Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Committee Stage (Resumed)

NEW SECTION
Debate resumed on Government amendment No. 1:
In page 5, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
“Short title and commencement
1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2016.
(2) Subject to subsections (3) to (8), this Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or different provisions.
(3) Section 11 (other than subsections (10) to (12)), sections 14 and 15 and subsection (3)(d) of section 17 shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than 3 years after the date on which the order concerned is made).
(4) Subsections (1) to (3) of section 12 shall come into operation—
(a) other than insofar as they relate to broadcast advertisements, on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than one year after the date on which the order concerned is made), and
(b) insofar as they relate to broadcast advertisements, on such day or days as the Minister, following consultation with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than one year after the date on which the order concerned is made).
(5) Subsections (7) to (11) of section 12 shall come into operation—
(a) other than insofar as they relate to broadcast advertisements, on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than 3 years after the date on which the order concerned is made), and
(b) insofar as they relate to broadcast advertisements, on such day or days as the Minister, following consultation with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, may by order or orders appoint (being a day a day or days not earlier than 3 years after the date on which the order concerned is made).
(6) Section 18 shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister, following consultation with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than one year after the date on which the order concerned is made).
(7) Sections 13 and 18 shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than one year after the date on which the order concerned is made).
(8) Section 17 (other than subsection (3)(d)) shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint (being a day or days not earlier than 18 months after the date on which the order concerned is made).".

I wish to point out something stark. I wrote about the matter in 2013. There are 1,200 cases of cancer every year owing to alcohol. No one wants to talk about this. I only heard it mentioned on "Morning Ireland" recently. Alcohol causes cancer of the liver, mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast and large bowel. We do not hear about any of this. It is a drug with toxic and intoxicating effects. In 2012, we topped the poll for heavy binge drinking. Drinking three to six standard drinks per day increases the risk of breast cancer by 41%. Women, especially young girls, would like to hear this. One person dies every seven hours in Ireland from an alcohol-related illness. One does not need to say much more.

I wish to discuss the large retailers who have appeared at the tops and bottoms of our towns and closed down small retailers and are doing what they like, particularly as regards alcohol. They can advertise and price it at will. One can get some alcohol for nothing if one buys enough. I would not like to see them closing down the small retailer who is trying hard to be responsible. They are the ones running amok. The largest Tesco in Ireland is in Naas. It is bigger than the town. What kind of planning went into that?

My argument contains a contradiction. People must be told that alcohol can cause cancer. The only way to achieve the latter is through education. I was reared in a town where there were 18 pubs. I know all about alcohol and what it can do to people and families. That is no one's preserve. Some of us in the Chamber were reared around and beaten in such situations.

The contradiction relates to the separation and the large retailers against the small Spar or Centra shops that are doing their best to stay open all hours of the day and night. I am talking about convenience stores against the large stores. My colleagues are correct. We will have brochures through our doors that are larger than gifts in any Christmas hamper telling us when and how cheaply we can get booze. It will not necessarily be the best booze either because sometimes we do not know where the vodka is coming from.

I will speak to certain amendments further, but the issue of cancer must be discussed. We talk about cancer in every other way but we are afraid to discuss it in terms of alcohol because the latter has a huge lobby behind it.

I have not spoken on this Bill before because it was the remit of my ministerial colleague while I was Minister for Health. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell has said much of what I was going to say. My figures vary slightly - they come from the Irish Cancer Society - and show that there are 900 new alcohol-related cancer cases every year. The WHO classifies alcohol as a class 1 carcinogen, meaning that it causes cancers of the mouth, the pharynx, the larynx, the oesophagus, the liver, the pancreas, the bowel and the breast in humans.

What of the 1,500 beds occupied every night out of the approximately 11,000 in our system that are related to alcohol use? What of the tens of thousands of families whose lives have been destroyed because of alcohol in terms of the hurt it has caused, the damage to relationships, the unwanted pregnancies and the violence, not to mention obesity, of which alcohol is a huge part? Not alone is it highly calorific, it also reduces one's resolve when one is trying to be a bit more restrained. It causes lowering of blood sugar, which will make one more hungry, and causes a low-grade gastroenteritis, which makes one seek out foods to relieve that. This is a serious problem. Alcohol also suppresses the mitochondrion, which is the engine of the cell. That is why we feel so bad the next day and have so little volition and energy.

We have an ambivalent relationship with alcohol, and I am no different from anyone else in this regard, but we have an opportunity today to support the Minister of State, Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, in what I believe is a hugely important public health initiative. I refer to those who asked for other measures to be included in the Bill. First, why let perfection get in the way of the perfectly good? Second, we all know full well that if an amendment on low-cost selling is tabled today, it will delay the passage of this Bill considerably. It is an issue that has to be addressed and I hope the Government does address it.

With regard to the smaller operator, there is no doubt that visibility is of key importance. If there is any doubt about that all we have to do is look at the plain packaging of cigarettes and the way the industry fought against that because it was the last billboard on which to advertise its product. A lovely array of shelves of different types of alcohol including alcopops, wine or whatever part of the industry one wants to focus on, and the multicolours that will attract a young person's eye, is advertising. We know that to be the case with cigarettes, so why do we not acknowledge it when it comes to alcohol? We have to protect our children from starting to drink too young. The gastroenterologists in Beaumont Hospital will tell us that we are seeing cirrhosis in men in their mid-20s, something never seen previously. That is astonishing, and is as a result of the availability of cheap alcohol. As for not including the small corner shop, I remind Members they did not sell alcohol 20 years ago. The argument being made now is that it is the only way the smaller operators can survive, which I do not buy-----

-----with the best will in the world to those smaller operators. We have before us the different methodologies by which people can hide the product. That is all that is being required. Nobody is asking people to build 10 ft. high walls or-----

We are not at the relevant section yet.

If alcohol has a value, it is as a social lubricant. I refer to the pub, the club and places where there is supervision and an opportunity to mix. As I stated, alcohol is not like other products. It causes cancer. We have to educate our children about it. We have to have an approach like the one we took to tobacco, and it should be multifaceted. There are many good measures in the Bill. There is more we can do, but can we not start with what we have before us, move it quickly through the House, and not allow a situation to arise where people will look on afterwards and say there was filibustering on this Bill to delay it?

