It was agreed yesterday that we should take to-day a motion from the President in connection with the Report from the Seanad Committee.
DÁIL IN COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL BILL. - THE SEANAD COMMITTEE REPORT.
The Seanad Committee Report has been before the Members and the Memorandum from the Ministry of Finance has been circulated also. I think we have reached a solution in the Resolution which I am going to propose, and which, I suppose, has been circulated also:—
"(a) That the Dáil agrees to provide for the remuneration of the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach and for the payment of the Members of the Seanad in accordance with paragraph (a) of the First Report of the Seanad of the 9th January, 1923, and to make provision for the travelling facilities in paragraph (b) of the same Report.
(b) That the Dáil approves of the creation of the offices mentioned in paragraph (a) of the Second Report of the Seanad Committee and of the remuneration and terms specified, and agrees to make provision for the same, and concurs with the appointments proposed.
(c) That the Senate be requested to authorise the Cathaoirleach and any other member or members that the Senate may nominate to discuss with the Ceann Comhairle and the President of the Dáil the matter of future appointments to the staffs of both Houses. That in the meantime consideration of the memorandum of the Minister of Finance and of the residue of the Reports of the Senate Committees be deferred.”
I should like to point out that the Ministry for Finance accepts the proposed appointments of the Clerk, Assistant Clerk, and Second Assistant Clerk. The proposed remuneration was suggested after consultation with the Minister for Finance and with his concurrence, and that the appointments—two of them, at any rate —were made out of the servants of the Saorstát—i.e. the Clerk and the Assistant Clerk, who were taken from the Civil Service—and the Minister for Finance concurs in those two appointments, and also with the third, so that the position now is, we are recommending to the Dáil to acquiesce in the payment of the Chairman and Deputy-Chairman of the Seanad, the payment of members' travelling expenses as set out in the Report, and the three appointments that have been made, and, furthermore, with the suggestion of the Seanad that the Chairman of the Dáil and the President of the Dáil should consult with the Chairman of the Seanad and other member or members to see how far it is possible for us to come to an agreement with regard to the staffs or the appointments that are necessary. I have already explained that the work of the Seanad, as far as we have seen it up to this, has not been as onerous or as varied as the work of the Dáil, and it is possible to make an arrangement whereby economy will be effected; so I accordingly move that resolution.
I second it.
The Minister for Finance has concurred in the appointments of three of these officers of the Seanad, and I wish to know if he also concurs in giving a salary to the Chairman of the Seanad, which, in my opinion, is outrageous.
The motion states that he does agree.
I would like to say as regards the salary of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Seanad that it is laid down in the Constitution that the Seanad itself has the power to fix the remuneration, terms of office and the duties, and certainly it would ill befit the person occupying the position either of President or Minister for Finance to take up an attitude in direct opposition to the Constitution.
The Seanad may make the appointments, but we have got to find the money.
If the Dáil wished to exercise any jurisdiction over that the time was when the Constitution was under consideration, but the Constitution having been considered here and passed by us, I think, apart from the unconstitutional method, it would be a very bad act of grace now to interfere in any way with them. It certainly is a matter for themselves. We gave them that absolute power, and now having given them that a month or two ago, I think it would be inconceivable for us to raise any objection to it.
May I take this opportunity presented in the admirable Memorandum of the Minister for Finance to dwell for the second time on a very important point of policy. The first opportunity I had was in moving the concession of citizenship to the women of Saorstát Eireann. We have in this Memorandum on page 3 a most excellent announcement which I wish to commend to the notice of the Dail: "There appears to be no good reason why the junior clerical staff of the Seanad and the Dáil should not be recruited in the future from an appropriate open Civil Service examination." There is inserted twice in this important document the principle of recruiting the staff of the Dáil from the Civil Service, and I do hope that one of the first things we shall have here will be a scheme from the Ministry for a National Civil Service. We ought to have at the earliest possible moment a Civil Service Commission which would prescribe, regulate, and take charge of the whole of the Civil Service examinations. There is one reservation made here which, while I advocate a National Civil Service in the fullest sense, I must, to be reasonable and consistent, applaud. That is the reservation of certain posts from that free competition, the freest type of which is associated in the popular mind with Civil Service Examinations. There must in certain highly specialised cases be this proviso of pre-nomination of the candidates. It is not at all, I must confess, fully consonant with the purest of democatic ideals, but one must not press democratic ideals beyond the realm of fair practice into the region of the imaginative. It is laid down here, I think, as a very wise doctrine that, owing to the relation that must necessarily exist between the staff and the members of the two Houses of the Oireachtas, it is important that careful selection be exercised. So, while I stand here for the second time to express a desire for the instant creation of a National Civil Service, I hope the Minister will not take that as at all opposing, or repugnant to, the reservation that he has herein made. So far as I am acquainted—and that is, I must admit, to a very limited extent—with the feeling prevalent in the country, I think I am justified in saying that there is a demand to have the staffing of public services done in the way in which it is done by other fully constituted and organised States. There is a danger we may take the course now, and do as was so often done in parallel periods of other countries' history—make what are intended to be provisory or provisional appointments, and then be obliged at a later stage to look upon the fact that those offices have been already filled as constituting something of a right on the part of the occupants of the office. There is the danger of the French proverb, "That the provisional is the permanent," coming into play. There is no suggestion in what I have said—no latent hint or desire of making an imputation of corruption or an objection to any office or position already filled or posts created. I would ask the Dáil to believe that when I speak about the National Civil Service, I am speaking of that and of nothing else.
I hope the fact that the Deputy who has just spoken has made a disorderly speech on a memorandum, consideration of which has been deferred, will not prevent him speaking on the resolution if occasion requires it. The motion that the President has moved contained the clause that consideration of the memorandum of the Minister shall be deferred.
Does not that mean that decision by way of vote is deferred, but are we not to use it as a source of enlightenment on the present business?
Yes, of course.
