Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Bill, 1992: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

I was dealing with the prudent balance in this Bill between the rights of individuals to their privacy and the prevention of serious crime or breach of State security. If one were to analyse the Bill closely the rights of the individual would be well favoured by the pendulum on balance of equity and fairness as against the onus to prevent serious crime or breach of State security. I say this because there is an inbuilt mechanism in the Bill to ensure that any interception is carried out lawfully and for only the most serious and grave reasons in the interest either of State security or the prevention of serious crime — for example, the importation of illegal arms shipments, large consignments of drugs or to prevent the serious crimes of murder, kidnapping, etc.

The Bill also contains two major safeguards, first the continuous review of the operation of the Bill by a High Court judge who will have wideranging powers under section 8 and, second, the appointment of a complaints referee. The referee will also have wideranging powers and will be either a judge of the Circuit or District Court or a solicitor or barrister of at least ten years standing.

There may be a notion abroad that this Bill may easily allow for what we call interception of mail or packages or telephone tapping, but such interception can only be made by a very rigid and strict method. If it is a criminal matter the request of application must come through the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána. He makes the request to a senior official in the Department of Justice nominated for that purpose by the Minister before it is submitted to the Minister for his decision. The Minister obviously has the final decision. Right down the line from the Garda Commissioner, to the senior official nominated in the Department of Justice to the Minister himself, very strict guidelines are laid down and it is only in the hope of detecting a serious crime or in the prevention of a breach of national security that a warrant would be issued. In other words, warrants will not, as a result of the proposed legislation, issue for any frivolous reason. If the interception is for reasons of State security the application may be made either through the Garda Commissioner or a military officer, a colonel or higher rank, designated by the Minister for Defence and the application must be accompanied by a recommendation in writing by the Minister for Defence. The application must also be made in writing and must contain sufficient information to enable the Minister for Justice to determine whether the relevant conditions justifying the issue of a warrant are fulfilled.

This legislation allows for no short cuts or deviations. There are very stringent requirements in the Bill which must be complied with before an interception warrant is signed. It is of particular interest to me to note that this Bill provides that a High Court Judge, an independent official, will ensure that the workings of the Bill are constantly reviewed. The judge will have wideranging powers and his supervision will be both technical and tight, which must be welcomed. The High Court Judge will be appointed by the President of the High Court after consultation with the Minister for Justice. It must not go unnoticed that the High Court Judge, when appointed, will be precluded from being involved in any criminal decision and cannot sit on any criminal trial thereafter. To an extent, by his appointment, that High Court Judge is isolated from further criminal cases, in case he would have heard, learned or received any information which might prejudice a suspect before him.

I have touched on some of the main proposals in this Bill and it is important that some of the major aspects are covered in a more concise manner. The crucial aspect is that the interceptions referred to in the Bill can be authorised only — this is very important — for the purpose of criminal investigations or in the interests of the security of the State. Subsection (2) provides that an authorisation shall be given by warrants signed by the Minister. There is one exception; in the case of exceptional urgency the Minister may give the authorisation orally in the first instance, but it must be followed by a written warrant as soon as possible or practicable thereafter. Obviously, a case where the Minister will give such an oral decision to intercept either a telephone line or mail would be a serious matter that could affect either the security of the State or prevent a serious crime. The Bill ensures that the Minister when giving the authorisation can only do so when all the relevant conditions laid down in section 4 in the case of a warrant for the purpose of criminal investigation and in section 5 in the case of a warrant in the interests of the security of the State, are fulfilled and that there has been no contravention of the requirements of section 6 relating to the procedure for applications or authorisations. It is important that this aspect be noted.

The procedure, as I see it, is that initially a written request comes to the Minister through either the Garda Síochána or, possibly, a colonel in the Army and before the Minister takes a decision a senior official in the Department of Justice analyses the request and ascertains whether it is a suitable request or application for an interception warrant. Having done that, the Minister then has to satisfy himself, as a further element of security, that the warrant, when issued, is for serious and urgent requirements. It should also be noted when a warrant is issued that the natural life of this warrant is three months. However, under this Bill the Minister may extend the duration for a further period not exceeding three months, but the same conditions which applied to the issue of the authorisation will also apply to the extension.

