Committee On Finance. - Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export) Bill, 1945—Committee Stage.

Tuesday, 17 July 1945

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 97 No. 23

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SECTION 1.

Tomás O Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Tairgim Leasú 1:—

In line 15, to insert after the word “writing” the word “drawing”.

Maidir leis an leasú so agus leasú 2, dúrthas liom go bhfuil an t-alt atá san mBille faoi láthair, Alt 2, fo-ált (1) (b) —“any painting or drawing”—anleathan agus táimid ag baint an focal “drawing” amach as ar fád agus da chur isteach in Alt 1 é. Is é an difríocht a bheas ann ná seo: mar atá an Bille anois, bheadh orainn stop a cur le haon phíosa tarraingteoireachta ach faoin leasú seo ní bheidh aon ghá leis sin, ach i gcás tarraingteoireachtaí os cionn céad bliain d'aois, thiocfaidís isteach faoin míniú atá sa mBille ar an focal “document”.

Seamus O Diolúin: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Cá bhfuil an leasú seo? Níl sé ar an bpáipéar.

Tomás O Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Tá liost faoi leith ann.

Leasú curtha agus aontaithe.

Section 1, as amended, agreed to.

Tomás O Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Tairgim Leasú 2:—

In sub-section (1), paragraph (b), line 24, to delete the words “or drawing”.

[2529] Mar adúirt mé cheana, baineann an leasú seo le leasú 1. Táimid ag cur an focal “drawing” isteach in Alt 1— agus tá se sin deanta againn faoi leasú 1—agus dá bhaint amach as Alt 2 leis an leasú seo.

Leasú curtha agus aontaithe.

Tomás O Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Tairgim leasú 2 (a):—

To insert at the end of the section the following sub-section:—

The Minister may from time to time by Order declare that any particular document or painting or any document or painting belonging to a particular class shall be excluded from the operation of this Act and a document or painting so declared to be excluded shall, so long as the Order is in force, cease to be an article to which this Act applies, and the Minister may revoke any such Order.

Gidh go bhféadfhainn ceadúnas a thabhairt d'éinne nuair ba mhaith leis pictiúir nó páipéar a chur amach as an tír, d'fhéadfhainn ligean dó san am chéanna scríbhinní nó pictiúrí ar bheagán tábhachta do chur amach. Cheap mé gur ceart dom an leasú sin do dhéanamh.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I do not see how this amendment is going to work, although with its principle I am in substantial agreement. The Bill as it stands apparently requires a person who contemplates exporting any of the articles mentioned in the definitive section to secure the consent of the Minister before that article is exported. This amendment provides machinery, whereunder certain articles, long before the question of export has ever arisen, may, by Order, be excluded from the operation of the Act. What does the Minister envisage doing? Take the case of a painting. Does he propose to issue a label which can be stuck on the back of the picture stating that, although the picture is over 100 years old, by licence of the Minister for Education under sub-section (2) of Section 2, it is exempt from the general provisions of the Act, and may, therefore, be exported or disposed of [2530] freely? That is the first question I should like to have clarified. The second is this: I understood the Minister to say in recommending this amendment that he foresaw that there might be 100 years old documents, pictures and the like which would have no particular value to the nation, and that he, therefore, devised this amendment to meet that situation. I should like to hear from the Minister, however, his views on a somewhat different situation. It is not unknown to us in this country that the descendants of great historical figures in the life of our country have grown poor. They do not choose to seek for charity, or to become a charge upon the public funds. Suppose a foreign collector comes to one of them and says: “There has come down to you by inheritance a document or a picture or a drawing which has a very special value.” Let us imagine that the descendant of one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence was in this country, and had a contemporary portrait of that man, and that a foreign collector came to him and said: “We are prepared to offer you 50,000 dollars for that picture.” The party concerned, well knowing that the picture would be carefully preserved for posterity, would be well looked after and would become a public trust abroad, albeit abroad, saw in that proposal an honourable re-establishment of the family's private fortunes, a deliverance from the necessity to become a charge upon the charity of the community or of his relatives. At this stage, the Minister for Education in pursuit of the purposes of this Bill, intervenes and says: “We will not permit that picture to be exported.”

