Thursday, 20 December 1928
Seanad Éireann Debate
“That in the opinion of the Seanad the services of a skilled parliamentary draftsman should be available for the assistance of the Seanad in drafting Bills, and that accordingly the Seanad requests and recommends to the Executive Council that provision shall be made for this service when preparing the Estimates for the year 1929-1930.”
In Article 39 of the Constitution we read “A Bill may be initiated in Seanad Eireann” so that there can be no question, apart from precedent and practice, that the Seanad has the right and the privilege to initiate legislation. I think it will be agreed that any legislation that is initiated and passed through the Seanad, or whether initiated here or coming from the Dáil, ought to be well drafted, and carefully considered, so as to give the lawyers as few opportunities as possible of dissension and controversy. It is, therefore, desirable, in the interests of efficiency, that any legislation that is proposed in the Seanad should be as carefully modelled and drafted as possible. Perhaps I need not say that in the motion I am proposing there is no purpose other than to make for the most efficient legislative competence possible and further to assist in establishing the prestige and the authority of the Oireachtas and of the Seanad. Those of us who have been familiar with public affairs for a number of years past will agree, I think, that there has been a declining interest in parliaments. I am not speaking now of these countries alone. Throughout Europe, and perhaps throughout the world, during the last generation there has been a somewhat declining interest and recognition of the position of the parliamentary institution. That attitude to parliaments has been intensified and drawn out since the conclusion of the Great War, so much so that in a number of cases parliaments have been supplanted by dictatorships, and even where there has not been such supplanting, there has developed a kind of cynicism and contemptuousness  of parliament and the parliamentary system. The alternative to the parliamentary system must be either the dictatorship of an individual or the dictatorship of a group, by whatever method they may be chosen. I take it that it is admitted in this House that it is desirable that this country shall be governed through a parliamentary system, by a parliament; that is to say, that government shall be by free discussion, that the public, by the free discussion of projects, will be associated with the legislation through their knowledge and consent, and by that means we shall have what might be called “government by consent.” Certainly, it would be government by the consent of the actively intelligent public, and that, I think, is the purpose and the aim of parliamentary institutions.
The Oireachtas was founded during a time when this general state of dissatisfaction with parliamentary institutions prevailed, and we have, I think unfortunately, to face the position in this country that a general cynicism prevails and that the institution has not been thoroughly established in the minds of the people. Formally it is established, but the full establishment of its moral authority in the minds of the people has not yet been achieved. It was said in this Chamber, at the time of the visit of Dr. Lange, that there was no anti-parliamentary feeling in this country. I think that that is true, but it is equally true that there is little or no positive enthusiasm for parliament as an institution.
We have found within this country many who would give their lives for a republican ideal, some perhaps who would lay down their  lives, even give up their substance, to maintain the Free State Constitution; but there are very few, I think, who would be found to make any sacrifice for the Oireachtas. It has not, as I say, got hold of the people and established itself in their minds as something that at all costs must be maintained and must be saved. We have, therefore, to work for the establishment of a parliament and a parliamentary institution in whatever form of government may ultimately be reached. We have to try to establish that parliamentary institution in the minds of the people, to give it prestige and moral authority sufficient to weigh down the gibes and the cynical sneers of cheaper critics. It was with that idea that I put down this motion, and the motion which it has been decided to defer.
I think it is well that we should consider the setting within which this parliament works. In old-established constitutional countries there are, I think it may be said, fairly well-organised and sometimes exceptionally well-equipped organisations — committees and associations—for a vigilant watch over parliamentary affairs, and with a good deal of voluntary assistance available for the promotion of legislative projects. At present we have not that. I think in no group or party can it be said that there is a well-equipped, well-informed body of people that could do the work which is requisite to be done, if it is to be done efficiently, to promote legislation.
I think it is undesirable that every legislative project should be assumed to rest upon the Ministry for the time being. I think it is not desirable, in the interests of efficient government and the maintenance of the parliamentary system, that the Parliament should wholly and entirely depend upon the initiative of the Ministry of the day for legislation. Undoubtedly, the great majority of measures, especially those which involve large administrative changes and which involve finance, must come from the Ministry, but there is a fairly wide region within which unofficial members can initiate legislation and by whom the inquiries precedent to legislation should be conducted. I think it will be admitted  that Ministers who may feel inclined towards a certain line of action legislatively would sometimes prefer not to take the risk that the official introduction of a measure involves, that it would be preefrable from their point of view that public opinion and parliamentary opinion should be tested through the initiation of legislative proposals by unofficial members. That, if it did nothing else, would have the effect of developing a sense of responsibility amongst legislators. We are all guilty of uttering vague demands for legislation in certain directions and of denouncing governments for their failure to promote legislation in those forms, or in particular forms; but those thoughts and criticisms are very often modified if the critic has to sit down to the task of drafting a Bill, or even of going closely into the details preliminary to the drafting of a Bill. It is a very valuable exercise, I think, for a legislator that he should be required occasionally to face the practical difficulties which a legislative proposal involves.
What I have in mind in this motion in the main is that Senators who would propose certain legislation, or who would like to see legislation in a given direction passed in this House would, first of all by the presentation of a detailed motion—a motion giving something like the heads of the measure that they desire to be embodied in legislation—come to the House, give a general outline of their intentions, and have that proposal discussed on its merits in the House. If, in that form, they secured the adhesion of the House, then my idea is that they should be authorised to seek the assistance of a skilled draftsman in the preparation of a Bill to embody those ideas. I have not the slightest doubt that, when a motion had been proposed and passed in the House and when the promoters of that motion had to sit down and consult with a draftsman as to the making of a Bill to embody the idea, they would find very many difficulties in their way.
