Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1946—Money Resolution. - Industrial Relations Bill, 1946—Committee Stage.
Tuesday, 16 July 1946
Dáil Éireann Debate
The class of person who would take up this position in a labour court would require to be a person of outstanding ability and such a person might very reasonably display, in fact, would require to display, a certain independence of judgment. I feel that he ought to have a status which would enable him to be free from pressure, and free also from the suspicion that pressure could be applied to him. He ought to be in just the same position as a judge in a court, and in fact in most cases he will be making decisions which will have far greater effect than very many decisions by judges in the courts. I feel that he ought to have the status and the security of a judge, so as to be able calmly and justly to consider the questions coming before him in all their ramifications.
Mr. Lemass: I am not without some sympathy with the point of view expressed by the Deputy, but there are practical considerations to be advanced against the amendment. It is quite true that the person who is to be appointed chairman of the court should be of outstanding ability and integrity, and that he should not be subject to arbitrary removal. At the same time, it will be appreciated that a great deal will depend on the suitability of the person chosen. If we give the chairman and the other members of the court the tenure suggested by the Deputy, it will mean that we will make a permanent choice, and have no power to rectify the position if we find by experience that the choice was not the best. The reason why it is proposed to have the tenure of office for a fixed period of years for the chairman and other members of the court is to permit of the possibility of a change  being made, if the person appointed proved to be not as suitable or as satisfactory as we might hope he would be.
Mr. Lemass: Five years is suggested. The considerations that apply here are somewhat different from those that apply in other courts and, consequently, there is not precisely the same problem arising in selecting an individual to be chairman. The reason why I presume it is regarded as constitutionally desirable that a High Court or any other court judge should not be removed by the Executive is, because judges will have frequently to adjudicate in cases in which the Government as such is an interested party. The Government will not be always interested in the decisions of this court. Its sole concern will be to ensure that the court does function to the satisfaction of the parties using it. It is, therefore, proper to give the Government power to change the chairman of the court, if the position is such, that the individual appointed will in no sense be unsatisfactory, in no sense guilty of conduct that might justify removal, but, nevertheless, proves to be less expeditious or less satisfactory in the management of the business of the court than it was hoped to attain. My feeling about the amendment, when this court has been set up and is functioning satisfactorily for a period of time, and experience has been gained of the problems that will arise in connection with this operation, is that we might then consider a provision of this kind, but in the initial stages, when we are moving more or less in the dark, and not quite clear as to what problems have to be dealt with, it is wiser to provide the court in this way.
Mr. D. Morrissey: I do not agree with the Minister. It is more essential now than later that we should get the most suitable person. I put it to the Minister that if a person whom he considers would be a suitable person, for what I might describe as the keystone position of the whole structure, is  approached, if he has anything like the qualifications required to carry out the duties successfully, he is not the type that is going to take it if he could be displaced at the pleasure of the Minister after five years.
Mr. D. Morrissey: Has the Minister considered that the type of person we are going to appoint to this position will put aside his present position of responsibility and take the risk of taking up one for which the fullest guarantee is a period of five years? At the end of that period, if he was removed, the position of such a man, to say the very least of it, might be very straitened. He might not be able to resume his ordinary occupation. What I am afraid of is that, unless the Minister goes as far as he possibly can, to convey to the person whom he wishes to get, that he will be secure, and will not be taking a risk in accepting the position, we are not going to get the best man. We may get people who are prepared to take the risk, but it is unlikely that the best type of person will be got. There is a definite risk. The Minister may say that provided the chairman does his duty fairly, impartially and in a conscientious way there is no fear. That does not follow. This is going to be a very difficult and ticklish job, and the occupant will not only have to satisfy the Minister but many other people as well.
Mr. Lemass: He will have to satisfy the people who go to this court. I do not think the Deputy is paying sufficient attention to the fact that there is a fundamental difference between this court and the High Court and ordinary courts. They must be used. There is no other machinery that people can avail of to get judicial determination between themselves and others. This court does not function in that way. We could not take the risk of having to appoint for the rest of his life some person who did not prove  satisfactory, or whose presence in the court might mean that it would not be used by the parties.
Mr. D. Morrissey: The Minister says that the ordinary courts have to be used, and that this court need not necessarily be used. It is because we want to see it used to the fullest possible extent—which I am sure the Minister desires—that we should do all we can to attract to the position of chairman the best person we can get. The first thing that any person looks for in a position is security. While a man may be very anxious to take up a particular position, and may be prepared to take a risk, he may not consider it fair to those dependent upon him to take that risk. I am suggesting to the Minister, that there is a danger that the best type of person will not accept the Minister's invitation to fill the position unless he can be given more than five years' security of tenure. That is the point I am making. I make it in order that this machinery, when it becomes the law of the land, will be in the hands of the person best suited to deal with it. I suggest when a person is offered any position the main attraction is security of tenure. I am not blind to the Minister's objection, but I believe that the other objection that I mentioned is far greater than the one mentioned by him. Unless we get a really first-class man as chairman of this court, I am afraid it will not be made more easy or more attractive for the parties concerned to take advantage of the machinery that is being set up.
Mr. Norton: I have every sympathy with Deputy Dockrell's proposal inasmuch as he wants to ensure that the chairman of the industrial court will be a person altogether above the control of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Deputy Dockrell seeks to endow the chairman of the board with an independence as closely akin as possible to that possessed by a High Court judge in the capacity in which he holds office. While sympathising with that idea, I see certain inherent difficulties in implementing it, inasmuch as it is quite conceivable that one might be caught on the wrong foot  subsequent to the making of the appointment. It is possible that one might appoint a person as chairman of this court believing that such person was the repository of every virtue; six to 12 months' experience of him as chairman might indicate that he was a most unsuitable man and that one's earlier decision in appointing him was an exceedingly unwise one. It would be a great pity if one were tied to that mistake for four or five years or, worse still, if one accepted Deputy Dockrell's amendment one would find oneself anchored to that chairman for the rest of the court's life. Those are real difficulties inherent in the situation. Deputy Dockrell wants a chairman who will hold the position almost in perpetuity, or until such time as senile decay sets in, when he will have to be removed.
The Minister says the difficulty about doing that is that if one puts in a gentleman who does not run true to form, there will be no means of removing him from office. Sensible people have to try to find a balance between these two points of view. I think probably an even balance could be got by endeavouring to find a chairman who will command respect by our obtaining now from the Minister an assurance, in the form of an undertaking to this House, that an effort will be made to get the most suitable person to function as chairman of this industrial court; that, when he is appointed, there will be no nagging either on the part of the Minister for Industry and Commerce (I am not saying this now in any personal way, because it may be some other Minister for Industry and Commerce) or the Department, and that he will not be obliged, in coming to a decision, to inquire either from the Department or in his own mind what view the Minister or the Department has on some particular decision at which he has to arrive at.
I want, therefore, to ask the Minister a few questions in this connection. I would like to know what kind of person the Minister has in mind for this appointment. I hope that it is not intended to put into this office any  kind of politician, who is engaged in, or has recently been engaged in, the cut and thrust of Party politics or debate in this House, or who, because of his political affiliations, would be more responsible to the Minister than another person possessed of a greater degree of independence. I trust that political considerations will be completely eschewed in the appointment of the chairman of this industrial court. Again, is it intended to second a civil servant to the chairmanship of this court? If it is so intended, is it contemplated that such civil servant, so seconded, will cut the painter completely with the Civil Service and function independently as chairman of this industrial court? Or is it contemplated that, if so appointed, for, say, a period of five years, he will at the end of that time have the right to revert to his former rank in the Civil Service; if that is so, then he must, during his period of office, always have before his mind the fact that he will so revert under the control of the Minister and he must keep before his mind what the Minister may think of him as chairman of this industrial court. If that is done, I think the Minister will be committing a fatal mistake at the very outset.
Under this section we are entitled to ask the Minister what exactly he has in mind. I frankly want to have a person of good standing in the community, a person with a breadth of vision, a person of understanding. I do not want a person who has spent up to this a considerable amount of his time in starchy exploits which necessarily give an element of somewhat artificial dignity and pseudo-competence, quite hopeless from the point of view of settling such disputes as are likely to come before this court. I want a common-sense man of ability, possessed of a high degree of honour, integrity and rectitude and one who can be relied upon to view things with a broad vision and bring his ability and knowledge to bear in the settlement of disputes which will come before this court. If we are successful in finding a person of that type we shall probably do more to ensure the efficient operation of this court than by giving a person a particular type of tenure  under this Bill. I would like, therefore, to get from the Minister an assurance that he has in mind the appointment of a person who fulfils all the qualifications I have indicated.