The investigation must relate to a serious offence and the definition in the Minister's speech, and in the Bill, is that it must be one for which an adult would be liable to a term of imprisonment of at least five years, if convicted, in other words, if it involved loss of life, serious personal injury or serious loss or damage to property, etc. I envisage, apart from a subversive threat to the State, that in the case of arson, where a life is threatened, kidnapping, abduction of a child or something of that nature, the provisions in the Bill will be brought into play only for the most valid reasons and interfering with a telephone line or intercepting a mail package would be the responsibility of the Garda or the telecommunications section of the appropriate Department.

Apart from the Garda, I also envisage the involvement of the Army, possibly Customs and Excise officials — in cases where the importation of drugs is suspected — or, Navy personnel, with "the investigation of offences ... concerning a serious offence or a suspected serious offence" or the security of the State. The Minister has an obligation to look at all aspects of the request before he issues a warrant. It is also important to note that apart from that procedure — and this is very important — the High Court Judge, when appointed, will have full rights of access to any files should he so desire. He may review the operation of this legislation every six months or every year; he may decide to look at a case or at a plethora of cases and ask questions, see the files and ensure that the warrant, when issued, is necessary and has been issued only after the stringent regulations in this Bill are fully complied with.

Section 7 of the Bill deals with the procedure for terminating interceptions when they are no longer required. If the Garda Síochána or the military officer designated under section 6 considers that interceptions are no longer required, he will have a legal duty under this legislation to inform, without delay, the nominated officer of the Minister for Justice who, in turn, has a duty to inform the Minister of the position. The Minister has a duty to terminate such an interception forthwith.

Section 8 of the Bill deals with the appointment of the High Court Judge. If the judge investigates a particular case, he is obliged to make his report available to both Houses of the Oireachtas. Such a power will mean that this information will be made public, except it involves a breach of security, and there are provisions where some of this can be eliminated. By and large, the investigation by the High Court Judge and his report will be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

It is important to emphasise the position of the complaints referee. He will have power to investigate a relevant authorisation, and to ensure that the original authorisation or warrant is valid, is properly obtained and will report back to the person who has complained to him. The referee will also have power to notify the applicant in writing of his conclusion, make a report of his findings to the Taoiseach and, if he thinks fit, to quash the authorisation and direct the destruction of any copy of any communications intercepted. This is another independent method by which an independent referee can ensure that there will be no breach of these regulations; it is another safeguard in this very precise and concise legislation.

This legislation must be broadly welcomed. It brings a statutory format to an ongoing situation where — and hopefully this Bill will become law in the not too distant future — we will have a statutory system which takes cognisance of the High Court and Supreme Court decisions. It has also taken cognisance of the well known case of Malonev. The Crown where as a result I understand of a criminal case being taken by Malone the police in England let it slip that there was an unlawful tap on his telephone. The upshot was that Malone took this case to the European Court of Human Rights and the long awaited decision of the European Court and the recommendations under what we now know as the Malone case have been taken into account by this Bill. This is very important. The court held that the tapping of Malone's telephone was in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I am of the view, and I think the Minister covered this point in his speech, that not alone did the current Department, the Ministers concerned and their staff deal with the Malone case, they went further because if we look closely at the provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights vis-a-vis the current proposed legislation, it is clear we have a much more tightly knit scene. In other words, we have built into this legislation better safeguards than were envisaged by the High Court, the Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights. This is welcome. Although it took the last three or four years for the Government to prepare this legislation, the wait was worthwhile having regard to the eventual outcome of this very technical, concise and rigid legislation that tries in a very prudent and sensible fashion to balance the rights of an individual and the rights of privacy against the duty of the Garda or the Army to protect citizens against any serious crime being committed or any security breach as far as the State is concerned.

I welcome this Bill and trust that it will get a speedy passage through this House.

I welcome the Minister to the House and, belatedly, congratulate him on his appointment.

I welcome the Bill and imagine my welcome will be widely shared by my colleagues here. On a technical point, I take it that the main activity covered by this Bill will be telephone tapping because letters are becoming increasingly obsolete. The Bill does not mention that great boon of modern communication, the fax machine. I do not know whether it would be possible to intercept fax messages, or if the fax machine was deliberately omitted. It strikes me that telephone tapping is what is mainly at issue here.