Probably they would find on many occasions that, however desirable the legislation in that direction would be, the difficulties were insuperable, and  they would have to abandon the project, but their experience would be very valuable, I think, in education in the art of State-craft, and would not be lost to the Seanad, to Senators, or the country. The proposal is not one which suggests or asks for any increase in public expenditure. It is impossible for us, I think to say what it might involve in the way of additional staff, if any. I do not think it will necessitate any additional staff. I believe that there are available men who could, when occasion offers, be made available to Senators for the purpose I have outlined. It is certainly not my intention that this project should impose an additional charge upon the Exchequer, but it is desirable, if the House approves of the proposition, that those who will be formulating the estimates during the next couple of months should have this desire of the Seanad in mind, so that if any transfers were necessary from one department to another, or whether these transfers be necessary or not, it would be in the mind of those responsible that some such person might be made available when the necessity arose.
I think the idea that is embodied in this motion will probably eventually be taken up by the Dáil, but that is not our business at the moment. I think that for certain classes of legislation it is desirable that the Seanad should take the initiative. I am rather speaking of minor measures of reform, that do not involve great administrative changes or involve financial responsibility. It is also possible, in the formulation of amendments, rather than that the unskilled should be left to grope as to the best method of expressing their intention, that a little assistance from the draftsman might be available, but that is probably already at hand to some degree. I think it is the practice—it certainly is in another place— that the officials of the House are always willing, and in most cases able, to give any assistance of that kind that is required, but there may be questions even in the formulation of amendments which go beyond the capacity of the official staffs and in respect of which the official draftsman would be available, should the Seanad ask for advice.  The general intention, therefore, is that the Seanad should be assisted in doing its work more efficiently than is possible without that assistance. I think it is true to say—and I think the lawyers will agree, that not even the lawyer who has not had specialised experience is always a skilled draftsman of a Parliamentary Bill, and for good or ill—I think possibly for ill— we have not in any of the parties a superabundance of lawyers or men skilled in the law. That may be, in the minds of some, our good fortune; but I think we have rather too few, while other countries complain of too many. In any case, I am asking the Seanad to agree to a proposition which would mean that Senators would have assistance in doing work, which they are responsible for, more efficiency than they can, to enable them to do it without that aid. I do not think that there is any very revolutionary idea behind the project. There is the idea of making the Seanad useful; and, if we cannot command respect, we can at least deserve it. I accordingly move the motion.
Dr. GOGARTY: I beg to second the motion. The first thing that is cast up against the Seanad is that we have not initiated any important laws. Some years ago I tried to get a measure or two passed here.
Dr. GOGARTY: The two efforts that I made were blocked by the objection that the time of the parliamentary draftsman was then fully taken up. When I asked how long it would be taken up, the reply was that they could not say. When I asked if it would be taken up next year the reply was that possibly it would; that it would depend on the volume of legislation. That was putting this House in the position, as it were, of playing second fiddle to the parliamentary draftsman, and yet the first thing that is cast up against us here is that we have not taken an active part in introducing legislation, and in showing ourselves to be an important part of the Oireachtas, inasmuch as we had not taken any steps  to bring in legislation. At that time there was one piece of very necessary legislation that I thought should be introduced. That was a law for the preservation of the ancient monuments in this country. We talk a lot about the dignity of Ireland. At the same time it does not interfere with the dung-hill on Tara. Tara was left to antiquaries who could act in an arbitrary way. They had to be stopped from doing certain work there. As a matter of fact they were stopped by Arthur Griffith. He was the person who stopped them. It is a very difficult job to open ancient remains, particularly ancient remains of a period when there was no stone work. In connection with work of that kind, the first thing that has to be done is to have photographs taken from aircraft. The next thing is to have an investigation of the site. It should be examined with the greatest care, because when structures were not built of stone the only trace left is the mould, to see whether the posts and foundations are decayed.
I think that a law for the preservation of the ancient monuments of Ireland is very necessary, as there were certain conditions present which may have tended to the obliteration of them. Certain castles in the West of Ireland that were in ruins were removed for the building of bridges and the metalling of roads. When I took steps to see how a law could be drafted that would restrain the destruction of historical monuments, I was told that we could not have the services of the parliamentary draftsman. I was then referred to the Board of Works and there was another hold-up there. It is desirable that we should have the services of a draftsman to assist us in the preparation of legislation that we consider necessary, especially in view of the criticism organised against this House, so that those who criticise us may be put in the position of acting as reformers and economists. I think Senator Johnson's motion is deserving of the consideration of the House. During his first year of office Lord Glenavy proposed that a draftsman should be appointed. It was then largely a matter of salary. The House was then in a more or less fluid state  and there was a certain amount of resistance in regard to multiplying or in-increasing officers in this House. It was held then that we could have at any time the services of the parliamentary draftsman. The parliamentary draftsman was himself snowed under with his own work. The real point, at any rate, is that it is highly necessary, if this House is to take its place as a legislating body, that we have at least the power of getting Bills drafted.
To delete all after the word “of” in line 1 and to substitute therefor the words “one of the official parliamentary draftsmen should be made available for the assistance of private members of the Dáil and Seanad in the drafting of Bills.”
Senator Johnson and myself are at one on the rights and privileges of private members. I think these rights and privileges should be preserved, and that the exercise of them should be facilitated by whatever Executive Council is in power. I suggest that the amendment I have placed before the House meets the circumstances with which we are confronted at the moment. Senator Gogarty has reminded the Seanad that a similar proposal was put before it on another occasion, and he has also informed the House that he had some very important measure with regard to the excavations at Tara and that he could not find a draftsman to deal with it. I submit that it is probable Senator Gogarty's measure would have been the only measure submitted to the draftsman if he had been appointed at a salary on that occasion. The amount of legislation initiated in the Seanad is negligible. It is impossible for any person to say how much legislation shall be initiated in this assembly in the future. I grant that there will be an increase, especially with the advent of Senator Johnson, and that increase I would like to see, but I do think that of the three official draftsmen at present working directly under the Executive Council one at least should be available from time to time when a Senator gets a brain wave and introduces  a measure. If my amendment is accepted, as we are merely expressing an opinion, or making a recommendation to the Executive Council, we should couple with that opinion the private members of An Dáil. If my recommendation is accepted I think that we would have placed at our disposal a draftsman, and that would meet the circumstances of the moment without increasing the overladen salary list and the cost of legislation.
