COURT OFFICERS BILL, 1926—THIRD STAGE RESUMED.

Tuesday, 27 April 1926

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 15 No. 5

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[487] The Dáil went into Committee. Agreed: “That Sections 21 and 22 stand part of the Bill.”

(1) In addition to the principal officers there shall be employed in the several offices established by this Act such and so many officers, clerks, messengers, criers, and servants as the Minister shall, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, from time to time determine.

(2) All officers (other than the principal officers), clerks, messengers, criers and servants employed in any of the offices established by this Act shall be interchangeable amongst such offices and shall be liable to serve in any of those offices as the Minister shall from time to time direct.

The following amendment stood in the name of Deputy Hewat:

Before Section 23 to insert a new section as follows:—

“No person shall be appointed under this Act to be an Examiner unless either—

(a) he is at the time of the appointment a solicitor of not less than ten years standing, who either is then actually practising or has previously practised for not less than ten years, or

(b) he was immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act Chief Clerk attached to the offices of the High Court.”

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I think it will be agreed to take amendments 22 and 24 together.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  To put Deputy Hewat's amendment, No. 22, in order, I move it on his behalf.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Is not amendment 24 covered by amendment 23?

[488]Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Yes. Amendments 22, 23 and 24, in fact, hang together, but amendments 22 and 24 deal with practically an identical matter. The suggestion is to restrict the post of Officer for Accounts and Inquiries, and the post of Registrar to the Chief Justice to either practising solicitors or existing officers. The point of view underlying the amendment differs from that of Deputy Johnson and Deputy Cooper, who seem to wish to open more posts to the rank and file of the staff. Deputy Hewat seeks by these amendments to close certain posts to the ordinary competition of the staff. My road is the middle one, and it is rather less generous to the staff than Deputy Johnson and Deputy Cooper would wish, but rather more generous than the point of view of Deputy Hewat. At present you have two chief clerks who would be Examiners of the future, who are promoted officers, and admittedly there is no suggestion of any lack of competence on the part of these two officers. I am not prepared to assume that there may not be more such men in the future. Therefore, I am not prepared to debar, in the ordinary course of promotions, these officers from these positions—that is, the position of Officer for Accounts and Inquiries, or the other position with which Deputy Hewat's amendment deals, that of Registrar to the Chief Justice.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I regret that Deputy Hewat, who is in charge of this matter, is not able to be here at the moment. This amendment was confined to the office of the Examiner, as I understood it. I think it is exceedingly desirable that nominations for appointments to that particular office should be professional.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  There is no difference really. It is the Officer of Accounts and Inquiries whom it is now decided to call “Examiner.” We are at one as to what Deputy Hewat wishes by his amendment. On consideration, I am not prepared to meet his point of view, but I do not think there is any confusion as to what he seeks.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I am afraid that [489] there is some confusion. As a matter of fact, Deputy Hewat spoke to me about this amendment and as to what was in his mind. He did not desire to exclude the possibility of promoting an existing officer to the position of Examiner. What he had in mind was that if an outsider were being appointed, a solicitor had better qualifications for a position of that kind than a member of the Bar who had no experience of the class of work an Examiner has to do.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  That is right.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I take it that Deputy Duggan, while moving the amendment that stands in the name of Deputy Hewat, does not approve of the proposition that a solicitor is not as capable of filling the post as a barrister. On this question I think it is not inopportune to remind the House that we are discussing an issue between two rival trade unions. It is a demarcation question. We are asked to give statutory authority to one union to the exclusion of the other. I am not going to say whether it is a desirable thing or not, but I am asking the House to bear in mind that they are ratifying a principle which might be brought to their attention on some future occasion.

Captain REDMOND: Information on William Archer Redmond  Zoom on William Archer Redmond  I would like to correct one statement of Deputy Johnson's. The trade unions he refers to are not rivals.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  The amendments would suggest they are.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  In this matter one is at some disadvantage because I thought Deputy Hewat would be here. Would there be any objection to allowing this amendment to stand over and to come up on Report Stage, and then the Deputy would have a chance of dealing with it? In the meantime, the Minister might give it a little further consideration.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I do not object to letting the amendment stand over for the attendance of Deputy Hewat, but I want to make it clear that my point of view is that this particular office should be filled by promotion from the staff [490] and not by the introduction of either a barrister or solicitor.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  If the amendment be withdrawn it can be proposed at a later stage, but if it be defeated it cannot be proposed later.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  There is very little in this amendment, for the reason that as a matter of actual practice the position is nearly always filled by the promotion of an existing officer, who may be neither a barrister nor a solicitor.

Amendment 22, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

Before Section 23 to insert a new section as follows:—

“No person shall be appointed under this Act to be Registrar to the Chief Justice unless at the time of his appointment he either—

(a) is a barrister of not less than ten years' standing who is then actually practising, or

(b) is a barrister who is then employed in an office established under this Part of this Act and has during the next preceding twelve years been employed in one or more of such offices or of the offices formerly attached to the High Court, the Supreme Court, the former Supreme Court of Judicature, the Chief Justice, the Lord Chancellor for Ireland or the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland or any of them, or

(c) immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act holds the office of Registrar or of Assistant Registrar in Lunacy or the office of Chief Clerk to the Chief Justice.”

I would like to point out to Deputy Johnson that there is absolutely no inconsistency in my moving this amendment and supporting the other because the position is a totally different one and a barrister is best qualified for this position. In the original draft no particular qualification was prescribed for the person appointed to be Registrar, but in the amendment now introduced it has been decided to set out the qualifications which he must possess.

[491] Amendment put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 24 not moved.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  That will stand in the same position as amendment No. 22.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Yes.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In sub-sections (1) and (2), before the word “Act” in line 49, and also in line 55, to insert the words “Part of this.”

This section was also intended to refer to the Supreme Court and the High Court and not to the Circuit Court or the District Court. The amendment makes that clear.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move the two following amendments:—

In sub-section (1), to delete lines 51 and 52 and substitute the following words: “Minister shall from time to time determine with the sanction of the Minister for Finance and after consultation with the President of the High Court in the case of an office attached to that court and with the Chief Justice in the case of an office attached to the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice.”

In sub-section (2), line 57, after the word “direct” to add the words: “after consultation with the President of the High Court in relation to an office attached to that court and with the Chief Justice in relation to an office attached to the Supreme Court or to the Chief Justice.”

The effect of the amendments is that the Judicial Head of the Court has to be consulted as to the number of the staff to be employed.

Amendments put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 23 as amended stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) In the event of the temporary absence or the temporary incapacity through illness of the Master of the [492] High Court or any Taxing-Master or in the event of the office of such Master or Taxing-Master being vacant the Minister may appoint a deputy to execute the office of such Master or Taxing-Master during such absence, incapacity, or vacancy.

(2) A deputy appointed under this section shall while his appointment continues have and exercise all the powers and authorities and shall perform and fulfil all the duties and functions of the officer whose deputy he is.

(3) Except in the case of the temporary incapacity of an officer through illness no office shall be executed by a deputy appointed under this section for any period or periods exceeding in all three months in any year.

(4) No person shall be appointed under this section to be a Deputy-Master of the High Court or a Deputy-Taxing-Master who does not possess the qualifications prescribed by this Act for persons appointed to be Master of the High Court or Taxing-Master (as the case may be).

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In page 8, to delete sub-section (4) and substitute two new sub-sections as follows:—

“(4) No person shall be appointed under this section to be a Deputy Master of the High Court unless at the time of his appointment he either possesses the qualifications prescribed by this Act for persons appointed to be Master of the High Court or is an officer employed in the Central Office who has during the next preceding twelve years been employed in one or more of the offices established by this Part of this Act or of the offices the business of which is transferred by this Act to the offices established by this Part of this Act.

“(5) No person shall be appointed under this section to be a Deputy-Taxing-Master unless at the time of his appointment he possesses the qualifications prescribed by this Act for persons appointed to be Taxing-Master.”

The effect of the amendment is that an experienced official can be appointed [493] as deputy for the Master of the High Court during his absence instead of bringing in an outsider. It is felt that an experienced official would make a much more suitable deputy than a practising barrister outside.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 24, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

The Minister may in the case of each of the offices established by this Part of this Act (other than the Central Office and the Taxing-Master's Office) nominate one of the officers for the time being serving in the office to be the deputy for the principal officer having under this Act the management of such office, and every officer so nominated shall, during every temporary absence and every temporary incapacity through illness of such principal officer and every occasion on which the office of such principal officer is vacant occurring while such nomination remains unrevoked, have and exercise the powers and authorities and perform and fulfil the duties and functions for the time being vested by law in such principal officer.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In page 8, to add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:

“(2) In this section the word ‘office’ shall in its application to the Bankruptcy Office be construed as meaning a branch of an office.”

The reason for the introduction of this amendment is that there are two very distinct branches in the Bankruptcy Office—the Registrar's Office and the Official Assignee's Office. There is nothing in common between the two, and the man who might be quite suitable to act in one capacity would have no experience of the work of the other.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 25, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) All securities and moneys which are immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act standing in the books of the government of Saorstát Eireann or any foreign government or any bank or any company or other body corporate whatsoever (whether such bank, company, or body is within or outside Saorstát Eireann) in the name of the Accountant-General of the High Court of Justice of Saorstát Eireann or of the Accountant-General of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Southern Ireland shall immediately upon the commencement of this Part of this Act become and be vested in the Accountant of the High Court of Justice of Saorstát Eireann without any transfer, assignment, or other instrument.

(2) All real and personal property (including choses-in-action) whatsoever which is immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act vested in the Official Assignee of the High Court shall immediately upon the commencement of this Part of this Act become and be (without any conveyance, transfer, or other instrument) vested in the Assignee in Bankruptcy of the High Court for all the estate and interest and subject to the trusts and for the purposes for and subject to which such property was respectively vested in the said Official Assignee, and accordingly all securities and moneys which are immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act standing in the books of the government of Saorstát Eireann or any foreign government or any bank, or any company or other body corporate whatsoever (whether such bank, company, or body is within or outside Saorstát Eireann) in the name of the Official Assignee of the High Court of Justice of Saorstát Eireann or of the Official Assignee of the High Court of Justice in Southern Ireland shall immediately upon the commencement of this Part of this Act become and be vested in the Assignee in Bankruptcy of the High Court of Justice of Saorstát Eireann without any transfer, assignment, or other instrument.

[495] (3) In this section—

the word “securities” includes every description of stocks, shares, debentures, bonds, mortgages, and other securities and all dividends and interest accrued or accruing thereon; the word “moneys” includes moneys in bank on deposit or current accounts;

and references to the books of a government, bank, company, or other body corporate includes books kept for a government, bank, company, or body corporate by any bank, company, body, or person.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In sub-section (1), page 8, line 31, after the word “name” to insert the words “or to the account.”

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move the following amendments:—

In sub-section (1), page 8, line 35, after the word “Accountant” to insert the words “for the time being.”

In sub-section (2), page 8, line 43, and also in line 56, immediately before the word “Assignee” to insert the word “Official,” and immediately after the word “Bankruptcy” to insert the words “for the time being.”

In sub-section (2), page 8, line 52, after the word “name” to insert the words “or to the account.”

These amendments are consequential.

Amendments put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 26, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

During the period of eighteen months from the commencement of this Part of this Act, the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1924 (No. 5 of 1924), shall not apply to any appointment of an existing officer to an office created by this Part of this Act or to a situation in any office established by this Part of this Act.

[496] In this section the expression “existing officer” means and includes all registrars, clerks, messengers, criers, and other officers and servants (not being temporary officers or servants) who at the commencement of this Part of this Act are attached to the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court, or the Chief Justice.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In page 9, lines 13 and 14, to delete the words “(not being temporary officers or servants),” and in line 16 to add at the end of the section the words “and are pensionable officers or servants.”

The effect of the amendment is to exclude temporary and non-pensionable officers from the section. It leaves their status exactly as it was before.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Will the Deputy or the Minister explain the effect of the section as a whole?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  It is really a matter regarding which application of the Civil Service Commission machinery would be very cumbrous if applied to the re-staffing or the staffing of the new court system, inasmuch as we will have on hands all the officers who decide to come into the new system, on this Bill coming into operation. If the processes of the Civil Service Commission were to be adopted that machinery would be overstrained. It is evidently a matter for administrative discretion to fit the existing officers—I say existing officers, meaning the officers who are serving under the present court system—into their proper places in the new system, and it is felt that a period of from a year to eighteen months will be required before that process could be said to be complete. Therefore, the effect of Section 27 is to avert the necessity for troubling the Civil Service Commission in regard to every single appointment that may arise under the new system and to leave my hands and the hands of my Department free to deal administratively with the staffing problem that will arise.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I feel that the statement of the Minister does not make it [497] easier to justify the section. While administrative convenience may well be served by leaving this whole question of promotion and staffing in his hands for eighteen months, I doubt whether it is good policy for the sake of administrative convenience to depart from what has been emphasised in this House as a very necessary provision—that appointments in the Civil Service, appointments under the Government, should be referred to the Civil Service Commission. I think that it is unwise for the sake of administrative convenience to make this very great departure from what has been emphasised here as necessary and desirable.

I would ask the Minister to consider very carefully the question whether this is necessary, having regard to all the circumstances and the public view that the Civil Service Commission is, and should be, a check upon political prejudices. Unless the administrative inconvenience is overwhelmingly great there should not be a departure from the rules that the Civil Service regulations should be applied to appointments in the courts as long as appointments are being retained by the Minister.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  That is a point of view I suppose the Deputy felt bound to put just as I feel bound to reject it. It is rather straining the word to refer to these appointments as appointments in the ordinary sense. It is a question of the statutory termination of one system and the statutory commencement of another system, no doubt, but there will be there carrying on the work of the courts some hundreds of officers and the staffing problem consist merely in fitting these various officers into their respective positions in the new system and defining their duties. To suggest that this is in any way usurping the functions of the Civil Service Commission may read very well in the newspapers, but it is very wide of the mark, and I think the Deputy appreciates it is very wide of the mark. There is no question of making new appointments; there is the question only of dealing with the existing personnel of the courts, allocating them [498] to their positions under the new system and defining their duties.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I take it from that explanation the only power that will be exercised by the Minister, apart from the Civil Service Commission, will be the power of formal transfer from one system to the other and that the Minister is not taking under this power to promote or to make appointments to new offices which would involve increased remuneration.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Suppose I was taking powers?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  That is the question.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Suppose I were, who promotes, as it is, in the ordinary routine of the Civil Service?

Amendment agreed to.

Question—“That Section 27, as amended, stand part of the Bill”— put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 28 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Nothing in this Act shall apply to the Land Registry or any other office established by or under the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891, and neither the Land Registry nor any other office established as aforesaid shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be or to have been attached to the High Court or to the former Supreme Court of Judicature or any branch or division thereof.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

To delete all from the word “Land,” line 30, to the word “aforesaid” in line 33, and substitute the words “Central Office established under the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891, nor to any Local Office established under that Act which immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act is under the management and control of a person who is not the Clerk of the Crown and Peace, [499] and neither the said Central Office nor any such Local Office.”

The Land Registry consists of a central office in Dublin and 25 provincial offices, of which 22 are managed by Clerks of the Peace and three are managed by outside solicitors. This Bill does not affect the central office or the three outside offices, but it necessarily affects the 22 provincial offices, and the amendment is introduced in order to make it quite clear that that is so. It is merely substituting new words for what is in the wording of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Question—“That Section 29, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) There shall be established in and for every county and every county borough an office attached to the Circuit Court and styled the Circuit Court Office.

(2) The Minister may at any time and for so long as he thinks proper amalgamate any two or more counties or any county borough and one or more counties for the purposes of the Circuit Court, and while any such amalgamation continues there shall be only one circuit court office in and for such amalgamated counties or county borough and county or counties.

(3) The Minister may at any time divide any county into two or more parts for the purposes of the Circuit Court and whenever any county is so divided a separate circuit court office shall be established in and for every such part of such county.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

To insert before Section 30 but in Part 1 (relating to the Supreme Court and the High Court) a new section as follows:—

“Save and except Section 47 (which relates to the closing of district probate registries), nothing in [500] this Act shall apply to the District Probate Registries, and none of those Registries shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be or to have been attached to the High Court or to the former Supreme Court of Judicature or any branch or division thereof.”

That amendment is introduced to make it clear that until a district probate registry is closed down it is to continue as before. But for the amendment it might appear that these registries automatically closed down.

Amendment agreed to, and new section inserted accordingly.

Question—“That Section 30 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) There shall be attached to the Circuit Court so many County Registrars as the Minister, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, shall from time to time direct.

(2) Every county registrar shall be appointed by the Executive Council and shall hold office at the pleasure of the Executive Council.

(3) No person shall be appointed to be a county registrar unless at the time of his appointment he is either—

(a) a solicitor of not less than eight years standing who is then actually practising or has previously practised for not less than eight years, or

(b) a Clerk of the Crown and Peace, or

(c) a person who has been a Clerk of the Crown and Peace or a county registrar.

(4) Subject to the person appointed thereto being in good health at the time of appointment, the office of county registrar shall be a pensionable office within the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923, and the pension, allowance, or gratuity granted to or in respect of a county registrar on his retirement or death shall be ascertained in the manner and subject to the conditions prescribed by those Acts.