Senator Neville said that the Irish people cherish their traditional right to privacy but I do not know whether this is more than a generalisation. What is equally true on the other side is that there has been a very strong authoritarian tradition here, particularly in the history of the State, with censorship during World War II forming a centrepiece, and censorship in Church as well as in State, and a general authoritarian mentality which, I suggest, did not see anything terribly wrong about people's communications being intercepted. It is a welcome development of our time and particularly of our judicial process that the right of the individual to privacy has been increasingly emphasised and that we are getting away from the big brother syndrome, as it were.

I do not think any particular Government can be blamed overall for this because in the seventies when the "heavy gang" were at work we can be sure there was a great deal of interception and telephone tapping going on that we did not know anything about. At the same time, I was rather amused the Minister kept a straight face when he mentioned the admirable Mr. Malone whose case against the United Kingdom has provided this Bill with the pretext for its introduction. Be that as it may, we are all aware, of course, that the real reason this Bill is introduced are the events in 1982 and, to be fair to them, the Progressive Democrats' insistence that this forms part of the whole programme of reform. This is a very historic and dramatic Bill since its introduction was the cause of extremely dramatic events — the sudden departure of our former Cathaoirleach from the scene, followed within a very brief period by the departure of the former Taoiseach. The repercussions of this Bill and of its imminent introduction into the House had very important consequences, indeed.

Senator Neville mentioned the Arnold and Kennedy case and I have to echo the admiration of many of us for these intrepid journalists in the case of totally unwanted attacks on their integrity and totally unconvincing reasons for interfering with their privacy. They have been vindicated by the courts and that is a very good thing. The hope has been expressed by Senator Neville that these events will not recur, but I want to make the point that none of us is deceived by the Minister's copy reference to Malonev. the United Kingdom. We are thankful to the courts for the insistence on their right to privacy as one of the unenumerated personal rights and we see this Bill as a development of that court position.

As Senator O'Donovan pointed out in detail, the Bill has all kinds of watertight sections for safeguarding privacy in communications. At the same time, we are all aware that the State has been intermittently in a security crisis from its foundation, particularly over the past 20 years. Indeed, the events of the past week or so with the discovery of arms dumps and the increasing evidence of a big hidden Ireland network of support for subversives, will make us all accept that a proper degree of police supervision in communications is called for. No ordinary citizen has any reason to fear this kind of intrusion on his or her privacy. The provision for a designated judge and a complaints referee are novel and very welcome features to further safeguard this privacy.

I welcome the Bill. I would call attention to the fact that we owe its existence to very grave events in our political life ten years ago — and it was not simply ten years ago, with respect to Senator O'Donovan. The repercussions of those events came back with a vengeance just a few months ago. If we have a new Cathaoirleach and a new Taoiseach, it is partly because the retiring officers have paid the penalty for their participation in what was a criminal interference with the rights of ordinary citizens — neither of them is any great loss.

I welcome the Bill, and I want to state clearly that on two further grounds I think the Government are living up to their obligations in producing this Bill. At least, the Oireachtas may be moving towards meeting the recriminations directed against them by a Supreme Court Judge in recent times that they have not been doing its business. This is an example of the Oireachtas, by taking due measures for the security of the State upholding scrupulously the rights of the individual citizen. It is I hope part of the beginning of the process of the Oireachtas doing its duty at last and not leaving it to the courts to uphold individual rights.

I also hope that the Bill will help to exorcise the ghost of the 1982 GUBU. I support the Bill warmly.

I welcome this legislation and I welcome Minister Wallace again to the House. I would like to put on record my thanks to Minister Flynn, whom I wish well in Justice. I was sorry that in the middle of his address I had to leave for an important meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and that, therefore, I did not hear the second part of it.

This is an extremely technical Bill and you would have to be a lawyer to understand or even half understand it. Before he leaves the Chamber, I want to comment on Senator Murphy's remarks. The present Government and I, as a member of that party, do not need advice, pushing or anything if good legislation is to be put in place. I appeal to everyone to leave things that happened behind us if a Bill as positive as this is in the House, a Bill which I totally and absolutely support. Senator Murphy obviously thought I was going to make more of an attack on him, so he stood; but he left when he saw I was going to be calm.

In his address the Minister said:

If the telephone calls could be listened to, this might provide a link in the investigations which would enable the crime to be prevented or detected. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights has accepted that and I quote "the increase of crime and particularly the growth of organised crime, the increasing sophistication of criminals and the ease and speed with which they can move about have made telephone interception an indispensable tool in the investigation and prevention of serious crime".

