Thursday, 25 April 1957
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £61,130 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1958, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice, including certain other Services administered by that Office.
If the House does not object, I propose to follow the practice of previous years and deal now with the group of Estimates Nos. 29 to 37, for which I am responsible as Minister. These Estimates, which were all prepared before I took office, are for essential services. In general, they show little change from year to year. The net aggregate amount of the nine Estimates is £5,371,540, a decrease of £111,110 as compared with the total for 1956-57.
 The first Estimate, No. 29, is for a total of £91,700 for the Office of the Minister for Justice. It shows a decrease of £3,830 as compared with last year. The provision is mainly to meet the charge for salaries and pay of staffs employed in the Minister's Office and Accounts Branch, the Office of the Film Censor, the Censorship of Publications Board and the Adoption Board. There is no material alteration in the existing staffs as compared with the year 1956-57, but it is hoped to make sufficient retrenchment during the current year to keep the expenditure within the limit of the sum which has been included in the Estimate.
In previous years, reference was made to the administration of the Adoption Act, 1952. This Act continues to work smoothly. During the year 1956, the number of Adoption Orders made was 565 as compared with 787 in 1955. Of these Orders, 263 were in respect of Dublin City, 71 in Cork City and the remainer, 231, in the rest of the country. At the end of 1956 there were 14 registered adoption societies. These societies place 66 per cent. of the children in respect of whom Orders were made.
The next Estimate, No. 30, is for £4,666,080 for the Garda Síochána. It shows a decrease of £87,860 as compared with the Estimate for 1956-57. This decrease, which is shown mainly in the provision made for pay, allowances and clothing and equipment, is entirely due to the fall in the strength of the force. The saving so made is, however, offset by an increase of £89,000 in the provision for pensions and gratuities. The cost of pensions and gratuities will be an increasing charge for several years to come. Members of the force are entitled to retire voluntarily on pension when they have 30 years' service and are 50 years of age. The force is now 35 years in existence; consequently a very large proportion of the members have reached pensionable age. On 1st April, 1957, it was estimated that 2,900 members, about 45 per cent. of the force, were entitled to retire on pension, should they wish to do so.
The actual strength of the force on  1st April, 1957, was 6,592 for all ranks. This represents a reduction of 918 over the past nine years. For the year 1957-58, provision has been made for an intake of only 150 recruits, although the wastage over the year is expected to be at least 375. Should the wastage reach this latter figure, the strength of the force on 31st March, 1958, is unlikely to exceed 6,370 which will represent a reduction in strength of 1,140 over ten years.
With a view to offsetting any lessening of police supervision which might result from the reduction in strength, steps have been taken to increase the mobility of the force. To this end, motor cars have been supplied to 71 Garda districts.
The Prisons Estimate No. 31 at £174,940 shows a decrease of £10,800 as compared with the year 1956-57. During the period from 1945 to 1956, the number of persons in custody has steadily decreased. In 1945, the daily average number in custody was 796; in 1956, it was 396. In consequence of this fall in the number of persons committed to prison, it was decided to close Cork and Sligo Prisons. This was done in 1956 and there are now only three prisons in use in the country—Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, and those at Limerick and Portlaoise. The closing of the prisons at Cork and Sligo, coupled with a reduction in the cost of victualling and the maintenance of buildings, is responsible for the saving which has been effected. The fall in the number of female prisoners is remarkable. In 1945, the daily average number in custody was 96; in 1956, it was only 30.
In December, 1956, the Borstal Institution (St. Patricks) was transferred from Clonmel to Dublin. This transfer was necessitated by the fact that the average number of youths sentenced to Borstal detention had not exceeded sixteen over the previous five years and in one year had fallen as low as nine. With such a small number in custody, it became impossible to run the institution at Clonmel and provide the industrial and other instruction necessary to improve the inmates and to assist in their rehabilitation. As the Borstal system  could no longer be administered at Clonmel, it was decided to transfer the institution to Dublin and portion of the female prison at Mountjoy has been segregated and is being adapted for use as a Borstal institution. The work of adaptation is being carried out by the inmates and is almost complete.
The location of the institution enables juvenile prisoners in Mountjoy Prison to be transferred to the institution where they serve their prison sentences. This serves a double purpose: it provides sufficient inmates to run the institution and removes the juvenile prisoners from a prison atmosphere and thus enables them, no matter how short their periods of imprisonment may be, to benefit from the training which is afforded in the institution.
Estimate No. 32 for the District Court at £90,790 shows a small decrease of £1,150, as compared with the year 1956-57. The decrease is mainly due to a reduction in the number of provincial district court clerks. The Circuit Court Estimate No. 33 is £10,230 less than last year. This comparatively large reduction is due to retrenchment of staff and an estimated increase in the amount of Appropriations-in-Aid. The Supreme Court and High Court Vote, No. 34, shows a very small increase of £840 which is caused by increases of pay under the Civil Service conciliation and arbitration scheme to court clerks.
I do not think there is need for me to say much about Estimates No. 35 to 37 for the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds, the Public Record Office and the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests. The Estimates for the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds and for the Public Record Office show small increases which are due to increases of pay granted during the year. In the case of the Registry of Deeds, the fees payable were increased during the year, with the result that the receipts to be paid to the Exchequer are estimated at £39,000 as compared with £25,000 in 1956-57, an increase of £14,000.
It has been the practice for the Minister for Justice, when introducing  his Estimates, to give a brief review of the crime situation. I regret to have to tell the House that the decrease in the number of indictable offences reported to the Garda Síochána which occurred in the years 1954 and 1955 was not continued into the year 1956. The preliminary crime returns for that year show that such offences reported to the Garda increased from 11,531 to 13,051 an increase of 1,520. The increase was mainly in the Dublin Metropolitan Division where the figure for 1955 was 6,333. For 1956 it was 7,353 an increase of 1,020. The main increase in indictable offences was in respect of offences against property without violence (chiefly larcenies). The number of such offences in 1955 was 8,555, in 1956 it was 9,604 an increase of 1,049.
I also regret to have to tell the House that there was a fairly substantial increase in juvenile crime during the year 1956. The number of persons under 18 years of age known to have committed indictable offences was 3,092, an increase of 446 as compared with 1955. The number charged in court was 2,478 being 340 more than in 1955. It will be noted that 614 juveniles who committed offences were not charged in court. They were mainly children under 14 years of age who were cautioned by district officers of the Garda instead of being brought before a court.
There was a reduction of 4,655 in the number of prosecutions for summary offences as compared with the year 1955. The number of such prosecutions in 1956 was 94,698 as compared with 99,353 in 1955 and 104,188 in 1938. It will be observed that the number of prosecutions has fallen by over 9,000 below the pre-war figure. Road traffic offences accounted for 50,063 of the prosecutions; offences under the Intoxicating Liquor Acts at 16,895 being the next highest, followed by 4,172 for unlicensed dogs and 3,909 prosecutions under the School Attendance Acts. The fall in the number of prosecutions for summary offences is chiefly due to the fact that there are now fewer prosecutions for trivial offences of a technical nature.
Mr. Everett: The Minister has submitted  an Estimate which we prepared and I wish to express publicly my thanks both to the Department and to the commissioner for their co-operation during the past five months in reducing the Estimate and in making it fit in with the general practice of economy in all Departments. In connection with the number of Guards which we have at present, I am not unduly alarmed but the Minister seems perturbed because he states that there are 900 fewer than we had 30 years ago. When we consider that at the present time we have mechanised practically the whole force it will be realised that it is not necessary to have the force which we had 30 years ago, when some of the Guards had not even got a bicycle on which to travel about their areas. To-day also they are more concentrated in particular areas.
I am very glad to see that no juveniles are now kept as prisoners in Mountjoy Prison and that they have been transferred to the St. Patrick's Home. This prevents their having contact with any adult criminals. They are now in a home where they will see young people being provided with a trade. I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the officer in charge of the home. I think the Minister will be satisfied with the progress made there. Boys are not treated as victims; they are looked upon as friends and an endeavour is made to help them for the future by equipping them with a trade. The work is there for the committee and for others to see and is well deserving of publicity because it fits boys for work in which they can engage when they are released. I formed a committee on which I had representatives of all Parties and representatives of trade unions. We tried, through trade unions and various industries, to impress on these boys that their time had been usefully spent, that they were not treated as victims but were being helped to become men and work for the good of the country.
I shall not go into other matters because I recognise that the Minister has difficulties in connection with them but  I wish to state that the whole Civil Service staff and the commissioner, when they knew my views on trying to achieve economy, gave me every co-operation. I know that the Minister has not yet received the report from the committee which we appointed to investigate further economies in the depot. I am satisfied that he will, like myself, receive full co-operation in trying to achieve economy, without interfering with the efficiency of the Department.
Mr. Loughman: I was a member of the visiting committee of the Borstal institution at Clonmel for many years. I regretted very much, because of the experience I had there, the change to Mountjoy. I appreciate what the Minister says in regard to the very name of Mountjoy being bad for Borstal inmates and I am afraid that the fact that the St. Patrick's of the present day is part of Mountjoy Prison will still label those who are Borstal inmates as people who have been imprisoned in Mountjoy. I have always realised, and the Department of Justice realised also, that the prison in Clonmel was not the most suitable place in which to keep people for Borstal training. At the same time I think it was the best place available for such prisoners and over quite a number of years there has been a gradual process in changing of conditions there. Except for sleeping accommodation I think the place really served that particular type of prisoner better than any other prison in the country.
The fall in the number of people committed to the Borstal institution was surprising. A few months before the decision was taken to transfer the prisoners to Mountjoy, the committee sent a memorandum to the Minister in which there was a recommendation that the treatment in the institution and its success over the years be made known to the judges. I think it was suggested that a prisoner who had been found guilty on three occasions and committed to prison would in those circumstances be transferred to the institution for treatment. I believe it is established by records that fully 80 per cent. of the lads who are inmates  do not go back to prison again. It is only on a rare occasion that a person is committed to Borstal before he has committed two, three or more offences.
