Wednesday, 31 January 1923
Dáil Éireann Debate
The PRESIDENT: I beg to move: “That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas of the expenses to be incurred in relation to the employment, under any act of the present Session, of Deputies, for Under-Sheriffs, and of persons to act as bailiffs.”
Mr. GAVAN DUFFY: On this motion I would like to refer to what occurred yesterday when a somewhat dangerous  precedent was in danger of being introduced. The President was, as I think, very badly advised by one of his subordinates when he came down here and told the Dáil it was not competent for us to proceed with a certain measure until such time as we had passed the financial resolution. The President will probably do me the justice to agree that he was wrongly advised. There is nothing in the Constitution which bears out that contention. Arising, therefore, out of that bad advice we have this motion put on the paper to-day. Surely it is a bad precedent, and I put it to the President as the Minister for Finance that it would be wise for him to consider it a bad precedent for a motion of this kind to be introduced, which authorises expenditure in general terms without limit. We have a proper machinery for the appropriation of votes of money. If the President says he wants so much for one item and so much for another, there would be very little objection, but in principle it is wrong for the Minister for Finance to come down here and ask for a general authorisation to expend money without saying how much he contemplated, and without asking the Dáil to sanction a specific amount. If he specified the amount and that it was too little to go along with he could come here and ask to have it increased. And it would be done, but there is very real objection for a financial resolution to be passed in general terms without specifying a vote for a specific amount.
Mr. O'HIGGINS: In that connection it is right to say that it is impossible to frame the resolution in other than in general terms. Take one of the items referred to—“Deputies for Under-Sheriffs.” I do not know how many deputies will be required. I do not even know that any such deputies will be required. It will depend upon that very uncertain quantity, the extent of intimidation that is exercised. It may depend upon the accuracy of aim of some bandit or bandits. The other item, “Persons to act as bailiffs”—that cannot be decided with mathematical accuracy. It will depend also on circumstances that cannot be analysed at the moment, and may change from day to day. The resolution to meet the purposes for which the Bill was framed cannot be in other than general terms.
Mr. JOHNSON: On this point I would like to have some guidance as to the actual position. Am I right in saying that there will require to be a Consolidated Fund Act passed to legalise the expenditure—that is to say, the authorisation of the Comptroller-General to allow the expenditure for this purpose?
Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: I think that the terms might be a little more explicit. I believe, where certain resolutions are introduced in another place whose precedents we are adopting, it is definitely specified—expense incurred in respect, say, of deputies for Under-Sheriffs, in such-and-such Acts that might or might not be passed—in order that definite amendments might be introduced to define the amounts in specific items.
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