Later on he very clearly stated the position arising from the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Malone case, where the court held that tapping Malone's telephone was a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights — that the interference was not "in accordance with the law". The Minister stated:

In order to comply with that Convention the conditions for the authorisation of interceptions should be laid down by law; it is not sufficient that they should be the subject of undertakings by the Executive.

Here again is an example of Europe having an effect on our legislation and of our putting in place positive legislation to deal with problems.

In another part of the Minister's speech there is a reference to a warrant which will remain in force for a maximum period of three months. I just wonder why we are talking about a warrant for three months, which can be extended if necessary. I am sure the Minister will answer that. The Minister also said:

Therefore, the Minister for Justice will have to take a considered decision, in each case, after balancing the claims of privacy for communications and those of criminal investigation, before deciding that the needs of criminal investigation must prevail.

This is very strong legislation. I warn our Ministers and our authorities, our Garda Commissioner and the Army, to be extremely careful that they do not make a mistake and interfere with a person's privacy.

The Minister referred to the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and "the appropriate military officer of the rank of colonel..." I would ask the Minister for Justice why not the Army Chief of Staff when it is the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána? Under this legislation it could be any colonel.

The Minister put a lot of emphasis on sections 8 and 9 of the Bill. It was at that point, unfortunately, I had to leave the Chamber for a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and I would have liked to hear him rather than trying to read through his speech now.

We have involved in this legislation two Departments, the Garda Commissioner and the Army colonel. We would want to remember that at times there are different rules in the Garda Síochána and the Army. This point is covered in section 6 — the security of the State. While there are two Ministers, the commissioner and an Army colonel involved, it is, I presume the Minister for Justice who has the final say.

I read the explanatory memorandum with great care. I was glad to hear Senator O'Donovan admitting how technical this Bill was, since he is dealing with this type of phraseology every day in his professional life as a lawyer. When reading through this Bill you would want somebody beside you explaining the sections. All this is familiar to the draftsmen but I wish they would present it in an intelligible form to a normal mortal like me who has an interest in legislation. Every paragraph in the memorandum refers back to something else. I said this before I was as familiar with legislation as I now am.

Section 9, (2) (b) says:

A person appointed to be the Referee shall be a judge of the Circuit Court, a judge of the District Court or a person who is for the time being a practising barrister, or a practising solicitor, of not less than 10 years' standing.

I wonder why the Minister had to put in a choice of four for one appointment.

Section 9 (2) (f) also says:

The Referee may be removed from office by the Taoiseach but only for stated misbehaviour or incapacity and upon resolutions passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann calling for his removal.

I am glad that before such an extraordinary decision is made it will come before the two Houses of the Oireachtas. I would emphasise that the House should be consulted on decisions, especially decisions as great as that one. I presume whoever gets the appointment would be absolutely right for the job.

I am one of the few people in this House who was at the receiving end of phone tapping; I did not know it for a while. It is quite a few years ago, not 1982. I was shaken by it, — and it is not easy to shake me. I am glad the reasons for giving permission to tap a person's phone are so stringent. In the early part of my contribution I avoided referring to recent years or the time of the distinguished Cathaoirleach who replaced me. That is sincerely meant.

Before I sit down I want to strike a lighter note; this happened in the days of the old phones. One morning I wanted to contact urgently a certain Minister. I rang a certain village and asked if the exchange would put me through to his home, but the lady in the exchange said to me, "Mrs. Honan, I cannot put you through because he has gone to a funeral; he only left the house ten minutes ago". That is the lovely Ireland we have left behind. That Minister is not serving now. He went on to higher things.

Were you telephoning Sligo that morning?

No, it was not Sligo. We have changed from the days when somebody in the local exchange could tell me the movements of the Minister. It was good for him and it kept his constituents happy because I was able to say where he was.

I compliment the Minister and the Government on bringing in this much needed Bill. However, I hope it will not be abused. It is excellent legislation and is welcomed by all my colleagues in the House. I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Wallace, and I hope he will convey my message to the Minister, Deputy Flynn, about whose appointment I am very happy.

First, I welcome the Minister of State to the House. Members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Women's Rights miss his very valued contributions. He has been ably replaced, but his concern for the disadvantaged women in his constituency always came to the fore when we mentioned legislation that might be passed but needed a push from the committee. He is sadly missed, but I think he will bring his understanding to bear on those issues and push in the direction we would like him to go, as he did when he was a member of the committee.

