CRIMINAL AND MALICIOUS INJURIES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1923.—SECOND STAGE.

I move the Second Reading of this Bill. It has been circulated, and I regret that there has been so much delay in presenting it to the Dáil, but it was inevitable in the circumstances. The Bill covers a very wide field, as will have been observed, and in asking the Dáil to accept the principles embodied in it, I will just explain some of the points that are involved. The Bill is divided into three parts. The first part deals with claims arising out of incidents which took place from the 21st January, 1918, to the 11th July, 1921, that is, from the date of the first meeting of the Dáil until the truce.

The second part, Sections 2 to 15, relates to injuries to property which were done from the 11th July to the 6th of this month, that is, with property claims from the Truce up to the date of the circulation of this Bill. It will be remembered that a resolution was submitted to the Dáil (Provisional Parliament) somewhere in September last, the terms of which were to the effect that the Government intended to relieve local authorities of a considerable part of the burden that was occasioned by the damage that was done, and that a certain date would be fixed from which no further liability would be accepted by the Government, and the date that is now laid down in the Bill is the 6th February, and I take it it will be admitted that that is a generous extension of the period. Some criticism of the terms of that resolution was made, and I think that this is a generous interpretation of the views given in the Dáil at that time.

Part 3 of the Bill is concerned with matters of a general character, and also with personal injuries in the Post-Truce period. The first part of the Bill deals only with the pre-Truce period, and, as the Deputies are aware, an International tribunal is dealing with cases which occurred from January, 1919, till the 11th July. This arrangement, which was come to between the British Government and the members of the Provisional Government, has been open to a good deal of criticism by reason of the delay incurred in the preliminary stages in dealing with cases. The arrangements, however, have been improved, and there is much more expedition recently in dealing with these cases. Delay was also occasioned by reason of the fact that certain liens, mortgages, or other arrangements had been made, and the Government had to be safeguarded in that connection, and legal formalities occupied a considerable amount of time. There is now no unnecessary delay in dealing with these cases, but having regard to the large number some allowance must be made, and the most recent proposals that we have adopted render it possible to have these cases dealt with very much more expeditiously. This clause gives effect to the policy indicated in the public notice Number 2, in which all the proceedings in respect of the pre-Truce claims were set out. The relief given by the clause to the local authorities is rendered possible by reason of the fact that responsibility for the period in question is assumed either by the Irish Government or the British Government. A considerable number of awards have already been reported, and with the improvement that I have already indicated to the Dáil, it is hoped that that progress upon this side of the problem will give satisfaction to all persons concerned. In the personal injuries cases, where decress have already been obtained before the issue of the public notice, payments are at present in the course of being made, and for dealing with other personal injury cases it is proposed at once to constitute a special tribunal, which will be in a position to deal with cases in their proper categories, for which the British Government did not assume liability.

Part 2, consisting of Sections 2 to 15, makes provision for dealing with post-truce cases of damage to property. The Compensation Commission does not deal with those post-truce cases. The liability of the British Government for anything that happened since the Truce in respect of such damage is not the same as in the pre-Truce period. I think that the number of cases that have occurred are very few as far as any liability of theirs is concerned, and it is necessary to provide other machinery for dealing with such cases. We came to the conclusion that no more satisfactory method could be adopted than allowing these cases to come before the County Courts, but, as already indicated, some modifications had to be made in the law respecting that. In the ordinary way, the hearing of these cases, in normal times, would be assisted by the presence of legal representatives of the local authorities. Now provision is made in this part of the Bill for the presence of a representative of the Ministry of Finance to contest all claims; and it will be observed that there is no compensation for consequential loss. The Criminal and Malicious Injury code was specially intended, or had special arrangements in it, for having compensation awarded for consequential loss; and that was equitable in the case where a person was aggrieved, and in any case which arose— the number was small—it was natural that provision should be made for consequential loss, but the number of cases and the magnitude of the loss is such now that the Government would not be justified in putting forward any provision for making compensation for consequential loss under a Bill of this sort. As a matter of fact, if such provision were made, then those who had suffered damage to property might also claim for compensation of the same sort.

Compensation will not be paid for certain articles, such as ornamental jewellery and loss of money. As a rule the loss in these cases is rather difficult to establish, and, generally speaking, Insurance Companies do not make any provision for compensation in respect of such loss. The nearest parallel that can be taken for a similar state of affairs, or a state of affairs that is in some respects like the present, is that of 1916, and no such provision was made for compensation for such articles at that period.