As far as the Minister is concerned in this appointment, I hope that he will do all in his power to throw the chairman of this court as far as possible away from any vestige of his control, and that such a chairman will be appointed on the definite understanding that he has no responsibility to the Minister, and that he is neither going to be nagged at nor asked to justify to the Department, the Minister, or anybody else any awards he makes in his capacity as chairman of this industrial court. I think the more independence the chairman has the better it will be for the efficient operation of the court.
I trust, therefore, that the Minister will indicate to the House the type of person he has in mind, first of all, and, secondly, that such a person will have all the independence in the exercise of his powers as that possessed by a judge of the High Court; and that he will in no sense be responsible to the Minister or the Department. If we can get such an assurance, I think we shall have got from the Minister probably more than even the insertion in this Bill of a definite tenure of office, which could very easily be impaired by the appointment of a person who would be little more than a rubber stamp for the Minister, or too anxious to please either the Minister or the Department because there would be before his mind the possibility of a further tenure of office at the end of his particular period.
Mr. M.E. Dockrell: I agree with what Deputy Norton has said. I think the difficulty is that if the Minister has power to retire the chairman it is inevitable that under such power he will have a large measure of control over the deliberations of the chairman and that might not be quite desirable.
Mr. Anthony: In an endeavour to strike the balance indicated by Deputy Norton a moment ago, I would suggest to the Minister that he should  leave the selection of the chairman of the court to, say, the Chief Justice and that the Chief Justice should be allowed to delegate these powers to some judge of the High Court. There is the temptation that the Minister may react to pressure—by the Government, for instance—to appoint some political henchman who would not have the confidence of either employers or employees. They are after all the people who are directly interested in this measure. Then, too, we know that in all Parliaments there are usually to be found a number of lawyers “on the make”. Any such lawyer who might be appointed might endeavour to do his utmost to please the Minister or the Government in arriving at his decisions. That temptation is always present. We know that from past history, not alone here in this House but on the other side of the Channel also. That type of practice leads to corruption in public life. I think the Minister should make some attempt to meet the point put by Deputy Dockrell and supported—to to some extent, but not wholly— by Deputy Norton. After all, the Chief Justice would be above suspicion, and I am quite certain that none of our judges would come under the control of the Minister in any way or would not have complete independence if he were appointed. I think some person of such calibre and position should be appointed.
Mr. Lemass: I do not think that suggestion is a good one. I cannot imagine any circumstances under which the Chief Justice would be so closely in touch with the problems with which this court would be called upon to deal that he would be empowered necessarily to make a better selection than the person who, for the time being, is Minister for Industry and Commerce. It is quite obvious that Deputy Norton has given us an ideal description of the chairman of this court. I hope that we shall get a person who will conform to that description in all respects. I certainly accept his point of view that a person who had been actively engaged in Party politics would be a most undesirable appointment but I would not  go to the full extent of debarring from consideration altogether a person who had experience in the Civil Service. I have not now the appointment of a civil servant in mind but I should not like to say anything that would preclude for all time from consideration the possibility of a person with Civil Service experience being appointed. I think we have got to get a person who possesses a considerable amount of practical experience of the problems that are likely to come before the courts. I have no doubt we shall be able to get such a person.
As the Bill stands, it is quite clear that the chairman is in no way responsible to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the decisions of the court. Neither has he to seek his approval for these decisions nor is the Minister given power to interfere. The Minister will not ordinarily be concerned with the decisions of the court. I can see circumstances in which he might be concerned with the expedition with which the court disposed of its business, with the adequacy of its staff or with the suitability of its conciliation machinery but not with the actual decisions of the court. I think the independence of the court is such as to satisfy any fears which Deputy Norton may have on that score.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: Would the Minister refer to the terms of office of the chairman? The period of office of ordinary members is five years but there are no such terms for the chairman. Does the Minister consider it necessary to have a specified period of office for the chairman?
Mr. Lemass: I had a five year period in mind but the Deputy will appreciate that whatever we may do during the initial stages will not necessarily be the practice subsequently. Our job is to get the court established, to get confidence in the court created and to get the public educated in the functioning of the court. Once that is done, we can consider procedure but I should not like to tie myself up at the beginning to something which might prove to be an irretrievable mistake which would  destroy the value of the court entirely. At a later stage, after the court has become an instrument of administration and when everybody has become used to its existence, I agree that we can make longer term provisions for its members.
Mr. Lemass: It could conceivably be shorter, but it is unlikely to be so. A lot will depend on the present position of the individual who will be invited to act. He might not be willing to take an appointment for a longer period. Then he may be unwilling to take the appointment unless he is assured of a longer term of office than I have mentioned.
Mr. H.M. Dockrell: I should like to ask the Minister to think over the matter between now and the Report Stage. He has paid me the compliment of saying that he has a good deal of sympathy with my amendment and my point of view. I would have a good deal of sympathy with the Minister's point of view, but I feel it is just a question of whether he can provide anything further in the way of security of tenure—without, to speak bluntly, tying himself to a “dud”. Of course, we all know that people who discharged other duties quite brilliantly may fail in duties that look very analogous to those of their former office. There might be a real risk in making an appointment and, as the Minister says, of being tied to a person for life. He should, however, remember that the first few years of the court's existence will be the worst. If this court establishes its reputation in the early years of its existence, unless some extraordinary state of circumstances comes about, it will be easier and simpler for it to function. It will have adopted a certain procedure and the people associated with it will have gained experience. But once the Minister has made an appointment, if the first chairman of the court is a failure,  the court will be a failure, I am afraid for all time. Therefore, I should like to suggest to the Minister that he might think over the matter between now and the Report Stage.
Mr. Lemass: It is not merely a question of the chairman being a “dud”. It is a question of the confidence he inspires in all parties. If either of the parties were to make the case that the chairman was prejudiced against them, that would be a matter for consideration, but that has nothing to do with this Bill.
I feel, looking through the provisions of the Bill and considering the work which this court will have to accomplish, that a barrister or a solicitor of five years' standing should be appointed chairman. I have read the speech delivered by the Minister in moving the Second Stage and also his speech  at the conclusion of the debate on that stage, but all through these speeches I have failed to discover any indication as to the qualities or the qualifications that should be possessed by the person appointed chairman. I quite agree that the chairman, if he is to be a success, should have practical knowledge of the matters that will come before the court. I am also aware that practical experience plus theoretical knowledge make a very happy combination. Whilst it may be argued, as I think it was argued by Deputy Larkin on the Second Reading, that what is required is a man of common sense, and of practical ability, we also want somebody who will act as guide, not alone in defining procedure but also to the other members of the court in coming to a proper decision on the matters that will be submitted to them.
I would also remind those who pin their faith to the chairman having practical knowledge, that even in the ranks of the Labour Party, when they are adopting rules and regulations— which are merely matters of common sense—they always take the precaution to submit them, before committing the rules to print, not to a solicitor or barrister with five years' standing but to the best legal mind that can be procured. That being so, I am strongly of the opinion that, if this court is to command the confidence which it should command from its very initiation, the chairman should be a man who would have, in addition to a practical knowledge of the matters that would come under discussion and review, legal training.
This court may be a simple thing up to a point. The wording of the section is in very plain language, but the other sections consequential on this section are very important. For instance, you have a registrar and officials. Then there is another section dealing with the position where no two members of the court can agree and the chairman himself will, perforce, have to come to a decision on his own responsibility. In a case of that kind, there is a little more needed than practical ability and common sense—one needs a knowledge  of the law as well. If those who will attend this court and will have occasion to submit matters for determination have not confidence at the very outset, that will go a long way to destroy the work which the court is being set up to perform.
Therefore, it is no argument to say that lawyers do not sometimes bear a good name and the less lawyers we have the better. They are a necessary evil and we cannot do without the law. The Minister knows that some of the Acts already passed, even after having the best legal opinion, are found wanting when submitted to the Supreme Court. I feel, as one with very long experience of the matters that would come for determination before this court, so far as the claims of the working classes are concerned, that the chairman should have legal training, plus a practical knowledge, so far as is humanly possible, of the matters that would come for determination and I respectfully submit the amendment for the Minister's consideration.
Mr. Norton: Deputy Coburn really has said nothing to the House which ought to commend this amendment. Personally, I am opposed to it for reasons which I think would be found convincing. I have no doubt in the world that barristers and solicitors are very estimable citizens and I do not want to animadvert on their qualifications as a vocation or on their merits as individual citizens; but Deputy Coburn says that the only person you can trust to be chairman of an industrial court, out of our 3,000,000 population, must be selected from barristers or solicitors of five years' standing. I do not know the most vocationally proud barrister or solicitor who would claim for his profession that it was the only profession from which you would get a suitable chairman for this industrial court. Frankly, I do not believe it is. I do not think the chairmanship of this court will involve any knowledge of law at all.
