Wednesday, 6 June 1923
Dáil Éireann Debate
The PRESIDENT: 1. The Government has decided to set up a Civil Service Commission to control the recruitment of the Public Service. We have carefully considered the procedure followed in other countries, and have come to the conclusion that the functions of our Civil Service Commission should be confined to recruitment, including the conduct of examinations of all kinds and to the certification of candidates for the Civil Service as respects their health, efficiency and character.
2. Subject to the approval of the Dáil in regard to the Chairmanship, we propose that the Civil Service Commission should be constituted of the present Ceann Comhairle as Chairman, the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, and the Secretary of the Ministry of Education. The inclusion of the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Secretary to the Ministry of Education proceeds on the ground that the Civil Service Commission must work in close co-ordination with these two Ministries—with the former because it is vested with the duty of controlling the numbers, grades and salaries of the Public Service; with the latter because of its responsibility for the educational requirements of the country. The Government attaches the highest importance to the Civil Service Commission being so constituted as to guarantee to all citizens of the Saorstát impartial treatment, and it is for that reason we propose that the present Ceann Comhairle should be appointed as Chairman. His impartial position as Chairman of the Dáil and his educational experience which he possesses qualify him in a special degree for the position.
Mr. JOHNSON: Has the Ministry any suggestion to make as to the method  of securing the approval of the Dáil as regards the Chairmanship, and can he give the Dáil any estimate of the time that will be required by those three Commissioners, and particularly the Secretaries of the two Departments, from their ordinary occupation to carry on the functions of this Commission?
The PRESIDENT: We propose to make arrangements in connection with the latter part of the question—that is, to secure that those two officers would be able to give the time necessary. In the case of the Chairman of the Commission, I had intended to raise the question of his approval by the Dáil. It may be necessary subsequently to introduce a Bill dealing with this matter. I do not know at the moment that it is necessary. I take it that there will be no question in the Dáil as to the suitability of the Chairman and as to his impartiality. It is necessary just now that this Commission should set to work, because a number of examinations will have to be held in the immediate future. If it is held up for any extent of time, the holding of those examinations without a body such as I have outlined would be open to a good deal of criticism. I think the decision of the Government with regard to this matter is the best that could be entertained at the moment, and one that will work well in the circumstances.
Mr. JOHNSON: Is it practicable for this Commission, for immediate purposes, to be appointed for settling examinations and so on, quite apart from what may ultimately be decided as to the functions of such a Commission? It seems to me that may raise questions for consideration, whereas the President urges that there is immediate need for the setting up of a Commission for settling examination papers and so on.
The PRESIDENT: None of the acts that would have to be performed by the Commission are statutory, therefore a Bill is not essential; but it may be considered later on that a Bill would be necessary. At the moment it does not appear to us either necessary or desirable.
Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: On a point of order arising in that connection, perhaps  you would be good enough to advise me. If this decision that has now been announced were to be promulgated by way of an Order to be laid on the Table of the Dáil, it would be clear how the matter could be raised, if any Deputy desire to raise it, with regard to the constitution, personnel, and functions of this Commission. Now that it has been made in this way, if Deputies should desire to raise any matters involved in this decision, what would be the correct procedure for such Deputies to adopt?
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I would suggest that if a discussion on the answer given by the President to Deputy Johnson is considered necessary by Deputies, an agreement could be reached now, so that we could take it up either to-day or to-morrow at an agreed hour, and the matter could then be discussed.
Mr. JOHNSON: The difficulty is that Deputies generally have not had any intimation about this matter, and on short notice they may not be able to discuss the question with sufficient information. I suggest—if it is not absolutely essential—that at least a couple of days' notice should be given before the matter is raised in discussion.
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