The Chairman has quite rightly grouped all these amendments together. They seek to impose upon the Minister and/or the commissioner/regulator a finality about their dealings by using the word "secure", which it is not possible to achieve. I understand Deputy Stagg wishes to substitute the word "secure" for the words "promote" and "encourage". However, to insert the word "secure" implies that the person so doing - in this case the regulator - would be absolutely and legally bound to ensure and to be responsible for any unsafe act that occurs in any of the duties.
The section is important but it is also important for us to be clear about what we are doing. While the desire to give the commission and/or the Minister a strong set of duties to guide the performance is understandable, a duty to "secure" something means the person is bound to ensure it happens. In this case it would not be possible to carry it out. The outcome would be that in legal proceedings the regulator would have legal liability for any case where safety was at issue. He could not take on that responsibility, individually or otherwise.
Amendment No. 42 seeks to delete "encourage the efficient" and substitute "secure the efficient production and". This amendment is even more interesting because it would not be possible to ensure efficient production from every power station in the country. It would not be the regulator's job to do so. The commission could not ensure that all customers used electricity efficiently. That is up to the expertise of individual customers. One would hope they would all be committed to the efficient use of electricity but one cannot lay down in law that they should be.
Amendment No. 46 seeks to change the duty of the commission to encourage research and development. Deputy Sargent's amendment No. 47 seeks to "facilitate, foster, resource and support". Amendment No. 48 seeks to include the word "production".
Worthy as they are, these amendments seek to put a straitjacket on the regulator so that if there was inefficient production or use of electricity he would be responsible. The 1994-5 report on peat stations laid out the shelf life of some stations around the country. In the context of safety, if we inserted the word "secure" the regulator would have legal liability for any case where safety was an issue. That, however, is not his job.