The main qualifications that would appear to be necessary are that he would be a shrewd gentleman, that he would have ability and understanding,  that he would know men and affairs, that he would have the sagacity for bridging over difficulties. Nothing that Deputy Coburn has said has indicated to me that barristers and solicitors necessarily have any special sagacity for bridging over difficulties which might arise, for instance, out of a dispute in the docks or in a quarry, in a cotton mill or coal mine, in a dispute about the staff employed in a shirt company or an air liner, which are all matters which would come before this court. Deputy Coburn's amendment would, in effect, say to every citizen: “You are a good citizen—I do not question that—but when it comes to appointing a chairman of an industrial court, the only people worthy of consideration are barristers and lawyers of five years' standing.
I do not think a barristers or solicitor with six years' experience is necessarily a suitable person for this court, nor do I think a person with four years' experience is necessarily unsuitable, but Deputy Coburn says, by implication, that the person with six is all right and the person with four is all wrong; he says by implication that, no matter what other vocations there are in the country from which one might pick a chairman, you will go wrong unless you find your chairman from amongest the lawyers. I do not see why other citizens should not be qualified. The Bill empowers the Minister to pick a barrister or solicitor, if he is so disposed, not because of his qualifications but because of the fact that he has the necessary qualifications to ensure the proper working of this court. In not placing any premium on the legal profession in this respect, the Minister has acted wisely.
That brings us back to the question as to who will make the best chairman. I do not think that is a test which can be judged by a person's vocation. The most brilliant doctor, from the medical point of view, the most competent judge on the bench or the most competent man at the Bar, may not necessarily be the most suitable chairman. In a case like this, one must try to find out what one person has most of the qualifications necessary  to ensure the smooth operation of this industrial court. The Minister has put the obligation on himself to find that person and appoint him. He has a choice at the moment from every citizen in the country who is within certain adult categories. Deputy Coburn says that the choice is far too wide and that the selection should be made from the narrow vocation of the legal profession. I do not think it is a wise amendment. It would be better to let the Minister exercise his choice from all citizens who have the necessary qualifications. Under Deputy Coburn's amendment, presumably, if he finds a citizen who seems to have all the qualifications necessary to make him an ideal chairman, he would have to pass over him if he were not a solicitor or barrister of five years' standing. That would be a pity. The person who is selected should be the one who is found to have the qualifications irrespective of whether he is a solicitor, a barrister, a judge or something else. It is not important what his vocation is, so long as he has got the qualifications and the right type of brains to make this work a success.
Mr. Lemass: I informed the council of the Bar of Ireland that I would not oppose this amendment if there was agreement in favour of it. It is quite obvious that there is not agreement. That agreement is absent not only in the Dáil, as I found that an organisation of workers' unions was equally opposed to the amendment. In the circumstances, I think the proposal should be dropped.
Mr. Lemass: What I told the council of the Incorporated Law Society was that I would not oppose the amendment if the House wanted it. It is  quite obvious that not merely everybody else does not want it but is opposed to it.
Mr. Coburn: Deputy Norton's argument was that there was absolutely nothing in the amendment, not even a measure of commonsense, but the Minister's admission here to the House proves that the Minister himself was convinced that it would be a good thing.
Mr. Coburn: Yet the Minister would allow it to pass if the House were unanimous. Deputy Norton states that, by making the chairman a barrister or a lawyer of five years' standing, you are cutting out everything else and ignoring all other vocations. I do not intend and never intended to base my argument on that assumption. The court, by reason of the work which it will have to do and the decisions which it must necessarily arrive at, will, to say the least of it, have to deal with very important matters. These matters will affect not only the parties actively interested in the findings of the tribunal but the general body of the citizens. Therefore, I think that great care should be taken by the Minister in so far as the constitution of this court is concerned. We must all admit that all other sections of the Bill will revolve about this one. The composition of the court is really the pivotal point so far as this Bill is concerned. The Minister himself attaches so much importance to it that he has even brought in an amendment to enlarge the size of the court from three to five. No matter what Deputies may say, this court is going to be called upon to perform duties of a quasijudicial nature. It should not be impossible for the Minister to appoint a chairman who, even though he may be a barrister or a solicitor of five years'  standing, will have practical knowledge of the matters that will come before the court.
I would remind Deputies Norton and the members of the Labour Party that when it comes to a question of law—of examining the rights of different unions and their relations with one another— the duty of a lawyer is to interpret everything in court in order to be able to win his case. The lawyer will make his case to the court on the brief that is submitted to him. That is part of his professional duty. That does not necessarily mean that a lawyer must have, so to speak, served his time in some particular union in order to have practical knowledge of the matters that affect the ordinary day-to-day lives of the workers in the particular area in which he resides. After all, he is a human being himself, and it is part of his job to understand those matters. Therefore, I think the Minister should see to it that the man who is appointed chairman will be a barrister or solicitor of five years' standing. I am not wedded to five years or to four years, and Deputy Norton knows that well. I am wedded to this, that the person appointed should be a man of legal training and should have that practical knowledge of which I speak. It should not be too difficult to get a man with those qualifications, and that is the type of man who will be required to give a proper decision on the many matters which will be submitted to the court.
May I say, with all respect to Deputy Norton, that I think he would be one of the first to object to anybody encroaching on the Labour world and taking up a job that was not within his bailiwick? This is a sort of judicial position, and I think the legal profession would be quite entitled to claim that a member of that profession should be chairman of this court. I would like to know how Deputy Norton would feel if, say, a solicitor were to take up a job as an artisan or tradesman. I think there would soon be a great deal of trouble. In view of the very peculiar constitution of this court, and the fact that it will have to take very grave decisions, I think that the Minister would be wise if he  himself were to accept responsibility for falling in with the suggestions made by the Incorporated Law Society. I had no knowledge that the Minister had consulted the society until he informed the House of that to-day. I understand that the Minister is prepared, if there is general agreement in the House, to fall in with the suggestions put to him by the members of the legal profession in the appointment of the chairman.
Mr. Keyes: The Deputy's last contribution has been, I think, less convincing than his first. He appears to be claiming the right that the chairman of the court should be a member of the legal profession. I think, if that suggestion were adopted, it would not contribute very much in the way of facilitating trade unionists who will be mainly concerned with the operation of this measure. Before ever this type of emergency legislation was introduced, trade unionists had very wide experience in carrying through negotiations on behalf of their members. This Bill is really only something that replaces the emergency legislation which we have had. In my opinion, trade unionists would be very slow to admit that they have not the right to negotiate and to conduct business on behalf of the workers. It would take a lot to convince them that a legal man could do better than they can do it. I endorse what the Minister has said. It would be a most unpopular thing to attempt to appoint a legal man as chairman of this court. It will be necessary, of course, to have legal guidance for the court. I suggest that it can be given by the registrar. We do not want to have a legal man in the saddle, we want a lay man. The experience of trade unionists, so far as this type of tribunal is concerned, is that much more satisfactory results are obtained when those who are called upon to adjudicate are drawn from the rank and file of the world—from those with an industrial experience—than from those who approach questions from the legal angle. What one expects to get from a court of this sort are commonsense settlements. You do not want legal people for that. A legal man would not be acceptable to either  of the congresses. We hope and believe that it will be possible to get a suitable lay person as chairman. He will have the assistance of representatives of employers and workers. There is no reason why the chairman should be a legal man. The registrar will be there to keep the court within the law. I hope that the Minister will not be swayed by the arguments of Deputy Coburn to appoint a legal man as chairman.
Mr. Cogan: I think that on reconsideration Deputy Coburn ought to withdraw this amendment. No useful purpose can be served by narrowing down the field of selection. The attitude of the Minister should be to select the ablest and the best man that he possibly can get within the State. It would be unwise to confine selection to one vocation. Even suppose that the chairman should be selected from one vocation, I would be inclined to say that the legal profession should not be the first vocation from which to make a selection. I think that practically any other vocation would possibly provide a better chairman. The Minister might confine himself to farmers, who have experience in negotiating agreements at fairs, or to cattle dealers, who have experience of negotiating agreements, or to businessmen, who frequently negotiate contracts and agreements. These men would have wider experience in dealing with human affairs than would members of the legal profession. Members of the legal profession are not skilled in bringing about settlements. Their whole training is against that. Their whole training tends to direct people who are in difficulties or have disputes towards the courts and to prevent their reaching easy agreements. In these circumstances, a member of the legal profession would not be the best man to preside over a court of this kind. I should not rule out the Civil Service. You might get a very good chairman from the Civil Service or from the teaching profession or from professors of economics. The choice should be unlimited and unrestricted.
