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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Electricity (Special Provisions) Act.

Tuesday, 28 June 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 223 No. 9

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[1336]29.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, in view of the ending of the ESB dispute, he will now introduce legislation to repeal the Electricity (Special Provisions) Act, 1966.

30.

Mr. O'Leary: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether in view of the settlement reached in the ESB fitters dispute he will now introduce legislation to repeal the Electricity (Special Provisions) Act, 1966.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Dr. Hillery): Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 30 together. The answer to both questions is in the negative.

When speaking on the Second Stage of the Electricity (Special Provisions) Bill, I said that one method by which an interruption of the supplies of electricity could be provided against would be the negotiation of a voluntary arrangement by the employees of the Electricity Supply Board to give up their right to such action as would bring about interruption or serious danger of interruption in the supply of electricity. I hope that such an arrangement can be negotiated and, if it is, there will be no need to retain the Act on the Statute Book.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Does the Minister expect that the new Industrial Relations Bill will be able to provide for the situation which he tried to provide for in recent weeks——

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I hope not.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish ——which he tried to provide against—the situation he thought was there? Will he further admit that such legislation as this House enacted in the past two or three weeks cannot operate?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy will agree that the House has some responsibility to the community to try to preserve supplies of electricity. As the Deputy knows, the legislation has not been brought into force and would be put [1337] into effect only in the event of a disruption of electricity supplies or imminent danger of such a disruption.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully So the Taoiseach's wand has been put in pickle.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The answer which I gave is what we believe all the time. If it is possible to negotiate an arrangement with the employees whereby they would give up their right to embark upon such action as would interrupt the supply of electricity, with all the consequent effects on the community that is the better way and I have invited Congress to discuss this with me.

Mr. O'Leary: The Minister is inviting the trade unions to come naked to the negotiating table, to lay aside all the usual bargaining powers they have. Are we to take it that the Minister is committed to the principle of judicial intervention in the area of industrial relations? Does the Minister believe that is the proper attitude to industrial relations at this time—judicial intervention?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery In my statement I tried to be clear—and the Taoiseach's statement was quite clear—on our attitude to this legislation and as to the limiting of the operation of its effectiveness. We have a duty to the community to try to protect supplies of electricity. As I say, I have invited Congress to come and discuss this with me. I am aware of the belief of this Government that we do not want to limit any weapon which the working man has. What we set out to do was to protect the rights of the community and preserve supplies of electricity.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Why did the Minister and the Government not consult with Congress before introducing this legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan We are going very far away from the questions on the Order Paper.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Chair might let the Minister answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan We are going [1338] very far from the questions on the Paper. Question No. 31.


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