There are parents watching this debate who are worried about their children. Early Childhood Ireland, the ISPCC, Barnardos, many medical organisations and others are concerned about children and young people. Youth organisations that have 40,000 volunteers are concerned about this issue, so I ask the Members to think about all of those as well as what I believe the Minister of State has achieved, namely, a proportionate response to a serious public health risk.

I acknowledge the contributions of the Members. What came across strongly is the support Members from across parties and from none have for this Bill. The focus on our children came across strongly from Members who contributed so far. There are other considerations, but we must never forget the reason this is called the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. This is the Department of Health producing a document which will help address the difficult problem in our country with regard to the consumption of alcohol. The figures are available. Alcohol abuse is costing us billions of euro every year. Can we imagine what we could do if we had that kind of money to put into our services?

People raised the question as to whether minimum unit pricing should be left to one side as against looking at restoring the groceries order. The groceries order is not the responsibility of the Department of Health. This is the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. The responsibility of this Department is the health of the people in the country. An examination has been done and all of what we are doing is evidence-based. A study by the University of Sheffield found that below-cost selling would have a negligible impact on alcohol consumption or related harms. That is a fact. That is the evidence on which we are basing it. If people are anxious to have the groceries order restored, they should speak to the relevant Minister in that regard. If they are anxious that large multiples can claim back whatever they are able to claim back, they should speak to the Minister for Finance or the Revenue Commissioners about it. It is not the responsibility of the Department of Health to deal with that. What we are trying to do is target harmful drinking with minimum unit pricing. We are trying to target young people with minimum unit pricing. It is working in other parts of the world. I firmly believe we will be able to do it.

I made the point earlier that we must take into account the challenges Brexit is bringing with regard to Northern Ireland but that should not stop us proceeding with what we want to do. I hope the Minister will have the opportunity to bring it in, along with our counterparts in the North of Ireland, but in terms of our Bill we must not allow ourselves to become paralysed by events in the North of Ireland. We have to proceed with our own legislation. This is our country. It is our society, and our children, that we are dealing with. Women are presenting, and Members can speak to Professor Frank Murray about this, with cirrhosis of the liver in their 30s that was only seen in men in their 60s and 70s. There is something seriously wrong here. If we do not realise that we have a serious problem with alcohol, what are we here for as public representatives?

This is the long-awaited Bill we have been looking forward to that will address the difficulties we are having in our society as a result of the harmful consumption of alcohol. I enjoy a drink the same as almost every Member here. I would like to think I do not abuse alcohol but I am very concerned about the way alcohol is being abused in our society. We can see it. We see the manipulation going on by certain people who do not want this Bill. They want us to talk all day about nothing and not deliver on our Bill. This is a very important Bill for our society, our children, our health services and so on. We must recognise that and accept the evidence.

I have in my hand the report on the pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015. The Chairman at the time was the then Deputy Jerry Buttimer. People who are still Members of the Oireachtas sat on this committee. Deputies Catherine Byrne and Regina Doherty, now Ministers of State, Clare Daly, Billy Kelleher, Seamus Healy, Peter Fitzpatrick, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, now Minister, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Robert Troy, the then Senator Thomas Byrne, Senator Colm Burke and others spent six weeks working on the pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill. They heard evidence from everybody.

I urge anybody who has any questions as to the reason the Department is producing this Bill to read this document because 11 of the 17 colleagues on that committee are still Members of the Oireachtas. We should talk to them. We should ask Deputy Billy Kelleher or Senator Jerry Buttimer why they thought this was a good thing to sign up to. It is crucial that we recognise the work our colleagues have put into this Bill in terms of compiling the evidence and listening to everybody across industry, people who were campaigning on the issue of alcohol consumption and the Children's Rights Alliance.

Everybody was listened to. Let us respect the work they put into this and read the comments made by Professor John Crown, a leading cancer specialist in this country. These are the people to whom the hard-working committee listened. It produced this document, much of which is in the Bill. Let us not be distracted and let us focus on what we want to do. It is now 2.20 p.m. We are due to finish at 3.30 p.m. I do not think we are going to achieve what we really want to achieve here, which is to get through the amendments we have; we certainly will not get there today at the pace at which we are proceeding. I urge Members to stick to the amendments that have been proposed and deal with them one by one. I will be very happy to answer questions as they come up because it is so important for us to get this right.

This is why, unlike others, I attempted to speak to the amendments. We could all have made Second Stage speeches but there is a vast range of amendments we need to get through today. I agree with the Minister of State on that front. In my earlier remarks, I asked the Minister of State to comment on the discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive about the choreography of the implementation of minimum unit pricing because that choreography is, as she accepts and understands, extremely important if we are to achieve the ambitions of this legislation which is, as she notes, long awaited. I would appreciate some clarity on that in so far as the Minister of State can provide it. Obviously, she reserves the right as Minister of State to commence the legislation and that is what this amendment allows her to do but it would be useful for us if she put on the public record the status of her discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive and when she expects minimum unit pricing to be introduced in Northern Ireland so we can proceed with this legislation and realise its ambition. In respect of section 17, the Minister of State mentioned some exemption pertaining to print media. Could she elaborate on that?

That is further on in the Bill.

I thought this amendment was covered by this grouping. No, it is not.

We are dealing with section 1.

I very much agree with Senator Nash. To be frank, while I welcome the Bill, I also think it is important that Members have their say. For far too long, we have seen legislation rammed through this House with huge mistakes made further down the road. Every Member has the right to make comments on any amendment or section during Committee Stage and I ask the Minister of State to respect that.

Comments have to be on the amendment that is being discussed.

The Chair will be very fair to everybody. Everyone will have their say. Senator Wilson has the floor.

