In Committee on Finance. - Vote 31—Office of the Minister for Justice.

Wednesday, 14 May 1930

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 34 No. 15

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[1814]Minister for Justice (Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney): Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £26,718 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1931, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Dlí agus Cirt.

That a sum not exceeding £26,718 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1931, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice.

There is very little, I think, I need say on this Vote. It varies very little from the amount of the Vote last year. There is a slight increase in sub-head A. That is due to the ordinary increments of salary for members of the staff. There is for the first time included a sub-head for the Censorship of Publications, in which one official is, at the moment, employed. The provision under sub-head B—Travelling Expenses—has been increased, as it has been considered desirable to carry out an exhaustive inspection and auditing of court accounts. It is thought that this will occupy the greater part of the time of an officer from Headquarters.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  I move: “That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.” I do not propose to go into the matters that have already been fully discussed with regard to the administration of the Department of Justice or the special Department for which the Minister for Justice is responsible. They were dealt with on the Gárda Síochána Vote. I might say in passing that one of the reasons that would actuate one in asking to have this Estimate referred back is the unsatisfactory reply given by the Minister on the Gárda Síochána Vote. We have begun to learn that [1815] no matter how strong a case is made as to irregularities that have occurred they will always be accounted for and explained in the name of law and order. The full estimate for £48,752 seems high. I recognise that, considered in the light of what the Estimate was last year, the increase is reasonably accounted for in the way of increments of salary and the expenses entailed under the Censorship of Publications Act. The arguments we used last year might be as effectively used this year that a much lesser sum should satisfy the requirements of the Department.

Another matter that influences me in moving that this Estimate be referred back is the delay in introducing the Town Tenants Bill. Whatever reason might be put forward for that delay one reason that cannot be put forward with any cogency is shortage of staff. One has only to glance at the number of secretaries, private secretaries, assistants to private secretaries, draftsmen, clerks and typists at the disposal of the Minister to realise that shortage of staff would be no reasonable explanation as to the delay in introducing this Bill. Questions have been asked in the House and representations have been made from outside to the Minister emphasising the urgency of this matter. Time after time the Minister has promised that he would introduce the Bill. I suppose in his reply to this debate he will promise again that in the very near future it will be introduced. Perhaps the Minister will give a definite date for the introduction of the measure. He is aware that urgent representations have been made by people affected by the probable provisions of the Bill. The country has also been promised a Traffic Bill and there is growing uneasiness at the increase in the number of fatal accidents due to a large extent to the want of proper regulations under a Traffic Bill.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  If I may interrupt the Deputy, that is really not a matter for my Department.

[1816]Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Well, whoever is in charge of the Department concerned with that matter should see that something is done immediately. I understood that it was a matter that concerned the Minister, because I saw the urgency of it was emphasised the other day by one of the chiefs of the Gárda Síochána. He gave data as to the number of fatal accidents. It would be within the province of the Minister for Justice to impress on the Minister for Local Government, if he is the party responsible, the necessity for dealing promptly with this important matter of traffic, especially in view of the data given by one of the officials for whom the Minister for Justice is responsible. Considerable dissatisfaction exists with regard to the delay that was experienced in putting the Censorship Bill into operation. When that Bill was before the House it was submitted as an urgent matter, and yet months elapsed before its provisions were enforced. We saw yesterday the first and very limited list of publications banned under the Act. I do not think that that list will satisfy people who have taken a deep interest in this matter. There are many other publications that will need attention from the persons who are responsible for the administration of the Act; indeed, they could have brought many other publications under the ban. They could have prohibited other periodicals and newspapers. There are a large number of periodicals that contain advertisements that are just as repugnant and equally as degrading and debasing as the publications that have already been included in the banned list. Seeing what the Bill intended, and seeing there was a genuine desire to put it into proper operation, it is rather unsatisfactory that better results have not been shown. People were under the impression that once the machinery was established the Act would have been put into operation more effectively and more quickly, and that better results would have been achieved.