(a) the Minister shall, in respect of each workers' member, designate an organisation representative of trade unions of workers to nominate a person for appointment and, in respect of each employers' member, designate an organisation representative of employers to nominate a person for appointment;
(b) no person shall be appointed to be an ordinary member except on the nomination of the appropriate designated organisation but the Minister may, if he thinks proper, decline to appoint any person so nominated and call for a further nomination.
This amendment relates back to amendment No. 13, which we discussed on Friday. The Committee will remember that, in the discussion of amendment No. 13, we touched upon problems that may arise in establishing the proposed labour court because of the present position in the trades union movement in Ireland. Since the Dáil met on Friday, I have had discussions, in which Deputy Norton was a very useful collaborator, as a result of which I have sent invitations to both of the trades union congresses to participate in a joint conference under my chairmanship to examine the possibility of finding a basis for agreement on the issues in dispute between them. These invitations have been accepted by both of the congresses. I know that all trade unionists and all who are concerned with the prestige and strength of the Irish trades union movement will hope that the conference will be successful in finding a method of removing the causes of dissension and in making possible the re-establishment of one central authority for Irish trades unionism. I can promise, for my part, to do my utmost to help in producing that result. It is my hope also that, as a  result of agreement at the proposed conference, or of the emergence of a basis for agreement to be completed later, it will be possible to get agreed nominations of workers' members of the labour court. I propose, however, to provide for the possibility of two trade union congresses still existing when the court is being first established by introducing an amendment on Report on the following lines. I may say that this draft has been prepared by myself and is not the production of the Parliamentary draftsman.
Deputies will remember that the amendment which I am now proposing provides for the appointment, as workers' members, of persons nominated by an organisation of trade unions. The amendment I shall produce on Report will provide that, if the Minister is of opinion that, owing to the existence of more than one organisation representative of trade unions, it is not desirable that the workers' members of the court should be appointed in accordance with the provisions of amendment No. 16, he may, by Order, provide for another procedure. I propose to draft an amendment to require the Minister to bring the other procedure into operation by Order, because, under a section of the Bill, any such Order can be debated in the Dáil and may be annulled by the Dáil. The procedure which would be alternative to that provided for in amendment No. 16 would be intended to be only a temporary device to be used if the present position continues and would provide (1) for an invitation by the Minister to organisations of trade unions or individual trade unions to submit names of members considered suitable for appointment; (2) the appointment of two members by the Minister from the persons whose names are submitted to him; and (3) a provision that those members will hold office for the five-year period prescribed in the Bill, or until the Order referred to is revoked, whichever is the lesser period, so that it will be understood that the appointment of workers' members in accordance with this alternative procedure will be only a temporary measure intended to terminate if a situation arises in which there is  one congress of unions such as we desire. On the termination of this procedure, the workers' representatives would be appointed on the nomination of the congress, as I propose in amendment No. 16.
Mr. Norton: Members of the House, and trade unionists generally, no matter to what unions they belong, will extend very sincere good wishes to the Minister in the efforts he is now about to make to bring about a settlement of the unfortunate dispute that at present exists between the two trades union congresses. For my part, I hope his efforts will be crowned with success. If he succeeds in bringing about unification of the two congresses, he will be entitled not only to the gratitude of the congresses but of every trade unionist in Ireland, who, no matter what the issues at stake may be, or are alleged to be, is, nevertheless, sincerely desirous of getting back to the position in which this element of disunity will be eliminated and the congress permitted to occupy its rightful place as the vocational organisation of the workers within the State. I think that both sides to this dispute must recognise that they owe a paramount obligation to the trade unionists of the country and no sense of punctilio or artificial dignity ought to be allowed to impede a settlement of this dispute. If the trade union movement is ever to attain the status to which its membership and economic power entitle it, it can do so only by displaying to the public that sense of wide appreciation of economic and national issues which it is essential every national movement should manifest.
The trade union movement has got to recognise that, although it was born in a condition of affairs in which it was an outlaw organisation, it has long since travelled from the days of being an outlaw organisation. To-day, in this country and other countries throughout the world, the trade union movement is recognised as an integral part of national economy. It has been consulted here and elsewhere by Governments anxious to evolve an economic, industrial and social policy in tune with the aspirations of various States. It is  now in a position in which it represents an element of national life at international congresses throughout the world and it is realised more than ever by Governments and by employers that the trade union movement represents a vital force in the national life of every progressive country.
If the movement is to maintain that status, or to attain it where it has not yet done so, it can only do so, in my view, by recognising its responsibilities, by showing it appreciates these responsibilities, and by claiming for itself an undeniable share in the national management of these matters in which the trade union movement, because of its vocational character, is entitled to claim a part. I trust, therefore, that considerations of that kind will have a morally coercive effect on the discussions which are now to take place under the Minister's chairmanship and I hope that both sides, in the interests of the movement and in the interests of the men and women who comprise it, will make a genuine effort to effect a settlement of the dispute which, in my view, has gone on too long.
Personally, I appreciate the sentiments which the Minister has expressed and I think I interpret the ideas which he has in mind correctly. There is just one point on which I should like some little clarification. The Minister says he hopes that this conference will lead to the evolution of a united trade union congress and, if that takes place speedily, then that reunified congress can make the nomination for this industrial court from the workers' side; but that if the conference over which the Minister is to preside has not produced that result in sufficient time for a united congress to make the nomination, then it may be necessary for the Minister, by Order, to take power that both congresses shall submit nominations to him, or that trade unions generally may submit nominations to him, and from the nominations so submitted he will make selections for the court.
The very fact of presiding over a conference representative of both sides is a clear indication that the Minister realises that there is a problem to be  solved, that there are two different groups at present pursuing separate paths. I take it, therefore, that the Minister's desire is to see, if he can, a reunited movement make the two nominations, in which case all difficulties disappear; and the second device, to incorporate in the Bill a provision by which the Minister may make an Order to receive nominations from below, from the two congresses or from trade unions in the country, is one to enable him to make a selection of two persons to represent the workers on the court.
I take it that it is implied in what the Minister said that the idea is to be able to get a representative of both sides, if it is not possible at this stage to reunite the congresses, in the hope that in that way it will be possible to afford representation to both sides without any formal declaration of that fact in the Bill until such time as the reunification takes place. In other words, instead of definitely declaring that each shall be entitled to a representative, the Minister's desire is, by taking power to do certain things by Order, to arrange things in such a way that both elements will have representation on the court until they have sense enough to come together again and as a united body make the nomination of both members. Am I right in that interpretation of what the Minister said?
Mr. Lemass: If the effort of this conference to have agreement produces a single organisation, then there is no problem. That organisation will nominate the members and, once they nominate, they will be appointed. If the effort is not successful, or may prove to be protracted, then I would hope to get some interim agreement covering the appointment of these members, either an agreement as to named persons or as to the procedure for selection. If there is no such agreement, I would adopt the procedure in the amendment which I will propose. My aim would not be to appoint representatives of both sides, but to appoint persons who would be acceptable to both sides. The Deputy will understand that there is a slight distinction. I  would not be thinking so much of the representatives as of persons who would be regarded as acceptable and as to whom I should hope to get agreement.
Mr. Norton: The fact that they might be regarded by others as representative of both sides would not preclude them; it is not as representatives that the Minister would choose them, but because of their suitability and acceptability for membership.
Mr. Everett: I do not want to let that go without some protest. I share Deputy Norton's view, but I am not so optimistic that there will be a settlement, even under the chairmanship of the Minister. Deputy Norton suggested, and I agree with him, that the movement should retain its natural status. One would imagine from the statements made by the representatives of English unions that it was the Congress of Irish Trade Unions and their representatives that created this disunity.
Mr. Coburn: On a point of order. Is this Bill brought in for the express purpose of trying to settle the dispute between the two rival congresses, or in the general interests of the people of the country?
Mr. Coburn: I want to know where we stand. The whole thing seems to me to be getting more confused. I want to know if Deputy Everett can discuss this question in regard to the reasons why there is a split between these two rival congresses? I want to know is that relevant?
