Committee Reports::Report No. 66 - Statutory Instruments [12]::19 December, 1979::Report



1. Since it issued its fiftieth report (Prl. 8088) on 30th May, 1979 the Joint Committee has examined a further twelve statutory instruments. These are listed in the Appendix to this report. Arising out of its examination of three of those instruments the Committee wishes to draw the attention of the Houses to the following matters.

Citation of Community Legislation

2. In its twentieth (Prl. 7279) and twenty-ninth (Prl. 7530) reports the Joint Committee was critical of certain instruments dealing with control of imports because they contained no reference to the Community secondary legislation which they purported to implement. It has noted with approval that the European Communities (Miscellaneous Textiles) and (Miscellaneous Textile Piece Goods) Regulations, 1979 [S.I. Nos. 255 and 256 of 1979] are not open to such criticism as all the relevant Community secondary legislation involved is cited fully.

Implementation of Council Directives by Statutory Instruments

3. The European Communities (Retirement of Farmers) Regulations, 1974 [S.I. No. 116 of 1974] implemented Council Directive 72/160/ EEC which deals with the EEC Farmers’ Retirement Scheme. Article 13 of 1974 Regulations provides that the annuity payable under the scheme “may be increased from time to time as may be necessary to take account of any increase in the Consumer Price Index.” Such increases have been effected from time to time by regulations made under section 3 of the European Communities Act, 1972, the latest of which, the European Communities (Retirement of Farmers) Regulations, 1979 [S.I. No. 198 of 1979], has just been examined by the Joint Committee.

4. The fact that the Farmers’ Retirement Scheme is embodied in a statutory instrument means that the periodical changes in the amount of the annuity payable thereunder have also to be made by statutory instruments. The Joint Committee is, therefore, able to monitor fully the implementation of the Scheme in this country. In marked contrast no such parliamentary scrutiny of changes made in the Farm Modernisation and the Disadvantaged Areas Schemes, as operated here, is possible. Although these Schemes are also founded on Council Directives, neither appears to be supported by any national legislation other than the annual Appropriation Act which appropriates whatever national finance is required for those Schemes. Changes in the national rules governing these Schemes can therefore be made without the Joint Committee being given an opportunity of examining them. In this connection attention is directed to the eleventh (Prl. 4669) and thirtieth (Prl. 5419) reports of the Joint Committee’s predecessor in which specific reference is made to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

5. In the Joint Committee’s opinion it cannot be correct that Council Directives dealing with agricultural structures should be legally implemented in this country in different ways. Whatever about the legal position, however, the important thing from the viewpoint of parliamentary control is that changes in the detailed provisions of the Farmers’ Retirement Scheme, as it operates in this country, are open to the scrutiny of the Joint Committee while changes made in the Farm Modernisation and Disadvantaged Areas Schemes are not. The Committee understands that there have been ten amendments of the Farm Modernisation Scheme since 1974 and five amendments of the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme since 1975. These were all effected administratively and the Committee had no opportunity of examining any of them.

6. The Joint Committee does not think that the varying practice in regard to these Directives can be justified and it invites the Department of Agriculture to re-examine the question. It proposes to take up the matter with the Department again in due course and in light of the outcome to make a further report to both Houses and, if necessary, seek a debate in each House on the subject.

Anti-Dumping Duties on ECSC Products

7. The Joint Committee’s examination of the European Communities (Provisional Anti-Dumping Duty on Certain Iron and Steel Goods) (Termination) Regulations, 1979 [S.I. No. 191 of 1979] reveals a situation in regard to anti-dumping duties on products coming under the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty which the Committee cannot regard as satisfactory. To explain how the situation arose it is necessary to refer briefly to the legal position regarding customs duties on ECSC products.

8. Although there is now an ECSC unified tariff, customs duties on third country products covered by that Treaty remain a matter for national legislation: the Treaty obliges Member States to keep their duties within maximum and minimum limits fixed by a Decision of the Council (Article 72). Under Article 75 of the Treaty the Commission is empowered to make Recommendations to Governments of Member States to counteract dumping by third countries. Recommendations under the ECSC Treaty are analogous to Directives under the EEC Treaty. They are binding as to the aims to be pursued but leave the choice of appropriate methods to those to whom they are addressed. Hence they require implementation by national legislation.

9. S.I No. 191 of 1979 which was made under the European Communities Act, 1972, terminates certain anti-dumping duties in accordance with a Commission Recommendation. The duties had been imposed by earlier statutory instruments which implemented earlier Recommendations of the Commission imposing the duties. The history of the matter is as follows.

10. In February this year the Commission adopted ECSC Recommendations [Nos. 267 and 294/79] to impose anti-dumping duties on certain products originating in Brazil and Spain, the Recommendations coming into effect on 13th (Spain) and 16th (Brazil) February, 1979. These duties were imposed in Ireland with effect from 2nd April, 1979 by S.I. No. 84 of 1979 made on 22nd March, 1979.

11. Later in February the Commission adopted another Recommendation [No. 433/79] to impose an anti-dumping duty on other products originating in Spain, the Recommendation coming into effect on 3rd March, 1979. This duty was imposed in Ireland with effect from 25th April, 1979 by S.I. No. 143 of 1979 made on 17th April, 1979.

12. The Commission then adopted a further Recommendation [No. 787/79] which entered into force on 21st April, 1979. This terminated with effect from 11th April, 1979 the aforementioned duties in the case of products originating and consigned from Spain while maintaining them in respect of deliveries originating in Spain but consigned from other third countries. This Recommendation was implemented by the statutory instrument cited above, S.I. No. 191 of 1979. It terminated the duties in question with effect from 11th April, 1979 in the case of the duty imposed on 2nd April, 1979 and from 25th April, 1979 in the case of the duty imposed on that date.

13. The Commission also adopted a Recommendation [No. 720/79] terminating with effect from 26th March, 1979 the duty imposed on deliveries originating in and consigned from Brazil while maintaining it in respect of those Brazilian products if consigned from other countries. S.I. No. 191 of 1979 also terminated this duty as far as Ireland is concerned with effect from 2nd April, 1979, the date on which it became effective.

14. It will be observed that the net result seems to be that certain anti-dumping duties which could, as a matter of European law, have been in effect from 16th February, 1979 to 26th March, 1979 and 3rd March, 1979 to 11th April, 1979 were never in force in Ireland at all and that another duty applied only from 2nd April, 1979 to 11th April, 1979 when the relevant Commission Recommendation would have allowed it being imposed from 13th February, 1979 to 11th April, 1979.

15. The Joint Committee has been informed by the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy “that there must of necessity be some delay in giving effect at national level to Commission Recommendations where, after receipt of the Official Journal of the European Communities in which the Recommendation is published, Regulations have to be prepared in consultation with the Parliamentary Draftsman and the Revenue Commissioners and the Revenue Commissioners have to be given time to instruct their customs officials.” The Department has indicated that “this delay is understood and accepted by the Commission Services in Brussels.”

16. The Joint Committee is not impressed by the fact that the situation is understood by the Commission. Its concern is with the fact that this country can apparently be exposed to dumping of iron and steel products by third countries because of legal and administrative difficulties in counteracting it. Where a question of dumping arises obviously prompt action is required. If existing national legislation does not permit prompt action being taken, the Committee’s view is that the quesion of proposing amending legislation should be examined. Moreover, it considers that it ought to be possible for the Commission to notify national authorities of anti-dumping measures in advance of the receipt of the Official Journal. It recommends that this aspect will be pursued with the Commission.


Chairman of the Joint Committee.

19th December, 1979.