I hope that we shall hear from [1817] the Minister when replying what effort he has in mind with a view to dealing with this matter. These are some of the reasons why we desire to refer the Vote back for reconsideration.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  The importance of this Estimate lies in the fact that it is a link between the Estimates from No. 31 to No. 37. We have already dealt with some of the matters concerned, but it is just as well to mention that these Votes when taken together amount to over £2,000,000. When I say that, I include the incidental expenses which occur on other Votes. To criticise a particular Vote it is necessary to have regard to that matter because the amount of money spent on a public department includes such money as has been really spent on its behalf by another Department. It also includes appropriations-in-aid which are generally balanced against the estimates and which are also in the nature of expenditure that comes out of the pockets of the public. As I have said, this Vote is really the centre and head of Votes 31 to 37 which represent a total of £2,000,000 or one-tenth of the aggregate estimated cost for the year of all State services. This particular Vote amounts to £49,752, of which £8,000 represents rates, etc. Although the Vote is a small proportion of the whole, it is, as I have said, the most important part.

We might ask the Minister how he sub-divides the work of his Department. There is the Minister himself, a Secretary at £1,200 a year, an Assistant Secretary at £900, and a Second Assistant Secretary at £832. These, I take it, are the most important officers of the Department. The rest of the Department would subdivide itself under them. It would be interesting to know how the work is sub-divided and how the activities are carried on. It appears to me that some of the work of the Department is neglected while too much time is given to other activities. We do not propose to discuss to-day anything in regard to the civil administration of the Courts, because that is the subject at present of committee [1818] inquiry. We have already dealt with the administration of the Civic Guards, both in detail and by way of political criticism. I would like to make one brief remark in reference to strictly criminal matters and would point out that the methods of criminal investigation are open to criticism. Judges have made comments upon the way in which investigations have taken place. I am sure that the Minister and his Department have noted these matters and that the Minister will be in a position to give us his view as to what changes he proposes to make in his methods of investigation.

In certain cases his methods of investigation have practically broken down. That may be due to the fact that the Department has been trained in a school of criminal investigation which does not suit a country like this, namely, in the American system, which depends for its success on terror rather than detection. It would be far better if the Minister tried some of the methods used in countries other than America and tried to detect crime in other ways than by drawing statements from individuals by means of terror. I do not know whether the Minister has a set of rules or not, but there should be a set of rules in existence by which the conduct of a criminal investigating officer would be guided so that, while carrying out his duties, the rights of the individual would be protected. There is one Vote here dealing with prison matters. I take it that on the present Vote we would not be able to discuss the antiquated system of treating prisoners in this country as compared with the modern and progressive methods adopted in other countries. In sub-head A there is a Vote of £100 for the medical inspection of prisons. That is a matter which should require very great attention. The particular officer mentioned belongs to another Department, but I do not see how an officer could carry out his work in anything but a perfunctory way when he receives only £100 a year for such purpose. I do not say that the total amount of public [1819] money spent in that direction should be increased, but that the officer devoted to that work should be a whole-time officer and should not be paid for any other duties in the Local Government Department.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Whole-time at £100 a year?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I say that he should be a whole-time officer——

