It is suggested that amendments Nos. 1 and 2 be taken together.
Continental Shelf Bill, 1967: Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 1:
In subsection (1), line 16, to delete "are".
The section suggests that rights of the State outside territorial waters are required to be vested in the Minister and that they will be exercisable by the Minister. As I understand the position, and I am open to correction on this, under the Constitution, all natural resources, including the air and all forms of potential territory, belong to the State. That is Article 10 of the Constitution. If they belong to the State, it seems to me that the State can vest them in different Ministers, and so on, or in State bodies like the Commissioners of Public Works. In this Bill what we are doing is saying, as I understand it, that certain rights which might be outside the normal territorial limits of the State are one thing and at the same time, that the State owns those, but if so, why is it then necessary to vest them in the Minister? If the rights belong to the State, the right to explore the sea bed belongs to the State. Then, it does not seem to me to be necessary to vest them in the Minister because the State as we know, under the decision of the Minister for Industry and Commerce which related to mines and minerals compensation in the county of Clare during the war years, is a juristic entity capable of acquiring rights, and if rights are already vested in this juristic entity, it seems to me superfluous to vest these rights in the Minister when they are already vested in the State.
It is necessary that the Minister shall exercise rights on behalf of the State as the Minister is the responsible State authority to exercise rights on behalf of the people, but I cannot see why it is necessary that the rights which are already vested in the State, in this juristic entity, should be vested in the Minister. It seems to me to be superfluous action on the part of the Oireachtas.
I am not too sure whether there is any importance in the point made by Senator O'Quigley or whether it is a technical, legal point. As I understand it, the rights in international law to explore and exploit the natural resources of the continental shelf accrue to this country as the State—one might say, accrue to the State. The provision in this section is designed merely to make it quite clear how these rights are to be exercised. It may be that it could be argued, or should be provided, that these rights shall be exercisable by the Minister for Industry and Commerce but, in practice, I do not think it makes any real difference. Under the Petroleum and Other Minerals Act, 1960, petroleum vested in the State originally is vested in the Minister, that is, the rights to petroleum. We are following this practice, but, as I say, I do not think there is any important fundamental point involved here.
I can see the argument Senator O'Quigley is making. What is provided here is, in fact, what is necessary in order to exercise these rights. It has some precedent and in the absence of any compelling reason to do so, I am not disposed to change it.
It is, of course, I suppose a matter of technical drafting as to whether we should leave this in the Bill or exclude it, but what the Minister said provides me with very good reason and relieves me of no part of my fears for this being applied to exclude this particular provision, because one will come along to another type of right which may be vested in the State—for instance, in the drainage schemes going on at the moment for lands which are under lake water, where the levels are being lowered, and one begins to wonder to whom does the new land between the former high water mark and the new high water mark belong. You run into certain problems in determining does that belong to the owner or to the State, and if it belongs to the State people will then ask: "Does it belong to a particular Minister, does it belong to the Land Commission under the various reservations that are made in the vesting of lands for tenants?" One sometimes fails in legislation of this kind to follow what is, in fact, the constitutional position, and one finds that when the courts begin to consider Acts of the Oireachtas as to who owns what in a particular case, there is this mistaken interpretation enshrined in a particular Act the Minister refers to, the Petroleum and Minerals Act, which is continued from year to year, and then the courts are driven into the position of not knowing what the situation really is because there are conflicting applications or interpretations by the Oireachtas of the constitutional position of the State in relation to land.
It is for that reason — it may not be of any importance whatever in relation to the actual operation of this particular Bill and would not affect it one way or the other — that it is important from the point of view of keeping the road of authority and where rights lie and keeping that in line the whole way from the Constitution upwards. It is not an amendment which I intend to press, but I would prefer if it were done in another way because, as I say, it would not make any difference once it is clear by whom rights will be exercised over the natural resources it is hoped to exploit. Here they are going to be exercised by the Minister. I suppose it is a matter of semantics as to whether one accepts this amendment or not, but I can see difficulty arising later on and I would wish that consideration should be given to the matter in the light of the constitutional position if similar legislation is being drafted by the Minister's Department in future.
