the local authorities. At a Kerry County Council meeting last Monday this point was raised. Members felt that they would be left out in the cold as the management committee will be the real driving force. A case could be made for having the main body meet at least once a month. To go back to my previous point, however, I feel that large boards tend to be talking shops rather than sources of action. Provision should be made on the management board for representatives from Clare, Limerick and Kerry County Councils. This could allay some of the fears and suspicions that have been mentioned here today. I would like the Minister to deal with that point when he is replying.

Reference was made to Chamber of Commerce members. Senator Kennedy who was a former chairman of Limerick Chamber of Commerce made the case that Limerick Chamber of Commerce should have the power to nominate two members. I think that this would be very unfair and I am rather surprised that Senator Kennedy should have made that suggestion. A case could be made for Tralee Chamber of Commerce having a say in nominating someone from the Chamber of Commerce. I do not think it would be right that members should be nominated by the National Association of Chambers of Commerce. Nevertheless, if the members had to come from Kerry, Clare or Limerick there might be some justification for nominating these members by the Association of Chambers of Commerce.

Section 14 of the Bill gives the Minister the power to reorganise by order all harbour authorities without reference to the Dáil. This point has been covered by Senator Brendan Ryan and Senator Kirwan today. I think it is a dangerous provision which, I am sure, will be changed before the Bill is passed. It is a rather controversial section and will be resisted as any future Minister could do as he wished with any port authority including the new Shannon port authority.

Section 15 of the Bill will also be strongly opposed by the port authorities and the unions as it gives the last word to the Minister in regard to staff and wage negotiations. Senator Kirwan made this point here this evening. It could also have an adverse effect on industrial relations.

However, having voiced some of my concerns about the Bill I feel that there is a great danger that if county councils and other interests start kicking up a row about the question of representation the Minister may decide to drop the Bill altogether and leave well enough alone. This would be most unfortunate. Surely some of the criticisms that were voiced about the Bill this morning could have been made before the Minister brought the Bill forward to this stage. Ample opportunity was given by the Minister to all interested groups to voice their opinions. It was as a result of taking all these opinions into consideration that the Minister came up with this Bill. People who object so vehemently to the Bill should be aware that now is not the time to make these objections: now is the time to amend certain aspects of the Bill but not to oppose the spirit of the Bill.

In the event of the Minister not going ahead with this Bill — which I feel will not be the case — the Limerick Harbour Commissioners would continue as they have done for the past 160 years to control and manage the estuary. In this respect it should be pointed out that at present Limerick Harbour Commissioners have the right to collect ship dues from all ships entering the estuary, apart from ships bound for Foynes and Kilrush. Let me point out that not one penny, apart from money spent on studies carried out might benefit the Kerry area in the long run, has been spent on the Kerry region. This cannot be justified. These dues which have been collected can only be spent on the development of Limerick port and the Shannon estuary in general. It has been pointed out by representatives that these dues should be spent on roads and hospitals and so on. As we know this is not the case: they can only be spent on the development of the port. In fairness to Limerick Harbour Commissioners they have spent over £1 million on the estuary in the past ten years. However, as I pointed out, none of this has been spent in Kerry.

The Limerick Harbour Commission is the pilotage authority for the entire estuary from Limerick city to the mouth of the Shannon, including Foynes and Kilrush. The Limerick Harbour Commission is also the lighting authority for all of the estuary east of Slattery Island. I do feel that in the past too much power and too much control of the Shannon was vested in Limerick. It was not their fault; traditionally it was their right and I understand that legally it has not been questioned. However, I feel — and to the credit of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners they feel also — that it is now time to spread this power over the various interests along the estuary and that the Clare County Council must have a say in the use of dues which are being accumulated from Moneypoint, and that the Kerry County Council should have some say also in the use of the dues collected from the Tarbert oil station.

This effort is a reasonable attempt to satisfy many conflicting views. If it is blocked at this stage it will be the end of many years of effort to set up a unified and broadly-based authority to control and promote the estuary. Senator Howard made reference to the spirit of the proposal, that such an authority could act as a catalyst in all future development along the estuary. It could promote the Shannon Estuary and sell the Shannon Estuary abroad at international level, in America, Japan and Europe. It could also monitor pollution levels in the estuary. This is very important with the coming on stream of Moneypoint power station. I am not totally satisfied with the arrangements being made by the ESB to control emissions from that plant. I feel that such an authority could act as a watchdog to ensure that the air will not be polluted to the level which is being threatened when Moneypoint is fully on stream.

A new authority could avoid unnecessary duplication of facilities and services. It could also prove to be a vital co-ordinator of planning for the estuary. The new board could ensure the deployment of financial resources and, most important, it could present a stronger position than at present in any future negotiations with governmental and EC funding agencies, towards acquiring further money for the development of the estuary. This is vitally important.

The Government have shown some awareness, by putting forward this Bill at this stage, of the great natural asset and national asset which is the Shannon Estuary. It is important that it will show commitment to the development of the Shannon Estuary, give it some concessions of the type recently given to Ringaskiddy in Cork and ensure that the vision of Mr. Marmion can now be realised. Mr. Marmion wrote in 1860 that there was an immense future for the Shannon Estuary. Developments over the last few years have been indicative of the man's vision. Nevertheless, I feel there is a vast future for the whole area. If this port authority can get off the ground and if it enters into its business in a very positive and objective way I see no reason why the Shannon Estuary cannot become, not only the major port in Ireland, but the major port in the world.

I would like to open my remarks on this matter by welcoming very warmly the concept of the establishment, as proposed in this Bill, of a Shannon ports authority. It is a very welcome move and a very progressive step. We can confidently look forward to the Authority as something that will give results in the region with very substantial spin-off effects well outside the region. It will help to bond together in a more cohesive way the various trade and other activities in the entire Shannon Estuary, embracing the various vital interests concerned there.