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  At £100 a year?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  No, at a reasonable salary, but he should not be doing other work in another Department at such a salary. I think it is one of the duties of the Minister to visit the prisons himself.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  No.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I was under the impression that if it was not a duty it would be a counsel of perfection to ask the Minister to devote a certain amount of time to the condition of the prisons and to the condition of prisoners. It was done under the old régime by people who were in a corresponding position, if one may make an analogy. There is one matter of detail to which I would like to refer, and I would suggest to the Minister that he should direct some members of his investigation department to try and follow up unauthorised and unregistered moneylenders. It would be very valuable at present if he could make investigations in that direction. Such individuals are hard to detect. That is one of the matters which have heretofore been somewhat neglected. The larger sphere of activities of the Minister is not concerned with detail, but with matters of legislation, and that is just where the Minister has an opportunity of showing his personality and individuality. I cannot say that the year's legislation which has been carried through by the Department of Justice has been of very great credit to the Minister. I am not going to deal with that legislation itself, but I merely wish to [1820] emphasise the fact that a certain type of legislation has been neglected, while other legislation was taken up by his Department which could well have been disposed of with less loss of public time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  This is very ingenious, so ingenious as to make it impossible to let it pass. Would the Deputy explain the difference between advocating legislation and discussing proposals for legislation which might have been passed?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  Yes. Take the negative side first. Take Bills which might have been dealt with in this House as Private Members' Bills. Bills which could have been sent to a private committee instead of being dealt with in the House. We could, in that way have been spared the time spent on the Protection of Birds Bill and the Game Preservation Bill, and the time of the House could have been spent in dealing with the Town Tenants Bill

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Surely that is advocating legislation in regard to town tenants?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I do not think so.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I am prepared to allow the Deputy go a certain distance, but I do not propose to accept the principle that a Deputy can review legislation which was passed by the House last year on the initiative of the Minister, and discuss proposals which the Minister might have brought before the House, with a view to finding out what the policy of the Minister is. That would carry us very far.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I bow to the ruling of the Chair, but I suggest that it is a fair thing on this Vote to criticise the conduct of the Minister and the way in which he directs legislation, through the House, the way in which he accepts certain legislation and rejects other kinds.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Minister, in dealing with proposals for legislation, has to defend his attitude, which is open to criticism, on each particular proposal, in the House. Legislation is a matter for [1821] the House. What we are now discussing is how the Minister proposes to expend the money which he is asking for the conduct of his Department and within the law as the Minister finds it.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  When it comes to a question of legislation it becomes a matter of judgement as to which Bill should be picked out rather than another, and as to which is urgent and which is not. I do not propose to enter into the merits of such Bills. I would like, however, to point out, for instance, in the case of the Town Tenants Bill, that the Town Tenants Commission sat from April, 1927, to April, 1928. It was presided over by a judge. It held twenty-two sittings. There were sixty witnesses examined, and these came from forty-five different towns and from Labour and other organisations covering the whole country. Certain findings were arrived at. In May, 1928, a reply was given in answer to a question to the effect that the Government was considering the report. On July 5th the answer was that the Cabinet had made up its mind to bring in legislation, but it had not made up its mind as to the kind of legislation it would bring in. Then again, on October 10th, 1928, a further answer was made to a question saying that the Minister had arrived at no decision and that he could not make any forecast as to when legislation would be brought in. On 27th February, 1929, no promise was given in reference to the Interim Report dealing with the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act, although that Report had been brought in before the other Report. Then, on February 21st, 1929, the Minister, in reply to a question, denied that undue advantage of the partial expiration of the Rent Restrictions Acts had been taken by property owners against town tenants. He said that no final decision was arrived at by the Cabinet on the findings of the Commission, but promised legislation at an early date, and when pressed said that he hoped to bring in a Bill before June, 1929. On March 6th, 1929, Deputy Gerald [1822] Boland asked whether in view of the fact that a number of landlords are forestalling prospective legislation following on the Town Tenants Commission Report by getting decres against their tenants of decontrolled houses, it is the Minister's intention to prevent the effect of this forestalling by including a retrospective clause in the forthcoming proposals for legislation. In substance the Minister replied that he had no information re decrees for possession. He objected to retrospective legislation in the Town Tenants Bill which he said was in the course of preparation. Apparently he objected also as much to prospective legislation as he did to retrospective legislation. On May 8th, 1929——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Now we come to the Estimate.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  The Minister said when pressed on the matter that he had his eye glued on the situation.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  It is stuck still I think.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  And that he could promise nothing and that he could offer no remedy for the tenants. Although houses had been decontrolled in 1927 he could offer no promise even as to the interim report on the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. On 24th October, 1929, the Minister promised or hoped to introduce the Bill before the Christmas recess. On 6th December, in answer to Deputy Seán T. O'Kelly, the Minister finds it not practicable to introduce it and grows vague and fugitive on naming the day. On 19th February, 1930, answering for the Minister, the Minister for Industry and Commerce promised legislation at an early date, but under pressure could not say what the Minister for Justice meant by that, but said this Session certainly. Deputy Boland said before next election. Now I suggest that there is a by-election in Westmeath and Longford, the time is ripe for the Minister to introduce the Bill.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Everybody agrees with that.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  There is a curious paralysis in this particular matter [1823] affecting the Ministry and one wonders what is the reason of it. Is it due to the fact that the landlord class have got such a grip on the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, being able to supply funds to the Party for the election that they find it impossible to bring in legislation to suit ordinary people? The sooner people get to know that their interests and the interests of the Tory classes in this country are as much in antagonism on economic questions to-day as ever they were in the past the better, because they will be able to clear their minds as to the party which stands for healthy legislation in this country and which owing to conditions over which they have no control——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  And which do not concern this Estimate.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I must say that they do concern this Estimate. This particular matter comes under this head, and I think it is a very serious one, and one upon which people, at any rate, will get an opportunity of making up their minds.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I gave the Deputy every latitude. He started by putting a point of order. It began in 1927 and concluded in February, 1930. He has got full opportunity, and has no reason to complain.

