Thursday, 16 June 2005
Air Navigation and Transport (Indemnities) Bill 2005: Committee and Remaining Stages.
I do not wish to delay the passage of the Bill, but I have certain reservations about this section. I am concerned that this will provide an exemption for insurance companies, where the State is involved. It might be better to have a combination of insurers and the State. I bow to the ministerial advice on this, but removing the insurers' responsibility is not the way to proceed. Perhaps we might amend this section at a later stage, but if it is left as it stands, it would provide an open season for insurers to evade, or at least minimise, their responsibilities and liabilities and the onus would be left on the State.
I appreciate Senator Daly's point but it does not apply to section 13. This section allows for the non-application of the insurance Acts, which means that the various statutory requirements that could arise out of those Acts, which would not be relevant or appropriate to the Minister under this legislation, would not apply. The section is in place to allow the Minister to put the indemnities in place without having to take all of the insurance Acts into account, in so far as he or she does not have to act in the capacity of an insurance company. It prevents a situation where the Minister would have to put in place all the regulations demanded by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Put simply, this section means that the Minister for Transport does not have to act in the capacity of an insurance company.
On my own behalf and on behalf of my good friend the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, and my Department officials I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, and the office and staff of the House for accommodating this important emergency legislation. I have explained the reasons it is necessary to the House. I wish to put on record my appreciation of all the contributors to this debate and of the House for speedily processing this very important and necessary piece of emergency legislation.
I also wish to put on the record of the House the appreciation of my officials. This issue was brought to their notice less than ten working days ago. We commenced work on the Bill immediately and the legislation was published today. I wish to thank all those involved in the aviation section of my Department who have worked so hard to put this together and bring the Bill to where we are today. In particular, I thank those officials who are with me today.
I thank the Minister for State, and his officials in particular, for the speed with which they managed to bring about this legislation. It is very welcome to see the Department of Transport being able to enact or draft legislation so quickly. We often complain about other Departments and the length of time it takes to bring legislation to this House. It is probably due to a considerable amount of work carried out by a number of people over the past number of days that this element of aviation legislation has been dealt with.
As a number of Senators noted, aviation is vitally important to Ireland because it is an island and because of its peripheral status within Europe. It is necessary to ensure there is a continuous link with Europe and the rest of the world. I thank the Minister of State for assisting other Senators and myself with the questions we had regarding the Bill and giving assurances relating to the protection of the Exchequer from unnecessary claims at a later stage. We all want to ensure that airlines have the capacity to operate but not to the detriment of our economy.
On behalf of Senator Feighan, I thank the Minister of State and officials from the Department for bringing this legislation forward. Senator Feighan was delighted to co-operate fully with the legislation and hopes its implementation will be speedy and effective.
I thank the Minister of State and his officials for coming here today at such short notice and enacting this Bill. I welcome the Minister of State's comment that he hoped he would not have to return to this House to explain the application of this Bill because it has emergency status and is very technical in nature.