Mr. MILROY: Whenever I see what appears to be a reasonable and innocuous kind of motion by Senator Johnson I always look for the nigger in the wood part, and I think the essence of the motion is that a skilled parliamentary draftsman should be appointed to Senator Johnson, because the claims that Senator Johnson would make upon that skilled parliamentary draftsman's time would leave no time for any other Senator to avail of it. If there were any alternative claim Senator Johnson could always say: “He is mine, as I saw him first.” I was surprised that a Senator of the shrewd perception of Dr. Gogarty could have been so easily “had.” I do not know whether the salvation of the relics at Tara is a sufficient justification for what is involved in this motion. Personally I think that if they are not going to be saved until that skilled parliamentary draftsman is free from the claims of Senator Johnson, they will never be saved by that skilled parliamentary draftsman, for he will never get time to get near them to consider them. Senator Johnson said he wishes to impose no additional burden on the Exchequer. I am afraid if that is his wish that he has no real knowledge of what the work of a skilled parliamentary draftsman involves.
Some people may think that a skilled parliamentary draftsman keeps a stock of Bills just as a dealer in motor cars keeps a stock of Fords, and that Senator Johnson could walk in and say: “I want to see your 1928 models of Housing Bills that run to six schedules.” Senator O'Doherty might  walk in and say: “I want to see some cheap and effective Bills for abolishing the Seanad, some slick and up-to-date ones that work with a bang.” I gather that is not a distortion of Senator Johnson's knowledge of this particular matter, that he is making this proposal seriously, and that he does not desire to put any additional burden on the Exchequer. The drafting of a simple amending Bill may be very simple, but the drafting of an important Bill that is to be regarded as the principal Act on the Statute involves an enormous amount of preparatory work. The effect of the scope of the provisions of the proposed legislation, and their effect on existing legislation, and the machinery that is proposed to be set up, involves an enormous amount of preparatory work before ever the draftsman comes into the picture. That preparatory work has to be discharged by various departments. There are probably few Bills that might be regarded as important measures that do not involve this preparatory work in practice on every department of the State. That preparatory work has then to be submitted to the draftsman, who has to engage in conference with each department and institute inquiries for the purpose of elucidating what is before him before he can get down to the real work of giving the proposals practical and definite shape. To say, suggest, or assume that that particular kind of work is going to involve no additional expense is simply, I think, to miscalculate what is involved in such a proposal. Further, Senators, and possibly Deputies, may think that such an official placed at their disposal will solve their difficulties, that all they have got to do is to tell him that they want such and such and that he provides the Bill. A skilled parliamentary draftsman has nothing whatever to do with policy or the suggesting of the provisions of a measure. He has simply to give legal phraseology to the ideas of those responsible for the measure. Therefore, when you are asking for a skilled parliamentary draftsman to be placed at the disposal of the Seanad, if you assume it is going to involve no expense, you assume there is already one such official doing  nothing in the service of the State. If you agree that there is no such person disengaged, and if there is to be any serious work of this kind, involving the services of a skilled parliamentary draftsman, then you must admit this is going to involve an additional impost. From the inquiries I have made, I believe such an additional impost would not be less than two or three thousand pounds. It would certainly mean a full-time official and his staff, and I doubt very much if that is likely to be arranged for on a lesser scale than the figure I have indicated.
The point is this: it is true that the Seanad has the right to initiate legislation. That is there, but the fact that that is there is no reason, so far as I can see, why this body should deliberately embark upon a policy of wholesale manufacturing of legislation which will almost preclude it from discharging what is its real function, namely, that of reviewing and revising the legislation submitted to it by the Ministry financially responsible for the expenditure that the legislation involves. We have the right to initiate legislation, but legislation of major importance involves so much technical work that it is really useless to pass a motion involving practically the operation of the machinery which the Ministry in power for the time being require for the conduct of their business, and it is useless and futile for private members to attempt to sponsor legislation that can be termed legislation of major importance. That is the function of the Ministry.
We ought to remember, and Senator Johnson and Senator O'Doherty and the other Senators who are supporting this ought to recognise, that they are not yet in the position of Ministers of this State with the financial responsibility for the legislation that they propose. For these reasons, and for others I may go into when the other proposal of Senator Johnson comes along, I am opposed to this motion. I expect to get the support of the Fianna Fáil Party, in spite of the fact that one of their members has proposed this amendment, because they are out for economy. I submit the carrying of this amendment will impose upon the  State considerably more than they propose to save by another motion which we are going to discuss after the Recess. If this were leading to any really valuable act, I would not be so strong in my opposition to it. To my mind, it will lead us possibly to what Senator Johnson calls an education in statecraft. If that is the real object of it, I think this proposal should be discussed on the Estimates for the Minister for Education. It is not a skilled parliamentary draftsman we want, but a kind of legislative schoolmaster to educate Senators and Deputies in their leisure hours—if indeed we have any leisure hours when Senator Johnson's proposals are in operation. In case we have, the Minister for Education should provide some kind of tutor to instruct legislators in the art of statecraft.
I do not know exactly what a legislative kindergarten would be like, but there was once a famous namesake of Senator Johnson of whom Goldsmith said that if he were writing of fishes he would almost think of them in terms of little whales. I think Senator Johnson, in thinking of the progress of this State, will always think in terms of statutes. The more statutes we have, the more opportunities for moving amendments Senator Johnson will have, the greater the progress and enlightenment of this nation. Legislation is necessary in the State, but it is futile to encourage legislative proposals that will get you nowhere, and the majority of proposals initiated by this Assembly would get us nowhere. I speak of legislative proposals of the character of major importance.