Now, Clause 10 of the Bill is one of the most important; it deals with a case where damage to buildings has taken place, and it makes provision for fulfilment of conditions which the Court may impose requiring the building to be wholly or partially reinstated. This principle is being observed to some extent in the case of the Commission which is generally described as the "Shaw" Commission, at present sitting.

Clause 12 of the Bill deals with the method of the payments of compensation. It is proposed in this Clause to adopt the expedient of requiring applicants to accept a proportion of their compensation in the form of Government Securities, and it is only natural to assume that Deputies will have expected some proposal of that sort. It is the general method adopted in dealing with large sums of money, and affords an opportunity for extending over a period the burden to meet applications of this sort. It is not expected that securities that will be issued will run for many years, probably a few years. It is contemplated here that small payments up to £500 should be made in cash, and that one half of the excess above £500 also will be paid in cash, subject to a maximum cash payment of £2,000. In the case of damage amounting to £2,000 the first £500 would be paid in cash, then £750 further would be paid in Government securities, and a further £750 in cash, so that the sum of £1,250 would be paid in cash and £750 in securities. I think it will be admitted that that is a fair and equitable method of dealing with a matter of that sort. There is an advantage in issuing public securities such as these, because the stability of the State is largely influenced by the number of persons who have a real interest in seeing that stability insured. In cases where there is a condition that a building must be reinstated it is proposed that the compensation should be paid not by security, but by cash in instalments as the work of reinstatement progresses. A further provision of Part 2 is to be found in Clause 14, which deals with certain kinds of losses that would not give rise to a legal right to compensation under the Malicious Injuries code. We do not propose to confer any legal rights in respect of looting, but that the Judge may hear, consider, and investigate such cases, not making a legal award but reporting the result of his investigations to the Minister for Finance, and any subsequent compensation that would be made in respect of such report would be in the nature of an ex gratia payment. The Government does not feel justified in committing itself to any definite view at this stage as to how far the State should make grants, but it will be possible to realise the dimensions of the problem when we have received the Judges' reports. Clause 9 deals with the conduct of the claimant, which must be taken into consideration. The clause is very clear, and it is probably unnecessary at this stage to develop to any extent what is involved in it. It deals with the legitimacy of the claim of a person. Those who have been engaged in this destruction ought not, in the opinion of the Government, be persons who can derive compensation for the destruction caused by their own friends and people whom they supported. Clause 8 deals with the railways, and we have been unable to submit a clause dealing with compensation in their case, and the railways are omitted from this Bill. They are in rather a special position. The damage done to them is of such a character that the Government feel that it would be unsuitable to have their claims dealt with in the ordinary way before the Country Courts. Other arrangements for giving fair compensation to the Railway Companies have already been the subject of discussion between the companies and the Government. Further conferences will be held, and it is possible that before the final stages of the Bill be reached a clause can be inserted dealing with them. The only other case that I have in mind at the moment is the destruction of title deeds and other legal documents and the method of determining the compensation for such destruction is to be found in Clause 11. The Third Part of the Bill deals with the relief that is being given to local authorities. They are relieved entirely from liability in respect of the period from January, 1919, until July, 1921. Clause 17 provides for the appointment of additional Judges where necessary to assist Country Court Judges in making awards under the Malicious Injuries Acts, and the number of claims in certain areas is so large that some assistance must be afforded to the Country Court Judges in some cases. Clause 18 deals with the repeal of certain provisions of the existing law. In this clause the vindictive clauses, as they have been called, of the Acts of 1919 and 1920 are proposed to be repealed. The whole of the Act of 1919 comes within this category, and part of the Act of 1920. These repeals are not limited in their operation to pre-Truce and post-Truce periods, but are permanent changes in the existing law. This involves the abolition of special provisions of the Act of 1919, for instance for the recovery of compensation in cases of murder, maiming, wounding, or malicious injury to the person, arising out of a combination of a seditious character or unlawful association and also the abolition of part of the Act of 1920 by which a person getting an award in Court is entitled to draw interest at the rate of five per cent. from the date on which the award was made. The Bill has taken a great deal of time, but it has had to cover a very wide field. It has had to take into consideration three distinct classes of the community—in the first case the persons injured, in the second case those who have not suffered injury, and then the State, dealing as fairly and impartially to all persons, having regard to its resources, as is possible in a matter of this kind. It may be natural to ask what amount of damage is estimated in these cases and what is the probable percentage of the cost of this damage to the State. At this stage one could not give anything like an approximate figure; suffice to say that very extravagant and very unreasonable claims have been put in, and the work of dealing with cases of this kind is not rendered easier where such extravagant claims are sent in. I am sure the Government has correctly interpreted the opinion of the Dáil when it means to deal fairly and justly with all these cases, having regard to the resources at its disposal. I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill.

