I move: "That the Bill be received for final consideration." In doing so, I would like to make a few remarks with regard to Section 7 as it stands. I seem to have occasioned considerable consternation by accepting in Committee an amendment moved by Deputy Johnson providing for the use of standard bottles to be prescribed by the Minister. In discussing and stating my intentions to accept it I said very casually and tentatively something to the effect that, possibly, the standard bottle would be a bottle of 14 to the gallon. Since then I have had considerable correspondence, the general tendency of which is to point out that a standard of that kind would be extremely inconvenient and undesirable, and that, in fact, 90 per cent. of the bottles in use are 16 to the gallon. That of course is an important consideration that would be adverted to in the fixing of a standard, but I may, perhaps, have been somewhat hasty in accepting an amendment in the exact words in which it was put up because the words are mandatory rather than enabling, and are very comprehensive in their scope. Sub-section (1) of Section 7 reads: "It shall not be lawful for any licensed holder to supply any intoxicating liquor in bottles unless such bottles are of standard sizes to be prescribed by the Minister." That sub-section, as it stands, puts the onus on the Minister of prescribing a standard sized bottle for every class of intoxicating liquor, including wines and liqueurs. That would be somewhat of an undertaking, and it is an undertaking at which I would be inclined to shy a little. I would prefer therefore something in this form:—
"The Minister for Justice may from time to time by order prescribe a standard size of bottles in which intoxicating liquor may be sold. Every licence holder who shall sell or expose for sale any intoxicating liquor in bottles of a size other than that prescribed by the Minister in the manner aforesaid shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence to a penalty not exceeding £5 and in the case of any subsequent offences to a penalty not exceeding £10."
That would give all the power that is needed and the operation of that power would take place, from time to time, according as there may seem to be a case for it. In the exercise of that power, it seems to me that there would be a case for a rather full consultation with the Department of Industry and Commerce as to the exact reactions of the fixing of a particular standard.
I think the wording which I suggest is preferable to the sub-section as it stands, and it would be my intention to secure in the Seanad an alteration in that direction, making the first sub-section permissive and enabling, rather than mandatory, as it is at present. I think that this announcement will probably calm a good deal of the apprehension which is being aroused by the suggestion that we were going to have in the immediate future a standard size of bottle, prescribed of 14 to the gallon. The position under the Bill, or certainly under the Bill with the proposed amendment, will simply be that, from time to time, the Minister for Justice may prescribe a standard. The Bill contains no suggestion as to what the standard will be, and before the power is exercised very full consideration will be given to all the reactions of the fixing of any particular standard.