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Until a copy is made.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Oh, that explains it. The Minister does not claim the right to say that he will detain the picture? I am not holding up the Minister to odium, because I feel strongly that there is a very good case to be made for the proposition that, where the community's interests about an object of historical value clash with those of the actual owner, there is a dilemma, [2531] but I should like to be sure that, in seeking to secure the public good, we are not doing a real injustice to the private owner. Am I to understand from the Minister that he does not take under this Bill power to detain the article itself?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  If the Minister, under Section 4 (2), when a person applies to him for a licence, says that he wishes to have a copy made, he need not permit the article to be exported until the copy is made, but, as the Deputy will see under Section 4 (1), he must grant a licence if the copy is made. The only right the Minister is seeking is the right to hold the article until a photographic copy is made for the national collection.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Would the Minister——?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The matter which the Deputy was arguing is outside the scope of the amendment.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Would the Minister say what is the great difference between giving an export licence, as contemplated in the Bill, and making an Order declaring that a particular document or painting may be exported? Why could not the original idea stand? What is the difference, or what is really saved to anybody by the Minister's issuing an Order rather than giving an export licence?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  And what is the machinery of that procedure?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The reason is that “document” at present refers to a paper over 100 years old. All such documents come under the provisions of the Bill, but obviously it might become necessary to apply the provisions of the Bill to documents, photographs, films or other records of value less than 100 years old. Briefly, I would say that sub-section (2) of Section 2 gives the Minister power to apply the provisions of the Bill to any record on paper or photograph less than 100 years old of which he considers it necessary that there should be a copy in the national collection. I do not know whether that meets the point which the Deputy has made.

[2532]General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I understood the Bill to refer to documents over 100 years old.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  If the Deputy looks at Section 2 (1) (a), he will see “any document (other than a document wholly in print) which is over 100 years old”.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I understood this to mean that the Minister could give a licence, which would be attached to the document, and deliver it from all obligations under this Bill. That is the way 2a reads on the Order Paper. What is the machinery whereby he proposes to do that?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The machinery is that the person anxious to export an article will communicate with me that he intends to do so, and I shall either send him a licence for exportation or inform him that a copy of the article must be made. In the event of my granting him a licence forthwith, I take it that the licence will be in the form of a letter from me, and that it need not necessarily be attached to the article.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Either I am not very intelligent or the Minister is making a serious mistake. Over and above the powers already in the Bill the Minister proposes to put in this additional provision:—

The Minister may from time to time by Order declare that any particular document or painting or any document or painting belonging to a particular class shall be excluded from the operation of this Act and a document or painting so declared to be excluded shall, so long as the Order is in force, cease to be an article to which this Act applies, and the Minister may revoke any such Order.

That is a wholly different procedure from the procedure envisaged in the Bill. Under the Bill, if I have an ancient picture which I want to send to an art dealer in New York I must go to the Minister and say: “I want to sell this ancient picture in New York”, whereupon the Minister says: “You must not export it to New York [2533] until I have had an opportunity to photograph it”. Then it is photographed; I get a permit to export, and off it goes. That is the procedure under the Bill. Under this amendment, as I understand it, I have the right to go to the Minister with a trunk of documents and say: “These are documents relating to the affairs of the Fiji Islands, which my great grandfather brought home. They are over 100 years old, but they are of no value or interest to Ireland. I should like to have a certificate from you that the Act of 1945 does not apply to them so that when the bargaining begins I can say: ‘There is no question of a licence to export these from Ireland being refused because they have been exempted under Section 2 (2) from the operation of the Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export) Act’”. Is not that what 2a is for?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The Minister has to make an order, for example, as regards the question of the prohibition of the export of paintings. I have not found it possible to devise a definition of the type of painting which would be of historical interest.