(5) Every county registrar shall retire on attaining the age of sixty-five years, but such age of retirement [501] may, in the case of any particular county registrar, be extended by the Minister to any age not exceeding sixty-eight years.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I beg to move, on behalf of Deputy Hewat:—

In sub-section (2), line 56, page 10, to delete the words “hold office at the pleasure of the Executive Council” and substitute therefor the words “only removable by the Executive Council on the recommendation of the Judge of the Circuit Court to which he is attached.”

This section deals with the appointment of county registrars to the Circuit Courts, and the proposal in the Bill is that these county registrars shall be appointed by the Executive Council. The Bill goes further and sets out that the registrars shall also be removable at the will and pleasure of the Executive Council. It has been thought desirable that, as these officials have to discharge duties of a semi-judicial character, not alone should they be placed in a position of some independence but that the judge of the court to which they are attached should have something to say before the services of the official are dispensed with. The amendment lays down that the services of an official can only be dispensed with by the Executive Council on the recommendation of the judge of the court. That maintains a principle that many of us thought was very desirable, and, in fact, very necessary in a Bill of this kind.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I have no objection to the principle underlying the amendment or to what the amendment seeks to achieve. The idea is to give to this semi-judicial officer a semi-judicial tenure, a tenure that would be nominally, and I think only nominally, stronger than the ordinary Civil Service tenure. As I say, I have entire sympathy with the principle underlying the amendment and the object which the amendment aims at. But let us consider the thing in practice. I think Deputy Hewat put down the amendment with an eye rather to the county court system of the past, and the mental picture he had of that, than to the circuit court system [502] as it at present obtains, or rather will obtain in its fullness under the operation of this Bill. In the area of jurisdiction of a given circuit court judge, there may be as many as five or six county registrars. The judge will be absent from a given county, perhaps, as long as three or four months. In that state of affairs is it reasonable to ask the concurrence of the circuit judge in the removal of a particular county registrar? He may say in respect of the matters that are advanced as sufficient cause for such removal that he knows nothing of them. How could he? Let us suppose that it is proposed to remove County Registrar A.B. for not having attended to his office for two months, and that matter is submitted to the circuit judge. He might reasonably reply: “I note that you charge this officer that he did not attend to his office for two months together or perhaps for three months altogether. But at that time I was working hard on compensation cases in another county. I know nothing whatever of it, and if your Act makes my assent necessary to the removal of this officer, I will not give that assent in the absence of positive personal knowledge of the matters with which the officer is charged.” That would be a quite fair and reasonable attitude for the judge to take up, but its result administratively would be that as long as a particular officer was able to avoid coming under the unfavourable notice of a circuit judge who might be in his county once in three or four months, he was rooted in his position. Considerations like that make me hesitate to agree to a principle that I would otherwise have complete agreement with—that the concurrence of the circuit judge should be made a necessity and condition precedent to the removal of the county registrar. The judge will be moving around. He will be absent for long periods from a given county. The matters complained of may be matters lying entirely outside his knowledge and experience and he might insist that without positive personal knowledge he would not give his concurrence in the removal. It is because I think the thing would be unworkable in practice that I am not [503] disposed to accept the amendment, while I sympathise with the object the Deputy aims at.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I am sorry that the Minister does not see his way to accept this amendment, because it does appear to one as an exceedingly reasonable amendment. I happen to know something of the genesis of this amendment. It was put forward at a large conference which was held in Dublin to consider the provisions of this particular Bill, and it was felt by practically all those attending that conference that the powers of the Executive Council in connection with this proposed Bill were rather on the strong side, to put it mildly, and that it was desirable that certain limitations should attach to those powers so that they should not be exercised unfairly. As I pointed out when moving this amendment, the idea was that the appointment of these particular officers was left in the hands of the Executive Council as proposed in the original Bill. The removal of these officers in the original Bill was entirely in the hands of the Executive Council. I think every Deputy in the House will agree that that is a section that might be used unfairly, and this amendment seeks to limit the power of the Executive Council under that section only in so far as they must get a recommendation from the judge attached to that particular court before they can remove his assistant. That is desirable. I think one does not like to stress the question. Behind it are a great many principles that we would all approve of. I think it is a highly desirable limitation to put on this particular proposal. With all respect to the Minister, he gives as his reason against this amendment that it is unfair to cast that duty or that obligation on the judge of the court to which this officer is attached. What is the reason that the Minister states why it is unfair to put the obligation on the judge of the court? It is that he is the Circuit Court judge, that he may be called upon to discharge duties away from his own particular court and thereby be absent for long periods—

[504]Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  What exactly does the Deputy mean by that last sentence?

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  For long periods—that may mean at the outside possibly a couple of months.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I pointed out that in the area of the jurisdiction of a given Circuit Court judge there might be four or five counties. The judge cannot be in all these counties at the same time. He must take them in rotation. That means that he will have to be absent from any one of them for three or four months at a stretch. Within that time the county registrar in that county might be guilty of grave misconduct that would warrant his removal, but the judge would not have personal knowledge of that, and might have difficulty in giving his concurrence because of the absence of personal knowledge.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I will take even that case that the Minister has put forward. The Circuit Judge has, say, to attend— and it is an extreme case—four or five courts, and for that reason he would not be able to say whether the senior officer in these courts had a reasonable cause for being absent for a period of two months, which was the case the Minister took. I am only speaking as a layman, but any of us who knows anything of judges who have to discharge somewhat similar duties know that in very few cases is there anything, even of the most minor importance, taking place in any of the four or five courts where they have to exercise jurisdiction that they are not aware of. Such a case is, with all respect to the Minister, scarcely one that any of us could look upon as a reasonable one on which to ground opposition to an amendment of this character. I am quite satisfied that if a case or two of the character mentioned did occur they would be looked upon, certainly by the judiciary, as exceedingly exceptional cases, and not at all as incidents that are likely to occur frequently. It was expressed, and strongly expressed, at that conference that limitations should be attached to the powers of the Executive Council in connection with these officials.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  What conference was that?

[505]Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I need not go into details. It was a conference called in Dublin by the Chambers of Commerce to consider this Bill.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  They did not invite me.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I think they showed their wisdom.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I think so.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  Not that I want in any way to take from some of the advantages that would accrue from having the Minister present, but if we wanted to get an impartial view of the Bill I think we would scarcely go to the Minister; much as we all admire his views and his abilities, we would scarcely look upon him as an impartial authority on a Bill for which he is responsible. It is desirable that these officials, who have to discharge duties of a semi-judicial character, should be protected if, in the discharge of their duties, they are brought into conflict with the Executive Council. I think it is up to this House, in the interests of the laws of our country and the good conduct of officials in the duties they are called upon to discharge, to protect these officials. Therefore, I say that it is desirable that limitations should be placed on these powers, and as far as I am concerned, knowing the views of that conference and knowing the force, and, I think, the justice, with which these views were put forward, as expressed in the amendment, I certainly shall have no alternative but to press it to a division if the amendment is not accepted by the Minister.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I think the case made by Deputy Good is a sound one, and I cannot understand how the Minister, while perceiving the principle and desiring to apply it, raises the objection that the judge who is referred to here may not have personal knowledge of the incidents which the Minister would deem to be sufficient to warrant the dismissal of the registrar. The Minister will not have personal knowledge either. The Minister's staff, the people who will report to the Minister, will report matters, presumably, within their knowledge, and he will judge upon those reports. The [506] judge also would do the same. I can see that the Registrar of the High Court, who is not to be removed without the concurrence of the Chief Justice and the President of the High Courts, might commit acts which would warrant calling for his dismissal, such acts not being within the knowledge of the Chief Justice or the President of the High Court. These matters would have to be brought to the notice of the Chief Justice or the President of the High Court, and I do not see any difference in the practical working out of the proposition, which the Minister approves of in principle, with respect to the registrar of the Circuit Court as compared with the registrar of the High Court. The judge would, presumably, be consulted and have presented to him the evidence that had been presented to the Minister, and if the concurrence of that judge were sought he would be forming his judgment on the same evidence as that on which the Minister himself was forming his judgment. I cannot understand, therefore, that while the principle is accepted, there can be any objection to the practice, inasmuch as that practice has already been conceded with respect to the High Courts.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Of course there is a very considerable difference between the position in the higher courts and the position in the circuit courts. In the higher courts the judges have almost daily contact with the officials during the round of the law year. In the circuit court the position, as I have already emphasised to Deputy Good, is very different. Some circuit judges will have as many as six county registrars in their area of jurisdiction. That means that they will have about six weeks contact in the year with an individual county registrar, and we are asked to put upon the circuit judge, in the face of that situation, the burden of assenting to, or refusing to assent to, the discharge of an officer of whom he really knew very little.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Who will know more?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will know more. I will have administrative contact with these officers from January to December, [507] and, as I say, the judge might very well answer: “You propose to remove this officer for unsatisfactory attendance at his office over a given period, for dissatisfaction to the public, and so on. I was in Mayo between these dates and I know nothing.” Suppose the position were that the accounts of a particular county registrar were invariably late and, when they did arrive, were utterly unsatisfactory, you might be met with the comment from the circuit judge that he knew nothing of that, that he was not a judge of accounts, and so on. If you had the High Court and the Supreme Court position of almost daily contact between the official and the judge, I would see no objection, but where you have only six weeks in the year contact, then I submit it is unwise to press that the concurrence of the judge should be required in respect of matters of which, in the nature of the case, he could not have direct or personal information. Some judges might be very scrupulous as to the degree of positive personal knowledge they would require before assenting to the removal of an officer. A judge who is out of the county, in which the officer functions, for 46 out of the 52 weeks can have very little in the nature of direct personal knowledge as to the degree of satisfaction a particular officer is giving, either to the public of his county or to the Department of which he is an officer. That is not the High Court position and that is not the Supreme Court position. There is little, if any, analogy. If there was a circuit court for every county, I would fully accept the principle that this semi-judicial officer, or this officer who performs some acts at any rate of a semi-judicial nature, might be given a tenure stronger than that of the civil servant, and that the concurrence of the judge under whom he works should be a condition precedent to his removal; but in the actual case, with the judge absent for ten months of the year from the county in which that officer works, I do object to making the concurrence of the judge a condition precedent to the removal of the county registrar.

[508]Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  Let us take the example of Dublin. There would be close contact between the officer in Dublin and the presiding judge, and the same would also be true of Cork. Are we to deal only with exceptional cases such as the Minister referred to in order to put these officials in Dublin and in Cork entirely into the hands of the Executive Council? Is it wise, I ask, to do that? If the Minister would consider adding some words to this amendment that would meet a particular case in the unusual event of a judge being unable to express any opinion for or against a particular reason why the official was absent and that then the Executive Council should act in order to meet such an unusual emergency, I would be agreeable to that, but to place these officers who, as the Minister admits, have to discharge duties of a semi-judicial character, entirely in the hands of the Executive Council is, I think, exceedingly undesirable. If the Minister would go as far as to agree to accept the amendment and then add to it such words as would cover the case that he refers to, I would be quite willing to accept that.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will not accept that.

Mr. WOLFE: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  I hope the Minister will resist this amendment as strongly as possible. In what were called the good old days, the clerk of the Crown and Peace, in certain counties, certainly had a very good time of it. The office, I think, was regarded as a very good one—in fact, a plum. I think, in a great many cases, the attendance of these officers at their offices left a great deal to be desired. I often wondered whether their non-attendance was ever reported to the higher authorities by the judge. Of course I can understand that in many cases it would have been very difficult in the old days for the judge to have to make a report against this official, for the reason that he came into such intimate contact with him, and very often was a great personal friend of his. For that reason I think that the arrangement the Minister is now proposing is a far better one—that the responsibility for removing or remonstrating [509] with an official of the kind should come from headquarters. I am, therefore, in agreement with this arrangement which the Minister proposes.

Captain REDMOND: Information on William Archer Redmond  Zoom on William Archer Redmond  The principle and the practice have been admitted and adhered to in the High Court. Therefore, I cannot see how Deputy Johnson's argument, as to why they should not also be applied to the circuit courts, can be met. The Minister has said truly that the circuit court judge will not be in constant contact with officials such as these are going to be. He will certainly not be in daily contact with them, and I admit all that the Minister has said in regard to the number of the courts and intervals that elapse between the holding of them. At the same time, the circuit court judge is not, if I may say so, entirely out of touch with these officials. While he is acting elsewhere he is often in communication with them dealing with matters which refer not to the court that the judge is actually attending at the moment, but rather to the court of the official. Though the judge may not have what the Minister described as positive personal knowledge of anything in the nature of misconduct on the part of one of these officials, he certainly could not very well be completely in the dark as to what was going on in the conduct of one of the courts over which it is his duty to preside. I think the case that the Minister has put is a very extreme on and one that would not be likely to arise. Certainly, if a court registrar was not attending to his duties for two months, and even though the circuit judge might not be in his bailiewick during that period, I do not think that could happen without it coming to the knowledge of the judge. He would be the first probably that complaints would be made to about the conduct of this official, and as Deputy Johnson, I think, said, he would be a better judge of the conduct of one of these officials than the Minister himself. If the official's conduct were to be brought into question and were brought before the Minister for Justice, the latter. I venture to suggest, would turn first [510] to the circuit judge to ask for information concerning the conduct of this official. On the grounds of the extreme case put forward by the Minister—the Minister himself admits the soundness of the principle that applies in the High Court—I do not think it would be inadvisable to apply the same principle to the circuit courts.

It is true that the cases are somewhat different and a Circuit Court Judge has to attend to various courts. He cannot be everywhere at once, but at the same time, though he may have to preside over five courts, while he is presiding over one court he inevitably must be in communication with officials in his other courts. I think it is well that should be recognised, as showing the extent and the character of the work that has to be done by the Circuit Judge, because at the time of the passing of the Courts of Justice Act people seemed to regard their task in the future as a light one. I say this is one of the difficulties of the position of a circuit judge, that while he is away from one court he is really never away from it, but is in constant communication with the officials of the court because he has to direct various operations and he has to know generally what is being done. Therefore I do not think the case the Minister has made is altogether an answer to the amendment that has been proposed, especially in view of the fact that the Minister himself says that he accepts the principle, and also in view of the fact that he has not only admitted it but applied it to the High and Supreme Courts.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I wonder would the Minister look favourably upon the suggestion that the concurrence of the Chief Justice should be sought. The point I should like to make in the matter is that we want to remove the possibility of suspicion that other influences than administration and legal efficiency may operate in the dismissal of a registrar.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Such as?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Such as political friendship—any other factor of the kind that operated in the Minister's mind when he consented to a similar regulation in regard to the High Court [511] and the Supreme Court. Whatever influenced the Minister to accept amendments inserted in the Bill with regard to the officials of the Supreme Court applies—perhaps to some less extent, I do not know—but it applies in respect of the Circuit Courts; the end sought for and the principle embodied in the amendment which the Minister accepts would be met, I think, if the concurrence of the Chief Justice was sought before the registrar was dismissed. All the evidence that would be available for the Minister would be available to be laid before the Chief Justice, and while there is no personal contact in the case and personal knowledge of the faults which might warrant dismissal, the other point of view, that Deputy [512] Wolfe expressed, that the personal friendship of the Circuit Judge to the registrar might influence the Circuit Judge, would be absent. The assurance would be at least that no political influences were at work in leading to the dismissal of any registrar and undoubtedly that is a thing to be desired. I think the Minister might consider reasonably if he cannot accept the judge of the Circuit Court before authorising the dismissal, or announcing the dismissal, of a registrar of a Circuit Court, that the concurrence of the Chief Justice should be obtained.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  Will the Minister make any reply to the suggestion?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  No.

Amendment put.

Earnán Altún.
Bryan R. Cooper.
Sir James Craig.
John Good.
William Hewat.
Patrick Leonard.
Séamus Mac Cosgair.
Tomás Mac Eoin.
Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
Liam Mag Aonghusa.
Patrick J. Mulvany.
Tomás de Nógla.
William Norton.
Ailfrid O Broin.
Tomás O Conaill.
Aodh O Cúlacháin.
Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
Seán O Duinnín.
Seán O Laidhin.
Pádraic O Máille.
Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
William A. Redmond.

Thomas Bolger.
Séamus Breathnach.
Seoirse de Bhulbh.
Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
Uí Dhrisceóil.
James Dwyer.
Desmond Fitzgerald.
Thomas Hennessy.
Connor Hogan.
Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
Liam Mac Cosgair.
Seán Mac Curtain.
Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
Patrick McGilligan.
Risteárd Mac Liam.
Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
Liam Mac Sioghaird.
John T. Nolan.
Peadar O hAodha.
Mícheál O hAonghusa.
Seán O Bruadair.
Parthalán O Conchubhair.
Eogan O Dochartaigh.
Séamus O Dóláin.
Peadar O Dubhghaill.
Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
Eamon O Dúgáin.
Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
Séamus O Murchadha.
Máirtín O Rodaigh.
Seán O Súilleabháin.
Caoimhghín O hUigín.

Amendment declared lost.

Mr. B. O'CONNOR: Information on Bartholomew O'Connor  Zoom on Bartholomew O'Connor  I move the following amendment:—

“In sub-section (3) (a), page 11, line 3, after the word ‘years’ to insert the words ‘and whose age does not exceed fifty years at the time of his appointment.’”

