SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - LOCAL GOVERNMENT (TEMPORARY PROVISIONS) BILL, 1923.

Wednesday, 21 March 1923

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 1 No. 15

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Colonel Sir HUTCHESON POE: Information on William Hutcheson Poe  Zoom on William Hutcheson Poe  Before we proceed with the consideration of this Bill might I suggest that in the first instance we should confine our criticism practically to the principles contained in the first ten pages of the Bill and not go into the County Schemes. The reason I suggest that is that the County Schemes are of a very tentative character and are subject to revision, and that the Minister in the Dáil expressly stated that they were of a very tentative character, and that before this Act we are asked to pass expires he probably would be in a position, in the light of experience of the functioning of these different Schemes, to draw up a Schedule to which all County Schemes will have to conform. Anyone who has read the Schemes will see that they vary very much. Some of them show signs of very considerable thought; others are very crude both in inception and, as far as I can understand, in administration. In view of their tentative character I think we would be wise to follow the example which was set in the Dáil, where I think there was not a single amendment made in any of these Schemes. I think the Dáil in that respect have shown a very good example. They felt that these Schemes being of a tentative character and liable to revision the less said about them at present the better. The bodies who are called upon to administer the Schemes were appointed under abnormal circumstances and can hardly be said to be really representative of public opinion in the country now. Probably in another two months time the elections will result in a very different complexion being put upon them. I do not say that with any intention of reflecting upon the administration [546] but probably it might be wise not to attach too much importance to the present Schemes.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  The Committee will bear in mind that this Committee Stage is not really the Stage for discussing the principles of the Bill. The proper Stage for that is the Second Reading or the Third Reading. The Committee Stage is the convenient and proper Stage for discussing the details of the Bill, but it may well be that the Seanad may be in agreement with Senator Sir Hutcheson Poe with regard to any minute criticism or amendment of the County Schemes in view of the statements that have already been made by the Minister in charge of the Bill, namely, that these Schemes will all have to be reconsidered before the Bill finally becomes law. You will notice that in Section 5 ample power is given to the Minister by Order to alter County Schemes, assuming that on consideration he might think it desirable that any of them should be altered in any respect. That of course is a matter that the Committee will do well to bear in mind.

Question: “That Section 1 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

(1) From and after the passing of this Act the relief of the poor in a County to which an existing County Scheme relates shall be administered under and in accordance with such existing County Scheme and the law relating to the relief of the poor in that County shall be deemed to be and is hereby altered or modified in such manner and to such extent as is necessary to give full force and effect to such existing County Scheme.

(2) The existing County Scheme relating to a County named in the First Column of the Second Schedule to this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the date specified in the Second Column of the said Second Schedule opposite the name of such County and the several amendments (if any) made in such existing County Scheme shall be deemed to have come into operation on the respective dates specified [547] in the Third Column of the said Second Schedule opposite the name of such County.

(3) From and after the date on which any existing County Scheme or any amendment to any such Scheme is by this section deemed to have come into operation the law relating to the relief of the poor in the County to which such Scheme relates shall be deemed to have been altered or modified in such manner and to such extent as may have been necessary to give full force and effect to such Scheme or amendment as the case may be.

(4) Every act, matter and thing which was done or omitted to be done under or in pursuance of an existing County Scheme in relation to the relief of the poor in the County to which such Scheme relates at any time after such Scheme had come into operation and before the passing of this Act shall be deemed to have been validly done or omitted to be done (as the case may require) under the law as modified or altered pursuant to the foregoing sub-section.

(5) Any provision contained in any existing Scheme which deals with any matter other than the relief of the poor or which contravenes any provision of this Act shall be and shall be deemed to have always been void and of no effect: Provided always that for the purposes of this Act a County Infirmary shall be deemed to be an institution for the relief of the poor.

(6) Nothing in this section shall operate to make illegal any act done before the passing of this Act which would have been legal if this Act had not been passed.

Mrs. COSTELLO: Information on Eileen Ellen Costello  Zoom on Eileen Ellen Costello  I beg to move:—“To add at the end of Sub-section (1) the words ‘provided that lines 26, 27, and 28 on page 17 of the Galway County Scheme in the First Schedule to this Act be omitted.’” The lines I wish to have omitted read: “Persons in Class (b) (unmarried mothers) who refuse to enter such institutions (Magdalen Asy lums or some other Homes) as may be selected shall not be allowed under any circumstances to become chargeable to the public rates.” I do not know if the Minister will be able to make any alteration. I think, from something he said last week, he does not care to alter it. [548] As An Cathaoirleach says, he has power under Section 5. In the Preamble of the Bill it is stated it is to enable poor persons requiring relief to be relieved, but it seems that an exception is to be made in the case of unmarried mothers, who, it is stated, are on no account to be chargeable to the rates if they will not go into a Magdalen Asylum. I think that under no circumstances could a County Authority get rid of its responsibility to a person who is destitute and in need of help. Moreover, I know from personal observation that many of these unfortunate cases are women of weak intellect and in no way responsible. I know that the better way would have been to have appealed to the County Council, and I would have done so if I had time. Of course, the Committee which drew up these rules is now dissolved. I only wish to draw attention to the matter, and if the Minister would ask the County Council, I think it could be met in that way.

MINISTER for LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Mr. E. Blythe): Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  The particular provision to which Senator Mrs. Costello objects in the County Galway Scheme is made inoperative by the Bill as it stands Sub-section 5 of Section 2 says: “Any provision contained in any existing scheme which deals with any matter other than the relief of the poor, or which contravenes any provision of this Act, shall be, and shall be deemed to have always been, void and of no effect.” Section 10 of the Bill says: “Any person in a county to which a county scheme relates who is eligible for relief may, subject to any regulations made by the Minister in that behalf, be granted outdoor relief, notwithstanding anything in any enactment limiting the granting thereof to certain classes of persons, and this provision shall be deemed to have had effect in any such county from and after the date on which such county schemes came into operation.” That means that the particular clause in the County Galway Scheme to which Senator Mrs. Costello refers is made inoperative by the Act.

Colonel MOORE: Information on Maurice George Moore  Zoom on Maurice George Moore  Would it not be better to take out these lines if the Clause is inoperative and apparently illegal?

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  There are many faults [549] in the schemes, and they will have to be amended pretty generally by Order. I do not think there is any particular reason for amending that particular one here, and leaving all the others to be dealt with later.

Mrs. COSTELLO: Information on Eileen Ellen Costello  Zoom on Eileen Ellen Costello  I agree with the Minister and withdraw the amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  I think Colonel Moore will himself see that it is better let these be governed by a general principle applicable to all cases rather than making special provisions for a particular case.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.

Question:—“That Section 2 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

Section 3, 4, and 5 were agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Every County Scheme shall continue in operation until the 31st day of March, 1924, and shall then expire.

Mr. T.W. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I move an amendment:—“To add at the end of the Section the words, ‘provided always that the Limerick County Scheme shall expire on the 31st day of March, 1923, or the earliest date thereafter on which a new County Scheme can be prepared for the County of Limerick.’”

If the Minister will give us an undertaking that the reconsideration of Schemes will be taken in hands without delay I would like permission to withdraw the amendment. The Limerick County Scheme has not given general satisfaction, and to the mind of a great many is not at all suited to the needs of the neighbourhood. If the Minister would say that within a reasonable time we would have the Schemes reconsidered and recast, I would ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. E. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  We will undertake the revision of the Schemes immediately Of course, where major changes are required we would not be prepared to force the changes on the Local Authorities. We would require to get some degree of local assent, but, as far as the minor faults are concerned, we will make Orders dealing with many of these almost immediately. If the Local Authorities [550] in Co. Limerick can agree with us on the necessary changes we will be very happy to make an Order.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.

