There is no provision, I think, at present in the Standing Orders for dealing with financial resolutions. Bills which require the expenditure of public money must, as is indicated in the Constitution, be provided for by a Message from the Governor-General for such a purpose, and a Resolution must be passed. In this case the Message has come. I have handed it to the Ceann Comhairle.
Has this Money Resolution been circulated?
I believe so.
Is it proposed to take it now?
Well, properly speaking, the Bill should not be introduced until a Money Resolution would be passed. Really, a matter of this sort —a Bill which is a mixed Bill—will, I expect, have to be dealt with under the Standing Orders. No such provision is made, but before a Bill of that sort, which entails the expenditure of public money, is passed an authorisation for that expenditure must be made by the Dáil, and the customary procedure will have to be adopted in the form of a Resolution like this in the first instance.
This is a resolution asking us to incur expenses— at least, to authorise payment of expenses—in the case of a certain Bill before the Dáil passes it?
We have no knowledge at all that it will pass.
But we are asked, even before the Dáil has gone into Committee stage, to authorise the payment of such expenses as will then be provided for. I submit, a Chinn Chomhairle, that we ought to know something about the Bill before we authorise any payment of expenses. We do not know yet whether any amendments will be made to it; we do not know whether we are going to add immeasurably to the expenses that will be incurred in this Bill.
I think the Deputy is under a slight misapprehension with regard to it. No such monies can be paid until the Bill itself is passed. The Bill itself cannot be considered until an authorisation such as this has been passed. One must get a Money Resolution passed first with regard to those Bills which entail an expenditure of public money.
Let us be clear on this. I think the President is under a misapprehension. I think the clause of the Constitution to which he refers is the clause which provides that money shall not be appropriated for certain purposes without a Message before the passing of a Bill. I submit that the passing of the Bill is one thing; the subsequent request to this Dáil for money to be appropriated is another. I suggest to the President that the mere passing of the Bill is not in any way prohibited by the Constitution without reception of the Message first.
You cannot pass a Bill which entails the spending of money until you have provided that money.
I submit that the President is under a misapprehension.
It is a fact that you cannot undertake to spend money until you have provided the money.
We have practically incurred the expenditure of money on the Electoral Bill. We have gone through Committee on the Electoral Bill, and we have not yet, so far as I know, passed a Resolution authorising the payment out of monies to be provided in respect of the Electoral Bill. If the argument that the President uses now in one case is true, it is true in the case of the Electoral Bill.
I would direct your attention to the fact that you will find an entry in the Estimates we have already passed for the Electoral Bill or for the expenses that will be incurred in connection with the Electoral Bill.
We are not undertaking anything of the kind. I suggest that the resolution can come later on.
This resolution has only been placed in my hands now. It is unfair that I should be asked to deal with these matters without any notice whatsoever. I have not had any opportunity of consulting any lawyer as to what the Constitutional position is about this resolution. The President presumably has had such an opportunity.
It is in order to keep you right I brought it forward.
I should like to be kept right by being kept right in time.
I have been advised by the Law Officer that this is the proper course.
It would have been more courteous to pass on that advice—the advice of the Law Adviser—before the matter was brought up in the Dáil.
Surely the matter can be settled in this way. The Bill that we are going through to-day has to go through several readings. The President's point can be met if he brings the matter forward before the Final Reading.
I have made that suggestion to the President already.
I have been advised that this must be passed before the Bill.
We had better take this as a notice of motion for to-morrow and postpone the Committee stage of the Bill. Is the Minister going on now with the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers Bill)?
I think it is inadvisable to postpone the Committee stage. The Bill is urgent.
When will the final stages be taken?
As soon as possible.
It is not proposed to finish the Committee stage to-day. It is proposed to adjourn at 6 o'clock. That has been suggested already. The Committee Stage could not be finished until to-morrow. Could not this resolution be taken then?
It is impossible to say how long the Committee Stage will take. Simply, the position is that it is rather desirable that the Bill should go through in as short as possible space of time. I say that, without any wish to limit the discussion on it here.
The resolution as it stands is:—"That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of monies to be provided by the Oireachtas of the expenses to be incurred in relation to the employment under any Act of the present session of deputies for Under-Sheriffs and of persons who act as bailiffs." It seems that unless an Act is passed providing for deputies for Under-Sheriffs or persons who act as bailiffs, you cannot spend any money. It would not seem, therefore, very wrong to provide the money.
If this matter is going to be pressed, I am going to ask you to rule whether this is in order or not?
No resolution is in order unless four days' notice has been given of it.
Of course, you are aware that there is no provision in the Standing Orders for financial resolutions or financial business.
I take it that a financial resolution is a resolution that is provided for in the Standing Orders.
I would suggest that as there is a difficulty in proceeding to pass a law for certain things that would involve the expenditure of moneys that are not available, that seems to be the case for the resolution preceding the Bill.
It is not possible, I should say, having regard to the circumstances of the Dáil, and to the fact that we are not experienced in those matters, to produce to the Dáil in apple-pie order every resolution that comes up. I learned of this matter to-day. I got advice at the earliest possible moment. You are not committed to the Bill by passing this resolution, but I was advised by the Finance Ministry that it is not right to go on with the Bill until this resolution is passed. You may reject the Bill— absolutely reject it—but, in order to make the way clear for consideration of the Bill, this resolution should be passed. If there is any fault in the matter, I accept it. The fault is mine, but I wish to put the Dáil right, and to keep the Ceann Comhairle right with regard to this matter. I would very much regret if we induced the Ceann Comhairle to commit himself to a ruling on this point without notice.
The Ceann Comhairle has been asked precisely to do this, and asked by the President.
Either this Resolution should have been introduced before the Bill was introduced at all, or before the second reading, or it can come up before it is finally passed. We have already got through the second reading; therefore the Resolution did not matter. What provision is there in the Constitution that it should come up before the Committee stage? I have asked the President to say what section of the Constitution he is relying on. When he raises an important constitutional point—a matter of finance— surely the Dáil is entitled to know where his doctrine comes from. I suggest that if we go on with the Bill no harm can be done, and the President can introduce his Resolution before the Final Reading.
I suggest that the Ministry and the Dáil and yourself, sir, ought to be better judges, better exponents, of what is right constitutionally in respect of the Dáil than the advisers of the Ministry. If we go wrong, the responsibility then will be the responsibility of the Dáil. Article 37 of the Constitution, which I presume is the one in question, has no bearing on this case at all. It says: "Money shall not be appropriated by vote, resolution, or law, unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by Message from the representative of the Crown, acting on the advice of the Executive Council." In passing this Bill we are not appropriating monies; therefore there is no harm in going ahead with the Bill and discussing this Financial Resolution entirely independently.
The Committee stage of the Bill can be proceeded with and the Resolution taken afterwards, or the Resolution can be taken to-morrow before the Committee stage by leave of the Dáil. Will that meet the case? Either that, or take the Committee stage now and take this Resolution afterwards. There will be no objection, I take it, by special leave, to our taking this as notice of motion now, and taking it up to-morrow or at such time as we shall have finished the Committee stage. Does the President propose to continue the Committee stage now?
Am I to take it, that the Dáil or yourself will not agree to this Resolution being proposed now?—