My reason for moving the amendment is that the retiring age, according to Section 31, is 65, and I think the [513] State should get service from a man for fifteen years before it should be burdened with a pension.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I am not inclined to accept the amendment. In general, we look for a man below the age mentioned in the amendment, but there may be exceptional cases. There may, for instance, be cases where competent men below that age are not available, and I would not like to tie my hands, or the hands of the Executive Council, by saying in a hard and fast way that we would not appoint a man over fifty years of age. Deputy O'Connor referred to the retiring age mentioned in Section 31 of the Bill. If Deputies refer to sub-section (5) of that section they will see that every county registrar shall retire at the age of sixty-five. That is the statutory age limit. The sub-section goes on to say—“but such age of retirement may, in the case of any particular county registrar, be extended by the Minister to any age not exceeding sixty-eight years.” There may be a question about this on Report, and I will consider in the meantime whether the age of sixty-eight might not be extended by another two years, that is, to the age of seventy. Even, however, leaving it at the age of sixty-eight, a man coming in at the age of fifty, fifty-one or fifty-two, will give sixteen or eighteen years' service, and, as you get on in the fifties, the fact that the pension depends on the number of actual years of service given will tend to deter the older men. We have, for instance, the experience that a man who can only look forward to a short term of office and who, consequently, will not be eligible for a considerable pension on retiring, hesitates to take the position. I do not believe that we will have many applicants for a position of this sort above the age of fifty-five or, at any rate, fifty-six. In general, we will look for men below the age mentioned in the amendment. We should hope to get men very much below the age of 50 years. I do not want to accept in a hard and fast way that, in an exceptional case, we would not appoint a man who would be more than that.

Mr. O'CONNOR: Information on Bartholomew O'Connor  Zoom on Bartholomew O'Connor  Would the Minister [514] be prepared to extend the age to 55 years?

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  The Minister's reply to this amendment opens up rather an undesirable vista of irresponsibility. The amendment before us seeks to provide that a person shall not be appointed to a particular post if he be over 50 years of age. The Minister says he is not prepared to put in any age limit. If we were dealing with probability or with likelihood, the Minister would probably be right in saying that it would be unlikely that a man over 55 years would be appointed. But the Minister does not want to have an age limit at all. Up to the age of 68 a man could be appointed. The amendment, I think, is a reasonable one. If you are going to put a man in a permanent position, you must have some regard to his age, since the office is pensionable, and you must have regard to the number of years' service that is going to run. We all recognise that the span of human life has lengthened in recent years. A man of 50 years or 60 years is not now a particularly old man. If I dealt with the matter in detail, I might become personal. At the same time, we must have regard to the age when taking a man into the service of the State to fill a pensionable office. That should not be done at a time when he has expended the greater part of his youthful energy in other directions. I should have imagined that 50 would have been accepted as a reasonable age. Even if that limit were extended, it would be better than to have no limit at all. It is clearly undesirable not to have a limit.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I do not know what the Deputy's idea of reasonableness is. Supposing there seemed a prospect of getting ten years' good service from a man, in the absence of competent younger men applying for the post, would the Deputy consider it reasonable to employ such a man even on a basis of 10 years' service? He would get ten-sixtieths of his salary—that is one-sixth—as pension, and if he served 15 years he would get fifteen-sixtieths or one-fourth of his [515] salary. It comes down to this in the end: What is it worth to the State to put in a good man—a man who is considered competent—on the basis of a probable ten years' service as against putting in a younger man who is not competent? It would be very difficult to size it up in terms of cash. But that is the problem. That is my objection to tying my hands by saying definitely that a person shall not be appointed above the age of X years.

I do say to the Deputy that in general we would look for a younger man than a man of fifty years, although 50 —if I did agree on Report Stage to fix the age at 70 as the outside age limit for the position—would mean 20 years' service. In general we would look for men considerably under that age. Supposing they were not forthcoming, or supposing that only men under that age were forthcoming that were not really competent to fill the position and perform the duties attaching to the position, where does true economy lie? Does it lie in taking a competent man at 50 years of age or upwards with his prospect of giving ten or fifteen years' good service or taking the incompetent man of 35, 38 or 40 who, no doubt, would give longer service of a kind before he draws his pension? That is the problem. I present it to the Deputy and, if he wishes, both he and I can give mature consideration to it between this and the Report Stage.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  In this we are dealing with assumptions. Is the Minister right in assuming that the attraction of the public service, as represented by this post of registrar, will not produce, in the solicitors' profession, not merely a single individual but a number of competitors for the post? If the Minister's assumption is rightly founded, his argument is greatly strengthened, but I am not prepared to accept that as a hypothesis. Knowing [516] the solicitors' profession, as we do, and its competency, this position is one which will have not merely a single suitable applicant, but competitive applicants under 50 years of age. If the position is to be so unattractive as not to appeal to the solicitors, the Minister's argument is well founded. You may not get applications, although the suitable men are there, but I would not like to base any argument upon that assumption.

Mr. O'CONNOR: Information on Bartholomew O'Connor  Zoom on Bartholomew O'Connor  If the Minister fixes the period as in Section 31, sub-section 3 (a), that the officer must be of eight years' standing, it is only reasonable that the maximum age should also be fixed.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Does the Minister intend to leave the matter over for consideration?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  That is for the mover to say. If the amendment is to be decided now I will stand against it.

Mr. O'CONNOR: Information on Bartholomew O'Connor  Zoom on Bartholomew O'Connor  If the Minister agrees I would say 55 years of age. I do not press the amendment.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The mover of the amendment asks for leave to withdraw it. Has the Deputy the leave of the Committee?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  No.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  If the amendment is defeated now it cannot be moved on Report. Objection having been taken to allow the amendment to be withdrawn, I shall now put it.

Mr. O'CONNOR: Information on Bartholomew O'Connor  Zoom on Bartholomew O'Connor  I do not want the amendment put.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Unanimous leave must be given to allow an amendment to be withdrawn. Deputy Johnson objects and the alternative is to put the amendment.

Question put.

Louis J. D'Alton.
John Good.
William Hewat. [517]Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
Tomás Mac Eoin.
Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
Risteárd Mac Liam.
Liam Mag Aonghusa.
Patrick J. Mulvany.
Tomás de Nógla.
William Norton.
Tomás O Conaill.
Parthalán O Conchubhair.
Aodh O Cúlacháin.
Connor Hogan.
Séamus Mac Cosgair.
Seán Mac Curtain. [518]Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
Seán O Duinnín.
Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
Seán O Laidhin.
Pádraic O Máille.
Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
Tadhg O Murchadha.
Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
William A. Redmond.

Thomas Bolger.
Séamus Breathnach.
Seoirse de Bhulbh.
Sir James Craig.
Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
Uí Dhrisceóil.
James Dwyer.
Desmond Fitzgerald.
Thomas Hennessy.
Seosamh mac a' Bhrighde.
Liam Mac Cosgair.
Patrick McGilligan.
Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
Liam Mac Sioghaird.
John T. Nolan.
Peadar O hAodha.
Mícheál O hAonghusa.
Seán O Bruadair.
Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
Séamus O Dóláin.
Peadar O Dubhghaill.
Eamon O Dúgáin.
Aindriú O Láimhín.
Séamus O Murchadha.
Máirtín O Rodaigh.
Seán O Súilleabháin.
Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
Caoimhghín O hUigín.

Amendment declared lost.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  took the Chair.

Mr. P.S. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  I move:—

To add to sub-section (3), page 11, a new paragraph as follows:—

“(d) a person who has heretofore acted for not less than ten years as principal assistant to the Clerk of the Crown and Peace or as Senior Clerk in the Office of a County Registrar.”

It is submitted that if this provision is adopted it would attract intelligent young men to the office, and after a few years they would be fully qualified.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I could not accept that amendment. The County Registrar is a professional man, and we will endeavour, as far as possible, to see that he is a man of considerable standing in his profession. Of all the court officers he will probably approximate most closely to the position of a junior judge. This proposal is that a member of his office staff shall be eligible for appointment to the position, provided he has served for a sufficient number of years in the office—ten years. I could not accept that. The staffs in the offices of the Clerks of the Crown and Peace are not even of the general education of second-grade civil servants. It is true that in the course of time they acquire a pretty good routine knowledge of the work of the office, just as it might be said that a district court clerk acquires a certain amount of routine knowledge of the duties of the District Justice. We do not propose to appoint a district court clerk to the position of District Justice, or to make him eligible for such an appointment. To do that would be really on a level with saying that an official in the office of the Clerk of the Crown and Peace, or of the County Registrar, shall be eligible in time to be appointed as County Registrar.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I do not think the Minister is acting fairly towards clerks who have had long service. Surely these men have as good a knowledge of the duties as some of the persons mentioned in the Bill. These clerks in the Crown and Peace offices are not eligible for pensions. If they serve for thirty or forty years, and then resign through ill-health or for other reasons, they receive no gratuity or pension. Having regard to their service, they should be eligible for these appointments and should be treated like the registrars of the courts as regards pensions.

[519]Mr. WOLFE: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  I think it has been established, or is being established in this Bill, that the Clerk of the Crown and Peace shall be a solicitor of some years' standing. It has not been expected hitherto, I think, that the clerks would have any such qualifications, although a considerable number of them had such qualifications. They have a very great knowledge of legal matters, perhaps even more than their official heads. Still we must consider the legal qualifications of men for such an important position as the registrar of the county. In the past many of the clerks were most efficient men. I have in my mind a particular instance—a more efficient clerk could not be found —still I do not think that he would ever think of aspiring under present circumstances to one of these posts. Although these men have acted for the Clerks of the Crown and Peace in the absence of their principals, I do not think we could take it as a good principle that they should be promoted to these positions when a particular qualification is required. Under the circumstances I do not think the amendment should be pressed. I do not think it is consistent with the Bill, however worthy of compensation these clerks may be in regard to pension or gratuity.

Mr. P.S. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  I withdraw the amendment.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I object.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  The amendment is withdrawn.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  I challenge that ruling. According to the Standing Orders, if an amendment is proposed and then withdrawn by a Deputy, if objection is taken by any Deputy the amendment must be put unless there is unanimity for its withdrawal.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  I did not hear any opposition expressed to its withdrawal. I will put the amendment now.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. LYONS: Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Division.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  How many Deputies want a division?

Mr. Lyons rose in his place.

[520]AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Deputy Lyons can be recorded as voting for the amendment.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

In page 11, before sub-section (4), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

“For the purposes of paragraph (a) of the foregoing sub-section, service as a Justice of the District Court shall in the case of a Justice of the District Court who was admitted as a solicitor before he was appointed to be such Justice, be deemed to be practice as a solicitor.”

Sub-section 3 (a) provides that one of the persons eligible for county registrar shall be a solicitor of not less than eight years' standing who is then actually practising, or previously practised for not less than eight years. The effect of the amendment is to provide that where a solicitor has been appointed a District Justice the term of service as District Justice shall count as eight years' practice as a solicitor.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

In sub-section (4), page 11, to delete lines 10 to 13 and substitute the following words—“for the time being in force and there may be granted either to a county registrar on retirement or to his legal personal representative on death such superannuation and other allowances or gratuities as might under the Superannuation Acts for the time being in force have been granted had such county registrar been appointed to the permanent Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann with a certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners.”

It provides for the substitution of certain words in lines 10 to 13. It is merely an alteration in the drafting, and it is not intended to alter the sense of the sub-section.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 41:—

In sub-section (5), page 11, line 16, after the word “Minister” to insert the words “with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance.”

[521] The amendment is to provide that where the retiring age is increased from 65 to 68, the Minister for Finance must be consulted before the extension can be made.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Could the Minister give us a little more information as to his intentions regarding the retiring age? I gather that he is still in doubt, or is leaving it open to representations in the Dáil, as to whether 68 is satisfactory. I should like to record my view that 68 is not enough, when 70 is required in the case of officers of the High Court. If the Master of the High Court and the Taxing-Master may continue in office until the age of 70, I cannot see any good reason why the Registrar of the Circuit Court should be obliged to retire at 65, with the possibility of extension to 68. I think the contention which, if I remember aright, was advanced about the excessive wear and tear upon a judge of the Circuit Court, as compared with a judge of the High Court, does not apply to the case of the Registrar, inasmuch as he is attached to his court and has not to travel, which was alleged to be the reason in the case of judges for an early retiring age. I think that the age of 65 or 68 years might well be extended to 70 in this case, as in the cases of the Master of the High Court and the Taxing-Master. I do not know whether the Minister's doubt applies only to the power of the Minister to extend the age of retirement to 68 years, or whether it also applies to the question of the normal retiring age. I hope that the Minister will favourably consider the proposal that the retiring age should be 70 and not 65.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I am inclined to agree with the Deputy as to the advisability of adding two years to the outside age limit, making it 70 instead of 68. If that were so, then the position you would have really in practice is that, in the absence of some rather marked decline in physical and mental powers, a man would serve until 70, but that as from 65 up to 70, if it were evident that a man were unfit to perform adequately and satisfactorily the duties of his office, it would be in the power of the Minister to intimate [522] to him that that was considered to be the case and that he should retire. So that during the last five years there would be that kind of discretionary elasticity which would be broadly applied and a man would only be asked to retire sooner than 70 if we considered that the public were not really getting value for his salary. It is in that spirit that I believe, either by me or anybody else, the sub-section would be administered and applied: that simply we fix the age of 65 and the outside age limit of 70, and within that period if a man were failing he could be notified that we did not consider he should remain on and try to perform the duties of his office.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I think that is very desirable, especially in view of the opinion expressed by the Minister when introducing this measure that he was particularly anxious to retain the services of as many of the existing officials as he possibly could, and not to extend unduly that list which is already a very long one, known as the pension list. I think from our knowledge of those court officials we are all agreed that there are a great many of the existing officials who, even at the age of 70, are still capable of discharging satisfactorily their many duties. I think that none of us would be in favour of going beyond the age of 70, but I hope that up to that age the Minister will see his way to encourage as many of the existing officers as he possibly can to continue in the service of the Department up to that age.

Amendment agreed to.

Question—“That Section 31, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Sections 32 and 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 42:

In page 12 to delete sub-section (4) and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—

“(4) All expenses, fees and allowances [523] heretofore payable or receivable under the Electoral Act, 1923 (No. 12 of 1923), the Local Government Electors Registration Act, 1924 (No. 7 of 1924), or the Juries Acts, 1871 to 1924, to or by the Clerk of the Crown and Peace (whether as registration officer or otherwise) shall be payable to and receivable by the county registrar in the same manner in all respects and at the like rates as the said expenses, fees and allowances were heretofore payable to or receivable by the Clerk of the Crown and Peace, but the Minister for Finance may by order require any county registrar to surrender to the Exchequer so much of such expenses, allowances and fees as is not required by such county registrar to meet disbursements and expenses payable or incurred by him under the said Acts or any of them and not payable out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.”

It is merely a redrafting of the section without any alteration of the sense of it.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I should like to raise a question here that might be dealt with at a later stage. It is whether the constitutional requirements regarding certain of those funds going into the Central Fund have been considered. One or two questions have been raised in the past. The Minister may be aware of the query regarding the Fines Fund, and I am not sure whether the same arguments which applied to that do not apply to some of the fees referred to in this particular section. I would ask the Minister to consider the question as to whether this conforms with the requirements of the Constitution regarding the Central Fund, and whether he will consult the Minister for Finance on the question raised.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will see whether there are any lurking difficulties. My own impression at the moment is that the section is all right from that angle, but I will ascertain definitely whether the Minister for Finance agrees with that.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  A question will arise at [524] a later stage as to transfers to the Central Fund. A number of these fees at present fall into the hands of the local authority, and local funds are to be deprived of that income. One would like to know before the Bill passes the exact nature of these fees which are transferred from the local to the central authority, and the amount, so that we may be in a position to judge whether it is wise to take from the local authorities and throw a charge on the local authorities of an equivalent amount.

Amendment agreed to.

Question—“That Section 34, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I take it that the Minister, at a later stage, will have no objection to give the information asked for.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Certainly not.

(1) No appointment shall be made to the office of under-sheriff after the passing of this Act.

(2) In every county and county borough in which the office of under-sheriff is vacant at the commencement of this part of this Act all the powers, duties, authorities, rights, and obligations of the several under-sheriffs of such counties and county boroughs respectively shall as on and from such commencement become and be transferred to and vested in or imposed on the several county registrars of such counties and county boroughs respectively.

(3) In every county and county borough in which the office of under-sheriff is not vacant at the commencement of this Part of this Act all the powers, duties, authorities, rights, and obligations of the several under-sheriffs of such counties and county boroughs respectively shall as on and from the respective dates on which the office of under-sheriff in such counties and county boroughs respectively first becomes vacant after the commencement of this Part of this Act become and be transferred to and vested in or imposed [525] on the several county registrars of such counties and county boroughs respectively.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move to delete the section. The section is not really being deleted but is being transferred to Part 4, the miscellaneous part of the Bill.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I would like this explained further. Does that mean that they are to be independent of the under-sheriffs? Is there a proposal to amalgamate these two offices?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  No.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  The portion of the Bill in which the section is deals with the Circuit Courts, and the effect of putting this section into this particular portion of the Bill would mean that it is only particular duties that are being transferred. For that reason the section is being taken out of this part and put into the miscellaneous part.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Dr. MYLES KEOGH: Information on Myles Keogh  Zoom on Myles Keogh  I beg to move amendment 44:—

To add at end of section a new sub-section as follows:—

“(4) The County Registrar if and when he takes up the duties of the office of under-sheriff shall be empowered to employ the staff of the under-sheriff.”