Question:—“That Section 6 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

(1) A County Scheme may provide for the abolition of any Board of Guardians, County Hospital Committee, County Infirmary Committee or any other body existing in the County to which the County Scheme relates and exercising functions connected with the relief of the poor in that County, and for the transfer to the Council of the County to which the Scheme relates, or to a Committee to be established by that Council, either alone or jointly with the Councils of the Rural and Urban Districts comprised within the County, of all the powers and duties in relation to the relief of the poor of the body or bodies abolished by the Scheme, provided that where the functional area of any such Board, Committee, or other body extended outside the County to which the County Scheme relates, such Board, Committee, or other body shall only be abolished under this Section in so far as it exercised functions within that County.

(2) When any such Board, Committee or other body as is mentioned in the foregoing sub-section is abolished under a County Scheme then and in every such case on and after the date on which such County Scheme shall come or is deemed to have come into operation:—

(a) all the property of such Board, Committee or other body shall pass to or vest in and be held in trust for the Council of the County to which such County Scheme relates subject to all debts and liabilities affecting such property and shall be held by the said Council for the same estate, interest and purposes and subject to the same covenants, conditions and restrictions for and subject to which such property should be held by law under such County Scheme or otherwise,

[551](b) all debts and liabilities of such Board, Committee or other body shall become and be debts and liabilities of the said County Council and subject to the provisions of this Act and of the said County Scheme shall be defrayed by such Council out of the like property and funds as such debts and liabilities would have been defrayed out of if this Act had not passed: Provided that where the functional area of any such Board, Committee or other body extended outside the County to which the County Scheme relates, so much only as the Minister shall appoint of the property, debts, and liabilities of such Board, Committee or other body shall pass to or be defrayed by the Council of that County under this Sub-section.

(3) Whenever any lands or buildings are transferred to or acquired by the Council of any County under this section the said Council shall have full power subject to the provisions of the County Scheme to manage, alter and enlarge and with (but not without) the consent of the Minister to sell, lease or otherwise alienate all or any such lands or buildings and the Minister may impose such conditions as he shall think fit to the granting of his consent to any such sale, lease or alienation including conditions relating to the application of the proceeds of such sale, lease or alienation.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I beg to move:—

“To delete the word ‘for,’ Sub-section 2 (a), in line 25, and to substitute therefor the word ‘by’; and to delete lines 29 and 32, and to substitute therefor the words ‘for the interest and purposes of the rural districts holding such property previous to the establishment of such county scheme.’”

“To add at the end of Sub-section (3) the words, ‘Provided always that when the property of any Council, Board, Committee, or other body pass to the Council of any county, the same shall be held by the Council of the county on trust for, and shall be credited to, the functional area of the Council, Board, or [552] other body from which the said property has passed.’”

I must ask consideration for this amendment. As the Bill stands at present all the property of the Councils for which Schemes have been made has been transferred to the Ministry, and whilst the cost of upkeep of the poor and repair of the various unions is still being charged on the unions concerned, I think it is unjust that property which was used for their maintenance should be taken into the county scheme as a whole and used for the relief of poor persons in the county. In many cases loans have been incurred for the upkeep of these persons, and under the scheme arranged here the interest on these loans will still be charged to the rural area whilst the advantages secured by the loans go to the county as a whole. That, I take it, is a great act of injustice. Further than that, there are various properties besides workhouses and materials connected therewith. There are lands of considerable value. If these lands are handed over to the county as a whole, I think it is a still further injustice, in addition to bedding, beds, and paraphernalia of that nature. I understand it is claimed that the difficulties of book-keeping, if such a change were allowed, would be enormous. I anticipate that reply by suggesting that there would not be the least difficulty. Hitherto County Councils, when assessing or arranging rates, every little debt and every conceivable kind of interest of the local authority is simply sent to the Secretary of the Co. Council and he includes in his rates and debits the areas to be debited and credits the areas to be credited. I think any suggestion that this would make it more difficult for local authorities to discharge their book-keeping, or for the Ministry to discharge that book-keeping in the near future is a mere shadow. I know of one or two particular areas where the amount of property estreated or taken away from local authorities would be very considerable, amounting to thousands and thousands of pounds. In the course of years some local authorities allowed themselves to be taxed heavily so that people in their neighbourhood should be made comfortable. Now, all their forethought and all their money are taken away by the Government. I think that is a condition of affairs which should not be allowed. [553] I do not think it is just, and I think provision such as I suggest should be made, that the value of any property in an authorised scheme should be credited to the district to which it already belonged. Such an arrangement as that has been made in some of the existing schemes— which shows that even the Ministry approve of it. They can hardly suggest that there should be one law for “A” and another law for “B,” but should make it uniform, and I think the scheme I suggest would be a just and equitable one.

I beg to move the amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  I think I am right in saying that your second amendment is to carry out the first one.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Either would suit.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  I want to make that clear. We will take on both, and put them before the Seanad.

Sir JOHN KEANE: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  On general grounds I do not think it would be wise for the Seanad to accept this amendment. As the schemes stand at present it rests within the power of the County authority to allow the revenue of such property to be applied to the district in which it originally arose. I do not think that it should be mandatory on the central authority to so apply it. Circumstances may have changed very materially. The distribution of the population may have altered, and the revenues, such as they are, may even in the first instance have not been applicable, or in the interests of the county as a whole or even to the particular district.

I submit it would cramp the discretion and the efficiency of any new scheme if we were to definitely earmark all revenues to districts or smaller authorities within the county. My experience of a Co. Council is that the higher you go, as a whole, the better the administration appears to become, and anything that would tend to perpetuate a spirit of parochialism in Local Government would be unwise; for that reason I would urge that the amendment be rejected.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  My point of view is something similar to that expressed by Senator Sir John Keane. I do not regard this matter as vital. I think, on the whole, the advantages are in favour of leaving the Clause as it stands. A great [554] lot of the services that were district services have been made county services. In some counties the whole charges are county-at-large charges; in others they are mixed, and in more they have retained district charges. There will be great difficulties in administration if we keep up the spirit of district charges, and make people chargeable on one district as against another when they have to go into a County Home or Hospital. The more we do to eliminate the boundaries of districts, and make the whole thing a county affair, the better it will be and we will get much better administration.

One of the hopes of sound local administration is the concentration of the administration authority in the hands of the Co. Council, which will be subject to review and criticism from a very strong body of public opinion, and which will not do things so much in the dark as the smaller local bodies might do. Probably further schemes will be introduced to carry this thing on.

Speaking generally, I do not believe the amendment would affect a great deal of property; in most cases — I think in all cases, except one — the Workhouses are vested in the Minister for Local Government. They were not paid for by the districts in which they are situate. They were built out of a loan which was never repaid by the districts, except in one case. That is the reason they are vested in the Minister for Local Government, and it cannot be claimed that the district has any particular right to the proceeds of any sale, if any sale were effected, of a Workhouse. The same, in many cases, applies to the land on which the Workhouse is built, and the lands surrounding the Workhouse, if that was part of the original purchase when the Workhouse was erected. That land was not paid for by the district, but by the central authority, and the district would have no more claim on it than any other district in the county. Dispensary buildings, I presume, will continue to be used for the district and will not be disposed of. The value of the property affected by the amendment would be small, and the amendment might tend to create friction. If a district succeeded in holding on to a good deal of property and prevented it going to the Co. Council, when you would have a county authority administering the whole scheme, it might not be advantageous for that district in the end, [555] if it were remembered that they had a sort of grasping spirit in the matter. I believe, on the whole, that while it is not a vital matter it would be simpler and better to leave the Clause as it stands. These things may seem very big in a locality, and may be made a great deal of by people who have an objection to the carrying through of amalgamation schemes; but in reality they are not of very great importance.