Mr. P. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  (Clare): I intend to be very brief, because I think the Department here we are to vote money for is impervious to all argument and reason. I have on several occasions asked the Minister to consider charges and allegations that have been made on a matter of policy concerning members of his Department, and yet although undeniable proofs have been brought forward the Minister has failed to take any action on the matter. The position is, at the moment, that people are beginning to lose faith in the type of protection they are likely to get from the Minister's Department and are inclined to take matters into their own hands when they see that the Minister's Department is not willing or capable of affording them the justice they are anxious to get. [1824] That has been exemplified throughout the country in fines that have been inflicted in the courts, and when we put up cases in which we believe that the evidence is just as strong as the evidence submitted to the court we find that the Minister has failed to take the action to rehabilitate the Guards in the confidence of the people. I think, under the circumstances, it is almost useless to bombard the Minister's Department any further in this matter. He is, as I say, impervious to argument and reason.

I should like, however, to ask whether he has considered the position of those people with whom his Department is concerned, that is, the people who are seeking protection from his Department for some time past. I refer to the town tenants. I wonder whether there is any possibility that those people will be considered in the near future. What has befallen the Department that attention has not been given them? For the last six years measures have been promised in connection with them. Is the inactivity of his Department due to the influence of a number of titled landlords? Whether they are good friends of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party or not I do not pretend to know. The Minister might tell us the reason now why these people are left to suffer hardships which most of the other citizens of the country have been relieved of. Surely he will not say that wild birds are more important than town tenants, and surely he will not think that other measures he has introduced are more important. While I am very much in favour of proper censorship that will prevent publications that are likely to be injurious to the healthy morals of the people of the country, surely he does not pretend to say that the introduction of that Bill was of greater importance than the introduction of a Bill to deal with the town tenants problem. Before I pass from this I would like to tell Deputy Little that he might have read up the Official Reports in a better fashion than he did. He might not have passed over the fact that Labour Deputies asked [1825] questions on this matter as well as Fianna Fáil Deputies. He seems to have neglected to notice that Labour Deputies asked questions.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  He is blind in one eye.