It seems to me from what Senator O'Quigley has said that he has more or less strengthened the case for retaining the section as it is. It does refer to the rights of the State and, therefore, sets out the position in that phrase, that the rights belong to the State, and then goes on to provide that those rights of the State are vested in the Minister and exercisable by the Minister. It seems to me that it is fairly clear that the Oireachtas is saying that the rights of the State in this regard should be vested in and exercisable by the Minister and this should exclude the possibility of confusion in the event of this statute being interpreted by the courts. The case that Senator O'Quigley is making about avoiding confusion is a pretty good case for the section as drafted. If Senator O'Quigley's amendment were accepted it would be necessary then to spell out specifically that the rights of the State in this matter shall be exercisable by the Minister. I think that what we are trying to achieve and do achieve is that there is no possible confusion being caused by the wording of the section as it stands.
I take it that when these rights are to be exercised by the Minister, the Minister may then delegate them and transfer or assign them to any exploration company. Is that the intention?
Yes, in the form of transferring the licences and leases as is done on the land.
I move amendment No. 3:
In subsection (2), page 3, to add a new paragraph to the subsection as follows:—
"() In this subsection ‘installation' includes part of an installation."
Section 3 is designed to apply the laws of the State to what is, in fact, outside the territory of the State. As I understand it, there may be rigs or things of that kind used in the exploration of the sea-bed erected. What we are trying to do is to provide for the case that if a crime is committed on the rig, somebody is murdered, or that kind of thing, it will then be clear that that crime was committed within the jurisdiction of the State and that the State has jurisdiction over the offender. We are also saying that in relation to the tort of negligence or in relation to the Social Welfare Acts the law of the State in relation to negligence will apply to any act committed on the rig.
Here is where the difficulty arises, if one has the experience they had in the case of gas exploration somewhere in the North Sea where the rig was demolished or partially demolished by storm or by water, and when it comes to lawyers framing a cause of action against somebody for negligence if it so happens that the installation is partially demolished and that the part is dismantled or being retrieved by a worker of the prospecting company, and through negligence on the part of the employer the worker is injured on the partially dismantled installation, I think that subsection (2) does not fit that particular kind of case. Subsection (2) refers to installations, but it does not apply to part of an installation, and I think it is necessary to insert, therefore, that for the purpose of that subsection "installation" includes part of an installation.
You find in the erection of an installation, which I take it to be a rig for the boring and so on—I am only acting upon a layman's knowledge of these things—it seems to me that if you were erecting a rig which is only partially erected and some man got his arm knocked off through the negligence of the employers, it could well be contended that we ought to make it clear and beyond any doubt that it is a partial installation and that the negligent act had been committed on it and, therefore, the Civil Liability Act, 1961, should apply to that particular case. Subsection (2) it seems to me should make that clear beyond doubt.
I should say to the Minister also that a similar amendment would be required in relation to subsection (1), which deals with offences, but I am not greatly concerned, to tell the truth, about tracking down offenders. That is a job for the State authorities and I spend my time more in defending them, but it is right to point out to the Minister that it could be a splendid defence on an application for a direction to a judge to say that the particular crime was committed on part of an installation and that, therefore, it was not captured by subsection (1). I do think, and I would like to hear the Minister on this, that amendment No. 3 is necessary to make it clear beyond all doubt that if a tort is committed on a partially erected installation or a partially demolished installation the law of the State applies equally in those cases, in particular the Civil Liability Act, 1961.