Mr. WM. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  It seems to me that Senator Sir John Keane and the Minister have missed the point of Senator Bennett's amendment, if I understand that amendment correctly. They have both spoken of the administration of District Councils not being as good as the administration of County Councils. If I understand Senator Bennett's amendment correctly he does not propose that the administration of these funds or these properties should go back to the District Council. He simply proposes that the value shall be earmarked, kept by the Co. Councils, and applied for the benefit of the District Councils. If I am right in that it makes a considerable difference. A great many of those District Councils, particularly the one in which Senator Bennett is interested, administer their duties very well. I speak as a Limerick man, and I know they have not been extravagant. They have kept down the rates and it is in fact the lowest rated district in the county. If that is so I do not see why their property should be alienated from them. As long as the administration is correctly carried out it seems to me quite just and reasonable that any benefit derived from property should go to the benefit of those districts.

Mr. P.W. KENNY: Information on Patrick W Kenny  Zoom on Patrick W Kenny  This amendment affects border Unions more than Unions that are contained within a particular county. Some counties are self-contained. In some cases the units making up the area administered by a Board of Guardians do not cross the border of an adjoining county. In the County of Waterford, for instance, our Union area there does cross the border land between Waterford and Kilkenny. One of the units making up the area administered by the Board of Guardians is Kilkenny No. 2. While the buildings comprising [556] the Workhouse might not even be built by the ratepayers of that particular Union, certainly there were additions made since the Local Government Act came into force, when there was a recasting of those areas, and to those additions this No. 2 District Council has contributed a smaller share. In other units the same thing has happened. I think it is a matter of equity that any moneys so expended by District Councils should properly go to those districts by way of reduction of rates, and I would suggest a simple basis such as that it would be in proportion to the rateable value of those particular districts. They all have a rateable value, and it does not lead to any complications in bookkeeping that when an asset is realised it should be distributed, or relief given, to the ratepayers in proportion to the rateable value of the units making up that Union area. Another matter is that in many cases the buildings are carried on still for the same purpose, and are occupied for the same purpose, so a building cannot be sold and the proceeds distributed in a case of that sort. In so far as the ratepayers have improved that building or added to it, there should be a valuation put upon such improvements or increase of the asset, and the district or the Union as a whole should get credit for it. This is only as a matter of equity. I do not know it will lead to any complications, but I know they feel very keen on it in the Waterford area. The Kilkenny people do not see why that particular asset situated in the Waterford area should be cut off from them and given to the Waterford County Council.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  Senator Kenny is under a slight misapprehension. So far as the Unions, which extend to two counties, are concerned, the assets will be divided between the two counties so that the difficulty that he sees does not exist. There is a proviso in 7 (2) (b):—“Provided that where the functional area of any such Board, Committee, or other body extended outside the County to which the County Scheme relates, so much only as the Minister shall appoint of the property, debts, and liabilities of such Board, Committee, or other body shall pass to or be defrayed by the Council of that County under this Sub-Section.” This means that we are, presumably on the basis of rateable valuation, [557] dividing the assets of the border Union.

Mr. KENNY: Information on Patrick W Kenny  Zoom on Patrick W Kenny  If the rateable value is the basis it is all right but it should not be left to the discretion of the Minister.

Mr. O'FARRELL: Information on John Thomas OFarrell  Zoom on John Thomas OFarrell  The adoption of this amendment would largely nullify the amalgamation of the Unions affected by the Bill and would create very serious difficulties. For instance the workhouse would have to be used for some special purpose within the rural district in which it was situated while it might be very desirable and even necessary that that particular building might be used as a specialised institution under a scheme for the benefit of the whole county. For that reason alone I think it would be very unwise to make it compulsory on any particular county to credit each district with a building or property situated within it. Apart from that I think the amendment itself is technically inacurate with regard to what has already been explained by the Minister because the property is not the property of the rural district but is and has been the property of the Union.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Senator Sir J. Keane suggested that it was the County Councils had power to make arrangements to embody such a provision as I suggest. I fail to find that in the Bill. The Minister in charge dreads parochialism and fears the mere fact of unions and districts being charged with the upkeep of their poor tends to perpetuate parochialism. Under the scheme I beg to point out that all the charges are legalised. Each Union contributes its parochial amount as it did of old, and the only thing of which I complain is that they are now to be taxed unfairly. There I disagree entirely with Senator O'Farrell, with whom I very seldom disagree. The property of the union is the absolute property of the ratepayers. Beds, bedding, valuable equipment of the hospitals, all those things were secured by the local authorities for their own purposes, and in cases these have been carted away twenty miles to another institution, and used for the purpose of the county as a whole, and the ratio value which the old authority gets is sub-divided among the county as a whole. As regards the difficulty which [558] Senator O'Farrell feels when that institution is taken over for other purposes, that is a small difficulty which can be valued at one to ten thousand, and the necessary interest credited to the Council to which it belongs.

Sir HUTCHESON POE: Information on William Hutcheson Poe  Zoom on William Hutcheson Poe  I would like to suggest that if those buildings which the Minister has mentioned are applied to the purpose of this new scheme, he should not object to them. If those buildings are not available, and are not to be sold, and the funds are not to be swept into a common pool, that danger is foreseen in the clause, which states that those buildings cannot be sold or rented without his consent. So there is no fear of that. The concluding part of the clause will guard against it.

Amendment put and negatived

Question: “That Section 7 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

Question: “That Section 8 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

When the Board of Guardians of any Union is abolished by any County Scheme the powers and duties of such Board of Guardians under the Vaccination (Ireland) Acts in any rural district forming part of such Union shall be transferred to the Council of such rural district.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I beg to move these amendments:—“After the word ‘any’ to insert the words ‘County Borough or Urban or.’”“After the word ‘such’ to insert the words ‘County Borough or Urban or.’”

The amendments are purely verbal ones. I understand this clause provided for the transfer of powers under the Vaccination Acts in the case of the abolition of Boards of Guardians for rural districts, but it has not made provision for Boards of Guardians to exercise these powers in the urban districts. I understand that this was an error in the drafting of the Bill.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  Senator Douglas's amendments are necessary ones, and we accept them.

Amendments agreed to.

Question: “That Section 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

[559] Question: “That Section 10 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

(1) Every officer of a local authority whose office is abolished under or in pursuance of any County Scheme shall notwithstanding anything contained in such County Scheme, but subject to the provisions of this section, have the same rights in relation to superannuation as if he had been removed from his office for a cause other than misconduct or incapacity prior to the passing of this Act, and any provision in any County Scheme purporting to increase or diminish such rights shall be void and of no effect: Provided that where any such officer is, within three months after the abolition of his office, appointed to a pensionable office under such County Scheme, the salary and emoluments of which are not less than the salary and emoluments of his previous office, he shall not be entitled to the rights in relation to superannuation given by this sub-section, but he shall, for pension purposes, be entitled to add his period of service with the local authority to his subsequent service under the County Scheme or otherwise.

The following Amendment in the name of Sir THOMAS ESMONDE stood on the Paper—

“To add at the end of Sub-Section (1) the words, ‘Provided also that the service of temporary officers with not less than five years’ service, whose offices have been abolished, be recognised for the purpose of pension or gratuity.' ”

Mr. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  Sir Thomas Esmonde does not seem to be present. Is it open, sir, to any other person to move his amendment?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  If you have permission to do so, if you wish you may move it. Notice has been given of it, and therefore there is no objection to that course.