There is one Act, I think, that has passed through the Oireachtas, the Shop Hours Act, which was a Private Member's Bill. When it passed the Second Reading, I understand it was overhauled by the official parliamentary draftsman and put into proper shape. That is a practice which I think offers an opportunity for anything that is commendable in the suggestion of Senator Johnson, but the idea of securing the services of a skilled parliamentary draftsman implies much more than merely having such an official at the  disposal of this Seanad. If this motion is passed, and if the other motion of Senator Johnson is passed, it means that this Seanad is going to set up a series of what I might call shadow Ministries, and undertake legislative work which, if done justice to, would preclude this Assembly from doing its real work—that is, sitting as a jury on the legislation which comes with the responsibility of the Ministry behind it from the other House. The result is that we will be engaged in legislative achievements which will lead nowhere except, perhaps, into a costly education in statecraft. It will prevent us from discharging the work for which we have been elected, and which is of some real value to the State. For those reasons, I oppose both the amendment and the motion, and I hope the House will endorse that opposition.
MINISTER for FINANCE (Mr. Blythe): Senator Milroy has, I think, put his finger on the difficulties in connection with this particular motion. We send down instructions to the parliamentary draftsman for the ordinary Bill that is introduced by the Government into the Dáil. These instructions are detailed. They are set out in the form of draft sections and, as Senator Milroy stated, what the parliamentary draftsman has to do is simply to alter the language and, perhaps, add certain provisos but he has nothing to do with the substance of the Bill. Sometimes, even as it is, the parliamentary draftsman complains that the Departments want him to do their work. They send down instructions with gaps in them and it happens that the draftsman has either to seek for conferences with the representatives of the Departments or send his instructions back to be completed. If a parliamentary draftsman were made available for members of the Seanad, as suggested by Senator Johnson, we would find that that would not fulfil the requirements that were expected. He would not help Senators to get over their difficulties in preparing legislation and no sooner would they have tried working with such a draftsman than we would have resolutions to the effect that the heads of Departments and other officials should  attend, when required by Senators, conferences at which they would give instructions to the parliamentary draftsman. We would have the burden which legislation puts on Departments doubled or, perhaps, more than doubled because very numerous projects would probably be coming forward if Senators could command the services of Departments in that way.
Even as things stand, we suffer perhaps from too much legislation. Too much of the energy of heads of Departments has in the past, owing to a change of Government involving legislative adjustments, been required. The energies of heads of Departments and Ministers have, perhaps, been taken up too much with the framing of legislation. Such a motion as this, if passed, would certainly divert the energies of people who could be doing better work to what would be in many cases legislation for the sake of legislative change. I do not believe that it would be possible for any private member of the Dáil or for any group of Senators—Senator Johnson himself is aware of this—to frame legislation dealing with any major change or with any great constructive matter, because to frame legislation properly or to get instructions for the draftsman three or four Departments might be involved and it might happen that three or four persons might be involved for a whole year on such legislation. If we are to have a parliamentary draftsman employed in the way suggested for private Senators and Deputies and if we are to have the necessary complement to that, namely, officials engaged in straightening out and completing the instructions to the draftsman, we will have people taken away from what would be better and more useful work. I do not think that it is possible for much of the legislation in any Parliament to be prepared except by the Executive which has for the time being the confidence of Parliament and which is at the head of the administrative machinery. Moreover, while it may be quite all right for a private member of either House to bring forward a Bill which he has prepared himself and which has no chance of passing, in order simply to  get discussion on it, I do not think that we should expend public money upon the preparation of such Bills.
In the ordinary way, public officials should only be employed on the preparation of Bills which have a reasonable chance of passing. Bills introduced by a Government which holds office because it must have majority support must be taken as likely to have a chance of passing. If, on the other hand, there is sufficient support for any proposal no Government can refuse to take steps to prepare suitable legislation on that head. If, as Senator Johnson suggests, a resolution asking that a certain sort of Bill should be passed can be carried in this House, then what ought to be done is: Senators should get Deputies who are associated with them, or whom they know, to propose a similar resolution in the other House and, if such a resolution is carried, the Government is bound to use the legislative machinery in the regular way and prepare the necessary legislation. If, however, such resolution cannot be passed, it would simply be waste of time to get the draftsman to draft such legislation because obviously it could not be passed. I do not think that Senators should allow themselves to be influenced in this matter by references to criticism directed against the Seanad. Members of the Seanad and of the Dáil can do most valuable work for the State, work of value that defies any criticism, and they can do it without introducing legislation. There is plenty of controversial matter coming before them on which they could serve the public without being called on to frame and introduce new proposals of their own. By way of motion, they can direct attention and call on the Government to introduce proposals in regard to matters on which the Government has not taken the initiative. They can also expose the fallacies and weakness involved in Government proposals. They can criticise the Government for not going further in regard to certain matters, and they can do much more valuable work in that way than by bringing in officials to help the draftsman to prepare useless, half-baked proposals, because some care ought to be taken to put proposals into some sort of legal form. I had forgotten  that Senator Gogarty had initiated legislation in regard to ancient monuments. I know that I have attended several conferences of Ministers in connection with that subject. A subject such as that of ancient monuments will involve two or three Departments, and it would be very difficult for Senators, even with the assistance of a parliamentary draftsman, to frame satisfactory legislation in connection with it.