I was only hoping that we would get an opportunity of a second speech from Deputy Magennis, because I think the occasion may require it. Deputy Wilson raised a point on the fixed salary of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Seanad. The President very rightly pointed out that each House was empowered by the Constitution not only to elect its own Chairman and officers but to prescribe their powers, duties, remuneration and terms of office. The President quite rightly pointed that out to Deputy Wilson, but incidentally he also said that those sums were fixed after consultation and by agreement, with him, and since it is so Deputy Wilson will hardly go so far as to propose a vote of no confidence in the President because of his advice. There are three clauses in this motion dealing with the three proposals, the first touching the salaries of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, the expenses of the Senators and travelling facilities, the second touching the appointment of officers of the Seanad, and the third touching the appointment of subordinate clerks, etc. I think they ought to be considered and discussed separately. On paragraph (a) I will assume that the President in his conference with the Seanad Committee had it in his mind that the Seanad was in reality to be a working body, that it was going to take a serious part in the work of legislation and the direction and cultivation of public opinion on public affairs. Now, so far, there has not been any sign that the Seanad is taking itself seriously. I hope that the President when he had that conference with the officials of the Seanad and when he concurred on behalf of the Finance Ministry with these salaries made it very clear that he believed they ought to take a serious view of their responsibilities to the country. So far we have found they accept Bills coming from the Dáil and pass them practically without comment. There has been neither Second Reading, discussion, nor Committee, nor Report discussion. They have not considered for five minutes any of the legislative proposals sent up from the Dáil. Now if this is to be a sample of the way the Seanad is proposing to fill its place in the Constitution then we ought to throw out this proposal holus bolus. We may conceive the Seanad as a body which can do useful work in our legislative machinery. From these benches we opposed the setting up of a Second Chamber, but circumstances that we need not detail compelled us to accept such an institution. Now, having accepted it, and having made it of a kind which may be, and I think will be, in the future a responsible body rather than an ornamental body we ought to insist that it shall take a serious view of its responsibilities. The question really arises as to whether they can be brought to that sense of their responsibilities by any action of this Dáil. It is quite free to the Seanad to propose legislation, and to initiate legislation, and to get right down to the work of government in so far as they can lead public opinion and assist in the formulation of the law. If the Seanad is only going to be a ratifying assembly, or a corrective assembly, then it is not going to be of much use, and if we are going to have a Seanad in that light, then I say frankly we ought to bring it into contempt so that the public and the community would very soon decide upon an amendment of the Constitution abolishing the Seanad. That is one alternative, and the other is to make it a useful part of the constitutional machinery. Now if it is to become a useful part of the machinery then we have a right to provide the wherewithal. The President has not told us—and I think in introducing a proposal of this sort he ought to have told us—exactly what business the Seanad has in view in order to justify a motion of this kind. On the assumption that this half or this third of the Oireachtas is to take a serious view of its responsibilities, then the Dáil would be justified in agreeing to (a) the first paragraph of this resolution. In the second paragraph we are asked to approve of the creation of the offices mentioned in paragraph (a) of the second report of the Seanad Committee, and to the remuneration and terms specified, and to make provision for the same, and to concur in the appointments they have proposed. Now, I question the wisdom of asking the Dáil to concur with the appointments proposed. If we are to concur with the appointments proposed then there ought to be an opportunity given to us to say whether those proposed are fit and proper persons to fill these appointments. We are being asked now to undertake responsibility for these appointments without any knowledge of the qualifications of the persons who have been appointed. We ought not to concur unless some evidence is given to us of the suitability of the persons that have been appointed. They may be the most perfect men for the offices, but we do not know, and we are asked now simply to say ditto to something that the Seanad has done and to relieve the Seanad of the responsibility for fitting those persons into those particular places. It may be a wise thing that we should agree to pay £1,000 per annum to the Clerk and £700 to the Assistant Clerk and £500 to the Second Assistant Clerk. If the Seanad does take upon itself the responsibility that I think it ought to take upon itself, these appointments may be justified; but we should not, unless we are going to be placed in possession of the facts, be asked to concur in the particular appointments —that Major-General Dalton be appointed Clerk, with Donal J. O'Sullivan Assistant Clerk, and Diarmuid Coffey Second Assistant Clerk and Secretary to the Cathaoirleach. Now, we do not know anything about these persons; their qualifications have not been presented to us. We are simply asked to concur in three appointments on the recommendation of a Committee appointed by the Seanad. I think we ought not to concur without having placed before us the qualifications of the particular persons and their suitability for the office. Now, in paragraph (c) it is stated that the Seanad be requested to authorise the Cathaoirleach, and any other member or members that the Seanad may nominate, to discuss with An Ceann Comhairle and the President of the Dáil the matter of future appointments to the staffs of both Houses. I think it is very necessary that there should be some collaboration between the two Houses in matters of procedure and in matters of appointments of this kind, especially when it is proposed or suggested that these subordinate appointments shall be common to both Houses. I have handed in to An Ceann Comhairle an amendment to this section, which will make the clause read as follows:—“That the Seanad be requested to authorise the Cathaoirleach, and any member or members that the Seanad may nominate, to discuss with An Ceann Comhairle and the President of the Dáil, or any member or members that the Dáil may nominate, the matter of future appointments to the staffs of both Houses.” The amendment will not necessitate that the Dáil should appoint other members to act with An Ceann Comhairle and the President, but it preserves a balance as between the Seanad on the one hand and the Dáil upon the other. The President's proposal is that the Seanad shall appoint its Chairman and any other member or members. The Dáil shall, on the other side, have An Ceann Comhairle and any other member or members. The practice would probably be that the President would be the nomination of the Dáil, and perhaps no other; but I submit that it is desirable that if there is to be a conference between the two Houses through the nominated officials, then there should be something like an even balance preserved, and the Dáil should be the body to fix our representation at this proposed conference. I am not moving that amendment at the moment, because I think it is better that some discussion should take place on the main proposal upon the motion of the President himself, and I would urge upon him the necessity and the wisdom of deleting the last sentence of the second paragraph, which asks the Dáil to concur with the appointments proposed. We feel that there is no right, that there is no justification in asking us to concur in these appointments without knowing something of the circumstances under which the appointments were made, the qualifications of the persons appointed, and, generally, to understand something about the business in which we are asked to concur.