I took it when I saw the amendment that what Senator O'Quigley had in mind was an incomplete installation or one rent in two by bad weather. He has mentioned both possibilities. I am advised, if this is what he has in mind, that there is no necessity for an amendment—that "installation" includes any incomplete installation or an installation rent in two. If that is so, it is not necessary to have this amendment. Furthermore, as the Senator has pointed out, if this amendment were to be accepted it would be necessary also to make similar amendments in at least one and possibly other sections. I am advised it is not necessary and that the word "installation" includes both an incomplete installation and one that has been rent in two.
Ministers have always great sources of advice available to them that ordinary mortals have not. We frequently find in the courts that what the Parliamentary draftsman or the Minister's advisers have said is the position turns out not to be so. It would be interesting to know what Senator Eoin Ryan would have to say as one skilled and experienced in defending in the laws of tort. This is the kind of case at which the Minister should have another look and consider defining "installation" in section 1 to include an installation partially built or partially demolished. I am not the slightest bit happy about the position at the moment.
The Senator's request, on the face of it, is not unreasonable but he will be familiar with the danger that by defining something one may introduce limitations which were not originally intended. The advice available to me is that the word "installation" covers everything the Senator wants covered. I cannot guarantee, as the Senator has pointed out, that this will be so interpreted in the courts. Neither can I guarantee that if the Senator's amendment were accepted it would not raise some other hares which we cannot visualise at the moment. The Senator will agree from his own experience that it happens, sometimes at least, that by defining something in the way he suggests, one can exclude certain other possibilities which would otherwise apply to the word. In other words, by the process of being specific one excludes the general connotations. I am not saying that it would apply in this case.
The word "installation" has a wider meaning than the Minister made it out to have.
I should hope that would be so but I could not guarantee that either. It is a question of Senator O'Quigley's fears in this matter as against the advice I have received and though I should like to set his fears at rest if it could be done, I do not think it is necessary.
I withdraw the amendment and will put it down for Report Stage. I should love to see the Minister's advice.
I should like to know what is meant by subsection (3) which states:
Any jurisdiction conferred on any court under this section shall be without prejudice to any jurisdiction exercisable apart from this section by that or any other court.
An example of this would be the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court.
I can see that but this refers to "any jurisdiction conferred on any court under this section shall be without prejudice to any jurisdiction exercisable apart from this section by that or any other court." I do not know what the whole section is meant to convey. I can see that admiralty jurisdiction is bound to apply—that what we are trying to do is to confer jurisdiction in a criminal court. What, say, will be the situation in a case of a rig seven miles off the west coast? If a summary offence is committed which court will try it? Will it be the district court in Mayo or in Galway, or where? How is that to be determined?
I do not undertake at this stage to give a specific answer as to which court will try which offence but the meaning of the subsection should be fairly clear. The meaning I take from it is that we are conferring a new jurisdiction on the courts by virtue of this Bill—a jurisdiction outside our territorial waters—and we are saying that that jurisdiction shall be exercisable in addition to any other jurisdiction which might at present exist in the courts and not a derogation of that. For example, the admiralty jurisdiction in the High Court can relate to matters outside territorial waters. I think the subsection is reasonably clear.
I move amendment No. 4:
In subsection (5), page 4, line 12, before "The person" to insert "Subject to a right of appeal to the High Court".
This amendment is designed to give a right of appeal in regard to costs. I noted that subsection 5 of this section states:
(5) The person holding an inquiry under this section may, if he so thinks proper, order the costs and expenses incurred by any person in relation to the inquiry to be paid by any other person who appeared or was represented at the inquiry and, if the person who incurred, or the person who is liable to pay, the costs so requires, the costs and expenses shall be taxed and ascertained by a taxing-master of the High Court and the amount of such costs and expenses when so taxed and ascertained shall be recoverable as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.
Then there is provision for the taxing of costs. This does not make any provision for any appeal and in view of the fact that the person who is holding the inquiry may not be a judicial person, some appeal should be provided for because the burden of costs under this Bill could be extremely heavy and the imposition of them on one party by a person not necessarily a judge, and there being no right of appeal at all, would seem to me to be an improper procedure or an unsuitable situation for us to create. Even if we had not put down the amendment, I am wondering if there would not be some right of appeal in natural justice or some constitutional right to an appeal. We should make provision for an appeal under this subsection.