I would urge on the Minister that if the opportunity should arise at any time, he should transfer these lads from Dublin into the country where they will be dissociated from the surroundings of their homes and their circumstances of life in the past. On many occasions, we have recommended to the Minister that a lad should be released, perhaps after six months or a year, and we have had to investigate the qualities of the parents and guardians of these young lads. In very many cases, we discovered it would be far better for the lads to have only very infrequent contact with their homes during the years when they were being taught to be useful citizens. As a member of the Borstal Visiting Committee for very many years, I always felt that that separation was the best possible thing for these youngsters.
I would like to join with Deputy Everett in the tribute he paid to the governor of the Borstal in Clonmel and indeed I would like to pay tribute to the successive governors. I felt that on all occasions not only the governor but the entire staff were interested in the welfare of these youngsters and were never anxious to inflict punishments on them. Our experience was that they were always looking for concessions for them. During General MacEoin's time, they were allowed to smoke cigarettes. During the periods of office of other Ministers, they had a change of dress and were allowed out in the countryside. Fields were provided for football and various other concessions were made all down through the years. I think the ex-Minister's tribute was deserved in respect of the governor, his predecessors and the staff.
I would again urge on the Minister that, if the opportunity should arise and if there should be a greater number of prisoners for the Borstal in the future, he should try to get some place more suitable than the portion of  Mountjoy Prison which is now known as St. Patrick's.
Mr. MacCarthy: I believe it would be a matter for doubt and perhaps controversy as to whether or not the reduction in the Garda Force is responsible in some measure for the opportunities provided for wrong-doers to carry on their depredations, in some cases perhaps without being apprehended. No matter how you mechanise a force or how you increase its mobility, nothing will make up for the local knowledge obtained by the Gardai in their own areas, whether in town or country. The policy of mechanisation and mobility may be carried too far. A motor car in which two men are travelling would pay the salary of a man or two. Would it be better to have these men located in a particular district rather than have them shooting around the country where they may come across somebody driving without due care for other users of the road, or somebody evading the licensing laws or something of that kind? The general effect of the presence of law officers in a locality and the contacts they have there are far more important than having them careering here and there throughout the country, perhaps aimlessly looking for something to come their way.
We all must admire the way in which the Gardaí carry out their work. They work cautiously and any little aggressiveness that was there in the early days of their training has now entirely disappeared. Their general approach now to the administration of the law is advice in the first instance rather than an anxiety to hale people before the courts, except in serious cases.
Unfortunately, we have a certain amount of vandalism in the cities which has a bearing on the debate here to-day on afforestation. There is destruction of young trees planted by local authorities to beautify the suburban areas. If the Gardaí were living in those places, very often they would have a deterring effect on depredations of that kind. That is my view. There may be strong arguments against it. I give it for what it is worth.
The Minister has spoken about the  evacuation of Cork prison and the closing down of that institution. Applications have been made both by the county council and by University College, Cork, for that building. If the university is ever to expand in its present location, this is the only opportunity they will ever have of getting a suitable place for their activities. They would be able to use many of these buildings straight away. We know that technological developments of various kinds are very essential at the moment and the expansion of certain branches of university education will be most important in the building up of this nation's industrial life. Due consideration should be given to the application by the university authorities for that building. However, I am in the unfortunate position that I am a member of the governing body of the university and am also a member of the county council. The county council is also looking for it, but the technical officers of the county council have stated very definitely that it is unsuitable for their purposes, that they cannot transform existing buildings to their requirements, but they think that as the local authority they are entitled to get the building and then dispose of it as they wish. That is their view-point. I do not know what the Minister's view is, or what the House may think of the merits of these claims; but there is no use in leaving the building there to become derelict. It would be better that a decision should be made so that whoever is to get it or use it would be in a position to do so without more delay.
Mr. McQuillan: There is a point in one of these Estimates that should interest the House. The former Minister for Justice has pointed out that efforts were made to bring certain economies into effect in the various  Estimates under the control of the Minister for Justice. I see under the heading of Prisons—Vote 31, I think, sub-head K—there are a number of items, and as far as I am concerned I find it very hard to believe that the Minister or his predecessor, or indeed any officer of the Department, made any real attempt to carry out economies.
The figure in sub-head K to which I am about to refer is insignificant as regards the amount of money involved, but I say that its significance has or should have far-reaching effects outside this House. The item is No. 4, “Execution Expenses”. In other words, there is a sum of £40 put down here for the hangman and his assistant and the prison expenses in the case of an execution. I imagine that any Deputy or any officials of the Department who had been told to sit down and secure economies in the Department would surely say straight away: “There is £40 that should be cut out.”
I agree that £40 was provided last year. I did not go back any farther, but it is not the amount of money involved that I am concerned about: it is the horrible idea that this House is actually making provision in this Estimate for the likelihood of some unfortunate person being executed here within the next 12 months. Surely if such a terrible thing happens, it would be time enough to pay for it out of next year's Estimate? Why make provision at this stage in such a callous manner for something which we all hope and pray will never happen here? The people who make out these Estimates or the Minister who is responsible for them are 30 years behind the times so far as civilisation is concerned, in allowing such an item to appear in any Estimate.
Mr. McQuillan: We are very fond here of aping legislation passed in another country, but at least they can give us a lead when it comes to a question of humanity, and so far as the present law as passed by the British House of Commons is concerned, it would do us no harm to study the progress that has taken place there in this connection. I want to make it quite clear that in spite of the fact that the sum is very small, I want to make the strongest possible protest against having such an item included in the Estimate. I think it is a disgrace to every member of the House unless they ask for its removal.
The question of the Garda Síochána has been raised here. Deputy MacCarthy put a case that some people have much sympathy with, the question of having Gardaí stationed in rural areas. Then they would be among the populace; they would know what is going on and have the feeling of the locality; but I am personally convinced this country is civilised and that the question of having a large force of Gardaí stationed permanently in barracks throughout rural areas does not really arise. There is no  necessity for it. I think the squad car is sufficient and I think that the fact that the squad car is likely to appear at any hour of the day or night is a better means of preventing crime than having an unfortunate Garda on the spot going around on a bicycle, because if somebody is going to commit a crime he will know where the Garda is likely to be at the time if the Gardaí are stationed in the locality, whereas the squad car is likely to come at 9 o'clock in the morning or 7 o'clock at night. The uncertainty is there.
Having said that, I would appeal to the Minister to carry out a promise made by his predecessor in conjunction with the Minister for Local Government to ensure that before the next election—I do not know when that is going to be—the Garda Síochána will be given the right, like any other citizens of the State, to vote. That is all I will say about it, but I hope the Minister will take the necessary steps, because I understand there is a form of procedure in this House that, if a Minister gives a promise, his successor, although a member of a different Party, generally honours that promise. I am now calling on the present Minister, who is a man of his word, to carry out that promise.
In connection with the Garda Síochána, there is provision made for the reconstruction or erection of Garda barracks to replace bad ones in the various towns. The former Minister, in reply to a question which I put to him on 22nd February, 1956, assured me that in 1957 it was hoped to commence construction of a new barracks in Roscommon town. I have looked up the Board of Works Estimate this year and I find that there is provision for the construction of barracks in various centres throughout the country and for the erection of new barracks in Kerry, Cork, Monaghan and elsewhere, but I see no provision made for the construction of new barracks in Roscommon. I want to put it this way to the Minister: he himself knows that in County Roscommon there is no industrial employment. The town of Roscommon to-day is merely a ghost town, so far as employment is concerned.
 It is absolutely essential, if that town is not going to deteriorate further, that employment be given. Many of the people in the town and surrounding areas were very hopeful that this year a start would be made on the construction of a new barracks, especially in view of the promise made by Deputy Everett when Minister for Justice. I would ask the Minister at this stage to put this work on the priority list. I am not in a position to say when application was first made or a decision was first made in connection with the other barracks but in view of the special circumstances and the lack of employment in the town of Roscommon and surrounding areas, I would urge on him to ensure that the work commences this year on the erection of the new barracks.
It has been brought to my attention that this hotel called the Bridewell is not what we would expect in the light of the conditions obtaining generally in England and elsewhere throughout the rest of the world. Earlier in the new year there were seven young men detained in the Bridewell. They were kept in solitary confinement for three days and, believe it or not, in this holy island, they were not allowed to go to Mass on New Year's Day. I think that the people of Ireland should be told that. It should be explained to them that seven young idealists, who were arrested for offences under the Offences Against the State Act, were detained in the Bridewell in solitary confinement for three days and were not allowed to attend Mass on New Year's Day.
We hear a lot of criticism of conditions behind the Iron Curtain. If there were young Catholic prisoners behind the Iron Curtain who were not allowed to attend Mass on a Holyday of Obligation the papers here would be full of criticism, deploring the action of the particular Government in that matter. Yet in Ireland we have this shameful action taken in connection with these young men. I understand, apart from that, that conditions in this establishment are very bad indeed. All I would say is that in future, whatever decisions are taken by this Government or by the Minister, arrangements  should be made to keep these young men away from the Bridewell.
I should like the Minister to give an explanation in his reply as to why provision was not made to allow these young men to attend their services. I think the people of the country would be anxious to know whether it was a decision by the Government or an oversight on the part of the staff in that particular institution. It is very essential that we should have the truth in this matter.