It is very regrettable that the waters under the Foynes Harbour Trustees' jurisdiction are not included in the whole scenario at this time. One can only hope that in due course the Foynes area will be included, giving us truly one single estuarial authority for that entire region. One does acknowledge that the fact that they are not involved at this point in time is totally and utterly a matter of choice on the part of the Foynes Harbour Trustees. One respects the right on their part to remain aloof at this stage but it is good to know that the Harbours Bill, 1986, does make provision for their inclusion at an appropriate stage in the future. I would like to think that their inclusion will be totally and utterly on a mutually agreed basis, at a mutually agreed time.

I believe that the estuary, in the context of this Authority which has been talked about today, will not have been fully realised until Foynes is included. I want to make it perfectly clear, at the risk of being repetitive, that one does understand why Foynes are opting out just now and one acknowledges their position in that regard. We are talking about a single estuarial authority or a single port but basically it is not that while we have a missing link, as it were, in the context of Foynes. Foynes does represent a significant proportion of trading in and out of the harbour. It is a vital place and its absence cannot be glossed over too lightly.

However, it is encouraging to know that it is intended that the various interests throughout the general area, from the mouth of the Shannon up to Limerick city, should work as one single authority. While there may be some teething problems in the beginning everybody ought to be big enough — I would submit this thing called parochialism or localism must at all costs be avoided; we must not talk about Limerick, we must not talk about Clare or Kerry; we must talk about the entire area and what the development of that entire area can do for the region itself and what advantageous effects it will have on the area generally that will be served by the port in Limerick and downstream also. That is the sort of approach I am confident will be adopted by all concerned when the final points are being put together. If one were to get hung up on local or parochial issues one would never make progress. We might finish up with no change in the present position. That would be highly undesirable.

Limerick Harbour Commission has in fact up to now played a significant part in the operation of the entire region. I am satisfied from talking with a number of persons in the Limerick Harbour Commission, a number of commissioners and others, that they are prepared to accept this Bill with certain modifications which I am satisfied can be agreed on. It would be a tragedy if the potential for development — which I understand by the year 2000 would represent something like 20 million tonnes of cargo going through that general area — were to be missed. We have at present something like 3.5 million cargo tonnes. That figure may be disputed: I accept that that does include tonnage that comes to Moneypoint and other places in the general area. When I talk about 20 million I also talk about the total area, not Limerick or any confined area. Ten years ago the figure was about 75,000 tonnes. A significant number of persons are currently employed directly in operations there. That area has enormous potential for development as the years go on. Furthermore, we have the position where ancillary effects and industrial spin-offs in one way or another to this development will take place.

The Limerick Harbour Commissioners were subjected to a certain amount of unfair criticism in the earlier part of our discussion. While I want to make it very clear that I am not trying to represent the views of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners — they are quite competent and capable of doing that themselves — I feel it is relevant and important for the record that there is recognition of the part played by that body in the years gone by. Limerick Harbour Commissioners under legislation as far back as 1823 are responsible for the waters of the Shannon Estuary with the exception of those waters under the jurisdiction of the Foynes Harbour Trustees, the piers vested in Kilrush Urban District Council, the county council and the Office of Public Works. The waters under the control of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners include Aughinish Alumina, the Moneypoint Power Station co-terminal, Tarbert Power Station oil jetty, Foynes Island Terminal Limited, Shannon Airport Oil Jetty and the Limerick Docks.

There has been a good level of responsibility in the conduct of affairs in the past. What we want to see is an improvement in that situation in the future. I am quite satisfied that the Limerick Harbour Commissioners as part of an overall body will play their part in ensuring that improvement.

I agree that the absence of SFADCo from direct involvement in the development of this new port authority is something to be regretted. Equally, there is the matter of Foynes and other agencies such as the IDA, RDO and so on but particularly SFADCo which covers industrial development in that region.

For the record, let us bear in mind that there has been in the last number of years approximately £1 million spent on the harbour there. This money has improved matters very significantly. There is no doubt that the potential for development is enormous. We are talking about very large vessels coming into that estuary, vessels that will facilitate major industrial development. This is something that we must strive towards very strongly.

There are a number of advantages for a unified port authority. Cohesive and progressive forces could be generated by a broadly-based port board fully representative of all sectors and both banks of the estuary. That is vital. It is not material what way things work out afterwards as long as we have this fully representative authority. We would eliminate the undesirable dissension between harbour authorities and others in the Shannon Estuary which, if allowed to continue, could have very adverse effects on industrial development. Any acrimony or lack of harmony that is there must be eliminated and the way to do it is with the implementation of a Bill like the one that is before us here today, perhaps with certain modifications that I believe will be accepted.

It is also very important to avoid unnecessary duplication of facilities and services. A lot of time, energy and money is lost by duplication. Where there is not a unified approach there will be lack of rationalisation in the true sense. That is something to be avoided. The whole question of co-ordination of plans, policies and so forth and the greater deployment of financial resources which is very important, will all lead to a stronger position in future in any negotiations undertaken. This is important when the Government may be engaged from time to time in talks within the EC context of funding agencies in the port or agencies proposing to establish bases there.

It is also relevant to note that most estuaries in Europe have come under the control of one authority in the last 30 or 40 years. There has been very positive evidence to show that that is the sort of thing that we ought to aspire to as well.

There is a fairly long historical background to this — to which I have referred to already — but I will refer to a few points from it. The Shannon Ports Joint Committee consisting of representatives from the Harbour authorities of Limerick, Foynes, Kilrush, the then Department of Transport and Power and Kerry County Council worked well for a number of years on a committee basis. Arising from this effort, legislation was presented in 1977 entitled the Harbours Bill, 1977. This legislation contained provisions for the establishment of a Shannon Ports Authority. That Bill was introduced in Dáil Eireann but it was not in accordance with the agreed heads of legislation submitted to the Minister in 1974 by the Shannon Ports Joint Committee. However, that legislation, due to a change of Government in 1977, was left aside. It is appropriate and important that an improved version of it be taken up at this point.