I will confine myself almost entirely to Deputy Johnson's remarks on Section (a) of the Resolution. I do not think that Deputies here should lightly or hastily express a doubt as to whether the Seanad was justifying or likely to justify its existence, and express a doubt as to whether the Seanad was taking itself or its responsibilities seriously. The Seanad is a very short time in actual existence. Four measures have gone up to it from this body. Speaking subject to correction, I think only four measures have gone up. One was the Appropriation Bill, for which it had no real power, being a Money Bill. The other was the Adaptation of Enactments Bill, another a short Bill postponing local elections, and there was a Bill constituting the office of Comptroller and Auditor-General. We know here that, with regard to the Adaptation of Enactments Bill, there was a reason for haste—even undue or indecent haste. We ourselves did not give it very close scrutiny or very prolonged consideration. It came on just before the Christmas adjournment and certain Bills fell due to expire on the 31st of December. And we came to their aid in a rather summary and hasty fashion, due to the exigencies of the time, and the rather heavy strain that was on our own programme during that period. The Seanad—even the half elected by the Dail—is one degree removed from the people—one degree removed from the man-in-the-street and the man-in-the-field. And, with regard to these few measures before it, it is understandable that it may have certain diffidence in negativing or substantially amending what came up to it from a body with a full democratic mandate by a popular election. But there has been no Bill before it of such a serious or controversial nature that one would be justified in stating, as a general conclusion, that the Seanad is taking itself and its responsibilities to the nation lightly. There will be Bills in the future. There will be, for instance, the Land Purchase Bill and other Bills in which I, at least, feel quite confident that the Seanad will show its form and show appreciation of its responsibilities
I did not exactly mean that in jest, but I think that we ought to hesitate before expressing any sweeping general view of that kind— that this body which has been so recently set up, and from which we and many people in the country hope so much, that it is passing early sentence to say that it has shown a disposition to levity or frivolity and is taking lightly the responsibilities which were not intended to be taken lightly.
There are a few things I would like to say about this. I would like to ask the President are the decisions which he asks us to arrive at in this Resolution to be merely provisional, or are these decisions to be incorporated as permanent things in the statute of the Saorstát which in paragraph 5 of his memorandum is indicated as essential to legalise all these appointments and remuneration. What puzzles me is the concluding paragraph of the Resolution which states "In the meantime consideration of the memorandum of the Minister of Finance and of the residue in the Report of the Seanad itself to be deferred." It seems to me the adoption of this Resolution, instead of deferring the report on the memorandum of the Minister for Finance, will not give effect to some considerable portion of it. The President stated in reply to Deputy Wilson that the Seanad was competent to fix its own remuneration. I think that that statement is too general to be swallowed without examination. Is it suggested that the Seanad have absolute power to fix any remuneration they like and that we are compelled to accept it without question. If the statement of the President on this point was exact, and if the Seanad decided to pay themselves £2,000 a year each, then the same argument would hold good as that which is being put forward now, namely, that we have nothing to say in the matter. They may have the right or privilege or power under the Constitution to decide on a certain sum, but it must be a sum in accordance with the will of this assembly that provides the money. I do not want to criticise unduly the sums offered, but I do not want it to pass without question that they can come to a decision like that regard less of what the decision of this Dáil is. Now, that statement also seems to me to be somewhat scarcely in accord with this first sentence of Paragraph 5 of the memorandum, which states: "The analogy of the British Constitution points to a statute of the Saorstát to determine the principal posts and the remuneration thereof in the Dáil and the Seanad." It seems to me, if that is an indication of legislation, until that statute of the Saorstát comes into being anything done now can only be provisional, and may be entirely changed, remodelled, or modified when the Bill, which is conditional, comes up for consideration before the Dáil. As to the concurrence in the appointments, I am not exactly taking the same point of view as Deputy Johnson, but I do say that the appointment of a Second Assistant Clerk seems somewhat curious, in view of the fact that there is only one Assistant Clerk in the Dáil, where there is a considerably larger degree of business. It may be, and it was suggested by the President that he would be, a sort of legal adviser in disguise. If there is going to be a legal adviser appointed, why not name the office, instead of creating the anomaly of a Second Assistant Clerk in an Assembly that has not half the work to discharge that this Assembly has, where there is only one Assistant Clerk. If he is a legal adviser, let him be termed so in his appointment. Now, I think that this whole matter should have been reviewed by that Dáil Committee that went into a similar question in regard to the Dáil. I do not wish to press my criticism to anything of an acute nature or impede the motion, but I must confess I am not in love with much that is offered in the Resolution. I am bewildered as to whether it makes for permanence in these appointments, or whether they are merely provisional. If they are merely provisional, and if their degree of permanence will be contingent upon what occurs when the Bill to give these appointments statutory effect comes before the Dáil, even if there are some little anomalies and shortcomings in it, well, I suppose the nation will be able to survive them, and be able to rectify them when the Bill comes along. I do think, however, more time should have been given to the consideration of this, and that it should have been considered by a Committee of the whole Dáil, if necessary with some representatives from the Seanad, before matters of this kind took definite shape in the nature of the Resolution that has been submitted to us to-day.
Táim ar aon intinn le Teachta MacLiam agus le Teachta O Maolruaidh. Ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Uachtarán trí roinnt do dhéanamh den rún so os cóir na Dála agus ansan tabharfaimíd breith mhaith ar gach ceann acu.