Speaking about these young men and others who have been detained— some of them at present serving sentence—I believe that the former Government were not satisfied with the manner in which a number of district justices were administering the law. The last Government saw fit to order an investigation into the conduct of one district justice who had the unfortunate and sad task of operating the law as it is in connection with the Offences Against the State Act. That unfortunate district justice had to administer that law and in so doing had the terrible experience of sentencing decent young Irishmen to prison. Evidently the Government of the day were not satisfied that he was doing his job efficiently and an inquiry was ordered into his conduct. For the purpose of clarification and for the record, I should like to point out that the members of the Government who took this action were enabled to do so as the result of an Act passed in this House in 1946.
They took advantage of an Act passed under Fianna Fáil, an Act, when it was a Bill going through this House, they opposed tooth and nail, and yet, when it suited them, they took full advantage of that particular provision in order to intimidate— shall we say?—the lower echelons of the law. I think it would be no harm to quote the remarks of Deputy J. A. Costello, as he then was, on the Courts of Justice Bill as it went through this House. Deputy Costello at that time was afraid that at some stage in the future some Government would use its position and power to set up a one-man commission to inquire into the decisions and conduct of district justices. This is what  Deputy Costello, as he then was, had to say on that occasion—I quote from column 205, Volume 102, of the Dáil Debates:—
“A judge, whether he belongs to the lower ranking section of the judicial hierarchy or the higher, ought to have control of his own court. If he has not control, through the exercise by politicians of control, of the business of his own court, his functions may be seriously interfered with and his independence sapped.”
That was the statement of Deputy Costello in 1946 when it was suggested that in order to make district justices amenable they would be brought under the control of a High Court judge who could, on his own, carry out an investigation into their conduct and make recommendations upon their activities. Deputy Costello opposed that provision tooth and nail. Yet when it came to his having the responsible position of Taoiseach, he took immediate opportunity of putting into effect that section which he deplored when it was being discussed in this House.
Deputy Costello was not alone in his criticism in 1946. He was ably helped at that time by Deputy Cosgrave who later became Minister for External Affairs and who, in that capacity, had plenty to say about conditions in every other country in the world when he went to the United Nations and gave advice to every other country in the world on how to run their own business but forgot to look at his own backyard at home.
In 1946, when the Courts of Justice (District Court) Bill was going through, Deputy Cosgrave spoke here. Like his colleague, he was horrified and perturbed that power be given to any Government to direct a High Court judge to investigate the conduct of a district justice. As reported at column 397 of Volume 102 of the Official Report, Deputy Cosgrave said:—
 He, too, as a member of the Cabinet, must bear Cabinet responsibility for the decision to appoint Mr. Justice Teevan to investigate the conduct of a district justice who was doing his duty according to his lights. This raises very serious issues with regard to the independence of the courts. It raises the issue that no longer will a district justice have the independence he really should have. The fear will always be there in the mind of a district justice that the Government will appoint a High Court judge to investigate his activities if those activities do not suit the Party in power. We shall have to have it made crystal clear that the courts as they are should be completely free of political interference. It cannot be said that in the past three years the courts were free from political interference.
There is a motion on the Order Paper which will enable me to deal with other aspects that come under the present Minister's jurisdiction. I do not know whether or not I would be in order at this stage in referring to certain Acts which are in operation at the present time—in particular, the Offences Against the State Act, 1939.
Mr. McQuillan: Am I precluded from criticising the operation of legislation? I understood I would be entitled to criticise the administration of the Department, and so forth. Furthermore, I understood that if certain Acts that were passed prior to the last 12 months were brought into operation in the course of the past 12 months I would be entitled to refer to their operation over that period.
Mr. McQuillan: In the course of the past few months a number of young men were hauled in by the forces of the State under the Offences Against the State Act, 1939. To be quite frank with the Minister, I want to tell him that personally I was horrified to discover that such powers existed in this State as were available under that 1939 Act and put into operation here in the past few months. I am referring specifically to Section 52 of that Act, sub-section (1) of which provides:
“Whenever a person is detained in custody under the provisions in that behalf contained in Part IV of this Act, any member of the Garda Síochána may demand of such person, at any time while he is so detained, a full account of such person's movements and actions during any specified period and all information in his possession in relation to the commission or intended commission by another person of any offence under any section or sub-section of this Act or any scheduled offence.”
In plain words, that sub-section means that any individual could be hauled in by a member of the Garda Síochána and asked: “What was your neighbour doing yesterday at 6 o'clock in the evening?” or “What was your neighbour doing this day three weeks ago at 7 o'clock in the evening?” If the individual concerned failed to betray his neighbour by saying what he was doing at those times he could be taken in and given a sentence of six months for not letting the cat out of the bag.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy seems to be criticising legislation passed by this House. As I pointed out, the Deputy is in order in discussing the administration of the Acts but he is not in order in criticising legislation, as he is evidently doing.
Mr. Desmond: Deputy McQuillan was worried about the £40. I think my colleagues will agree with me that we may have need of it at the next meeting of the Cork County Council when it becomes known that Deputy MacCarthy suggests to the Minister that Cork jail be handed over to the university authorities. I want to make the position plain. A deputation met the previous Minister here in Leinster House in regard to this important subject. The members of that deputation spoke not as individuals but on behalf of the members of the Cork County Council as a whole. Deputy MacCarthy was a member of that deputation. The fact that he was also a member of the governing body of the college had nothing to do with it. Perhaps I should also say that the members decided in the past, hold the view in the present and are determined to claim Cork jail in the future as the rightful possession of the Cork County Council whenever a question arises of handing it over.
 If, then, there is to be a question of what use will be made of the jail or whether they, in turn, will give it to some other authority, I submit that that is a matter for the Cork County Council to decide. It is most important that we state our claim to the property which we believe is ours in law and which we believe we should, in law, get.
I notice that no mention whatever is made in the Minister's speech of the terrible accidents which have occurred in the past 12 months. Indeed, many such accidents occurred in years gone by and they are getting worse. I have in mind the type of person driving a motor car who is permeated with the spirit of alcoholic enthusiasm which has given him the feeling that he is the only person with a claim to the public highway and that everybody else must either get out of his way or be left dead on the road. I am disappointed that the Minister failed to point the fact that accidents are increasing rather than decreasing. I sympathise with the Garda authorities in their efforts to cope with a particularly undesirable type of motorist and I can see full justification for the Minister making adequate provision for motor transport for the Gardaí so that they can check on these individuals but, in my opinion, that is not enough.
Deputy McQuillan deplored the actions of certain people. I tried to impress on Deputy Everett when he was Minister, and I want to impress now on the present Minister, the desirability of keeping a special check on accidents, first of all, on the court proceedings subsequently and, thirdly, on the outcome of such proceedings. Day after day complaint is made that there must be something radically wrong because so many of these menaces on the roads get off so lightly. Unfortunate men and women and little children are killed on the roads and the offender gets off. Except for the payment of certain moneys, the offender gets away with it. These accidents and subsequent proceedings should be pursued to the bitter end. I shall say no more.
Twelve months ago I drew attention to the fact that it was vitally essential to provide motor-cycle facilities for  Gardaí on such roads as the Cork-Crosshaven road during the summer months. I know that Deputy Healy will agree with me in this. It is no use expecting Gardaí stationed in Douglas, Carrigaline or Crosshaven to check on these road hogs who are so anxious to kill everyone who comes in their way. That position cannot be successfully remedied by a system of Gardaí travelling around in easily identifiable cars. Every driver who sees that car becomes a careful driver on the instant. We believe that the most successful way of coping with the dangerous driver is by having a system of motor-cycle patrols. Last year we were told that such patrols were going South. On one occasion, when coming to Dublin, I met six or seven, well-equipped, heading for the South. So far, I have seen only one around Cork. Where the rest went, I do not know. We certainly need such patrols during the summer months.
We all regret the increase in crime, particularly the increase in juvenile crime. Now, exceptions must be treated in the way they deserve. The problem is a big one in Dublin admittedly because of the density of the population but, on the other hand, there are many parents who, because the child's name—thank God, for the sake of the child—is not mentioned in the newspapers take the view that everything is O.K. That shows a complete lack of parental responsibility. It is lack of parental control which is causing so much of the trouble nowadays. We are all hoping for the day when one policeman will be sufficient in every village. So long as parents fail to appreciate their responsibilities to their children and, through their children, to society as a whole, we will be faced with considerable difficulty.
We shall have difficulty, first of all, in relation to the numbers essential to man an effective force and, secondly, we shall suffer the headache of worrying how these children will turn out later on. I appreciate the excellent rehabilitation education given to these offending children in our institutions. It is good that the State, at any rate, tries to do the right thing for these children, but it would be better if parents could be brought to realise  their moral responsibility for their children. I go so far as to say that where a child offends a second time, the parents of that child should be exposed for what they are, namely, a disgrace to the name of father and mother of Irish children.
I want to raise an important matter now in relation to the preparation of the voters' lists. The Guards are expected to check after another man has done the work, work which he is paid to do. Year after year at local authority meetings attention is drawn to the fact that in every parish, and in every part of every parish, there are omissions from the lists and there are also additions which should not appear. I appeal to the Minister to consider the possibility of having the compilation of the list done solely by the Gardaí. In that way someone will have responsibility and no one can be blamed except the responsible individual. I believe that if the Gardaí are given this work, they will make a good job of it.
Mr. McGilligan: I want to address two queries to the Minister for Justice on one matter. That is the matter of the inquiry held into the conduct of a district justice. It is public knowledge that a district justice did behave in such a way that the provisions of the Act of 1946 were brought into play and the Minister's predecessor asked the Chief Justice, in accordance with the Act, to appoint a High Court judge to make inquiry into what was reported in the newspapers, find out what the facts were and, generally, to report. That procedure was fully carried out in accordance with the Act. The Chief Justice did appoint a judge of the High Court and he did make inquiries and a report was received by the former Minister for Justice before he left office.