After 1977, there were, as we all know, further discussions. It is fair to say that nearly all Ministers for Industry and Commerce in the last number of years have favoured a single estuarial authority in the region. It is correct to acknowledge that. Some Ministers have perhaps been greater proponents of the concept than others but all Ministers for Industry and Commerce have been very well disposed to the general idea.

In 1980 there seemed to have been a change of policy on the part of the Foynes trustees. In October 1983 in a letter to the Kilrush Urban District Council they reaffirmed their previously declared decision not to participate in a unified estuarial authority. They made that known to other persons as well. From that time, there has been also a clear and definite position made known by the Foynes trustees. We look forward to the day when they will be included.

Reference was made already to the representation which was proposed in the past, not the one for the future. That had much merit in it, because it was more than the present number proposed. The proposal put forward by the Limerick Harbour Commission in 1983, in consultation with a number of other bodies was that there should be 30 representatives made up as follows: Limerick Corporation, four; Limerick County Council, four; Clare County Council, four; Kerry County Council, four; Tipperary North Riding Council, one; Limerick Chamber of Commerce, two; Confederation of Irish Industry, two; labour interests, two; shipping interests, two; Industrial Development Authority, one and ministerial nominees, four. That was significantly better, in terms of representation, than what is now being proposed. I will come to that in a moment. That, then, is a brief background to what happened before.

There are a few matters in the Bill which deserve mention. Again, I want to state categorically that the Limerick Harbour Commissioners are not acting as dogs in the manger on this one. They, as much as anybody else, are promoting the idea in consultation with the Minister. I understand there is a meeting pending between that body and the Minister some time later this month. They have made it very clear that they welcome this Bill, but that they have certain reservations in regard to it. I, too, share some of those reservations, but I am expressing them as my personal reservations, not as the views of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners. They will present their views in their own way. These views should be taken on board.

I referred to the membership of the board. We had a proposal that there be 17 elected representatives on a board of 30. Now we are talking about eight elected members on a board of 21. The reduction in local authority membership by over 50 per cent, finishing up with eight members, ought to be changed. Tipperary North Riding Council are not included. From many points of view Tipperary North Riding Council should be included in the representation. They have played, and I am certain will continue to play, a vital role in the whole development of that region. They have been served by the Shannon Estuary both on an outgoing trade basis and in the usage of incoming goods.

There is the other question, to which reference has already been made, of appointments by chambers of commerce. There have been different views expressed, but I feel they should be appointed by the local chambers of commerce. For example, Limerick Chamber of Commerce, as was indicated earlier, are very much on a regional basis. They are in the mid-west region and it is not illogical to talk about representatives of the Limerick Chamber of Commerce being selected. Other local chambers of commerce in that area such as Kilrush, Ennis and Tralee could also be looked at, in this context. I do not think the representation from the chambers of commerce should come from any national body of chambers of commerce. It should come from the local area. One might bear in mind that the Limerick Chamber of Commerce are very much a regional body. They are in no way confined to the local scene of Limerick itself. They have a broader area of membership. To ensure the best possible balance of representation, one would be better with the larger number of 30. This would accommodate the five local authorities of Tipperary North Riding, Limerick city, Limerick county, Kerry and Clare. That can be best done on that basis.

I have stated already, but I reiterate, that I believe very strongly that Tipperary North Riding County Council should have representation on the new Authority because they have contributed very significantly to the development of the Shannon estuary. The overall regional development has been helped very much by north Tipperary which is a natural, logical part of that mid western region, joining Clare, Limerick and, in this context, part of Kerry.

There are a number of sections in the Bill to which I have already referred dealing with membership. Apart from the bodies I have mentioned — local authorities and chambers of commerce — more attention must be paid to the general make-up of that board. I take the point that representations from the labour force are a bit weak.

There are a few other points that would cause a certain amount of concern. The proposal that the board should meet not more than six times in the year is one such point. The Shannon Estuary is a national resource, the development of which obviously must be on commercial lines. The estuary is of great national as well as local importance. Against that kind of background it would be inappropriate that the number of meetings be specified and restricted to six except under exceptional circumstances. It may not be necessary to have six meetings. It may be necessary to have 12. In any commercial operation it is only on an ongoing basis that the number of meetings can be correctly determined. I appreciate there must be some broad guidelines but I believe it is very restrictive to talk about not more than six meetings per year except "under exceptional circumstances". That is something that the Minister will have to look at very seriously.

There is also the position with regard to the transfer of officers and staff there at present. There must be a little more flexibility here and perhaps there are some aspects that would be better outside the Bill. There are good relations with the existing authority and there is no need for a new authority. I am not suggesting that we are only talking about an extension of what is there, I am talking about a new industry. There will not be major differences in its business practices except an improvement on what is there at present. What is there is a kind of guideline and we are not talking about an extension of that.

With regard to the whole area of staff, there is a suggestion about having a board of management in addition to the board itself. Quite frankly I do not think, in the context of a 21 member board or 30 member board, that that board of management is required. The chairman of the board, the chief executive, or the vice-chairman would be sufficient to act on a day-to-day basis with matters that needed attention between board meetings. That part of the Bill does not really have a function. I do not see what functions the management committee will perform and I suggest that that part of the Bill be deleted.

In relation to the general staffing arrangements, I believe good commercial practices and principles must apply and I urge the Minister to ensure that a new Shannon Ports Authority should not tie the hands of the board, the chief executive and the staff they would be dealing with. Much more can be achieved by a freer approach than exists at present.

We must not look upon the estuary as Limerick, Kerry or Clare. It is disappointing that so much emphasis has been laid on one bank of the river. We are talking about an estuary and the development of that estuary. Whether Moneypoint, Tarbert or Limerick Docks is developed to a greater degree than the others, it must and should be because good commercial practice dictates it. Where the greatest emphasis on development comes should not be relevant. I totally and utterly agree that there must be an even spread of representation.