Nílim sásta go bhfuil sé ceart ag an Dáil glacadh leis an gcuntas so. Sa chéad áit, mar adubhairt Teachta MacLiam, níl aon aithne againn ar na daoine seo atá toghtha. Béidir go bhfuil a sáith oibre le déanamh acu agus béidir ná fuil, ach caithfimíd-ne an t-airgead d'fháil. Níor mhaith liom gearán do dhéanamh ar an Seanad i dtaobh a gcléirigh do thogha, ach sé mo thuairim gur cheart, mar adubhairt Teachta O Maolruaidh, coiste idir an dá thaobh do chur ar bun nuair atá obair mar seo le déanamh.
Deirtear, agus níl fhios agam an bhfuil sé fíor nó ná fuil, ná fuil Gaedhilg ag an gCléireach. Anois is ceart Gaedhilg do bheith ag Cléireach an tSeanaid. Tá fhios agam ná fuil Gaedhilg ag an gCathaoirleach, agus mar sin is ceart Gaedhilg do bheith ag an gCléireach. Dubhairt mé cheana gur náireach an rud ná labhartar níos mó Gaedhilge anso. Tá daoine sa tSeanad a labhrann Gaedhilg agus tá súil agam go mbeidh níos mó á labhairt sa tSeanad fós, ach mara dtuigeann an Cathaoirleach an teanga ná an Cléireach, níl fhios agam cé an sórt oibre a bheidh ar siubhal acu. Rud eile, níl againne anso ach dhá chléireach agus níor mhaith liom iad do mholadh, ach deineann siad a gcuid oibre go maith. Sé mo thuairim ná fuil duine anso ná fuil sásta leo. Béidir tar éis tamaill go mbeadh gá le cléireach eile, ach má's leor beirt don Dáil cá bhfuil an gá le triúr ag an Seanad.
Sé mo thuairim gur mhaith an rud fear dlí fé leith chun cabhrú leis na Seanadóirí agus ba mhaith liom fear dlí chun cabhrú linne. Ach sin rud eile, agus ba cheart é do chur isteach mar fhear dlí. Anois nílim sásta gur cheart don Dáil glaca leis an rún mar atá sé, agus mar sin ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Uachtarán an rún do roinnt i dtrí páirt agus gach ceann acu do thógaint leis féin.
I find myself in agreement with the criticism made by Deputy Johnson and with a good deal of the criticism of Deputy Sean Milroy. I do not intend to go over the ground they covered, except perhaps in one or two points, but on one thing at least it is up to some of us to say a word. I want to say what Deputy Johnson said about our particular attitude towards the Seanad, that it was an attitude of opposition to the setting up of a Second Chamber of the kind, but circumstances were too many for us, and we have had to bow to circumstances. I take the same view as he did, that the Seanad could perform a useful function, or it could be a mere camouflage kind of institution. Now, I will give in to a good deal of what the Minister for Home Affairs said, about the Seanad not having had an opportunity of showing its form, but we are willing to test the Seanad and willing to let it show its form. We are willing, if you like, to suspend judgment on it, for a time, but we are going to keep, and I hope the Dáil is going to keep, and I hope the country is going to keep, a critical eye on it, and see that it does perform a useful function, and, if it does not, scrap it. Now I come to the question of the appointments. I am not denying at all the constitutional or any other right of the Seanad to make these appointments and fix the remuneration at what it likes. Personally I think that the remuneration proposed in the case of the Chairman and the Deputy-Chairman is rather on the high side. I do not want to make anything in the nature of a personal distinction; I am rather making a distinction of office. I think there is— and I hope that this Dáil and the whole Oireachtas will take this view—a big distinction between these offices and similar offices in this Chamber; that whoever fills these offices is not filling exactly the offices of An Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle as certain members of this Dáil do. The question of the clerks, too, has got to be gone into, I think. As I have said in Irish I do not want to throw bouquets at the clerks of this Chamber, but I think we will all admit that they are doing such work as falls to their lot, doing it efficiently and doing it well, and, so far as I know, doing it with satisfaction to most members of the Dáil. But, as a Deputy has pointed out, we have only two of them. It may be, and I hope it will be, that this Chamber will have so much work to do that additions will be necessary to the higher clerical offices in the Dáil, but if we can get along at present—and we are doing something though it may not be much— with two, where is the necessity for three for the Seanad, which, for some little time at all events, does not give any appearance of doing a great deal, and may not, owing to the stress of circumstances, do a great deal of work for some time? There has been mentioned a legal adviser for the Seanad. I would be the last to object to such an appointment. I think it would be a most useful appointment for the benefit of the ordinary Senators. I think it would equally serve a useful service in the Dáil if those of us who are not attached immediately to the front benches of the Ministry had the assistance of such a legal adviser in discussing and drafting Bills and amendments. But no such appointment seems to have been made direct. Another question that I feel a little sore over—perhaps sorer than I sometimes show—is this: I have already said that there is a certain amount of shame attached to this Dáil that the national language is not spoken more frequently in the Dáil. Now, there are some who speak it in the Seanad, but to the knowledge of all of us the Chairman of the Seanad is ignorant of the national language, and I am told—I do not know whether it is true or not—that the gentleman who has been appointed as Clerk has not got a working knowledge of Irish. It is said that he will have it, but that ought not to be good enough for us. I think there ought to have been a quite sufficient number of pretty well qualified speakers of Irish in Ireland to fill that particular post. I do not know, but I am told that one, if not both, of the others who have been appointed have a working knowledge of Irish. But I am told that this particular appointee has not. On that I think it is right that I should raise another question. I do not want in any sense at all to make anything like a personal attack on any of these appointees. I do not know the gentleman at all, and I am speaking only from the broader point of view. It seemed to me personally a rather extraordinary thing that a Major-General in the Army—and I understand that he has been a very dashing soldier, indeed—should come out of the Army or be brought out of the Army and come into a post like this. I am far from being anything like a soldier or a military man, but if I were, and if I had military qualifications, and found myself in a post of that kind in the present circumstances, I certainly should not care to exchange it for another, however useful the other post might be, unless I were persuaded by those competent to judge that I would be doing a greater service and be more competent for a civilian job than I was for the military job. These things may happen. It may be that this gentleman will be much more efficient in this post than he was in the other post. I do not know. But what this Dáil has got, I think, to get an assurance of is the efficiency, the competency of these gentlemen for the posts to which they have been appointed. At the moment I am not satisfied as to the competency, and therefore I am not prepared to concur, as the Resolution puts it, with all these appointments. I do not want to speak in a personal sense, but I am satisfied of the competency of the gentlemen whom we happen to have here. But before we decide to pass this I should like to be assured of the competency of these gentlemen, and I should like to press on the President that this Resolution should be broken up in two or three parts, or, rather, put to the Dáil clause by clause, and then the Dáil would have a free and fair opportunity of discussing each separate matter that is in the Resolution.