The Minister of State said we must move on regardless of Brexit. That is all well and good but Brexit will have and is having a huge effect on the part of the country I come from, which is south Ulster and the other Border counties. The SuperValus and Centras of this country might not be regarded as small operators but they operate as franchises. They own the franchise and if that franchise goes down, SuperValu and Centra remain but the franchisees and their families as well as their employees and their families are gone so it is important that we take our time here and listen to what Members of this House have to say. As a result of the drop in the value of sterling, Brexit is crucifying small operators in the Border and midlands area. In principle, I agree with almost the entire Bill but there are difficulties with it and it is up to us to point them out to the Minister of State and the House.

In respect of advertising, I would like to hear what proposals are in this legislation to restrict advertising on YouTube, Facebook and other social media outlets because I do not see any. It is all right to prevent the national broadcaster and other broadcasters from having alcohol advertisements but what about young people because they are the ones we need to get at before they start on alcohol? We did this in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in respect of tobacco and it worked. I smoked when I was 15 years of age. My daughter would think it was crazy to smoke because of legislation and education and this is vitally important. Let us take our time on this and get it right. While some people might think it is only the Seanad, during my 14 and a half years in this Oireachtas, the best pieces of legislation have come from this House. Very few mistakes have been made in this House so, with respect, the Minister of State should respect this House. We will take whatever time it takes but let us get it right and let everybody's opinion be listened to.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 1 deleted.
SECTION 2

Amendments Nos. 2 to 9, inclusive, 11 to 13, inclusive, 29, and 36 to 40, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 2:
In page 6, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:
" "Act of 2009” means the Broadcasting Act 2009;".

A matter I wish to raise that will come up in more detail later on concerns interpretation. One of the fundamental issues we will be discussing later on concerns structural separation. In the interests of clarity and possible reassurance to allay some fears that might be out there, there should be a clear definition of structural separation. It is worded in the Bill and a full section is afforded to it but it is not mentioned in the interpretation. We could introduce an interpretation of the terms "structural separation" on Report Stage or deal with it later in a different type of wording. It is fundamental to some of the concerns, which may only be perceived. Let us debate this later on, but it is something we need to address.

Is the amendment agreed?

I am raising a question and I would appreciate some response from the Minister of State regarding my query about an interpretation of a very fundamental part of the Bill that is quoted in section 20. The two words are "structural separation". There is no definition or understanding of what that term means so it is something we need to address. I would like some response.

The term "structural separation" has caused a significant problem. It is the term used in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 where structural separation was proposed by the then Government. This would involve an actual wall being built along with a till and a separate door and alcohol being located within that unit which would be structurally separate from the rest of the shop or supermarket. This is a hangover from that piece of legislation. I believe this term does not adequately reflect what we want, which is restricting visibility so that children and young people will not be attracted to alcohol. We can certainly look at this on Report Stage and consider something that would be more appropriate. Members can see from the illustrations we produced that we are not asking anybody to structurally separate the premises. We are asking them to visually separate alcohol from the view of children and young people. That is all that is being required here. I hope this clears the matter up for the Senator.

I thank the Minister of State for the clarification and assurance that it will be addressed. It will be helpful as we proceed through the Bill. On Report Stage, we will have an opportunity to include a clear definition so there is a proper understanding and no doubt as to the Minister's aspirations or objectives. Whatever it will be replaced by should be included in the interpretation on section 2 so the understanding is clear from the outset.

I am confused on the amendments. Are we on amendments Nos. 4, 7 to 9, inclusive, and 12?

No, we are debating amendments Nos. 2 to 9, inclusive, 11, 13, 29 and 36 to 40, inclusive.

Are we finished on them?

They can be discussed together. This is the only opportunity to discuss them.

I thank the Minister of State for outlining the Government amendments. The Minister of State is doing a great job and I appreciate the great work she is doing on the Bill. She can be assured of my support for all her amendments. However, I will speak on amendments Nos. 4, 7 to 9, inclusive, 12 and 38 to 40, inclusive.

I thank Senators Rose Conway-Walsh, Máire Devine, Paul Gavan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Niall Ó Donnghaile, Fintan Warfield, Alice-Mary Higgins, Colette Kelleher, David Norris and Grace O'Sullivan for joining with me to table these and subsequent amendments. Many of us have been working as part of our cross-party group on alcohol harm. This is a time when politics is good, and we work together for the public good and the good of our country. I thank the Minister of State and especially her officials, particularly for the briefing they organised yesterday. I welcome to the Gallery Siobhán Creaton from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Catherine Keane and Suzanne Costello from Alcohol Action Ireland, and Brian Allen from the RISE Foundation. I thank Alcohol Action Ireland and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland for their tireless work over the years to guide us to this point and, in particular, their support for my work in this area. I also thank Professors Frank Murray and Joe Barry. I also warmly thank the wide range of public health campaigners who have come together as the Alcohol Health Alliance with a mission to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. I especially thank former Senator Jillian van Turnhout for her assistance personally to me.

In my manifesto, I committed to being a voice for the vulnerable, and this Bill is one of my priority areas. I will be sharing a glimpse of the work of the RISE Foundation which is focused on family members who have a loved one with an alcohol problem. Children living with parents who drink in a harmful manner are among the most vulnerable in society. I am extremely passionate about this, as the Minister of State knows. The wide range of harms that are caused to children as a result of harmful drinking in the home is known as "hidden harm". The harm is not often visible in public and largely kept behind closed doors. I have examined the evidence and I hold the life stories of the most vulnerable, and so it is with confidence that I say both my head and heart fully support the Bill and the package of measures it contains. The amendments I put forward are to strengthen the Bill, and I hope I am successful. At the very least, let us not water down the Bill.

In this morning's Irish Examiner there was a powerful letter by a father, John Higgins, to his 19 year old son, David, who died by suicide in March 2011. In the letter he said:

Dear Sir,

In the coming week the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will go to Committee Stage in the Seanad. After the decision by the Court of Session in Scotland to clear the way for minimum unit pricing to be introduced in Scotland there is now a very distinct possibility that minimum unit pricing may well become a reality in Ireland.

There is still a chance that the alcohol industry will challenge this ruling in the UK Supreme Court.