I share the view expressed by a number of persons earlier today that elected representatives from the various authorities must have reasonable representation but quite frankly I would not agree that it is of paramount importance as to where the headquarters of this new authority is going to be. It should be in the most suitable place from an operation's point of view. It is not vital whether it is in Limerick city, Shannon Airport or wherever. It should be in the most central place in the context of a business operation. This does not necessarily mean geographically central because one has to take into account people coming, going to and from the headquarters.

I am confident this Harbours Bill, 1986, has a great deal to recommend it. Those people with a vested interest — and there are, of course, persons with vested interests in various parts of the region — must look upon it in its totality and not try to score points over one another. There is probably a certain amount of sensitivity because the Limerick Harbour Commission have been the body — with certain exceptions to whom I have already referred — who have looked after this affair over the past 160 years.

I referred to the chamber of commerce situation and it would be no harm to recognise for the record, that it was through Limerick Chamber of Commerce that Limerick port really came into being in the first instance. That was back as far as 1815. This was prior to the establishment of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners. The Limerick Chamber of Commerce managed and operated the port at Limerick which served that entire area at that time. When the Limerick Harbour Commission was established the chamber co-operated in the changeover of management and so on. That happened many years ago but it is a matter I want to put on record. I should correct a point I made about 1815. Limerick Harbour Commissioners have operated the business of the estuary since 1815 but prior to that time Limerick Chamber of Commerce managed affairs.

Finally, I say to the Minister that there must be a measure of flexibility, particularly with regard to representation on the board. I appeal to the various interests in the area to avoid any element of parochialism about this. It is not Limerick, Ennis, Kilrush or Tarbert that is important in this context: it is the development of the area generally and what it can contribute to the general development of Counties Clare, Kerry, Limerick, north Tipperary, south Tipperary and other regions. I am confident that good and better judgment will prevail and obstacles that might seem to be there at present can be overcome. They will only be overcome if people do not in any way try to score points over each other.

First, I welcome the fact that this Bill is being introduced in this House. I thank the Minister and the Government for the continuous stream of legislation which is coming first to this House. It is a development we could have done with a long time ago. As the Minister said in his opening speech he expects a full and thoughtful debate. This House is certainly worthy of this type of Bill coming before it first. The Minister, in turn, could respond to this House by considering the points of view expressed here on Bills, accepting amendments and, possibly, introducing amendments himself on the basis of what is said here on Second Stage. I do not know what the Government's attitude to this Bill is in terms of amending it. I know Governments do not like amending Bills but I hope this Bill is more susceptible to amendment than others because the Seanad is here, presumably, to have a frank, less party political debate on issues of this type.

This is not quite as uncontentious a Bill as are some of the Bills introduced in this House. I do not want to become involved in what is obviously the controversial element of the Bill which is the composition of the authority being set up. I subscribe completely to Senator Hourigan's aspiration that the actual composition and vested interests involved will not take over and that there is not unholy war in this House or elsewhere about the permutations to be used in setting up the Authority. I hope — and it may be a vain hope — that Members of this House do not represent purely vested interests because the setting up of this Authority is quite obviously, as the Minister said in his speech, "to set up a dynamic unified Authority which is for the good of the area". It is difficult for that sort of hope to be fulfilled but I hope Members of this House will do all they can to fulfil it.

What I would like to say is very brief. While I do not quarrel with the main thrust of the Bill, there are areas in it which are very dangerous. I am talking first of all about ministerial power. Section 15 of the Bill is very far reaching and virtually allows legislation by the stroke of a ministerial pen. This is not a precedent but I would have thought it is a dangerous procedure. Section 15 provides that:

The Minister may by order dissolve, reconstitute or amalgamate as he may consider it necessary or desirable so to do any one or more of the harbour authorities specified in the first column of the First Schedule (as amended by this Act) to the Act of 1946.

I would have thought this gives the Minister two all embracing powers in such order that he may specify the name of a new Authority, specify the membership and constitution of the Authority, apply, subject to amendment, any of the provisions of the Bill to the Authority, transfer assets and liabilies to a body he may specify and provide for any other matter he considers necessary or desirable. I see the reasons behind this. Ministers do not want to have to come back to the Oireachtas to make changes of this type all the time.

The powers which the Minister for Communications has in this Bill are far too wide and should be reconsidered. The only brake on the Minister's proposed powers is that an order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas under which arrangement the order becomes effective unless a vote to annul it is passed by either House within a specified period. Such an order cannot be amended. It can only be effected or annuled. There is a body of opinon among constitutional lawyers — not among general lawyers — that this legislation is extremely dangerous though not unconstitutional and that these types of powers are too wide for any Minister to hold. The reason behind them is administrative rather than anything else. It is the power under section 15 which the Minister should think about again.

The other section which I hope the Minister may consider for amendment is section 16. This is a section which affects all harbour authority employees. It alters their conditions of employment in so far as they will be inhibited from negotiating freely as they have been able to before on remuneration, allowances and the terms and conditions under which they work. This proposal is to be achieved by the amendment of the 1946 Act. The logical conclusion to section 16 is that harbour authorities will no longer have power to negotiate freely with their employees and that it would be as well for the Department of the Public Service to conduct all negotiations on remuneration, allowances and conditions of services.

Section 14 of the Transport (Re-organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986 is virtually identical with section 16 (41) (a) of the Harbours Bill, 1986, section 29 of the Road Transport Bill, 1985, and section 2 of the British & Irish Steam Packet Company Limited (Acquisition) (Amendment) Bill, 1986. The passing of section 16 into law represents a change in the conditions of service and prospects of all employees.