Will the Deputy move the amendment of which he has given notice?
The amendment I move is to insert in (c), after the word “Dáil,” on the fourth line, “and or any other member or members that the Dáil may nominate.” I do not think that there is any need for me to repeat the argument in favour of the amendment. I do not think it would make any substantial difference in the effect of the clause if it is passed. It will probably make no difference ultimately, but it will be laying down the principle, it will be holding to the principle, that the Dáil in this matter has the right to say how many members of this body shall be appointed to confer with a similar Committee from the Seanad.
I beg to second the amendment.
On a point of explanation, in speaking on the original motion Deputy Johnson led us to believe that he wished to eliminate the words, "and concurs with the appointments proposed." Is he including that in his present amendment? Would you rule, if he does not, that then this must be taken?
If you take an amendment to (c), you cannot take an amendment to (b) subsequently. No notice of any amendment has been given except this.
I am assuming that the motion is to be put in three parts.
The motion has been proposed as a whole and seconded as a whole.
This is now an amendment of the third part. I have no objection to this being amended in the second part. But surely we have spent sufficient time at it already. Let us have all the amendments at once and dispose of them.
Notice was only given of the amendment to (c). Nobody has given notice of an amendment to (b). When we have disposed of an amendment to paragraph (c), we cannot have any further amendments to any earlier part.
I take it that the President is putting the Resolution as a whole, and not in parts.
As a whole.
The President is not deleting the words "and concurs with the appointments proposed."
Will you accept an amendment from me without notice deleting these words, "and concurs with the appointments proposed"?
I have no objection.
I second that amendment.
In paragraph (b) to delete the words “and concurs with the appointments proposed.” That is one amendment proposed; the other is withdrawn.
Is there only one amendment in?
There are two amendments, but only one is now proposed—that is, the one in paragraph (b) dealing with the concurrence as to the appointments.
I do not approve of the amendment, because you are asked to approve of the expenditure of certain money and you are going to satisfy yourself, because you simply wish the Dáil to say: "We do not concur with these appointments and still we have no hesitation in plundering the public purse to the extent of whatever these appointments cost." In other words, we are not accepting the responsibility for concurring with the appointments, but we accept responsibility for disbursing the public moneys in order to discharge the cost of these appointments. If the Minister for Finance were to take up that position with regard to the appointments made in the Civil Service, he would be perpetually shelving from himself the so-called responsibility at the cost of the taxpayers. I do not think it is an attitude that one can take up in connection with these matters. One cannot possibly examine carefully, systematically and analytically every single candidate or every single aspirant for an office, nor can he take upon himself the responsibility of examining every officer in the public service any more than the Commander-in-Chief in the Army na got to examine not alone physically, but medically, every officer in his Army, and be responsible for him. I do not see that there are any grounds whatever for seeking to evade responsibility in this matter. The Seanad has been selected, thirty nominated by me, and thirty elected by this Dáil, and the combined wisdom of the sixty Senators has presented three appointments to us. Surely, if we are going to provide the money we must be satisfied in some way or other in our minds that these appointments are appointments with which we can concur. Who then is to concur? Is it the Minister for Finance? Is the responsibility to be absolutely his? Is it the Dáil? When putting up the estimates for the payments must we say that we can charge you but we accept no responsibility? The position appears to me to be one that is not wise, and should not be persisted in, and I certainly could not accept it.
Might I put for the consideration of the Minister one question? In paragraph (b) of the President's Resolution we have it that the Dáil approves of the creation of the offices and it concludes with, “and concurs with the appointments proposed.” I interpreted the last clause to mean a reference to the section indicated by the italic letter (b) in the second report of the Seanad. It was decided to make the following recommendations:—
(a) That a clerk, etc., be appointed.
(b) That so and so and so and so and so and so be appointed to these offices.
What the Minister has just said refers to the concurrence in the creation of these offices. It seems to me it would be a very ungracious thing on the part of the Dáil to attempt to limit or restrict the discretion of the Seanad in the appointments of the Seanad's own officials. I mean by "appointment" here the decision, the determination of what Officers they need for the transaction of their business. One comes further to the question of filling those offices. No matter what I may think about the candidates put forward or the selection exercised in its wisdom by the Seanad, as a member of the Dáil by virtue of what is in the Constitution, is it competent for me to attempt to exercise a veto over what has been done? That is how the matter appears to me. I am not expressing an opinion, because I am not a member of the Seanad, on the relative merits of any of the candidates. Am I to express an opinion as a member of the Dáil on the wisdom or unwisdom, policy or impolicy of what the Seanad has done? I am fairly conversant with the terms of the Constitution. I know of nothing in the Constitution that empowers this Dáil to exercise any control, except in regard to expenditure. It is for us to say whether we think that the public purse, as the President is so fond of putting it, is being plundered or not in the salaries set out opposite those offices. But, it seems to me with all respect to our colleagues that we are not at liberty to go beyond that. That is what I would urge upon the Dáil for consideration. I am quite aware that there have been debates in the British House of Commons —I am alluding now to the analogies indicated, for our enlightenment, in the admirable report of the Minister for Finance—the Commons have discussed what ought to be or rather should not be the powers of the House of Lords. But I do not think, that anywhere in the history of the relations between those Houses there has ever been a debate raised by way of questioning what the House of Lords might do in the appointment of its officials. And so, whatever I may hold as a citizen, and whatever I might have held had I been honoured with membership of the Seanad, it seems to me that on the present occasion these are irrelevant considerations altogether. We have to consider merely are we willing to have the public purse drawn upon to that extent for the payment of these officials? What the personnel may be I hold, rightly or wrongly, is a matter for the determination of the Seanad.