Mr. Everett: I am dealing with the industrial court. The Congress of Irish Trade Unions represents 80,000 industrial workers and the Trade Union Congress represents 40,000, of which 20,000 are controlled by British unions, and the other 20,000 are in Irish unions, two of which do not come under this Bill. Therefore, I suggest that when you are talking about representation, the representation must come from the representatives of the majority of the industrial workers. The Congress of Irish Trade Unions put up four points to the Trade Union Congress and I am sure that Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy Dockrell——
Mr. Everett: I am not going into the merits of the different unions. There were certain fundamental questions. The first was, were Irishmen fit and proper to control Irish unions and their executives? The Minister now wants to give representation to an executive which has eight representatives of British unions. There were ten representatives of British  unions out of 15, and eight of the representatives of those English unions are whole-time officials. You have only five representatives of Irish unions on the Irish Trade Union Congress.
Mr. Everett: The Minister wants to give representation to a congress that will not represent our industrial workers. I am trying to prove to the Minister that the congress to which he is going to give representation, represents only 20,000 workers, and two unions are not represented.
Mr. Everett: I will ask the House carefully to consider this amendment. We all hope for unity, but not at this expense. No matter what Deputy Anthony or anybody else says, I can see that the Minister will be in the same position next week as he is in to-day unless, as a result of some conference which Deputy Norton and Deputy Keyes had last week, some secret conference, there was agreement on certain terms which were not published.
Mr. Norton: Deputy Everett will not be allowed, while I am alive and in this House, to get away with any innuendo of that kind. He talks about Deputy Keyes and me attending a secret conference last week. Obviously that is a reflection on me and on Deputy Keyes, judging by the way in which Deputy Everett used the word. Deputy Everett will not get away with that and he ought to be man enough to withdraw the remark when he knows he is not telling the truth. It is not true.
Mr. Lemass: May I intervene? I have extended this invitation to the joint congresses. Both have accepted and it is undesirable that the prospects of success at the conference should be prejudiced by a premature discussion of the issues.
Mr. Everett: The suggestion was that you went to discuss this question of unity at a secret conference. The Deputy now states there was not a secret conference. The Minister has made a statement to the effect that he is bringing the parties together with a view to settling their differences. I am entitled to point out that if the Minister gets the approval of the House for this amendment, it may have the effect of giving representation to men who do not represent the Irish workers, those engaged in industry. Deputy Norton suggests he was not present at a conference to discuss this question.
Mr. Everett: Amendment No. 16 would give undue representation to organisations that have not the right  to represent the industrial workers of Ireland. I am suggesting that as a result of last week's conference of the trade union congress there were ten British representatives appointed to the executive on which you are asked to put representatives of the Irish workers. There were five representatives left representing the Irish unions. God knows there has been enough trouble in this country trying to secure independence. You find the president of that congress stating that the price asked was too high. Will the price be lower to-morrow? Let me point out to the Minister that it will not be lower than the price asked a month ago. You were asked the one question, did the Irish workers want to be controlled by Irishmen and an Irish executive? We are told by the man who told us that this was a Fascist State that this organisation is controlled by people outside the country. I am sure that Deputy Cosgrave and other Deputies present will agree with me that this is the most democratically-elected Parliament in Europe; we have every man and woman over 21 years possessing the right to elect the Government. There is the answer to the talk of Fascism in this country. The Minister will ask these men to meet in conference and he wants me to agree with his amendment.
Mr. Everett: But you are on amendment No. 16. What organisation will suggest such a ridiculous proposition to the Minister? The original section gave the right to any unions to select their nominee, and I am sure they would try to select the best men in the organisation. But under this amendment the organisation will select a certain man who may be rejected by the Minister. Do you think the organisation will put forward a second name? They will have some sense of responsibility or honour and they will not put forward two names, to find them rejected and passed over by the Minister.  There is some sense of honour in connection with even some of the unions.
I wonder the Minister changed the original Bill. These unions would select the best and most brainy man and he would be automatically selected by the Minister. Under this amendment the unions may be asked to forward two or three names. What man of honour will allow his name to go forward if he is likely to be blackballed and turned down by the Minister? I oppose the amendment because I do not believe any responsible body representing any trade union or trades council would put up such a ridiculous proposition for the Minister's approval. If two or three names were put forward to the Minister they might be rejected, and possibly the organisation would not have any nominees selected by the Minister. Therefore, the amendment would not have the effect expected.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: I am afraid Deputy Everett overlooks one important feature in the amendment. The Minister is now seeking power in amendment No. 16 merely to nominate an organisation, representative of trade unions, to be the body who will submit the names to the Minister. We are accepting the amendment in the light of the important statement he has made to the House. I rise merely to add my expression of appreciation in connection with the very important step the Minister has taken in bringing about a meeting of these congresses within the next day or two. I am in touch with this whole matter and whether persons are attached to one congress or the other, this announcement will be received with gratification by trade unions in all branches and hopes will be expressed that the Minister's efforts will bring about the unity which everybody desires. I can go further and say that if it is successful, and we all hope it will be, then the Minister's prestige will be greatly enhanced and, what is more important still, he deserves to have it viewed in that light. At this particular stage we are concerned only with amendment No. 16, in the light of the  discussion that has taken place here for two days, and in the light of the important statement that has been made by the Minister.
Mr. Lemass: Arising out of what Deputy Everett has said, concerning paragraph (b) of the amendment, I am not personally attached to that provision and if we insert the amendment in the Bill now I am prepared to consider any amendment to that that may be moved on Report. I can understand there being a difference of view as to the wisdom of paragraph (b) and, if there is any dissent, I am quite prepared to delete it.
Mr. Norton: In any case, in the light of what happens in practice, paragraph (b) is not of very much importance. Whether it goes in or is deleted, I do not think it is of any importance to anybody. Even though I have been tempted by Deputy Everett, I refrain from following the speech he made beyond saying that the figures he quoted were fantastic. I want to make this appeal to Deputy Everett. Both congresses have now accepted the invitation of the Minister to meet him with a view to effecting a settlement of this dispute. That means that the officers of Deputy Everett's organisation have agreed to meet the Minister. I take it, therefore, Deputy Everett will not question the wisdom of these officers, for whom I have a high regard, notwithstanding whatever disagreements may have taken place. I think, therefore, it would be wiser for Deputy Everett and for everybody else, on an occasion like this, when a conference is about to be inaugurated by the Minister, to refrain from making comments which may mean that the conference would start under rather unhappy auspices. So far as I am concerned, therefore, I am willing to let this contentious or potentially contentious section of the Bill go through in the hope that the Minister, having got both congresses to agree to meet under his chairmanship, may be able to carry his efforts to a successful conclusion. I know Deputy Everett's view in this matter. I think he knows my point of view. My main concern,  and I hope it is his concern, is to get a reunified trade union movement because, no matter what differences there may be between the Congress of Irish Unions and the Trade Union Congress, if you were to multiply these differences by a thousand, they are small and paltry differences compared with the position which the united movement will have to face if it is ever to attain the ideal of a decent, happy life for the working-class people of this country. I suggest to Deputy Everett, therefore, that we ought to let this section, or the contentious elements in this section, go at this stage with the right to have a discussion on Report Stage if that is felt desirable, but all the time in the hope that that discussion might be avoided so that we might endeavour to get a reunited congress as a result of the Minister's intervention in this matter.
I have no desire to rake the ashes of recrimination in this matter. I have tried to avoid it all the time and I suggest to Deputy Everett that no good purpose can be achieved by, as it were, washing in public the dirty linen of the two congresses at this stage. We have enough enemies to fight outside without using this Bill to make further enemies for ourselves at this stage.
Mr. Pattison: I could not allow a statement to the effect that it is a question of washing dirty linen to pass. Surely Deputy Norton must be aware that the difference between the Congress of Irish Unions and the Trade Union Congress is not a small matter. It is a very big fundamental question. Deputy Norton is aware that this crisis was brought about by the activity in this country of the representatives of British unions during the recent war, when we were trying to preserve our neutrality.
Mr. Pattison: I do not want to go against your ruling, Sir, but I submit  with all respect that things may have been said by Deputies on the various benches here that were not strictly in order. I feel that I should not allow the statement that it is a question of washing dirty linen to pass. It is a very fundamental question that is at stake. The trade unionists of this country have, nearly a quarter of a century too late, I admit——
Mr. Pattison: I do not want to embarrass the Chair but I want to make it perfectly clear to the House that this question is a very fundamental one and one which demands that in this country we shall be like every other country, that is, that we shall have a self-contained trade union movement.
Mr. D. Morrissey: I was going to suggest, in view of what the Minister has said not only with regard to the conference but with regard to paragraph (b), which I think is the only radical departure in the amendment, that the discussion can very usefully be terminated now. I do not think the line that has been taken is in any way helpful either to the progress of the Bill or towards the settlement of whatever dispute there is between the two congresses and I would suggest that we ought to accept what the Minister has said with regard to his mind on paragraph (b) and let the thing go as it is.