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  That cannot be taken now if the section is deleted.

Captain REDMOND: Information on William Archer Redmond  Zoom on William Archer Redmond  Might I suggest that Deputy Myles Keogh be permitted to put this amendment down after amendment 62?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Yes, it can be taken subsequent to amendment 62.

(1) In the event of the temporary absence or the temporary incapacity through illness of any county registrar or in the event of the office of county registrar for any circuit court office being vacant the Minister may appoint a deputy to execute the [526] office of such county registrar during such absence, incapacity, or vacancy but unless and until the Minister appoints such deputy the office of such country registrar shall (save as is hereinafter provided) be executed during such absence, incapacity, or vacancy by the senior officer in the circuit court office.

(2) A deputy appointed under this section shall, while his appointment continues, have and exercise all the powers and authorities and shall perform and fulfil all the duties and functions of the county registrar whose deputy he is.

(3) Rules of court may provide that specified powers, authorities, duties, and functions of a county registrar shall not be exercised or performed by the senior clerk under this section, and where rules of court so provide the powers, authorities, duties, and functions so specified shall not be exercised or performed by the senior clerk under this section.

(4) Except in the case of the temporary incapacity of a county registrar through illness no office shall be executed by a deputy appointed under this section for any period or periods exceeding in all three months in any year.

(5) No person shall be appointed under this section to be a deputy for a county registrar unless he possesses the qualifications prescribed by this Act for persons appointed to be county registrars.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

In sub-section (3) to delete in lines 54 and 57 the word “clerk” and in each case to substitute the word “officer.”

That is a verbal amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

To add at the end of the section two new sub-sections as follows:—

“(6) This section shall not operate to authorise the senior officer in a circuit court office to exercise the powers or authorities or perform the duties or functions of the county registrar as registration officer under [527] the Electoral Act, 1923 (No. 12 of 1923) or any Act amending or extending that Act, and Section 10 of that Act shall apply to the exercise and performance of those powers, authorities, duties and functions during any temporary absence or temporary incapacity through illness of the county registrar or any vacancy in the office of county registrar until a deputy is appointed under this section but not thereafter.

(7) After the powers, authorities, duties, and functions of any under-sheriff have become transferred under this Act to a county registrar, the powers, authorities, duties and functions of such under-sheriff as returning officer under the Electoral Act, 1923, shall not be exercisable by the senior officer under this section, and in lieu thereof whenever such county registrar is temporarily absent or incapacitated through illness or his office is vacant the Minister for Local Government and Public Health may if he so thinks fit appoint a fit and proper person to exercise and perform those powers, authorities, duties and functions during such absence, incapacity, or vacancy until a deputy is appointed by the Minister for Justice under this section.”

The effect of that amendment is to make it possible for the Minister for Local Government to appoint such a person to carry on the work of a registration officer, and to carry out Parliamentary elections if the county registrar is unable to do the work. The same power exists in regard to the Clerk of the Crown and Peace and the under-sheriff. The intention is to make it clear that the passing of this Act does not put an end to that power.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 36, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

There shall be employed in every circuit court office established under this Act such and so many officers, clerks, messengers, and servants as the Minister shall, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, from [528] time to time determine, and all such officers, clerks, messengers, and servants shall hold office on such terms and conditions as the Minister for Finance shall prescribe and shall be paid out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas such salaries as the Minister shall, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, direct.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Before we pass this section I would like to ask who is to appoint the general staff? It says the Minister, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, shall determine how many officers and terms of service. Will it be the circuit judge, the county registrar, or the Minister who will make the appointments? I think we are entitled to know that.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Formally the Minister will appoint in the same way as I appoint civil servants, perhaps, in my Department, or in a department under that. That has no reference to the exact machinery that will be applied for recruitment.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I should like the Minister to go a little further, and tell me if the appointments will be made on Civil Service terms after an examination, or after some sort of interview by the Selection Board.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  They will be appointed through the machinery of the Civil Service Commission. When I say I appoint I mean the mere formal act of appointment.

Captain REDMOND: Information on William Archer Redmond  Zoom on William Archer Redmond  I presume that will include stenographers?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Yes, I think so.

Question—“That Section 37 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) There shall be attached to every circuit court office such and so many summons-servers as the county registrar, with the sanction of the Minister, shall think proper.

(2) Subject to the provision of this section, every such summons-server shall be appointed by the county registrar with and subject to [529] the approval of the Minister and shall hold office at the will of and may be removed by the Minister.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

In sub-section (2), line 13, to delete the words “subject to the provisions of this section.”

These words are a survival from an earlier draft and have no meaning here. They were included by accident.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I think that amendments 47 and 48 should be taken together.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Every such summons-server shall be and is hereby declared to be competent to serve within the area served by the circuit court office to which he is attached any writ, summons, process, notice or other document issued by or from any court.”

That was omitted by mistake from the print of the Bill.

Amendments 47 and 48 put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  Amendment 49 is covered by 48.

Amendment 49 not moved.

Question—“That Section 38, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) There shall be attached to the District Court such and so many district court clerks as the Minister shall, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, from time to time direct.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this section, every district court clerk shall be appointed by the Minister and shall hold office at the will of and may be removed by the Minister.

(3) Every person who immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act holds the office of district court clerk under the District [530] Justices (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923 (No. 6 of 1923), or, in the Dublin Metropolitan Area and in the County Borough of Cork, the office of chief or other clerk of the District Court in that area and borough respectively and in any such case is at the commencement of this Act under the age of sixty-five years shall, on the commencement of this Part of this Act, become and be a district court clerk under this Act and shall hold such office on the same terms and conditions in all respects as if he had been appointed thereto by the Minister under this Act.

(4) The district court clerk's office shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be an office established by this Act.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In sub-section (2), page 13, line 23, before the word “hold” to insert in brackets the words “(unless he is a pensionable officer).”

The ordinary tenure of a pensionable office is at the pleasure of the Executive Council. There is no reason why a pensionable district court clerk should not have the same tenure.

Amendment put and agreed to.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  In regard to amendments Nos. 51 and 52 I should point out that if 51 is carried No. 52 falls through.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move amendment No. 51, which is as follows:—

Before sub-section (4) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

“(4) Every person who becomes a district court clerk under this Act by virtue of the next preceding sub-section of this section shall, when computing the period of his service for the purposes of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923, be entitled to reckon as continuous service for those purposes whatever period (if any) of service he was immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act entitled to reckon as service for those purposes and his period of service as a district court clerk under this Act.”

The object of that amendment is to [531] put beyond doubt the fact that the Bill does not in any way break the continuity of service of a pensionable clerk in such a position, say, as clerk of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Court.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 52 not moved.

Question—“That Section 39, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Every district court clerk shall be assigned to such one or more court districts as the Minister shall from time to time direct and shall have and exercise all such powers and authorities and perform and fulfil all such duties and functions in relation to the District Court in such court district or districts as shall from time to time be conferred or imposed on to him by statute or rule of court and in particular (unless and until otherwise provided by statute or rules of court) shall have and exercise all such powers and authorities and perform and fulfil all such duties and functions in such court district or districts as immediately before the commencement of this Act were vested by law in or required by law to be performed or fulfilled by the district court clerk or, in the Dublin Metropolitan Area and the County Borough of Cork, by the chief and other clerks of the District Court in that area and borough respectively.

Amendment 53 not moved.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

“In line 49, after the word ‘commencement’ to insert the words ‘of this Part.’”

The reason it is desired to insert this amendment is that it is possible that different parts of the Act may be put into operation at different times.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

“(2) In addition to the powers, authorities, duties and functions [532] mentioned in the foregoing sub-section, every district court clerk in the Dublin Metropolitan Area shall have, exercise, perform and fulfil, within so much of that Area as is within his district all the powers, authorities, duties and functions vested or imposed by any statutes in force immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act in or on the chief clerk, or the principal clerk, or any other clerk of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Courts.”

Prior to the Courts of Justice Act of 1924 the Chief Clerk of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Court was by statute Registrar in the Dublin Metropolitan area. It is intended that he should continue to act in that capacity, but as there is some doubt on the matter it is considered well to make it clear by the introduction of this amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 40, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) From the commencement of this Part of this Act until the appointed day the salaries and allowances of all district court clerks assigned to any district or districts within the Dublin Metropolitan Area shall be paid out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas and the salaries and allowances of all district court clerks assigned to any district or districts outside the Dublin Metropolitan Area shall be paid out of the same funds as those out of which the salaries of district court clerks were immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act required by law to be paid, and any deficiency in such funds to meet the amounts of such salaries shall, to such extent as the Minister for Finance may sanction, be made good out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas.

(2) In this and the two following sections the expression “the appointed day” means such day as the Minister shall by order appoint to be the appointed day for the purpose of those sections.

[533]Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In sub-section (1), page 14, to delete all from the word “same,” line 1, to the word “paid,” line 4, and to substitute the words “invested funds and other moneys for the time being in the hands of the registrar of district court clerks or standing in the name of that registrar either alone or jointly with any other public official,” and in line 4, after the word “funds” to insert the words “or moneys.”

The purpose of this amendment is to make it clear that out of the funds, the salaries of the District Court Clerks are to be paid pending dissolution of the fund.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In page 14, to add at the end of sub-section (2) the words “and the expression ‘registrar of district court clerks’ means the person appointed under the Petty Sessions Clerk (Ireland) Act, 1858, to discharge the duties prescribed by that Act for the registrar to perform.”

This is merely transferring the definition of the Registrar or District Court Clerk.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 41, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) In this and the next following section of this Act the expression “Registrar of District Court Clerks” means the person appointed under the Petty Sessions Clerk (Ireland) Act, 1858, to discharge the duties prescribed by that Act for the registrar to perform.

(2) As on the appointed day the office of registrar of district court clerks shall cease to exist and after that day such of the duties of that office as continue to exist shall be discharged by the principal officer of the Department of Justice or by such other officer of the Minister as the Minister shall from time to time direct.

[534] (3) The fund known as the District Court Clerks Fund shall be wound up as on the appointed day and so soon as may be after that day all invested funds and all other moneys on that day in the hands of the registrar of district court clerks or standing in the name of that registrar either alone or jointly with any other public official and being or representing moneys collected by or under the control of the registrar of district court clerks shall be paid into or disposed for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall direct.

(4) From and after the appointed day all salaries, allowances, and expenses theretofore chargeable on or payable out of moneys collected by or under the control of the registrar of district court clerks shall, if and so far as the same continue to be payable, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

“To delete sub-section (1).”

This is merely transferring the definition from one section to another.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

“(5) Every person who immediately before the appointed day is employed in a pensionable capacity in the office of the Registrar of District Court Clerks shall be deemed to have been paid from moneys provided by Parliament or the Oireachtas within the meaning of Section 17 of the Superannuation Act of 1859, during the whole of his period of service in that office and shall be entitled to reckon as continuous service for the purpose of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923, the whole of his period of service in a pensionable capacity in the said office and any period of continuous service in a pensionable capacity in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann after the appointed day.”

The effect of the amendment is to preserve the continuity of service of pensionable officers in the office of the [535] Registrar of District Court Clerks. In fact there is only one such officer.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question proposed—“That Section 42, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I would like to have a little more information on this. The new sub-section says: “Every person who immediately before the appointed day is employed in a pensionable capacity in the office of the Registrar of District Court Clerks shall be deemed to have been paid from moneys provided by Parliament or the Oireachtas within the meaning of Section 17 of the Superannuation Act of 1859, during the whole of the period of his service” etc. Is there any change involved or any increased charge upon the State by virtue of this proposal?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  There is no increased charge. This is a statutory fund and we are to get all the proceeds of the Fund out of which payments are made by us.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  This is the item on which I wanted to get details from the Minister. I take it he will supply them later.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will have more detailed information on the Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.

(1) Save as is otherwise provided under this section, all fines, amercements, penalties and forfeited recognisances imposed or levied by any court after the appointed day shall be paid into or disposed for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall direct and notwithstanding any enactment to the contrary, no part of any such fine, amercement, penalty, or recognisance shall be paid or allowed to any prosecutor, informer, or other person.

(2) So much of any fine, amercement, penalty, or forfeited recognisance imposed or levied by any court on or before the appointed day as is not received by the registrar of district [536] court clerks on or before that day or lawfully paid before, on, or after that day to a prosecutor, informer, or other person shall (save as is otherwise provided under this section) be paid into or disposed for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall direct.

(3) The Minister may, with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, by order direct that the whole or any specified portion of every fine belonging to any particular class or classes of fines specified in the order shall not be paid into the Exchequer under this section and that, in lieu of being so paid, the whole or such specified portion (as the case may be) of every such fine shall be paid to such prosecutor, informer, or other person and upon such terms and conditions as shall be specified in the order in respect of each particular class or classes of fines.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

Before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

“(3) Whenever any fine, amercement, penalty, or forfeited recognisance is remitted in whole or in part after the same has been paid into or disposed for the benefit of the Exchequer under this section, such fine, amercement, penalty or forfeited recognisance or the portion thereof so remitted (as the case may be) shall be repaid out of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall direct.”

The purpose of this amendment is that in cases where a fine is remitted or reduced there may not be any difficulty in providing the necessary funds to repay the entire fine if it is remitted or the reduced portion in case of reduction. There have been cases in which there was some little difficulty.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

“In sub-section (3), line 60, after the word ‘person’ to insert the words ‘or into such fund.’”

Fines are sometimes payable into a fund.

[537] Amendment put and agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 43, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  Of course we can discuss the individual amount of these fines and as to whether they should be put into the Central Fund or remain in the existing fund when the Minister gives us the information asked for. At the moment we have not got the volume of these fines or what is to be done with them. That can be discussed on the Report Stage, I take it.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  There is another question involved which I think may have to be discussed more fully on the Report Stage. That is the principle that is being perpetuated under this Bill of paying over fines to an informer. It is one that has come down to us from the past, from a very long time ago, and I question very much whether it is desirable to perpetuate it —that certain sums that are levied on the prisoner or defendant shall be paid to the informer. I do not think it is at all a desirable practice to encourage that by promise of payment from penalties.

I would like to know whether the Minister has considered the desirability of continuing this practice, or will he consider the limitation of this on the Report Stage of the Bill?

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Is not the term “informer” in this particular case rather an objectionable way of expressing what happens? Certain bodies have a right of prosecuting and they become informers. They are not really informers; they are prosecuting for certain acts, and when the court fines they get the money. I take it that is the way the thing operates. I do not think “informer” means actually informing on the part of an individual.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I think that Deputy Johnson is not correct in his interpretation of the effect of the section generally. It is not accurate to say it has the effect of continuing and stereotyping indefinitely this disposal of moneys. It leaves it open to administrative change in future, and one is not [538] bound to continue anything that is considered objectionable.

I do not know whether Deputy Hewat's point could be met. The word is a technical term. It has been used in many statutes, and I think it would create a difficulty to get away from it. The fact that it is used colloquially with a certain amount of odium attaching to it should not make us baulk at it as a technical legal term, and it would require some looking into if we were to amend it.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  In sub-section 3 the Minister is taking power to direct that the whole or any specified portion of every fine belonging to certain classes “shall not be paid into the Exchequer under this section and that, in lieu of being so paid, the whole or such specified portion (as the case may be) of every such fine shall be paid to such prosecutor, informer or other person and upon such terms and conditions as shall be specified....” I am raising the matter because it would seem under this new power the Minister is obtaining that fines can be handed over to the informer. It is a fact, I think, that certain classes of prosecutions take place at the instance of the common informer, and any informer might be tempted to take a prosecution with the prospect that he will get the fine or portion of the fine. I think it is quite an undesirable practice to perpetuate.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  There were certain prosecutions brought by Boards of Conservators in connection with the fishery regulations, and portions of the fines imposed were in the past, by statute, paid over to the prosecutor. In the course of the Second Reading of this Bill, dealing with Section 43, I explained to the Dáil, in connection with the proposal to abolish the Fines and Fees Fund, that it had been decided to abolish this special fund altogether and to pay the fines and fees into the general Exchequer, and I asked the Dáil to vote annually the necessary money for the pensions, salaries and expenses of district court clerks in the same way as the Dáil votes the money for the pensions, salaries and expenses of the other court officers. I said:

“We propose to enact that in [539] future all court fees and all fines shall go into the Exchequer direct instead of into a fund, and it will be observed that there is a provision for the making of orders under which certain classes of fines may be paid, not into the Exchequer, but in other directions to be specified in the order. The reason for that is that at present under various statutes there are certain persons and bodies having a right to certain fines or portions of certain fines. Local authorities, Gárda Síochána Reward Fund, and Fishery Conservators are just a few examples of that, and I have been informed that there is a regular entanglement or network of provisions of that kind which it would be impossible for any person to expound clearly. The law on this subject ought to be so simple and so clear that every district court clerk in the country might be expected to tell off the list of all the classes of fines in which vested interests of that kind exist. It is not at all clear at this stage that all these various vested interests in fines, whatever their origin and however justified they may have been in their origin, are now justified at all. You have rights of that kind created by statute 50 or 60 years ago, but the circumstances have altered so much in the meantime that there seems no longer any justification for the private right. Therefore, our object is, firstly, to clear up the existing confusion as to who is entitled to these rights irrespective of the merits; and, secondly, to eliminate claims which have ceased to be justifiable in the existing circumstances or claims which are so insignificant in amount as not to deserve a separate existence.”