Mr. Hogan:  Another matter concerns proper supervision of motor traffic. I suppose the Minister does not travel much about the streets, but I assure him he should be pretty nimble to avoid the motor traffic. There should be some supervision of a better nature and more consideration given to the pedestrian. He seems to have lost all rights on the streets nowadays. These are a few matters that the Minister might give consideration to. His lack of consideration in connection with them induced me to vote for the referring back of the Vote, but my principal reason for the referring back of the Estimate is because the Minister failed to make an investigation against the officers of his Department. I can conceive nothing so bad, nothing so cowardly as the ill-treatment of people who are helpless in the hands of people who have taken them prisoners. That is why I suggest the Minister, in justification to the men themselves, should make the necessary investigation of the matter.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I do not want to say much about this Department. In the first place, I do not think the Minister worth £100 as against £1,700 down here for him. I do not think he is giving service for it. I do not want to go into the matters that have been dragged out here and for which excuses have been made night after night. Like Deputy Hogan, however, I would like to know when the Minister is going to introduce the Town Tenants Bill. I would like to bear something definite from him about that. Town tenants in my constituency are being fleeced by those landlords who are I presume large contributors to the Cumann na nGaedheal election fund. That is the sole reason I think why the Bill has not been introduced. Their influence is too strong and of course the pheasants are of more importance than the people.

[1826]Mr. Carney: Information on Frank Carney  Zoom on Frank Carney  Or the wild geese.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Or the wild geese. No doubt they are. I would like to hear something definite from the Minister. We have got so many definite statements from him about the date of the Town Tenants Bill that we would like a fresh one from him this time, that it is to be introduced sometime in the near future and not in the Kathleen Mavourneen style.

I notice here that there is a substitute being paid £60 while the film censor is on holidays. That gentleman has £650 and I presume a war bonus and should pay his own substitute while on holidays. I do not think it would be too much to ask him. I would suggest to the Minister that it would be a good job for the House as a whole and even for his own party if he gave £1,500 to a substitute for himself.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I desire, on this Estimate, to draw the Minister's attention once more to the failure of the parties responsible—his Department in particular—to deal with the control of the bus traffic, both in the city and throughout the country. On two occasions at least I asked the Minister for certain figures giving the number of people against whom prosecutions were instituted during certain periods, the number of convictions secured and the amount derived in revenue from the imposition of fines on those convicted. The figures given, as Deputies will remember, were alarming. The position to-day is much worse than it was on the last occasion that I raised this matter in the House. That goes to prove the absolute failure of the Minister's Department, and the officials responsible in his Department for the control of this increasing traffic. I have noticed from time to time—I have often taken cuttings from newspapers— that when owners are prosecuted for overcrowding the fines imposed are merely nominal. I have seen a case recently where the driver of a bus was prosecuted for carrying fourteen passengers in excess of the registered carrying capacity of the bus. He was [1827] fined 5/-. That was a long-distance bus.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The Minister is not responsible for decisions given by District Justices or for fines imposed by them.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  He is responsible for fixing the maximum fine.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  He is not responsible for the amount of a fine imposed by a District Justice. The Minister has no function to answer for the decision of a District Justice.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  He has got to answer in this House for fixing a maximum fine which is the cause of these repeated offences. I desire to refer further to the question of overcrowding. Overcrowding is quite a common occurrence in and around this city and throughout the country. On a recent occasion I was obliged to travel by bus on a Sunday night from Portlaoighisc. That bus left Naas with 26 passengers standing. The driver and conductor were so anxious to secure additional passengers that the conductor got down, invited the people to stand further back and opened an exit door so as to permit further overcrowding. The registered carrying capacity of the bus was 34. I challenged the conductor when he proceeded to carry out this operation of making room for additional passengers. I noticed that there were three persons occupying seats that were only supposed to accommodate two, so that there were far more than 26 in excess of the registered carrying capacity. When I challenged the conductor he told me to mind my own business. I told him that if we were lucky enough to reach the next police station at which there was a stop I would let him see that it was the duty of an ordinary citizen to secure that people's lives would not be endangered. I can give the circumstances of that case. I have already reported it to the proper place, and it shows that the police are not doing their duty in regard to this [1828] matter. Surely, you, A Chinn Comhairle, cannot say that this is not the Minister's responsibility?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  If the Deputy queries me in that way, I might say that the matter should have been raised on the Vote for the Gárda Síochána.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I blame the Minister in this matter because I know cases have been repeatedly referred to his Department by citizens, and that it is his failure, and his failure alone, that has this matter in the chaotic, condition in which it is at the moment. There is another aspect of this question, and I am not quite sure whether the Minister will take responsibility for it or not. These offences are being committed by drivers and conductors under orders given by the owners of the buses. The driver and conductor are prosecuted and fined and the owner is allowed to go scot free. What does the owner do? He deducts the fines imposed by the Justice from the wage earned by the driver and conductor, although he is the individual indirectly responsible for the offence. I want these things to be righted, and until I get an assurance from the Minister that they will be righted—the Minister is the only person responsible—I will refuse to vote for this Estimate.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I have very little to say in reply to the various criticisms which have been passed in the course of the last few speeches. Deputy Ruttledge started off on the question of the Censorship Act. He found fault with the delay in setting up a Board of Censors. The Board of Censors is a Board of five, and it was by no means an easy task to get five gentlemen who would take up this onerous work and, at the same time, work entirely unremunerated. I am glad to say that five gentlemen of ability and standing did finally consent to act. It might have been possible to fill up the Board of Censors with persons who would not make good censors, but I considered it to be my duty to [1829] see that the Board would be manned by persons who would give satisfaction to the people of the country, and I think we have such a Board.

