Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1987: [ Seanad Bill Amended by Dáil ] : Report and Final Stages.

Tuesday, 14 June 1988

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 120 No. 3

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An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We are on the Report Stage of the Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1987. This is a Seanad Bill which has been amended by the Dáil. In accordance with Standing Order 82 it is deemed to have passed its First, Second and Third Stages in the Seanad and is placed on the Order Paper for Report Stage. On the question that the Bill be received for final consideration, the Minister may explain the purpose of the amendments made by the Dáil and this [489] is looked upon as a report of the Dáil amendments to the Seanad. The only matter, therefore, that may be discussed is the amendments made by the Dáil. For the convenience of Senators I have arranged for the printing and circulation to them of these amendments.

Question proposed: “That the Bill be received for Final Consideration.”

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  As Members are aware, they may speak only once on this question.

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport (Mr. Lyons): Information on Denis Lyons  Zoom on Denis Lyons  Tá an-áthas orm bheith thar n-ais sa Seanad chun moladh don Teach na 21 leasuithe don Bhille a rinneadh sa Dáil.

The 21 Dáil amendments which I now commend to the House include a number of substantial additions to the Bill as passed by this House on 11 November 1987 but which are within the general policy framework of the Bill to update and strengthen our civil aviation law. The substantial additions are the proposed new sections 16, 45 and 47 and I shall now comment briefly on each of the 21 amendments in the order in which they appear in the special printed list before the House.

Amendment No. 1 corrects a drafting flaw in section 2 of the Bill by deleting the definition of “aerodrome”. That definition would have conflicted with the general definition of “aerodrome” which applies for all of the Air Navigation and Transport Acts 1936 to 1988, that is to say, the Acts including this Bill when enacted. Amendment No. 3 deals with the point which the special definition of “aerodrome” was intended to cover.

Amendment No. 2 deletes the unnecessary definition in section 2 of the Bill of the expression “policy of insurance”. That expression is defined in section 10, which requires the insurance of all civil aerodromes in the State, for the purposes of that section.

Amendment No. 3 inserts a new section 5 before the existing section 5 in Part II of the Bill. The purpose of the [490] new section 5 is to specifically exclude aerodromes under the control of the Minister for Defence from the application of Part II of the Bill, which Part is concerned with civil aviation matters which are the responsibility of the Minister for Tourism and Transport.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are simply drafting amendments to subsection (1) of the existing section 9 of the Bill and deal with the same point. Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are related and correct a drafting flaw in the existing section 10 of the Bill which requires the insurance of all civil aerodromes in the State.

Amendments Nos. 8 and 11 are related and correct a defect in subsection (2) of the existing sections 11 and 17, respectively, of the Bill. The amendments correct the defect by deleting the words “or reasonable excuse” or “or reasonable cause” in subsection (2) of the sections. Those words could very well have been used to exonerate persons unlawfully in possession of firearms etc., in aerodromes. That obviously was not the intention.

Amendment No. 9 amends the existing section 15 of the Bill to enable the Minister for Tourism and Transport, if he should so require for the purpose of enforcing the new section being inserted before the existing section 16 of the Bill, by amendment No. 10, to direct the detention or restriction of the use of aircraft in relation to which the owner or operator has failed to comply with the provisions of the new section 16 concerning the aircraft.

Amendment No. 10 inserts a new section 16 before the existing section 16 of the Bill to enable the Minister for Tourism and Transport by order to require aircraft owners-operators to ensure against, or otherwise make financial provisions to meet, liability arising in relation to their aircraft operations in, into, out of, or over the State. Any such order could be annulled by either House of the Oireachtas as provided for in the existing section 3 of the Bill in accordance with standard practice.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 affecting [491] the existing sections 26 and 27, respectively, of the Bill are simply consequential on amendment No. 10 inserting a new section before the existing section 16 of the Bill. Amendment No. 14 concerns the existing section 31 of the Bill. The effect of the amendment is to allow a person to gain admittance to an aerodrome with the permission of an authorised officer, on production of proof of identity, etc., on the same day as he or she was ordered out of, or removed from, the aerodrome by an authorised officer for failure to produce proof of identity due, for example, to having forgotten a passport, airline ticket, baggage etc. I should point out that this is a Workers' Party amendment which I accepted last week.

Amendment No. 15 inserts a new section 43 before the existing section 43 of the Bill for the purpose of transferring certain statutory functions to the Minister for Tourism and Transport. The statutory functions in question are functions under the Customs-free Airport Act, 1947, relating to the operations of Shannon Customs-free Airport, and under the Free Ports Act, 1986, in relation to the establishment of any free port at or adjacent to any aerodrome in the State.

Amendment No. 16 inserts a new section 45 before the existing section 45 of the Bill so as to remove an unnecessary cost penalty imposed by the Hire-Purchase Act, 1946, on Irish firms, notably Aer Lingus and Guinness Peat Aviation which lease aircraft or aircraft spare parts to and from foreign firms.

Amendment No. 17 inserts a new section 47 before the existing section 47 of the Bill so as to give effect to the 1988 Montreal Protocol to the 1971 Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation. The text of the Protocol was laid before Seanad Éireann on 31 May 1988. The terms of the Protocol were approved by the Dáil on 9 June 1988 pursuant to Article 29.5 of the Constitution.

Amendment No. 18 amends the Second Schedule to the Bill to provide [492] for the appeal of three additional definitions of terms and expressions in section 2 of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936.

Amendment No. 19 amends the Second Schedule to the Bill to provide for the repeal of Chapters II and III of Part IV of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936, which relate to aircraft insurance. The repeal is consequential on the insertion of a new section 16 in the Bill by amendment No. 10.

