I would like to make a point in relation to section 3. I recall former Senator Murphy complaining that the explanatory memorandum often had the effect of confusing him as to what was in a Bill. I will read the explanatory memorandum in regard to section 3.
Section 3 amends section 8 (8) of the Gas Act, 1976 so that in addition to the conditions which the Minister could previously attach to his consent for a pipeline, he can now impose a condition in regard to transfer of an interest in a pipeline by Bord Gáis to another party and to any subsequent transfers.
The explanation stops at that point. The greater part of this Bill deals with section 3 which ensures the protection of the people in relation to this pipeline. However, these assurances given are revoked in section 3 (8H) (c) which reads:
Paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection shall not apply where the contravention or failure to comply in question occurs outside the State or a designated area (within the meaning of the Continental Shelf Act, 1968) unless the person responsible for the contravention or failure to comply is an Irish citizen or a body established in the State by or under any enactment.
It is important that security is built into this legislation.
An earlier part of section 3 refers to the construction of the pipeline as an area where consent would apply. Once the construction is completed there is no great need for conditions because the construction is either satisfactory or unsatisfactory at that stage. The presumption is that it is satisfactory once it is in operation. Does the second point refer to the operation of the pipeline? I do not think the third point which relates to the maintenance of the pipeline is all that important, but I accept it is desirable to include it. However, I can visualise a situation in the years ahead where the ownership of the interconnector and pipeline between this island and the UK may be transferred to a person or body outside the State. According to section 3 (8H)(c), we are powerless. Will the Minister confirm if my interpretation of the situation is correct?