Mr. Coburn: When I rose on a point of order to-day, it was with a view to smoothing matters over. I might as well make my position clear, that this Bill is not merely to cater for workers and employers. I think I have already stated twice——
Mr. Coburn: Every Deputy should be interested in this Bill. It is possible that certain Deputies who belong to labour organisations might think that other Deputies who are not officially attached to either of the Labour Parties in this House have no right to intervene in this debate.
Mr. Coburn: I claim to have very long connection with trade unions in this country and to know a good deal about the working class in this country. I quite sympathise with the Minister in his position. I want again to bring up the question, where do we stand? Where do the people of this country stand in connection with this section and the Minister's amendment? Will there be any time limit within which agreement is to be reached between the two trade unions? Can the Minister give the House any inkling as to that? Will the Bill be held up indefinitely until the two parties to the dispute will some day or other say: “We will agree,” and communicate the terms of the agreement to the Minister? Is that a proper position for a Minister of any Government to be placed in, that the Bill is contingent upon certain events taking place outside the House? I want that position clarified.
Mr. Coburn: I respectfully submit that the terms of the amendment and  even of the section itself are brought about by the fact that a dispute has occurred outside this House. The discussion to-day and most of the discussion on Friday was devoted to what is the position outside as between two rival unions. Therefore, I submit that we who come here to do our best to take part in framing this Bill should know where we stand in relation to this amendment. I must admit that, after all the explanations and all the speeches that have been delivered, the position has not been clarified since the discussion was initiated, so far as I am personally concerned—unless it is that my apprehension is at fault. Not one of us knows what the position will be, even with this amendment, because the whole thing is contingent on some conference which is to take place between the representatives of two unions, not one member of either of which is a member of this House. That is the position we are in.
So far as I am concerned, I wish the Minister the height of luck, but I am not convinced of the efficacy of all this business, or that anything will come of it. I am prepared to let it go in order that more time will not be wasted, because, as one who has been connected with the trade union movement, I am sick to death of the differences, differences which are of no importance, between rival sections of industrial workers. I say that here as a worker and I am prepared to say it outside as well. I wish the Minister luck in his efforts, although I do not agree that, from the constitutional point of view, it should be necessary for the Minister to do this; I hope he will be successful in bringing this dispute to an end so that we can get the position clarified and be enabled to see what all the implications are.
Mr. Lemass: This amendment is one of a series which changes the whole section and the Deputy would achieve his point better, I think, by allowing all the amendments to go through and moving to take out paragraph (b) on Report.
Mr. Everett: I am sure that Deputy Coburn, like everybody else, wants a settlement. Our terms are very simple. They have been given to Deputy Norton some time ago and will be given to the Minister to-morrow. They are: let Irishmen govern their own trade unions in Ireland. Those are our terms and those are the only terms we will accept.
In sub-section (5), lines 12 and 13, to delete the words “unless he dies, resigns, or is removed”, and to delete all words after the word “office” and substitute therefor the words “on such terms and tenure as apply to a Circuit Court judge”.
Mr. Lemass: The same arguments apply here. It is not quite the same point, because, whereas a case might be made for giving more secure tenure to the chairman, the intention is that the ordinary member can be removed only with the consent of the organisation which nominated him, and, quite  clearly, it would be necessary to have a different procedure in that case, because that would work two ways in so far as the organisation requesting the removal of a member would have to give its reasons and that would be a reason stated for his removal if the matter came up.
Mr. Lemass: Sub-section (8) provides that the chairman and ordinary members shall devote the whole of their time to the work of the court. I am considering the desirability of amending that provision on Report to require them to give to the business of the court all the time it requires. There may be some difficulty in obtaining particularly from the employers' side, people who will be qualified as employers and who could, at the same time, comply with the provisions of the sub-section. I may not move to amend it, but I want to give notice that I am considering the desirability of amending the sub-section so as to meet the point I have in mind.
Mr. Cogan: I want to ask the Minister two questions. What is the organisation of employers which the Minister intends shall make these nominations, and does he consider that such organisation is truly representative of employers in the country?
Mr. Lemass: There are a number of organisations of employers. There is  not an organisation of employers' organisations which would be national in its membership, but the Federated Union of Employers would probably be the most representative. There are a number of other employers' organisations, such as the Federation of Builders, Contractors and Employers of Ireland, and other organisations of the kind, which confine their membership to employers of a particular class. The only organisation, apart from local organisations, which purports to represent employers generally is the Federated Union of Employers.
This is consequential on the changes made in Section 10. As the Bill stood. there was provision for a chairman and ordinary members, but due to the changes made in Section 10, it is now necessary to have separate provision for the appointment of a deputy chairman.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: It raises a rather important point which was not discussed when the Minister introduced his original proposal. The court originally was to consist of three members and the Minister very kindly and promptly accepted a suggestion  of ours that the membership should be increased to five. We gave definite and specific reasons why it should be increased to five, one of which was the desirability of allowing consultation between the Labour representative and a colleague, and similarly in the case of employers' representatives. The Minister seeks to negative that usefulness now by splitting up the court and utilising a deputy chairman, and providing a subsidiary court.
Mr. Lemass: That amendment is not before us. That is the amendment of the introduction of which on Report I have given notice. We would require a deputy chairman in any event. My suggestion was designed to deal with what might be a very temporary difficulty, namely a rush of business to the court which the court could not dispose of. I thought the device of splitting the court into two tribunals was better than making elaborate provision for a second tribunal for a very limited period. The problem may not, in fact, arise, and ordinarily, it is the full court of five which will meet and function. I should think that once the next year or two has passed, the court will be quite capable of disposing of the business that will arise without any resort to special provisions such as I have in mind.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: I am glad to have the Minister's assurance that it is not intended to lower the status of the court or to impair its usefulness in respect of its numerical strength, which is now to be five instead of three, but the device of an alternative court is nevertheless there.
Mr. Lemass: It will function with five, except where one of the ordinary members might be absent through illness or other temporary cause, or where very exceptional circumstances arise in the next year or two, if the amendment which I intend to introduce on Report is accepted.
Mr. D. Morrissey: I must confess that I do not see how the Minister can get over another difficulty. I take it that the deputy chairman will not be a member of the court, and will have no association with it or with its work. Therefore, we are going to have this position, that if the chairman was stricken with illness in the middle of the hearing of an important case—perhaps one of urgency—they could not wait for his recovery, and a person would be drawn from outside in a temporary capacity, who had no previous experience whatever of the basis on which the court came to a decision. The unfortunate part of it is, that having regard to its constitution, it is not possible for the Minister to designate an existing member of the court to act as chairman.
Mr. D. Morrissey: I cannot see any way out of it. I put it to the Minister that a deputy chairman should only be called in when it is absolutely vital to do so. If the work to be done by the court could afford to wait for a week, when the chairman was incapacitated, it should be allowed to wait. SECTION 12.
(1) Whenever it appears to the Minister that the amount of business before the court is greater than can reasonably be disposed of expeditiously or that a situation is likely to arise in which the court will require assistance to deal with the business which will probably come before it, the Minister may establish one or more than one subsidiary court (in this section referred to as the temporary court) to perform such of the functions of the court as shall be remitted by the court to such temporary court.
(4) The temporary members shall be chosen from amongst the deputy members appointed under Section 11 of this Act in the manner following, that is to say, two shall be chosen from amongst the deputies for the employers' members and two from amongst the deputies for the workers' members.
The acceptance of amendment No. 20 concerns the appointment of a deputy chairman. I should like to impress upon the Minister, that the point of view of Labour Deputies is that it is  obvious, when this Bill becomes law, there is going to be a rush of business, particularly in relation to bonus Orders, and it is felt that the ordinary court, if not augmented, will not be able to deal with that rush of business. It is, therefore, desirable that there should be some means by which applications would be dealt with. I am not satisfied that a court of five will be sufficient and it is because of that we felt it necessary to ask for the establishment of temporary courts. I feel that a good deal of the necessity for this amendment is gone in view of the acceptance of the last amendment, but I would like to hear the Minister's view as to how a rush of business would be dealt with.