The Minister was good enough to make a kind of apology to the Dáil for the long delay in introducing the Bill, after notifying that such a Bill was to be introduced, and I think we shall all be agreeable to recognise that the difficulties and the high pressure that the Law Adviser has been working under has made it, perhaps, impossible to bring the Bill in at an earlier date. The thought suggests itself that it might be very good business, and really economical, if a way could be found for assisting the Law Adviser and his department to facilitate the preparation of Bills of this kind in such a way as to allow them to be considered before the Second Reading stage. This is a very important Bill, and we have not had very much time to consider its implications, but I hope that we shall be allowed ample time between the Second Reading and the Committee Stage before we enter on the latter stage. The Minister has indicated the general lines, but has not told us anything about a number of clauses that are of considerable importance, that I would like to have heard some comments upon, and more explanations of. I think, for instance, that Section 9 which deals with the discretion of the Judge in deciding whether a claimant has had any association with any political bodies, is going to place difficulties in the way of the Judge, and while, perhaps, the principle is sound, I think it would be found very difficult to apply in practice. That is a matter that I have no doubt will receive a good deal of attention in the Committee Stage. Part I. of the Bill deals with pre-Truce damage, and I am glad to learn from the Minister that the Shaw Commission, as it has been called, is getting ahead much faster with its work. I assume that that Commission covers the cases that ought to be brought into the Compensation Courts pretty fully, and if that is so, then I think Part I. of the Bill is unobjectionable, and will be generally accepted as such. The explanation of the Minister in regard to ruling out consequential losses raises one or two questions in my mind. I see the force of the argument, that it might be difficult, if not impossible, to make just and fair selections of the cases of consequential losses, and that the direct consequential losses of the property owner would be equalled by the indirect consequential losses of many people, such as employees, who are really, in equity, entitled to compensation for their losses, at least, as well as the property owner, but because of the difficulties the Minister has found it necessary to rule out all claims for consequential damages. I think the principle on which that decision has been arrived at is, that the losses of property which are to be compensated for, are essential to the carrying out of the social and economic life of the country, and, therefore, these losses must be replaced. And if we accept that principle, that it is because such property and such particular classes of property as are indicated in the Bill, are necessary to the common good, it is the acceptance of a very important principle, and I hope it will be recognised by the Dáil and by the country in future legislation. It indicates to me that in the mind of the Ministry property holding gives rights because of the function that that property holding entails in the common life, not merely because it is property, but because the property implies some useful activity, and assists in the carrying on of useful activity for the country. Hence, it is deemed necessary by the Ministry that the destruction of such property must be compensated for and replaced. If that is the principle, and I can think of no other principle by which only one kind of property is to be compensated for, as I said before, it is an important principle, and one which, I hope, will be generally acceptable. That same thought brings up the clause which deals with the reinstatement of such damaged property—its reconstruction. I notice that it is mandatory on the Judge to say that buildings shall be replaced out of the moneys provided in compensation, and that is very satisfactory, but there is an omission, I think, in as much as the machinery for the carrying on of the particular business within the buildings, is not included. I think it ought to be. It is probably the most important part of the property for the local community, and ought to be replaced, and that should be made a condition. I have in mind the case of the Balbriggan factory, where the rebuilding clause was included in the award, but the award, I think, was for £40,000, or something about that, and the rebuilding clause, I think, only amounted to £5,000. Now it was building, machinery, stock and equipment that was destroyed to the extent of £40,000, if that was the sum granted. It ought to have been granted for the complete reestablishment of that factory in the town. What has happened is, that the firm, which got a large sum of money in compensation, practically said, "We are prepared to forego the £5,000, which was granted conditional on our rebuilding the structure. We will collar the remainder," thus leaving the town without its factory, and the people in London with the money. I hope that we shall find a way of insisting upon the equipment of a building, particularly where it is such as ensures or provides for employment in the locality, that the equipment should also be replaced when the building is being reconstructed. The Minister dealt with the equity, I think he said, of the clause relating to the deduction of such rates, taxes, land purchase annuities, as may be due. I am not sure whether I could accept the argument that that is right in equity. I would suggest that expediency would lead us to, at least, give some relief in point of time—that if compensation is to be granted to a man who has lost money, trade and living, due to damage to his property, if he is only to be compensated for the loss of his property, and if consequential damages are to be denied him, we should recognise that the consequential inability to pay rates and taxes and land purchase annuities should exempt him from this liability to deduction, and I hope it will be found possible to introduce an amendment to alter that Clause in the direction I have indicated. I would like to have heard a little more from the Minister regarding the Road Fund—the rate which it is proposed to levy in lieu of local charge for the purpose of assisting in the remaking of roads, whether that is to be devoted wholly or solely to main roads, or how the allotment is to be made, and what the position of the present Road Fund may be in that respect. As I suppose it is inevitable in these times, and in this period—I am not now speaking of the particular circumstances relating to Ireland—I mean to say, that in this period of social thought, it is inevitable that it is only property damage that is to be compensated for, and that personal damage is not to be compensated for. It is pretty generally recognised, unfortunately, that the loss of a hand, an eye, or an arm is of less importance when dealing with such matters than the loss of property, but I am inclined to be a little more lenient in criticism of this series of clauses because of the principle that is involved in the payment of compensation only for property which fulfils a certain social function. I would ask the Ministers to consider whether, in the case of loss of limb or life, which is practically a deprivation of the economic resources of the individual, apart from personal suffering, there could not be some exception made in this respect. I am thinking of the principle behind the Workmen's Compensation Acts, where a man's livelihood and his economic wealth, in so far as it lies in his person, has been destroyed, there might well be an exception made and some compensation granted to that person apart from any question of what the late Paul Kruger spoke of as moral and material damage. I am thinking in this case purely of the sufferer as an economic man whose ability to make a livelihood for himself and his family has been destroyed, and I hope that some means will be found for introducing that principle in the Bill at a later stage. In the main I think the Bill is a good one, and I hope it will receive a second reading.

