European Communities Bill, 1972: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 9 November 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 263 No. 7

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Debate resumed on amendment No. 17:

Before section 5 to insert a new section as follows:—

“The enactments mentioned in the Schedule to this Act (being enactments that are superseded or to be superseded by reason of the European Communities' obligations and of the provision made by this Act in relation thereto or which are not compatible with the European Communities' obligations) are hereby repealed or amended, as the case may be, to the extent specified in the said Schedule with effect from the 1st day of January, 1973”.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I understand that it is relevant for me to raise the matter of the availability of properly indexed reports on this amendment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  That matter does not arise.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  My senior colleague told me that it does. I do not speak at great length. Many people spoke here at great length yesterday but I was not one of them.

[1226]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The matter does not arise on the European Communities Bill.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  It arises continually.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Perhaps the Deputy would come to amendment No. 17.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I will come to the amendment in a moment. The bound volumes are three years out of date.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not get around the ruling of the Chair. If he comes to me he will get an explanation as to why the delay has occurred.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  With respect, the Chair told me yesterday that I could raise it and I thought this was an appropriate occasion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I did not tell the Deputy he could raise it. I told him to come and see me and I would explain all the difficulties.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I know the difficulties and they all arise because this Parliament is not sovereign. It allows the Department of Finance to dictate to it. That is the real difficulty. It is the Ceann Comhairle's job to see that this Parliament is sovereign.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy must get on to amendment No. 17.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I am on it already. May I read out the amendment since there was so much hugger-mugger last night and so many interruptions? It reads:

Before section 5 to insert a new section as follows:—

“The enactments mentioned in the Schedule to this Act (being enactments that are superseded or to be superseded by reason of the European Communities' obligations and of the provision made by this Act in relation thereto or which are not compatible with the European Communities' obligations) are hereby repealed or amended, as the case may be, to the extent specified in the said [1227] Schedule with effect from the 1st day of January, 1973”.

The only answer to that amendment given by the Minister last night was that there is such a thing as repeal by implication. It is true that any subsequent Act which conflicts with an earlier Act does, in fact, under the Interpretation Act, repeal the earlier Act but this is not the case of an Act conflicting with an earlier Act. This is the case of an Act which was drafted in such a global fashion that it did not repeal the earlier Act by implication or otherwise. This lazy man's method was adopted by the Minister to deal with the matter.

There is no such thing as repeal by implication. If there is a conflict between a new Act and an earlier Act, the new Act prevails but it only prevails if it is specifically laid down in the Act. I am right. The Minister can shake his head if he likes but I am quite clear about this. This refers not only to the Interpretation Act, 1937, but also to the Interpretation Act, 1923.

It is no use the Minister coming in here pretending to us that there can be repeal by implication. It cannot be done. It is not a proper method of legislating. We had another extreme the day before in the Marriages Bill when it was spelled out three or four times. We have gone from one extreme to the other. The purpose of the amendment, with which I am in complete agreement—this is the first amendment on which I have spoken—is to set this out in words of one syllable. It is the right way to legislate. Is the Minister prepared to listen to reason at all? If the Minister accepts the amendment, the debate is over. He is consorting with his colleague at the moment. Is he prepared to accept the amendment?

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Dr. Hillery): Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  No.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Why?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  I told the Deputy yesterday.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Repeal by implication is not a reason for refusing [1228] to do the thing properly. I have said everything I want to say, subject to what the Minister will say in reply.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  It is with a great deal of frustration one speaks to an amendment knowing that no matter what arguments we produce the Minister will still say “no”. As I said last night, this shows the utter contempt of the Government for the processes of democracy. When the Minister, who is in alleged control of his Department, shows this disregard while he is here with us, we can well imagine what indifference he will display towards Ireland when he goes as Commissioner to Brussels.

Nothing is more essential than that we should know the law, that people would know the effects of EEC obligations, and unless the Government spell this out here, as is done in numerous other Acts, it will be impossible to know the effects of EEC obligations. The only possible explanation is that the Minister and his legal advisers do not know the ramifications of European obligation. That is a considerable difficulty but I do not think it is a sufficient reason for not spelling out what they do know in the schedule to this Bill.

