Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications
Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 (Amendment of Schedule) (Annex 19 to Chicago Convention) Order 2013: Motion
This meeting has been convened to consider the proposal that Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann approve the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 (Amendment of Schedule) (Annex 19 to Chicago Convention) Order 2013 in draft. Copies of the order in draft were laid before Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann on 30 October and referred to the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann on that date. Members have received briefing material prepared by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Michael Ring, and his official, Ms Ethna Brogan. I invite the Minister of State to make his opening remarks.
Ireland is a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, known as the Chicago Convention. The convention sets down the rules for the operation of international air transport and established the International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN body that oversees the operation of international air transport. There are a number of technical annexes to the convention which set out standards and recommended practices that all signatory states must implement.
Earlier this year the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, consolidated many of the existing aviation safety rules set down in the technical annexes to the Chicago Convention in one new Annex 19 – Safety Management. Under national law, the Irish Aviation Authority, IAA, has been assigned responsibility for implementing most of the Chicago Convention annexes in Ireland. These responsibilities include all aspects of aviation safety, including, for example, ensuring all aircraft on the Irish aircraft register are airworthy and that air transport operations are carried out safely by operators. It is intended that statutory responsibility for the implementation of Annex 19 will also be assigned to the IAA and that is the purpose of the draft order. The assignment of Annex 19 to the IAA will not result in the creation of additional responsibilities on the authority. As mentioned previously, the IAA has responsibility for the majority of the annexes from which the Annex 19 standards and recommended practices, SARPs, are drawn.
Section 58(2) of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 requires that any additional functions conferred on the Irish Aviation Authority be done by way of ministerial order. Under section 5(7) of the 1993 Act, before the Minister can make such an order, a draft of the order must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and a resolution approving the draft must be passed by both Houses. The draft order was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 30 October last and Annex 19 will become applicable on 14 November 2013. In accordance with these legislative procedures, I hereby present the draft order to the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications.
I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Ring, and thank him for his outline. While I accept it is purely technical, I will make a couple of comments that do not necessarily reflect on the Minister of State. They are directed towards the Department.
I welcome that the joint committee is discussing this issue. While it is technical in nature, if the Government is to be realistic about the process of reform, where possible, it would be helpful if draft orders such as this one could be published sooner. I note the discussions on this issue have been ongoing for some time. It is largely a tidying-up exercise. My party does not have a major problem with it but I would prefer if it could be published sooner.
I note the order was laid before the House last week. That is fine. It should be laid before the House sooner than it needs to be signed. We are at 13 November and it needs to be signed tomorrow. I assume there will be something about it on the Order of Business in the Dáil today, following on from here. That is grand, but it is a little rushed. In this instance, it does not matter because it is technical. If it were a matter that provided for Members of the Oireachtas to have an opportunity to have their say, whether it be critical or supportive, it would not be available to us.
This is as a word of caution or a request to the Government to try to facilitate Parliament a little better in dealing with such statutory instruments. For far too long, successive Governments signed statutory instruments on the nod and we have seen problems arise in some cases. That would be my only concern, that we would try to have a process that meant we were not dealing with it at the 11th hour. Other than that, we will support the Government on it.
I agree with Deputy Dooley. That is an entitlement of Parliament. I will bring that back to the Minister and the officials to ensure such matters are brought before the Members sooner. The Deputy is quite correct. It will be in the Dáil and Seanad today. It must be so because it must be signed tomorrow. He is correct that it is technical in nature but, at the same time, it should be put before the House sooner.
This is a technical matter. It is merely dotting the i's and crossing the t's to ensure that, if a situation arises, we have the legal statute in place. That is what this is about. It is consolidating existing legislation. It is not giving new legislation to the Department and it is not putting any extra workload on it. It is merely consolidation of existing legislation.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, stated he will send statutory instruments - this is an order - to committee before they are implemented.
If there is no further comment, we will conclude the discussion. I thank the Minister of State for coming in to bring the matter before us. I propose the committee goes into private session. Is that agreed? Agreed.