The Green Paper on Transport Policy was issued six months ago by the Minister. The chapter relating to ports had a forward looking progressive outlook and an indication that Government thinking was to encourage commercial reality in port affairs. The present Bill enshrines regressive elements of Government thinking. The Irish Ports Authority Association in their submission to the Department on the Green Paper welcomed the positive proposals contained therein and made further proposals which, in their view, would be of benefit to the commercial and trading life of the nation. I should like to know from the Minister — because I have had a submission from the Irish Ports Authority Association — what happened to these proposals, whether they were discussed, whether they were considered and why they were ignored, which undoubtedly they were?

There are implications for all harbour authorities in those sections of the Bill relating to the Shannon ports in so far as they can be applied by order. For example, the Minister may by regulation, determine reserve functions to the board of a new authority and the exercise of powers, duties and functions not so reserved will be performed by a board of management. Other sections deal with transfers of staff, superannuation schemes and the continuation of legal proceedings by laws, orders, and so on.

I would like the Minister to consider those points and to tell us when he sums up whether he is considering amending this Bill on Committee Stage or whether it is his intention to ignore the criticisms which have been made here on Second Stage. As a principle, I welcome the fact that the Bill has come to the Seanad. I welcome also the fact that past Bills of this type have been amended as a result of Second Stage debate in the Seanad. This is a credit to the Government and to this House. I hope this Bill will be treated with the same seriousness.

I join with other Senators in welcoming this Bill. I congratulate the Government and the Minister for, first, bringing this Bill before this House and, secondly, for presenting to the Oireachtas and the country a very wide ranging package of transport law reforms. It is interesting that this Government published the Green Paper on Transport Policy in the autumn of last year and that that Green Paper has been very swiftly followed up by a whole range of Bills dealing with every aspect of transport within this jurisdiction. For that, the people, the country and the Oireachtas must all compliment and congratulate the Minister and the Minister of State and indeed the Department of Communications. It is interesting that we have so much legislation dealing with transport.

One must comment at the outset that transport policy is something which has been totally neglected by successive Governments. It is something which at present is in a complete shambles. The fact that this Government under the dynamic ministry of Deputy Jim Mitchell assisted by Deputy Ted Nealon are introducing this Bill as part of a wide ranging package is something which must be welcomed.

The whole question of transport policy cannot be looked at in an internal sense. It is something which even for us as an island State must be seen in the broader sense of our membership of the European Community and must be seen in the sense of our role as a nation within the world community.

I welcome the Bill in so far as it is one segment of the broad range of transport policy reforms which have to be legislated for. The Bill, in effect, as the Minister has said and as other speakers have commented, does two things. Firstly, it provides for a single harbour authority to manage the harbours at Limerick and Kilrush with the enabling provision that Foynes may be included at a future date under the new Shannon Port Authority.

Secondly, the Bill provides in section 15 that the Minister shall have very extensive powers. I share very fully the reservations expressed by Senator Ross in relation to section 15 of the Bill. In so far as the creation of the Shannon Port Authority are concerned I welcome that. I do not have any detailed knowledge of the current operation of the harbour authority within that area but it seems common sense that there should be one authority to deal with what is a very important harbour area. The fact that there may be local community interest, competing interest and that there may be differences of opinion as to the type of authority or the nature of the constitution of the Authority is a matter for debate.

I welcome the Minister's opening comments whereby he stated that he would listen to the views of this House and those expressed in another place in relation to the constitution of the Authority and its general powers. So far as section 15 is concerned — that is the section which prompted me to speak — it confers very wide powers on the Minister of the day. Subsection (1) says:

The Minister may by order dissolve, reconstitute or amalgamate as he may consider it necessary or desirable so to do any one or more of the harbour authorities specified in the first column of the First Schedule (as amended by this Act) to the Act of 1946.

Interestingly, one of the purposes of this Act is to include the new Shannon Port Authority in the schedule of the Act of 1946. The Act of 1946 runs to almost 200 sections. It is the governing Act in so far as harbour law in this country is concerned. We are now giving to the Minister of the day the power to bypass the Oireachtas, the power to decide without reason, without explanation whether the harbour Authority should continue, whether it should be reconstituted or whether it should be dissolved. As a democrat I believe that that type of power is not the kind of power that is consistent with the kind of parliamentary democracy we enjoy in this jurisdiction.

The Schedule to the Act of 1946 is historically interesting in that it provides the basis for the old statute law in relation to the small harbour authorities existing here. As somebody who comes from a harbour town I was prompted to examine the old statute law and to see the old basis of the Westport Harbour Commissioners. I was rather interested to find that the Imperial Parliament, a parliament which was obviously very busy, had time in 1853 to enact in great detail for improving and maintaining the port and harbour of Westport.

In 1853 the Imperial Government were very busy because much of the globe at that time was red. Despite the business and despite the fact that the Imperial Parliament had many matters to worry about it still had time to enact a very detailed Act dealing with a small harbour in the west of Ireland. In 1986, a small country on the western edge of Europe, an island on our own, busy giving civil servants greater powers, busy ensuring that Ministers should not bring legislation before Parliament now decide in a Bill that we should remove from Parliament the type of power that the Imperial Parliament exercised despite their other worries and troubles in 1853. Instead, we ensure that the mandarins whom we respect, whom I have already complimented, on the other side of Kildare Street should legislate in future for the harbour authorities of Ireland. That is something I find totally unacceptable. It is a section of the Bill which I hope the Minister will be persuaded to consider in greater detail between now and Committee Stage.

In relation to section 15 of the Bill if one looks at the Harbours Act of 1946 one sees that section 164 of that Act gives the Minister power to provide for the holding of local inquiries in relation to harbours. Section 164 of the Harbours Act 1946 provides that:

The Minister may at any time direct that a local inquiry be held into any of the following matters:

(a) the performance by a harbour authority of its powers, functions and duties;

(b) the finances of a harbour authority;

(c) the condition of the harbour of a harbour authority;

(d) the rates charged by a harbour authority;

(e) the accommodation and facilities provided by a harbour authority;

(h) any matter in respect of which the Minister is authorised by any other section of this Act to direct a local inquiry.