There are two questions that I should like to ask with regard to that. First of all, have the Government made up their minds whether any action is called for as a result of that report; secondly, whether it is the Government's intention to publish that report, whether they are going to take action on it or not? These are two things  that I think should be answered and I am personally very clear that the publication of the report is the only thing that would quiet public interest in this matter.
There has been some talk in this House about the independence of the judiciary. The independence of the judiciary is not absolute, even in the phrase that is used about them in the Constitution, the cryptic phrase, which says that judges are to be subject to the Constitution and the law. Whether that means that their independence is subject to the law is a moot question. But judicial independence is not protected for all judges. It is not indeed protected for any judge as against misbehaviour or incapacity. Judges may be removed by a parliamentary vote for misbehaviour and incapacity. The constitutional position is that the only limitation on the removal of a judge through the medium of the parliamentary vote is that that is given only to Supreme Court and High Court judges. The other judges have been given the same protection by law, but the Dáil which passed that law has from time to time seen fit to make other provisions and they made a provision in 1946. Certain people objected to it. Deputy McQuillan called attention to the fact that Deputy Costello is one man who did and Deputy Cosgrave is another.
The provision was passed and it became an Act of this House and, if that provision had not been put in in 1946, there was another provision which was in earlier Acts which enabled a committee of three to dismiss a district justice. To my mind, the protection that was given to the district justices in the 1946 Act was a valuable protection, but it does not give absolute independence to any judge, particularly to a district justice or Circuit Court judge, and this House in its wisdom has seen fit from time to time to amend the conditions under which the independence of the judiciary is controlled and is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Deputy McQuillan speaks of a justice who had the unfortunate and sad task of sentencing certain people. If it be so unfortunate as all that and so sad, he had one resort. He could have  refused to act. He would have lost his position, of course, but a man who is really indignant about being called upon to try people for offences, even under the Offences Against the State Act, need not act, and if his sadness and state of misfortune gets sufficiently heavy with him, he will probably take the alternative given to him: he can take his pension and go. He need not try to exalt the independence of the judiciary to the highest point. It is not absolute. You cannot put it beyond what is in the Constitution and even the constitutional position, where the protection was given in respect of certain judges, has been changed from time to time by law.
I do not understand Deputy McQuillan's attitude about the public hangman and the £40 in the Estimates. I gather from his remarks that he does not object to £40 being paid to a person if he has to carry out an execution, but asks why should that be in this year's Estimate; if we are going to have a hanging this year, let us pay it next year. That is the complaint the Deputy made. The Deputy also states that from time to time we ape legislation passed in another place. He is speaking of England and he may have left people under the impression that England has abolished capital punishment. Of course it has not.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy McQuillan called Deputy Loughman to his aid so that they could get rid of the Offences Against the State Act, Section 52. He may try to get capital punishment abolished through the House, but, until he does, as there may have to be people sentenced to death and executed, it is only proper that there should be a minimum provision made for it.
 Deputy McQuillan has discovered that Section 52 is in an Act passed in the year 1939. Deputy McQuillan parades himself in his constituency as a man who is very alert in things and it is only this time apparently, since the raids in the North started about the 12th December last year, that he began to know Section 52 of the Act. The Taoiseach who is now in control of the affairs of the Government jailed many a man under Section 52 over a number of years.
Mr. McGilligan: Maybe not. The Deputy apparently only begins to learn when he comes into this House. He has been in the House a number of years and a good deal of old-time history has been talked as between the benches and there were many men jailed over the years from 1939 onwards under Section 52.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy ought to get a refresher course in a whole lot of other penal legislation that our present successors in Government, when they were predecessors, passed. Would the Deputy get rid of Section 52?
Mr. McGilligan: Will he? I would not because the Deputy would then have to move a bit further. Is he going to get rid of special courts? Would he like to have the ordinary courts empowered to act under the provisions of Section 52 which only applies to people who are detained in accordance with the Act, and, to be so detained, there must be at least suspicion that they have been guilty of some offence against the Offences Against the State Act, or are going to commit an offence under it. If the Deputy wipes out Section 52, will he leave the special courts, the  courts which have been composed all over the years of military people who need not have any legal qualification whatever and, if he does leave that out, will he go on to read the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act which allows people to be sent to jail because a Minister thinks it is proper that a man should go to jail? The Deputy has a good deal to learn in regard to what the law is.
Mr. McGilligan: Yes, definitely I do. The Government of the year 1939 decided to bring in all these things. It is a very drastic Act. It is to meet conditions which demanded drastic treatment. The present conditions, if they had been allowed to continue, might have got to the point where the only resort would have been military courts or else internment under the Amendment Act.
Mr. McGilligan: Apparently he did not know about the 1939 Act until recently and he is now proceeding to make a comparison with other countries. I do not know whether these provisions are paralleled elsewhere. I would be surprised if they are not. I think the world realised round about the time of Mussolini and Hitler that there was quite an amount of ingenuity displayed by these two gentlemen to use the institutions of their various countries in order to destroy them and people decided, in the Europe of those days, that it was a good thing to have legislation which  enabled one to take precautions ahead of destruction. That is what was done since the 12th December. That is the thing the Deputy is complaining of. Let him at least learn the laws of his own country—he has been a legislator since 1948—and then let us see what his amending hand would do.
Mr. McQuillan: That is no excuse at all. I followed up every bit of legislation that went through this House since 1948. I could not follow up what went before. It is not too bad to have done it since 1948.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy is getting his learning now. He knows the present position. Let us see what his amending hand will do. I want to see how far will he go because then we will realise whether the Deputy really is in favour of the institutions of the State or would like to see them broken down. That is the test question.
Mr. T. F. O'Higgins: I should like to add a word or two to what has been said in the debate. First of all, I should like to avail of this opportunity in considering these Estimates which, of course, are the Estimates prepared by the Minister's predecessor, Deputy Everett—I think it would be fitting from this Party, the Fine Gael Party— certainly—to pay a tribute to Deputy Everett as Minister for Justice. Particularly in the past 12 months and especially in recent months, he handled a difficult and a potentially dangerous situation in an exemplary manner and by the action he took fortunately, I believe, a serious national crisis was averted. The present Minister, I have no doubt, will be prepared to join in the tribute to Deputy Everett.
I think it is a pity—I notice that Deputy McQuillan is no longer in the House—that Deputies by anything they say or any action of theirs inside or outside the House should in any  way lend succour to those who threaten our democratic institutions here. They possibly do not appreciate the danger involved. Certainly the threat which the previous Government had to face at the beginning of this year was a threat aimed directly against this Parliament, against our laws and against our institutions. I think it comes ill from any Deputy to be so foolish as to appear to support or uphold the action of those misguided people. In any event, I think the Minister knows that, in relation to that difficulty and to dangers of that kind, he can rely on the support, so long as he and his colleagues discharge their duty, of the Fine Gael Party.
May I just pass from that to one other matter, and again in this respect I think some credit is due to the Minister's predecessor? Any Deputy who looks at the Statute Books for the years 1954 and certainly 1955, 1956 and 1957 and up to the change of Government, will be struck by the number of law reform statutes which are incorporated. Certainly the last Dáil set a very inspiring example by the number of measures aimed at law reform which were introduced by the Minister's predecessor and passed through the Oireachtas. May I express the hope that that good work will be continued?
On many occasions when I was last in Opposition, I stressed on this Estimate the great need which exists for us in this country to bring the ordinary law affecting the rights and duties of individuals more into accord with modern needs. Many of the laws which operate at the moment are archaic and out of date and need considerable modification and reform. In the past two or three years, a very big step forward was taken in initiating worthwhile reform. Many other Bills were planned and many other reforms were intended.
One was a much needed reform dealing with the law of civil liability in relation to torts and particularly to the defence of contributory negligence. When I was last in Opposition, I introduced a Private Members' Bill  which was considered by the Dáil and which aimed at the abolition of the defence of contributory negligence as it is at present known. The previous Government decided to make that measure a Government measure and it was planned to introduce it. May I express the hope that the present Minister will interest himself in this work and that many of the measures, which I know have been pretty well prepared already, will be introduced?
There are no votes to be got from law reform, but the only way in which the law can be reformed is by this legislative assembly. I often feel that we waste a considerable amount of time doing far less valuable work and that it might be a good thing if we devoted more time to rectifying some of the glaring anomalies which have existed through the years and which have not been remedied simply because Governments have been too busy doing other things and the Dáil had not the time to do it. Many of these Bills have been prepared already. The very excellent section in the Law Offices available to the Minister has done, I understand, excellent work in getting these measures ready and I express the hope that they will be introduced and that this work of law reform may continue.
Finally, in view of the fact that Deputy McQuillan raised this matter of the action of the previous Government in relation to the threat to our democratic institutions and in relation to the action it took with regard to a district justice, I do not think any member of the previous Government, with regard to these matters, makes or will ever make any apology for any action we took. We did our duty in accordance with our obligations and even if it was misunderstood at the time, we are quite satisfied that what we did was right and that if we had not taken the action we took, a very serious danger would have threatened this country.
Mr. Moran: There are some matters I wish to refer to briefly on this debate. The first one is in connection with the references made here to a district justice. Taking the position of district justices generally throughout  the country to-day, to my knowledge, they are very largely unemployed. The work which went on in District Courts has very largely disappeared. To some degree at all events, that is due to the depreciation of money values and as a result the jurisdiction exercised by these courts in its present form is no longer realistic.
I remember that some time ago legislation was introduced here to increase the jurisdiction in the Circuit Court and the District Courts. I suggested an amendment to increase the District Court jurisdiction of £50 in the case of contracts and tort, but it was said we were doing something revolutionary. Due to the depreciation in money value, there is no work whatsoever being done in the District Courts nowadays. Very few cows knocked down on the roads nowadays are worth less than £50. Accordingly, we have district justices twiddling their thumbs looking for work. The situation is such that we could do with half the district justices in order to get rid of the work. That does not mean that I believe they should be removed; what I am suggesting is that the Minister should re-examine the whole position with a view to increasing the jurisdiction of both the District Courts and the Circuit Courts to realistic sums.