Mr. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  I do not know what arguments Senator Sir Thos. Esmonde was going to use in favour of the amendment that he put down, but I may say that a number of persons who were representing a great many Unions in Limerick, Rathkeale, Newcastle [560] West, Croom, Kilmallock, and Tipperary came to me and asked me if I would move an amendment to the same effect. If you would allow me to do so at the same time as the following amendment — to delete sub-sections 4 and 5 — I think that I could make a better hand of it, but I wish that Sir Thomas Esmonde were here to do it himself.

Mrs. WYSE POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  I think they ought to be taken separately.

Mr. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  Sir Thomas Esmonde's amendment, I see, is that all part-time officers who have not less than five years' service, and whose offices shall be abolished, shall be recognised for the purpose of pension or gratuity.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  That is not quite accurate. His amendment refers to temporary officers who have been in office for at least five years.

Mr. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  I took it that it was part-time officers; therefore, I suppose, I cannot move the amendment.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  If you are not in favour of the amendment do not move it. Move your own amendment.

(4) Whenever before the passing of this Act an allowance has been granted under Section 8 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919, to an officer in respect of his removal from office under or in pursuance of any county scheme, the Council of the county to which the liability to pay such allowance to such officer has under this Act been transferred, may, if they so think fit, within a period of three months from the passing of this Act, notify such officer and the Minister of their desire to dispute the right of such officer to such allowance or the amount of such allowance, and thereupon a case of dispute within the meaning of the said Section 8 shall be deemed to have arisen, and the right to and amount of such allowance shall be determined by the Minister.

Notwithstanding a determination by the Minister under this sub-section disallowing the right of any such officer to such allowance or altering the amount of such allowance, such officer shall be entitled [561] to receive and be paid the allowance up to the date of such determination at the rate at which same was granted under the said Section 8.

(5) From and after the passing of this Act no allowance, the amount of which exceeds the amount of an allowance calculated according to the scale provided by the Superannuation Acts, 1884 to 1892, and the rules thereunder shall be granted by a local authority to an officer under the provisions of Section 8 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919, without the consent of the Minister.

(6) Where any officer of a Local Authority who holds a pensionable office:

(a) is, or has been removed from his office by or in pursuance of any County Scheme; or

(b) after the passing of this Act, is removed from his office for a cause other than misconduct or incapacity; or

(c) after the passing of this Act resigns his office with the sanction of the Minister—

and was at the time of his appointment to such pensionable office employed by the Local Authority in a temporary capacity, the temporary service of such officer shall, to such extent, if any, as the Minister may direct, be reckoned as service in a pensionable office for the purpose of any enactment relating to the superannuation of officers of a Local Authority.

Mr. BARRINGTON: Information on William Barrington  Zoom on William Barrington  I move to delete Sub-Sections (4) and (5). I have just stated that a number of people who are interested in these Unions came to me, and although I did not in any way pose as an authority on Local Government or matters connected with that, I did not see my way to refuse to do what they asked me. They pointed out that Sub-Section 4, giving the County Council power to object to superannuation allowances, is contrary to the provisions of Section 8 of the Act 1919. They also point out that Section 8 of the same Act was itself adopted by the First Dáil, and also by the present Dáil, and even incorporated in the Treaty with England as per Article 10 of the Treaty. They, therefore proceeded to urge that the whole section is ultra vires, because it is contrary to the terms of the Treaty, but I think that, perhaps, a stronger argument in favour of abolishing the right [562] of the County Councils to appeal would be found in some of the actual facts which exist down the country. I do not know whether people here are really aware of what sometimes goes on down in wilder parts of the country, but I know that the officers who are having their pensions placed more or less in the hands of these people object very strongly to it. I am not to be taken for a moment as saying that there are not members of District and County Councils who are very high-minded and proper persons, but unfortunately it is common knowledge that a great many of them are not. Perhaps, to illustrate it, you would allow me to relate a little incident that happened to myself. I was stopping in a place in the wilder parts of the country several years ago, and I was visited one Sunday by a neighbour who asked me if I would vote for a certain gentleman who was going up for a Councilorship, and I said “who is he?”“Oh,” he said, “he is Johnny so-and-so from the bog.”“Well,” I said, “do you think he is a fit and proper person?”“Oh, yes,” he said, “I know him well, and the fact of the matter is if he is not elected he is broken horse, foot, and artillery. If he does not get this job he will have to emigrate or go somewhere.”“Well,” I said, “so far as I am concerned, I am afraid you have nailed my vote for him, for I certainly will not vote for a gentleman who is looking for office to seek his own good.” Some years afterwards the same man came to me again, and I asked, “What happened the man you were telling me of when you visited me last? Did Johnny get in?”“Begor,” he said, “he did get in all right. He is a very clever fellow, you know. He no sooner got in than he proceeded to form a party, and he was secretary to the party. Everyone who was looking for any job that was going had to come before him to be valeted, and he was very lucky, for two doctors' appointments fell out during the time, and an apothecary. Out of them he made £350, and £150 of it was made between the time he ate his supper and went to bed. It was passed in through a window to him.”“Well,” I asked, “is he still a member?”“Oh, no.” he replied, “he is not a member, now. They would not elect him again. It is [563] only right to give another poor devil a chance.” As long as these are the sentiments, which, I am sorry to say, animate some of the electors, and animate very largely a good deal of the representatives, I do not at all wonder that these officers strongly object to have the revisions of their pensions left more or less in the hands of these gentlemen, and I hope that the Minister, whom we all trust — I would like to congratulate him on the general tenor of the Bill — will see his way to drop that condition which is the main portion I understand of Clause No. 4. As regards the other clause I should like to bring to your notice a letter which I received only to-day. I was greatly struck last week with the reply that one of the Ministers gave here. I am not certain whether it was Mr. Blythe or another Minister, but a question was asked and he said, reading out the answer, “the bureaucratic reply which has been put into my hands is so-and-so.” Well, I do not think all of us have a great deal of confidence in bureaucracy. I do not think we like it, and although we might have every confidence in Mr. Blythe himself, I think we would like to guard against bureaucracy, especially when it works out in the way which I am going to explain. There is a doctor whom I know very well against whom nothing has ever been urged. He has always been most careful and considerate in the discharge of his duties to the poor, and the people about have nothing but what is good to say of him. He has been there for many years. I hope that nobody will think for a moment that I am urging the case of vindictive action against a political opponent because this man is by no means a political opponent. His family, on the other hand, have been very largely identified with the movement which has been responsible for this Seanad, and some members of his family hold very high offices in the Free State. For a gentleman in these circumstances to be treated in this way is not, I think, fair. He writes me: “I was appointed an officer”— he was long before that acting as dispensary doctor, but he was appointed to a special post in 1902—“on the 31st March, 1922; my position was abolished owing to changes caused by the amalgamation of the Union. My [564] salary at the time that my office was abolished was £195 per annum, and along with the salary, I got over £100 a year under the National Health Act, so that my position in the hospital was worth about £300 a year. The Guardians, at their meeting, granted me full superannuation of £130 per year”— which is two-thirds, exactly the amount that they were allowed to grant on his fixed salary, excluding emoluments, of £195. He says “they took no action on the £100 a year as they were not sure that the office was pensionable or not. The Local Government Department of Dáil Eireann cut down my pension to £85 7s. 8d., which was not even half my salary, although the Guardians had granted me the full amount, viz., two-thirds.” He says, “I had then twenty years' service; I was almost 70 years of age. I believe most of the other officials have grievances, but I am only just giving you the details of my own.” Having regard to the remark that was made at the meeting of the Seanad last week that the bureaucratic answer was so-and-so, I find it hard to account for the bureaucratic answer in this case, and I think it is a scandal that a man against whom nothing can be alleged, who has given the whole of his life to the service of the poor, and who has done his work admirably, should be turned out in his old age with a pension of £85 7s. 8d. He says that the Bill contains no guide as to the principle upon which these pensions are to be calculated, and that they have asked over and over again for some guide as to what the basis of these pensions should be, but that they have failed to get it. Having regard to all these things it seems to me that the Bill would command much more support in the country — and, mind you, I think the Bill is going to do great work in many ways — if these two clauses are deleted.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  We shall have to take these Clauses separately, because they deal with different subject matters. We are dealing at present with Sub-section 4.