I know that I have attended conferences and I saw this morning on my table a file which I have not looked into yet, but which, I surmise, contains the draft of an Ancient Monuments Bill which has come back from the parliamentary draftsman. So that if Senator Gogarty did not get the services of a parliamentary draftsman, his agitation did have the result that a Bill has been prepared dealing with that matter. I think that Senators would do better to be content with either drawing, by formal resolution, the attention of the Government to the need for a certain thing, with criticising the various proposals that come before them, rather than attempting to produce, to manufacture and initiate legislation on any large scale. It will occasionally happen that a Bill dealing with a minor question can be quite suitably initiated by either a private member of the Dáil or a member of the Seanad. If a Bill of that kind secures support and is going to be passed, the drafting of it will be put right.
Senator Milroy has drawn attention to the Shop Hours Bill. What happened was that the Bill was passed through all its Stages except the Final Stage. Because it was a private member's Bill, private members had prepared amendments, and there were certain drafting faults in the Bill and in the amendments. Though nearly all the members of the Government had opposed the Bill, it was carried, without Whips. The Bill was passed through these Stages though a great many members of the Government had opposed it. The Bill was withdrawn at a later Stage, and a Government Bill carrying out the intentions of this Bill was introduced, and the drafting was  put right. Anything that requires to be put right will always be put right before a Bill is allowed to go through. Consequently, it will suffice if a Senator has a brain wave and if, with that brain wave, the Senator goes to work and makes an investigation into the matter that is required, if he produces a detailed measure—as detailed as it ought to be, coming from the parliamentary draftsman. When that Bill passes its Stages here and secures a Second Reading in the Dáil, the draftsmanship can be done and it will be entirely proper at that point to expend public money on dealing with the drafting.
It would not be possible to comply with this motion without employing additional staff. The parliamentary draftsman, and the men in that office, have never been able to overtake the work that has poured in on them. Most Departments have had Bills for some time with the parliamentary draftsman and even these have had to be pushed aside sometimes because something that was at the moment more urgent came in on top of them. The effect of making any person available for this work of drafting Bills would be that an additional staff would have to be employed. I do not think that Senator Johnson's references to a certain contempt for Parliamentary institutions are really any arguments in support of his motion. To my mind, they are rather arguments against it. I believe that if you had something like a torrent of—as it must be—ill-considered legislation coming from the Seanad, it would not enhance the prestige of any Parliamentary legislation. If, on the other hand, to secure that legislation was something more than superficially correct, you brought in Departments and thereby held up other legislation, I do not think it would add to the prestige of the Seanad either.
Mr. O'FARRELL: I hope the House is not going to take the speech of the Minister for Finance as the last word regarding the duties and responsibilities of the Second Chamber. The Minister contends that the duties of that Chamber are merely for the purpose of discussing measures sent up from the other House, and of discussing abstract  motions in the form of resolutions, and so on. It is the well-considered opinion of constitutionalists almost everywhere that a Second Chamber should not confine itself to work of that character, but that it should, when necessary, initiate legislation for which the other House has not, perhaps, had the time. For instance, every year the discussions on the Estimates in the other House take nearly three months. These Estimates do not come here at all. Senators have no work to correspond with the work that the Dáil performs in discussing Estimates. It might well happen that, as a result of mature and careful consideration on the part of Senators interested in some aspects of social or economic life, the heads of a Bill could very well be approved in this House, and that they might, with the draftsman's assistance, be put into the form of a Bill, considered in all its details in this House, and sent to the other House when the other House has time to consider it. One cannot proceed efficiently in the manner laid down by the Minister—that is, to put the whole ideas with regard to a prospective Bill in the form of a resolution, send that resolution to the other House, and rely on somebody in the other House to put all the arguments in favour of that motion before the members in the other House so that the other House may adopt the resolution. One can not proceed in such a way. To suggest that if such assistance as is asked for in this motion is made available there will be an avalanche of ill-considered Bills before the Oireachtas is ludicrous. From the speeches that have been made by Senator Milroy and others against the motion, it is obvious that they have not carefully read it. The Senator seems to suggest that one Senator could capture the draftsman, if he could find sufficient work for him, and keep him for himself. Now, the motion requests that a skilled parliamentary draftsman should be made available for the assistance of the Seanad in drafting Bills, and not for the assistance of the members of the Seanad individually. The underlying idea is that if certain proposals are approved, after discussion and consideration by the Seanad, it may be then permitted to put these into the form of a  Bill, with the assistance of the draftsman. To say that the time of an additional draftsman would cost £2,000 or £3,000 a year is not correct, because the majority of the draftsmen are not paid anything like that.
I cannot see the force of the arguments about the staff at all. The Senators who make themselves responsible for the policy and the Senators connected or engaged in promoting the the Bill will presumably be sufficiently intelligent to put down in a fairly detailed form the nature of their proposal. It will be for the draftsman to consider then how this can be put into a correct form. The Labour Party introduced into the other House, a few years ago, one of the biggest and most comprehensive measures which have been introduced into that House. It was a Railways Nationalisation Bill, and they had only the assistance of Trade Union officials and a full time solicitor attached to one of their Unions. Minister after Minister got up in succession and complimented those who drafted the Private Bill on the draftsmanship. There was not a big staff employed in that work. There were a solicitor and two Trade Union officials responsible for the Bill. There was no great mystery attaching to the draftsmanship of the Bill or of any Bill. It is a legal matter, tempered with common sense. That, of course, was a major Bill, as has been pointed out to me. It was a Bill of a class that will not be introduced very often. If that Bill passed its Second Reading it would have to be taken over by the Government because it involved financial expenditure. We visualise very much less, but still we visualise Bills of some importance, minor Bills which the Dáil will not in future have time to consider. Senator Milroy was presumably selected as the Government spokesman on this occasion. If he was, I cannot congratulate him on the lucidity of his arguments.
