Central Bank Bill, 1960 —Report and Final Stages.

Friday, 24 March 1961

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 53 No. 16

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Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 1:

In page 2, between lines 16 and 17, to insert:

“( ) The Bank shall carry into effect every amending scheme made under this Act.”

[1524] On Committee Stage yesterday, we had a lengthy discussion on this Bill and I do not wish now to delay the House unduly. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that, once the Central Bank are given authority to amend the superannuation scheme made under Section 33 of the Central Bank Act, 1942, they will also have authority to carry that amended scheme into effect. This matter might be regarded as technical. It is a technical question as to whether or not a motor car will go and, if it does not go, it is for the technicians to put it right. I want to ensure that this Bill will work once it leaves Dáil Éireann. I have no doubt in my mind at the moment, and my opinion is fortified by other opinions, that the Bill will not work if left in its present form.

A statutory body can do only the things it is entitled to do by law. Under the 1942 Central Bank Act, an obligation is placed upon the Bank to carry into effect the scheme made under Section 33. In the same way, we must place upon the Board in relation to this Bill the obligation to carry into effect every amending scheme made pursuant to the provisions of Section 2 of this Bill. In the Electricity Supply Board (Superannuation) Act, 1942, an obligation is imposed on the Board to prepare a superannuation scheme and it is provided in Section 5 that the scheme will be submitted to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and “such scheme shall, as from the date of the order of the Minister confirming it, have the force of law in the form in which it was so confirmed.”

In subsection (5) of Section 6, there is specific provision relating to amending schemes:

When an amending superannuation scheme has been confirmed by the Minister under this Section, such scheme shall, as from the date of the order of the Minister confirming it, have the force of law in the form in which it was so confirmed, and the superannuation scheme to which such amending superannuation scheme relates shall have effect subject to the provisions of such [1525] amending superannuation scheme as so confirmed.

On that precedent, I hold that it is essential to put in a provision in this Bill whereby any scheme under Section 33 of the 1942 Act, if amended, shall be carried into effect by the Bank under this Bill when it becomes law. The Minister did not show any disposition last night to accept that view. In the interests of those whom it is intended to benefit—I use the words “intended to benefit” because I am certain that, as the Bill stands, they cannot benefit—I urge on the Minister his acceptance of this amendment.

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  My advice is that this amendment is not necessary. As regards amendment No. 2, that does not arise——

Acting Chairman:  We are on No. 1.

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  That is all I want to say, then.

Acting Chairman:  The Minister has no further comment on amendment No.1?

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  No.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  The case made by Senator O'Quigley is based on the fundamental proposition that a statutory body can do only the things the legislation establishing it entitles it to do. That proposition is, of course, perfectly correct. I do not know on what basis, therefore, the Minister merely states he is advised that this amendment is not necessary. It is desirable that we should place on the records now our considered opinion that this Bill was technically defective when brought into this House. If the Government go ahead with it in its present form, one never can tell but that some ill-disposed person——

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  And there are a few.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I do not think there are any in the House at the moment. Some ill-disposed person might come along and challenge this Bill. I believe any person, even if he were not ill-disposed, who did challenge the Bill would succeed.

[1526]Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  There is “nowt” in this to interest ill-disposed persons, unlike another Bill.

Acting Chairman:  Is the amendment being withdrawn?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  No. The amendment is being pressed.

Amendment put and declared lost, Senators O'Donovan, McGuire, O'Quigley, L'Estrange and Murphy dissenting.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 2:

In page 2, line 33, to delete “Scheme” where it secondly occurs and substitute “scheme”.

I addressed the Cathaoirleach yesterday evening on subsection (3) and I asked whether or not the capital “S” in the word “Scheme” occurring in line 33 could be changed by the Clerk of the House to a small “s”. That may seem quite unimportant, but the fact is that “Scheme” written with a capital “S” in this Bill has a definite significance given to it by Section 1.

The Cathaoirleach referred the matter to the Minister and the Minister said he did not think it was a technical error, that it was a printer's error. Consequently, it becomes necessary for me to put down an amendment to change the word “Scheme” as written with a capital “S” to “scheme” as occurring in subsection (2).

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  I am advised that it is not necessary to have an amendment. It is a typographical error and can be righted.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  If the Minister had agreed to that yesterday, when he was asked, it would have been all right.

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  I was not sure whether it was meant to have it there that way or not.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  If the Minister is going to change it now, it is all right.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 3:

In page 3, between lines 35 and 36, to insert:

“( ) This Act and the Central [1527] Bank Act, 1942, shall be construed as one with the Central Bank Act, 1942, and accordingly every expression and word to which a particular meaning is assigned by that Act for the purposes of that Act shall have that meaning in this Act.”

Section 4 of this Bill says:

(1) This Act may be cited as the Central Bank Act, 1961.

(2) The Currency and Central Bank Acts, 1927 to 1942, and this Act may be cited together as the Currency and Central Bank Acts, 1927 to 1961.

I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that certain phrases occur in this Bill for which there is no specific definition. We find a phrase “the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Ireland”. As far as this Bill is concerned, we do not know what that means and anybody reading this Act, when it becomes law, will not know what it means, but there is one way of giving to it the meaning which it is intended to give to it, that is, to incorporate in the Bill a clause or subsection to provide that this Bill “shall be construed and read as one with the Central Bank Act, 1942” or in the more extended way which I have given it in the amendment. On a number of occasions here I objected to certain things. Various Ministers will say that this is common form but I should like to point out that the amendment which I advocate here in this amendment is common form. Again, I happen to have volume 42 of the statutes and there we find that it occurs in eight different statutes where these statutes amend earlier Acts. I rather gather from the Minister for Finance that he was advised that all three amendments were unnecessary. I want to place on the records of this House the views of some members of this Chamber that these amendments are necessary for good and substantial reasons of which the Minister for Finance has now full and adequate notice.