No doubt the lobbying to minimise the effect that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill would have on the price, availability and promotion of alcohol in Ireland has gone to another level, if that is possible, seen as it has been unrelenting since the early days of the birth of this Bill.

We read of IBEC and the alcohol industry submitting amendments to the Bill.

They say structural separation of alcohol in retail outlets would be costly and unmanageable and that as a result jobs could be lost, they also say that minimum unit pricing won’t work, they also believe advertising restrictions are too strict.

The purpose of this Bill, in its entirety, should not be lost to the pressure of lobbying and perhaps threats of job losses and closures. This Bill will save lives, it will reduce consumption, it will help to minimise the continuous bombardment of our children and grandchildren by alcohol companies advertising their product. We can attribute three deaths per day to alcohol abuse, 547,500 hospital bed nights every year are occupied by people suffering from alcohol related illnesses, and alcohol is a contributing factor in at least 50% of suicides.

Our 19-year-old son David died by suicide in March 2011.

It states on his death certificate that alcohol was a contributing factor in his death, that information is there for a reason. I write this letter for that reason.

We should remember David and John Higgins and all the other families who are impacted by alcohol related harm.

Amendments Nos. 4, 7 to 9, inclusive, and 38 are interrelated. The amendments deal with the availability of free alcohol when another service is paid for, such as free wine when getting one's nails or hair done, free beer in the barber, or free alcoholic drinks when buying special cinema tickets. Many of the businesses which are offering free alcohol with a service are not licensed premises and, therefore, should not be supplying alcohol in this manner. The provision of free alcohol in barbers or hair salons highlights the increased role alcohol plays in our daily lives. Alcohol is heavily promoted, widely available and, very often, given away for free as if it were just another ordinary, risk-free product, while the level of public awareness and understanding of many of the serious health problems associated with alcohol is low. The Healthy Ireland survey recently published found that just 16% of women were aware of the links between breast cancer and alcohol consumption. The national cancer control programme, NCCP, found that 12% of all breast cancers over the course of a decade in Ireland were associated with alcohol consumption.

When I worked as a therapist in the Rutland Centre, I met a young woman who was struggling with alcohol. She used to drink wine. We picture an alcoholic as somebody roaming the streets. This was a functioning woman who had small children. The biggest problem for her was walking past her local shop, going to her hairdresser or going to the cinema. Although she wanted to do things where there was no alcohol, it was impossible. The energy she had to put into it was soul destroying. She would walk into the hairdresser with her child and a glass of wine was given to her. It is the same in the cinema. Everywhere we go, there is alcohol. Even at first holy communions there is a marquee out the back and there is alcohol all over the place. It is vital we consider the amendments. For these reasons, alcohol given away for free with a service should be prohibited under the Bill.

Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 relate to advertising on television and radio. I welcome Government amendments Nos. 36 and 37 and support them, given that they have a similar purpose. It has been established beyond all reasonable doubt that alcohol marketing influences drinking behaviour, particularly among children. The World Health Organization, WHO, states that "exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that young people start to drink alcohol, and that among young people who have started to use alcohol, such exposure increases the frequency of drinking and the amount of alcohol consumed". An NUI Galway study, commissioned by Alcohol Action Ireland, provides a recent and important insight into the experience of a large sample of Irish children aged 13 to 17 with alcohol marketing. The results showed 91% of the children surveyed reported they were exposed to traditional - offline - alcohol advertisements, including television, during the week prior to the study, and more than half reported they were exposed to four or more advertisements per day. Yesterday, in the AV room somebody talked about asking a young child about cigarette brands. While the child did not have a clue about cigarette brands, when asked about alcohol brands, the child could ream them all off.

There are no statutory protections in place to protect children from alcohol advertising on television and radio, and the self-regulatory system is not working.

As part of our efforts to break the close links between alcohol and sport, we must prevent alcohol advertising from being shown during televised sports events and bring an end to alcohol sponsorship of sports. Television is the most popular channel for watching sports. The current system of self-regulation is failing to protect children who watch sports events on television from exposure to alcohol advertising.

I would like to give Senators a gentle reminder that this is Committee Stage and not Second Stage.

I will be brief. I welcome the Minister and commend this important and vital Bill. I hope we make significant progress on this legislation so that it comes through in its full form without dilution. In fact, it needs to be strengthened. To that end, I have seconded some of the amendments tabled by my colleague, Senator Black, including amendment No. 9, which proposes to strengthen the Bill by ensuring the definition of "sell" in section 2 includes "supply for the purpose of promoting the use of another service" and "supply in the purchase of another good or service".

When I lived in Vietnam in the 1990s, at a time when strict regulation of the tobacco industry was being introduced in Europe, I saw for myself the manner in which young Asian women were consistently targeted as a market which traditionally did not smoke. I attended concerts at which people were given sports bags filled with cigarettes along with their tickets without request. If we do not make these amendments, there is a real danger that we will see alcohol bundled with other products in a way that could lead to the promotion of a relationship with alcohol for people who, in many cases, have neither requested nor sought such a relationship.

It is vital that the consumption of alcohol should always be a choice. It should not be given away. It should not be a persistent or, for some, relentless suggestion within society. Pressure to consume alcohol should not be attached to participation in any area of life or public life, or to the consumption of any of the other goods we have in society. It must not be seen as an automatic accompaniment to daily life or to social occasions. I believe that is the intent and spirit of this Bill. I encourage the Minister and others to support these amendments to ensure that is strengthened.

We are very aware that alcohol is accompanied by serious health harm. This is known to be the actual accompaniment to alcohol. This is the packaging that comes through. I refer to the proven risk of cancer, the three deaths per day and the cost of €1.5 billion to our health service in 2012. If we can leave aside the social and human costs of alcohol abuse, which are the crucial drivers of this Bill, we can also point out that the economic cost associated with it is immense.

I support amendment No. 42, which proposes the establishment of a review board. I think it is vital that the Minister would have a review board that would include public health experts but not representatives of the alcohol industry. This legislation is not an exercise in self-regulation; it is the fulfilment of our duty as regulators and as legislators to provide for meaningful State regulation. I will refrain from speaking on amendment No. 42 until it is before the House. I urge support for all the amendments proposed by my colleague, Senator Black, particularly amendment No. 9.