Sir HUTCHESON POE: Information on William Hutcheson Poe  Zoom on William Hutcheson Poe  I think it will be a very unfortunate thing for the Seanad to delete these two Clauses, as I understand, from what has occurred in the Debates in the Dáil, the object of [565] these clauses is to give the County Council an opportunity of protesting against actions which they have to take, sometimes against their will, and sometimes with it, and under which officers under the local bodies undoubtedly, in the last year or two, have received pensions very largely in excess of what they are entitled to. The Minister in the Dáil instanced one case, I believe in the Dublin Corporation, where to 14 years' service they added 26 years, and the man retired with forty-sixtieths of his own salary. Of course that is very indefensible. That is not an isolated case; there are others, but that is one of the worst. There are numbers of cases where the pensions given after the abolition of these offices are our of all proportion to the services of the officials concerned, and I take it that the purpose of these two clauses, which Senator Barringto now proposes to delete, is to enable the Minister to rectify these abuses as far as possible. Of course, as regards the particular instance of this doctor, on the face of that it seems very hard, and the Minister, no doubt, will deal with it, but on the broad principle I should be very sorry to see these clauses deleted.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I cannot pretend to deal with the case which Senator Barrington cited. I do not know the name of the man. I never heard of the man. I know, at least, that he entered the service when he was apparently 50 years of age, so that he did not give his whole life to it. In any case that is a matter which, if it were cited with details, I would be able to deal with. I cannot deal with it when I have no details and not even the name of the doctor concerned, but I think that we will not be charged with harshness towards any body of officials who are retiring. But on the other hand, we must take proper steps to safeguard the interests of the ratepayers and we must see that pensions in this country are not going to be a plague in future. Ireland is going to suffer from a plague of pensions, and we must mitigate it as much as possible. Our intention and our practice, in dealing with officers whose offices have been abolished in connection with amalgamation schemes, have been to allow the local authorities to add 50 per cent. to the actual years of [566] service. I think that is on the generous side, if anything, and is not at all hard on the people pensioned. There were a number of scandalous cases in the beginning, and the case mentioned by the Senator who has just spoken is one of them. There are many others, where people got two-thirds of their salary as a pension after 13 or 14 years' service, and that is a matter we could not stand over and could not allow. In many cases boards of guardians which are being abolished and which knew that what legacy they would leave would fall on the county council, as their last act fixed exhorbitant pensions. They were generous and over generous with other people's money, and were prepared to lay the burden on other people. We refused to sanction this; we refused to sanction any pensions in which the added years exceeded 50 per cent. of the actual years of service. Of course, at the time we did that extra legally; that was done in exercise of the powers conferred by the Decree of the Second Dáil and not by virtue of a statute, as were all the other acts we did in connection with these amalgamation schemes. Hundreds of people have been pensioned who have accepted our award. If this particular section were to be deleted all these people would claim the full two-thirds pensions which were awarded them and which we have taken away, under Section 8 of the Act of 1919, and would have them coming into the courts demanding that the pensions originally awarded by the guardians should be restored and we would have a very heavy and unnecessary burden cast upon the rates. We have put nobody below the figure I have stated. I think that it is quite a generous figure. If further appeals are made to us within the three months specified in this Act we will put nobody below the 50 per cent. of added years to the actual years of services, and I think that this Clause should be allowed to stand.

Question: “That Sub-Section (4) be deleted,” put, and negatived.

Mr. ANDREW JAMESON: Information on Hon Andrew Jameson  Zoom on Hon Andrew Jameson  Sub-section 4, you will notice, ends with the word “Minister.” Now, this is part of the matter which Senator Barrington referred to. As the Bill stands there is no statement that the Minister must [567] act under Section 8 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, and my amendment is to add after the word “Minister” the words “in accordance with that Act in that behalf,” that is to say that the Minister, in giving his decision as to the amount of such allowance, shall act in accordance with Section 8 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act. It may be implied, but it is not stated. It is quite evident that Senator Barrington in what he said believed that the Minister was settling the matter without any reference whatever to the Act. If the Minister is going to act in his decisions under the Act I think it ought to be stated. If he is not, and it is to be left entirely in the hands of the Minister to do what he thinks right, I think we ought to know it. If, as I think, the clause implies that the Minister is going to give his decision in accordance with the Act, I think the words to that effect which I am proposing would make the matter much clearer and strengthen the clause.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I am advised that the words proposed by Senator Jameson are unnecessary, and that the clause as it stands is watertight, but I have no objection to the adding of them.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  The words are not very artistic, and I think it would be better for Senator Jameson to specify it by saying “in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919.

Mr. JAMESON: Information on Hon Andrew Jameson  Zoom on Hon Andrew Jameson  I will adopt your suggestion, and move the amendment in that form. Of course, if the Minister says it is watertight I never like adding words that are unnecessary.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  I think Senator Jameson would be well advised to accept the offer to take his amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: Information on Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde  My amendment is: To add at the end of Sub-section (5) the words: “Where any existing officer entitled to a pension is appointed to any office under the County Board of Health, his service shall be deemed to be continuous, and his former service shall be taken into account for pension purposes.” I am not sure that the amendment that has been accepted does not meet the point I was anxious [568] to raise. A certain amount of alarm has been created among the superannuated officials in connection with Local Government by some of the provisions of this Bill, and I gather from a good many communications that reached me that they were under the impression that this particular clause to which you now referred in the Act would be disregarded in relation to the fixing of their pensions. Apparently in 1921 the various Councils throughout the country were directed to add a certain number of years' service to the actual service of all their officials who were entitled to superannuation, and apparently they acted upon that direction. The present alarm among a number of these people is that their rights under Clause 8 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919, are set aside by this Bill. I think, in view of the fact that Senator Jameson's amendment has been accepted by the Government, there is no need really for me to move mine, and I ask permission to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. E.W. EYRE: Information on Edmund W Eyre  Zoom on Edmund W Eyre  I beg to move:— To add at the end of Sub-section 5 the words: “This Sub-section shall not apply to an officer discharging duties transferred to a Local Authority under a County Scheme, or in respect of whose salary a contribution is paid by the Ministry.” A good many officials of the Dublin Corporation think that they will be seriously affected by this section. The Minister a few minutes ago has been dealing with officers who were transferred, and to whose salaries enormous additions were made for the purpose of superannuation. As to the Dublin Corporation, if we take the case of the Town Clerk or the Solicitor, or men of that kind, or the case of a man who has given exceptionally good service, it would be very hard lines if the men who know what such a man had done and know all the circumstances of the case are not allowed some licence in regard to the amount that they should give him, and should be debarred from extending to him the privileges granted by the Act of 1919. I remember myself when the Lord Lieutenant's sanction was required for pensions having numerous engagements with the officials in the Castle, where the Corporation gave reasonable consideration in the matter of pension, and particularly in [569] regard to the cases of labourers in the Corporation, to whom it was absolutely necessary to give larger pensions than were allowed under the Act, because they could not have a living wage unless you did so. If the Minister will give me the assurance that these considerations will not be lost sight of, and that there will not be a hard and fast rule laid down, I would not press the amendment.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I am quite willing and glad to give the assurance that is asked for by Senator Eyre. So far as I am concerned, and I am sure so far as anybody who may succeed me may be concerned, the policy of the Department will be to give consideration to the ordinary human circumstances of every case. At the same time we think it undesirable that there should be no discretion in the Department. We have had cases recently where people who had not very long service at all were given the full amount of pension. In the case of one particular body 45 cases were recently before us, and in every case the full two thirds pension was proposed or given by the local body. Of these 45, 43 had less than 40 years' service; 13 of them varied from 20 years to 23 years, and 30 of the 45 did not exceed 30 years' service. In the same batch we had one man who had 22 years' service, and who got the full two-thirds pension. Another man who had 34 years' service just got exactly the same two-thirds. At the present time when the Local Authorities are not performing their duties as well as they might, and when for various reasons they are rather demoralised, it is very desirable that there should be power to check them when they will not themselves exercise proper discretion in the granting of pensions. There is no intention to exercise a hard and fast rule or to refuse to have regard to the vital facts that might arise in any particular case.