I would like to be perfectly clear that the passing of the amendment proposed by Deputy Johnson, if it be passed, passes no censure whatever upon the gentlemen who are being appointed to these places, and passes no censure whatever upon the President or the Minister for Finance, or anybody else who has expressed an opinion upon their fitness for these offices. It seems to me that we have no right to consider the fitness of these gentlemen at all. I have no doubt they have been examined and interviewed by the body which has the right to appoint them, provided we give sanction to the creation of the offices. It is the duty of the Seanad to satisfy themselves that they are appointing fit and proper people to fill the offices which we authorised them to fill —that is to say, they could not have an Assistant Clerk or a Second Assistant Clerk unless we authorised the creation of the offices. But, having authorised the creation of the offices, as we shall when we pass the first two lines of Clause (b), then it is for the Seanad to fulfil the responsibility that rests upon them, and not upon us, of seeing that the people they nominate for those offices are fit and proper people to hold them. Supposing, for instance, that Deputy Johnson, instead of the amendment that he has moved, had moved to substitute “disapproves” for “concurs,” what earthly effect would it have had? The gentlemen would still have held their offices, because we have no right to approve or disapprove; and no matter how much we might have disapproved—I am not suggesting for a moment that we do disapprove of anything, because I have no opinion on the matter, and I know nothing about their fitness or otherwise for the position—we could not intervene. Supposing I did know something about them, and did disapprove of the appointment, and succeeded in persuading the Dáil to agree with me and say that we disapproved of the appointment, the appointment is still there, and we have no right to interfere with it and no expression of disapproval on our part will alter it. We could prohibit the creation of the office; but, having consented to the creation of the office, we have no further voice in the matter. For that reason it is scarcely fair to ask us to express an opinion on a matter that it is impossible for us to know anything of.
If I wanted to defend the rights of the Seanad in the matter, I would say that the Dáil should not be asked to concur, because it really throws on the Dáil the responsibility of approving of certain acts of internal administration of the Seanad; but if, on the contrary, we are appealed to to approve or disapprove of certain acts of internal administration by the Seanad, then we have the right to have the case put before us as a whole. The Committee that made this recommendation was not a Committee appointed by the Dáil. Consequently it has no right to be asked to report to the Dáil, and the Dáil has no right to be asked to concur or disapprove of these particular suggested appointments. It is to remove the responsibility from the Dáil for these particular selections that I move the amendment, and to leave the Seanad to bear the whole responsibility for these selections. That is the whole purpose of the amendment.
Tá.Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.Seán Ó Maolruaidh.Seán Ó Duinnín.Tomás de Nógla.Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.Tomás Mac Eoin.Liam Ó Briain.Earnán Altún.Geáróid Mac Giobúin.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Tomás Ó Conaill.Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.Risteárd Mac Liam.Liam Ó Daimhín.Seán Ó Laidhin.Cathal Ó Seanáin.Seán Buitleir.Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.Risteárd Mac Fheorais.Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill.Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.Domhnall Ó Broin.
Níl.Liam T. Mac Cosgair.Mícheál Ó hAonghusa.Séamus Breathnach.Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.Mícheál de Stáineas.Seosamh Mag Craith.Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Sir Séamus Craig.Liam Thrift.Pádraig O hOgáin.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Fionán O Loingsigh.Criostóir Ó Broin.Caoimhghin O hUigín.Proinsias Bulfin.Séamus O Dóláin.Aindriú Ó Láimhín.Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.Eamon Ó Dúgáin.Peadar Ó hAodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Earnán de Blaghd.Uinseann de Faoite.Séamus de Burca.
I declare the amendment lost.
Might I point out that as a result of the loss of the amendment, we are made to do what with propriety we shall not do, namely, interfere in the domestic concerns, in so far as they are exclusively domestic, of the Seanad. I think it ought to be clear now that it lay in our province altogether, as having control of finance, to approve or disapprove of the creation of these offices and of the amount of remuneration specified, and that we consent to make a provision for that remuneration; but to say whether we approve or disapprove, or to say anything further about the selection of the personnel, as Deputy Fitzgibbon and I laboured to show, is outside of our proper province.
What is the point you raise?
The point is that we require some words added which shall keep the proprieties intact. We are made now, by the retention of these words, to concur with the appointments proposed. My suggestion is that we shall say something to this effect "without reference to the particular personnel of the appointments."
In other words, having lost the war you want to win the peace?
No. With all respect to the President I simply want, as I have said so often before, that in the beginning of our days as a legislative assembly we should preserve the course that we would expect our successors to preserve, and to set up no evil precedent. It seems to me that it is not for us to sit in judgment upon appointments to offices made by the Seanad, any more than it lies within their competence to express any opinion, favourable or unfavourable, upon the appointments this Dáil may make. I think some votes were given in the division under a misapprehension. In fact, I need not say I think, because I know that in the case of two the view held was——
If this is a motion to rescind the decision just taken, we cannot entertain it. We cannot have an explanation of the motives, or the manners, or the understandings of people who vote. It would lead us too far. If the Deputy will propose a further amendment I will consider whether it can be taken or not.
