CRIMINAL AND MALICIOUS INJURIES (AMENDMENT) BILL.

I move for permission to introduce a Bill for Criminal and Malicious Injuries. The final draft of the Bill is not yet ready; it is under consideration. It might be possible to circulate the Bill before Christmas, but it would not be possible, I think, to print and circulate it to-morrow. As I have already explained, the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Acts go too far in some particulars and not quite far enough in other particulars, and those are the things that we are endeavouring to reconcile. We have had several meetings discussing the various proposals and getting advice on them. It is intricate. As can be readily understood where such a huge sum of money is involved every possible precaution must be taken that the taxpayers are not mulcted beyond what is fair. We mean also to deal as fairly as we can with the persons affected, and this Act will specify what compensation is to be paid, or at least the lines upon which compensation will have to be paid. We also have to deal with particular clauses of the Criminal and Malicious Injury Act which are at present inoperative, which would be oppressive if they were operative, and which at no time could be justified on any modern principles. I refer to such things as the payment of 5 per cent. interest from the date of the award. There would be no necessity for including that in the future. But should a person have had a decree for some months, the 5 per cent. would run if we did not bring in a clause to prevent it running. A person having secured a decree would be in a superior position to a person who did not take a case into court, since July, 1921, until now. There are other clauses; in fact, we intend to repeal the whole, I think, of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Act of 1919 and 1920. As the law stands at the present moment, a person getting a decree against the local authority under the Criminal and Malicious Injury Act is entitled to go to the treasurer of the local authority and get paid the full amount of that decree, even though not even one single penny has been levied in that area under that particular service. In other words a place like the City of Dublin may, in the early part of the year—let us say July or August—have altogether on hands five or six thousand pounds, and they would be liable to discharge all the Criminal and Malicious Injury claims which would come in, out of that five or six thousand pounds, which may be required for doing such work as cleansing of streets, keeping the sewers running, or maintaining a public water supply, or electric light, or any other service such as that. Obviously that could not be allowed to continue, and in addition to making regulations or laws in connection with compensation it is necessary to take into consideration such things as those. I do not anticipate that the Bill can be printed before a couple of days. We may possibly have it within a couple of days, but I do not think it would be possible that it would be in your hands to-morrow. I formally move for permission to introduce the Criminal and Malicious Injuries (Amendment) Bill.

I beg to second the motion.

Motion agreed to.