That is the section which gives the Minister very substantial power in relation to harbour authorities. In this Bill he decides that the Oireachtas should legislate that without the holding of a harbour inquiry, without the necessity of consulting with the harbour authority, without the necessity of consulting with local authorities, without the necessity of consulting with the Oireachtas he may by order abolish harbour authorities.

I believe that before a harbour authority is dissolved, reconstituted or amalgamaged an inquiry of the type envisaged in section 164 of the Harbours Act 1946 should be held. I want to give notice now that on Committee Stage I will be putting down an amendment to this effect. I hope that the Minister and his Department will consider that amendment seriously. I am giving notice of it now because I believe that if we are to legislate for the dissolution, reconstitution or amalgamation of a harbour authority then we should do so in a democratic way. There is a need for the dissolution of certain harbour authorities. There is certainly an argument for the amalgamation of harbour authorities and that is what we are doing here today in so far as the Shannon estuary is concerned. I also believe that there is need for an amalgamation of other harbour authorities. This must be done in a democratic way and after due consultation. It must not be done by the stroke of a pen which is announced to all the people concerned when the matter is a fait accompli. I hope the Minister will take on board the idea of necessary consultation.

Section 15 deals with the dissolution specifically of a harbour authority. Subsection (2) (b) says:

in the case of the dissolution of a harbour authority without its reconstitution or amalgamation with other harbour authority, the transfer of the assets and liabilities of such dissolved harbour authority to such local authority or other body as the Minister, with the approval of the Government, may specify;

I would like to stress the words "or other body". This is a good provision. It would not always be wise, when a harbour authority is dissolved that its assets and liabilities should be transferred to the local authority. I can see many situations where it should be transferred to another body. The Minister said today:

One final point in relation to the restructuring of harbour authorities should be mentioned. The Government have already decided in the context of devolution to local authorities that harbours, which now cater for little or no commerical traffic, would be handed over to local authorities.

I am disappointed with the Minister's statement because, despite what is provided for in this Bill, there is an attitude within the Minister's Department that when harbour authorities are dissolved their powers, functions, properties, assets and liabilities should be transferred to the local authority.

It is in this context that I am prompted to move forward from the Westport Port and Harbour Act, 1853, to the situation existing within the Westport Harbour Board in 1986. At the outset I want to pay tribute to the chairman and commissioners of that board who preside over a harbour which now does not carry on the commercial business which was envisaged in the 1853 Act. I pay tribute to harbour commissioners who do a very worrying job in relation to a harbour which is heavily silted up, underfunded and whose potential is not utilised in the context of the 1980s. I would be very worried and so would the Westport Harbour Commissioners if the Minister with a stroke of a pen could abolish them and transfer their functions to a local authority in the area. I say that as a member of the Westport Urban District Council and as a member of Mayo County Council because I am not happy that they are the appropriate bodies to whom the assets and liabilities of the Westport Harbour Board should be transferred in the event of dissolution being decided upon.

I believe small harbours around the country have potential in relation to the development of our fishing industry and our tourist business. In this context legislation should be introduced to provide for the establishment of a new type of harbour authority, not a harbour authority that is envisaged in the Westport Port and Harbour Act, 1853, but rather a Harbour Act for the small authorities which would provide for the tourist business, the leisure use of harbours and for the fishing industry which, hopefully, we will see further developed in the 1980s.

I am amazed at the number of bodies who have functions in relation to harbours and bays, I am amazed that somebody who is involved, for instance, in developing different types of fishing industries will be concerned with the harbour board, the county council, the urban council, the health board, in case of pollution, the regional fisheries board, the Department of Fisheries in relation to mariculture licences, with the Department of Communications for foreshore licences, with BIM, Údarás na Gaeltachta and with the IDA. In terms of developing our harbours and the bays around them there should be single authorities which recognise the needs of our harbours and their modern uses.

Those are my points with regard to the Harbours Bill, 1986. I welcome the Bill as a further amendment of our harbours legislation. I share the concern expressed by other speakers in relation to section 15. I hope the Minister will take that concern on board between now and Committee Stage. In so far as I express reservations in that regard, I want to conclude by complimenting the Minister and the Minister of State for the broad thrust and energy they have shown in bringing such a broad range of transport legislation before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

First, may I say that I found the Second Stage debate to be very interesting and stimulating. I am grateful for the thoughtful and varied contributions of all the Senators who took part. There was an extraordinary range of views from the point of view of Senators with a particular local interest, with great knowledge of the estuary and the surrounding area and also Senators taking on the larger canvass of the development of our ports in general. Overall, it is fair to say that there has been a welcome for the Bill in the House, an enthusiastic welcome by some with, naturally, reservations along the line but even where there were the strongest reservations there was still a welcome that the Bill had finally appeared after 30 years promise.

I will deal with a number of the important points raised by the Senators in the course of the debate. I can assure everybody now that the more detailed points raised during the debate will, of course, be considered. There is no question of them being ignored as was suggested. The Minister has a very good track record in this respect. A very good example of it was in a Bill concluded in this House a very short time ago and the major changes that have been made arising from the suggestions put forward by the Senators.

It is my personal view that the general development of the Shannon Estuary can most effectively be achieved by the establishment of a single ports authority. There was a danger that the development of the estuary could have been inhibited by the present fragmented approach by the various competing interests. That has been an inhibiting factor over the years. The question of jurisdiction can be a very difficult and emotive problem in the Shannon Estuary. We had reflections of that today, where we had continual reference to the geographical location, and that is understandable. We must ensure that control over the entire waters of the estuary is not handed over to one authority. This is the only way we can get major results. To proceed in this way would facilitate future planning and development of the estuary and would be of considerable help to local interests in promoting the estuary as a suitable location for further large scale industrial projects. We cannot lose sight of the enormous potential that exists there.