Possibly a preamble to our amendment might overcome any difficulty. When we have provided in Acts in the past that a Minister may make regulations, we have used such phrases as “without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred” and so on. Then the particular heads the Minister may bear in mind in making regulations are spelled out. If the legal advisers to the Government are yet unable to say what will be the total effects of EEC obligations, I would suggest that some words at the outset of the amendment might cover the matter, such as “without prejudice to the generality of the effect of appeals and amendments consequent on this legislation”, et cetera. This is the least guidance that should be given. I believe it should be done in the Bill itself and not in a separate publication.

Deputy O'Donovan referred to the difficulty people have in chasing documentation. That is the situation here. [1229] People should be able to go to some source instrument to quickly ascertain the legal consequences of European involvement. If it be that the Government are not willing to accede in this regard, I have some other questions to put very specifically to the Minister.

The cost of books for one European Law Library in Dublin containing all necessary documents would be £13,000. Are the Government prepared to put up that money so that by 1st January, 1973, people would be able to go to such a law library for reference? That is the least obligation they should fulfil. Are they prepared to provide the cost of this annual publication for such a library, which would be £1,800 per year? The legal fraternity in Dublin would be glad to staff and advise on such a library.

I would point out to the Minister that Government Departments will need such a reference library. So will Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas and so will the legal profession. The legal fraternity have asked, have begged the Government to make this available but the Government have turned a deaf ear. They are prepared to have consultations and discussions on this matter, but it looks as if Ireland will be a hoary old man in the EEC before we have an essential reference library and legal reference facilities. This means that the Irish people will have to engage the services of foreign lawyers. We may be obliged by the Treaty of Accession to facilitate foreign lawyers coming here but we do not have to open our doors and invite them in simply because we do not provide in Ireland the very minimum legal necessities.

Other member countries have found it possible to write in a schedule of amended Acts in the legislation they had to initiate in order to give effect to their obligations to the EEC. In Britain, for instance, they have schedules which run to 26 pages and the legislation they are amending goes back much further than ours. The earliest Act we make reference to in the explanatory memorandum, which is in no way complete, is no more than about 100 years old. Most of the statutes are laws of our own making [1230] since the establishment of the State.

The explanatory memorandum while incomplete is of some help, but any lawyer knows it is unwise to rely upon some casual reference, when an exhaustive search of the law is necessary before giving advice. Nothing is more misleading than to look only at one particular Act. You have to search to see whether the Minister made regulations and you must look into the whole ambit of the regulations and refer to a date as recent as the previous day. While the memorandum is of some guidance to scholars who may have time to make studies, it is of no assistance to the ordinary legal practitioner. It is to the legal practitioner that the ordinary man and woman, the ordinary businessman, will have to refer. This is not an abstract matter, far away from the people's way of life. The legislation which is rather casually referred to in the appendix to the explanatory memorandum deals with a multitude of things, from industrial relations to company law to agricultural produce. Surely these affect people very materially and, therefore, the people ought to know precisely the effect of European law. It is not an answer to say that the people answered these matters on 10th May last. They had an overall problem to decide and they decided it. That is no answer for those who have a point of law needing clarification.

This is most important when we realise that this House has given to Ministers absolute power of absolute legislation and that there is nothing to curtail a Minister's freedom to amend all the statute law. We should at least know the position as of 1st January next as of that date and thereafter we can look to various regulations which may be under the European Communities Act, 1972, to see what the future legislative steps may be. If we do not do this, we will end up in chaos. This is the least the Government can do for our people who gave their votes to enter Europe, but did not give this vote to entitle the Government to strip the people of their clothes, and to render the people's representatives impotent. That is what the Government are doing. They are destroying this Parliament. They are not giving the Dáil any supervisory [1231] powers, or any opportunity to give assistance or advice, or to express opinions. They are going to operate in isolation, ignoring this House and without giving this House an opportunity of knowing what is happening until it is an accomplished fact.

We are entitled to the basic knowledge of what is happening as at the 1st January next. We can assess the position thereafter, but it is expecting the impossible to expect that one person will know the law as on that date. If we brought in a Bill here saying that in future the legal principle that “everybody is expected to know the law” shall not apply there might be some justification for the Government's attitude. People in this House and others could find themselves personally charged with offences, civil or criminal, under European law and it would be no answer for them to say that they did not know the law. Why will the legal advisers not know the law? They will not know it because the Government apparently do not know it, or if they do, they are not prepared to tell us.