I would like to express my astonishment at what I have heard here today about "supply for the purpose of promoting the use of another service". I have never in my life been offered a glass of wine. I obviously go to the wrong barber or dentist.

Did it not happen when the Senator was getting his nails done?

No. My nails have not been done for quite a long time, apart from my toenails to give the Senator a good kick. Although I have never heard of the practice that has been highlighted, I would be very glad if it were stamped out. I think it is a noxious idea. I was really disturbed when I saw in the interpretation section that "alcohol related merchandise" includes "clothing and footwear (other than children’s clothing and footwear)". I did not understand why children's clothing was excluded. I am glad that is to be rectified by a Government amendment which provides that "clothing" includes footwear. This is just as well. I do not know whether there is any alcohol advertising programme targeting children's shoes, but it would be monstrous if there was and of course it should be outlawed. I am glad this has happened.

I will give an overview of the amendments before the House. They are being taken together to allow us to discuss children's clothing, advertising on the Internet and broadcast advertising. Amendments Nos. 3, 6 and 29 are technical ministerial amendments that relate to the proposed provisions regarding children's clothing, which is dealt with in section 16 of the Bill. It is proposed to delete the definition of "children's clothing" in section 16(4) of the Bill and instead provide for a definition in section 2 of the Bill, as Senator Norris has alluded to.

Amendments Nos. 2, 5, 11, 13, 36 and 37 are ministerial amendments which provide for a new section and related definitions and offences. Protecting children from exposure to alcohol marketing is an important public health goal. The Bill contains a range of measures to regulate advertising. Amendment No. 36 provides for a watershed for the broadcast of alcohol advertisements on television and radio. It states that advertisements for alcohol products cannot be broadcast on television before 9 p.m. and that such advertisements cannot be broadcast on the radio other than between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays. The watershed times have been agreed in consultation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which have the intelligence in this area. The intention is to capture the peak viewing and listening times for children, which are early evening in the case of television and breakfast time and 7 p.m. in the case of radio. A person guilty of an offence under the new section will be liable "on summary conviction, to a class A fine, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or both" or "on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €250,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or both". The amendment also proposes that a penalty of up to €2,000 per day will apply to continued breaches of the broadcast watershed section following conviction. Officials in the Department of Health and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel are examining this section further and an amendment may be required on Report Stage.

I thank Opposition Senators for submitting amendments Nos. 4, 7 to 9, inclusive, 12 and 38, which provide for restrictions on advertising on the Internet and for related definitions and offences. I recognise there is a gap in the Bill with regard to Internet advertising, particularly given the appeal of social media for young people. While this issue was considered during the drafting of the Bill, I believe it must be tackled at EU level because of the cross-Border nature of this form of advertising. We are working with our colleagues in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in this regard. All advertisements on the Internet must comply with the content provisions of section 12 of the Bill and will have health warnings. I regret that I cannot accept these amendments at this stage. However, I will request that the officials in the Department of Health and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel examine the proposal and I will revert to the House in this regard on Report Stage.

Opposition amendments Nos. 39 and 40 also provide for restrictions on advertising on television and radio. In these amendments, the Senators further propose to restrict advertising around sport on television and radio. The Bill provides for restrictions on advertising at sporting events and regulates the content of alcohol advertisements. A watershed will also be provided for in the new section. The Bill provides for a review of all the advertising provisions after three years. The issue of advertising in sport may be revisited pending the outcome of this review. For this reason, I do not propose to accept these amendments, regretfully.

I would like to respond to the point that was made about the use of glasses of alcohol to attract people to avail of certain services. This issue is dealt with in section 21 of the Bill, on the subject of "Regulations relating to sale and supply of alcohol products". Under this section, people will be prohibited or restricted "from selling or supplying, or causing to be sold or supplied, an alcohol product at a reduced price or free of charge to any person on the purchase by that person, or by any other person, of ... one or more other alcohol products" or "any other product or service". That deals with the matter. The Minister will make the regulations for dealing with that. I hope I have addressed the concerns that were raised.

I would like to ask the Minister about children's clothing and footwear.

A child is someone who is 18 years or under but some children are as big as 20 year olds. When one goes to the Kilkenny Shop, for instance, one will see a sweater or whatever with the Guinness emblem on it. At the airports there are shops that sell souvenirs, footwear and clothing. Some of those products are advertised by the likes of Guinness which is a famous brand all over the world. Let us suppose somebody is found wearing the Guinness sign. Who is prosecuted? Is the child prosecuted? Is it the manufacturer that produced the outfit that is prosecuted? Is it the person who sells the garment who is prosecuted? Where does responsibility lie? Does responsibility lie with the retailer? Would it not be better to introduce sizes?

What about borders?

The legislation is confusing when it comes to the size of clothing because a child who is under 18 years can be quite grown-up looking.

I understand the Minister of State's situation with regard to the Internet because it does cross borders and so requires international consultation.

With respect to that amendment and several of the others, I very much welcome the Minister of State's attitude where she said that she understood the points made by Senators and will continue to consult and examine the situation. That is very positive and shows the impact of this discussion on the legislation.

I regret that she has been unable to accept amendment No. 19, particularly the second part that referred to the advertising of an alcohol product around sporting occasions. We see an enormous amount of this behaviour. I accept that this Bill is a step in the right direction but we must move in the direction of the amendment.

With respect to some of her earlier remarks that different aspects of this Bill should be taken up with the Minister for Finance or the Minister for something else, I am sure her remarks are true. I anticipate that my colleagues who tabled the amendments have listened to her and will immediately contact the relevant Ministers to push on this area. I would like also to think that the Minister of State would regard this behaviour not as obstructive but as adding to her cause. I hope she will talk to her Cabinet colleagues as well and say, "These matters have been raised in the Seanad. We regard them as not absolutely within our province but we understand and value the contribution. What are you doing about it?" It would be useful to have a two-pronged approach where Senators hit from here and the Minister of State supports the amendments. Then I think we might start to move in a certain direction.