The provision in this subsection is designed to enable the person who hears the evidence to decide whether one of the parties should pay all or portion of the costs. If there was to be a right of appeal against that it would mean in many cases, if not in all, that it would be impossible for the court hearing the appeal to decide whether the costs were justly awarded against one of the parties without hearing the substance of the appeal and the evidence given previously which, in effect, would mean that having a right of appeal against the costs order would mean having a right of appeal against the whole substance of the finding. This is not something, in the particular circumstances of this case, which is either necessary or desirable. As I mentioned on Second Stage, this provision is the same as the corresponding provision in section 18 of the Foreshore Act, 1933. It is merely extending the existing jurisdiction under the Foreshore Act to the continental area. It does not seem to me necessary or desirable that we should provide in this section for an appeal which would, in effect, have to be a re-hearing of the whole inquiry.
The Minister is right in saying that in many cases, in order to determine whether a particular party should bear costs, you have to find out who was right and who was not right in the original action. Costs follow the event in the normal course of events. If somebody is found to have instituted proceedings without reasonable cause, then they are liable for the costs of the other side. The real trouble is that Senator FitzGerald is beset by the fear that this is going to be an inquiry held by a person of unknown qualifications. We do not know what the nature of the inquiry is going to be but we do know that the person holding it is going to have power to summon witnesses, to administer the oath, to call for the production of documents and follow the same procedure as that of the High Court. It is important to know the status of the person who is going to decide that a particular party is entitled to get such and such a thing done by the Minister for Transport and Power. It is desirable to know the status of the person who is going to direct that some other person is liable to pay costs. Until we have some clarification of the form the inquiry is going to take the necessity for some right of appeal should be insisted upon.
This kind of subsection in the Bill indicates what I have already said in this House on several occasions, and what I will continue to say, and that is the necessity of establishing some kind of system of administrative tribunals along the lines of the French administrative tribunals that could be called on for the holding of inquiries of this kind, bodies that will not be judicial tribunals but that will have the fine impartiality and independence that the French administrative tribunal system provides. Here we are, back again in the situation in which we were with the Livestock Act, where we are going to have an inquiry but we will not know the degree of independence or the experience of the person holding it. Until we have more detail in the section about the persons who are going to hold these inquiries some right of appeal ought to be provided. The amendment is desirable to that extent.
The holding of an inquiry in this matter would result eventually in the Minister for Transport and Power having to make a decision as to whether he should grant or refuse the consent sought under the section. I think it would be undesirable that one of the parties could, by appealing against a costs order, secure a court re-hearing of the case, possibly after the Minister had given his decision. Senator O'Quigley admits, in effect, that the effect of the amendment would be to provide an appeal which would be a re-hearing of the inquiry. I do not think there is any compelling case as to why there should be such a re-hearing and I do not think there is any evidence that where inquiries of this nature have been held they have resulted in giving any undue cause for complaint, certainly nothing that would justify the specific insertion here of a right of appeal in a matter which could be of considerable technical complexity. It would not be of advantage to the Bill to accept the amendment.
I notice that the Minister has a very fine regard in this section for the person of the Minister for Industry and Commerce because he says in it that where a person erects one of these structures and does not remove it when requested to do so by the Minister "the Minister may himself remove the structure". That is rather unusual phraseology because the Minister would have to be a very powerful man to be able to do this. I had hoped that in replying to the amendment the Minister would have dealt with the question of who would be the person to hold such an inquiry, whether he would be an assistant principal or principal officer of the Department, or an inspector of wrecks or what would be his status. It does not look as if these are to be ordinary informal inquiries because the person holding them is going to be in a quasijudicial, in fact, in a judicial capacity.