I put two questions to the Minister: does the Minister know all the consequences of the Communities' obligations, and, if so, why does the Minister not write them into the Schedule of this measure.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  We dealt with this point last night. Deputy Ryan made that speech last night. Anything I have to say I said last night. There seems to be no chance of finality if we keep going around on this point. Perhaps we should go back to thinking about how the legal profession works. It should be the task of a lawyer, if consulted by a member of the public, to find out what the law is. Already, there are laws which have been changed by implied repeals, even though Deputy O'Donovan indicated that he never heard of this.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  On the contrary, I indicated what it meant.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Last night the Deputy said he never heard of it. In the case of a person having to deal with [1232] matters of law which may have been changed by ministerial regulation arising out of membership of the European Economic Community, if he goes to a lawyer the lawyer has an indication, in so far as it could be done although it is not said to be exhaustive, from the Schedule what laws have already been changed. In the future new laws will be changing as regulations are made. The lawyer will know from the indication given what laws are affected and the way in which they are affected. It is his job to find out now. I do not know of any other profession saying that the Government should provide their instruments and do their research for them.

We have a difficult time ahead— parliamentarians, lawyers, businessmen, farmers and workers alike. We will all have extra work to do. Our work will be more difficult also. The lawyers share of this difficulty will be to find the laws which are changed and the way in which they are changed. In this Schedule we have given a large example of laws which are affected. This will put lawyers on their guard and they should search out in what way the laws are affected by seeking to find the regulations affecting them. Since there is a difficult time ahead and since there are added burdens, the Departments of State will be available to lawyers to guide them to find the regulations in so far as they can help. It will still be for the lawyer to find out what the law is.

Deputy Ryan said last night that not a lawyer in Dublin could know the effects of the changes and still he expects the lawyers in the Department of Foreign Affairs to write down immediately the effect of what is going to happen. The legal profession will have difficulties. Their work will be harder just as the work of many people in this country will be more difficult. The principles of their finding out what the law is will remain the same. The method of finding out will be clear because we have added this Schedule. The Departments of State, in the various areas in which regulations are made, will do everything in their power to help lawyers [1233] or members of the public to clarify how the law stands having been changed by implied repeal.

There will be cases where it will not be possible to say what the extent, if any, the conflict will be between the new law and any regulations and the old law. This will be a matter for the courts. The lawyers know that. It would not be possible for us to do it all now. From the point of view of manpower and the availability of people to see us legally into the European Communities, it would not be possible to repeal specifically the conflicting items here where we are certain there is conflict in the legislation, but we have listed, though not exhaustively, many of the measures affected. It would be misleading them to give them a list of specifically repealed measures or amended legislation while there are other measures affected by regulations which can only be found out in the specific instances. To have a body of law right up to date will not be possible here or in any other country, but Statute law revision Acts which are specifically aimed at making appropriate amendments will have to be undertaken frequently here and that will bring us as near as possible to what Deputy Ryan wants in terms of having the law available. I do not know what state the finances of the legal profession are in or anything about providing a library for the legal profession. I do not know why the taxpayers should provide such a library. I would not discuss the merits of the case at the moment. Last night the Deputy suggested that they have a proposal in some form before the Government that their library should be paid for by the taxpayers. This refers to a library dealing with EEC affairs.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The idea was that there should be one European law library in Dublin.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Without having examined the proposal, I would not discuss it because I might produce arguments against it and there may be merits in it. At the same time, I should like to suggest to the House that it is the [1234] lawyers' job to know what the law is. The Departments of State have produced this list of legislation to guide them so that a lawyer dealing with a case coming under particular legislation will find in this list that the legislation may have been affected by Community membership. He will then have an opportunity of studying the regulations or Acts which could have changed the law and if he finds difficulty, especially in the earlier days, the Departments of State here will do everything in their power to assist him.