We have had a good and positive debate on these amendments. We are trying to change an entire culture with this legislation as it covers children, adults, commercial activities and more. I agree with the comments made by Senator Wilson that it is important that we have adequate time to debate the intricacies of the Bill. It is only then we will find weaknesses and ways to improve it.

I wish to discuss advertisements and brands. My colleague, Senator Richmond, mentioned that there is an international aspect because there is clothing and branded goods that display alcohol related products. Clarity is needed on how to regulate this sphere. Can we stop such products being displayed? Will enactment of this Bill prevent retailers from selling such products in the first instance?

Sporting organisations or otherwise might have alcohol related promotions on their products internationally. We should have a way of dealing with that aspect, especially in terms of the exposure of such items to children.

I wish to acknowledge that the previous health committee has considered this matter and a lot of groundwork has been done. I also acknowledge the sporting organisations that have agreed to phase out seeking sponsorship from alcohol related companies. As colleagues have mentioned, historically many sporting organisations and clubs depended on funding from such sources and it was important that alternative funding was found. The development should be acknowledged in our general debate on this Bill. It is quite right to say that the Bill is about public health. We must acknowledge all of those people and organisations who have contributed, in a third party way, to the effectiveness of the legislation. It is only by working together and bringing elements of society with us that we will have effective legislation. I have followed up on Senator Richmond's query about regulating international products and brands. I have also acknowledged the sporting organisations that have moved away from alcohol sponsorship and sought alternative funding.

We have had a positive debate. The Seanad should have its say when it comes to this legislation. As a new Senator, this is one of the cornerstone debates that we have had since we were elected. I will not say that I am enjoying this proactive debate but it is definitely good to see the Seanad tease out key issues. The Seanad is the right place and forum to debate these issues.

Earlier I mentioned the removal of sponsorship. There is direct sponsorship. I asked a question on indirect sponsorship and I will finalise my question. What has been done about pubs or nightclubs backing or supporting teams or events through awards? We have all seen awards promoted on publications and Facebook pages. These sporting clubs or organisations are promoting alcohol through the back door. Does this Bill tighten the noose around the necks of those sporting organisations? It is important that we debate the matter.

I live close to Tabor Lodge, which is a residential addiction treatment centre in the south. The centre does fantastic work and has received funding on numerous occasions. Today, I spoke to its director about how the centre progressed its services. It is a voluntary organisation that has become one of the key drivers in tackling alcoholism in communities in the south. When one listens to people from the organisation, one will discover that we must tackle the underlying issue of the culture of drinking. How can we change that culture and the fabric of society? There are direct issues such as alcohol advertisements and promotions and indirect issues that we must tackle to change the culture.

Senator Paddy Burke made an interesting point about name recognition in certain clothes outlets. Some brands of alcohol are nearly considered Irish brands. When tourists go into pubs, some of them order a certain brand of stout thinking it is the only stout in town because the brand is associated with this country. Brand recognition is an issue that we must tease out sensitively in terms of how we sell Ireland to tourists. Irish people have the image of being great craic but that is not a view we should sell. We need to look at the underlying causes of alcohol abuse and promote Ireland as having a responsible attitude to alcohol.

The amendments we are discussing relate to promotions and advertising. As Senator Coffey has said, the main sporting organisations have moved away from sponsorship by alcohol companies. The GAA has totally moved away from sponsorship by alcohol companies. The soccer and rugby organisations have not been so successful. They have said, at committee meetings, that they were not in a position to do so. As the economy improves, alternative funding should be identified, thus allowing them to move away from such sponsorship.

There is another aspect of promotion that should be addressed here. If one attends rugby internationals at the major stadia of Croke Park and Aviva, trays of drink will be brought onto the terraces as the match progresses, which looks terrible.

I have been a spectator at a number of matches at which people are passing in and out to bring drink in and out. Then they move in and out to go to the toilet and other spectators cannot see the game.

I am not a spokesman for the GAA but I know how it operates. One alternative is a rule to the effect that spectators cannot bring drink onto the terraces, even from corporate boxes. People are precluded from bringing out drink in GAA matches. Such a rule should be put in somewhere, perhaps as a voluntary code. The image of people drinking alcohol as the game progresses is awful, especially for television spectators. It is totally at odds with the sense of health that the sport is producing on the field.

We should consider the amendments put forward by the Independent Senators and Senator Black on advertising. This is especially relevant for advertising and broadcasting of a main sporting event. If such an amendment was to be brought forward, there is nothing to say it has to be put in place immediately. It could come in by way of regulation at some stage in future. I am somewhat concerned, because if we do not include it now, we might have to wait a further ten years to bring in corresponding legislation. Can that be examined?

RTE is the national broadcaster. There is a need for RTE to move away from advertising drink, in particular, around sporting events. RTE is funded by the taxpayer in one way or another. We all pay TV licences, but we do not pay TV licences for people to promote a product that may be harmful to people's health. This is something we should consider. The amendments proposed in this area should be looked at carefully. I am not suggesting they have to be implemented immediately, but the measures could be brought in by way of regulation at some stage in future. If we have to come back with legislation to deal with this issue at a later date, it will be more difficult to get through because of media groups.

We have dealt with the issue of lobbying already. I assure the House that when media groups get involved in lobbying, they are well able for it. We would have to go through another round of lobbying. Why not do the whole lot together? I call on the Minister of State to consider the matter and bring forward the measures by way of regulation.

In general, this is a fantastic Bill and I support it. Alcohol is a scourge on our society. Many of us have relations or friends who suffer from addiction problems. Alcohol is a real demon in our society.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to the question of monitoring advertising on the Internet. In 2014, we saw the phenomenon of Neknomination on Facebook. It inspired children to down a pint of lager, nominate friends to do the same and then post the footage on the Internet. It was an unbelievable phase and certainly some deaths stemmed from it. The Government should come together with the governments of other member states to ensure monitoring of alcohol advertisements on the Internet, whether this involves monitoring viral videos on YouTube or Facebook. Something needs to be done to tackle how alcohol is advertised to our young people. We are all doomed, but we really need to look after future generations.