The Deputy went on to find fault with the small number of books which have been censored. The Deputy must recollect, however, that when the Censorship Bill was before the Dáil he and his Party, though it was a non-party vote, voted solidly to weaken this Bill. To begin with, they voted in favour of a Board of nine censors, which would really have meant no Board at all. Again, they voted against the scheme of censorship, embodied in the Bill, in one very material particular. As the Bill stood when introduced——

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  On a point of order. can the Minister go into the merits and details of legislation and discuss what we did on a particular measure without our having any opportunity of putting him right?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I am glad the Deputy is in agreement with me on the question of discussing legislation on Estimates.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I think the Ceann Comhairle will agree with me that I did not go into the details of any particular Act.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It is very inadvisable to go into the details of legislation on Estimates, but I understood that the Minister was dealing with the question of the delay in putting the Censorship Act into operation.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  That is so.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  And the membership of the Board?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  And the number of books censored.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Has the Minister now made his point?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I will confine myself to this: that the original plan was that there should be certain authorised associations which would send in books to the [1830] Board of Censors to be dealt with. The provision as regards these authorised associations was taken out of the Bill, and the result, in fact, has been that persons are not sending in books and papers for the Board to deal with. As far as the question of the Town Tenants Bill is concerned, the town tenants question is divisible into two parts. The first part of it has to do with the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Restrictions Act. I have already said, in answer to a question put to me to-day, that a Bill of that nature, carrying on existing legislation for a certain period, will be introduced probably next Wednesday. I may say, in passing, that many of the answers to which Deputy Little referred in the course of the speech had reference not to the Town Tenants Bill but to the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Restrictions Bill. The House will bear in mind that that Act has been already twice extended within recent years. When I said that a Bill would be brought in in June, 1929, to deal with the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Restrictions, I referred to a thing which was in fact done. The Bill referred to was introduced in June, 1929. On the general question of the Town Tenants Bill, I see no possibility of introducing a Bill in this session owing to the present state of the business of the House.

Deputy Little, saying he would not deal with the Guards, proceeded to deal with them, and so, to a certain extent, did Deputy Hogan. I am satisfied that crimes are investigated correctly and properly by the Guards. The Deputy further stated that there ought to be a permanent medical officer at a reasonable salary inspecting the prisons. That is unnecessary. The doctor—a very able doctor—who is the present inspector, is also inspector for the Department of Local Government. He can do, and does, the work of both Departments perfectly satisfactory. There are two resident doctors in Mountjoy. A doctor visits Portlaoighise every day, and other prisons have also got their medical attendants. The inspector to whom [1831] the Deputy refers need only make a certain number of inspections per year to see that the medical work of the prison is properly carried out. Sometimes he goes there as a special consultant if there happens to be an extra serious case of illness. In addition to that, specialists may occasionally be called in. It would be perfectly unnecessary to have a whole-time medical inspector of prisons.