I am glad this long overdue Bill has been initiated in the Seanad. It will give us the opportunity to push hard for more Bills of a similar nature to be initiated here; it is good also to put on the record that they are always very substantial Bills. This is a good Bill but it is very complicated. It took the Minister at least 45 minutes to read his very detailed speech.

The purpose of the Bill is to place on a statutory basis the existing powers under which the Minister for Justice can issue warrants authorising interception. He referred to telecommunications messages as telephone calls and postal packets, as letters, post cards and parcels — perhaps, as Senator Murphy mentioned, the fax machines could be included in postal packets. The Bill sets out in detail the procedure that must be followed before an interception can be authorised. The only purposes for which interceptions may be authorised, as was stressed by the Minister, will be those of criminal investigation and the security of the State. Of course, if that is the case nobody will have any problems at all with that reference. When referring to the system of authorised interceptions the Minister stressed the reconciliation of two important principles. It is worth emphasising them again: first, the privacy of correspondence and telephone calls and, second, the need to combat crime and subversion. It is important to stress these facts so that there is no ambiguity about what is involved.

As Senator Neville said, we pride ourselves on rights of freedom, though Senator Murphy disagreed and referred to us as perhaps having come through an authoritarian system where the nod and wink has been part of our culture and, I suppose, is still there today in relation to another issue which is being hotly debated at the moment. There is also the wish not to be perceived to be an informer. All that is part and parcel of a cultural inheritance. There is a balance, at times, betwen the feeling of freedom and this subtle sort of inherited attitude we might have towards the truth. I suppose it is something that has got us into trouble throughout our history, and it is something we should have exorcised at this stage.

It is important to refer back to the events of 1982. We could be very pleasant and civilised and pretend that these things did not happen. Certain names may have been forgotten over the years, but I think the names of Bruce Arnold and Geraldine Kennedy are remembered as the journalists whose phones were tapped. The fact that they are still extremely good journalists and working today is a credit to their commitment to their professionalism and that they still continue to probe and to write the truth. Geraldine Kennedy has gone through a political career and has a view of politics from both sides. This has helped her in her investigative journalism. That is very important.

The Minister referred to the differences between the 1985 Bill and the Bill now before us. He stated that in the intervening years other things have come on stream which he has included in the Bill. It is also important — and I stress this as it relates to the problems emerging today for the right of women to travel and information — that the human rights issue be dealt with and that we look to Europe and the EC Directives to ensure that we co-operative with the law at all times. That is particularly relevant in the case that has been mentioned by all who have spoken so far. There is the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Malonev. the United Kingdom where the court held that the tapping of Malone's telephone was in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in that the interference was not in accordance with the law. That is very important. In the hope that the Maastricht Treaty will be passed — and I think it will — it is important for us to appreciate that our legislation ties in with European legislation. I wonder how we would operate if we did not have that guiding principle there at all times.

It is worth referring to Article 13 and quoting it, as the Minister did:

Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

Article 8 states that it is required under the European Convention on Human Rights that interference with the right of privacy or correspondence is permitted if it is necessary in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well being of the country. It is important to spell this out because it has been summarised in the initial part of the Bill as it relates to criminal investigation or the security of the State, the prevention of disorder and crime, the protection of health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. The Minister then states that of all the grounds for authorising interception on which the Convention permits Governments to rely we should rely only on national security and the prevention of crime.

Another area with which people will be extremely satisifed is the designation of a judge of the High Court to keep the operation of the Act under review, to ascertain whether its provisions are being complied with and to report to the Taoiseach. I do not intend spelling out the various ways in which this can be done. This provision is extremely welcome.

The other new provision the Minister referred to is that a person who believes that his communications have been improperly intercepted will be able to have his complaint investigated by a complaints referee, again from the legal area, a serving judge of the Circuit Court or District Court or a barrister or solicitor of ten years' standing, if he upholds the complaint, who would have the power to quash the authorisation and to make a binding recommendation for payment of compensation to the complainant. Every angle has been looked at. I applaud the detail in which the Bill brings all these things into effect.