Perhaps I might intervene for a moment to explain that the idea in Clause 13 was that the only compensation we were asking local authorities to bear in respect of the damage that had been done would be 6d. in the £ for five years under the Criminal and Malicious Injury Acts, and that that sum would go into the Road Fund, and would deal with repairing damage that had been done to roads, bridges, and so on. In other words, that the only contribution that local authorities are going to make towards the damage is a contribution in respect of the services that they administer themselves. In order that the burden would not be heavy we spread it over five years, so that should it be necessary in certain cases to expend capital sums in repairing either roads or bridges, arrangements might be made whereby sums of money could be borrowed which would be required to be spent almost immediately in order that those transit avenues would be opened up for use immediately. It is not possible, I think, at the present moment to estimate whether trunk roads only should be dealt with, or whether all roads should be dealt with. The idea was that all roads should be dealt with. It is not even within our knowledge at the present moment whether, if this capital sum were available, together with the ordinary revenue that local authorities would collect in the coming year, it would enable them to complete and repair all the damage that has been done. But I think it will be admitted that it is a fair contribution to ask the local authorities to give, and spreading it over five years brings before the minds of the ratepayers of those districts what a useless thing this destructive microbe has been. In certain districts very little damage has been done to roads and bridges, but a considerable amount of damage has been done to property. In that case it is scarcely fair that one local authority, having suffered no damage whatever to its roads or its bridges, but having within the area of its jurisdiction a very considerable amount of damage done to buildings and so on, that they would benefit by the expenditure of such a huge sum of money and be not required by their own local necessities to levy anything extra for the repairs of roads and bridges, and so we are putting it into one fund—the Road Board Fund, and the Road Board will administer it. There is already a sum of money in that Fund; there is a sum of money due to us from the period of British control, and a small sum of money came in last year in connection with motor licence duties. Notwithstanding the criticism of motorists and their friends, I do not believe that motorists could not even afford a heavier tax if the roads were put in better order for motor traffic. Clause 13 deals with the Road Board Fund and everything connected with it, and I would appeal to individual members of the Dáil who may exercise a useful and considerable local influence that they would impress upon representatives of local authorities the justice of this imposition and the useful purpose that it serves not perhaps in that country spirit that is sometimes pushed to extremes, but with the idea of reorganising the road improvements of the entire country. This particular clause should afford considerable employment; it should bring home to people the necessity of killing this destructive microbe, and it should also impress upon them the fact that damage of this sort is a really expensive experiment.