I added that, lest the second portion of our object—the elimination of claims which had ceased to be justifiable or insignificant—might appear menacing or confiscatory in character, in some cases the claims are those of Government Departments, and the present arrangement is merely a bookkeeping one, and merely the taking of money from one pocket and putting it into another. I explained that generally, if any person or body that at present has such a vested interest as has [540] been referred to can put up a case that the abolition of that interest is unjust to individuals, or undesirable to individuals, it would be our duty to consider whether it would be advisable to make any change. The position we are taking up with regard to this is that we are asking the Dáil to say that, having examined into them at leisure, we can by order make such administrative arrangements as shall appear just and proper. That does not commit us to a continuation of the practice to which Deputy Johnson has referred, and which he considers objectionable. We are simply taking a rather wide power, in view of the number of such exceptions there are, to examine them in detail and to make our administrative dispositions by order and get away from the innumerable statutory provisions there are appearing on the subject.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Does not that rather open up a very large question of giving general powers of administration? This House may not realise how far-reaching those powers may be. From the Minister's explanation it would appear that the law is very entangled and the situation wants to be cleared up. At this stage the clearing-up process should be as complete as possible; the clearing-up process is not going to be done by this House but by the authority under this Bill which will give the Minister power to clear up the cases individually. How far is that sacrificing the rights of the people who are concerned in this matter? In other words, supposing an authority has had that right established by law, is it the proposal that the Minister under this Bill can come in and, without the consent of the authority, abolish the perquisites, if I may put it that way, that they have been in receipt of in the past, by statutory authority? It does seem to me that that is treating in a Bill in a very general way a whole heap of details and is taking them out of the decision of anybody but the Minister. We would assume, of course, that the exercise of that authority would be done in order and properly. At the same time, it is in essence taking away the right of the people to something that [541] they had in the law altogether, and leaving them that right at the discretion of a Minister at some future time. I do not know whether that is what the Minister intends by what he said by way of explanation in this matter. But if the Dáil is satisfied to do that they should do it with the recognition that there may be cases involved in this on which the House might wish to express an opinion and be consulted on, but under this proposal they will not be consulted, nor will people have a right to appeal.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I might be able to meet the Deputy to some extent on the Report Stage by providing for the concurrence of the Dáil in any such order. The position really created by the section is that the rights go. But where a case can be established we are prepared by administrative order to meet that case. Where there is any substance or reality in the vested interests we are prepared to meet that case by an order which sub-section (3) of the section enables me to make with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Would the Minister make some safeguard for the people on the Report Stage? I think every Deputy here has a difficulty in this matter, because of the fact that it is a technical matter and of our want of knowledge of it. The only knowledge I have of this matter is in connection with the Port and Docks Board. They have something in this direction which is of no value. But it might be of some very considerable value, and I would object to the Minister making an order affecting, say, a body like the Port and Docks Board, leaving no appeal either to the Dáil or to the Court. If that were modified so as to make it possible to have an arrangement mutually come to as between the Ministry and the body concerned, so that that body would have some right of appeal, it would be more satisfactory.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  It is, of course, quite a difficult matter, and the Deputy is quite right in describing it as being very technical. But the position I am seeking is this, that we should hack at this tangled position, withdraw these [542] rights by statute, then find which amongst them are worthy of being resurrected by administrative order, or for which of them a really equitable case can be made on any ground, either on the ground of public expediency or on the ground of private merit, and so on. Such an order can be made under sub-section (3). If there is a feeling that the Dáil would like to know just what right we consider worthy of resurrecting in that manner, it can easily be provided on Report that these administrative orders shall be laid before the Dáil for its approval and that in the absence of a rescinding motion they shall have effect. I do not want to mislead the Deputy. The section, as I see it, removes the right, and a case must be put up for the revival or resurrection of any right which it is considered ought to endure in the future.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  It might take the form of compensation. A person might be entitled to compensation for something taken away from him. I quite agree with the Minister that the whole system is rather out-of-date and ought to be dealt with in the way he suggests and as propounded in the Bill. But all I ask is that the Minister shall not be put in the arbitrary position of being able to make an order without appeal to anybody in the case of a person who may have a grievance or who may be damnified without having the right of bringing his case before some other tribunal from any arbitrary decision of the Minister.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I would be always responsible to Deputies by way of questions, and the concurrence of the Minister for Finance is necessary under sub-section (3), for the making of these administrative orders.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Yes, but the Minister for Finance is going to gain money by it.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Sub-section (2) is merely a transition section. Sub-section (1) removes these rights, and sub-section (3) enables us to resurrect by administrative order any of them that are considered worthy of resurrection. Therefore, it is not I who destroy the rights. I am asking the Dáil to [543] destroy them, and then I am asking the Dáil to give administrative discretion to myself and the Minister for Finance to revive such of them as are considered worthy of reviving. If Deputies would like to see which amongst them are considered worthy of revival, then we can make provision that these orders should be laid before the Dáil for its approval. The effect of section 1 is to remove the rights and the concession is granted in sub-section (3).

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  My objection is to sub-section (1) in that case.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  That is before you.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  I would ask the Minister in connection with sub-section (1) to recognise that, for instance, where there is inter-departmental transfer of funds that there is not going to be any objection, but where there are private interests, outside bodies, I ask in ordinary justice that the Dáil shall not wipe away something by statutory authority that the people have enjoyed in years past; wipe it away without the right of appeal—in other words, without compensation.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I think there are important question raised in this section. One is if the fines are to be paid into the Central Fund, as I think they must be, the authority to pay them should not be on the head of an administrative order. I think such will have to be sanctioned by statute. I would like to ask the Minister if he has, in considering this whole question of the disposal of the fines, considered having the matter dealt with in the light of the views of the Department of Finance on this matter? The proposal to authorise the payment out of the Central Fund of money by order would be, I think, stretching beyond the authority of the Minister.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I want to raise rather a different point. It is that this section raises the rights of individuals under certain private Acts. For instance, I happen to have a fishery and that fishery is constituted under a private Act of the year 1837. Under that Act all fines levied in prosecutions [544] come to the proprietor of the fishery; in other words, to me. I admit that generally I took proceedings under the Fisheries Act rather than under the private Act, because owing to the unfamiliarity of the justices adjudicating with this private Act I did not get convictions. But there are rights of individuals concerned. I am probably not the only person with a private Act of this kind, and I suggest that the section is one that requires a little consideration before the Report Stage.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  On Deputy Johnson's point, I think the answer is that the payments under orders made by the powers asked for in sub-section (3) would be made out of the actual proceeds of the fines and before any payments into the Central Fund had been made.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Of course the constitutional question was raised before and I thought this was intended to meet it. It lies in the proposition that all revenues, from whatever source arising, shall, subject to such exceptions as may be provided by law, form one fund. Whether this is the kind of exception is doubtful, and that is why I press upon the Minister the importance of having the very highest opinion on this question.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  We had very full consultation with the Department of Finance on that section.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  And the Attorney-General?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I am not sure. I could not say positively that the Attorney-General was consulted on the section. But this section forms one of the outstanding matters in connection with this Bill that we had to discuss with the Department of Finance, and they have been satisfied with the provision in the sub-section. What Deputy Cooper says serves, of course, to emphasise what I have said, that this is a very difficult and tangled matter. These rights have grown up under a variety of statutes, and there are innumerable vested interests in small portions of fines imposed for one [545] offence or another. What the Dáil is really being asked to do is, so to speak, to clear the ground and let us see how many of these are sound, reasonable and worthy of being revived and carried on into the new courts system. People who would consider themselves aggrieved by sub-section (1) are invited, as it were, under sub-section (3) to make their case, the Dáil giving discretion to two Ministers to meet the equitable cases by an administrative order. That is what is being asked. It would be a task of very great difficulty to ask a Department to set to work and examine into all these exceptions and all these petty vested interests that have grown up about fines and to bring them specifically one by one before the Dáil. We are asking power to take the other line of approach, that we withdraw them, see where the outcry comes from and then deal with the claims, taking power under sub-section (3) to deal with the claims and protests that will arise as a result of sub-section (1). I think that the Dáil has very frequently given wider powers than that to Ministers, and I think that it is little short of necessary to give the powers asked for in this section, and to take the step you are asked to take in sub-section (1)—to withdraw these rights, with power to revive such of them as are considered worthy of revival.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I do not attach— and I hope I made it clear—any great importance to my particular rights. So far as I am concerned, sub-section (3) will rest; I shall not assert any claims, because the poacher is not, as a rule, a good mark to levy a fine on, and especially a fine levied by a private individual. But might I suggest to the Minister that the formula there is a somewhat unhappy one—“prosecutor, informer or other person.” The word “informer” was so offensive under past conditions, that people would be very slow to associate themselves with that description. I would suggest that “prosecutor or other such person” would be sufficient, and the Minister might consider something on those lines.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  We will have a discussion [546] on this matter again on Report, when we get the information from the Minister that he has been asked for, because the more we go into this particular section the more we see what is wrapped up in it, and until we get unfolded some of the particular items that are wrapped up in it and see exactly the extent to which it will interfere with local and other interests, I do not think we can go very much further with the discussion.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Let me be clear as to the Deputy's expectations for Report Stage. I could not undertake to bring before the Dáil by Report Stage an itemised list of these vested interests. I do not believe that I could manage in the time. I could no doubt, bring sample ones, but it would be a very considerable task to investigate all these cases of little portions of fines going to this person and to that body. It is simply practically as a result of the despair of being able to place such an itemised list before the Dáil that this section has taken its present shape, that we are asking the Dáil to withdraw these vested interests in fines, leaving power to us to re-create such of them as are considered worthy of revival. I only want to be clear that the Deputy will not be disappointed on the Report Stage. If the Deputy thinks that I could bring full information as to all the things that are affected by sub-section (1) of Section 43 before the Dáil by the Report Stage, I do not think I could undertake it.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Is the Minister not asking the House to do an extraordinary thing? It now appears that in Section 43 the Minister wants to establish a principle whereby the House is to wipe away something that they do not know the nature of at all. Is that fair to the House, and is it fair legislation? The more we proceed with this section the more it seems to me to be based on very arbitrary lines. I recognise that the object the Minister has in view is a good one, and I think most of the House will agree that the simplification of the existing laws as far as these fines are concerned would be good. But to say: “I am going to sweep away a number of rights; I do not know what they are myself,” is something that I [547] think the House should not accept. In other words, we do not know what we are being asked to do. Is that fair?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  We swept away a lot of things and we built up a lot of things again. It is true that I do not know what they are in an accurate, precise and itemised way, but I do know the kind they are. I know that there is simply a variety of petty, trifling and little provisions of one kind or another almost negligible in their amounts, and when we proceed to ask for specific power to meet such claims as will arise—many will not arise—it will simply be regarded as a perfectly natural provision, on the establishment of a new court system, that these rights should disappear. Only the substantial ones will show their heads, and we are taking power to deal with those, so that the thing is not just so overwhelmingly revolutionary as Deputy Hewat is inclined to think, or inclined to say.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  I am not saying it. I am only trying to develop the point that my ignorance is colossal on this subject on which I am asked to vote. We are asked to vote on an important section of this Bill without having that amount of knowledge that would enable us to come to a proper decision on the matter. The Report Stage will afford us the last opportunity we shall have of dealing with an important section of this kind, and what I am asking is that some substantial information with regard to it should be given to us before then.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will give the Deputy ample information.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  Could not the Minister go further than that?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  The Deputy cannot get any further than that. He can put his amendment to a vote. I will bring ample information before the Dáil on Report Stage. I simply am not going to promise a thing that I cannot perform. I am not going to promise exhaustive information, and if Deputy Hewat and Deputy Good, as representatives of the commercial community, [548] recognising the tremendous importance of sixpences, think that exhaustive information was not before them and that they could not support such a proposal as is embodied in Section 43, then they must only vote against the section.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I wonder could the Minister tell us whether he has in draft the kind of order that he proposes to make. For instance, we know that Deputy Good has an interest in the sums which go to the local authorities directly from fines in respect to matters which local authorities administer. We have had knowledge that quite a number of local authorities have expressed some concern in regard to this deprivation of certain of their revenues. If the Minister could give the House a copy of the draft of the order that he proposes to make in regard to these fines which are at present available for local authorities, I think that would give some of us some reassurance, and perhaps Deputy Good amongst us.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  I would be glad to hear the Minister's reply to that suggestion.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I can only give the same kind of reply that I gave before, that I shall bring before the Dáil on Report Stage the kind of cases that will be affected by the sub-section. I can tell the Dáil in general what kind of case we might consider it necessary to meet, and what other kind of cases we would have to wait and have a case made for, and so on. I could deal with the matter at large, but I cannot deal with it exhaustively, and I am not going to promise to do what I know well I will not be in a position to perform.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  One does not want to press the Minister to do anything that is unreasonable, but before the section is passed we want to know exactly what is included in it. If, under it, you are transferring fines that have in the past accrued to local authorities, then let us know exactly what those fines are. All we want is information. I suggest that to ask us to pass a bald statement of this character without [549] knowing what is in it, is asking us to do what is unreasonable.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  If it is a question of the degree of information, I certainly will give information, but I will not give all the information, because I have not got it myself, and because it would take me a considerable time to get it.

Mr. GOOD: Information on John Good  Zoom on John Good  We will leave reasonable time for the Report Stage, and in that reasonable time the Minister, I am sure, will give us all the information he can get.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  We will leave a week for the Report Stage, and within that week I will get the Deputy all the information that it is possible for me to get, but it will not be exhaustive.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  In the meantime the Minister, I hope, will consider the question of safeguarding anybody who might be affected under this section.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will get both Deputies so much information that I hope they will be able to salve their financial consciences and vote for the section.

Question—“That Section 43, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended at 6.30 and resumed at 7.15 p.m.,

AN LEAS CHEANN COMHAIRLE:  in the Chair.

Question—“That Sections 44 and 45 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

To insert before Section 46 a new section as follows:—

“(1) No appointment shall be made to the office of under-sheriff after the passing of this Act.

(2) In every county and county borough in which the office of under-sheriff is vacant at the commencement of this Part of this Act all the powers, duties, authorities, rights and [550] obligations of the several undersheriffs of such counties and county boroughs respectively shall as on and from such commencement become and be transferred to and vested in or imposed on the several county registrars of such counties and county boroughs respectively.

(3) In every county and county borough in which the office of under-sheriff is not vacant at the commencement of this Part of this Act all the powers, duties, authorities, rights and obligations of the several under-sheriffs of such counties and county boroughs respectively shall as on and from the respective dates on which the office of under-sheriff in such counties and county boroughs respectively first becomes vacant after the commencement of this Part of this Act become and be transferred to and vested in or imposed on the several county registrars of such counties and county boroughs respectively.”

By amendment, this section was taken out of Part 2 of the Bill and it is now inserted in Part 4.

Dr. MYLES KEOGH: Information on Myles Keogh  Zoom on Myles Keogh  I move:—

To add at end of section a new sub-section as follows:—

“(4) The County Registrar if and when he takes up the duties of the office of under-sheriff shall be empowered to employ the staff of the under-sheriff.”

I have been reading Section 46 and I think I see in it the substance of my amendment, which is before the House.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I have considered this amendment, and I am of opinion that it is not really necessary. If the employment of these men is found desirable in the public interest, there would be no difficulty whatever in arranging that without the specific power which the amendment gives. There is no obstacle to the county registrar employing them, and an express provision enabling him to do that is unnecessary. There are other considerations. For instance, the men at present employed by an under-sheriff are the personal selection of the under-sheriff. [551] If they are suitable men, as the vast majority I believe are, there would be no difficulty about a county registrar when he takes on the duties of an under-sheriff simply taking on also the staff of the under-sheriff, and in Dublin, both in the county and in the county borough, the question will not arise for probably fifteen, twenty or twenty-five years. It is not necessary to make special statutory provision to cover the case of a situation that need not be expected to arise for twenty or twenty-five years, and to insert any express provision that the county registrar may employ those men, when there is, in fact, nothing whatever to prevent him, is unnecessary. The Deputy may take it that there is nothing to prevent the staffs of the under-sheriff being simply carried over to the new officer on whom the duties of the under-sheriff will devolve in due course, and it is not necessary to insert an express provision to the effect of his amendment.

Dr. MYLES KEOGH: Information on Myles Keogh  Zoom on Myles Keogh  Having got the Minister's assurance, I agree to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 44, by leave, withdrawn.

Question—“That the new section stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(4) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, from time to time vary the rates of the said percentage charged on the estate of lunatics and may, if he so thinks fit but with the consent aforesaid, raise such rates above or reduce such rates below the rates and total amounts specified in Section 109 of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act, 1871, but until such rates are varied under this section the said percentage shall be charged at the rates at which it was chargeable immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

In sub-section (4), page 15, line 29, after the word “Finance” to insert the words “and after consultation with the Chief Justice.”