It would be misleading specifically to amend some of the Acts affected. This would confuse rather than enlighten the public. Frankly, we could not do that at this stage. Our resources are fully employed in the matters of undertaking the obligations of Membership. Even if it were possible from the manpower point of view, it would be misleading and certainly not desirable at all in cases where the conflict between different legislative acts are not quite clear and where there is some doubt. The question of conflict and its extent would have to be determined by the courts. The Taoiseach indicated that we would have much greater use of Statute law revision Acts, and there will be a good deal more deadwood provisions in our legislation arising out of directly applicable Communities legislation. These statute law revision Acts repeal only those provisions which are clearly either obsolete or impliedly repealed. It has been my practice, as a Minister, in regard to legislation to set out what I want done, what the Government want done, and to achieve that and, at the same time, to come into the House and accept as far as is possible from the House improvements. It has been my experience that the House has frequently improved Bills for which I have had responsibility. I have never rejected an amendment unless it did violence to my original intention.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  The Minister must be an exception in the Government. He may be, for all I know.

[1235]Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  I am not talking about myself. I am only talking about an attitude. For that reason, while we accepted amendments here the main one from Fine Gael last night would totally change the intention of the Bill. It may be that after some experience we would find it possible to undertake the obligations of membership and take advantage quickly of Community legislation, and that we would find it possible to bring more and more changes through the full legislative process beforehand but the principle we had in this Bill was to make sure that we could act quickly. As I said, in the vast majority of cases it will be to our great benefit to act quickly. For that reason we made provision in the Bill so that we could act quickly to have the directives and decisions of the Community apply here quickly. One can imagine what would happen if we found that we were not keeping up, that we were not able to allow the directives to apply here and that our farmers were not able to benefit quickly? That is only an example and, perhaps, it should not be taken but it is the most frequent example. Common agricultural policy legislation accounts for 90 per cent of the total. If our farmers could not quickly benefit from changes we would quickly suffer in this House for not having made provision whereby the directives of the Community could come quickly into effect.

It is all-important, I allow, that this House should be able to say that a particular way of implementing a Community directive is not the best way. To cover both points—to be able to act quickly and to give the House that say —we have provided that the legislation shall come in a confirmatory way, that the regulation of the Ministers should lapse if the Dáil did not confirm it. Any system we had up to now of dealing with ministerial motions or orders is not as effective as that. They are laid before the House; there is a motion and a vote. The legislative process from beginning to end—First Stage, Second Stage, Committee Stage, Report Stage— is a much more thorough, more searching procedure and this will be the procedure in the case of every regulation made. If a regulation does not survive [1236] this procedure, then it lapses. Apart from the fact, the very fact that it will be done in that way will, of course, by nature, have to influence the Minister making his regulation because no Minister and no Government would want to make a regulation implementing Community legislation which would lapse in a period of time. It is for that reason that I felt the House was right last night in saying that the period of time which we have in the Bill, the end of the following year might be too long.

If it was the end of the year, we would have 70 regulations this December and they could not be done in time to have a Bill through the Dáil the same year. So the end of the following year was selected. I agree that for regulations made in January, February or March of the year the end of the following year gives a two-year life to a regulation without confirmation in the Dáil and I agree that this is not desirable. For that reason we agreed last night that we would have this confirmatory legislation coming through the Dáil at least each six months. It will be necessary for me to have that drafted in an amendment.

I take everything that Deputy Ryan says in terms of the difficulties created for the legal profession as true. We are all going to have difficulties but I do not think it is up to the Government to do the work of the legal profession. Certainly any assistance whatever from the Department which can be given to them to overcome the difficulties, which I do not deny, will be given, but the job of the lawyer will be the same. He will have an indication of what law is likely to be changed. His normal researchers will go through the regulations, but to make it more easy for him the Department will be there to help him.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Will this country be entitled to a judge advocate in the European Community? I understand the British Government have the right to appoint a judge advocate. Have we the same right?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  I shall have to look that up. We have the right to appoint a judge.