I do not want to range over the whole of the Bill, because I have not had time to digest it, but I would like just to make one or two allusions to Clause 6, which disallows consequential compensation. Now, I am perfectly disinterested in this matter, because I happen to be one of that large and respectable class—the men of no property. I have no property to lose, and therefore I do not expect to get any consequential compensation, but this Clause does seem to me to be too rigid altogether in its terms. There will be persons who will probably claim compensation for property by which they earn their livelihood, and the destruction of which means, as Deputy Johnson pointed out, the cessation of their means of livelihood. It would probably be satisfactory enough if the legitimate compensation due was paid immediately, but if payment of that compensation were deferred for months—as I think it is inevitably bound to be—it means that these people are deprived for that period of the means of livelihood they had before their property was destroyed. I have no doubt that many exaggerated claims will be put in, but I think there ought to be machinery for testing whether such claims are legitimate or not. This Clause, as drafted at present, excludes both extravagant and legitimate claims, and I certainly do endorse the statement or appeal of Deputy Johnson, that some provision should be inserted by which legitimate claims—claims, the withholding of which are an injury to the individual and a consequential injury to the State—that some modification of that should be inserted in order to bring legitimate consequential damage within the scope of the Bill.

The President has, in his statement, referred to the unfairness to the ratepayers and to the people who will be called upon to pay for this destruction, of paying large sums of money out of State funds to people who have been associated with the work of destruction. That aspect of the Bill concerns destruction which has taken place since the 11th July, 1921, and I would urge him to consider that particular provision in its application to the payment of money for destruction of the same kind done in pre-Truce days. I have been told of a case where, previous to the Truce, a certain number of individuals, who are said to have been associated with the Republican Army in the fight with Britain, acquired a certain valuable property, including a big mansion. I do not know whether they themselves and all their friends, acting together, could provide sufficient security for acquiring such a large property, but it is said—and such a thing should be inquired into— that the friends of the individuals who acquired this particular mansion were the people who destroyed the mansion itself. If the mansion was destroyed in pre-Truce days by the orders of the Irish Republican Army, the people who sit on the Government benches should have some means of proving it. If such an order was actually issued and carried out by the Republican Army, then the rumour which is freely circulated in that particular area must be wrong. I would like that the ratepayers of this country should not be called upon to pay, say, £30,000 or £40,000 for destruction of a mansion when the mansion was destroyed by the people who had acquired the property for the purpose of taking money out of the ratepayers pockets under false pretences. Therefore, I say that there should be a provision in this Bill to cover the destruction which occurred previous to, as well as since, the time of the Truce. I would like to know generally—I think it arises out of the case cited by Deputy Johnson—what proportion, or percentage, of the amounts awarded by the Shaw Commission, or any other Commission set up since the Truce, represented legal expenses. I am informed that in one case where the original award was £35,000, and where, on review, it was altered to £28,000, £8,000 of that amount was put down as covering legal expenses. The President, also, in dealing with the general question of destruction, said that the Shaw Commission, to some extent, made their awards upon the basis of a rebuilding clause. I do not consider that that covers the position which should be taken up by the Government—of being a party to very large awards being paid out of the taxpayers' pockets for destruction of buildings in pre-Truce days.

There is another kind of case, which may be more or less of an exceptional nature, but which I think the Government should consider in relation to this question of destruction, and do anything, and everything they can, to see that the British Government carries out their part of the contract in connection with the Shaw Commission. I refer to the cases where houses have been destroyed near a barracks by the order of General Macready as being a danger to the R.I.C. barracks or to the people or armed servants of the Government who were living in them. I know of one particular case of that kind, where repeated applications have been made to the British authorities, and where the person whose property has been destroyed has not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgment from the British authorities. I would like the President to look into that particular case, as I think there are a great many cases of the kind, especially in pre-Truce days. The President has also explained the reason as to why a clause was not inserted in this Bill dealing with the destruction of railway property. I do not know exactly the lines upon which the conference between Government and Railway Managers has proceeded, or the basis upon which claims have been put forward by the railway authorities for compensation for the destruction of railway property, but I think the Government would be well advised to appoint some one of their representatives to go very closely into the basis upon which such claims are submitted, and to protect the State as far as they possibly can from any unfair claims being submitted or paid out in connection with such matters. I do not know, after all, if the Government would not be better advised to hold over dealing with the cases of compensation to railways until such time as the Government is in a position to come to the Dáil at a later stage and tell the Dáil and the people of the country what their policy is with regard to the railways of the country. I merely make the suggestion to the Government to reconsider it from that point of view, and I would urge them in the case of houses deliberately destroyed by orders of General Macready, that the British Government should not deny the responsibility, and should pay the people a fair and reasonable compensation for the property that has been destroyed.

If the Deputy would give the names and addresses of the people affected I would undertake to look into the matter immediately.

