Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 3 Jul 1958

Vol. 169 No. 9

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Pilots' Complaint.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that the Dublin pilots have stated publicly that they have not been given a fair and reasonable opportunity to submit statements and evidence in support of their representations to him under the relevant sections of the Pilotage Act, 1913; and whether in view of that complaint he will now take steps to have an inquiry by such means as may be considered best into the representations of these pilots.

I have seen the statement referred to. The Irish Pilots' and Marine Officers' Association, in a letter to me dated 24th January, 1958, indicated that they were invoking Section 18 of the Pilotage Act, 1913, on the grounds that the extent to which the Dublin pilotage authority was recommending an increase in pilotage dues was inadequate in relation to the claims of the pilots. In support of these representations, the association furnished me with a copy of the very voluminous submission made to the pilotage authority in the matter. I considered these representations very fully, in conjunction with the detailed observations of the pilotage authority on the submission, but I was unable to find any reason which would justify me in refusing to sanction the increase in pilotage dues proposed by the pilotage authority.

Section 18 of the Pilotage Act provides that wherever the majority of the pilots at a port; or six or more persons who are masters or owners or insurers of vessels using that port; or any dock or harbour authority, other than the pilotage authority, object to any by-law in force at a port, or desire that any by-law should be in force at a port which is not in force, they may make representations to that effect to the Minister. If the representations appear to him reasonable, the Minister, after giving the pilotage authority, and, if he thinks fit, any other person, an opportunity to make representations, may, by Order, require a pilotage authority to submit to him for confirmation a by-law for the purpose of giving effect to the representations.

Section 18 of the Pilotage Act, 1913, does not provide for an appeal, or an oral hearing, and I did not find it necessary to ask for any oral discussion to supplement the very comprehensive material submitted to me by both parties. It is quite clear that the section does not confer on me any power or obligation to act as arbitrator between pilotage authorities and pilots in matters relating to pilots' remuneration, and I would consider it to be an abuse of my powers under that section to attempt to use them to force a pilotage authority to make substantial increases in pilots' remuneration against the decision of such authority.

It will be appreciated that the sanctioning of the increase in pilotage dues, proposed by the pilotage authority to provide the increased remuneration to pilots on which the authority had decided, does not preclude the authority from reconsidering the adequacy of the pilotage dues at any future time.

I have dealt with the representations of the pilots to the extent of my statutory functions, and I do not propose to intervene in aspects of the matter which are properly the concern of the Dublin pilotage authority in the exercise of their statutory responsibilities.

As the Minister has stated that an inquiry is not possible would he consider affording the pilots an opportunity of presenting their views to him in the same way as he has done on some occasions in the past in the case of pilots at various ports?

In the first place, I want to make it quite clear, in view of a statement which was made that Section 18 of the Pilotage Act, 1913, was used on previous occasions by pilots in other ports, that I have had a search made in the records of my Department and I can find no trace of any representations under that section ever having been made.

The second point I want to make quite clear is that the proposition that was made to me, as I understood it, was that I should refuse to sanction the increase in pilotage dues for which the pilotage authority sought sanction in order to force the pilotage authority to give a much greater increase in remuneration than they themselves were prepared to give. I would consider that, as I said, an abuse of my powers under the section. I, therefore, sanctioned the increased dues which the pilotage authority sought and that was the end of my statutory function in the matter. As I have pointed out, by doing so I closed no door.

As the Minister has indicated his statutory function and as, in his view, he has gone as far as his statutory function permits, would he, at the same time, be prepared to consider giving the pilots an opportunity of submitting these representations to him, not under any specific section of the Act?

The matter of remuneration of pilots is one for the pilotage authority. I have no function in the matter and I would not interfere with the discretion of the pilotage authority except in circumstances where the trade of the harbour was adversely affected by some development. My concern is solely in the operation of the port. The remuneration of the pilots is a matter for the pilotage authority and I have no power whatever to force a pilotage authority into any course of action in that regard.