What I am aiming at is decentralisation in every sense of the word. The people should have available the services of these courts, even of the High Court, at less expense. The practice has now grown up of sending the High Court on circuit; they have been hearing cases in Cork, Galway and other big centres, on the basis that it is more convenient to litigants and to poor people who would otherwise have to bring their cases to Dublin. That position should obtain as a matter of right for the people of rural Ireland, who should have not imposed upon them the difficulty of travelling to Dublin with hosts of witnesses, engineers and doctors whose fees and expenses they can ill-afford to pay. The services of the High Court should be made available to those people at the least possible expense. There is no reason why the  High Court should not be sent among those people.
I should like to make brief reference to land registration. At the moment, there are long delays in the discharge of equities. The discharge of equities is essentially a slow business, but there is no reason why it should take two or three years. I am told the difficulty is because of staff. It is a matter that should be remedied, because at the moment there are unnecessary delays in the completion of sales. The same delays affect Departments of State, particularly the Department of Lands, who insist on equities being discharged before they acquire land.
I listened to Deputy T. F. O'Higgins paying tribute to Deputy Everett, the former Minister. Deputy Everett, no doubt, did his business well in his own way, but there is one matter he did for which members of my profession and the public generally will remember him not very kindly. That is the astounding increase in stamp duties he imposed on all and sundry. It went through very slickly.
Mr. Moran: Deputy Everett put it on and, in doing so, struck the greatest blow ever at the weakest and poorest sections of the community. I do not know if he realised he was penalising even poor unfortunate labourers who might meet with accidents. He penalised every person, no matter how poor, who might have recourse to the courts in order to recover compensation.
Mr. Moran: This was done by some form of imposition Order. I want to give a practical instance illustrating how daft this legislation by imposition Order can be. Take a case of bankruptcy. The stamp duty has been increased to such an extent that the State can now take £50 in stamp duty  at the expense of creditors who might have to be satisfied with four or five shillings in the £. The cost of issuing civil bills has been increased from a few shillings to £1 each. Each of these impositions has been felt by the poorest sections of the community. No matter how badly off the previous Administration may have been for money, and no matter how closely they scraped the bottom of the pot, they might have left the unfortunate labourer alone in this regard. The Minister might get an opportunity of looking into the position when he is considering the work of his Department.
With reference to the Garda Siochána, there is one form of duty which they should not be asked to do. That is the practice that has grown up in rural Ireland of dealing with unemployment assistance applications. I think that is no work for the Garda. It has bad consequences both for the morale and the efficiency of the force. Everybody knows that grave abuses have grown up throughout the country because Gardaí have been put at this work. We all know it is very easy to put temptation in a man's way, particularly in the case of a man on small pay. Unfortunately, some of our people are adepts at this form of corruption. I suggest that the Minister should examine this whole position so that some other form of administration could be substituted. The present system is a bad one and the quicker it is replaced, the better for the force and the administration generally.
I want to speak for a moment on the administration of the Land Court. I do not know how far this comes under the administration of the Minister for Justice. Here again the procedure is obsolete, to the detriment of smallholders. The owner of ten or 15 acres is brought up here to have his case tried in Merrion Street before the Lay Commissioners, when his case might well be dealt with nearer home. This is a serious imposition on some unfortunate people. There was a time when such cases were dealt with in towns throughout the country. There may be some justification for having appeals dealt with in Dublin, but not  for the hearing here of resumptions and acquisitions.
The provisions made by the Land Commission in regard to costs and expenses are also completely obsolete; they are there since the year of one. In small cases which involve land worth not more than £200, the amounts allowed by the commissioners are so small that the persons concerned are at a considerable loss in the paying of counsel, valuers and other witnesses. In so far as the Minister has any jurisdiction in this matter, I hope he will look into it.
Mr. Larkin: I should like to open my remarks by saying how pleased I am with three items mentioned in the opening statement of the Minister. The first is the fact that we are closing two gaols; secondly, that there has been an extension of the system of cautioning children under 14 instead of automatically hauling them before courts, with consequent bad impressions on their young minds; and, thirdly, the fact that Guards have in recent years instituted fewer prosecutions for minor technical infringements, particularly road traffic infringements. These three developments are very welcome, because for some years it appeared to many of us in the City of Dublin that the main activity of the Garda Síochána was to wait around the corner till somebody parked a car in a wrong place for about ten minutes, rush in, take the person's name and the number of the car and immediately institute a prosecution. The time they took to deal with these minute offences could have been much more profitably used in performing their main function, the detection and prevention of crime.
We must, however, echo the expression of regret which the Minister gives us when he says there has been an increase in crime in the last 12 months, especially in the City of Dublin. The problem of crime detection and prevention in our city is little different from the same problem in any other city, town or village throughout the State, because for many years now there has been a steady shifting of our population. Families have been moving from one portion of our city to another— the result of the efforts of local authorities or private developers, the result of expulsions from their dwellings by landlords, and so on—changing over at the rate of 3,000 or 4,000 families each year. Thus the newer areas in our city, containing thousands of families, have grown in many cases almost overnight, and this is not a condition which applies to many of our other cities and towns.
A colleague of mine, Deputy Desmond, in his remarks indicated— he said he was expressing only a personal viewpoint—that he thought that the main cause for the increase in this type of crime in the city, in particular, was lack of parental control. I do not like disagreeing with any Deputy, whether he is a colleague of mine or not, but some regard must be had to the fact that there are many, many parents of children in the City of Dublin residing outside the boundaries of the city and outside the boundaries of the State. There are far too many families in our city where the bread-winner has been compelled to leave his home and to leave the responsibility of guiding, protecting and chiding the children solely to his wife, or in some cases even to his mother or another relative.
The increase in the incidence of this type of crime may to some extent be the result of the very seriously unsettled conditions in our country and in our city, arising from very substantial unemployment and a very serious state of uncertainty and insecurity in the minds of our average citizens. Therefore, I would not subscribe to my own colleague's views in regard to the responsibility for and the cause of this increase during last year, and I would ask the Minister if, as a member of the Government, he will do whatever he can to help eradicate what I believe is one of the main causes.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer. It is a minor matter possibly to many Deputies, but it is a very serious matter to those who have to live in the city or who have to traverse the streets and roads in and around the City of Dublin. I refer to the increasing necessity for  some proper control of our traffic and the increasing necessity for the installation of traffic lights at many of the busy junctions. This is a matter for which I think the Minister has some responsibility, and I trust he will give it his attention in the course of the coming 12 months.
Finally, might I be permitted to mention another aspect in relation to the very often-discussed district justices, that is, the aspect of their attitude to many people who come before them charged with various offences? It is a frequent practice of justices operating in the courts throughout the metropolitan and other divisions to depart completely——
Mr. Larkin: I stand corrected and take your advice, Sir, but may I say as a Deputy that I do resent the strictures being cast in a very broad and general way on hundreds of citizens residing in various areas of the City of Dublin?
Mr. Larkin: I am asking that the matter be examined and I am protesting, as a representative elected by the citizens of Dublin, against the attitude adopted on occasion to citizens in various sections of our city, people against whom no charge at all is levelled. I am not criticising any district justice for the way in which he conducts his business as a district justice, but I am saying this, that if I live in a housing area and I am not before the courts on any charge, there is no justice, or anybody else, entitled publicly to take shelter behind an official position and make out a charge against me to indicate that I, and  hundreds of my fellow citizens, are not conducting ourselves with decency and decorum. That is very often suggested in our courts and I ask the Minister to take full cognisance of it.
I trust that the Minister will accept that in dealing with the question of detection and prevention of crime in our metropolis, our citizens are in this peculiar position. There is much more widespread temptation because of the grouping of industries, commerce and distribution in our city. There is the constant traffic into our city, by our own nationals and by non-nationals coming from outside the country, and, in addition, some of our townsfolk suffer from the problem of itinerants travelling into the city and on whom there is very little opportunity of exercising proper control and guidance.
There is another matter and I am not quite sure whether it is proper to this Estimate, but I will take this opportunity of mentioning it because I think the Minister has some responsibility in the matter. From time to time, the lives of people coming into the city and travelling on the outskirts of it are endangered by the fact that large bands of roving animals, particularly horses, are allowed to wander unchecked on some of the main arteries.
Mr. Larkin: My colleague remarks that they are multi-coloured horses. They are speckled and brown, but nevertheless they constitute a danger and up to the present there appears to be no constructive way of dealing with this problem. Deputies who have occasion to travel into the city to attend this House may have occasion to risk their lives as a result of these bands of horses, but for the citizens living near these encampments, there is not merely the risk to their lives but the annoyance of their gardens being broken into and their children being in danger of being trampled under foot. Ther has been more than one incident of children being kicked by horses on the roadway or by horses permitted to obtain access to some of the public open spaces in and around the city.
May I say in conclusion that I wish  the Minister well? I hope, however, at the conclusion of the year, to hear that there is a reduction, instead of an increase, in indictable offences in our city. Personally, I believe that this will be assisted if there is a substantially smaller number of unemployed and if a smaller number of our citizens are compelled to leave home and look for work elsewhere, leaving their children without the guidance and control to which all children are entitled.
Mr. D. Costello: At the outset, may I join with the remarks of Deputy O'Higgins in praising the Minister's predecessor in the excellent work he did in reforming many branches of the law during his period of office. I should like also to join with Deputy O'Higgins in his remarks in praising the very able officers of the Department for the manner in which the Acts were prepared and the assistance given to Deputies in the presentation of the Bills when they did come before the Dáil. I hope the Minister will continue the reform of the law which is undoubtedly needed here. There are many aspects of the law which are archaic. There are many aspects with which this House would be glad to deal and I hope the Minister will continue the work of law reform instituted by his predecessor.