Mr. Lemass: I think it is possible that there will be an exceptional volume of business in the first year. The bulk of that business will fall to be dealt with by the conciliation staff, rather than by the court itself. At least, a large part of the burden of disposing of that business could be carried out. If we have the situation in which the number of cases coming to the court is such that it is overburdened then the best way to meet that problem is to provide for a possible division of the court. There are practical difficulties in having a subsidiary court. We appoint a chairman and ordinary members for a term of years, and they are obliged to give their whole time to the business of this organisation, which is generally regarded as their work in the light of the community. You cannot get temporary members for a temporary court on that basis. That is the practical difficulty I see. If we decide that the volume of business requires two courts at any time, it is easy to get representatives to do that business for that period, and only for that period, while the court is bound up with the volume of rush business.
I consider the best way to meet that point of view, should it arise, is to provide by an amendment on Report for this court of five to be divided, if necessary, in the opinion of the chairman, who must ultimately be judge of the capacity of the court to dispose of  the business, into two tribunals, the second one to be presided over by the deputy chairman. That is not satisfactory, but it may ensure that during the period of a rush of business applications to the court will have the benefit of having their cases heard by the full tribunal. That seems to me to be a more satisfactory way of dealing with the problem than temporary or subsidiary courts. At least, it is workable, and if it dodges the practical problems associated with the ordinary court, it may be that the whole court will always be able to dispose of the business coming to it. A lot will depend on the precedent to be established in the matter of disposal of business, and the time it takes to deal with ordinary applications that come before it.
A great deal of business can be dealt with in this court working expeditiously, and I hope to be able to get members who will be prepared to give extra attention and time to the work of the court during the initial period. If necessary, the device of splitting the court into two tribunals would not have to be resorted to unless it was clearly impossible to dispose of the business expeditiously by other means. I say that that device is preferable than establishing subsidiary courts which offer a practical problem.
Mr. Lemass: That may happen. Local action will be taken by local officials who would attempt to adjust a dispute by agreement or by a temporary arrangement which, to some extent, would reduce the element of urgency in having it heard.
Mr. Lemass: I have no objection to the amendment if it is considered desirable that the registrar should have legal responsibility. Five years is the normal period, but I have no objection to ten years. I am told that for a district justice the period is five years.
Mr. Lemass: Perhaps I might deal with this. The purpose of the amendment is to delete the provision which is intended to ensure that service in the Civil Service in a post for which only barristers or solicitors are eligible will be treated as practice as a barrister or solicitor for the purpose of sub-paragraph (8). It is not a matter in which I am personally interested, but I understand that the Civil Service organisations regard it as important to the prestige of their professions that service in the Civil Service as a barrister or solicitor should be regarded as service in the practice of their profession. I understand they would regard it as a reflection upon them in the practice of their profession if this sub-paragraph were not included.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: I can well understand the reflection personally. Naturally they would take that particular view, but I think the average man-in-the-street would regard an individual who has taken a legal degree in the Civil Service as not quite in the same category as an individual who practises in the courts.
Mr. Lemass: This is service in a situation in the Civil Service in which the appointment is made only from barristers or solicitors and for which only barristers or solicitors are eligible. It is limited within that very narrow category.
Mr. D. Morrissey: It strikes me that possibly that type of person would be more suitable to act as registrar to this court rather than an ordinary solicitor or barrister. The type of work to be done by the registrar to this court would be more analogous to the work done by a civil servant holding a legal appointment in the Service. The work is more or less of an advisory nature. I am against the amendment. I prefer the section as it stands.
The Labour people take an important view of this particular amendment on the question of appeal. If you take the case of an individual, for instance, who may have his agreement registered and eventually be dismissed from his employment, at the present moment under the common, law he would have redress. Under the Bill, as it stands here, he might be precluded from having any redress. Certain matters of that kind might arise in the course of the work of this court and it is important that we should have some provision whereby an individual would have the right of appeal in matters of law.
Mr. D. Morrissey: I think some protection is called for particularly in view of some amendments which the Minister proposes to make at a later stage — for example, amendment  No. 70. By that amendment you are going to confer under the terms of this Bill a further power on this court of declaring strikes illegal.
Mr. D. Morrissey: You will on amendment No. 70. While there is something to be said for that, I think it is a very dangerous principle and one which will have to be closely examined when we come to deal with that particular amendment. Such amendments as that one would make me very slow in agreeing that there should be no appeal whatsoever from this court.
Mr. Lemass: I found, amongst the trade union representatives whom I interviewed, that the opinion was that the decision of this court should be final on matters dealing with the interpretation of agreements and the application of the provisions of the Bill relating to conditions of employment and so forth. I was not quite clear from the amendment what exactly was meant by it. The point raised by Deputy O'Sullivan is a new one to me. I would like, however, to draw his attention to an amendment which I am moving on Section 26. It is included in the list of additional amendments which were circulated on the second sheet of amendments and which provides that “a registered employment agreement shall not prejudice any right as to rates of remuneration or conditions of employment conferred on any worker by any Part of this Act or by any other Act”. It seems to me that may cover the point referred to by Deputy O'Sullivan—namely, the right which a worker might have under common law, or some other enactment, and which should not be taken from him under this Act. I will, however, have the points mentioned by the Deputy examined to see if there is anything in them. It is a legal point really on which I shall have to take legal opinion. SECTION 19.
(2) The chairman may direct that, for the consideration of a particular matter, the court shall consist of the chairman and two ordinary members selected by him, namely, a worker's member and an employer's member, and, if the chairman so directs, no other member shall act as a member of the court in respect of that matter.
This is a minor consequential amendment. So far as the first part is concerned, it is consequential upon the alteration made in the size of the court. It is proposed here that the court ordinarily shall consist of five persons but, at the discretion of the chairman, the court may consist of three members of whom one must be a worker and one must be an employer; in other words, if a workers' representative or an employers' representative is absent, through illness or for some other reason, the court can still function, it being, however, left to the discretion of the chairman to decide whether it will function or not. Under  the Bill as set out, the court would arrive at its decisions in the manner set out there. If the two ordinary members agree, that shall be a decision of the court; if they do not agree then the chairman's decision is the decision of the court. We have now to alter that provision in consequence of the change in size. What is provided for here is that if a majority of the ordinary members agree on a decision, that is the decision of the court. If they do not agree, then the chairman decides. It is necessary to have a decision arrived at and the intention is that the chairman will not in fact participate in the decision if the ordinary members, who are in the majority, are agreed upon it. That is applying the same principle as was enshrined in the original Bill, when the court was to consist of three. The new court shall consist of five.
Mr. Lemass: No, it is a court of five. Sub-section (1) makes it quite clear that the ordinary court shall consist of five members and that it is only in the special circumstances mentioned in sub-section (2) that the court is reduced to three.
Mr. Norton: If the majority of the ordinary members agree upon the determination of a question that question shall be determined accordingly; otherwise, the question shall be determined in accordance with the opinion of the chairman. Now, I merely want to find out what that means. The position in connection with the Agricultural Wages Board, for instance, is somewhat unusual. The workers' representatives may take a view as to what the wages and conditions ought  to be. The farmers' representatives may take an entirely different view and say: “No, in our view certain conditions should operate”; and, between them both and without regard to either, the chairman may bring in an award which may not in any way resemble the point of view put forward by the workers' representatives or by the farmers' representatives. He enters in with an entirely new opinion. I doubt if it is wise to give the chairman that kind of authority. I think it should be decided by compelling the chairman to go one way or the other. As it stands, the chairman may produce a decision entirely opposed to the run of evidence given before the court and quite unsatisfactory to either, or both sides. The court must give a decision. I think that is a most important point. It cannot go back to the parties and say: “The court cannot decide.” Whatever procedure is adopted there must create the possibility of a decision, good or bad, and unless it is done in this particular way you cannot now be sure of a decision. You cannot compel the chairman or any other member to give a decision contrary to his own judgment. He must be free to exercise his judgment.
Mr. Norton: I am trying to get at the position in a different way. The amendments which are down here, Nos. 29, 30, 31 and 32, have the effect of making a majority decision operate because provision is made by these amendments for effecting an amendment of sub-section (19) in the present Bill.
Mr. Lemass: I am putting it to the Deputy that there need not necessarily be a majority. After all, this court is constituted, not on the basis of a tribunal, consisting of five persons of equal qualifications and assumed to have a similar point of view. You have two workers' representatives, two employers'  representatives and a person, whom we shall describe for the purposes of convenience, as neutral. On any question there is the possibility of three points of view—a definite point of view on the part of the workers' representatives, a definite point of view on the part of the employers' representatives and a definite point of view on the part of the chairman. I do not think it fair to put the chairman in the position that he must necessarily agree with either the workers' representatives or the employers' representatives against his own judgment, or alternatively to have to say to the parties concerned: “We cannot agree or come to a decision at all.” This device does at least ensure that a decision can be arrived at and communicated to the parties. Whether the parties accept it as a fair decision is another matter.