With all due respect, I understood I was proposing the amendment to add the words "without reference to the personnel of the appointments." I had not intended to explain away the votes of anyone, with a view to reasoning that votes were cast in error, and I resent any imputation to that effect. I am too well acquainted for too many years with the rules of order and procedure of deliberative assemblies, not of course of the high order and reputation of this Dáil, to attempt anything so puerile or disorderly. I am exercising the right of an ordinary member, no doubt a very humble member, of the Dáil to draw attention to what perhaps it will be necessary on a future occasion once more to draw the attention of the Dáil to, and when we proceeded to take the vote on this motion it might have been possible to draw attention, even at the twelfth hour, to an ambiguity which may have resulted in the casting of a vote one way or the other. I am, with all respect to my colleagues, insistent most emphatically upon our propriety in observing relations with the other House; that we shall not presume to criticise what they have done except in so far as the Constitution provides that it is our duty to do so and that we shall not transgress any Constitutional limits in doing what the Constitution calls upon us to discharge in connection with the procedure of the other House.
Perhaps the Deputy will explain what he means by the statement that this vote was taken with undue haste?
I mean that just at the last moment, before the votes were cast, it occurred to two of us who had been speaking on the matter, that this had not been sufficiently clear, namely, that to remove the word "concur" might be read by the ordinary newspaper reader as meaning that we disapprove, whereas the intention of those who voted for the amendment to eliminate the word "concur" was merely to stand neutral, expressing no opinion one way or the other. That was what I meant and mean. It is not a reflection upon you in the exercise of your official duty, if that is what you are inquiring about. It is rather that we, all of us, proceeded to this thing without those to whom the reflection occurred having brought it to the notice of our colleagues.
The vote was taken on this matter in the ordinary way. An opportunity is always given before a motion is put to the Dáil to anybody else who desires to speak. The same procedure was followed in this particular case as in every other case. Nobody presented himself to the Chair to speak and therefore the vote was taken and when the vote was challenged a division was taken.
Without appearing to enter into any discussion with you, Sir, which would be most irregular, might I point out to you that neither Deputy Fitzgibbon nor I, according to the Rules of Order, could speak again? Consequently, some exchange of views between us and other Deputies was necessary, but time did not provide for that. With your permission I substitute other words that have been provided. They will secure the result better than the words I have suggested.
It is a further motion to delete the words. The amendment now proposed is that words expressing no opinion as to the appointments proposed be substituted for the words, "and concurs with the appointment proposed." It means another motion to delete the words "and concurs with the appointments proposed," and substitute for them words expressing no opinion as to the appointment proposed, and the amendment just decided was an amendment to delete these words.
Yes, that was to delete the words absolutely. This now is an amendment to substitute other words for them, and I submit that it is quite in order.
The amendment proposed was to delete these words, and the Dáil decided that the words should stand.
No, pardon me; the Dáil rejected the amendment which was to delete the words.
On a point of order, the Dáil has not yet decided that a single word of this should stand. No decision has been given upon this.
Very well. We will accept this amendment.
I do not think, sir, that it is in order, because it certainly seeks, having regard to all the statements that were made, to do precisely what the Dáil has negatived, and I submit that in that case it is scarcely in order. Now, I did not speak at any length, because I must say that I entirely misinterpreted the view that the Dáil took of this matter. It appeared to me scarcely to warrant any lengthened statement or explanation, and I still think the same thing. I do not know, nor do I think anybody in this Dáil knows, what exactly the constitutional position is with regard to those three appointments, unless the Resolution seeks, as far as this Dáil is concerned, to regularise this position. If you ask me what my opinion is, I am not satisfied in my own mind that the Seanad has power to make a single appointment of that kind. It was to regularise this that I brought up the motion to-day.
It does not do so.
And people will have it that it does not do so. If it does not do so, I want to know what it is we want. If you ask my opinion I say that in my opinion the Seanad has not power to appoint an Accounting Officer. I bring up a motion here to regularise the position and to do it in such a way as that no member of the Seanad would think that there is any offence intended and that is the very thing exception is taken to here.
I beg your pardon. Every step that Deputy Prof. Magennis has taken has been to exclude from this motion altogether any concurrence of the Dáil with the Resolution. Who then is to approve? Obviously the Seanad. If not the Seanad the Minister for Finance, and if not the Minister for Finance, then who?
I am loth to interrupt, but I began my speech by referring the Minister to his own words. He spoke about "A" when he was under the impression that he spoke about "B." That is the cardinal difference which I think even now he is not alive to, if I may say so, with respect. I have no desire to interfere, and I take it the Dáil has no desire to interfere with the Seanad in the exercise of its discretion. I hold with the President that the Seanad has not authority to make these appointments until first the creation of those offices——
Had been decided and approved by this Dáil.
By both Houses.
And consequently to insist upon the strict letter of the law I would have to do what the President thinks I did and I should have impugned these appointments altogether.
This is a long explanation, I must say.
I submit I am entitled to make an explanation, and if the circumstances of the case require that it should be long I regret it as much as the President, but I think I owe it to the Dáil, and I certainly owe it to myself, that I should make a clear explanation. I did not seek to mislead the Dáil on the matter. The President seems to introduce an expression of his own private opinion. In his attack upon me—it was not strictly an attack—he said, in his own opinion, such and such a thing should not have been done. That is my opinion too. I am trying to preserve the neutrality of the Dáil by some means or other. I do hold that by inadvertance we have got out of the neutrality.
Explanations have one advantage; they enable me to consider the terms of the amendments. Is the President going to explain further?
I was not explaining at all.
It seems to me that the object Deputy Johnson had in view was not to disapprove of the appointments, not to fail to concur in the appointments, but to ask the Dáil to refrain from concurring, and it seems to me that the amendment now proposed is precisely a proposition to refrain from concurring or expressing any opinion; that the object of that amendment and the object of this amendment are precisely the same, to prevent the Dáil from expressing an opinion on concurring. It seems to me, therefore, that the amendment proposed is exactly the same as the amendment disposed of.