I dislike the idea that an inquiry which ought to be impartial and independent is to be conducted by someone who is an officer of the Minister. While civil servants are upright and honourable people, it is unfair to put them in the position of having to conduct an inquiry while they continue to be officers of the Minister. I remember well the experience of an Appeals Officer in the Department of Social Welfare. The officer conducting the appeal, instead of acting as the Supreme Court afterwards said he ought to have acted—hearing the evidence of one side and hearing the evidence of the other side — himself went round collecting evidence and then at some stage of the proceedings produced a letter from the Minister for Finance saying XY was a civil servant in the service of the Government and then said: "I am bound by the letter of the Minister for Finance to hold that you are." In fact, the High Court or the Supreme Court held that the man was not a civil servant in the service of the Government and the Supreme Court quite explicitly condemned the approach adopted by this particular person in holding an inquiry. Persons who are officers of the Department cannot for six hours in one day, when they are holding an inquiry, be absolutely independent of the Minister and then on the next day be officials of his, subject to his direction.
The whole principle is wrong and I hope that the Minister agrees with me that this is a bad principle and that we ought to construct some kind of system whereby those inquiries will be held by people who have expert knowledge in these kind of things, perhaps advised by an assessor of the Minister's Department, which is a different thing. As it stands in this section the person holding the inquiry could be just an officer of the Minister and subject to his direction. That kind of system does not give the degree of impartiality that one would expect or create the circumstances and climate in which justice can be seen to be done. Some people may think that is not important. I always think that any inroad upon our traditional system of impartiality in the administration of justice as between man and man and the citizen and the State is to be deplored and every little section like this in a Bill is another erosion of the fine concept of justice that we have inherited here in this country and that, to a large extent, we have practised over the years.
I would be glad if the Minister would indicate what his views are. Of course, he cannot because it is the Minister for Transport and Power who is going to appoint a particular person to hold an inquiry but I wonder if he has any views or has had any contact with the Minister for Transport and Power as to what his views are on this matter and if they can between them give some kind of assurance as to the nature of the person to hold this particular inquiry, the office that he will occupy.
Senator O'Quigley's reference to this section as being another erosion of the justice to which we were accustomed is not, I think, true. First of all, I do not think it is an erosion at all but even if it were I do not think it is another one because this is exactly the same provision as appears in the Foreshore Act, 1943.
The foreshore is being eroded, obviously.
In certain areas this is true. I am in some difficulty here because, in fact, no inquiries have been held under the Foreshore Act for many years and, therefore, I am not in a position to say with certainty the nature of the person holding the inquiries. I would assume that such people would almost certainly be people with technical knowledge of the problems that might be involved— navigational, radio or whatever might be involved in the particular structure and the appeal against its removal— but, in fact, the procedure following that of the Foreshore Act would be that inquiries would be held only if, following advertising of the application, serious objections were received which could not be resolved by consultation. It would only be in those circumstances that an inquiry would be held. If such an inquiry were to be held I am not in a position to say who would conduct it because, first of all, there have not been any inquiries under a similar provision of the Foreshore Act for many years and, secondly, the type of person conducting the inquiry would depend to a large extent, I would think, on the circumstances of the particular occasion and the particular technical knowledge required. However, I would repeat what I said on the amendment that I am not aware of any evidence to the effect that the holding of public inquiries in this country under various statutes has led to abuses of the kind apparently feared by Senator O'Quigley.
Of course, what is important in these cases—and it is exactly what I was saying in relation to section 2, subsection (1) earlier—is that the Oireachtas year after year enact legislation of this kind and create an atmosphere and climate in which this is the way in which the Oireachtas ordains that justice is to be dispensed and disputes resolved between the Minister and the citizens. All I can say is I do not like it and I do not believe I ever will. I think a better system ought to be devised and is necessary to be devised in modern circumstances.