Senator Deenihan told of the prospects and the possibilities outlined by one authority in the middle of the 19th century. These, of course, have not been fully realised although great advances have been made. We must keep in mind the enormous potential provided we can get the infrastructure right. We are going a certain distance along the line with this Bill. Once it has been enacted the Minister will be pressing ahead with the necessary back-up orders and regulations to ensure that there is no undue delay in the full establishment of the Authority.

Some aspects, such as the division of responsibility and functions between the Authority and the board of management will, of course, require consultation and careful consideration. I am confident, however, that this need not give rise to any undue delay in the assumption of their full role by the Authority. I am sure that will be welcomed by all even by those with considerable reservations about what we are doing.

I hope that before long a new environment will emerge favourable to the amalgamation of Foynes Harbour Trustees with the Shannon Ports Authority with no question of coercion and with a spirit of co-operation. Only then will the true value and potential of the new structure which we are establishing be realised. In the meantime this will be one of the goals of the new Authority with, as I have said, no question of coercion. As far as Foynes is concerned everything has to be done in a spirit of co-operation; otherwise it will be counterproductive and only lead to difficulties instead of the progress we are seeking.

The Green Paper on Transport Policy referred to rationalisation of the structure of harbour authorities to prevent unnecessary competition for scarce Exchequer resources which was pointed out as being a desirable aim. The overall concern must be to ensure that there are sufficient and adequate port facilities nationally and for each of the regions. The Minister will be addressing these issues in the coming months.

As I indicated, one of the most controversial issues that arose in the course of consultations with local interests was the question of the size of the proposed authority and representation on that authority. That has been accurately and truly reflected in the debate here today. A number of Senators have expressed views on the membership of the proposed Shannon authority set out in section 4 and have put forward various reasoned arguments as to why various interests should have a statutory right to membership or how the present Limerick Harbour Commissioners which amounts to 27 members should be incorporated.

I can appreciate the concern of Senators but I must emphasise that I am attempting to devise a new regime for harbours generally which will hopefully be more suited to the harsh competitive environment that exists today in contrast to what existed when the Harbours Bill was enacted in 1946. This competitive environment exists not only between Irish ports but also between Irish and European ports. This is something in which the Shannon estuary authority will be interested. I am convinced that there is a need for change in that the smaller the Authority the more effective and efficient it will be.

I want to emphasise that it is imperative that the board of management in the proposed two tier structure should be given a chance to work. For this reason I feel it is desirable that only in exceptional circumstances should the authority have to meet more than once every two months. After all, the full authority will be primarily concerned with policy formulation and will comprise five of the seven members of the management board. Irrespective of how we manage it, there will be differences of opinion as to the size of the board and the representation on it. We have heard about the north bank, the south bank and various other areas. I do not think it is possible to get a board that will satisfy everybody. The Minister has had enormous consultations in the preparation of this Bill. It is worth putting on record the number of local bodies that he met. He met the Limerick Harbour Commissioners, the Foynes Harbour Trustees, Kilrush UDC, Clare Castle Pier Trustees, Limerick County Council, Limerick Corporation, Clare County Council, Kilrush UDC, Kerry County Council, Tipperary County Council, North Riding, Shannon Town Commissioners, Oireachtas Members from Counties Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Tipperary North Riding, the IDA, SFADCo and regional development organisations of the mid-west and south west. He also met local associations, among them, the Tarbert Development Association, Ballylongford Community Association, Killimor Development Association, Chamber of Commerce representatives and he had a public meeting in north Kerry with Senator Jimmy Deenihan.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

He did not have one in Clare.

He met representatives of all these people. He did not have a public meeting. From the vast knowledge he acquired from all these meetings he produced the ideas for the authority we have proposed here. Naturally it will not suit everybody but it is the Minister's evaluation of the situation. It is as near as anyone can get to it.

Senator Hourigan said that the proposed representation from the labour force might be a bit weak. This was mentioned by other Senators also. The proposal that there be two representatives of the labour interest is identical with that already provided for in respect of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners. Given the proposed membership is 21 as compared with 27, proportionately speaking, it would increase the strength of the labour representatives on the authority.

Suggestions were also made that the Harbours Bill before the House should contain additional provisions amending the Harbours Acts of 1946 and 1976. The Minister will be publishing a White Paper containing his proposals for a general review of the harbours legislation. The purpose of the present Bill is primarily to provide for the establishment of the Shannon Ports Authority.

Senator Honan expressed concern that the Shannon Ports Authority would not be an authority to develop the area industrially. There are other agencies in place who are equipped to do the work and I expect the new Shannon Ports Authority to work closely with these agencies to develop the region. With this in mind the Minister will consider the Shannon Free Airport Development Company and the Mid-West Development Organisation as possible candidates for places among his nominees on the board. Senator Howard raised this point earlier as did other speakers as to the possibility of SFADCo or the regional development authority being represented on the board. The potential is there and the Minister will consider such people for inclusion.

Considerable opposition has been expressed with regard to the powers available to the Minister in section 15 of the Bill. This relates to the dissolution, reconstitution or amalgamation of harbour authorities. The powers enshrined in this section are enabling powers which will permit the reorganisation of harbour authorities scheduled to the Harbours Act of 1946, in line with Government policy, as has been done in the Green Paper on transport policy published last November. It goes without saying that it is the intention of the Minister not to use these powers in specific cases without appropriate consultations in advance.

Senator Durcan brought up the interesting point incorporated in the earlier Act of the power of inquiry and examination and suggested that this kind of thing might be used before any of these powers are brought into operation. It would be nonsensical to proceed without consultation. Furthermore, I would point out that subsection (4) enables either House of the Oireachtas to pass a resolution annulling an order made under the section within 21 days on which such House has sat after the order has been laid before it. This provides the necessary protection against any abuse of the powers under the section.