The Minister, in introducing the Bill, apologised for the delay in letting it come before us. As one realises the Bill was of a very complex nature it will in those circumstances be seen that the delay is inevitable, but I think a little further extension of that apology might have been serviceable when it is remembered that the Bill only came to us on Tuesday for consideration on Thursday, within 48 hours. That does not allow sufficient time for its being considered. The principles of this Bill are principles of very great importance, that affect Deputies of this Dáil directly. Deputies in this Dáil, after all, are merely representative of a certain constituency, and in each constituency in Ireland to-day, cases have occured which would be covered by the provisions of this Bill in respect of persons, bodies or corporations with whom Deputies would like to consult. I, for one, would have desired to have had an opportunity of putting this Bill before such people, and consulting with them in respect of those provisions, so that I would be in a position here, not merely of expressing the views of one on this question, but of those who in the constituency that I have the honour to represent would have supplied more material criticism. I think that is a sound principle. I would wish it to be observed in all cases, but in particular in cases of this kind, that so nearly affected people, who have put upon us the honour of representing them. Reading the Bill through without any opportunity of consultation, or any opportunity of research, it seems to me—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—the general principle in its drafting has been to recognise its extreme complexity, and having recognised its complexity, to put all the complex matters out of discussion by ruling them outside the provisions of the Bill. That is the only explanation I can find in my mind for Section 6, by which consequential losses are ruled out of the application of the Bill. No other suggestion occurs to me, except the assumption that these consequential losses unquestionably will be of very great difficulty if they are allowed, and, therefore, the difficulty being so great, it will be better to simplify the Bill by disallowing them, and if that be the argument, it is not sufficient. I am not in favour of Deputy Johnson's suggestion, so intriguingly put forward, with which I am familiar, and I do not think in putting forward the suggestion that he was expanding the principle of the Bill. I think it will be maintained in the country that there are consequential losses that are claimed, and that should be allowed. There are material losses which are as material as the loss of a building. Deputy Johnson referred to the erection of factories, and that compensation should enable those factories to be re-equipped with their original machinery, but there are many houses that have been destroyed that are in the nature of machinery, the destruction of the houses having involved the destruction of livelihood, and there are people within my knowledge, cases on which I have asked questions here, post-Truce cases, whose livelihood has been destroyed, pending the re-establishment of the business of those houses. The facts are that some of those people are living either on past savings or loans in respect of future restoration of those houses. If there are such cases those are losses that ought to be made good, and I urge the Ministry to consider this matter between now and the Committee Stage. I urge them to reconsider it for this practical reason. It would be extremely difficult for Deputies, without special, skilled legal assistance, which is not available in respect of most of us, to suggest amendments in respect of this matter that would meet the case. If amendments of this kind are to be brought forward in Committee, then such amendments ought to be brought after passing through the hands of the legal draughtsmen. I think it would be a good thing if this Dáil were to have available outside the Government a draughtsman, in order to make use of his services. Without such a man it would be impossible to bring forward such amendments as those touched on by Deputies Johnson and Milroy. Therefore this matter can only receive consideration from Government quarters, and I urge Clause 6 to be reconsidered, because I believe that the clause as it now stands is extremely harsh and inequitable, It may practically be that some persons will receive compensation in respect of houses or material property on a scale that would very inequitably compare with compensation received by some other persons, whose real loss has been consequential loss. There are one or two other matters of principle, and we are now only dealing with questions of principle, to which I wish to make a brief reference. I heard, with great attention, what the Minister had to say with regard to Clause 7. There there are certain chattels in respect to the loss of which no compensation will be given— articles such as "coins, Bank of Government notes, or currency of any country," and yet, in a later Clause, certain documents which may be lost, such as contracts and agreements in writing, are to be compensated for. Now, I take it that if a person was going to claim compensation for a contract or agreement in writing that may be lost, his mere statement of its existence will not entitle him to compensation, but that he will have to support his argument by some collateral proof. But if he can bring that collateral proof, he will get compensation for his agreement or contract, but even though he may bring all the collateral proof in the world he will get no compensation for the loss of bank notes. In either case the question is not that agreements are more valuable than the bank notes. I have a number of agreements of no value whatever. I have not many bank notes, but such as I have I hope are of some value. But the question is whether the claimant can prove that such loss occurred, and if the claimant can establish that proof, the mere fact that the paper should have been bank notes or Treasury notes rather than an agreement or a contract should not disentitle him to compensation. Another point I wish to touch on is Section 12, and I think it is a very important matter that will require attention in Committee. It says that "when compensation has been allowed the Minister for Finance may deduct to the amount of any such compensation any debt or other sum of money due or payable by or collectable from the applicant or other person entitled to such compensation to or by the late Provisional Government of Ireland, or the Government of Saorstat Eireann, or any department or authority of either of those Governments." I suggest that there is a very important and bad principle raised in this. Ordinarily, if compensation were allowed and certain moneys were owing to the State, the State would institute garnishee proceedings, but in this case, without the institution of garnishee proceedings the amounts can be deducted. Consequently the person who receives the compensation has the burden of proof thrown upon him in resisting the claims that the moneys were owed by him, and that is going to involve him in a considerable amount of argument. One other matter I wish only to touch upon, and that is Sub-section 7 of this Clause 12. It is already stated in that section that a certain proportion, as the Minister explained, of any compensation should be paid by the State in cash and the rest should be paid in some form of Government security. I am glad that that question of Government security has been entered into, because I think it is very important that such Government security should be created. But how do you create it actually under the section? It says: "The Minister for Finance may, for the purpose of the foregoing sub-section, by order create such securities, bearing such rates of interest and subject to such conditions as to repayment, redemption, or otherwise"; and it goes on to say: "Every order made by the Minister for Finance under this sub-section shall forthwith be laid before each House of the Oireachtas." Now, I suggest it is not proper that the issue of Government securities of this kind should take place in quite so casual a manner as that. These securities will be quotable securities. They will have a definite quotation on any Stock Exchange, and I think if that is going to be the case, then any securities raised under the provisions of this Bill should be securities raised in a definite Act under very carefully considered conditions dealt with in this Dáil, and I suggest that that casual method of creating very important securities of this kind will not be beneficial either to the Government or to the eventual receivers of the compensation so created.