Another matter on this section that causes me some alarm is subsection (9) which provides that:
A person who contravenes subsection (1) of this section or fails to comply with a condition subject to which a consent of the Minister for Transport and Power has been given under this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable—
(a) on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, and
(b) on conviction on indictment to a fine of such amount as the court may consider appropriate.
I very much doubt if in modern times we have enacted legislation that leaves at large the maximum fine in a case of this kind or for the commission of any offence. I do not know of any other precedent but this is probably the first stone in the erection of this precedent that is being made in this section. "On conviction on indictment to a fine of such amount as the court may consider appropriate". I have every respect for the discretion of the courts but I do think that if the Oireachtas decides that a particular thing is going to be an offence it is the duty of the Oireachtas then to measure the maximum penalty which it considers appropriate for what it is going to constitute an offence. There are all classes of cases in which conditions attached to licences may be broken or not fulfilled by the person to whom the licence is granted, but in all of these cases to my knowledge the Oireachtas, having constituted the offence, constitutes the appropriate maximum penalty which can be always scaled down by the court having regard to extenuating circumstances if the offence is proved to have been committed. I certainly do not like this particular subsection and I do not know if there is any precedent in modern times for so great a latitude in the imposition of punishment to be found in any legislation.
I cannot say whether there is any precedent in our recent statute law for this particular provision. There may be, but I am not aware of it, but I can say that the range of offences that we are trying to deal with here is probably also without precedent in other statutes. We could be dealing with something relatively simple or we could be dealing with something which could constitute a very grave hazard to the lives of very many people and a very grave hazard to property worth many millions of pounds. The possible offences under this section can range within these limits, if one can describe them as limits. This being so, it might be quite unreal for us to lay down a particular maximum penalty here having regard not only to the possible gravity of the offence but also to the wealth of possible offenders whereby what would be a very grave deterrent to the average, ordinary person or company might be trifling in the case of some of the people who could be concerned in this kind of offence. It is for this reason that I think the refusal of the Oireachtas to lay down a maximum penalty for a serious offence under this section is justifiable.
The Minister is not at all convincing to me because if we are dealing with people, companies, explorers who have made great wealth and are liable to cause through their negligence or the manner in which they carry out the removal or installation of equipment or structures great perils for other users of the sea or cause great risk to life, limb or property, then the appropriate way to deal with that situation is to make sure before the offence is committed that there will be something available to answer at least a substantial proportion of the possible damage that may be caused at a particular place. You cannot forecast the extent to which damage may be done. A ship with 1,000 passengers aboard is sunk or comes into collision with a rig in the sea because it is not properly lighted or something of that kind. There is no amount of money any particular company can provide which will be sufficient, and in that kind of case it would be absurd to say that a court will be asked to fix a fine in relation to the destruction done through the negligent act or the offence committed. You might as well say that the master of a ship who is negligent in the piloting of the vessel should be liable to a fine on indictment or a term of imprisonment such as the court might determine. We do not do that kind of thing. We set down and we constitute an offence, and then make the best assessment we can of the punishment we ought to mete out for that offence, and that is the end of it.
Again, you might say, having regard to the range of offences and depredations under the Road Traffic Act, that the court may impose any fines it regarded as proper. If a father of 17 children is killed in a road accident do we say that the court will impose a fine of such amount as it considers appropriate? If we want to make provision for compensation and if we really want to get at the people who are wealthy, we should insert in this Bill, which would be the proper way of doing this, a provision whereby a consent is given that the person would enter into a bond for £10,000, £20,000 or £50,000, depending on the nature of the operation, with the Minister for Transport and Power, and in the event then of failure to comply with the conditions of the consent, the bond should be forfeited or the Minister could go against the bond for such amount of damages as is appropriate. That seems to be the effective way not alone of getting compensation but of securing compliance with the conditions upon which consent is given. This is the way to prevent damage being done and to have money there that would be forfeit in the event of the person not complying with the conditions.