Mr. O'FARRELL: The Senator confined the greater part of his speech to rather eccentric jokes apropos of nothing in either the resolution or the  amendment. The Senator has one certain kind of fame as a contributor to a journal in connection with the mythical region known as the “Never-Never Land.” I am afraid he has developed the never-never mentality particularly in his speech in connection with this Bill. He treated the members of the House as a lot of innocent children who might think they could go in and ask for a sample Bill for any subject under the sun. I do not think that even in the Senator's own Party there is one person who would imagine that he could get a Bill merely for the asking. Why, even one cannot get a medical prescription of a standard character. There is no danger that Senator Johnson is going to gobble up any draftsman who may be appointed. That is really a humorous remark on the part of Senator Milroy, which he does not even believe in himself; but it certainly does not impress the House. The Senator based his argument on the popular cheap line of economy. He made a speech the other day which certainly was not governed by the guiding principle of economy, for the question of economy was concerned. Here is a question where an economy of a very small amount at the very outside may mean preventing legislation, not of a very drastic or very comprehensive kind, but certainly of a useful kind being introduced and carried through.
I hope even if the draftsman is not made available that it will still be possible for Senators with constructive ideas on certain questions to introduce Bills as they have done before. They are placed in the position of having to pay for the draftsmanship in most of the cases themselves. The Coroners Bill was considered an exceedingly useful Bill. It is an example of what this House can do in matters to which the Government and the Dáil have not time to give consideration. The Minister mentioned that later on we would have heads of departments called upon to assist the draftsman. I think that is a very far-fetched idea altogether. The Minister is considering, I have no doubt, very comprehensive Bills of a  wide and major character. I do not think anything of that kind is contemplated at all, and if anything like that happens the Minister is in a position effectively to deal with it.
The amendment is on all fours with the motion except that it brings in the members of the Dáil. I think in the circumstances it would be better if we left out the members of the Dáil because, if they never introduced a Bill, they have more than sufficient work to take up their time in dealing with Government legislation and estimates for public services which we do not deal with. It would only tend to confuse the issue. In other respects the amendment does not differ from the motion at all. If one of the existing parliamentary draftsmen was made available, that would meet the situation. I hope the House will consider the matter on its merits, and not be led away by any far-fetched presumption as to what is going to happen if the motion is carried. There is nothing tricky or revolutionary behind it.
Mr. BROWN: I do not think that Senator O'Farrell was quite fair to the Minister when he said that the Minister wished to confine the legislative operations of this House to revising Bills coming from the Dáil—amending Bills, and, perhaps, passing resolutions. The Minister did definitely state that there was a kind of legislation that might very properly be introduced in this House, such as Bills which do not require the assistance of officials of departments, Bills which would be passed probably a year or two years before the other House would be in a position to approach them if they had to be introduced there. We have had three or four instances in that connection. There was the Coroners Bill which went to a Select Committee of the Seanad. That was made into a very effective Bill. It went to the Dáil and before it received its Third Reading in the Dáil it was sent to the parliamentary draftsman, with whom I had several conferences on the subject, and then it was put into final and proper shape. Another Bill of the same kind was the first Shop Hours Bill which was introduced here. It was a Bill of, perhaps, minor importance, but it had  its effectiveness in that it protected the operatives in the shops. That Bill followed the very same course. It went to the Dáil and to the parliamentary draftsman, and there was no difficulty about it. As far as the legislation which, I agree with the Minister, should properly be introduced here is concerned, we have hitherto not suffered any inconvenience through not having a draftsman. I do not see any difference between the motion or the amendment.
When introducing the motion Senator Johnson said he did not wish or intend to add anything to the expenditure; this motion would not entail public expense. If not, the assistance which the Senator asks for must be provided by the official draftsman referred to. For all practical purposes there is no difference between the motion and the amendment. From my personal knowledge of the present official draftsman and his first-rate assistant, I can assure the House that it would be absolutely impossible for them to do more work than they are doing. We have got probably the best draftsman in Europe, and his assistant is well worthy to be his assistant. It is a wonderful tribute to the draftsmanship in that office that during six years of rather hurried and most difficult legislation, including the Land Act, the Courts of Justice Act, and the Property Act, that includes patents and copyright and several other things, and hundreds of other Acts that have been passed, and that have gone through our draftsman's office, there has been only one case in which the meaning of a section has had to be interpreted by the Court. That is a wonderful tribute to our draftsman. To put any more work on the draftsman would be a great injustice to him, and it might in the end involve a breakdown which would deprive this nation of one of its most valuable officials. Therefore, if you are going to have assistance of this kind you cannot get it from the draftsman or his assistant without adding to the personnel of that office. You must be prepared to do that, and if you are so prepared, vote for the motion or the amendment. Personally, I do not think it is necessary  that there should be that assistance given. Up to the present everything we have required has been done and no trouble has been caused.
Mr. COMYN: I agree with Senator O'Farrell that the Minister and Senator Milroy seemed to see more in this motion than the motion itself contains. I see nothing sinister in the motion. It is a request that the services of a draftsman should be provided for the use of the Seanad. Senator O'Farrell has called attention to the fact that it is not for the use of every private member, who may, as the Minister says, get a brain wave; it is for the use of the Seanad.
Mr. COMYN: In the amendment, but not so far as the resolution itself is concerned. I was greatly surprised at the speech of the Minister. I think that speech, in its implications, will do more to destroy the Seanad, and the Constitution upon which it is based, than anything which I have heard for a considerable time. I think it is within the knowledge of Senators that the Constitution provides that the Seanad shall have the power of initiating legislation. That is fundamental law. If it has the power of initiating legislation why should it not have the machinery for initiating legislation? I think that is a complete answer to the argument which the Minister has put before the House. I did not understand the Minister in the same way as Senator Brown has understood him. I took the trouble to make a note of one passage in his speech, and it is this: That members of the Seanad would do better to be content with the criticism of proposals and measures sent up from the Dáil. If that is intended as an advice to the Seanad that they must, of their own motion, curtail their statutory powers, I do not think the Seanad will accept it; and I think that when the Minister considers the matter further he will not press that advice. I am in favour of the amendment proposed by Senator O'Doherty, and against the motion proposed by Senator Johnson  for this reason, and this reason only, that it proposes further expenditure.