We have discussed alcohol advertising a great deal. I welcome the amendment made to the broadcast watershed to the effect that a person shall not broadcast or cause to be broadcast an advertisement for an alcohol product on a television programme service between 3 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The digital marketing of alcohol products to children is an area where regulation needs to be strong. I have spoken on this issue in the House previously. At a personal level, I see the merit of the proposed amendment to section 19 relating to advertising on the Internet. One of the main aims of the Bill is to prevent children from being exposed to advertising. The Bill already restricts advertising near schools and in places such as bus shelters and cinemas. However, as introduced, the Bill does nothing to address the growing problem of children's exposure to alcohol advertising online, especially through social media. This amendment would fill the gap by requiring advertisers to take reasonable steps to prevent children from viewing alcohol advertising online as well as offline. I believe this amendment is enforceable. Social media firms already apply age controls in respect of alcohol content. For example, Facebook requires advertisements for alcohol to be targeted only at users of a certain age or above. There are different ages for different companies. Twitter has an age screening feature which requires users to enter their date of birth to follow an alcohol company account. Where these features exist, this amendment would require alcohol firms to use them. Most have already agreed to do so as part of industry self-regulation or as a condition of advertising on these platforms.

On a personal level, I believe the duty is to take all reasonable steps having regard to factors such as the cost of the measures and the state of the technology. This means that an alcohol company would not be expected to take unreasonable or disproportionately costly steps. This amendment essentially codifies existing practices in respect of age, websites, advertising controls and social network policies and creates a legal obligation to use technologies and controls that are already available. As I stated at the beginning, while I welcome the Bill, I believe a far more fundamental shift needs to occur to tackle the alarming rate of alcohol consumption in Ireland.

Thank you, Senator. I welcome our United Nations veterans to the Gallery.

I welcome the comments of my fellow Senators on alcohol advertising. I acknowledge what the Minister of State has said with regard to securing European agreement. However, the whole process needs to be accelerated, especially with regard to online advertising. Much of the time children do not watch television; they are on their iPads all the time. We are going to be behind the ball if we leave it to some European directive. We need to accelerate this process, especially in the context of Brexit.

I wish to comment on section 17. We have no amendments to the section but we question how it will be enforced, especially with regard to the importation of magazines with alcohol advertising. What is the situation in respect of magazines printed outside the country? How does the Minister propose to deal with that?

Did Senator Norris indicate?

No, but I think we should get on.

There was a question on clothing. Section 16 prohibits alcohol-branded children's clothing. It would make it an offence for a person to manufacture, import for sale or sell in the State children's clothing which promotes alcohol consumption or is branded with an alcohol product, either by name, image, trademark or logo. There will be a transitional period of one year for retailers and manufacturers to comply with the measure. The legislation will provide that in the case of a prosecution the onus would be on the defendant to prove that the children's clothing in question was exempt, as in that it was available for sale within the permitted transition period. The section specifies that clothing includes footwear as well.

Senator Norris asked me to convey the points he made to the Minister and I am more than happy to do so. It is important that we have good communications. All the valid points made in the House that are relevant although not the responsibility of the Bill will most certainly be referred. I assure Senator Norris that I will see to it.

I thank the Minister of State.

Does the Senator want me to address the other points?

The Minister of State had better if they are related.

These points were raised.

Sorry, you may address those points, of course.

Some Senators made comments on the Internet. This question is of grave concern to us. In fact, we are examining the proposals in the amendment in question and we hope to come back to the House on Report Stage.

Sponsorship by alcohol companies will be restricted under section 15. It will be an offence for a person to sponsor an event where the majority of individuals taking part are children, an event aimed particularly at children, those involved in well known cartoons characters for example or an event that involves driving, racing cars or bikes.

The subsection provides that licence holders can sponsor an event if alcohol products or brands are not advertised or promoted. Subsection (3) defines sponsorship as a public or private contribution to an event with the aim of direct or indirect effect of promoting alcohol product or brand or alcohol consumption. I think that should deal with the query.

In regard to the consumption of alcohol at sporting events, that is subject to the licensing laws about where and when people can, but that is a very important point and I would be very happy to bring that to the relevant Minister as well.

A Senator raised the issue of advertising on the national broadcasting service.

The national broadcaster is receiving some funds from the various companies in the drinks industry, in particular where advertising occurs around sports events. This is covered in the amendment tabled by Senator Black and others. While we may not be able to control or implement it now, my argument is that the amendment is valid. I am not asking that it would come into place immediately as it would take some time but that it would be looked at carefully with a view to having it in the legislation and that it could be brought forward by way of regulation at a later stage.

We have undertaken to examine that.

I welcome what the Minister of State has said. I would like to clarify an issue. Did I hear the Minister of State say the buck stops with the manufacturer? Is it the manufacturer who will be prosecuted?

If the manufacturer is in the State?

If it is manufactured in the State, the manufacturer will be prosecuted, but are there no restrictions on-----

There are no restrictions on selling goods in the State. If one is selling the product in the State, that deals with that aspect.

One can hardly prosecute the wearer.

The problem is that some 17 year olds are as big as those who are 20 years of age. If a person aged from 15 years to 17 years goes into a shop and buys an item, where does the buck stop?

It will be illegal to sell it.

Will it be illegal to sell any clothing that is geared to-----

It will be illegal to sell children's clothing

Will the retailer have to ask for proof of age when someone is buying a hat or a garment that displays a sign for Guinness, Heineken or other alcohol brands?

A child is considered to be somebody under the age of 18 years. The legislation is very clear in that it prohibits alcohol branded children's clothing. It makes it an offence for a person to manufacture, import for sale or sell in the State children's clothing which promotes alcohol consumption or is branded with an alcohol product, an alcohol product name, image, trade mark or logo. There is a transitional period for retailers and manufacturers to comply with if they have stock in so they can sell it on. There will be a prosecution-----

Senator Burke, please resume your seat while the Minister of State is addressing the issue.

