Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 20 Nov 1991

Vol. 413 No. 2

Sea Pollution Bill, 1990: From the Seanad.

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

These amendments will be discussed together in accordance with the Order of the House today.

Limerick West): I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in the following amendments:

In page 9, line 32, "reasonably necessary" deleted and "necessary and reasonable" substituted.

In page 25, column (1), "Number and year" deleted and "Session and Chapter or Number and Year" substituted.

In page 25, before the entry referred to "No. 25 of 1956"

“57 & 58


Subsection (2) of

Vic., c. 60

Shipping Act,

section 448”



In relation to amendment No. 1, section 11 (a) provides that the general prohibition or regulation on discharges of oil or other substances under section 10 shall not apply in situations in which a discharge is necessary to secure the safety of a ship or the saving of life at sea.

Section 11 (a), as originally drafted, was intended to apply to tests to decide whether a discharge is permitted under the provisions of this section — (1) whether the discharge is necessary and (2) whether it is reasonable. The original wording read:

...if such discharge was, having regard to all the circumstances, reasonably necessary;

I am most anxious to require that not only does the particular master of the ship in question believe a discharge is necessary but that his belief be shared by all reasonable masters having regard to all the circumstances.

The Seanad objected to the wording on the grounds that the word "necessary" could not be qualified and that the phrase "reasonably necessary" might be interpreted as not entirely necessary. Therefore, to meet Senators' concerns on this and, after consultation with the Attorney General, the wording of this amendment was proposed by me and accepted by the Seanad. I commend the amendment to the House.

The purpose of amendments Nos. 2 and 3 to the First Schedule is to repeal section 448 (2) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. For the information of the House I should say that section 448 (2) of the 1894 Act reads as follows:

Where any dangerous goods or any goods which in the judgment of the master or owner of the vessel are dangerous goods have been sent or brought aboard any vessel without being marked as aforesaid or without such notice having been given as aforesaid the master or owner of the vessel may cause those goods to be thrown overboard together with any package in which they are contained and neither the master nor the owner of the vessel shall be subject to any liability, civil or criminal, in any court for so throwing the goods overboard.

The power under this subsection to the owner or master of a vessel to throw dangerous goods overboard is considered subversive of the provisions of this Bill and ought to be repealed. A master may, under section 11 of this Bill, discharge harmful substances for the purpose of securing the safety of a ship or safety of life at sea if such discharge was, having regard to all the circumstances, necessary and reasonable.

I commend the amendments to the House.

I thank the Minister of State for having defined the amendment and the necessity for it. I have been informed by our colleagues in the Seanad that this is really a matter of accuracy of language and of syntax in so far as one does not qualify the phrase "if necesary" which could lead to a certain amount of confusion of definition.

We accept these amendments. I would say merely that perhaps this is one of the tasks undertaken by the Upper House when they are afforded an opportunity of examining in depth the language and its accuracy, not merely in regard to legal definition but also in regard to the syntax.

I too am delighted to note that there is a much higher standard of English in the Upper House than here. Sometimes I wondered what was the purpose of the Seanad. Now I know; they are there to correct our English. I am very glad to support this amendment. I was particularly glad to hear the Minister's definition of the term "reasonable" in that he defined it as a condition which would have to be shared by all reasonable master of vessels. That is a good precaution.

I presume — perhaps the Minister would confirm this — that if that is the definition of the term "reasonable" in section 11 (a) it would also be the definition of "reasonable" in section 11 (b), that it would have to be a view shared by all reasonable masters of ships. I support the amendments tabled.

I too support the amendments. When I first read amendment No. 1 I felt it was simply a matter of juggling with words. I can see the necessity for it. Nonetheless we did scrutinise this section in the House when it was first before us and gave an indication that we were somewhat concerned about it. It must be remembered that we are talking about reasonable people doing reasonable things. Unfortunately, there are masters of ships who are not reasonable and can be unscrupulous, as has been witnessed on many occasions.

I fully support the three amendments before the House. While we felt we had teased out these matters, obviously our grammar was not correct and in that respect we are grateful to the Upper House.

As someone who sweated blood on this Bill some time ago it is amazing that, with all the hours we put into its consideration, we clearly slipped up on on this important point. As an inexperienced Member perhaps blame does not rest on me as much as on some of my colleagues. Anyhow we have got it right and, without any further ado, I support the amendments before the House.

Limerick West): I thank Deputies for being so reasonable. In reply to Deputy Gilmore I should say that, yes, section 11 (b) is the same as section 11 (a) in that the same principle applies.

I must now put the question: "That Seanad amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, be agreed to".

Question put and agreed to.
Amendments reported and agreed to.