Amendment No. 20 amends the Second Schedule to the Bill to provide for the repeal of long-spent provision in the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1946, and this is being done to tidy up the Statute Book.

Amendment No. 21 amends the existing Long Title of the Bill to cover the three additional items for which provision is being made by way of inserting new sections in the Bill and which are outside the scope of the existing Long Title. The three items are: (1) the implementation of the 1988 Montreal Protocol provided for by amendment No. 17; (2) the amendment of the Hire-Purchase Act, 1946, to exclude its application to leasing of aircraft or aircraft spare parts provided for by Amendment No. 16; and (3) the amendment of the Free Ports Act, 1986, to transfer certain functions to the Minister for Tourism and Transport provided for by amendment No. 15.

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  I will not detain the Minister too long. I just want to pose a few questions which I am sure he will be able to answer satisfactorily for me. I refer to the amendment dealing with the exclusion of the Irish military aerodromes from the provision of this Bill. I did not get the Minister's point when he stated the reasons for their exclusion and perhaps in his reply he would point out in a clear fashion why the military aerodromes will not come under the auspices of the Bill.

I have not very much to say about the remaining amendments, I certainly welcome amendment No. 10 which inserts a new section 16 before section 16. This is a very necessary section and I [493] am sure it will be beneficial and will help to improve the Bill in a major fashion.

The Minister accepted amendment No. 14 in the Dáil and I have no major objection to this either. It seems that the original provision was quite petty in that it did not authorise admission on the same day for the person who produces identification. I welcome that also. I would like the Minister to explain amendment No. 16 in greater detail and explain what these extra costings referred to are. The amendment is to exclude the leasing of aircraft or aircraft spare parts from the scope of the Hire-Purchase Act, 1946, and the Minister informed us that this Hire-Purchase Act put some extra heavy costings on companies such as Aer Lingus etc., so I will be pleased to know what these costings were, and presumably these costings will be totally removed as a result of the amendment.

Amendment No. 17 provides for the implementation of the 1988 Montreal Protocol to the 1971 Montreal Convention and perhaps the Minister could tell us if, as a result of this amendment, the full implementation of the Montreal Protocol and all provisions contained in it will now apply within this country?

I will leave my comments at that and again I thank the Minister in advance for the further explanation of these amendments which I presume are quite necessary.

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport (Mr. Lyons): Information on Denis Lyons  Zoom on Denis Lyons  In reply to some of the queries raised by Senator Bradford on the question of eliminating military aerodromes from the responsibility of the Department, they are the responsibility of the Department of Defence, and the Department of Tourism and Transport are responsible for civil aviation. There was a need for this.

On amendment No. 16, the cost penalty arises because the Hire-Purchase Act, 1946 which was primarily intended to protect consumers, confers certain rights on lesses and restrictions on lessors which are not the norm and are not required nowadays in international leasing arrangements for aircraft and aircraft [494] spare parts but which can be invoked against Irish firms when it suits the other party. The Senator asked for figures but I have not got any figures to give him. If you visualise the cost of aircraft and the cost of spare parts you can see that the cost could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. To avoid this Irish firms have had to arrange for the leasing documents to be executed outside the State, with additional cost and legal uncertainties, because of conflict of law between the foreign state and Ireland.

Briefly, the normal aircraft leasing arrangements are understood to be that a lessee does not have a right of early temination and that, if he defaults in payment, the lessor can readily repossess the aircraft. This contrasts with the position under the Hire-Purchase Act whereby the lessee may terminate the leasing arrangements at any time provided that he or she has paid off one half of the hire purchase price of the item in question and the lessor requires court approval to repossess any item of which only one-third of the hire purchase price has been paid and payment is in arrears.

A question was raised in regard to amendment No. 16, which relates to the transferring of certain statutory functions to the Minister for Tourism and Transport. This transfer is required in the interests of proper administration. Due to an oversight, the functions were not statutorily transferred to the Minister on the change of Government in March 1987. As I indicated earlier, statutory functions in question are the functions under the Customs Free Airport Act, 1947, relating to the operation, etc., of Shannon Free Airport which were vested in the Minister for Communications by the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1983, and which remain with the Minister despite the fact that he no longer has any responsibility for the matter in question and those functions under the Free Ports Act, 1986, which were transferred to the Minister for the Marine by the Communications (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order, 1987 in relation to the establishment etc. of any [495] free port adjacent to any aerodrome in the State.

Sar a gcríochnaímid, ní mór dom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis na Seanadóirí a chabhraigh liom chun an Bille seo a neartú agus a leathnú. Tá mé cinnte go gcuirfidh an Bille slándáil agus sábháil-teacht eitlíocht shibhialta na hÉireann chun cinn ar mhaithe leis an phobal i gcoitinne.

I thank Senators for supporting this important Bill which will bring our civil aviation law fully up to date and for agreeing so quickly to the 21 Dáil amendments to the Bill. It is particularly gratifying that the House is in agreement with bringing our law into line with our international obligations, including those agreed only in the past few months at Montreal. The House can rest assured that the Minister for Tourism and Transport and I will implement vigorously the security and safety aspects of the Bill for the general benefit of all our people.

Question put and agreed to.

Question, “That the Bill do now pass”, put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Harte): Information on John Jack Harte  Zoom on John Jack Harte  We now come to the next matter, a motion under Standing Order 29.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  As the Minister will not be available after 6.45 p.m. I propose that the sitting be suspended until 6.45 p.m.

Acting Chairman:  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 6.35 p.m. and resumed at 6.45 p.m.


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