The administration and control of the export of articles covered by the Bill will be in the hands of the customs officers. It would be impossible for the customs officers, I think, even if such a definition as seems to be desired could be provided, to decide whether the particular article was covered by the definition or not. As I have said, we have not been able to get a definition of a painting. Suppose there is an exhibition and that some artist from outside the country wishes to show some of his work here and is told by somebody: “Oh, there are various restrictions if you send your pictures to Dublin; you may not be able to get them out again because the Minister can hold them up,” that, of course, would be wrong. All that we are seeking for is the power to make copies. In a case where it might be suggested that such a person would be placed at any disadvantage, I am taking this power to exempt completely the whole class of articles which would otherwise be covered by the Bill. Another case that [2534] has been brought to my notice is that of Christmas cards. There might be an Irish artist doing Christmas cards, which, technically, might be described as paintings although they may be of no particular value whatever.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is hard to conceive of Christmas cards being 100 years old.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  If, in the case of Christmas cards, or any other article there is a whole class which could be excluded, and in which we are not interested from the point of view of making records—they may have no national or historical interest—then under Section 2, paragraph (a), I shall be in a position to exempt them completely from the operations of the Act.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I find it difficult to conceive how Christmas cards 100 years old could possibly come under this.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I have explained to the Deputy that the word “painting” covers all classes of painting.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I do not give a fiddle-dee-dee if the Minister prohibits everything. All that I am asking him to consider is how he is going to work this. Is it the Minister's intention to confine his operations under Section 2, paragraph (a), to a wide class of goods such as Christmas cards? Is it his intention that where an artist sends his pictures to Dublin he will say that the pictures of X Y are excluded from his powers under the Act? If he is going to do that, how is it going to work? Is he going to issue a certificate to X Y which X Y can affix to the back of his pictures, saying that they are excluded from the provisions of the Act? Perhaps the Minister has not considered that point, and would agree to look into it between now and the consideration of the Bill in the Seanad, so that he may provide himself with some effective machinery for achieving that purpose?

Amendment No. 2 agreed to.

Section 2, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Do photographs come under this definition section?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  They do.

[2535]Mr. H.M. Dockrell: Information on Henry Morgan Dockrell  Zoom on Henry Morgan Dockrell  In the case of pictures which might be sent out of this country to an exhibition, would they have to get an exemption before being sent out?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  If they were over 100 years old they would.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Am I to understand that a photo-portrait of my grand-aunt is a document, whereas a painting of the same lady is a picture? We ought to know where we are.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I do not know where we are because the Deputy is discussing some point in the Bill that seems to strike his fancy. We are supposed to be on Section 3.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  We passed amendment No. 2, and now we are on the section.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Section 2, as amended, was agreed to.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I apologise. I thought the section was being discussed.

Section 3 agreed to.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I move amendment No. 3:—

In sub-section (2), page 3, line 4, to insert before the word “copies” the word “photographic”.

This is to make it clear that wherever the word “copies” occurs in the Bill it means photographic copies. In the case of single articles, such as paintings, the intention is that a photo will be taken. The photographic copy will be purely for record, to record, for example, the work of an Irish painter. It is not intended to make an actual copy of a painting, but in the case of documents, it may be possible through the micro-film and where there is a large number of documents, to film them. In any case “copy” refers to photographic copy.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Is there any limit of time within which the Minister binds himself to have the copy made?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  No, but I am informed that there is very little time needed. The National Library is making [2536] photostats and copies of these continuously, so that except in the case of a very large number of documents, or of a large collection, there will be no appreciable delay. I understand that 1,000 copies a day can be copied.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I can envisage the possibility of some unworthy successor of the Minister seeking, through the exercise of the powers to be conferred in the Bill, preventing the export of a picture by putting the blame on the fact that the copy was not ready, simply because he was sitting still and was doing nothing. Would the Minister consider inserting in the appropriate place in sub-section (2) the word “reasonable” before the word “facilities”?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I have no objection if the House agrees.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It would be perfectly acceptable to me if the Minister would accept the principle of the amendment, and then have the amendment made in the Seanad. Perhaps it would be more convenient to have the amendment made on the Report Stage of the Bill before it leaves the Dáil.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The only point is that if we postpone it——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  As far as I am concerned, the Minister can do it in whatever way he finds most convenient.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  It can be done now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I, therefore, move to insert in sub-section (2), line 4, the word “reasonable” before the word “facilities”.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Would the Deputy not accept instead “reasonable time”? I would prefer that.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Certainly; I agree.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I think that after all it would be better if we left the amendment over until I have had an opportunity of discussing it with the draftsman. If the word “reasonable” were inserted before the word [2537]“facilities” I do not quite know what it might connote. As regards time, I am quite prepared to bind myself to this, that the copy should be made within a reasonable time.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  That is quite acceptable to me. The Minister can make the amendment later in the way that is most convenient to himself.