Mr. THOS. FARREN: Information on Thomas Farren  Zoom on Thomas Farren  I am perfectly satisfied to take the word of the Minister that the matter will be dealt with humanly, but I want to point out that you cannot deal with the question of pensions in every case from the actual number of years' service. A man may be in a position in which his duties may be very light, and he may have given 40 years' service. A man who was engaged in another occupation if he gives 20 [570] years' service may have done infinitely more work than the man who did 40 years. Take, for instance, the man engaged in the sewers department, who every day of his life runs the risk of being suffocated by poisonous gases in the sewers. If that man gives you 20 years' service, after that service he is, in my opinion, entitled to some consideration A man entering the disinfecting department of the Corporation is going amongst the homes of people afflicted with contagious diseases every day and runs the risk of catching contagious disease. If he had 20 or 25 years' service I think that ought to be considered. All these cases cannot be based on the ratio of years service. The actual work in which the person was engaged must be an important factor in settling the amount of pension a man is entitled to. Therefore I think it would be well that some consideration should be given to this question of pension rights, other than on the number of years service. I know of many cases. Take the case of the Dublin Corporation. A man may be an office attendant or doorkeeper where he never has wet feet and where the occupation is light. Another man may be working on the streets and is out in all weathers and runs the risk of getting cold, so that he becomes prematurely old and unable to perform manual labour. Therefore, I think there must be some consideration given to the nature of the occupation in which the person is engaged when the pension is being considered, and not base it solely on the number of years service given.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  Do you desire to withdraw your amendment?

Mr. EYRE: Information on Edmund W Eyre  Zoom on Edmund W Eyre  Yes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I move the following Amendment:—Sub-section (5), “To substitute for ‘1884’‘1834.’” I understand the date is incorrect.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. EYRE: Information on Edmund W Eyre  Zoom on Edmund W Eyre  I move the following Amendment:— To insert after Sub-section (6) a new Sub-section, as follows:—

“A Local Authority shall have the same powers of granting superannuation [571] allowances under the Local Officers Superannuation Acts, 1869, to Officers of School Attendance Committees, the expenses of which Committees are defrayed by the Local Authority, as they have to grant superannuation allowances to their own officers.”

I make a very strong appeal to the Seanad to adopt this amendment. These are a very small body of very deserving men who do a great deal of good service and have a right to consideration for pensions. At present, for these School Attendance Officers, of whom there are in the city of Dublin 23, there does not appear to be any Act under which it is possible to grant them a pension. The Corporation were willing to do so, but were advised that they had no authority. I do not want to stress the point, but I want to appeal to the sympathies of the Minister on behalf of these men as I do not think it is fair or reasonable that they should be excluded when every other local officer is entitled to a pension. As I say, there are no means at present under which these men can be legally dealt with, and I do not think there is anybody here who would like to see them, after giving many years service, thrown out without any pension when their fellow-officials around them are granted consideration in that respect. I ask Senators to support the amendment.

Mrs. WYSE POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  I am sorry I cannot agree with Senator Eyre in the amendment, for this reason, that school attendance officers do not belong to any service. They come in without competition and without qualifying examination. They come just from the patronage of the School Attendance Committees, and whether it is desirable that this class of public servants should be put in a separate service is debatable, because I think these are positions that very often save a family from disaster. In the case of women school attendance inspectors, the position is nearly always given to those who are widows and who have their homes, and their children to rear. They come into the service at 35 or 40 years of age. Surely women and men who have broken down, so to say, in other walks of life cannot expect, coming in at middle age, [572] that they should have the same pensionable rights as those who entered through competitive examinations. For that reason I do not think it is fair to put them in the same class as other officers. I hope the service will remain as it is, because it is a valuable service, particularly for widows, who are the best people to send to look after school inspection. I think this service should be left open to them with a view, at all events, to their earning a living.

Mr. FARREN: Information on Thomas Farren  Zoom on Thomas Farren  I must say that I do not agree with my colleague, Mrs. Wyse Power, in this matter. Either a thing is right or wrong. If one set of officials, are entitled to a pension another set of officials are also entitled to pensions. If a person gives 30 years' service as a school attendance inspector I think that person is equally entitled to a pension as well as a person who gave 30 years' service in another Department. If the people appointed are not the proper people, that is another matter, and does not affect the real point as to whether they are entitled to a pension or not. The School Attendance Committees in Dublin are not Corporation Committees proper, but the Corporation provides most of the funds, and has the right to nominate a proportion of the representatives on each School Attendance Committee. For all practical purposes the officers and the staff are public board officials, and I say that they should be entitled to pensions, because you cannot differentiate between different sets of people. The ordinary workingman goes into the Corporation without a competitive examination, as, say, an ordinary labourer. If he gives a certain number of years' service he is automatically entitled to a pension. Why should we differentiate between a man who goes in as a labourer or a messenger or a clerk or a semi-professional man and a school attendance officer? The school attendance officers are doing a very useful work in seeing that the children, particularly of the poorer class of people, are sent to school. Therefore, I believe that if any other officials are entitled to a pension, school attendance officers are equally entitled to a pension.

Sir JOHN KEANE: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I think we ought to have regard to the contractual character, actual or implied, under which these people take their appointments.

[573] A lot of people perfectly understand when they take these appointments they are not going to take pensions, and if they come in with their eyes open I do not think it is to the interests of the ratepayers that they should be placed upon the pension lists. We hear a great deal about hardship, but in a great many cases there is no hardship because people never expected a pension. We hear also a great deal about the interests of the ratepayers who have to bear those burdens.

Mr. EYRE: Information on Edmund W Eyre  Zoom on Edmund W Eyre  The point has been made that there is not a single officer in the Dublin Corporation at the present time nor a labourer who is working in the streets who had any contract for a pension when he came on. From the highest to the lowest — from the Town Clerk down — there was no right to a pension until the Act of 1919. The Corporation could give a pension if they pleased, or they could refuse it. They could give a workman a pension if they pleased. Mrs. Wyse Power did not actually charge them with not discharging their duties efficiently. In fact, some of the arguments she used were in their favour. A great many of them are widows who are very badly off. I would ask the Seanad to support the amendment.

Mrs. WYSE POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  I said they would be very badly off if they did not get those positions, and not that they are badly off in the positions.

Amendment put and negatived.

Question: “That Section 11, as amended, stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 were agreed to, and added to the Bill.