Compensation is something people demand nowadays as of right; it is written into the Bill. The infringement of people's rights, particularly in the area of phone tapping or interference with mail, would be of such magnitude that obviously compensation would have to be paid; but I do not know if this would ever make up for the trauma suffered by these two journalists. I doubt very much if material benefits would ever make up for the trauma of having one's phone tapped. As Senator Honan said, it was a horrific experience for her and she was innocent of any wrong doing. One can imagine how one would feel in a similar circumstance.

For me to go through the Bill line by line is not essential. I accept and welcome the Bill in its entirety and hope it will have a speedy passage through the Seanad. If there are amendments, obviously they will be taken on Committee Stage. The implementation of this Bill should be ensured as quickly as possible despite the queues, I presume, of other legislation in the Dáil and the fact that post-18 June there will be little or nothing done in either House because of national concern about the particular issue before us. I hope we will not have to wait to have this Bill passed. Hopefully, we will never have illegal telephone tapping again.

I thank Senators Neville, O'Donovan, Murphy, Honan and Jackman for their constructive and helpful contributions to this debate. The subject we are discussing is both technical and delicate, the interception of communications, making it difficult to talk about it.

The underlying purpose of the Bill is to strike a balance between protecting the fundamental public interest involved in the security of the State and the effective investigation of serious offences on the one hand and safeguarding the right of individuals to privacy of communication on the other hand. Some degree of official interception of telephone communications is a feature of law enforcement internationally and must be accepted in order to be effective. Any system of official interception must be accompanied by the greatest degree of secrecy that can be achieved compatible with the interests of justice.

With a view to achieving a proper balance between public and private interests, the Bill provides for clear but limited circumstances in which authorisations can be given. It provides a procedure under which a complaints referee who will have full access to all relevant papers and information can investigate complaints and award compensation for improper authorisations. More importantly, it provides for continuous supervision of the operation of this system by a judge of the High Court who will also have complete access to all relevant papers and information. Under the Bill any authorisation can come under the scrutiny of an independent judicial authority of high standing and that is, in my opinion, the surest guarantee that authorisations given under the Act will be proper. It is against that background of safeguards that the provisions of the Bill must be considered which, while providing a remedy for a contravention of a provision of the Act first, provides that such a contravention shall not give rise to a cause of action, although it will not affect a cause of action for the infringement of a constitutional right; and, second, limits evidence, disclosure and discovery tending to show that an authorisation was given to a stage in court proceedings where it has been determined that an interception has taken place. It would be a very serious weakness in my view in the system of interceptions if persons, by taking legal proceedings, could find out what authorisations had been given in relation to them. Indeed, if people could readily gain access to such information simply by the expedient of taking proceedings, it is very questionable, indeed, whether the system of interception could survive as an effective system. The Bill proceeds on the basis that nobody has a right to know whether their phone has been lawfully tapped, whereas everybody has a right to know or to find out that there has or has not been a contravention of the Act in relation to them.

I now want to deal with a number of points raised by Senators in the course of the debate. Senator Neville thought that at first the designated judge should report every year instead of every two years as provided in the Bill. I will undertake that the Minister will look at this recommendation before Committee Stage. Under section 8 (2) (a) the designated judge can report if he so wishes, or feels it necessary, at intervals of less than two years. Senator Murphy wondered if it would be possible to intercept fax messages and the answer is unequivocally yes; the term "telecommunications" would include fax messages. Despite what Senator Murphy said, the Malone case was one of the issues which led to this Bill. Moreover, it also influenced the contents of the Bill.

Senator Honan wished to know why the warrant is only for three months and if it can be renewed. The three month period is in accordance with present administrative practice and is regarded as sufficiently long. If the circumstances which gave rise to the original warrants still exist, then it can be renewed. It is not the intention that warrants continue indefinitely until a crime is detected.

Senator Honan also wished to know why the documents are kept for three years. I presume that what she wanted to find out was why they are only kept for three years, or maybe why they are kept for as long as three years. The answer I am informed is that three years is long enough for any review by the designated judge. To keep the documents longer would be regarded as unnecessary and might be regarded as an abuse of authority.

Senator Honan also wondered why four different categories of persons could be appointed as complaints referee. It is really two categories, a judge or a practising lawyer. It will simply widen the choice when the time comes for the appointment to be made.

With those brief comments which I think cover most of the points raised, I thank Senators for their constructive and helpful contributions and I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

It is proposed to take Committee Stage in two weeks' time.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 20 May 1992.
Sitting suspended at 5.40 p.m. and resumed at 6 p.m.