I move the adjournment of the Dáil until to-morrow at 3 o'clock.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - THE ADJOURNMENT—GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS.
A Chinn Chomhairle. Before the adjournment motion is taken, I should like to draw attention to a matter small in itself, but, at the same time, of some importance.
It is with reference to Defence Order No. 2, and the General Regulations as to Discipline, laid as promised by the Minister for Defence on the table of the Dáil. It will be remembered that in a debate about a fortnight ago or so, the Minister said:—"In regard to the question of a disciplinary code, I have had in my desk in the office for two months back a very complete disciplinary code for the Army, well brought out, and, I understand, that it is in circulation since November, and on sale in the bookshops." Now, the document itself says it is published on the authority of the Stationery Office, and may be purchased, either directly, or through any bookseller, or from Messrs. Eason & Son, Ltd., O'Connell Street. A certain citizen has tried to get a copy of that publication by purchase through Eason's, but has failed to get it. When he called there he was informed, that it was very difficult to get it; that, as a matter of fact, a special order would have to be given, and that that order would have to be sent to Portobello Barracks, and that it could only be got in that way. I understand that a large number of people are anxious to get possession of this document for their own information, and I think it is very desirable that a document issued in this way should be easily accessible. If it is a public document, as obviously it is, it should be for general purchase, just like an Act of the Dáil, and it should be easily got. A more important point in connection with the matter is this, there is a Stationery Office and Agency for the sale of Government publications. It would be well if we knew, and if citizens generally knew, whether Government publications are automatically put into the hands of that agency, or whether there are any difficulties in the way of agents getting those documents. There has obviously been—except I am completely misinformed—some difficulty in getting this particular document. That difficulty should be removed. The document is published, and should be accessible; every facility should be given, and no difficulty should be put in the way of anybody obtaining it by the military. I just raise the question because I think it is of some importance in a general way, and it is of importance as dealing with Government publications on the whole. There are many citizens who are interested in the publications of the Government and in this particular document who would like to study the documents at their leisure. It is only by coming up here, as you are all aware as a Deputy, and going into the libraries or reading-rooms, that one can study a lengthy document like this. But if this document, as it definitely states, were available through the booksellers, it should be readily available, and there should be no such thing as a delay of a week or two in ordering single copies through Portobello Barracks.
I think this matter arises merely through oversight or through a misunderstanding. When the matter was raised first it was I who stated—or I suggested to somebody who was speaking to say—that it was to be purchased through Messrs. Eason's. I was misled by the inscription on the cover. In point of fact, I understand, it was not, in this particular case, given to Messrs. Eason, because the Stationery Office sent the whole edition to Portobello. I do not know that it was known at Portobello that the whole edition was sent to them. I think that in Portobello, just as in my own case, it was believed on account of what was on the cover, that it was available through Eason's, and that a supply had been issued to Messrs. Eason. That had not been done, but it is a matter that can be rectified easily. In regard to Government publications generally, I do not know that every publication, as issued, is sent to the agency for sale. Specific instructions are given if it is to be issued for sale, and then that is done. On the other hand, though a book may have a price marked on it, it may be thought that it is a publication wholly or chiefly for official use, and may not be sent out. I do not know whether it would be possible to have any general ruling. There are obviously documents which it would be of no interest to the public to put on sale, and I do not know whether there could be a ruling that would cover every emergency and would enable it to be decided automatically, whether a document was to be priced and sent out for sale to the agents, or whether it was simply to be distributed amongst those whom it might concern. As regards this particular publication I think there will be no difficulty.
May I ask the Minister if it is the case that the Constitution is withdrawn from sale. A Professor at University College informed me that he made two attempts to buy it at Eason's and was told that it was no longer on sale, that it had been withdrawn.
The Constitution was withdrawn in connection with the matter of translation; it is now again on sale, I understand.
Then it seems that by a stroke of the pen there has been something in the nature of a revolution. There is a small matter that I would like to draw attention to, because I think it may be well to ventilate it here, and that is the price charged for the Official Reports. The price of 1/- for the daily report is too high to ensure anything like a full circulation, and I think it is worth considering whether there would not be a smaller loss if the price was reduced to half or a quarter, because you would increase the sale.
I will mention that matter to the Minister for Finance. It seems to be a point of substance.
The Stationery Office fixes the price in connection with the cost of production.
With regard to the Army Regulations being available, I have had great difficulty in getting copies, and I have not yet succeeded. If such documents are not available to be circulated to Deputies I think in that case it would be convenient if arrangements were made so that we could purchase them at the office instead of making journeys to Eason's for them. We are in and out of this building every day, and it would be convenient if we could purchase them in the office.
I could not entertain any proposal that documents should be on sale for purchase in the office. If the Deputy means that things should be on sale in the office here I would oppose that.
When I raised this question in the first instance I think it was the Minister for Home Affairs who told us that the Regulations were on sale, and could be procured in Eason's. My intention in raising the point was that as the Army is the servant of the Government and the members of this Dáil, surely the people responsible for the conduct and discipline of the Army should be in a position to supply the Regulations under which they are governed. It is my contention that these Regulations should be laid upon the table, and that any Deputy raising a question in regard to the amendment of them should be in a position here to do so.
That is in fact the position. The Regulations are available.
Copies have not been supplied.
It is a matter for the Deputies. If they think that copies should be circulated it is open to any Deputy to move to that effect, and if his motion is passed they would be circulated.
Would notice be required for such a motion?
Yes. I think so. The Dáil now stands adjourned.
Dáil adjourned at 6.50 p.m.