(1) The Council of any County or Urban District, in addition to any existing power, may, in the local financial year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924, raise in the manner provided by Section 19 of the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 1899, a sum equal to a rate of one penny in the pound on the rateable value mentioned in that Section.

(2) All moneys raised under this section shall be applied for the purpose of providing instruction in the Irish language in the county or urban district.

[574] (3) Save as otherwise provided by this section, all the provisions of the said Act shall apply to all moneys raised under this section.

(4) Any moneys raised and expended by the Council of any County or Urban District for the purpose of providing instruction in the Irish language in the county or urban district, prior to the passing of this Act, shall be deemed to have been lawfully raised and expended.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I beg to move an amendment:—“To delete in Sub-section 1 the words ‘one penny’ and to substitute therefor the words ‘two pence.’” Hitherto provision was made in the County Schemes to assess the penny in the £ on the rateable valuation for the purpose of teaching Irish. I cannot help thinking that it was the hasty manner in which this measure was produced that caused this matter to be overlooked. If, in the olden days, when Irish had not got into its own, a penny in the £ was supposed to be reasonable, I really think that 2d in the £ ought now to be considered a very slight sum to levy for the teaching of Irish. For the last ten or fifteen minutes we have had considerable thought given to the granting of pensions to all sorts and conditions of people in Ireland. I would ask the Seanad to consider for a moment whether the people of Ireland are not entitled to a liberal education in their native tongue. Twopence in the £ is a very small sum, and the Clause leaves it still in the option of the County to levy the twopence or not as they consider wise. I am quite sure it is not necessary for me to labour the amendment. This is largely a question of sentiment. If the Irish language is of no utility, is not a vehicle of thought, and is not something of which the Irish people are proud, then do not pass the amendment; but if, on the other hand, the Irish language is coming into its own, as it will come into its own, and if you think the Irish people as a whole desire to be taught it, then I feel the Seanad will pass the amendment without more ado.

Mr. WM. CUMMINS: Information on William Cummins  Zoom on William Cummins  Ba mhaith lum cúpla focal a rádh mar geall ar an leas-rún so.

I would like to say a few words in support of the amendment. I am glad it has emanated from this body, because [575] at the present time I am afraid Irish in some quarters is being looked upon as not the language of this nation at all, having regard to the treatment meted out to it in certain judicial quarters. Yesterday we had a very big debate in the Dáil, and it was not a very edifying debate, because we did not hear the views of the Irish people raised in as strong a manner as we might expect from that patriotic body. They were not raised in as strong a manner as would bring joy to the hearts of those who love the Irish language. I think it is a very good thing that this Seanad is setting such a magnificent example, and I hope it will be warmly supported. The money raised for the Irish language has been very beneficially expended in the country. For the most part it was administered through the Technical Boards, but in some counties they introduced better schemes. That, however, is a matter of detail. They have handed those funds partially to a combined Board composed of members of the Gaelic League and the Technical Board. That is, I consider, an excellent plan, and I hope it will be followed. When power is given to local bodies to raise the levy to twopence I have no fear but that the Irish language will be placed in its proper position as the official language of this country.

EAMONN MacLYSAGHT: Information on Edward MacLysaght  Zoom on Edward MacLysaght  Ba mhaith liom go gcuirfí an leas-rún so i bhfeidhm. Má cuirtear i bhfeidhm cad é an díoghbháil. Ní dheánfhadh sé aon díoghbháil agus ba mhaith go nglacfái leis.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I think it is really too late now to make any change that would be operative. This particular Clause refers only to the financial year ended on the 31st March, 1924. Some amendments have already been passed to this Bill, which has still another stage or two to go through. It must go back to the Dáil and have the amendments accepted there. By that time — if it is not already — it will be too late to make any change in regard to the amount that might be struck. For the last two or three years various Councils have struck a penny rate. They were authorised to do so by a decree of the second Dáil. We propose in this Section to continue the authorisation given by that decree of the second Dáil. I would be very happy if I were convinced that the [576] money was well spent. I am not sure that it has been; in fact, I think in many cases it has been so spent that it was not of much benefit to the language. Then, again, we are under new conditions, where it will be necessary to consider whether in future we should have this rate at all or not. That is a matter that will need to be considered very carefully. I believe it is in the primary and secondary schools that the work of developing the language will have to be done; it is only there that it can be done. My own opinion is a rate such as this would in future years only be wasted. But, as we are at the transition period, and as the Councils are striking this rate, this Clause was put in for the purpose of legalising and regularising the position. I would not advise the Seanad to accept the amendment. Even if they did accept it it is now too late to have any effect at all through the country.

Colonel MOORE: Information on Maurice George Moore  Zoom on Maurice George Moore  I would like to support this amendment. I do not think that the Minister's explanation is at all satisfactory. I think we ought not to be putting these things off because they are temporary measures. We are always being told that because those are temporary measures we should not go any further. The Irish language was suppressed years ago by the strongest possible measures. Everything possible was done to kill it. No Irish speaker was allowed to have any position. Nothing was done for the Irish language, and the Irish language was crushed out. It is our business to see that this will be reversed as far as possible, not going so far as the English did formerly. The language is in such a state as to require the greatest possible encouragement, and its revival cannot be brought about by very small measures. One penny in the £ is very small, and I urge that we should do everything that is possible to revive the language. It does not matter whether it is one penny in the pound or twopence in the pound, but if the local authorities have power to give twopence they ought to do so.

Mrs. WYSE POWER: Information on Jane Wyse Power  Zoom on Jane Wyse Power  I happened to have this morning a deputation from the Gaelic League in connection with the striking of a rate for Irish in Dublin. One penny in the pound would amount [577] to £4,367, and the only object this money could be used for is for the teaching of Irish to adults, but we know that the children are provided for in the schools. We put up to this deputation the fact that in the Technical Schools of Dublin there were twenty-five classes going on which cost a good deal of money. We found, on getting the number on the rolls of those classes, that only ten per cent. were adults. In spite of the magnificent teaching in the Technical School you can only get ten per cent. of the adults to attend those classes. You will not require one penny for adult teaching; in fact we would be happy if we got a halfpenny in the pound. I do not know anything about the urban or the rural districts, but I think that the Bill, as it is, leaves an ample amount for the teaching of adults, and I do not agree to the speeches I have heard about the reasons for raising the rate. At the same time, in the teaching of Irish to adults there is a certain amount of propaganda for the Irish language which is good from the National point of view, but from the morning I spent, I can assure you one penny is ample and more than ample as far as Dublin is concerned.

Mr. DOUGLAS: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I am opposed to the amendment. I am not an Irish speaker. I wish I were. I feel, with reference to the suggestions that were made by Senators here, that the best way in which real progress can be made in the development of Irish is through the schools, both elementary and secondary, and a central uniform action through the country and through the sentimental [578] past of the language as the suggestion was made here. If you vote for one penny as against two pennies, that is not a sentimental objection to the Irish language. I suggest that every local authority will be told the same thing. The whole case is that it is much better to leave it as it stands, but I hope it will not be taken that the Seanad has not given proper consideration to the question here, or that in any way they are opposed to the development of the language.

Mr. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I do know the position in Dublin, but I do know the position through the rural districts in Ireland. The money has been well spent there and the local authorities are not inclined to spend money unless they feel it is going to benefit the language. This money hitherto was largely used for the purpose of training teachers. If that object has been exhausted I am quite sure that it is within the competence of local authorities to devise some other scheme by which this magnificent twopence will be used for the Irish language. There has been talk about sentiment. Sentiment is the salt of life. There is sentiment in everything, and we are a body divorced from sentiment if we do not allow the penny to be increased to twopence. I do not agree with Mrs. Wyse Power that this twopence cannot be usefully expended. I take her opinion in regard to Dublin as correct, but it can be usefully expended in the rural districts, and it will not be expended unless it is desirable.