[552] The amendment provides that the Chief Justice should also be consulted, he being the judge in whose jurisdiction lunatics' estates are.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I may say it was never intended to fix the fees without such consultation, but it has been thought necessary to insert that expressly in the Bill.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

Before sub-section (4) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

“(4) All salaries and pensions heretofore payable out of the Lunacy Fund shall after the closing day, if and so far as they respectively continue to be payable, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as part of the expenses incurred in the execution of this Act, and all such expenses (other than salaries and pensions) as have heretofore been defrayed out of the Lunacy Fund shall after the closing day be defrayed either out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas or out of the said percentage charged on the estates of lunatics before the same is paid into the Exchequer as the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Chief Justice shall direct, and all such expenses (other than salaries and pensions) shall be so defrayed on the certificate of the Chief Justice certifying the amount and nature of each expense and that the same was duly incurred by his direction or with his approval.”

The effect of the amendment is to make provision for salaries out of lunacy funds and to allow the Chief Justice more power and secrecy, as regards confidential payments, than are usually allowed in regard to payment of public moneys.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 46, as amended, stand part of the Bill”— put and agreed to.

“(3) Whenever the Minister makes an order under this section closing a district probate registry [553] the Minister may by such order, if he so thinks fit, make provision for enabling applications for probates of wills and letters of administration in cases in which the testator or intestate (as the case may be) at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode within the district previously served by such registry to be lodged with the county registrar for the area in which such registry was formerly situate and for the transmission of such applications by the county registrar to the principal probate registry and the transmission of the probates and letters of administration (if and when issued) from the principal probate registry to the said county registrar for delivery to the person entitled thereto.”

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I beg to move:—

In sub-section (3), line 54, to delete the words “registry was formerly” and substitute the words “fixed place of abode was.”

The effect is that where the District Registry, possibly covering several counties, ceases to exist, applications for probate may be lodged with the county registrar for the county in which the deceased person's place of abode was.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 66:—

“To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

“(4) The Minister may, if and when he so thinks fit, by order make provision for enabling applications for probates of wills and letters of administration in cases in which the testator or intestate (as the case may be) at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode in Saorstát Eireann but not within any of the districts served at the commencement of this Part of this Act by a district probate registry to be lodged with the county registrar for the area in which such fixed place of abode was situate and for the transmission of such application by the county registrar to the principal probate registry and the transmission of the probates and letters of administration (if and [554] when issued) from the principal probate registry to the said county registrar for delivery to the person entitled thereto.”

That is really an extension of the idea contained in the previous amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 47, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) The Minister may, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, by order prescribe and from time to time as occasion requires vary or otherwise revise the fees to be charged in the several offices established by this Act and may by any such order prescribe, in addition to the amounts of such fees, the persons by whom and the occasions on which such fees are to be paid and the officers by whom and the manner in which such fees are to be collected.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

In sub-section (1), page 15, line 61. after the word “Finance” to insert the words “and the concurrence of the committee with whose concurrence or assistance the rules of the court to which the matter relates are made.”

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I may say in explanation of that that the view I took originally of the matter was that court fees were not a judicial matter, that they were something that should be fixed by responsible Ministers, by myself in consultation with the Minister for Finance. We could be criticised then if they were too high or too low. There was a certain amount of representation from the legal profession, and this amendment is inserted to make the consent of the rule-making committee a condition precedent to the fixing of these fees. It will probably work all right. If there is a deadlock and failure to get the consent and concurrence of the Committee to fees which are considered reasonable by the Government, that would be a question of approaching the Dáil again for further powers. I am satisfied with [555] the existing provision, and I believe that in consultation and after contact, it would be possible to arrive at a reasonable scale of fees. If I form the opinion that the scale of fees is not, in fact, reasonable, it would be a matter of coming again to the Dáil.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I would like to express a view which I know is very general, and that is, that in exercising such powers as are contained in this section the Minister will endeavour to make the fees as low as possible, and much lower than they are at present. I hope it will not be difficult to get the concurrence of the rule-making authority in that. I am sure that if anyone has been influenced by what is called the economy campaign he will be glad to apply it in the case of the courts, as it will fall very heavily on litigants.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I will bear in mind what the Deputy says. It is an expression of opinion. My own view is that the court fees, as such, are not high and do not form any considerable proportion of the cost of litigation. It is the professional fees rather than the court fees that make litigation expensive. I think that probably I might develop that a little further on Report Stage. It is a very fixed view of mine and of my Department that the court fees, even as they are at present, are not unreasonably high, and constitute a very small proportion of the total cost of litigation.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  While I am prepared to accept that view, I think an expression of opinion from the Dáil, that the desire should be to keep down what I may call litigation fees, wherever they may fall, may have some effect on the rule-making authority and the Minister. It is to be hoped that, when we find the rules of the various courts before us for consideration, we shall see that the procedure is intended to be so simplified as to reduce very greatly the cost of litigation. An expression of the view by the Dáil that that is desirable, even in respect to court fees, may have its reflection on the lawyers of one type or another.

[556] Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 48, as amended, stand part of the Bill”— put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move the following amendment:—

Before Section 49 to insert a new section as follows:—

The several powers, authorities, duties and functions conferred or imposed by Part I. of this Act on the respective officers therein referred to as principal officers and by Part II. of this Act on the county registrars shall be exercised and performed by those officers and registrars with the assistance of the officers and servants employed in the offices under their management respectively, and every such principal officer and county registrar shall arrange for the exercise and performance by officers or servants employed in the office under his management of such of his powers, authorities, duties and functions (other than those which he is for the time being expressly required by statute or rule of court to exercise or perform in person) as he cannot conveniently exercise or perform himself.”

The effect of this amendment is, I think, pretty plain. It means that if there are certain functions which must be performed by the principal officer there are other duties and functions of less importance which can be performed by officers under his control.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That the new section stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

To add at the end of the section two new sub-sections as follows:—

“(4) This section shall not apply to such solicitors, doctors, visitors, and other persons as have heretofore been retained or nominated by the Chief Justice in relation to the exercise [557] of any of the jurisdictions transferred to him by Section 19 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), and all such persons shall continue to be nominated and retained by him as heretofore.

(5) This section shall not apply to the appointment in any suit or matter by the Judge or by the parties with the approval of the Judge of an auctioneer, receiver, assessor, liquidator, manager, agent, or other like person to render services in relation to the subject matter of such suit or matter where the appointment does not extend to any other suit or matter and either there is no person retained under this section available to render such services or the Judge is of opinion that it is not expedient in the special circumstances of the case to appoint the person or any of the persons so retained.”

The original section was drafted so as not to apply to the appointment of any person except those retained to assist the court. Neither was it meant to interfere with the powers of the Chief Justice in lunacy matters, and the amendment is to make certain that it has not that effect.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 49, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

“In page 16, before Section 50, to insert a new section as follows:—

“Save as is otherwise provided in this Act, the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1924 (No. 5 of 1924) shall apply to every office and situation under this Act other than offices and situations for the time being comprised in the Schedule to the said Civil Service Regulation Act, 1924.”

The Civil Service Regulation Act applies automatically to every post in the public service and the amendment is merely brought in for the purpose of greater emphasis and to ensure that there can be no doubt on the subject.

[558] Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That the new section stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Mr. MacBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I move:—

Before section 50 to insert new section as follows:—

“No person shall be appointed to any position under this Act unless he has a thorough and competent knowledge of the Irish language, but this provision shall not apply to any existing officer who accepts employment, or is re-employed under the provisions of this Act.”

The purpose of the amendment is, I think, self-evident. The country has been asking for this for a good number of years in regard to public appointments.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  The Civil Service Regulation Act made the Civil Service Commissioners in effect the judges of the extent to which a knowledge of Irish should be demanded as a qualification for any public post. In general, therefore, court officers can be appointed only if they satisfy the Commissioners that they have such a knowledge of Irish as the Commissioners deem necessary for their work. There are three Commissioners. The Department of Justice has constantly endeavoured to secure trained Irish speakers in Irish districts, and it has succeeded in an appreciable degree. In such places as Falcaragh, Galway City, Dingle, Dungarvan and elsewhere, we have succeeded to a large extent in making the court administration Irish-speaking. It is only in a few cases where the appointments are made direct by the Executive Council that the Civil Service Commissioners have not power. Such cases are legal appointments of high standing. The Deputy should know what the supply of Irish-speaking lawyers is. Moreover, if the amendment is good for court officers it should be good for the entire service and good for such persons as police, judges, and even Deputies. To demand here and now that the whole public service must, as from date, be reserved exclusively for Irish speakers, is to demand the impossible. [559] There are not sufficient Irish speakers with sufficient qualifications to perform the work. I venture to say that they are not there to the extent of one-twentieth of the need, and I think the Deputy knows that just as well as I do. I am not, therefore, accepting the amendment.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I do not think the Minister's explanation is at all satisfactory. In my amendment, I do not ask that these officials should be Irish speakers; I ask that they have a competent knowledge of Irish. All the inferior officers admitted under the Civil Service Regulations must have such a knowledge of Irish as will satisfy the Commissioners.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Would you apply that to stenographers?

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I should apply it to everybody.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  You would not recommend any stenographer who had not a competent knowledge of Irish?

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I do not know whether I would or not.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Does the Deputy happen to know whether he did or not?

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I do not.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I do.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  In any case it is for the Minister to object.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  You can recommend but it will be for me to reject, under your amendment.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I will not object to your rejecting. All the inferior officers at present must have a knowledge of Irish. The superior officers are not to be expected to have a knowledge of Irish. That is really the effect of the Minister's explanation. The gentlemen who are to hold the superior posts under this Bill are all men of education—university men. They are overflowing with the lore of Greece and Rome and I do not see why they should not add one more accomplishment to their various accomplishments. It is ridiculous that the inferior officers [560] should be required to have a knowledge of Irish and that the superior officers should not be expected to have any such qualification. We must be consistent.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Hear, hear.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I remember one famous occasion in the Dáil when the Minister delivered a perfect speech in Irish. I only want him to carry his convictions straight through to the end. I think the Minister referred to the Gárda Síochána. I think the Gárda should have a knowledge of Irish.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  No doubt, in the abstract, we should all have it. But I am dealing with the position as it is. I am dealing with the fact that the supply is not there.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  You ought to make the supply.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  When such an enthusiast as the Deputy is driven to recommending non-Irish speaking stenographers for the courts, I regard it as proof that the supply is not there.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  In so far as my recommendation of a non-Irish-speaking stenographer was concerned, I knew this stenographer who applied for the position, but I did not know whether he had a knowledge of Irish or not.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  And you did not care.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I knew him to be a very respectable young man and I knew that he had mastered five or six books of O'Growney, which is supposed to be the standard for most of the positions in the Civil Service.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  He must have been concealing his knowledge. He told us he had not any knowledge of Irish. I could not accept the Deputy's amendment. It simply would not be honest, in face of the position as we know it to be. The supply of competent men with the necessary qualifications is not there and we could not bind ourselves in the terms of this amendment. I think on an examination—such an examination as took place by the Gaeltacht Commission—it [561] could be shown that we have made every reasonable effort to find for the Irish-speaking areas Irish-speaking officials and Irish-speaking police. But there is a point at which you cannot sacrifice that reasonable efficiency in the public service which the tax-paying public are entitled to demand. I could not tie myself down to the terms of this amendment. It would be simply an absurdity, a dishonesty, and a hypocrisy. It would be like the resolutions they used to pass long ago at political conventions—“That this time three years the business of this convention shall be transacted in the Irish language and in no other.” Everybody there knew—the proposer, the seconder, and the supporters of those resolutions—in their hearts and souls that the thing was an impossibility. It could not take place and it did not take place. There was not even a reasonable effort made to ensure that it would take place. It was a farce. It would be quite as big a farce if I were to accept this amendment and pretend that it would be administratively possible to give effect to it.

We are awaiting the report of the Gaeltacht Commission. I have no doubt it will be a very interesting and a very important report, and I would ask the Deputy simply to take the view that matters such as the principle underlying this amendment may be left over until we have the benefit, the advice, and the assistance that that report will give us. I do not want to deal with this amendment in any hostile spirit at all. I think I could show that in the administration of my Department for the last three years we have made every reasonable effort possible to meet the spirit in which the amendment is put forward. But I could not accept the amendment in the form in which it is and say that no county registrar would be appointed in the country who had not a competent knowledge of Irish. It would be an absurdity. We could not get the competent men, the men with the necessary experience and qualifications, who, in addition, would have that competent knowledge of the Irish language which the Deputy demands. We could [562] not get the stenographers, we could not get the county registrars, we could not get the officials to man the courts of the country, with a knowledge of Irish. The Deputy knows that we could not get the judges and that we could not get the District Justices—though by luck we were able to find a sufficient number of District Justices with a knowledge of Irish to conduct the courts which function in Irish-speaking areas. Even that was a task of some difficulty. Drawing on the two legal professions—barristers and solicitors— we were just barely able to man the Gaeltacht courts with District Justices who knew Irish. In face of that, is it reasonable to go the length that this amendment does and say that under this Bill—which provides, of course, for the appointment of hundreds of officials—no person shall be appointed to any position unless he has a thorough and competent knowledge of the Irish language? If I were to accept that amendment and bind myself by statute in the terms of the amendment, the logical sequence would be the breakdown of the Judiciary system in the country.

Professor THRIFT: Information on Prof. William E. Thrift  Zoom on Prof. William E. Thrift  I rise to a point of order. We have just passed an amendment which puts these appointments in the hands of the Civil Service Commissioners. Is an amendment in order which would have the effect—if it were effective at all—of putting a restriction upon the Civil Service Commissioners? If any such restriction is to be put upon them, should it not be put by the Act which establishes and regulates the Civil Service Commission?

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  I should like to suggest to the mover of the amendment that he should postpone it for another generation. By that time, probably, the amendment will be practicable. At the present time—I admit it with a great feeling of regret—I listen to the Minister for Justice giving a speech in Irish without appreciating the merits of the speech. I think the Deputy will serve his purpose a great deal better by allowing things to take their course for a reasonable time, by allowing the people themselves to decide these matters [563] and by having some definite opinion from them on the question.

Professor THRIFT: Information on Prof. William E. Thrift  Zoom on Prof. William E. Thrift  I would like a ruling upon the point of order I raised.

Mr. WOLFE: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  I think the course taken by the Minister is the only course he could have taken. I am as keen about the language as anybody can be. I have a smattering of many languages, including two dialects of Hindustani. The Irish is a very difficult language to learn, particularly when one is not a juvenile. I have succeeded myself in learning a certain amount of Irish, but I realise that a man beyond a certain age cannot and never will be proficient or what one would call a perfect speaker of Irish, having the language on the tip of his tongue, so that in a court of justice or other place of that sort he would be fit to interpret and to understand clearly everything that was going on. It is quite different with young people. I think for all appointments for which young people are eligible, it should be absolutely necessary that they should know Irish, but in the case of appointments to the higher grade of people over a certain age, that is impossible, and the Minister's attitude is the only reasonable attitude he could adopt as things are.

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I fully appreciate the difficulty the Minister has explained. I am quite prepared to wait for the report of the Commission. At the same time, I am not prepared to accept Deputy Hewat's suggestion. There is a certain line of conduct laid out for this State, and that line of conduct is that officials of the State should be Irish-speaking. It does not matter what Deputy Hewat or any other Deputy thinks. He thinks that no man should learn Irish because he does not consider it convenient to do so.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Did I mention that?

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  No, but you more or less implied it.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  Is the Deputy competent to know what I implied?

Mr. McBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I have a certain small share of common sense and intelligence and therefore I can appreciate [564] what Deputy Hewat or any other Deputy implies. I am quite prepared to accept the Minister's suggestion.

Mr. McCURTAIN: Information on Seán Patrick McCurtin  Zoom on Seán Patrick McCurtin  Could not the Deputy's amendment be met by the Minister in some such fashion as this: that the men who are to receive those appointments, being men of a certain standard of education, should, within a certain period of time, acquire a working knowledge of the language? A condition in which appointments are made to the Indian Civil Service is that candidates are to acquire the dialect of the districts in which they are to function.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  What I anticipate is that before the question of making appointments under this Act arises we will have had the report of the Gaeltacht Commission. If a condition of that kind is to be made there is nothing to prevent it. It is not necessary to write it into an Act. I feel that this Bill will probably take a month or six months before it becomes law, and I think it likely that by that time we will have the report of the Gaeltacht Commission. As I say, acceptance of the amendment the Deputy has put down is out of the question. My own view is that to do even what Deputy McCurtain suggests throughout the entire area of the State is scarcely practicable. It will be a matter that will have to be considered very closely, whether you could in counties in which Irish is spoken appoint a person who either is not himself at present a speaker of Irish or who will not undertake within a given time to satisfy some body of persons as to his competency to do business with an Irish speaker and to transact the business attaching to his office with a person who has only one language and that the Irish language.