Amendment No. 3 agreed to.

Section 4, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I move amendment No. 4:—

In lines 9 and 10, to insert before the word “copies” where it occurs the word “photographic”.

This is the same principle. Wherever a copy is made, it means that a record is automatically made of the document. If the original should be lost, there will be a copy available in the national collections.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Is it the intention of the Minister to invite persons who have documents to co-operate with this photographic division of the National Library with a view to having all documents photographed even though their export is not under immediate contemplation, so that we might have a record not only of documents exported but of documents possibly destroyed by fire or other accident?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Yes. I appealed on the Second Reading to the public to co-operate with the National Library in having documents collected or copies of them made. This work is going on constantly and the National Library authorities are in touch with a great many private owners. I think there is only one point that I need make, since I think most people are aware of the value of the service which is given; it is speedy and they like to have copies made, lest, as the Deputy has said, the originals become destroyed. I should like to say, however, that if there is any question of confidence or of the document being of a family nature, it is usual in such cases for the National Library to give an undertaking that there will be no [2538] question of publication of such documents until the owners are satisfied, that is to say, a limit of time, perhaps 100 years, might be fixed and the library would agree that the documents would not be published within that time. I am saying that in case there are persons who have very valuable documents but of which, if they are of a personal or family nature, they may not care to have copies made. Although they would be kept in the national archives, every precaution would be taken to see that confidence was preserved.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  May we assume in that connection——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Both the Minister and the Deputy have run away from this measure.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Oh, have we?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  They have both run away.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Very well.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  It relates only to export.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 5, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 6, 7 and the Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  When is it proposed to take the Report Stage?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  If there is no objection, I should like to have the remaining stages of the Bill now. I explained on Second Reading that while general legislation of this nature has been in contemplation for some time, the passage of this measure has become necessary as a matter of urgency because I have information that there is danger of a valuable collection of papers in this country—a unique collection—being lost to the country.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Will the Minister deal with “a reasonable time” in the Seanad?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Later, yes.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Will not the Bill have to come back from the Seanad?

[2539]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The words can be inserted now.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The amendment would be—on page 3, line 9, to insert after the words “of the articles to be made” the words “within a reasonable time”. Will that be satisfactory? It would then read:

“Where an application is made to the Minister for an export licence to export an article to which this Act applies, the Minister may request the applicant to afford the Minister such facilities as he may think necessary to enable photographic copies of the article to be made within a reasonable time.”

If “within a reasonable time” is not satisfactory, I think I would have to hold the matter over.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Is that agreed?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  It is a question of whether the words are in the right place or not.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The question is whether these words will be deemed to govern the Minister or the applicant for the licence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Will the Minister say precisely where the words are to go in? There is a reference to line 5 and to line 9. Which line and where?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I think line 9 is the proper place—after the word “made”.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Would it not be better to postpone the Report Stage and to take it between 5 and 6 o'clock?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  “The Minister may cause copies of the article to be made”.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Yes—“within a reasonable time”.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  After the word “made” in line 10?

[2540]Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Line 9.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Line 10 in my copy.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I just question what exactly that would mean, whether, if the thing were not made inside a reasonable time, it would have any effect at all. I think it would be better to postpone the Report Stage until about 5 or 6 o'clock. The Minister could deal with it in the meantime and then he could get the remaining stages of the Bill.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Is there not an important point that if the terms of this Bill were used to prevent a person exporting——

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I will take the Report Stage to-morrow.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  That will settle it.

Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 18th July.


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