The Deputy was also kind enough to advise me about visiting prisons. I have not visited all the prisons of the State and I do not think I shall. But I have visited Mountjoy and Portlaoighise prisons. I cannot say that I have visited Cork or the smaller prisons but I am personally aware of the conditions in the prisons.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  What was the charge?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I was merely a visitor. The Deputy is not yet in power. I know what is going to happen to me when that time comes. Deputy Hogan talked about wild birds and town tenants and all that sort of thing. The Deputy seemed to forget that the Wild Birds Act did not emanate from my Department at all. The Wild Birds Bill was introduced in the Seanad and it was passed on from the Seanad to this House. Until it reached this House, I never saw it.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  (Clare): You afforded Government time for it.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  A very short period. Deputy Davin talked about the control of traffic by the Guards and the way in which the Guards allowed an abuse of the bus traffic by overcrowding. There may be cases of overcrowding. I am sure there will be, because many offences of that nature must of necessity pass undetected. The Guards cannot see every bus and I am sure that bus drivers have a fair idea of where they may and may not meet a Guard and, accordingly, take a chance. But I believe that the Guards do [1832] carry out the duty of seeing that buses are not overcrowded. I say that for the reason that I have had complaints from bus owners that the Guards were a great deal too strict about overcrowding.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Would the Minister not agree that it is the duty of the Guards in large towns to stand at the starting point and to see that a bus is not unduly overcrowded when starting?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I think it is the duty of the Guards to see that not only at the starting point but anywhere else—at any stopping place—but, of course, they cannot be there always; it would be impossible for the Guards to inspect every single bus.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  It would not be impossible at Aston Quay.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  The Deputy travelled by one bus and it was overcrowded.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I have seen them several times.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I thought that the occasions on which the Deputy strained his conscience to enter a bus were very rare.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Necessity knows no law.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  As far as fines are concerned, that is a matter for the courts and not for me.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Would the Minister tell us what steps are being taken by his Department to enforce the section of the Censorship Act which deals with the dissemination of birth control propaganda? I believe that it is not necessary in relation to that class of material that the machinery of the Censorship Board should be brought into operation, that the Minister could take direct action, if he thought it necessary. A number of British publications have been circulating weekly in this country in which this birth control propaganda has been, one might say, the principal feature, and no action seems to be taken by the Department. If I might give an instance, a particular [1833] almanac, the existence of which, no doubt, the Minister is aware, and which apparently exists for no other purpose than to advertise these birth control publications, is being circulated throughout the country without the Minister interfering. I would be glad to know what steps it is proposed to take in connection with that.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  There is a special Irish edition of the almanac which the Deputy mentioned which does not contain these advertisements at all. As far as the other things are concerned there were certain papers which came under the notice of my Department as being papers the sale of which might lead to prosecutions. The Department circularised a number of newsagents and informed them that if these papers were sold they might lay themselves open to prosecution, and I think they completely gave up the sale of these papers. I think the Deputy will understand that very often inadvertently a newsagent may sell a certain paper because he gets it in his stock and he may not know what is likely to be in it. There might be an innocent vendor, and it would be rather hard on an occasion to punish an innocent seller of a paper. The best thing was to give newsagents notice that there would be a danger of prosecution, and I think the bulk, if not all, of these papers have been stopped.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I received a copy of the almanac to which the Minister has referred from a constituent through the post this week. He stated that he purchased it in Dublin, and it certainly contained all the objectionable matter to which I referred.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Why does the Deputy not send it to the Board of Censors or to my Department? After all, we really do expect co-operation from the public, and we must get co-operation. I cannot read every book, every paper, and every almanac. We expect co-operation from the public and I hope we will get it.