There are certain aspects of the administration of the law to which I should like to refer. The first is the fact that we have an archaic and outmoded system of giving legal aid to poor prisoners. We have from time to time a number of people who are unable to pay out of their own resources for their defence in the courts. It seems to me that, while not going as far as the English system at present, this country should introduce a system of free legal aid for prisoners unable to pay for their defence from their own resources. I would not wish my remarks to be taken in any way as casting any doubts on the manner in which justices and judges behave towards prisoners who are not legally represented, but there can be no doubt that injustice has been done on occasion where prisoners were unable to pay for their defence from their own resources. We should help people in  this position and the system adopted in England, and extended by recent legislation, is that a justice can inquire into the circumstances of a person before him and if satisfied that he is unable to pay for his defence out of his own resources, may order legal aid to be given to him. I think such a system would greatly assist the proper administration of justice in our courts.
The Minister made reference to the incidence of juvenile crime in the country. There is one aspect of juvenile crime to which I should like the Minister to give particular attention, that is, the state and condition and the circumstances of the remand house here in Dublin.
Mr. D. Costello: I think it is of very great importance that immediate steps be taken to look into the manner in which the children who are remanded in custody, sometimes for a week and sometimes more, are put into custody in a remand house here in Dublin, sometimes with confirmed criminals. I know of my own personal knowledge of cases of young boys put into the remand house here for a period of a week and sometimes two weeks who have undoubtedly deteriorated, perhaps irrevocably, as a result of the contacts they made in that period. Obviously it would not be a great financial burden on the State to make proper provision, to have proper houses and proper staff in such circumstances. It is something to which urgent attention should be given by the Minister.
The other aspect of the Department's activities to which I wish to refer is the Adoption Act. When the Act was going through the House it was not, I think, contemplated that the number of applications for adoption orders would be as great as it has transpired they are. It has been proved that there are a number of faults in the existing machinery of the Adoption Act. I would be glad if the Minister would turn his attention to the work of the Adoption Board in order that the machinery may be perfected. I think it is proper that praise should be given to the members  of the Adoption Board who have done, under very great strain, excellent work under that Act.
Finally, there is one other matter to which I wish to refer. It raises larger issues than are contained in this Estimate but I think they are none the less relevant to it. It seems to me that anything that would bring the two parts of our country, North and South, closer together should be welcomed by the House. There are a number of aspects of the administration of justice in which we can co-operate with the Northern authorities. I am referring to a matter to which I have referred before. It is the issue of writs out of the jurisdiction and also the execution of judgments. At the present time in the case of a person to be sued in Northern Ireland an application to serve the writ out of jurisdiction has to be made. At present if judgment has to be executed against a person in Northern Ireland fresh proceedings have to be started in Northern Irelánd to do so. A similar position obtains in Northern Ireland when somebody in the Republic has to be either proceeded against or judgment obtained against him.
I can see no objection to an arrangement being arrived at by which the two parts of the country would treat each other as within the jurisdiction of the courts. It seems to me it would assist materially in the administration of justice if civil bills and summonses could be served directly on defendants in Northern Ireland and vice versa and if sheriffs in Northern Ireland would execute judgments against defendants in Northern Ireland, reciprocity being granted here. It might be a small thing but it would none the less be a step in the right direction of the recognition of this country as one whole nation.
Mr. MacCarthy: I would ask your indulgence, Sir, to say a few words of personal explanation. During my absence from the House a Deputy from the Labour benches stated that I had been on a deputation to the previous Minister regarding the question of the allocation of Cork prison, now closed, to Cork County Council and that I now  am advocating giving the building to University College, Cork. I wish to say that when I approached the Minister with the deputation from the county council the technical officers of the county council had not examined the prison and pronounced it unsatisfactory and unsuitable for their purposes. The university authorities stated subsequently that it would suit their purposes. In reply to the Leader of the House I stated I had no hesitation under existing circumstances in advocating that the college authority should get the building but there was no inconsistency in my action in the matter.
Mr. M. J. O'Higgins: There are just a few matters I want to raise on this Estimate. I would be glad if the Minister could deal with them in his reply. In his opening statement the Minister did not give any indication as to whether his Department have been giving consideration to the question of reorganising the Dublin city and county District Court areas. I understand that for some time past that matter has been receiving attention. I am not aware of the extent to which it has been receiving active consideration by the Department but I am aware that a scheme was put up to the Department some time ago by the Dublin Solicitors' Bar Association giving their views as to the type of reorganisation which was necessary in the Dublin city and county areas. I think that the Department have considered the suggestions put up by the association and have conveyed their views on those suggestions.
I do not want to appear to be unduly critical of the Minister for not having dealt with that particular matter in his opening remarks. I quite appreciate that it is the kind of matter that he personally probably will not get around to considering for some time. My purpose in raising it is to draw his attention to it. I think it is a matter which should be dealt with as speedily as possible and should receive the personal attention of the Minister. Different views will be expressed as to what type of changes, if any, are desirable in the District Court organisation  in the city and county areas. I think it will be generally agreed that some changes are necessary and I would suggest that the Minister, as soon as he can, should take the opportunity of seeing that the matter is put under active consideration in his Department.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the remarks made by other Deputies regarding the Minister's predecessor in office, Deputy Everett, nevertheless I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing to a large extent with the remarks made by Deputy Moran in connection with the increase in stamp duties which was imposed last year. I think the increases imposed were definitely too much. While some increase could have been expected and while it is true that in many cases no increase had been made for a very considerable number of years, nevertheless I feel that the increases which eventually were decided upon were too high. Deputy Moran criticised these increases strongly. I must say I have some sympathy with his point of view.
I want to remind Deputy Moran that he is now in a strong position to get this matter rectified. He is a member of a Party which, without consultation with any other Party or group in this House, can introduce whatever measures are necessary to alter the position in relation to these fees, and I hope that between now and this time next year, Deputy Moran will have used his efforts and influence in the Government Party to bring about some change. There is no point in Deputy Moran or anyone else on the Fianna Fáil Benches criticising the action which was taken, if, when they are in a position to remedy the position, they do not make an effort to do so. I have no doubt that Deputy Moran will himself make the effort and I hope that the Minister will lend him a sympathetic ear, and that if the Minister will not do so, that Deputy Moran will be able to mobilise sufficient support for his point of view among the Deputies sitting behind the Minister.
Another matter I want to touch on very briefly is the suggestion to establish a force of women police here. The Minister was asked a question with regard to it yesterday and I think I  am correct in saying that his reply was to the effect that this matter would receive his attention whenever the opportunity arose. I pressed the Minister to say that he would make an early opportunity of considering the matter and he did not seem inclined to go with me on that. I merely want to bring this point again to the attention of the Minister because this subject has been hanging fire, if you like, for a number of years. There is a definite volume of opinion which feels that the establishment of women police here is necessary and that it would, in a number of ways, be beneficial. I think all Parties in the House have had, within the past three or four years, an opportunity of giving the proposition some consideration and I do not think that the Minister should delay unduly in arriving at a decision one way or the other.
I agree with what Deputy McQuillan said with regard to votes for members of the Garda Síochána. That is another matter on which I think there is no disagreement among the Parties in the House. It was discussed in the last Dáil—I think it was on a motion by Deputy McQuillan—and that motion was accepted by the then Minister for Local Government. I think it had the approval of every Deputy who spoke. I assume this is a matter which does not lie directly within the bailiwick of the Minister for Justice, but, as the member of the Government charged with the direction of the police force, I would ask him to urge on his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, the necessity for implementing what I believe was the decision to give the members of the force votes in general elections and to do that as quickly as possible.
I should like to compliment the present Minister on a speech he made quite recently—I think it was on the occasion of the passing-out parade of some new members of the force—when he referred to the paramount importance of courtesy in the discharge of their duties. I think the Minister put it this way—I do not claim to have his exact words and I have not got his speech in front of me—that when all was said and done, the most important words for the Garda to use were the  words “Thank you”. I think the Minister was quite right in emphasising the necessity for courtesy in the discharge of police duties. I want to say that, in my own experience, the members of the force, certainly those with whom I or any other member of the public comes in contact, do fulfil in a very full measure the ideal which the Minister set before them.
I find that, by and large, the members of the force are exceedingly courteous and patient in dealing with the public and carrying out their duties generally, whether it is on traffic duty, in connection with the detection of crime, or dealing with court prosecutions or such matters. They are very courteous and very patient and it is only right that tribute should be paid to them. I think it is also right to point out that one short-tempered member of the force can ruin the reputation of the force. If one member of the force is a bit testy or touchy and inclined to become impatient in dealing with members of the public, a completely false impression of the force as a whole may be given by that one individual. Consequently, I think the Minister was quite right in the line he adopted when addressing the new members of the force.
I should like to conclude by joining with other speakers in paying tribute to Deputy Everett's work as Minister for Justice in respect of the various matters of law reform which he undertook and dealt with during his term of office. I think the Minister will agree with me that the nature of the work which his predecessor undertook was complicated; it was work that was necessary but work which could very easily have been shelved for another few years. Every member of the House should be grateful to Deputy Everett for the manner in which he dealt with that work during his period of office.
Mr. Rooney: I wish to say only a few words in relation to the system under which persons are called to serve on juries. We all know that but for the fact that discretion is exercised by those in authority, very frequently many persons who are called to serve on juries would be obliged to incur both hardships and expenses which  could be regarded as very unreasonable, in addition to the fact, of course, that persons so called are frequently excused for health reasons.
Mr. Rooney: The case I am making is that it comes under the Department of Justice and I am referring to the jury system, as we know it. I wonder whether we could have a system whereby retired persons in good health and mentally fit could serve on these juries. We have many persons who retire at a comparatively early age who would be only too glad to give that service to the public by attending and acting on juries.