Mr. COMYN: I will read the motion: “That provision shall be made for this service when preparing the Estimates for the year 1929-30.” If provision has to be made in the Estimates, that means further expenditure. I am against further expenditure, even for this work of providing a draftsman for non-legal men who cannot draft their own Bills. I think it is wholly unnecessary, notwithstanding what Senator Brown has said, to incur any further expenditure. I join with Senator Brown in commendation of the gentlemen who are in the draftsman's office. I knew them well. But in the last three or four years we have been suffering from what I may call a spate of legislation, a great deal of it ill-considered legislation, much of it legislation which will need amendment, and amendment which might very properly come from the Seanad. I hope that that volume of legislation is not going to continue. I hope that whatever Bills come forward, either from the Dáil or the Seanad, will be better considered and more to the purpose for which they are intended. If we are not going to have a flood of Bills in future, such as we have had in the past three or four years, I would suggest to the House that the draftsman would have plenty of time on his hands. As I understand it, we have not one draftsman, but three. In former times one assistant in London was sufficient for all Irish measures, and three draftsmen were enough to draft the legislation for Great Britain—much of it legislation dealing with the British Empire and the Dominions. It seems to me that the office of the draftsman is so well staffed at present that it can easily afford to give assistance to any private member who may get a brain wave such as the Minister has indicated, especially when there are Senators who, if they have any measures to bring forward, will not need the assistance of the official draftsman. They may perhaps be able to do their own work. I support the amendment proposed by Senator O'Doherty and, as a legal man, I think  it is only right and proper that the non-legal members of the Seanad should have the assistance to which they are entitled.
Mr. BAGWELL: I wish to add a brief contribution to this debate. I have listened to what has been said from a great many different points of view, and I find I am in agreement with almost all the speakers on certain points. But as regards my view of the motion, I definitely wish to speak against it, and against the amendment as well, not so much on the ground of administrative detail, which has been gone into very fully by the Minister and others who are more qualified to speak about it than I am, but because I do think very strongly that the motion indicates a mistaken view of the true functions, the main functions, of this Chamber. It is not an original remark, it has been said before several times, but it cannot be too often repeated; that the prime function of this Chamber is to revise, which it can, in the nature of the case, do in a more judicial spirit and further removed from party spirit than the other House, which consists of the Government and an Opposition. I do not intend to labour this aspect very much, because it has been very fully covered already. I find myself entirely in agreement with what has been said by Senator Milroy on that matter. But it seems to me that, while we have power here to initiate private legislation, the initiation of private legislation ought not to be made too easy. If anybody has a real conviction that legislation is necessary on any particular point, to remove some evil or to create something better than we have got, I think he will have no difficulty if he has got sufficient sympathy, with the assistance of those who think like himself, and such other assistance as he may be able to get, in framing a Bill which will have a very fair chance when it comes before this House and the other House. But I do not think it is desirable to facilitate private legislation. I think that the bona fides of proposals ought to be tested, and it ought not to be made too easy to introduce such legislation. There would be great danger if it were made too  easy of there being more or less a flood of private legislation introduced. Many people believe that in the last five or six years there has been an excess of legislation passed, but that was inevitable. There had been a great change amounting to a great revolution, and it followed that there must be very great quantity of legislation. But I do not think it is desirable to perpetuate that state of affairs. There are Senators in this House who belong to a party which holds the view that this Seanad ought to be abolished. I do not hold that view, and I daresay that Senators who may hold that view will not continue to hold it when they see the kind of useful work that is being done here. I hold that we are fulfilling a very useful function in the Seanad, and that we are justifying our existence, but I think the more we attempt to emulate the other House in the matter of the output of legislation, the less use we would be, and the less justification there would be for our existence. If we were to emulate the other House in that respect, I would be inclined to take the view of those who think that the Seanad ought to be abolished.
Mr. FARREN: It seems to me that an effort has been made, deliberate or otherwise, to side-track this proposal. It is all very well for Senator Milroy to stall off by suggesting that the idea underlying this motion is that we are going to ask the Seanad to pass a resolution to provide a special draftsman for the convenience of Senator Johnson. That is not a fair way if discussing the motion. If Senator Johnson gives more time and attention to public duties than other people, that is no reason why jeers and gibes should be levelled against him.
Mr. FARREN: I shall not pursue that further. As far as I understood the statement of the mover of the original motion, the intention was that the assistance of the skilled parliamentary draftsman should be made available for the Seanad. It was made quite clear that, with regard to the drafting of Bills, the intention was only to deal with minor Bills and only when the House itself by resolution, or expression of opinion, decided in favour of the promotion of minor measures of that kind. Senator Brown outlined the procedure that had been adopted with regard to minor Bills passed through this House previously. He referred to the Coroners Bill. I happened to be a member of the Select Committee, that took charge of this particular Coroners Bill. Senator Brown omitted to point out the most important fact, that it was a private member's Bill firstly. It was sent to a Select Committee and we were fortunate enough to have on that Committee the late Chairman (Lord Glenavy) and Senator Brown himself. There were other members on the Committee, but the whole drafting and licking into shape of the Bill was done by our late Chairman and Senator Brown, both men of wonderful legal knowledge and experience in these matters. Is it fair to say that we, on these Benches, when we bring forward something which we think useful and important to the country, will be in a position to do the same thing in regard to a Bill, say, dealing with shop legislation, as was done by the late Chairman and Senator Brown? That would be impossible. It is only when the House has decided, be it remembered, that it is in the public interest that a minor Bill in relation to some social question should be dealt with that the assistance of the parliamentary draftsman would be made available.