[1834]Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  Might I refer the Minister to the fact that a certain English Liberal publication is placed in the Library every week, and for the last five or six weeks it has been running as a special feature a number of letters dealing with this matter of birth control?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I am not aware of that.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If the Minister visits the Library he will find it there.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Can the Minister state whether or not the Town Tenants Bill has been planned and prepared for introduction, and could he mention some definite date when it will be introduced?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I will not mention any definite date.

Mr. Ruttledge: Information on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Zoom on Patrick Joseph Ruttledge  Is it drafted?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  It is not completely drafted.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  I understood the Minister to say that the only reason why it has not been introduced is the state of Parliamentary business.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I say that it could not possibly be introduced in this session because there is no time.

Mr. Lemass: Information on Seán F. Lemass  Zoom on Seán F. Lemass  If the Dáil would agree to sit into the month of July to enable that Bill to be passed, would the Minister produce it?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  No.

Mr. Davin: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  And employ an additional draftsman for the purpose.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  Has the Minister any remedy for the advertisement which is now being given by the daily Press to the list of books which have appeared in “Iris Oifigiúil”?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Information on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  Zoom on James Fitzgerald-Kenney  I have not. I agree with the Deputy that it is undesirable. One would not have expected that they would have received such an advertisement in the daily Press, but we cannot stop it.

Question—“That the estimate be referred back for reconsideration”—put.

Aiken, Frank.
Allen, Denis.
Blaney, Neal.
Boland, Patrick.
Bourke, Daniel.
Brady, Seán.
Briscoe, Robert.
Broderick, Henry.
Buckley, Daniel.
Carney, Frank.
Carty, Frank.
Cassidy, Archie J.
Clery, Michael.
Colohan, Hugh.
Cooney, Eamon.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Tadhg.
Davin, William.
Derrig, Thomas.
Doyle, Edward.
Everett, James.
Fahy, Frank.
Flinn, Hugo.
Fogarty, Andrew.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Goulding, John.
Hayes, Seán.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Houlihan, Patrick.
Jordan, Stephen.
Kent, William R.
Kerlin, Frank.
Killilea, Mark.
Kilroy, Michael.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Maguire, Ben.
MacEntee, Seán.
Moore, Séamus.
Morrissey, Daniel.
O'Connell, Thomas J.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
O'Reilly, Matthew.
Powell, Thomas P.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Ryan, James.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
Smith, Patrick.
Tubridy, John.
Walsh, Richard.
Ward, Francis C.

Aird, William P.
Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Blythe, Ernest.
Bourke, Séamus A.
Brennan, Michael.
Brodrick, Seán.
Byrne, John Joseph.
Carey, Edmund.
Cole, John James.
Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
Conlon, Martin.
Connolly, Michael P.
Craig, Sir James.
Daly, John.
Davis, Michael.
Doherty, Eugene.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Egan, Barry M.
Fitzgerald, Desmond.
Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
Gorey, Denis J.
Haslett, Alexander.
Hassett, John J.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hennessy, Thomas.
Hennigan, John.
Henry, Mark.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Holohan, Richard.
Jordan, Michael.
Kelly, Patrick Michael.
Keogh, Myles.
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Lynch, Finian.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
McDonogh, Martin.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGilligan, Patrick.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Mulcahy, Richard.
Murphy, James E.
Myles, James Sproule.
Nally, Martin Michael.
O'Connell, Richard.
O'Connor, Bartholomew.
O'Higgins, Thomas.
O'Hanlon, John F.
O'Leary, Daniel.
O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
O'Reilly, John J.
O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Reynolds, Patrick.
Rice, Vincent.
Roddy, Martin.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
Tierney, Michael.
Vaughan, Daniel.
Wolfe, George.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.

Motion declared lost.

Main question put and declared carried.


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