[1237]Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  This is a judge advocate.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  We have recommended a judge for appointment but I do not think we have the right to appoint a judge advocate.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  I notice the British have. I wonder does that apply to all the countries or have they used this procedure off their own bat?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  There are only three judge advocates. There will not be a right for every country to appoint one. I do not think we will have the right. I would have to look up the possibility of ever having an Irish judge advocate.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  It might assist in this sort of work.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  We will not have it as a right anyway but the possibility of it happening I would have to look up.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  The Minister ended on the same note as that on which he started. It is absolutely wrong. His first statement was that there is no other profession where it is suggested that the Government should provide their instruments for them. This is a complete misunderstanding of the position. The fact is that this House passes the laws for the country, that Ministers make certain statutory instruments and these, so far as the Government are concerned, are the instruments with which the lawyers operate. They have no option but to operate with these instruments. They are not, in fact, the responsibility of the Government but the responsibility of the House and the Government. The Minister ended on the same note and the whole of his speech was an example of what he said, that in England you can say what you like so long as you end up by doing the right thing and in Ireland you can do what you like so long as you say the right thing. The Minister was saying all the right things this morning. He talked all the time about acting quickly. In other words, he wants to act and then come along and say the right thing. What use to the general public is saying the right thing if the action is all wrong?

[1238]Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  I did not say I would act quickly wrongly. I said I would act quickly to implement our obligations under the treaties.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Of course, the Minister did not. All I am saying is that if one acts quickly one usually acts wrongly. The Minister was most reasonable in his reply but this note went right through it, that the Government want to be able to act quickly and then they will come along with some palavering stuff to the Dáil or wherever they are queried.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  We will have legislation.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  As regards the Departments of State being available to people, it is well-known that there are excellent Departments which no matter what question is put to them they will answer it quickly and there are other Departments which whatever question you put to them, they will not answer it either quickly or ever. It is not good enough to prepare this Schedule in this way.

Deputy Ryan's amendment, which I support, accepts the Schedule, disgraceful though it is. It gives a long list of Acts. The very first item relates to the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Acts, 1933-1969. I wonder how many Members know the number of Acts involved here. Then there are provisions regarding discrimination on the grounds of nationality and the common agricultural policy. One would have to search through a foot thick of Acts to get at the facts. This should have been done before it was put into the Schedule.

The Minister claims he accepts amendments which do not totally change the intention. This amendment does not change the intention at all. All it does is lay down a certain well-known principle. The Minister claims he cannot be certain of this because his Department cannot be sure they have got everything in they should have got in. This can be dealt with by an amending measure. The late Seán Lemass was the great exponent of this method of legislation. He would produce an Act and [1239] say that if anything was wrong with it he would amend it. He did that afterwards. This is a method of getting over the Minister's difficulty but he has not made any promise like that to us. He has not promised if this thing proves inadequate that he will change the whole thing to meet the inadequacy.

It is not true that this method of only keeping those orders in operation for 12 months is put into legislation for the first time. It is in the Emergency Imposition of Duties measure for years. A qualification Act is passed every year. It used to be every eight months but now it is every year. This is not an original idea because it is in the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act, 1933. The Minister has built his argument on sand and it disappears once one clears it.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  We support this amendment but we should make some distinction in our position and what appears to be a position suggested by the Fine Gael speakers, particularly Deputy Ryan. There has been talk of the difficulties which this will present to the lawyers. They thrive on difficulties, both intellectually and materially. I have great respect for the legal profession but I do not think we should be too sentimental about them.

One of the things we pointed out when we were working for “no” in the referendum was that this would be a bonanza for the lawyers and it will be. The die has been cast. The decision has been taken but pity for the lawyers should not be part of the emotion in our breasts at the present time. We are told that the lawyers will need more books but they will be able to buy them. I do not think the lawyers should ask the taxpayers of this country, many of whom will be hard hit by these arrangements, to subsidise their efforts. Their clients will ultimately pay for the new books they will need and for the efforts they will need to make.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  They will probably sell a few more rare books at Southeby's.

[1240]Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  The proof of their difficulties is that they have to sell their books.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Deputy O'Donovan has apparently a softer heart than I have about the lawyers. There should be no subsidy to the lawyers. There is a certain danger, which is implicit in the Minister's reply, that some kind of indirect subsidy may go their way. The Minister talks about the services of Departments of State being available to lawyers. I can see the need for that in the beginning because some lawyers will need some guidance as to where they should go to get their material but I hope we will not face the situation where the taxpayer is setting up large legal units inside Departments of State, which are, in fact, doing most of the European work for private lawyers, who are also collecting fees from their clients for work which the taxpayer is subsidising.