As a representative of a local authority I took the earliest opportunity when I received the Bill of discussing it with the Legal Advisers of that authority, and the conclusion we have come to is that, on the whole, it is a most excellent measure from the Corporation's point of view. There are one or two things, perhaps, in which it might be possibly improved. In Clause 10, Sub-section (3) (B) and Sub-section (4), it would be well to empower the local authority, as well as the applicant, to show reasonable cause why the full reinstatement condition should be attached to the decree. It does not appear that any provision is intended to be made for compensation in the case of injuries to the person or the taking of life, and we think it would be desirable to put in a provision to cover these cases, in many of which the loss to the sufferer is even greater than if he lost the whole of his premises and property. There is no mention in the Bill at all of local authorities or the part they are expected to take in investigating definite claims, nor is there any provision made for the great cost which they will have to incur if they do so seriously. The scheme of the Bill is that all decrees shall be paid by the Ministry, and none of the same borne by the local authorities. The local authorities, on the other hand, are to make a contribution of 6d. in the £ for five years. It is admitted that it would not be reasonable to provide for such a contribution by the local authorities, but as the matter stands the local authorities have no financial interest in seeing that the claims are substantiated, and that only a fair and reasonable amount be included in the decrees for compensation. Consequently it would not seem as if they had some encouragement to exercise their legal rights in making elaborate investigations, and in employing experts to check the accuracy of the claims put forward. The question may even arise as to the standing of local authorities on the hearing of claims in respect of which they will not be pecuniarily reponsible, except as taxpayers as distinct from ratepayers. This difficulty might be removed by defining in the Bill the duties of local authorities with regard to the defence of such claims and by providing for the payment of the costs incurred by them in doing so, especially the fees and expenses which they will necessarily incur in the employment of expert valuers, assessors, solicitors and counsel. In the absence of such a provision it is likely that many local authorities would be very slack in taking steps which would give them a considerable amount of trouble, and involve them in heavy expenditure. In the statement made some months ago in the Dáil it was intimated that the burthen of the investigation and the defence of the claims would be laid upon the local authorities. If that is still the intention of the Government, it should be made clear. I say, on the whole, the Bill is a good Bill from the local authorities' point of view, and there have been so few faults found with it, it is a tribute to those who drafted it, but I would ask the President to take note of the few remarks I have made, because they are the considered opinion of experts in local administration.

I would just like to raise a few questions in regard to the roads. The roads are the arteries through which the life-blood of the nation flows, and the prosperity of the country and the encouragement of industry and commerce depend to a large extent on their excellence. I would impress on the Ministry the great necessity of improving the roads, and in this connection I would ask the Minister who is in charge of the Bill to consider carefully, and also favourably, the straightening, widening and steam rolling of the coach roads. This is a pretty big work, I know, but I ask for favourable consideration for it. I can assure the Minister that the country will recognise the necessity of this very great work, and it will fully appreciate the work of the Ministry when the Government of the country carry it through.

