Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 7 Dec 1933

Vol. 17 No. 27

Dangerous Drugs Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill is not necessitated by any traffic in drugs in this country but in 1931 this country was a party to the Convention at Geneva and, as Senators will be aware, in other countries this illicit drug business is a very serious menace. The Saorstát is a party to that Convention at Geneva, and it is to implement that Convention that this Bill is now brought before the House. It is a technical Bill. Medical men may have some amendments to suggest. I have no objection to accepting them if they do not cut across the main purpose of the Bill.

I wish to ask the Minister one or two questions. Section 5 of the Bill reads:—

Any officer of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs may detain and examine and if necessary open for that purpose

(a) any postal packet sent from a place outside Saorstát Eireann and containing or suspected by him of containing any article the importation of which is prohibited or restricted by this Act, or

(b) any postal packet addressed to a place outside Saorstát Eireann and containing or suspected by him of containing any article the exportation of which is prohibited or restricted by this Act.

"Any officer" seems wide and "any postal packet" also seems very wide. I wonder if the Minister could in any way restrict it by specifying the officer who would be authorised to do this. Giving to "any postal" officer delivering letters who suspects there may be something in these letters prohibited by this Bill, the right to detain the letter and open it seems a bit wide. That is one point. Another part of the Bill—Section 13—reads:—

It shall not be lawful for any person to import into Saorstát Eireann any substance to which this Part of this Act applies.

The same applies not only to the importing but to the exporting. The position now is that every doctor on either side of the Border is importing or exporting drugs every day in the week. He must take these dangerous drugs across the Border no matter on which side of the Border his practice is. I suggest to the Minister that possibly by some restriction or arrangement he might exclude a medical man from being interfered with in any way in the ordinary course of his practice. Giving every doctor who may be practising on either side of the Border the right of getting a permit might be wrong, but there may be some other way of dealing with the matter. I am only suggesting it to the Minister. I do not propose to oppose the Bill.

Section 31 provides that "any member of the Gárda Síochána or any inspector shall be entitled to enter the premises of any person," etc. The right of entry is one that is pretty well safeguarded in the Public Health Acts. I wonder if any restriction could be introduced into this section so as to make it read that "any authorised person" and so on. These are the only points that occur to me. Otherwise, the Bill is, I think, a very desirable one. It is of international importance, and is only putting this country in line with other countries.

I think we will be able to meet the Senator with regard to Section 5. We can have the section deleted and an amendment inserted that will meet the Senator's views. With regard to Section 31, and the other section to which the Senator referred in connection with the Border difficulty, there is no element being introduced into this Bill that does not appertain to other legislation. I do not think the Senator need have any fears about the matter he referred to. In practice there will be a permit or some arrangements will be made to try and meet these difficulties. I will look into the matter and see what can be done.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 13th December.