Mr. Norton: I think it is. You have five people constituting the court consisting of two workers' representatives and two employers' representatives and the chairman. The employers' representatives and the workers' representatives have certain points of view as to what the award of the court should be. There are probably points of dissimilarity and points of disagreement between them but there may be closer approximation in their views than there is in the views of the chairman and either of their views. What are you doing in this Bill? You are giving the chairman power to say: “Although the workers want that and the employers want the other, I want this,” and the chairman's “this” may be entirely different from what the other representatives want.
Mr. Lemass: In fact, that could quite well be. Suppose there was an application for a 10/- increase in a standard rate. The employers' representative may say, “We do not agree  that there should be any increase,” while the workers' representative may say, “We think there should be an order for an increase of 10/-”. The chairman may then say: “I think there should be an increase of 5/-”. If you adopt the method suggested by Deputy Norton, you put the chairman in the position of having to choose between nothing or 10/- He may not conscientiously be willing to support either point of view. In that case what is to happen? Is he merely to say, “This court cannot agree on the question; we can come to no decision?”
Mr. Norton: Suppose the workers say, “We want an increase of 10/- per week,” and the employers say, “We are willing to give 7/6.” The chairman may then say, “Look here, I do not agree with either of you; I do not think that industry can afford any more than 2/6 of an increase”. In that case is his decision to stand?
Mr. Lemass: Remember that if a majority of ordinary members of a court agree to anything, the chairman does not have a voice in the decision. In the circumstances the Deputy contemplates, the award of 2/6 would at least be a decision of the board.
Mr. Norton: It might well be that the workers' representatives wanted an increase of 10/- and that the employers' representatives were willing to give 7/6. The various representatives should then have the right to try to convince the chairman one way or the other—in favour of an award of 10/- or of an award of 7/6.
Mr. Norton: I take it that there would be a motion before the court by the workers' representatives for a grant of 10/-. One of the employers' representatives would then move that the increase be limited to 7/6. There would be a vote, I take it, as between these two motions and the chairman would be in the position that he has either got to vote for the 10/- or the 7/6.
Mr. Norton: It is O.K. so long as he lines up one way or the other but my fear is that when he is given these unique powers, he will come between the workers and the employers with some opinion of his own with which the other members of the court do not agree and, although he is in a minority of four to one, he can enforce these opinions on the other members of the court.
Mr. Lemass: If you do not provide for that do you not risk the position that the court may say: “We cannot arrive at any decision”? It is not a question of deciding for or against a particular figure.
Mr. Lemass: This is not the type of case that would come before the High Court or the Supreme Court. In the type of case that would come before this court, it is not a matter for deciding for or against a particular decision. Let me make myself clear. If a group of workers record a standard rate order and then come to the court for an increase of wages, they may claim 6/-, 7/- or 8/-. There are as many possible increases as there are pennies between the amount which they are getting and the amount which they are seeking. It is not a question of voting for or against a particular decision. There is a variety of solutions. There may be as many different opinions as there are members of the court, just as on any issue that comes before this House, there may be as many opinions as there are members of the Dáil. It is not the type of case in which you can get a majority decision. There may not be a majority in favour of any one particular solution. That is why you must provide for some finality, some decision by the court which will be announced to the parties. You must have some arrangement which will prevent the court being put into the ignominious position of coming back to the Department  and saying: “This court cannot decide anything.”
Mr. Norton: A jury has to decide compensation issues as well. How do they manage to arrive at a decision, because they can manage it whether the jury numbers 12 or seven? My objection to this business is that although the chairman may be in a minority of four to one yet his decision is operative. You have five members of the court. Four of them disagree with the decision of the chairman, yet the chairman is entitled to force his decision on them.
Mr. Norton: Suppose the employers' representatives take one view and the workers' representatives take another view. Why not ask him to decide whether he will support the employers' view or the workers' view?
Mr. Norton: I can quite understand that but I never yet found at a meeting of a committee or at any time here in the Dáil that some person who came in with the most peculiar view in the world, perhaps, should have the right to impose that view on other members of the body because the others could not agree and that the other members would have to line up and back that view. Supposing that Deputy “X” came in here with a proposition.
Mr. Norton: Let us take this calmly. In talking about the chairman's peculiar views, they may be sound from his own point of view but ultimately he may put over a decision as a decision of the board and four out of the five members may disagree with him. Is not that what may happen?
Mr. Lemass: It is at least a decision and the only way we can get a decision if there is not agreement. In regard to saying four out of five are against it, that cannot happen if the four are agreed themselves on some other decision.
Mr. Norton: I know that, but suppose the four do disagree, one individual wants one thing and another wants another, the chairman may say: “You are not going to have No. 1 proposition or No. 2 proposition, but going to have mine, No. 3.” One man then comes in and gives the decision as the effective decision, although it is his own and the four members of the board are opposed to it.
Mr. Briscoe: Is it not a question of compromise? Is it not obvious that, if one side to the dispute wants one thing and the other side wants another, the only decision one can get is for the chairman to agree or disagree with one side or suggest a compromise and, in the event of a compromise, surely that compromise will not suggest a decision adverse to both parties. I cannot see the chairman coming in, as Deputy Norton suggested, where the workers are asking for 10/- and the employers are prepared to give 7/6, and saying he is going to reduce the wages or is going to make them 12/6. Surely that cannot happen?
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: Would the Minister recall what happened in the Railway Wages Board, which would be the nearest analogy to what we are dealing with? The Railway Wages Board functioned for about 20 years and never found a decision on the opinion of one member of the court. There might be differences of opinion, but the decision always was a majority decision, made by representatives of the labour side with the chairman, or of the employers' side with the chairman. There is a good deal to be said for Deputy Norton's point, that if it is to be a decision it should not be a decision of the chairman alone. In most cases, one may take it there will not be agreement amongst the ordinary members.
Mr. Norton: In the case of the Agricultural Wages Board, the farmers and the workers may have agreed in the regional areas but on sending their decisions forward they were not observed when it came to the Central Wages Board, so the agreements were of no value at all, because of the  operation of the precise powers which the chairman is given here. Deputy O'Sullivan has quoted the case of the Railway Wages Board. That was a board dealing with a very big industry and there the whole procedure for arriving at decisions was by majority vote.
Mr. Norton: Slowness had nothing to do with the decision. The Railway Wages Board brought probably more peace to the railway industry than any other type of board brought to any other industry in this country. The most remarkable thing is that, in the last quarter of a century, there was no strike in the railway industry. That was due to the operation of the Railway Wages Board. That is a very fine record and has proved their ability to avert many an upheaval. Therefore, even if you arrive at a decision slowly and in doing so avoid a dislocation, there is something to be said for the procedure. The Minister ought to think over this matter again. My fear is that he is in the realm of adventure on this point and is giving the chairman power to bring in his decision as a decision of the court, though four members may be opposed to it.
Mr. Lemass: I will undertake to think over the point, if the Deputy will undertake to think over my amendment and see the possibilities that might arise in the event of the court not being able to arrive at a decision at all.
Mr. D. Morrissey: If the court were to come to a decision, even a majority decision, that by itself would be a reflection on the chairman. If the chairman is fitted for this position and there is a court of five, in ordinary cases or even in extraordinary cases, if he is not able to get a decision other than a decision of his own which would conflict with the other four, it seems to me that he is not the man to make this machine run. What concerns me is  the necessity for sub-section (2) of the amendment.
“The chairman may direct that, for the consideration of a particular matter, the court shall consist of the chairman and two ordinary members selected by him, namely, a worker's member and an employer's member, and, if the chairman so directs, no other member shall act as a member of the court in respect of that matter.”
Mr. Lemass: I mentioned two types of case where that procedure might be necessary. We have the case where a workers' or an employers' member might be ill and the court would direct that there should be only one on the opposite side, that is, if there were only one workers' representative there would be only one employers' representative. The other case is where an employer or a worker, by reason of some past association, might not be regarded as fully capable of exercising an impartial judgment on an individual case.
In that case, because of the possibility of objecting to an individual member of the court on account of that association, it is provided that the chairman can exercise his power under this sub-section. Originally, it was intended that a deputy member could be availed of in these circumstances, but as we have abolished the deputy members we have to provide some alternative and this is the alternative suggested.
Mr. D. Morrissey: That may be so, but he is given power here to do that. Not only is he to determine that the court shall be three and not five, but he is also given the power to select the two out of the four for any particular case and as often as he pleases. While I can see some force in the Minister's point — and, perhaps, some provision should be made for it — I suggest that this is leaving it too wide.
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