As I said earlier, it also includes footwear. The onus is on the defendant to prove that the children's clothing was exempt, in other words, that it would have been for sale within the permitted transitional period.

Does this apply at airports as well?

The environmental health officers will be policing this. It states in the State, children's clothing

May I point out while the Minister of State-----

There are a few other Senators I have to call yet. Senator Black had indicated.

I thank the Minister of State for her replies and I welcome the commitment she gave today to the amendments that we tabled. I will not be pressing for a vote because I want to allow time for a further debate on Committee Stage.

I am looking for clarity. If one were to go into an airport tomorrow morning and buy a keyring with Guinness on it, which are for sale at every airport, will it be the case that if a 17 year old has a keyring with Guinness on it, it is a breach of this legislation? Let us take the example of hats or other garments. I was trying to make the point earlier that Guinness is more a symbol of Ireland in many ways. I have no issue with Guinness as I would not touch it. The Guinness brand became more of a symbol. When people came to Ireland they were not buying stout. Guinness was the only thing they would buy and that is what they looked for. Regarding the advertising of that on items for those under 18 years old, will it come back on the person who imports or manufacturers the goods with this branding or will the retailer who sells it be liable? What would the fines be?

I welcome the Bill. My party welcomes the Bill. We feel that practically everything in the Bill is necessary.

What amendment is the Senator addressing?

I am addressing the amendment relating to the products. I wish to add to the points made by the previous two speakers. Will we be honest with ourselves? Can we police it? The Minister of State mentioned the environmental officer policing a young man going in to buy a hat with Guinness written on it. We need to get real in regard to what we can and cannot do in legislation. This is not workable in my opinion. I do not think it is practical. I do not think putting the onus on somebody who stocks this merchandise, be it at an airport or in a shop in Carrick-on-Suir or Cork, to police it. There are young lads of 16 years who look 20 years. There are adults of 20 years who look 15 years. Every time somebody comes in to buy something, ID is required to buy a Guinness hat. I think we need to get real.

I want to allow the debate to continue, as does Senator Black. I support her in withdrawing the amendments and reserve the right to resubmit amendments on Report Stage.

We are dealing with an area of unreality. We are very much on the margin when we talk about a large 17 year old child buying a keyring with Guinness on it. Nobody is going to be bothering with that. That is not practical. It does not matter.

It will be the law.

It will not be observed on the margins. The real point I want to make is that we never really legislatively confronted the nature of what is a child. In the last session of the Seanad we had legislation in which, in the same Bill, definitions of children ranged from 15 years to 18 years. We have not confronted what is the nature of a child. We have not given a proper satisfactory legislative definition of what is a child.

For the purposes of legislation, a child is considered to be somebody under the age of 18 years.

Yes, but in the previous Bill which I mentioned, a child was 15 years, 16 years, 17 years or 18 years, depending on the section of the Bill one was examining. That is on the record of Seanad Éireann.

I protested against it and sought a proper definition.

For the purposes of the Bill, a child is considered to be somebody under the age of 18 years. With regard to keyrings, that will not apply.

It is a souvenir. What about clothes?

Clothing is clothing and it relates to children's clothing.

So Guinness can never sell a child's t-shirt in the airport anymore.

Yes, it is children's clothing.

That is clarified.

This does not deal with online shopping where somebody is buying products from abroad. I do not believe we can legislate on that, but it is an issue. If people are producing a product and they find that the legislation here prevents them from selling that product here, there is nothing to prevent them from going outside Ireland and advertising it online. It is a problem that must be considered because the amount of goods purchased online is increasing every day. It is an issue that must be taken into account.

It is the same with the abortion pill and head shop products.

The Senator has made a very good point, but that is outside the State.

Let us have a vote. A vote would be very refreshing.

Section 2, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 3:
In page 6, to delete line 25 and substitute the following:
"(a) clothing (other than children’s clothing),".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.
Government amendment No. 5:
In page 6, line 36, to delete "Broadcasting Act 2009" and substitute "Act of 2009".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 6:
In page 6, after line 37, to insert the following:
" "clothing" includes footwear;".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, not moved.
Section 3 agreed to.
NEW SECTION

Amendments Nos. 10 and 50 to 52, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 10:
In page 8, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“Applicant to provide written notice to Executive
4. (1) An applicant for—
(a) a certificate for the grant or renewal of a licence under the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011, or
(b) the grant or renewal of a certificate of registration under the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2007,
shall give one month’s notice in writing (or such shorter period of notice as the Executive may in the special circumstances of the case agree to accept) of the application to the Executive, and the Executive may appear, be heard and adduce evidence in respect of the application at the hearing.
(2) In any case where a certificate is not required for the renewal of a licence under the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011, the applicant for such renewal shall give one month’s notice in writing (or such shorter period of notice as the Executive may in the special circumstances of the case agree to accept) of the application for renewal to the Executive and if the Executive objects to such application, the Executive may appear, be heard and adduce evidence in respect of the application for a certificate provided for by section 4(7) or 4(8) (as the case may be) of the Courts (No. 2) Act 1986.”.

This section makes provision for the laying of regulations before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Subsection (1) provides that the Minister may make regulations relating to any matter prescribed in the Bill. Subsection (2) gives power to the Minister regarding the content of any regulations to be issued under the aegis of the Bill. Subsection (3) states that every order other than an order under section 1(2)-----

Perhaps the Minister of State could guide me as to whether I am on the right page. I am looking at amendment No. 10 and it is about an "Applicant to provide written notice to Executive". It is not about regulations as far as I can see, but perhaps I am confused.

The Minister of State referred to subsection (3) but there is no such subsection. It might be a mistake.

I apologise for the delay. Can I take a break for five minutes to find the section?

We are due to adjourn in five minutes anyway.

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister of State, but there appeared to be a mistake in her note and it appeared that she was on the wrong section.

We will take a break.

A drinks break.

As it is now 3.30 p.m. we will suspend the sitting.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
Sitting suspended at 3.30 p.m. and resumed at 4 p.m.