When you say the way to get around the difficulty is to give this kind of discretion to the courts, it is quite inappropriate, quite useless and, to my mind, dangerous. I do not like this particular thing at all. The Minister might reconsider the suggestion I make to provide a really effective remedy against persons who do not comply with conditions by providing that they enter into a bond before being granted consent by the Minister and that that bond be available in the event of the offence being committed either on terms to be laid down in the consent or that so much of the bond would be made forfeit if the court, hearing the charge either on summary conviction or indictment, determined that that was appropriate.
I do not agree with Senator O'Quigley. We are not dealing with compensation; we are dealing with what is in effect a criminal offence. The giving of a bond against liability for a criminal offence, particularly in the circumstances I outlined earlier where you could be dealing with very large wealthy companies who might be committing very grave offences with serious consequences to life, limb and property, does not seem to me the appropriate way to do it. It seems to me, having regard to these circumstances, that the practical and sensible way to deal with it is to trust our courts to exercise their discretion in this matter.
I am delighted to hear the approval from the other side, though it is a very muted approval, that we trust our courts.
We are doing it all the time.
Mind you, we will have something to say about that on the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill where the courts are not over-trusted because they interpreted the Constitution as the people enacted it. They merely said what the people enacted.
Do you distrust the court as a result?
Who distrusts what court?
Perhaps this is outside the section.
We will come to that at the opportune time.
There will be an opportunity. Perhaps we could get back to section 5.
The Senator is stringing it out. You will have plenty of opportunity.
I do not at all agree with the reasoning of the Minister. I do not want to have the Minister try to put me in the position that I do not trust the courts, but how often do we hear the courts say—indeed we had it on the Criminal Procedure Act of 1967 the other day to which I put down a number of amendments which were not accepted by this House or the Minister for Justice—that they found it quite impossible to construe the legislation as enacted. I tried to clear up some of the difficulties on that occasion and I am trying to do it now, but I know that in cases of this kind the courts will look to the Oireachtas for some guidance and they are not getting it.
This is a section where it is an offence for the master of a ship to enter into an area which will be a designated area. It seems to me that he will be guilty of an offence which, on indictment, can lead to imprisonment. I should like to know in what way? Will the Minister make regulations indicating the limits of a designated area? How will masters of ships be made aware of the limitation of a designated area or particular designated areas? It does not emerge from the Bill how that is to be done. It seems that if we are going, and rightly so, to make masters of ships guilty of an offence we should make it quite clear, or there should be provision in the Bill to make it quite clear, that the designated areas will be clearly identifiable by masters of ships.
I would refer the Senator to subsection (2) which says:
If a ship enters part of a designated area in contravention of an order under this section, its owner and master shall be guilty of an offence unless it is proved that the prohibition imposed by the order was not and would not on reasonable inquiry have become known to the master.
so there is protection for people who would be in the position where they could not have known that there was such an order. In fact, the procedure in regard to matters such as this is that orders are published at the time of making them and shipping is kept informed of prohibited zones by way of notices to mariners. It is a special procedure and ships' masters are familiar with it.
We are learning every day. I am obliged to the Minister.
I see in subsection (1) (b) the phrase "otherwise than from a ship". It would seem that to discharge oil from a pipeline or other installation would be an offence, but if the discharge were from a ship, it would not be an offence.
The discharge of oil from ships is already covered by the Oil Pollution of the Sea Act, 1956, and the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Amendment) Act, 1965. That is why it is excluded here. It is already covered.