Amendment put.

Bennett, Thomas Westropp.
Cummins, William.
Duffy, Michael.
Farren, Thomas.
Irwin, Cornelius Joseph.
Kenny, Patrick William.
Love, Joseph Clayton.
MacEvoy, Edward.
MacKean, James.
MacLysaght, Edward.
MacPartlin, Thomas.
Moore, Colonel Maurice, C.B.
O'Farrell, John Thomas.

Barniville, Henry L., M.B., B.S.
Barrington, William.
De Loughrey, Peter.
Costello, Mrs. Eileen.
Desart, Ellen Odette, Dowager Countess of.
Everard, Sir Nugent Talbot, Bart.
Eyre, Edmund W.
Fitzgerald, Martin.
Green, Mrs. Alice Stopford.
Griffith, Sir John Purser, M.A.I., M.Inst. C.E.
Haughton, Benjamin.
Jameson, Right Hon. Andrew, D.L.
Keane, Sir John, Bart.
Kerry, Earl of, M.V.O., D.S.O, D.L.
Linehan, Thomas.
MacLoughlin, John.
Moran, James.
O'Sullivan, William, M.D.
Poe, Col. Sir William Hutcheson, Bart.
Wyse Power, Mrs. Jane.
Yeats, William Butler.

[579] Question put: “That Clause 16 stand part of the Bill.”

Agreed.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  Question proposed: That Clause 17 stand part of the Bill.

Mr. THOS. LINEHAN: Information on Thomas Linehan  Zoom on Thomas Linehan  In this Clause there are 4 or 5 words that I wish to have deleted. It deals with the Scholarships and Exhibitions that may be given by the County Councils. The particular sub-section as it stands at present reads as follows:—

“The Council of any County or County Borough may assist by means of exhibitions, scholarships, bursaries, payment of fees or otherwise, any students or intending students at any approved school in Saorstát Eireann who are ordinarily resident in such County or Borough, and who satisfy the Council that they are qualified to profit by instruction in such school and are in need of assistance, and who also satisfy such tests of ability as shall be prescribed in pursuance of this section.”

The words which I wish to have eliminated are “and are in need of assistance.” I think that is a very indefinite term to have in this clause. I do not know whether it refers to the students themselves or to their parents. If it refers to the students, which is as one would conclude from the reading of the clause——

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  Plainly it refers to the students.

Mr. LINEHAN: Information on Thomas Linehan  Zoom on Thomas Linehan  In that case I have known very few students who are not in need of assistance. Their parents and their relatives might have means, but the students themselves would not have, I think, what was intended, though it is not in this clause, was the means of the parents.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  I think you may assume that.

Mr. LINEHAN: Information on Thomas Linehan  Zoom on Thomas Linehan  Well, if that is so I think if it is the desire of the Seanad to have such a clause as that in the Bill and such words relating to the means of the parents of students, the income of the parents or relatives should be defined that would disqualify some of the students from availing of one of these [580] scholarships, but my own opinion is that it would be more desirable to have no restriction whatever, and let every student in the country, no matter from what class he is drawn, have his chance of gaining a scholarship, and not be put to the necessity of pleading poverty or of showing what the means of his parents are before he can get a prize. I beg to move that these words be omitted from this clause.

Mr. T.W. BENNETT: Information on Thomas Westropp Bennett  Zoom on Thomas Westropp Bennett  I beg to oppose the amendment. Provision, I take it, will be amply made in other places, university centres and various places, to provide for the boy of exceptional talent. These county schemes were really arranged with the intention of assisting people in the various counties, who otherwise would not be capable of giving to their children the education desired. I had some practice in a County Council for many years, and I found these County Scholarship Schemes, in many cases, were competed for by boys who, to my mind, should not have competed for them, and you always had a good deal of difficulty in getting over the fact that the parents were possessed of the necessary means that would have excluded them. I welcome the words put into this Section by the Minister in charge, and I hope they will be insisted upon.

Amendment put, and negatived.

Question put: “That Clause 17 stan I part of the Bill.” Agreed.

Sections 18 and 19 were agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Sir JOHN KEANE: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  In connection with Clause 20 may I make a remark, although I have no definite amendment? The other day I asked that the Minister would give an assurance as to the remodelling of the accounts of local bodies. Unfortunately I was out of the room when he gave his reply,: and I did not see any reference to it in the official report. If it is in order now I would ask him to make some statement on that point.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH:  Clause 6 provides that the Minister may, by order, make schemes for regulating accounts, audit, and estimates of any public bodies.

[581]Sir JOHN KEANE: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I am in order then in asking him to make a statement as to the intention of his Department in that matter.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  The intention in regard the powers given in this Clause is simply to adapt the present system to the new bodies that have been set up. The whole question of changing and simplifying the system of accounts is one we feel of permanent reform to be dealt with in our permanent Bill rather than in this temporary Act.

Sections 20, 21 and 22 were agreed to, and added to the Bill.

The Schedules were also agreed to.

Mr. LINEHAN: Information on Thomas Linehan  Zoom on Thomas Linehan  Am I in order at present in asking the Minister why no provision is made for certain local authorities appointing paid officials to do their work? I refer to the case in Cork, where vice-guardians have been appointed, and where they evidently have been proceeding up to the present without any legal sanction for their work. They have done excellent work for the ratepayers of the county, and I regret to see that no provision is made in the Bill giving local authorities power to appoint men such as these to carry on their work, and to legalise the work that has already been done by the vice-guardians.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  That change would be a very revolutionary change. It is advocated from many quarters, but it is, we feel, a matter that should be dealt with only when we come to reform the Local Government law as a whole. We know that in other countries something like this is done, and it seems to be done with success, but it has not been done here except in one or two cases as a temporary expedient, under the conditions during the interregnum, as I might say. The position in Cork Union can be legalised under the existing law. It is possible for the Ministry to appoint vice-guardians. These vice-guardians may, in fact, be appointed in reality by the local people. They may be nominated and approved of by the local people, and formally appointed by the Minister. I think it is unnecessary to legislate specially for the Cork Union, as there is another way of dealing with the matter at the present time.

[582]Mr. KENNY: Information on Patrick W Kenny  Zoom on Patrick W Kenny  I would like to point out this: When a County Scheme is passed and confirmed by the Ministry it becomes operative from the day of confirmation, then the Oireachtas has 21 days in which it may annul the scheme. In the meantime, within the 21 days mentioned many things may be done by the County Council before the scheme becomes operative. The moment it is confirmed all that has been done may be reversed. The County Council may take advantage of that 21 days to do a lot of things that might not be entirely approved of; but, having succeeded in doing them, if they are stereotyped there is no redress. I think that the 21 days interval is a dangerous interval. I do not see why the County Council schemes should not be confirmed by the Minister right away, instead of waiting these 21 days until approved of by the Oireachtas.

Mr. BLYTHE: Information on Ernest Blythe  Zoom on Ernest Blythe  I think the Senator may take it that there is small likelihood indeed that we will approve of any scheme which the Oireachtas is likely to annul. Particular care will be taken in that matter. So far as the validity of anything done during the interval is concerned, that is safeguarded in the Bill. I think that once a scheme is annulled it would be easy to straighten up anything that had occurred. Really, the Senator is dealing with a contingency which is unlikely to arise. The provision which is put into the Bill is a safeguard to the Oireachtas against extreme action by the Minister, action which was altogether contrary to the spirit of the Act or contrary to the spirit of the schemes which have already been approved of.

Bill ordered to be reported.


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