I would like to urge, on a point of order, that the difference is this, that one was clearly not expressing an opinion, and the other leaves it an open question as to whether it is not expressing an opinion or is non-concurrence.
The object of Deputy Johnson's amendment was to get the Dáil to refrain from expressing an opinion. Is that not so?
I think there is more in it than that, because it is a reasonable thing to say that the deletion of these words means non-concurrence.
It was explained quite clearly that the deletion of these words did not mean non-concurrence. The amendment now proposed is precisely the same as the one negatived, and therefore I will not accept it.
Mr. Johnson has another amendment.
The amendment I have already spoken to should explain this, that we should insert the words on the fourth line after "Dáil," and say, "and any other member or members that the Dáil may nominate." It is repeating in the case of the Dáil what is already stated in the President's motion in the case of the Seanad, and is preserving the balance in the formation of such a Committee.
I cannot approve of the amendment. The amendment seeks to do a thing with which I am not in agreement—that is, to have Committees of the two Houses moving together and acting together, or collaborating, or something of that sort. I am personally against that. There are many things in connection with the Seanad which I think would be much better left unsaid. This particular amendment comes strangely, having regard to the statements that have been made about the Seanad. In one case it is criticised at considerable length and threatened with extinction unless it improves, and in another case we want to go hob-nobbing with it. I want to preserve the independence of both Houses each of the other, and if there are dealings or arrangements to be made, to have these arrangements of a most formal character, each House to be independent of the other, preserving its independence, and not allowing it to be sapped by a Committee or anything of that kind. This is a matter of formal arrangement, and why there is so much talk about it I cannot understand. One would imagine that this Dáil was a County Council or Board of Guardians, or some other small body quarrelling about appointments. I am sure the members of the Dáil have a more valuable way of spending their time than in bothering with these arrangements. I do not see that there is any useful purpose to be served by this amendment, and I must certainly oppose it.
Would the President regard the creation of a Committee, consisting of the Minister for Finance, the Chairman of the Dáil, and the Chairman of the Seanad, to deal with the remuneration of members of the junior staffs as constituting hob-nobbing with the Seanad? I am quoting from the Minister for Finance's excellent report.
I hope this amendment will not be passed, for this reason. It seems to me that if the amendment is adopted we will be adopting the principle that there will be equal representatives from the Seanad and the Dáil in some conference which is to appoint the staff of this Dáil. It seems to me that the next step will be that we will be required to get the concurrence of the Seanad before we can appoint any officers here. Therefore I hope the President will stand by what he said and that this Dáil will reject this amendment so that when these appointments are being made he will be represented by one or two persons. If the whole body of the Seanad comes down they will be told "there is no question of concurrence in this business. We will appoint our own officers and allow you to go and talk about them, but the one person who represents us is the person whose say goes."
Now on the motion I explained to you a few moments ago that in order to regularise this position, on which I am certainly not clear—and when I say I am not clear I mean in regard to the advice I have received that the Seanad has this right—I do not wish to dispute it if it has, but I am not satisfied that it has. Before any money would be paid we have to regularise the position by putting down these appointments here and submitting this resolution in the order in which it has been submitted. It is not the mere opinion of the person temporarily in the position of President or Minister for Finance; it is a decision which is considered to be the right course to be adopted in regard to this. Now so much with reference to that. I must say that the various sections of the Dáil were very nearly stealing a march on the Minister on that front by the vote that was taken, and I was really surprised at that because I do not think that the various sections knew that they were drawn into this peculiar position. There has been an offensive on this business from almost the commencement. I think that it would be just as well if I did not go any further than that, except just to say that it was scarcely fair. Now I have already explained that I would like to see the independence of the other House preserved. What is the position in the Seanad? You have got no Ministry there. The Chairman and the Deputy-Chairman will, I think, have a good deal of work that is not estimated when we are considering the work of the Seanad. For example, a Senator wishes information about some Department or other. Assuredly he will apply to the Chairman of the Seanad for that information, and if the Chairman of the Seanad should be absent he will apply to the Deputy-Chairman. I have certainly very real sympathy for the Chairman in asking for the service of the Deputy Assistant Clerk as Secretary to himself, and I am positively certain that twelve months will enable the Chairman to express an opinion as to whether this particular office ought to be kept on at the end of that time. I do not like at all to hear criticism of the Seanad. It is a body that is in existence not yet, I suppose, for more than one calendar month, and during the period of its existence I see that six or seven of its members have been subjected to gross outrage, and one of its members has not at this moment a single residence in this country, and he had one of the most valuable a very short time ago. The Dáil, I think, has some idea of the usefulness of that body, because two of the measures it sent up there were amended, and these amendments were approved by this Dáil afterwards, and I think that they showed remarkable grace and acumen in connection with the Bills sent up in not delaying their passage at a time when we were particularly anxious that they should pass. It is no time to place the Seanad in a position of examination as to whether what it does can effect a useful purpose or not. Considering that they asked for certain machinery, we should not hesitate to give it to them. The Seanad is constituted of people whose minds are moulded in a peculiar bent, and the appointments that it has made reflect credit on an Assembly constituted as it is. I do not know that there is really a case for objecting to the resolution itself. It is worded in such a manner that even the most jealous need not take any exception to the terms of the motion, and it is put up to enable them to transact their business without any delay, and in such a manner that they will be able to pay their officials. The third part of the motion deals with matters that ought to be facilitated, as far as one body can facilitate another in the transaction of public business.
May I make it perfectly clear to the President and the Dáil that I am no party to any offensive against any appointment made here or elsewhere? I have, in supporting the amendment, no intention of opposing any portion whatsover of this Resolution, except one sentence that seems to put upon me a responsibility that was not mine. I am entirely ignorant of any criticism that has been made upon any appointment. I did not know even the names of the people appointed until I saw them in the report we got from the Seanad.
I am very glad to hear that from Deputy Fitzgibbon.
The President's motion was put and agreed to.