I accept that the enabling powers under section 15 are very extensive. It is necessary to have such powers available to enable the effective reorganisation of the scheduled harbours within a reasonably short space of time. There is an accepted requirement for reorganisation within harbours at present. We have to get on with the work. This Bill is emerging after 30 years. There has been considerable criticism that it has not come before this. Harbour authorities are intended to be commercial undertakings. Given the very rapid changes that are taking place it is clear that a more efficient statutory mechanism is necessary to allow harbours to adapt to change. The powers of annulment of any statutory order which I have just outlined made under the section represent adequate safeguards as far as the Oireachtas is concerned. However, I note the very strong case made by Senators on all sides of the House and these are things the Minister will consider.

Senator Honan asked whether it had been decided where the head office of the authority will be. This will be a matter for the new Shannon Ports Authority to decide. Senator Honan also raised the point about ministerial approval for borrowings of over £50,000. Ministerial approval for borrowing by a harbour authority will be reviewed in the context of a review of the general provisions of the Harbours Act, 1946. It is a rather small sum considering the type of finance that organisations such as the Shannon Ports Authority could find itself involved in. The authority will be financed from its own revenue as a harbour authority. It will also have power to borrow and may be eligible for State grants in certain cases of capital development projects, subject to financial approval.

Senators Howard and Kiely raised a number of points in relation to the collection and disposal of dues and the jurisdiction of the various bodies at present administering the estuary. He will appreciate that to give him the information he has requested in the short time available today would be very difficult. I would be very grateful if he and Senator Kiely would accept that I will communicate with them separately on these matters in order to give the exact details.

Senator Howard asked about the pilotage in Shannon harbour and estuary and the present limits of the harbour pilotage district. They are specified in section 3 of the Limerick Pilotage Act, 1921 which states:

The limits of the Limerick Pilotage District...shall be the waters of the sea and River Shannon bounded seawards by an imaginary line from Loop Head to Kerry Head——

The same is proposed in this Bill.

and landwards by the Wellesley Bridge at Limerick together with the navigable waters of the tributaries connected therewith and including all docks within this area.

Wellesley Bridge is now called Sarsfield Bridge. This area covers the entire estuary. The order also authorises Limerick Harbour Commissioners to be pilotage authority for that pilotage district. The pilotage area equates with an area over which Limerick exercises control as a harbour authority, though there has been no statutory basis in the latter case. The Shannon Ports Authority will be the pilotage authority for the estuary as well as having control of the estuary as harbour authority.

Senator Kirwan mentioned the composition of the new Dublin port authority. It is too early yet to say what the final composition of the new port authority will be. It will have to be decided by the Government following consultation with appropriate agencies. I can only say at this stage that the new structure will be less unwieldy and, hopefully, more efficient. He also mentioned the Dublin Docks Review Group. The report of the review group must be considered in the context that it was not representative of the entire interests involved in the Dublin Port and Docks Board, let alone harbour authorities in general. Therefore, while the views it expresses in relation to the constitution of the Dublin Port and Docks Board are very worthy of consideration, they should not be taken as the only possible solution. A decision has not been made in that respect but it is hoped that the new structure will turn out to be less unwieldy and more efficient than the previous one.

Section 16 of the Bill was mentioned by Senator Flor O'Mahony and several other Senators. This relates to the remuneration of officers and servants of harbour authorities. It is a standard provision based on similar provisions in other legislation. It provides for a system which has worked satisfactorily elsewhere and should work equally satisfactorily in the case of harbour authorities. Considerable reservation has been expressed on this item which I have noted. Functions to be reserved to the ports authorities will be detailed in regulations made by the Minister in consultation with the authority. It is not possible to be precise at this stage about the functions to be reserved to the authority but these will be in the general policy area of finance and planning. This is dealing with the two tier system. It would be inappropriate to go into any further detail in advance of consultation with the authority. Generally, however, it will provide a wide degree of freedom of manoeuvre to the board of management while retaining overall responsibility in major policy areas with the authority.

A number of Senators have expressed regret that Foynes Harbour Trustees have chosen to remain outside the scope of the proposed Shannon ports authority. They recognised their achievements and paid tribute to the work done by them over the years. I go along with that. I, too, express my regret while appreciating what has been achieved in Foynes. I outlined my position very clearly in my opening statement to the House. I reiterate my view which coincides with the views expressed by many Senators that it would be preferable if Foynes were in from the outset but I respect their views. I hope that they will come to see the new authority not as a threat but as an opportunity and that they will take steps to join it in the future. There can be no question of coercion. To do that would be counterproductive.

As is evident, the Minister for Communications is most anxious to ensure that legislative proposals, when enacted, represent the best formula available to achieve the legislators' intent. Therefore, everything said here will be considered very seriously. The Minister has a very good record as far as listening to and where possible taking on board, the constructive points put forward in this House or in the Dáil are concerned, provided that the overall evaluation of these would lead to better legislation. That is what it is all about. I assure the House that the Minister and I will be giving the most serious consideration to the views expressed by all Senators in what was an interesting Second Stage debate. We will consider them before we take Committee Stage of the Bill.

In relation to section 4 who will constitute the electorate for the two members?

That deals with the shipping interests. There is legislation dealing with this. I think it relates to the type of tonnage that was involved in the preceding year.

When will a precise register of those qualified to vote for these two members be available or is it available at present?

It deals with tonnage. It is a question of examining the tonnage over the previous year. I could communicate with the Senator on this matter and give him the exact details. I came across this recently in another case. There are strict guidelines laid down. It is not a question of guesswork or anything of that nature.

I am interested to hear that because that was one of the questions I asked also. It is interesting to note that while the labour work force will have two representatives, the shipowners will also have two, the chambers of commerce will have two and manufacturers will have two.

Obviously, we will have an interesting Committee Stage.

Committee Stage would be the proper forum in which to raise these matters in detail.

Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

I suggest we take it on Tuesday next, 24 June.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 24 June 1986.