I would not be prepared to put forward a substituted amendment to the Deputy's, along the lines of Deputy McCurtain's suggestion. I would not be prepared to say that all over the State no person shall be appointed to any office, under this Bill, who will not undertake, within a period of two or three years, to satisfy some tribunal of his competence in the Irish language. I certainly am fully alive to the necessity [565] of keeping the administrative machine, in a given county, in a position in which it can do business with all the residents of that county, but the administration cannot be expected to rush ahead of the actual position in the country amongst the people. After all, our first business is to provide an efficient administrative machine, and other considerations have to come second to that. They would not come second if I were to accept, as applicable all over, the idea that no person was to be appointed to a position under this Bill who did not either—(a) know Irish; or (b) undertake to know it within three years, because the fact is that I would not get the best men for the offices on those terms, and thereby I would be sacrificing efficiency in the public administration to language enthusiasm. I would want very definite intimation from the Dáil that that was imperative before I would be prepared to do it.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I want to speak, with great respect, on Deputy McCurtain's suggestion. I think I speak on behalf of Deputy Hewat and Deputy Thrift as well as myself when I say that I am in agreement with the doctrine that in districts where there are people who know nothing but Irish, the officials and the judges of the courts should be acquainted with Irish, and not be dependent on interpreters. I think that is an absolute necessity, and I hope it will be carried out. There is no doubt whatever that Irish is a very difficult language. I got half way through one book of O'Growney when I was told by Deputy Dr. MacNeill that I was studying the wrong method entirely. I have made an effort to master certain technical terms, but I was up against difficulties. Deputy McCurtain. whom I hope we will hear again, spoke of the Indian Civil Service. The difficulty in that comparison is this: that Indian civil servants or officers of the English Army going to India, find awaiting them a well-equipped teacher, a native speaker accustomed to teaching and to getting people through examinations.

So far as I can discover, the number of native speakers who are teaching [566] and who know how to teach—which is rather a different matter— are comparatively few. Therefore I think that, as the Minister stated, you must proceed gradually in this matter. With the limited number of native-speaking teachers who are competent to teach— the Indian Civil Servant gets individual attention and I have never been able to discover that you can get individual teaching here: you have to go to a class, often at times inconvenient for your occupation—you must proceed slowly. When you have developed the number of teachers then, as Deputy Hewat says, in another generation what Deputy McBride suggests might be practicable. I do not think it is practicable to-day. I must say I would have supported the amendment more fervently if any arguments had been urged in its behalf in Irish.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question—“That Section 50 stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) The Civil Service Commissioners may grant to any person who at the passing of this Act is employed during the whole of his time in an office attached to a court of justice and is paid wholly or partly out of clerical allowances given out of public moneys to the head of that office a certificate of qualification in respect of the situation in which he is so employed in such office.

(2) A certificate of qualification granted under the foregoing sub-section may be expressed to take effect from a date prior to the date on which it is granted but not in any case prior to the 1st day of January, 1924, and when a certificate of qualification is so expressed to take effect from a date prior to the date on which it is granted the person to whom the certificate is granted shall be deemed to have been paid from moneys provided by the Oireachtas within the meaning of section 17 of the Superannuation Act, 1859, as from the said date from which the certificate is expressed to take effect.

[567] (3) Whenever a person who at the passing of this Act is employed during the whole of his time in an office attached to a court of justice and is paid wholly or partly out of clerical allowances given out of public moneys to the head of that office and attained the age of fifty-five years before the 1st day of January, 1924, is discharged from such employment or from any employment under this Act, the Minister for Finance may pay to such person on his discharge such gratuity as such Minister thinks proper, but not exceeding twice the amount of the salary and emoluments received by such person from whatsoever source during the last year of his employment.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 72:—

In sub-section (1), page 16, line 51, after the word “person” to insert in brackets the words “(whether paid or not paid out of public moneys),” and to delete all from the word “and” in line 52 to the word “office” in line 54.

The section, as it stands, applies only to non-established clerks. The amendment will extend the operation of the section to any non-established whole-time clerk in the Civil Service, such, for instance, as district court clerks.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 73:—

In sub-section (2), page 16, line 58, after the word “may” to insert the words “with the consent of the Minister for Finance,” and in lines 59 and 60 to delete the words “but not in any case prior to the 1st day of January, 1924.”

The meaning of the amendment is that the date on which the certificate of qualification, referred to in sub-section 2, shall take effect is left an open question.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. P.S. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  I move amendment 74:—

In sub-section (2) to delete from the word “but,” line 59, to the [568] figures “1924,” line 60, inclusive, and to add at the end of the sub-section, line 2, page 17, the words: “provided that no such certificate shall be granted to a person heretofore employed in a Crown and Peace Office so as to give that person credit for service for more than one-half of the period that he has been actually employed in such office.”

The Courts of Justice Act will greatly increase the responsibilities of the assistants. They will be required in the future to perform duties hitherto carried out by highly-paid High Court officials. A committee appointed by the British Government recommended that they should be made permanent civil servants and given credit for all their past years of service and the then (British) Under-Secretary stated that owing to impending changes in the Government of Ireland the matter would be left to be dealt with by the Provisional Government of Ireland. It is, therefore, almost a certainty that the British Government would have granted their claim many years ago. It is calculated that as credit for past services now claimed for the assistants would apply to approximately 30 men in the whole country, the burden on the Treasury would not be a heavy one and it would not be a charge for many years to come.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The deletion has already been carried out by amendment 73. Therefore the amendment is to add certain words.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  The foregoing amendment 73, moved by Deputy Duggan, leaves the date on which the establishment certificate may be granted an open question, and leaves each case to be considered on its merits. Taking the two amendments on their face value, amendment 73, which has just been passed, is better, in fact, than this amendment, which would limit the Minister for Finance to giving half the past services to the particular officials, whereas amendment 73 leaves it open to him to give the whole service, if he thinks fit. I do not think he will think fit, and I do not want to delude the Deputy into the view that he is likely [569] to think fit to give even half; but taking the two amendments simply on paper as they stand, the present amendment has a limiting effect which is absent from amendment 73, which has been accepted by the Dáil. I ask the Deputy to rest satisfied with the fact that the case is not prejudiced by anything in the Bill. It is left an open matter, and each case will have to be considered on its merits. If I were pressed to prophesy, I would say that in my opinion the most that these officers would be likely to get in the way of retrospective consideration would be a matter of three or four years on establishment. But that is not in the Bill, and Deputy Duggan's amendment leaves the matter open in a way in which Deputy Doyle's does not.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. P.S. DOYLE: Information on Peadar Seán Doyle  Zoom on Peadar Seán Doyle  I move amendment 75:—

In sub-section (3), to delete from the word “twice,” line 11, to the end of the sub-section, and substitute the words: “in the case of a person who has been so employed for a period of less than ten years, twice, and in the case of a person who has been so employed for a longer period than ten years, four times the amount of the salary and emoluments received by such persons from whatsoever source during the last year of his employment.”

Under Section 58 of the Government of Ireland Act the assistants in Crown and Peace Offices are “existing officers” within the meaning of that Act, and as such officers are entitled to compensation or annual allowance on resigning office calculated in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 8 of the Act. This section instead of benefiting the assistants offers them much less than they are entitled to receive under the Government of Ireland Act, and it should be amended and the positions of the assistants under the Government of Ireland Act should be defined in the Court Officers Bill.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Sub-section 3 of Section 51 represents the best bargain I have been able to make with the [570] Minister for Finance to meet the case of those officials. After all, the Deputy ought to consider that even sub-section (3) as it stands, represents what is somewhat rare in State Acts—money for nothing. These men, after all, made their bargains with their employers— the Clerks of the Crown and Peace. They were not officials, and they were never left under any illusion about that. It was not a question of entering the State service in any formal way, or by any process of examination, or other form of competition. They were simply the private employees of the Clerks of the Crown and Peace, and they made their bargain. Even sub-section (3) as it stands, though the Deputy may be dissatisfied with it, is a not ungenerous provision on the part of the State. It represents a voluntary and fairly handsome gratuity on retirement to men who really could not claim that they had any very good grounds for expecting a gratuity of that kind at all. If there had been no change in the system, and the old judicial system simply went on, they would remain at work as the employees of the Clerks of the Crown and Peace, and I doubt if, on retirement, they would get any such gratuity as sub-section (3) of this section provides for them. I could not hold out any hope of it being altered or increased. It represents the best terms we have been able to extract from the Finance Department, and I can hold out no hope of reviewing them.

Mr. WOLFE: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  The Minister says these officials made their bargain. Of course they did, but that was at the time they were appointed, with the Clerks of the Crown and Peace. The bargain was then from their point of view probably a life bargain. They were chosen, probably, because they were extremely efficient. In fact, many of them were, so far as the work was concerned, the real Clerks of the Crown and Peace. I know one or two of these officials who gave their whole life to the work. While, of course, a pension could not be claimed, they certainly had employment for life under the old régime. These men are still there, and they are naturally nervous as to what is going to happen to them. I do not [571] know if they would be entitled to get any compensation. Some of them are also extremely nervous that they will be turned out of office at the age of fifty-five. The Minister, I think, said that was a mistake.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Yes.

Mr. WOLFE: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  And that the age is sixty-five. That nervousness exists and it is only natural, considering the nature of their appointments. They were appointed without any promise of a pension, but on the understanding that if they did not misbehave themselves their employment was for life. It depends now whether they will be re-appointed or not. The Minister, I think, stated that if there was nothing against them they would be reappointed. That will probably reassure them until they receive further information. It will also reassure them as regards the age, to know that they will not be turned out at fifty-five.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Question—“That Section 51 as amended stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

(1) All registrars, clerks, officers, messengers, criers, and servants (in this section referred to as existing officers and servants) who at the passing of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), were either attached to a court then existing or to the person of a judge then holding office or were employed in a court office then existing and are at the passing of this Act attached or performing duties in relation to any court or judge or are employed in any court office shall immediately upon the commencement of the Part of this Act relating to such court, judge, or office cease to hold office and their respective offices shall be and are hereby abolished as from such commencement.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act prescribing the qualifications and retiring ages for particular officers, every existing officer and [572] servant who is not a temporary officer or servant shall (so far as conveniently may be) be offered employment in a situation under this Act analogous to and carrying not less salary than the situation held by him as such existing officer or servant at the passing of this Act.

(3) The following provisions shall apply to every existing officer who accepts employment in a situation under this Act, that is to say:—

(a) the acceptance of such employment shall not prejudice or affect (save as is hereinafter mentioned) his rights arising under Article 10 of the Treaty of 1921 on the abolition of his office,

(b) he shall not be entitled to receive any annual allowance under the said Article 10 in respect of any period for which he receives salary in a situation under this Act nor to receive any gratuity or lump sum payment under the said Article 10 while receiving such salary,

(c) on his ceasing to hold a situation under this Act he shall be entitled to receive at his option either such compensation as he may be entitled to under the said Article 10 or such allowance or other compensation as he may be entitled to under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923, as modified for and applied to him by this sub-section,

(d) in lieu of the foregoing paragraphs, the offer of employment under this Act may be made conditional on his waiving all right to compensation under the said Article 10 in respect of abolition of or discharge from office but with the right to withdraw such waiver in the event of his being subsequently discharged from such employment for any reason other than age, misconduct, incapacity or ill-health,

(e) he shall hold the situation under this Act by the tenure and on the conditions prescribed therefor by or under this Act;

(f) on his ceasing to hold a situation [573] under this Act the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923 shall apply to him in the same manner and to the same extent as they applied to him immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act but with the modification that in computing the period of his service for the purposes of those Acts he shall be entitled to reckon as continuous service for those purposes whatever period (if any) of service he was or is deemed by virtue of this sub-section to have been entitled immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act to reckon as service for those purposes and his period of service in a situation under this Act;

(g) however he was in fact paid he shall be deemed to have been paid from moneys provided by Parliament or the Oireachtas within the meaning of section 17 of the Superannuation Act, 1859, during the whole of his period of service in an office attached to any court (not being an inferior court) in Ireland or in Saorstát Eireann or to the Lord Chancellor for Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice for Ireland, or the Chief Justice of the Irish Free State, and if, in consequence of the source from which he was paid, the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923 did not apply to him those Acts shall for the purposes of this sub-section be deemed to have applied to him immediately before the commencement of this part of this Act;

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 76:—

Before sub-section (2) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

“(2) Sub-section (1) of this section shall not apply to any person who immediately before the commencement of Part III. of this Act holds the office of district court clerk under the District Justices (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923 (No. 6 of 1923) or, in the Dublin Metropolitan Area and in the County Borough of Cork, the office of chief or other [574] clerk of the District Court in that area and borough respectively, and no such person shall be an existing officer or servant for the purposes of this section.”

The amendment saves District Court clerks from being, even technically, abolished or removed from office under this Bill. There is no necessity to abolish their office for the reason that they are either temporary clerks or ordinary civil servants.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move amendment 77:—

Before sub-section (2) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

“(2) All existing officers and servants who are temporary officers or servants and whose functions are not expressly transferred by this Act to any officer created by this Act shall, notwithstanding the abolition of their respective offices or situations, continue until the Minister otherwise directs to perform the like duties as they respectively performed immediately before such abolition and while so performing such duties shall be entitled to receive remuneration on the same scale as that on which they were remunerated immediately before such abolition.”

This sub-section makes it clear that temporary officers in general are not affected by this Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I move amendment 77a:—

In sub-section (2) to insert after the word “employment,” line 29, the words: “with tenure not inferior to his present tenure.”

The tenure of the present officers of the High Court is not the ordinary tenure of the civil servant. The 65 rule is never applied to them. Their appointments have been for life, so long as they were fit to do their work. Though the Bill does not definitely say so, it may be inferred that it is intended to apply the 65 age limit. If so, it would be an infringement of the tenure of existing officers, many of whom entered the service after competitive [575] examinations for which the age limit was 30 years. As it requires 40 years to qualify for a full pension it would seem to follow that candidates 30 years old at the date of the examination might expect to remain at least to the age of 70, if they are to get a chance of attaining their full pension. The full pension is about two-thirds. I hope the Minister will give the amendment favourable consideration.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  The whole underlying principle of this Bill, and its whole object, has, practically, been to define the tenure of court officers as being the same tenure as every other civil servant—that is, the pleasure of the Executive Council. It sounds no doubt a flimsy thing, but the Deputy knows in fact that it is a real and a solid thing. But the people for whom the Deputy is speaking are not satisfied with that. They asked instead for a tenure not inferior to the present tenure.

The question arises, what is their present tenure? I venture to say that in the case of a great many of them the Deputy could not tell me, and the officers themselves could not tell me, but I am to give them by this Bill a tenure not inferior to their present tenure. They do not know what their present tenure is, and I would not be in a position to find out in order to give them the equation of it. I am not simply playing with the idea. It is a fact that in the case of a great many officers serving in the courts no man, whether on or off the Bench, could say what their present tenure is. Under this Bill they will have the same tenure as the entire civil servants of the State, but I cannot undertake to give them some indefinite thing that would be different, and that might be said to fall under the description of not being inferior to their present tenure, which is unascertainable. Under the Judicature Act of 1877, for instance, the tenure of certain officers is described as being such that they may be removed by the person having the right of appointment to the office with the approval of the Lord Chancellor for reasons to be assigned in the order of removal. The person having the right [576] of appointment to the office would be hard to find, and the Lord Chancellor would be still harder. It is not possible to say in any precise terms what is the tenure of those persons who were appointed under the Act of 1877, with that proviso attached to their appointment. I could not undertake to make any discrimination between the tenure of court officers under this Bill, and the tenure of the civil servants who serve in the various departments of State, and it is a very substantial tenure, as everyone knows.

Certain well-defined exceptions to that were arrived at in response to certain protests from the Judiciary. The principal officers are given nominally and theoretically a stronger tenure than Civil Service tenure; that is, the concurrence of the Chief Justice or the President of the High Court, as the case may be, would be necessary as a condition precedent to their removal. There were considerations urged in favour of that, but it was not regarded by me as adding anything in fact or practice to their tenure, because a civil servant would never be removed for reasons that would not command at once the concurrence of two judges. It was thought fit to make that necessary in the case of ten or a dozen principal officers down in the Courts, and I had no hesitation in assenting to the idea that they would not be removed without the concurrence of the President of the High Court or the Chief Justice, but there is no reason for extending that to the court staffs generally, and there is no reason for discriminating as between the tenure they shall have as from the date of the operation of this Bill and the tenure, say, of the Secretary to the Executive Council, or any of the other civil servants who are serving in State departments. That is simply my attitude to the amendment. I cannot accept it, and if I were unwise enough to do so, then I would find it very hard to arrive at a tenure not inferior to some of those officials in the courts, for I do not know what that tenure is.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Owing to the Minister's difficulties, I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 77a withdrawn.

[577]Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I move:—

“In sub-section (2), page 17, line 30, to insert the words ‘scale of’ before the word ‘salary.’”