I want to refer, first of all, to the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) [1528] Act, 1942. I should say that this was an Act to amend the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923 to 1941. Notwithstanding all the Minister's advisers say we find in subsection 3 of Section 1:

The Acts

—the ones I have referred to—

and this Act shall be read and construed together and accordingly every word and expression used in this Act to which a particular meaning is given by the Act for the purposes of the Acts has in this Act the meaning so given.

We find in the National Health Insurance Act, 1942 in Section 16 the following:

This Act may be cited as the National Health Insurance Act, 1942, and shall be construed as one with the National Health Insurance Acts, 1911 to 1936,

Again, the purpose of that particular clause, which is common form, is to ensure that the definitions given in the particular Act are the same as the definitions in the Act being amended. That is what is not done in this Bill. I could weary the House by going through the other four Statutes. In case the Minister might like to have a handy reference, let me refer him to Section 2, subsection (2) of the County Management (Amendment) Act, 1942, where a similar phrase occurs—in fact, exactly similar to the one in the amendment. Let me also refer him to Section 2, subsection (1) of the Local Elections (Amendment) Act, 1942. It occurs in Section 4, subsection (2) of the Customs (Amendment) Act, 1942 and in Section 2, subsection (2) of the Registration of Title Act, 1942.

I think that ought to be adequate precedent out of one volume to convince the Minister and his advisers as to not alone the desirability but the necessity for incorporating a clause of this kind in this Bill. If the Minister indicates, as I expect he will, that there is no necessity for this amendment, either, I can only attribute it to obstinacy on the part of the Minister who will not agree that in any circumstances [1529] any thing he is responsible for could be in the slightest degree wrong.

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  I should not like to say that I was never wrong in my life and I should not like to say that the Senator is right and I am wrong in this case. There would be a necessity, I quite admit, for such a clause in many an amending Act, but in this amending Act, there is no special meaning assigned to any expression except in Section 3, subsection (3). It is the only place where there is any special meaning assigned to any expression. It is defined there. Therefore, there is no necessity for this amendment.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  It is because there is no special meaning assigned to any phrase except in Section 1 that I regard this amendment as necessary. That is the very reason the amendment is put down. Might I refer the Minister to the Definition Section of the Central Bank Act, 1942. He will find there that “the Board” means “the Board of Directors of the Bank.” Then we find that “the Bank” means “the Central Bank of Ireland established by this Act”, but here we have “the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Ireland.” There is only one way of determining who that body is and that is by linking this Bill with the 1942 Act. That is what is done in the various Acts that amend any other Act where they use a particular expression, which is given a defined meaning in an earlier statute. That is as simple a canon of construction as there can be. The Minister does not intend to accept it. I cannot help him but I gravely doubt the validity of the Bill which is now being enacted and I very much doubt whether the people whom it is intended to benefit under it will be benefited. If they are not, they can attribute it to the obstinacy of the Minister for Finance.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  And to the gobbledegook.

Acting Chairman:  Is the amendment being withdrawn?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  No.

Amendment put and declared lost, Senators O'Quigley, Murphy, O'Donovan, [1530] McGuire and L'Estrange dissenting.

Bill received for final consideration.

Agreed to take Fifth Stage to-day.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I hope it will be obvious from my remarks that I do not begrudge anything to anybody. It may well be that the first Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, who was well known for his austerity, may have been austere to a degree that has affected the salary status of succeeding Governors. On can give the first Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland at least the credit of being austere in relation to himself as well as to everybody else. In my opinion, he was a shade pathological on the subject, but that is neither here nor there.

I mentioned on Second Reading that I could understand a slight difficulty of a personal kind for a Governor in trying to arrange his own remuneration with his colleagues on the Board, but I would hope that the Board would not be so narrow-minded that they would not be able to make a suitable arrangement. In a way, it is more valid to bring the matter before Parliament, but I described this as a miserable Bill and so it is. It is concerned really with minutiae. If you examine the Act of 1942, it will be found that these Governors could have got their pensions under that Act, that is, assuming the Department of Finance were prepared to recognise the employment as Governor as being a qualified employment or whatever it is. As I have mentioned, the Department of Finance has not shown any uniformity of administration in relation to some questions, to put it mildly, but I do not intend to continue on that line.

The people who are to be benefited under this Act will benefit only in a small way. If they had carried their pension rights—and indeed they did carry them, I am sure, into these appointments and drew their gratuity lump sum and their ordinary pension —I do not understand how something could not be done to fix the matter up, even at this late stage. If in fact the Minister, even after he leaves the [1531] House, could be quietly convinced that the objections to this Bill are valid, it might be better if the Board of the Central Bank, in their wisdom, were to sit on this and say: “Very good; we will alter the remuneration of our Governor,” even though it is difficult to deal with the late Governor in that way. If they were to alter the salary of their Governor and make it such-and-such a salary, what is being done in this Bill would be quite unnecessary.

I mentioned the famous figure of £24,000 a year in Britain which has caused such a degree of fun. I missed the television programme which, I understand, dealt with it. In this case, it does not make so much difference. [1532] If the Governor of the Central Bank is paid £10,000, the Minister will get £6,000 of it anyway and I do not believe this kind of legislation is worth the flip of a coin. It does show integrity of a certain sort, but I am astonished at it. I called this a miserable piece of legislation and that is what it is.

Dr. Ryan: Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  I am glad to be in agreement with the Senator about something. I quite agree the Board of the Central Bank should treat their Chairman generously.

Question put and agreed to.

The Seanad adjourned at 4.30 p.m. sine die.


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