In a socialist State we might have a situation in which free legal advice was forthcoming to industry and to ordinary individuals from Departments of State. The lawyers would be the first to object to that. We should not have a system whereby Departments of State at the taxpayers' expense do the work and private lawyers collect the fees. I do not believe self-respecting lawyers would expect that and I am not suggesting that has been the suggestion from the Fine Gael benches. One of the strengths of Fine Gael is the amount of legal acumen which is represented there and which I do not intend to speak about with any disrespect at all. In these benches we understand the trade union spirit and there is a trade union spirit in this matter too. Most of us here do not belong to that particular trade union and we have a right to raise these issues. The kind of aid supplied by the Departments of State should be initial guidance for a transitional period and after that the lawyers should do their work. I agree with much of the Minister's reply on that with, however, the query about Departments of State. I would not like to see very large legal branches [1241] grow up inside Departments of State because this could become parasitic on the taxpayer.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  It is regrettable that this whole argument has sunk now to the level of the usual music hall jokes about the legal profession.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera  Zoom on Vivion de Valera  The Deputy started it. He is the one responsible.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Deputy de Valera should remain orderly and allow me make my speech to which he may reply if he wishes. The Government's failure to put a Schedule into this Bill setting out what is the law forces everybody into the hands of lawyers for the purpose of ascertaining what is the law. It is in defence of the individual, in defence of the poorest of the poor who has a right to know the law without having to pay a lawyer for the information, that we put down this amendment. Not only have I a right but I have a duty also to use any knowledge or experience I may have to the benefit of the people of the country. I must use that knowledge or experience in this House to their advantage. Therefore, I can speak as a practising lawyer. I know a great deal more about the practice of the law than the Minister knows because he is not a lawyer. He is a doctor and what he is inferring is that it would be appropriate to give to a doctor or a surgeon a tray of new drugs and instruments that he had never used before and to say to him: “cure that sick person with those”. That is the type of irresponsibility that is being meted out now.

I am not asking for any subsidy for the legal profession, who will certainly grow fat on the opportunities that will be presented as a result of this Bill, but the law is supposed to be known by everybody. It should be available to everybody and it ought to be in the Schedule to this Bill. I have no doubt that the legal profession will do well because the research fees they will be entitled to for looking up the law will be considerable; so immense that they will be prohibitive so far as poor people are concerned. If we had here a genuine system of free legal aid, the injustice [1242] would not be so great but we have not any such system and, consequently, poor people who wish to find out what is the law are not able to find it out and must go to the legal profession.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  There is a system of free legal aid in criminal cases.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  That is available only when one has committed or is believed to have committed an offence but if one wishes to avoid doing wrong he must know the law. As we have no legal aid in civil matters, one has to pay for legal advice. I would say that we have almost no system of free legal aid because it is available in very few circumstances and under the greatest of difficulties.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  That is correct.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  It is virtually worthless except to the habitual criminal who, because he is a habitual criminal, has not any identifiable assets of his own.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I admit it could be improved but “It is a poor thing but mine own.”

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Could the Minister and the House not do a little better than to answer the case for our amendment with cheap onslaughts on the legal profession? The legal profession are aware of the problems and they have identified them to the Government but the Government's answer is: “You can make a mint at everybody's expense because we will not state the law”. The function of Parliament is to state the law but that is not being done because the Government are giving a “no” to this amendment. That is lamentable and if the Minister persists in his attitude we must have a vote.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  As Deputy Ryan was referring to me I think I have the right to reply very briefly. I did not desire to make any wholesale onslaught on the legal profession, nor do I think that I fell into that trap. It would be very unjust to do so. Neither do I believe the Minister did it. Deputy Ryan is being a little oversensitive on this matter in respect of his particular profession.

The Deputy has referred to the right [1243] of the poorest of the poor to know the law without having to pay a lawyer for the information. That is a fine high principle and I wish it were possible but it is not. There is no good claiming that to pay for all these goods from Europe and to put them together in a library would result in the poorest of the poor being able to walk in and find out what is the law. Of course they could not and, in any case, it will not be the poorest of the poor who will be seeking to find out what is the law on [1244] these matters. Unless we are saying that Departments of State ought to provide free legal advice to those affected—I do not know whether that is what Deputy Ryan is suggesting— the lawyers will be the people who will encounter both these difficulties and these opportunities. That is what we are saying from here. We support this amendment but we do not consider that it should be accompanied by cant concerning the difficulties for lawyers.