Senator Brown, and the Minister also, said that, in regard to the Shops Bill, there was a good deal underlying it. By the passing of that Act a good deal of industrial peace has been brought into the shopping business in Dublin. If that Act had not been passed we  would have industrial turmoil with regard to the late closing of shops and with regard to people who might be inclined to keep their shops open all night, leading to disturbance and strickes. That simple measure has been a cause of considerable advantage and benefit to the City of Dublin from the point of view of industrial peace in that particular line of business. That Act was first brought forward as a private member's Bill. No doubt the Senator who brought it forward had assistance from people competent in such matters in preparing it. The Minister said that after it passed all its stages in this House it went to the draftsman and was overhauled by him. That was an act of grace; but if this motion is passed it will be no longer an act of grace. Heretofore, when the skilled draftsman overhauled a private member's Bill before it was finally passed, it was by an act of grace on the part of somebody. This motion means that that act of grace will, in the future, be a matter of right.
If this House decides that it is in the public interest that some measures should be introduced, then assistance will be available to lick the measure into shape, so that it may be passed in a form that will not help to bring grist to the lawyers' mill by having different interpretations put upon it. I think it is farcical for the Minister to talk of the heads of departments being the beck and call of the Seanad. think we ought to deal with a question like this on a fair and square basis, and not make it ridiculous by suggesting that members of the House would be constantly demanding the assistance of the heads of the various departments. The amount of such legislation will not be very great. It will be on rare occasions that private members' Bills will be introduced. On these grounds, I think it is only reasonable that those of us who do not claim skill in such matters, and who have not legal knowledge, or the means of employing it, when we think it necessary, and when this House has given sanction to such proposals, should have the assistance of persons who can give aid in licking such measures into shape. I hope the House will excuse the use of  such vulgar terms as “licking into shape” matters in regard to legislation, but, at any rate, they express the view. I heard a good deal of comment about taking up the time of the parliamentary draftsman. I was glad to hear the remarks of Senator Brown with regard to the efficient manner in which those employed in connection with the draftsman's office do their work. The Senator laid stress on the enormous amount of legislation that has been passed. The fact that it is apparent there is going to be a slowing up of legislation is another reason why this motion should be passed. We can assume that in the future Bills will not be going through on the mass production basis that we had for the past few years. They were turned out on the Ford system. We will not be having that pressure, I hope, in the future, so that will ease the pressure in the draftsman's office. For that reason, I think Senator Johnson's motion should get a trial. If at any time it is found that undue demands are being made, the Minister or the Government can make regulations dealing with the time that the official draftsman can give to this House. It is assumed, of course, that public business will have first demand on the time of officials. I think the House might pass this motion in order that Senators might be put in the position of more efficiently discharging their duties.
Mr. JAMESON: I was hoping that Senator O'Farrell or Senator Farren, when he was dealing with this matter, would have given instances where, during the last six years, this House has been handicapped for want of assistance from the parliamentary draftsman. I cannot remember such an instance. In fact, Senator Farren mentioned instances of Bills which were needed and where every assistance was given until they became law. As far as such matters are concerned this motion would not help us at all. Is it not a bit premature to bring forward this motion—before the Seanad has been working for a few months, or until some important measures are suggested and it is found that we cannot get the assistance of the parliamentary  draftsman?? I think we would then listen to Senator Johnson with a great deal more sympathy. I do not believe, in view of the experience of the past six years, that the House considers this motion necessary. I think if any section in this House wishes to initiate legislation there must be some body of public opinion behind them to raise the necessary money to engage a sound lawyer to put their ideas into shape, so that such proposals could come before the House. If they were put into shape in that way, and if we saw that they were in earnest and put their hands in their pockets, then the House could say that they should have all the assistance they wanted. If people will not take the trouble to do that, if they will not spend any money, but go to the country and say: “We want you to spend money to enable us to ventilate our ideas,” then I think the country would be right in saying: “You are wasting our money.” I doubt if it is wise for the House to initiate the spending of money at present.
I was not here when Senator Johnson was speaking, but I understand he said that his motion could be carried out without spending any money. I must admit that the last two lines of his motion seemed to suggest that he recognised that the services of anybody could not be placed at the disposal of this House without costing money. Some months hence, when we shall have begun to discuss legislation put forward by some section in the Seanad, if we find the need of a parliamentary draftsman, I do not think the Senator will find the House in the humour that it is now in, and some movement to incur expense of that kind might then be considered to be justified. I agree with Senator Bagwell and with other Senators in what they said. I heard Senator Comyn make some remarks that I approved of. He did not want any expenditure, and I am with him in that. If any section of the House wants to bring in legislation, I think they ought to bear the expenses themselves. Now that we are beginning a new Session, we should remember that one of the faults we noticed before was that when Bills came before us, they  were only thoroughly examined by a small section of Senators. If the new Seanad makes up its mind to examine the Bills and to draft amendments, we will have a good deal of work in dealing with legislation coming from the Dáil, or with any new legislation initiated here. If we do want new legislation to be initiated here, and if we see that the House is being blocked by the absence of facilities, it will be time enough for us to bring this forward. But, as matters stand at present, I think that the country will condemn us if we pass this motion for initiating expense to ventilate our own private ideas. We would certainly not be doing what the country wants us to do.
Mr. O'HANLON: I beg to move that the consideration of the substantive proposal that is now before the House be postponed to this day twelve months or to such date immediately thereafter as the Seanad shall meet. The precedent has already been established here for deferring the consideration of such matters as this until Senators who are interested have an opportunity of watching events in this House, and I think in this regard the same principle should apply.
Mr. O'HANLON: I would be pleased to ask you, if you think that it is within your power, to allow Senator Johnson to speak, but immediately after, before the motion is put to the House, I would wish to move my amendment. But I would like Senator Johnson to have an opportunity to speak first.
CATHAOIRLEACH: This is an amendment for the adjournment of his motion. I think he could speak on that, but he declines to do so, and I cannot force him. That is the position. The motion for adjournment has been proposed.
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