NEW ARTICLE—77B.

Mr. K. O'HIGGINS

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.

Mr. ERNEST BLYTHE

I wish to second the motion.

Mr. THOMAS JOHNSON

The President in the last discussion said something about long notice of various financial propositions, and added that there was no excuse for Members not understanding the position. I think that might be charged now against the Ministry. We had this morning placed in our hands a proposed new Article, and now we have another read which I confess I do not understand. I am going to confess also that I have enough faith in the Ministry to believe that this new Article is alright, and so I am not going to oppose it. At the same time I want to enter a protest against this method of legislation.

It is but right to say that one of the great difficulties in this matter is what is called scheming the service. Now, if we passed the Article in the order in which it was first set out, very considerable difficulty would arise. This is one of the cases where our absence from any control or any knowledge of the administration of this country by the British, places the Government and the Dáil in a very disadvantageous position. Those are things one must learn as one goes along — the peculiarities and intricacies of these Government departments which the public had very little knowledge of. We should take precautions with a view to safeguarding our positions and allowing some time for negotiations. These negotiations would have taken place almost immediately after the elections, if it were not for what has happened. We were in course of negotiation with them, but I think the Dáil will realise that the Provisional Government had a very considerable volume of business to transact, and, not having the inside knowledge of these Departments, there is a liability to fall into some mistake or other. I believe the Dáil will safeguard it with this proposed new Article, and it is with that view it is put forward. We regret there was such short notice, but, having regard to all the circumstances, it is well we have arranged it this way.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS

There is only one fear at the moment which I do not think is quite irrelevant. This new Article that is proposed was put into our hands a few minutes ago. Strictly speaking, it should have arisen in Committee, but that does not greatly affect the issue. Here is a matter which it was very proper and right to raise, and if it had not been included in some part of the Constitution the Parliament would have left it open to imposing in future a liability which we would not agree to take. That discovery was made quite recently; indeed, so late that we have just got it, and I am wondering whether there are not other matters that might occur to-morrow morning or next week. The point I am raising is this: it is impossible in a matter like this, when dealing with the transfer of services, to be perfectly sure that all matters are covered. Here is a matter which, if we passed the fourth stage of this Bill yesterday, would be out of order, and could not be included. What protection are we taking in regard to other matters?

MINISTER for AGRICULTURE (Mr. P. Hogan)

There is nothing like accuracy as far as possible. The amendment was put into the hands of Members this morning, and if Deputy Figgis takes the trouble to read this amendment and the other, side by side, he will see that this is merely a slight verbal change on the other amendment for the purpose of making the sense clear. This was not, therefore, a discovery made a quarter of an hour ago.

Professor MAGENNIS

I owe it to the courtesy of the President that I have a copy at all, and I merely read it in the last few moments, and it strikes me in reading it that there is a very important question of the Insurance Commission involved. A great deal of blundering and bungling has taken place as between Great Britain and Ireland with regard to that service. Within one month of the promulgation of this Constitution— that might at furthest be the 6th January next — Northern Ireland will have made its election and declared whether it is to remain in the Free State or go out, and the whole question then will emerge — a very difficult question, too, with innumerable entanglements and complexities — of what is to be done with the Insurance Commission. It would look as if the general terms of this include such administration. Mention has been made exclusively of the Land Commission, as if it were the only case. There is a further thing that puzzles me. "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." I wonder what that means? I, for one, speaking as an individual, have no knowledge of how the officers would be determined for any administration, if the services to which they belonged do come into the hands or under the control of the Provisional Government. I am not speaking with any attempt even at hostility. I am speaking as one trying to explore a difficult area. What exactly does this mean?

There is one service that has been transferred to us although the Officers of that Service have not been so transferred. I explained that.

Professor MAGENNIS

How does that apply? I am sufficiently stupid not to follow that. "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."

I explained when I was speaking, that the Customs and Excise, and the Inland Revenue had been transferred to us as services. We entered into possession of the moneys, but not of the administration, of the staffs. It is worked on an agency basis.

Professor MAGENNIS

That is the answer I desire.

For the information of the Dáil, I may say that there is another Department also, the Registry of Deeds, that was not transferred, either the service or the staffs.

The Amendment was carried.

Mr. KEVIN O'HIGGINS

I beg to move the following Amendments:—

"Article 80,

(a) line 42.—To delete `fifty-six,' and substitute `sixty.'

(b) line 43/44.—To delete in each case `twenty-eight' and to substitute `thirty.'

(c) line 45.—To delete `twenty-eight' and to substitute `thirty.'

(d) line 51.—To delete `twenty-eight' and to substitute `thirty.'

(e) line 54.—To delete `twenty-eight' and to substitute `thirty,' and to delete `fourteen' and to substitute `fifteen.'

(f) line 56.—To delete `fourteen' and to substitute `fifteen.'

(g) line 58.—To delete `twenty-eight' and to substitute `thirty,' and to delete `fourteen' and to substitute `fifteen.'

(h) line 60.—To delete `fourteen' and to substitute `fifteen.' ”

The amendment or series of amendments to be moved for Article 80 turn simply on the question as to whether the total membership of the Seanad shall be 50 or 60. We wish it to be 60, because some stress was laid on the total membership by the people whom we met in London. All the amendments there would be consequential on making the total membership 60. I am credibly informed that they are mathematically correct, and I am prepared to accept that. The Dáil should know that in dealing with those amendments it simply turns on making the total membership 60. If they approve of that all those things are consequential and necessary.

MINISTER for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald)

I second the motion.

Amendments agreed to.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE

That concludes the Orders of the Day.

It was intended that the Fifth Stage be taken on Wednesday and that perhaps we might not meet until Wednesday. That is to say, after to-morrow we are not to meet on Tuesday, but on Wednesday.

Mr. T. JOHNSON

Will the President give us an indication of what business is likely to follow the next stage of the Constitution Bill? I think there were some indications that there would be an Electoral Resolution if not a Bill, proposed, and perhaps there is some other business in mind that we should have some notice of.

I can certainly say there will be the Electoral Law. There are other matters that are under consideration at the moment such as the Expiring Law Continuance Act, and some other matters. But I think that it may be necessary to adjourn for a little while after the Constitution is passed. I am not sure yet, but I think it will be. There are some other matters in connection with it that it would be advisable to deal with, as soon as possible, to get dates, for example, in connection with the scheming of the Land Commission, and other matters like that, and to see how soon we could take up the question of financial adjustment, and so on. It may be necessary also for some of the Members of the Ministry to go over to London in connection with these matters, and in that case it may be necessary to adjourn for a week or a fortnight. We will want to get the Electoral Law through, as soon as possible. I have not a list of the other matters. There are some eight or ten matters of pressing importance on which I hope to be able to make a statement on Wednesday.

Mr. JOHNSON

I take it that the news from London will indicate that for some little time, there will be a disturbance of the mentality amongst the people carrying on there. In the meantime I hope we will get on with our own work until we settle matters in hand.

We will bear that in mind.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE

The motion was that the Constitution of Saorstát Eireann Bill be received for final consideration, and that was seconded by the Minister for Local Government. I take it that that motion is agreed. The Bill as amended on this the fourth stage, will then be presented on Wednesday and received for fifth stage.