Mr. Rooney: I am not asking the  House to consider the decisions of jurors. I am asking the House to consider the question of the jury system under which persons are required to act as jurors in civil cases, in addition to acting as jurors on criminal cases. I feel I am entitled to do that.
Mr. Kyne: I do not intend to hold the House very many minutes. There are just one or two points I should like to bring before the Minister. While in the course of my remarks I may appear to be somewhat critical of the methods by which the Garda carry out some of their duties, I should like to preface my remarks by stating quite clearly that, as a police force, I believe our Gardaí are second to none and that on the whole they carry out a very difficult and arduous task in an excellent manner, but my attention was drawn to the fact that in connection with lorries of a certain weight there is a limit of some 30 miles an hour. I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that it appears that on the Naas road there are a good many of our police force occupied in following lorries which, because of their new construction and being modern vehicles, cannot be driven in top gear at any lower speed than 40 miles per hour. These are trailed by police on cycles, waylaid, and, an offence having been committed, are brought into court.
I would suggest that until that law is amended as it will have to be in the near future—it may not be the business  of the Minister to amend it and it is not for me to advocate amending legislation here—the Minister should instruct the police force to turn the Nelson eye, as it were, to such offences which it is almost impossible not to commit in the present modern lorry. It is impossible for the ordinary driver to carry on his business successfully without going at least in ordinary top gear which is not, in my opinion, a danger to road traffic at all, but rather the reverse. If you go slow, you will cause jamming and trouble. I believe the Minister should use his position to intimate to the Garda that offences of that nature should not be dealt with by prosecution.
Speaking of road traffic offences, I feel that the Garda are inclined to blame the motorist all the time. As a motorist of not very long standing, some eight or nine years, I found that most of the accidents or near accidents one observes are caused not so much by motorists themselves as by pedestrians or pedal cyclists. They seem to believe that they can stand in the middle of the road, or at any corner, or in groups and expect you as a driver to pull out of the traffic lane and usually involve yourself in an accident.
Very rarely have I seen a prosecution brought against a civilian. It was my good fortune on an occasion to draw the attention of the Garda to a cyclist who almost insisted upon committing suicide by driving across my track. I asked the Garda to carry out their duties and they did so. That was one of the very rare occasions upon which a cyclist was fined. If we had a good deal more of that, we would have more safety on the roads, which is being cried out for by the newspapers but which is not being achieved at all, due to the carelessness of the pedestrians and especially the pedal cyclist.
 There is just one other thing I should like to say, in connection with film censoring. I am altogether of the opinion that we should have a grading of films—one grading being the adult film which the film censor would consider suitable for adults, but with no admission for children. There should be a grade one film or a grade A film. I myself would suggest a grade A film, “A” meaning “adult”, which would be for adults only. Let the other films be suitable for adults and children. In that way, we would impose no hardship on the children. It would be for their good and I believe they would get better value. It is a waste of time and money, as well as being morally bad, for children to go in to see passionate love scenes acted by American, British or Irish actors or actresses. Something should be done by the Minister with regard to the grading of films.
Mr. Dillon: I find myself at variance with Deputy Rooney in regard to jurors. I do not think it would be a good thing to summon only the elderly or retired. I think there is an analogy between the duties of us all to participate in the administration of justice as there is a duty upon those of us who go into public life. I sometimes ask myself when I speak at a fair meeting, what am I doing here or why am I thumping a tub and asking the public to vote for me? It struck me that those of us who undertake that laborious assignment in the sphere of legislating are discharging the same duty as a juror discharges when he participates in the administration of the law. The juror goes so that we shall have the right to be judged by our peers—just as a parliamentary candidate goes so that he will make his contribution to secure election in order to avoid the danger of being governed by little men. Therefore, I think we should all accept the common duty of helping in the administration of justice, substantial as the sacrifice may on occasion be.
Really, my primary concern now is to mention two matters relating to children. I want to second what Deputy Costello said in regard to Marlborough House. My memory in  this matter goes back a great deal beyond that of Deputy Costello. I began to worry about this business when such children were in Summerhill. We have made some progress since the famous day when I persuaded the present Taoiseach to go down and pay a visit to Summerhill. I remember that when he came back, he said that, if his son were a delinquent, he would be very happy to see him in Summerhill. I could not help feeling on that occasion that he was stretching his conscience a bit, but suffice it to say that, having formed that interesting conclusion, he closed up Summerhill and we moved a step forward into the more commodious premises of Marlborough House. But premises do not matter so very much. If you have premises of gold and personnel of wood, you are very much worse off than if you have premises of wood and personnel of gold in connection with an institution of that kind.
Children of all sorts are sent to this remand home. It is supposed to be a remand home, but a practice has grown up in the children's court that, where the district justice does not believe the circumstances would justify the sending of a child to an industrial school or a reformatory for a protracted period, he adopts the procedure—legally doubtful, in my opinion—of sending the child off for a week to Marlborough House. I suppose that, technically, it is said that the child is on remand but, in fact, it is coming to be used as a method of disciplinary action for juvenile delinquency.
I do not want to sentimentalise this problem. I can only conceive of a district justice removing a child of tender years from the control of its parents in the event of his being satisfied that remonstrance and rebuke had in the past proved futile. I cannot imagine a child, guilty of a first offence, being taken from the custody of its parents and sent to Marlborough House or to an industrial school or a reformatory. Therefore, I suggest to the Minister that there is strong evidence from our own experience as parents that if a child is turning up repeatedly in the district court, it is highly unlikely that you are not faced in his case with some degree of  psychiatric disturbance. Therefore it behoves the State if it is constrained to remove a child from parental control—which the State should be very slow to do—to satisfy itself beyond all doubt that there is not some psychiatric factor in the case which requires correction, so that the child may be delivered from its tendency to delinquency.
We have in the city at the present time one excellent child guidance clinic and an experienced Order of religious in the Order of St. John of God—and there may be others—who concern themselves with psychiatry and child guidance. Is it unreasonable to suggest that some arrangement should be made whereunder there should be regular examination of the children in Marlborough House by responsible child psychiatrists of that kind, so that where the district justice is dealing finally with the disposition of a child, he will have at his disposal the report of a competent psychiatrist as to the state of the child's mind and, possibly, advice from such an experienced person that the fault is not in the child, him or herself, but in some domestic circumstance which has upset the child and precipitated him into a course of conduct which is bringing him into conflict with the law?
I do not expect the Minister to reply categorically to this suggestion now. All I would ask him to reply to categorically is this. Would he give an undertaking that at an early date he will ask permission of his colleague, the Minister for Education, to visit Marlborough House—because the fantastic fact is true that while the Minister for Justice sends the children there, it is the Minister for Education who is responsible for them? I have no doubt that if the Minister for Justice asks leave of his colleague to visit Marlborough House, it will be given. I may be wrong, but I look upon the present Minister for Justice as a commonsense type of man, with a humane approach to problems of this kind. If he would visit the institution himself and examine this problem sympathetically, I feel his influence in the future administration of this establishment would be salutary and good.
 The other matter in relation to children is this. Deputy Larkin spoke of the menace to traffic of the wandering horse. The wandering horse is usually associated with the tinker encampment. This is a problem that has confounded more Administrations than one, but I make no more formidable requisition on the Minister than this. My apprehension is that, if tinkers habitually camp on the side of trunk roads where fast traffic normally passes, the danger to their own children is appalling. You have a camp fire set and three or four toddlers rambling around it. Motor cars are passing at high speed. At any moment these babies may toddle out on to the road and be killed. I agree that there is a very considerable problem in rural Ireland about the itinerant animals that accompany tinker encampments and the depredation they do on gardens, farmyards, crops and so on. The representation I am making to the Minister for Justice will not abate that nuisance.
I am asking the Minister for Justice to remind the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána that he undertook, on more occasions than one, to require tinkers to pitch their camp on by-roads and to abstain from setting-up camp at the side of trunk roads. The question of dealing with them generally is a complex one. That is a simple matter. For two or three years, by a process of tactful persuasion, and perhaps something stronger, the tinkers were persuaded to abstain from setting-up camp at the side of trunk roads. In the last two or three years the practice of camping by the side of trunk roads has manifested itself very strongly again to the grave danger of the tinkers own children and to the great anxiety of passing traffic. I would ask the Minister to direct the attention of the Commissioner to that fact and to suggest to him that the Guards be asked once more to persuade these people, when they camp, not to camp at the side of main roads.
Mr. Traynor: I wish to join with Deputy Everett in the tribute he paid to the Governor of St. Patrick's Home on the North Circular Road to which  the borstal boys from Clonmel have been transferred. Wonderful work is being done in that institution. It was not possible in Clonmel, because of the small number of inmates, to give the training in technical education it was originally intended to give to these boys. There were not enough inmates in Clonmel to enable the establishment there to be run on the lines on which it should have been run. Most of the boys committed to Clonmel were from the cities, mainly from Dublin City, and a grave hardship was imposed on parents who were forced to journey to Clonmel, at considerable expense, to visit these boys.
In relation to dealing with boys, especially boys remanded to Marlborough House, I would like to inform Deputy Dillon, who raised the matter, that justices in the District Court and in the Children's Court are entitled to have the children who appear before them examined by a psychiatrist. They can have that examination carried out as often as they deem it necessary and the State pays the fees involved. From that point of view the children's welfare is reasonably safeguarded. The necessary advice is available and the recommendations of the psychiatrist are always implemented.
Mr. Traynor: I would not have any objections but, so many thing have been mentioned in the course of the debate as things that I should do as Minister for Justice, that I am beginning to think it is a great pity there are only 24 hours in the day.