I presume this will apply mostly to any prospecting by way of oil rigs. On practically all ships there are safety precautions for the owners of ships and I presume they do the same thing for oil rigs, that there are various protection devices for themselves. I often thought of the possible consequences for the west coast of Ireland of a big release of oil there, seeing how dependent it is on tourism. I think anybody erecting any of these oil rigs off shore should be required to carry on it a substantial quantity of the requisite detergent so that it could be applied on the spot to deal with any oil leak of any considerable dimension until something could be done about it from the shore. It would be little compensation for damage to some of our best beaches on the west coast to be told: "This will be O.K.; we can recover compensation from the oil rig." When this legislation is going through, it might be possible to look at the hope of bringing in some kind of provision to compel people engaged on this type of development to include in the building of the rig sufficient safeguards to prevent oil discharge. They should be required to carry on the rig a certain quantity of suitable detergent to prevent a big outspill of oil getting free from the rig. I do not know what that would require in quantity. I should imagine, however, that it would be possible to do something along these lines. It is no benefit in the long run to people dependent on tourism to find beaches destroyed by oil when, by taking certain precautions at the point where the oil is released, something could be done. Something should be done to see that that kind of situation will be met.
I am not sure about the technical aspects of this, whether it is technically feasible to do what Senator Honan suggests. I shall make inquiries about it between now and next Stage, and if it seems feasible to include such provision in the Bill, I will certainly consider an amendment to that effect. At this stage I am not certain if it is possible.
Would the Minister say which detergent washes whitest?
(Longford): The one that washes whiter than white. May I say that Senator Honan and the Minister do not seem to be aware that detergent may not be the answer. I take it that Senator Honan and the Minister have in mind the use of detergent in the case of the Torrey Canyon. If you make inquiries, you will find that a detergent, including the ones that wash whiter than white—and these are the ones to which the Senator has referred—is intended to be an oil solvent rather than a protection against the release of oil. As far as I know, the use of detergent has created a bigger problem on the beaches on the south of England than the oil itself in that it upset the balance of nature. It destroyed a certain type of life; it killed birds and caused a situation where you have a froth on the beach which appeared a worse situation than the one to be prevented, that is, pollution by oil. As far as I know that was the situation in the south of England.
I used the word "detergent" in the widest sense.
I merely want to make this suggestion to the Minister. When it comes to enacting or proposing legislation of this kind, it is a bit unfair to members of the Oireachtas to say that we have to find the Submarine Telegraph Bill and the Convention when it could very well have been put into a White Paper to accompany this Bill. I do not like this legislation by reference, though at times it can be justified. I think the Minister should give some consideration at any rate to the convenience of Members of the Oireachtas, and indeed to the public, when they have to operate this Bill by putting into the Bill itself, if it is not too long, but certainly into an appendix to a White Paper, abstruse sections like this so that we, when we are asked to enact section 8, will know what we are enacting.
It has been adopted already very successfully by the Minister for Justice. Members of the public, and certainly the legal profession, are grateful to the Minister for Justice for incorporating in the explanatory memorandum on the Rent Restrictions Bill, 1967, the sections of the 1960 Rent Restrictions Act as amended by the 1967 Act. Equally, when you have abstruse or old sections like this which are not readily available to Members, they should be given, or at least the substance of them, in an explanatory memorandum to the Bill.
I think that the Senator's request is not unreasonable and I will bear it in mind in regard to any future legislation I am bringing in. If the Senator wishes, I will read for him the relevant section.
No, I read it myself.
I am sure that it was put in for some reason, but I should like the Minister to explain what is meant by saying that "a member of the Garda Síochána shall in a designated area have all the powers, protection and privileges which he has in the State." It is the question of privileges which I do not understand. By all means I want to see the guards being in exactly the same position to deal with offences in the designated areas that they would be elsewhere, but I wonder what they would think if it is said that they have privileges, and the kind of privileges which are being applied to them by subsection 3 of this section. It strikes me as being most unusual and very interesting.
I am afraid that I am not in a position to spell out the privileges of the Garda Síochána, but the phrase "powers, protection and privileges" is designed to carry over into the designated areas the same position and the same conditions as operate at present within the State.
Perhaps the Minister might like to give it some consideration for Report Stage.