Amendment put.

Barry, Peter.
Barry, Richard.
Begley, Michael.
Belton, Paddy.
Bruton, John.
Burke, Joan.
Burke, Richard.
Bruton, Philip.
Collins, Edward.
Coogan, Fintan.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Coughlan, Stephen.
Creed, Donal.
Crotty, Kieran.
Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
Desmond, Barry.
Dockrell, Henry P.
Dunne, Thomas.
Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
Finn, Martin.
FitzGerald, Garret.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
Governey, Desmond.
Harte, Patrick D.
Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
Jones, Denis F.
Kavanagh, Liam.
Kenny, Henry.
L'Estrange, Gerald.
McLaughlin, Joseph.
McMahon, Lawrence.
Malone, Patrick.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Donovan, John.
O'Leary, Michael.
O'Reilly, Paddy.
O'Sullivan, John L.
Ryan, Richie.
Spring, Dan.
Taylor, Francis.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Tully, James.

Aiken, Frank.
Andrews, David.
Barrett, Sylvester.
Brady, Philip A.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, Patrick.
Browne, Seán.
Carter, Frank.
Carty, Michael.
Childers, Erskine.
Colley, George.
Collins, Gerard.
Connolly, Gerard C.
Cowen, Bernard.
Cronin, Jerry.
Crowley, Flor.
Cunningham, Liam.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Vivion.
Dowling, Joe.
Fahey, Jackie.
Faulkner, Pádraig.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
Flanagan, Seán.
French, Seán.
Geoghegan, John.
Gibbons, Hugh. [1245]Smith, Michael.
Smith, Patrick.
Timmons, Eugene.
Gibbons, James.
Gogan, Richard P.
Haughey, Charles.
Healy, Augustine A.
Herbert, Michael.
Hillery, Patrick J.
Hilliard, Michael.
Hussey, Thomas.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lalor Patrick J.
Lemass, Noel T.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lynch, Celia.
Lynch, John.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacSharry, Ray.
Meaney, Thomas.
Molloy, Robert.
Moore, Seán.
Moran, Michael.
Nolan, Thomas.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Connor, Timothy.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Leary, John.
O'Malley, Des.
Power, Patrick. [1246]Tunney, Jim.
Wyse, Pearse.

Amendment declared lost.

Section 5 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  When is it proposed to take the Report Stage?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Tuesday next.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  We would ask that it be taken on the following Tuesday because, apart from a number of amendments we would like to table, we would like to consider the Bill, as amended.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  It is important to get the legislation through and if there was any possibility of having the legislation dealt with, as distinct from the last day's lectures on various things, I should like to have it next week. Could we order it for next week and see what we can arrange? I think the Deputy will agree that the legislation must be through in this session.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  Yes. We do not want to cause any particular difficulty. It is an urgent Bill but it is also an important one. That is why we would like time.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  All I want is to get it through.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  If the Whips could meet, we could take it, if not next Tuesday, perhaps next Thursday.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  If the Deputy has in mind that we will get this legislation through Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann in time to be effective, that is all I want.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  The Minister and the House can be assured, as far as Fine Gael are concerned, they will facilitate the passage of the Bill.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  I should like to see it going through pretty quickly now. I do not want to give the Government any further excuses for saying they had not the legislation, they were not able to get certain things ready. I should like to give them the fullest co-operation in having it through so that we can point out to them afterwards some more of their mistakes.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Order it for Tuesday because there is the question of a committee of the House too that we have to make proposals on.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Would Thursday be time enough?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  There are not many hours on Thursday available for legislation.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  I do not think there would be that much debate.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam Cosgrave  Debate on the Report Stage is limited.

Mr. Ryan: Information on Richie Ryan  Zoom on Richie Ryan  There is no reason why a committee of the House could not proceed in the meantime.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  It all depends on the amendments the Minister brings in.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery  Zoom on Patrick John Hillery  Thursday, then.

Report Stage ordered for Thursday, 16th November, 1972.


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