It has been found necessary to move after Article 77, Article 77 (B), and it is regretted that it was not possible to give the Dáil longer notice. The Article reads:—
77B. "The transfer of the administration of any public service, the administration of which was not before the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution transferred to the Provisional Government shall be deferred until the 31st day of March, 1923, or such earlier date as may after one month's previous notice in the Official Gazette be fixed by the Executive Council, and such of the officers engaged in the administration of those services at the date of transfer as may be determined in the manner hereinafter appearing shall be transferred to and become officers of the Irish Free State; and Article 76 of this Constitution shall apply as if such officers were existing officers of the Provisional Government who had been transferred to that Government from the British Government, and as if the date of transfer were the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution. The officers to be so transferred in respect of any services shall be determined in like manner as if the administration of the services had before the coming into operation of the Constitution been transferred to the Provisional Government.
"For the purposes of this Article different days may be fixed for the transfer of different services."
The effect of the new Article is that it covers the case of the Land Commission. The Land Commission has not yet been transferred and, unlike Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue, it is not even in the stage of being at present administered on an agency basis. The Land Commission has not been transferred at all, and before it can be, there will have to be very considerable financial negotiations. This new Article merely provides that the transfer of any service like that which has not been transferred before the date of the coming into operation of the Constitution, shall be deferred until the 31st March, when the financial year ends, or such earlier date as may be fixed, upon a month's notice being given by the Executive Council. If we were in a position to take it over earlier it would lie with us to give the one month's notice and then to take it over, but we do not want to take over a huge department like the Land Commission without very careful examination of both its assets and liabilities. In the fixing of its liabilities, as well as in the deciding of its assets, there will be need for a good deal of Committee work, and negotiation between experts. Our position is entirely safeguarded in this new Article. It says that it shall not be taken over until the 31st March, or if we think fit to take it over earlier, there shall be a month's notice in which the necessary negotiations may take place. That particular Article is set down simply to insure that the Land Commission will not pass automatically, on the coming into operation of the Constitution, into our hands with its liabilities undefined, and that before it passes to us we shall have an opportunity of going very fully into the business aspect of the matter, and examining what are alleged to be the liabilities of that department, as well as satisfying ourselves as to what exactly are its assets. There is nothing else in that proposed new Article. It was a very necessary Article because some hold that if we did not put it in, the Land Commission would pass automatically into our hands when the Constitution would come into operation, and possibly the Irish Government might find itself confronted with an accomplished fact, and be told simply, "those are the liabilities, and they pass to you on such and such a date." To forestall that we put in this Article.