Mr. Traynor: That is a difficulty every Minister is up against; he wants  as far as possible to meet all the requirements which he knows are necessary and all the requests that are made by the representatives of the people here but, of course, he is limited not only to the number of hours he can work but also in the amount of energy which he can apply to the task he has in hand.
Mr. Traynor: If I were to try to do all the things that I have been asked, not alone here but by correspondents also, we would have to have three or four Ministers for Justice. However, I can assure the Deputy that the welfare of the boys, as far as I am concerned, is as near to me as it is to the Deputy.
Mr. Traynor: I have a distinct recollection over a long number of years of the Deputy debating this particular question. I remember Deputy Boland having many a discussion with the Deputy across the floor of this House. Indeed, it may have been as a result of these discussions that the Borstal was eventually established in Clonmel. I think I am right in that. Within the last few days I have myself seen evidence of the magnificent work that is being done in relation to the boys incarcerated there: I have seen letters commending the head of that establishment, letters from the parents of boys who have been released and who have been put into excellent employment. The parents are deeply grateful to the head there because of the change that has taken place in these children.
There was a case made in regard to law reform. Within the limits of time, and so forth, I will do all that is possible in that regard. There is quite a volume of legislation almost ready for presentation to the Government. Until the opportunity arises of presenting that legislation, we cannot get on with the drafting of the Green Paper. I have seen three different Bills ready for presentation. I am concerned with the fact that I have introduced, or, rather, reintroduced a Bill in relation  to reversionary leases. That Bill, I have been informed, got its Second Reading and was then committed to a Special Committee. That Special Committee met once or twice at most. That Bill has now been reintroduced. It is quite possible that will mean another Special Committee. If that Special Committee is appointed and I am to be present at it, it will mean the giving of more valuable time as far as I am concerned. Until that gets through, I cannot see a whole lot of use in securing the First Reading of the Bills to which the Deputy has referred.
Mr. Traynor: I do say that I recognise, not only the necessity, but the desirability of doing whatever we can in respect of that reform and I can say that as far as I am concerned I will do everything that I understand the other Minister was also prepared to do.
The question of the vote for Gardaí was raised. I would venture to say that if it were a question of putting that to the House there would almost be unanimity in respect to it. If it rested with me to give the Gardaí a vote, I could see no reason why they should not have a vote. The members of the Army have a vote and they are as strong a force as the Garda. From the point of view of their official duties, I personally cannot see any reason why they should not have the vote and if it were left to me to give them the vote it would be almost assured. I do not know who would be responsible for making that provision or whether legislation would be necessary but, as the matter has been raised, I will take the opportunity of bringing it before the Government with a view to finding out who is responsible and if they will be prepared to change the present position to what in my opinion it should be.
Deputy McQuillan started his speech by picking out one of the sub-heads— sub-head K—which he described at some length and rather dramatically, I would say, and referred to £40 which is provided for the purpose of providing  a hangman. The position is that so long as capital punishment is part of the criminal law of this country it will always be necessary to provide that sum and we cannot do it secretly. If the Deputy wanted us to take it out of the Estimates and find the amount out of secret service moneys or something else, that cannot be done. There-fore, as long as capital punishment is in operation in this country it will be necessary to provide that sum in the event of its being necessary.
Mr. Traynor: If Deputy McQuillan would use his best endeavours to prevent people murdering other people, then we could easily eliminate the particular sub-head, but until we reach the happy stage that we will not have to try people for that crime I am afraid the sub-head will have to appear unless, of course, the House decides, as it might, that capital punishment should no longer operate here. Until that day comes the sub-head will have to be retained.
Mr. Traynor: The fact that we have been able to close at least three prisons is a step forward for this country. We should pat ourselves on the back for that fact. I do not suppose there is another nation in the world that is in the happy position of being able to close prisons. If there has been an increase in crime it is the type of crime that does not involve capital punishment. It is quite possible  that crime comes in waves or cycles and it is hoped that the volume of crime, which is more of the larceny type than any other dangerous type, will also abate. As far as the Garda Síochána are concerned, they are fully aware of the desirability of preventing a development of crime and are applying themselves to bringing about a reduction in that type of crime.
Deputy McQuillan raised the question of the Teevan Report. I have not got that report. I have not seen the report. Until the report is submitted to the Government, Deputies will realise that I can do nothing about it.
Mr. Traynor: I am not disputing that. I am not disputing that the report has been written and that it may even have been delivered, but what I am saying to the House is that I have not seen it. I do not know whether my predecessor saw it or not. I could not say whether he did or not. I am merely telling the House what the actual position is. Deputy McGilligan is anxious to know what is happening in respect to it and what action the Government are taking, and I am just making the statement now that I have not seen the report and that, therefore, it can hardly have been presented to the Government.
Mr. Dillon: The only matter outstanding is the decision as to when and whether the report should be published. I think it should be published. I think the fact that the district justice was rebuked by the judge appointed by the Chief Justice for his scandalous conduct should be published,  and I hope that the Minister will publish it.
Mr. Traynor: We are taking up the question of the reorganisation of all circuits with a view to reducing the number, in other words, extending the present circuits and reducing the number of district justices. That is being gone on with at the present moment. It will take some considerable time. Numbers of people will have to be consulted and advised, and so on, and asked for their views and that sort of thing and until that is completed, which will probably take a period of some months, we cannot do any more. That is the position in regard to the reorganisation of the District and Circuit Court districts.
Deputy Moran referred to the alleged corruption of the Gardaí. All I can say on that is that if I get evidence I will have it inquired into. A mere statement in the House is not sufficient for me to take action. If the Deputy is prepared to give me concrete evidence that such a thing is taking place, we can have the matter examined with a view to taking action.
Mr. Traynor: Deputy Moran also referred to the delay in the discharge of equities. The work in connection with the discharge of equities has improved and the applications on hand on the 31st December, 1955 numbered 870. In 1956 they numbered 820—that was a reduction—and on the 31st March, 1957, it had been reduced to 140. That should satisfy Deputy Moran that some improvements are being made.
On the matter of legal aid, I think Deputy Costello raised that question. I understand that this matter has been taken up on a number of occasions and it has always fallen down for some reason or another. I do not know what the reasons are, but it did not appear to work. I know that there are some charitable organisations prepared to give legal aid to prisoners who are unable to pay for it themselves.
Mr. Traynor: I am only saying that I regard law costs as being very heavy on the ordinary man who has to enter into litigation of one kind or another. Then we have the complaint that the additional fees have added excessively to that. As far as I can see, the fact is that, from the point of view of the litigant the fees, even though they have been increased, will still represent but a small fraction of the typical bill of costs. Their impact on the cost of litigation is negligible and from the point of view of the State and the tax-payer there will still be a substantial deficit to be made up. In the circuit court, for instance, as will be seen on page 155 of the Volume of Estimates,  the total expenditure is estimated at £212,000, whereas the estimated receipts, which take account of the new fees, come only to £59,700. That is a big deficit.
It is clear, therefore, that the new Fees Orders do not mean a denial of the principle that the cost of litigation, even private litigation, should and must be subsidised by the State. They do represent an effort to strike a fairer balance between the litigant and the taxpayer. For many years the taxpayer has had to bear the brunt of every increase in the cost of the courts. The litigant is now being asked to pay his share in future. What he is being asked to bear is still a very small sum compared with the total cost of going to court and certainly would not prevent anyone who would otherwise do so from taking a case to court.
Mr. M. J. O'Higgins: It all depends on what case you are considering. I do not think you can get a typical bill of costs. I do not think you could take a bill of costs and say it is a typical one. It might be typical in relation to a particular sphere—a running-down action or something of that sort.
Mr. Traynor: I think it will be agreed that there is a big deficit between the two and that the ordinary taxpayer should not be asked to pay the difference between the two. While this does not in fact make much impact on the costs at all, it is an effort, I suppose, to get in some extra money towards the expenses of the courts and so on.
Mr. Traynor: That is the position and I do not think that I would be prepared to alter it. I do not know that it is going to affect matters. I hardly imagine that it will affect litigation. It is not going to prevent people from going to court or prevent lawyers or solicitors from getting the fees they are getting at the present time.
Mr. Traynor: I do not know whether I would be entitled to deal with the next point. Someone referred to women police—I think it was Deputy O'Higgins—and the Ceann Comhairle —I do not know whether the Deputy was present or not—decided that it would be out of order in a discussion on this Estimate.
Mr. Dillon: Not on the women police. I was proclaiming loudly that if you wanted to turn out women police in the morning you had power to do so and you would not want legislation. I think you can turn out women police without legislation.
Mr. Traynor: As the matter was raised, I would say that I would be more or less sympathetic to the idea of a women's police force, but that is another matter which would require a very considerable amount of consideration.
Mr. Traynor: Until it gets that, I do not think we can take very much action. That is what I referred to when I said in my reply yesterday that it would be necessary to give the matter due consideration and when it gets that, then it would be my job to submit it to the Government. What the Government would do I could not say. They might throw me and the women police out.
There were some minor matters raised such as that of the Roscommon Garda Station. I can only say that these things have been of long standing. We know that from year to year we are told that the matter is under consideration. I think that money mainly is the reason why advance is not being made in that direction. It is due to economic stringency.
Mr. Traynor: If I have left any questions unanswered, all I can say is the usual old chestnut—that I will have them all carefully examined, in the course of the perusal of the Official Debates, and that we will take the necessary action in regard to same.
Mr. Dillon: If I may put the Minister a question—I hope his explanation will not make him too cynical—might I ask if he would be kind enough to draw the attention of the Commissioner to the specific matter in relation to tinkers, which I mentioned?
Mr. Traynor: It is one of the things that cause a tremendous amount of difficulty to the Gardai throughout the country. It is almost insoluble. I do not know how it can be tackled. The same problem exists in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and, in fact, in most European countries. All I can say is that I will ask the Garda to do what they can.
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