This is a very little brother of Deputy Dr. Hennessy's amendment. It seeks to provide for the position of the existing servant who is, say, serving on a scale of salary rising from £400 to £600 a year, and who has reached the £500 mark. Under the Bill as it stands he might be offered a post of which the maximum salary was £500, and he would thereby suffer some loss in his expectations. I do not think the Minister intends that, but I do think that the acceptance of this amendment would help to prevent some of the existing staff taking their pensions and going. I think it is fair and equitable that they should have not only the same salary they have at present when transferred, but also the same prospects of promotion. Therefore, I would ask the Minister to accept this amendment.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  There is a certain family likeness between this amendment and its big brother, as Deputy Cooper said. It is an unnecessary amendment. The words “salary carried by the position” would only mean in the context the scale of salary in any case where there is a scale. Take, for example, the case of an officer in the scale of from £700 to £900 a year, by increments of £25, and let us suppose that he happens to be at the point of £775 at the time when this Bill becomes law, then the salary carried by the position might be £700 by £25 to £900, and not £775 as the figure that would remain. The latter is merely the officer's salary at the particular moment of change from one system to another. The Parliamentary draftsman, I may say, fully agrees with this view, and, in fact, is inclined to oppose the amendment on the grounds of unnecessary verbiage. He has no doubt as to the effect of the words in the Bill, but if the Deputy would like me to make assurance doubly sure, I would like to be able to tell him also on Report that that is the view of the Attorney-General.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  When I am told that two words are unnecessary verbiage, [578] I begin to look at some of Deputy Duggan's amendments, for there seems to be more unnecessary verbiage there. I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurance, and I think if he consults the Attorney-General before the Report Stage it would reassure people who do not know the Minister as well as I do

Amendment 78 withdrawn.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I move:—

To add at the end of sub-section (2) the words “Every question which shall arise as to whether any duties are analogous to any other duties shall be determined so far as relates to the Supreme Court by the Chief Justice, and to the High Court by the President of the High Court.”

Sub-section (2) provides that any existing officer shall be offered employment under “this Act analogous to and carrying not less salary than the situation held by him as such existing officer or servant at the passing of this Act.” The question may arise as to whether the new situation which is being offered is, in fact, analogous to the situation which is being superseded. That question has to be decided. The proposition in the amendment is that the question as to whether the new duties are analogous to the old shall be decided in the case of the Supreme Court by the Chief Justice, and in the case of the High Court by the President of that Court. I do not know whether there is any real objection to that.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  There is.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I can imagine that the Minister would say that inasmuch as the Bill has provided for the administration to be retained by the Minister, the judicial functions will be held continuously by the judges, and that that is a sufficient answer. If the Minister makes that case I am not going to argue against it, but if he has any other reason or if he has no other reason, or if that reason is not his reason, I would like to press the amendment.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I think that any officer who is lying awake at night wondering just what kind of fight he can put up on the question of analogous [579] duty, had better cut the thing short and decide to go before the new system comes into operation. I would not accept this amendment at all. We will abide by the terms of the Bill as it stands, and offer to each man who comes over into the new judiciary system, analogous duties, so far as conveniently may be, but we simply will not have the position in which it will be open to any man to argue, except in an informal administrative discussion, as to what are and what are not analogous duties. If every such question had to be referred to the President of the High Court or the Chief Justice, as the case might be, the position would be simply intolerable—people remaining on with their Article 10 terms in suspense, and with a view to seeing what kind of duties they might get, and then running to one or other judge to haggle over the question as to whether those duties could be considered analogous or not; in other words, coming into the new system to see how they would fare and with the very full intention of bolting out in case things did not go just so, and not otherwise. That frame of mind is not any use, and people who have that frame of mind should not stand upon the order of their going, but go at once. The judges, to put it on no other grounds, would find it a very considerable infringement of their official hours if, for six months following on this Act coming into operation, they had to listen to high constitutional arguments on the question of whether the duties which this man was asked to perform in the new system could be said to be analogous to those which he performed in the past. It is not really a sound or feasible proposition simply to say that there should be an appeal to the two higher judges of the courts from the administrative decision to put A. B. at such-and-such a work. If any man is gravely troubled about this question of analogous duties, my advice to him is to cut it short, and to go at once, because we are not going to listen to very much talk about analogous duties under the new system to those under the old.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I do not know whether there is any likelihood of any considerable [580] number taking the hint of the Minister to retire under Article X, in view of his statement. The emphasis on duties suggests to the Minister that it is the duties that may come from day to day that are in question; but what is intended by the amendment is that the situation under the new regime may be analogous to the situation under the old regime and that the situation carries a certain general assigned body of duties. I think it is not an unfair proposition that there should be an authority named which will state that such a position under the new conditions is analogous to the old position, and is carrying certain duties in one case as in the other case. I feel as a matter of fact that there is an inherent weakness in the case I am putting forward if it is represented that this is purely an administrative function, that the assignment of duties is administrative and that consequently it is not the business of the judge. That is not the case put forward by the Minister and he has rather argued as though the proposition was that the duties that may come forward day by day or month by month would be referable at somebody's instance to the judge. Certainly that is not the intention, but I think, on the other hand, there is a question as to who is to decide whether one position is analogous to the other, and that, I think, should be considered.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I regret that I can make no advance. I object entirely to this suggestion of appeal from administrative decisions to the judges. I object on a great many grounds and then I can see nothing that can be inserted in substitution to meet the point of view of the Deputy. Officers must just turn over in their minds whether they are going to go into the new system and take their chance in that, or whether they are going out with whatever statutory and Treaty rights attached to them, but the idea of coming in on “spec.” to the new system, with an appeal to a judge as a kind of side-line and last resort, does not commend itself to me and I think should not commend itself to the Dáil.

Amendment put and declared lost.

[581]Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I beg to move:—

In sub-section (3), (a), page 17, line 37, to insert the words “or otherwise” after the figures “1921.”

This sub-section deals with the rights of those existing servants who accept fresh employment under this Bill, who, in other words, instead of taking any pension to which they may be entitled, are prepared to carry on in office. The section as it stands preserves any rights under the Treaty, but some of those officers in the courts have rights also under the Judicature Act, and my amendment is intended to preserve not only rights under the Treaty but rights under the Judicature Act. It may be that the Minister will say that it is too wide. If so, I am willing and anxious to have it restricted, but I do think on the whole, even at the cost of being told that it is unnecessary verbiage, that the principle of it is a sound one and that we should try to reassure existing officials as far as we can and get them to renew their services instead of going on pension. Unnecessary verbiage costs something, a certain amount of printing and a certain amount of paper, but it does not cost us as much as the pension of one official who might be retained, if his alarms were allayed. I hope the Minister will take the amendment into sympathetic consideration.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I have some doubt as to the idea underlying the Deputy's amendment. I do not know whether it is sought to cover possible rights under the Constitution as well as the Treaty, or rights under the Act of 1877. My advice is that the provisions in the Judicature Act of 1877 applied only to persons who were prejudiced by that Act or by changes immediately pursuant to that Act. The only rights that we acknowledge as existing amongst these officers are their rights, whatever they are or whatever they may be found to be, under the Treaty. That being our view, on two grounds, therefore, I am not inclined to accept the Deputy's amendment. The first ground is that I am of opinion, and am very definitely advised, that these officers have no rights arising from the Judicature Act. [582] My second ground is that we acknowledge such rights as they may be found to have under the Treaty. We acknowledge no rights attaching to them by virtue of legislation in the distant past, prior to the Treaty. On either count I would have to take the position of being against the Deputy's amendment. I think that if these officers look for competent advice they will find that it will coincide with mine and that they have no such rights as they seem to think they have arising from the Judicature Act.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I do not know what the Minister means by competent advice. Does he mean mine was incompetent?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I did not intend to suggest that the Deputy's advice was incompetent. I meant professional advice.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I accept the Minister's explanation. I did not consider it an insult. I suggest to the Minister that the narrow line of legality is not the wisest line to pursue in a matter of this kind where there are people who are frightened—rightly or wrongly frightened—at the effects of this Bill when it becomes an Act. The Minister wants, as he said on Second Reading, to avoid swelling the pensions fund. I suggest it might be desirable to do a few things that may appear to him unnecessary. If his belief that the Judicature Act does not apply to these officials at all is correct, it is unnecessary but it does no harm. It would be better to go a little distance to allay fears and suspicions rather than turn down every safeguard and every proviso that seems to safeguard, even if it does not effectively safeguard, existing officers. I would suggest that. I accept the Minister's view, reinforced as it is by legal authority and expert knowledge, as the official view; but I suggest even if that is so it is far better from the point of view of safeguarding an overburdened pensions list to go a certain distance to meet fears and remove them. I do not believe the insertion of the words “under the Judicature Act of 1877,” if the Minister is prepared to insert them, would do any harm.

[583]Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  One does not accept an amendment simply on the grounds that it does not do any harm. When one is considering an amendment one has to see whether it is an improvement on the text as it stands. This amendment would not be an improvement; it would be a complication. The Treaty is something that both parties understand and there is no question but that any of these officials who decide to take the abolition of their office literally and refuse to come under the new system will get their rights under the Treaty. But to complicate the thing by a reference to the Judicature Act of 1877 in face of the advice which I have that that Act confers no right whatever on them, does not seem good business or good legislation. I would be simply making myself a party to a farce if I were to consent to write into this Bill a reference to possible rights of these officers under the Judicature Act of 1877, in face of the authoritative advice I have that they have no such rights. The Deputy must hold me excused in the matter. I could not agree to that amendment.

Amendment put and negatived.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I think, in fact, the voting is even, but I am giving the amendment as lost.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  In moving the following amendment, let me say that here we have a little more unnecessary verbiage:—

In sub-section (3) (c), page 17, line 44, to insert the words “resigning or otherwise” before the word “ceasing.”

This is simply to make it clear that a court officer who accepts the new conditions, tries to work them, and finds them—well, I do not want to say not analogous, because that has been already condemned—but finds them uncongenial, shall not forfeit his rights by resigning. I think the draftsman intended the word “ceasing” to cover “resignation”; but where fears of this kind exist it might be well to make it quite clear that “resignation” is included in “ceasing.” Therefore, I suggest, without very much hope, that [584] this amendment might commend itself to the Minister.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  The Deputy is right—the amendment does not commend itself to the Minister. My objection to it is the objection which he himself anticipated. It is that it is a superfluous amendment; it is unnecessary verbiage with a vengeance. If a man resigns a situation he ceases to hold it. If the Deputy resigns from the Dáil he ceases to be a Deputy.

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  Is that so?

Mr. T. O'CONNELL: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Suppose he got himself suspended?

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Much the same would apply to court officers. The words in the text—“on his ceasing to hold a situation under this Act he shall be entitled...”—cover, of course, the contingency of resignation and I would not insult the Parliamentary draftsman by accepting the Deputy's amendment. I may say that I talked to him about it.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I wish the Minister would illuminate his remarks by less unlikely hypotheses. I am far too happy here to resign my seat.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  It was not a case of the wish being father to the thought.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I will accept the Minister's assurance. I had some feeling of the same kind myself but it was vouched for by a barrister of considerable standing who suggested to me that it was necessary.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I could almost name him.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  It is quite possible the Minister could. I would not ask him to do it. The assurance of the Minister is as valuable as the insertion of the amendment. I ask the permission of the Dáil to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Amendment 82 which is contingent on 81 need not be moved:—

In sub-section (3) (c), page 17, line 47, to insert the words “or otherwise” after the word “Article 10.”—(Deputy Cooper.)

[585]AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  took the Chair.

Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I beg to move Amendment 82 (a) which reads:—

82a. In sub-section (3) (d) after the word “paragraphs”, line 51, to insert the words “in the case of any officers whose age at the passing of this Act, shall not exceed 45 years.”

Clause (d) as it stands in the Bill seems to be inconsistent with the foregoing three paragraphs unless it is intended to apply to officers who may look forward to many years' service. Probably that is the intention but if it is so it should be stated definitely. Otherwise, when the Bill becomes law, officers with only a few years' service before them might lose the benefits of clauses (a), (b), and (c), and have clause (d) enforced against them.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  The position I would have to take with regard to the Deputy's amendment is simply that I object to writing it into the Bill. We are unwilling to bind ourselves by an Act of the Oireachtas in a matter of this kind. It is possible that certain officers, the Taxing Masters, for instance, and the very senior officials will be allowed to have their Treaty rights cease and kept in suspense during their re-employment. But in that matter we consider that every case must stand on its own merits. Many men of more than 15 years' service in the courts have got no promotion so far, and will be only too glad to waive their Treaty rights in view of the abolition of the patronage system which has kept them as junior clerks for possibly 20 to 25 years. I am not simply standing flatly against the principle of the Deputy's amendment, but I am objecting simply to binding ourselves by statute in the matter. Certain very senior officers and people in the position, say, of the present Taxing Masters, might be considered to be entitled to have that concession applied in their cases. But the reactions of any wide application of that would be bad, administratively. I think it ought to be left simply as a discretionary matter as to the extent to which it would be applied.

[586]Dr. HENNESSY: Information on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  Zoom on Dr. Thomas Hennessy  I beg to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I have here another amendment, which reads:—

In sub-section (3) (d), page 17, line 52, to insert the words “to any existing officer of less than fifteen years' service” after the word “Act.”

Here again I am treading in Deputy Dr. Hennessy's footsteps, and I am afraid these footsteps will lead me to the lion's den, because the principle in my amendment is very much the same as the principle in his amendment. The principle is so much the same that the Minister made a speech referring to my amendment on Deputy Dr. Hennessy's amendment when he talks about 15 years' service.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I have the two amendments grouped together.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I want to save the time of the Minister by asking him if he could, on Report, bring in a formula that would re-assure senior officers. I am not enamoured of 15 years or 45 years of age, but I do not want a large number of senior officers going on pension. I do want, if possible, to persuade them to accept service under the new system for the sake of saving a pension, and also for the sake of retaining a certain number of experienced officials, and not starting absolutely fresh with new men or with men whose services have been only in very junior ranks. I would therefore put it to the Minister, if he could give any shadow of an undertaking to meet the apprehensions felt by senior officials, he would be making his Bill a more workable Bill.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I agree thoroughly with the Deputy that we do not want to see a large number of senior officers going on pension. But perhaps the Deputy will agree with me that there is a limit to the concessions that can be expected to be extracted under threat of going on pension. There must be just reason and moderation in everything.

[587]Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  There is always a limit to everything. The question is: where it is to be drawn.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Reading through some of these amendments I almost expected to come on one providing that under the new judicial system no one should speak unkindly of a court officer because he might, unless he got that guarantee, be inclined to rush out under his Article X rights. Now, we must have a little give and take. No one wants to see an exodus of court officials under Article X. Equally, starting the new system, we must be careful to start right and not allow unsound provisions or unsound principles to creep in, and my problem is, on the one hand, to see that officers get every reasonable assurance, in the event of their deciding to come along into the new system, and, on the other hand, that they do not exploit their Article X position to extract unreasonable terms. If the Deputy wishes, I can have another look at his amendment and at Deputy Dr. Hennessy's amendment, with a view to seeing whether it is possible or proper to insert anything to meet the idea underlying these two amendments.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I beg to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

“In page 18, to add at the end of sub-section (3) a new paragraph as follows:—

“(h) if he was first appointed to his office in a temporary capacity under the Court Officers (Temporary Appointments) Act, 1924 (No. 2 of 1924) and was subsequently appointed to the same office in a pensionable capacity, he shall be entitled and shall be deemed to have been entitled immediately before the commencement of this Part of this Act to reckon as continuous service in a pensionable capacity for the purposes of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923, his total period of service in such office from the date of his first appointment thereto in a temporary capacity.”

This amendment ensures that where [588] an officer accepted an appointment under the temporary Act on the understanding that he would subsequently be appointed permanently, he should get credit for the period of his temporary service.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Question—“That Section 52, as amended, stand part of the Bill”—put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:—

Before section 53 to insert a new section as follows:—

“Nothing in this Act shall apply to any person who at the passing of this Act is paid by the council of any county or county borough for rendering services to or in relation to any judge, court, or courthouse, and no such person shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be attached to a judge or court.”

This section is intended to make it clear that people such as courthouse-keepers and county court criers, who are paid by local county councils, are not directly affected by this Bill.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Mr. DUGGAN: Information on Edmund John Duggan  Zoom on Edmund John Duggan  I move:

Before section 53 to insert a new section as follows:—

“(1) Nothing in this Act shall prejudice or affect the control of any judge or justice over the conduct of the business of his court.

(2) When an officer attached to any court is engaged on duties relating to business of that court which is for the time being required by law to be transacted by or before or under or pursuant to the order of a judge or judges of that court he shall observe and obey all directions given to him by such judge or judges.

(3) All proofs and all other documents and papers lodged in or handed in to any court in relation to or in the course of the hearing of any suit or matter shall be held by or at the order and disposal of the judge or the senior of the judges by or before whom such suit or matter is heard.”

This amendment is introduced in order to remove any doubt that might [589] exist as to the independence of the judges in judicial matters.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Section 53 put and agreed to.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  There is a small matter of form to which I would like to draw the attention of the Minister. I would ask him to consider whether it would not be advisable for the purpose of uniformity in our legislation that we should exclude the word “Exchequer” from sections 43 and 46. It has not been usual to use the word “Exchequer” and I think it is unwise to introduce it.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  “Central Fund”?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Yes.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Information on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  Zoom on Kevin Christopher O'Higgins  I think they are technically synonymous, and it might be better simply to keep to the old word. I will see about having an amendment for Report. This Bill, I think, might be taken on Report next Friday week, and in view of the fairly long interval between Second Reading and Committee, and between Committee and Report I will probably have a notice down to take the Fifth Stage on that day also.

Title put and agreed to.

The Dáil went out of Committee.

Bill reported, with amendments.

Report Stage ordered for Friday, May 7th, 1926.


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