AUTHORISATION OF PAYMENTS.

I move "That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas of any expenses authorised to be incurred under any Act of the present Session for the salaries and allowances of District Justices, and for making good any deficiency in the Petty Sessions Clerks' Fund."

There is authorisation from the Governor-General for this. This resolution is rendered necessary, as the Dáil understands, to give authorisation for the funds required for this Act. I suppose there is no necessity for discussing it at any length.

Before this is put I would like to raise a question as to why we should consider this formality necessary. It was passed over on the last occasion, and I have no doubt a case could be made out for it by quoting the example of the British House of Commons, and British practice, but it seems to me we ought not automatically to fall into this procedure unless there are substantial grounds for doing so. I tried to understand why such a procedure is necessary in England, and so far as I could understand it, it is only necessary because of practice having its roots in a bad past, and there is absolutely no necessity for it here. We have a Constitution which very clearly says that the Governor-General is going to act on the advice of the Executive Council.

That provision does not apply in England, and it is because of the old relationships between the Crown and the Parliament that some such provision of this kind was found in practice to be desirable to prevent evils, abuses, on the part of the Crown. That practice has persisted over there, because of the unwritten Constitution. I think it is not desirable, in any respect, that we should simply fall automatically into the practices of the House of Commons at Westminster, but if we are going to adopt its forms, and many of them are desirable, we should only do so when we are convinced that there is reason for it. In this case, so far as I can see, there is no reason for it, and while I do not want to press the matter very strongly at present, I would urge upon the President the desirability of making a case, satisfying himself and satisfying the Dáil that it is essential to the proper conduct of affairs that such a resolution must be passed, before the Committee stage of a Bill is entered on. Think what it means ! We are supposed to give authorisation for the expenditure of certain moneys— amount not stated—which may be necessary to be spent, if a certain thing happens in the future, to wit the passing of an Act of Parliament. Surely, it is clear that the passing of the Act is an indication of the intention of the Dáil that the money shall be provided. To fall, as I said, automatically into this procedure which requires a resolution containing a promise that we will vote certain moneys for certain purposes, undefined, seems to me to be without any warrant or justification. If it is necessary that such resolution of Ways and Means should be passed—if it is not considered enough that the passing of an Act by the Dáil is automatically an assurance that we are prepared to vote the money—then such a resolution ought only to come before us when the Act has gone through, or when it is at its final stage. There is nothing in our Constitution that requires this procedure, and unless there is good justification, that is not explainable in anything I have been able to read, I think we ought not to follow this procedure in the future, and I would hope if such resolution has to be moved at any time in the future that the President would explain the reasons for it and satisfy the Dáil that these reasons are good.

It is in accordance with Article 37 of the Constitution that this particular procedure that has been put into operation here has had to be put forward. The article 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 a message from the representative of the Crown, acting on the advice of the Executive Council."

Now, in this case this particular Bill is to that extent, so far as the money is concerned, a Money Bill. Members here have on various occasions exhibited some jealousy with regard to the rights of the Dáil. I think the rights of the Dáil are even recognised in the Constitution, as far as Money Bills are concerned. This particular Bill that is under consideration would conflict with Article 37 of the Constitution, because by law money would be expended which had not been the subject of a message from the representative of the Crown acting on the advice of the Executive Council.

You have it.

You have the message, but in addition to the message you require the authorisation. I do not know where the Comptroller and Auditor-General would find his justification for making the payments in respect to this if he had not got that justification by the resolution that we have to pass. It may be that I am not, perhaps, interpreting the point that has been made by the Deputy correctly; but, as I see the situation, first of all money— and this Bill contemplates the expenditure of money—shall not be appropriated by vote, resolution, or law which has not been recommended by a message. It would amount to this in essence that you have to put the responsibility on the Executive Council for bringing forward finance matters in the Dáil. The Constitution reserves to the Executive Council that right. If the Executive Council, in the exercise of its wisdom, were not to bring forward here for approval by the Dáil money resolutions, it would be a very serious infringement on the rights of the Dáil. I do not know what proposals are embodied in the Standing Orders with regard to money votes or resolutions, or other things of that sort. I think that matter is under consideration. There is, as far as I am aware, no express provision in the Standing Orders at the moment for matters of this kind, and in the absence of any other procedure adopted by the Dáil for dealing with matters of this kind, I do not know that there is any other course open than the one we have adopted—the message, the resolution, and so on.

Standing Orders bearing on the matter will, I think, be submitted to the Dáil in the course of next week, if we meet next week.

Resolution put and carried.