I am very much in sympathy with the suggestions made by Deputy McBride in regard to the roads, and I take the same view that he does with regard to their improvement from the point of view of the commerce of the country. I hope it may be possible even to extend the particular reference of the Bill in that respect, and I do not know whether the Ministry have finally decided the rate of contribution from the local councils. It seems to me that the reference, as Deputy Byrne has stated, to the share which the local authorities would be called upon to pay should be considered, but it seems to me that the proposals of the Minister for Finance are exceptionally light and favourable to the local councils. I think, in view of the excellent proposal, it may be possible to borrow money for the local councils, and a rate would come very easy on the local districts, inasmuch as it would be a very useful and advisable way of getting public works and of getting great improvements and extensions and the straightening of roads undertaken by local Councils in a very much bigger way than they would do if they had not this right to borrow money. It is noticeable to anybody who reads the discussions of local bodies in regard to roads that they are loath to raise a heavy rate for the improvement of roads, but are rather inclined to carry on and strike a rate which will just meet current expenses and keep the roads in workable order rather than go in for big improvements and put their whole county on a model system of roadmaking. This proposal, I think, in connection with this Bill would enable them, with a very light burthen locally, to have roads such as anybody could wish to have. In that respect I hope that the Bill will be made as far-reaching as possible, so that without heavy burthens local bodies will be able to carry out improvements in the very best way. I hope that the road question will be looked upon from the national point of view, so that the roads can be standardised both in regard to the making, the width, the rules regulating their course and shape and direction, and practically every aspect of road-making, because undoubtedly in Ireland it is one of the things which should suggest great improvements, and which will be of untold advantage to the country. In regard to the railways, I am altogether in line with the proposals. I think it will be very much the best thing to do in regard to the whole railway question, to consider it as a thing apart, as a special subject, and treat it on a different basis from the other claims. Railways are a monopoly, and not like ordinary property, and I think the more they are dealt with as a special subject to themselves the better the results will be for the country and for the interests concerned. I think that this matter of local contributions in cities and towns, which Deputy Byrne has put before us, is one which may require further elucidation, and perhaps further proposals, in view of the liability that may devolve upon them by reason of their position, and I hope that that aspect of the case will be considered by the Government, and that proposals will be put before us before we reach the Committee stage, because it will affect local bodies, particularly urban bodies.

Owing to the unpopularity with which Malicious Injury Bills were received in Ireland in the past, I am sure the Ministry had a great deal of trouble to reconcile their consciences and draft this one. I think the Government is to be congratulated on the provisions of the Bill. The most important part of the Bill, to my mind, is that part dealing with matters raised by Deputy Cole and Deputy McBride. The roads of Ireland, as we all know, are a byeword, especially in some parts of the country where I come from. Some of them are more like ploughed fields than roads, and unless the Government takes this matter up seriously, and takes it out of the hands of the Councils altogether in such a way as they propose, I do not believe the roads in the future will be very much better. I do think that that particular clause ought not to be left as vague as it stands at present. I think the Bill will commend itself to the public, but undoubtedly there will want to be some explanation in the Committee Stage or before the Bill is finally deliberated upon, because the Ministry ought to let the Dáil and the country know what they really intend to do, and what particular roads this money is to be spent on. Will it be the County Councils will get the money, or large municipal areas? These are things the people would like to know, as, to my mind, if the County Councils are handed this money, some of the towns will be neglected, and during the past few years roads in towns have suffered very much in consequence of military traffic. Might I say, like Mr. Johnson, that we believe the Bill is a pretty good one, but we would like a little more explanation on Clause 13.

There is one aspect of this question with regard to roads that one of the Deputies said was vital and fundamental. To improve the roads of the country for modern traffic there must be a radical change in the system of road-making, and now when you are going to enter into the question of large expenditure is the time to deal with it. Modern traffic, according to the present method of roadmaking, would mean the bankruptcy of the country, as the ordinary macadamised system of roadmaking would not do for heavy traffic. No matter how well a steam-rolled road is made, with the traffic now obtaining in Ireland the life of a road is 1 or 1½ years, whereas formerly the same roads lasted 5, 6, or 10 years. I think the time will come when you must make the roads in Ireland on the English or Continental system. They met the road question in these countries in order to deal with heavy traffic and in order to get for them a reasonable life. In Ireland that system does not obtain at all. This is a very serious question, and the Government or engineers and men at the head of affairs in the Local Government Department should take it up, and get expert advice as to the best method of dealing with heavy traffic. I do not know if the law dealing with heavy traffic is in force at all in Ireland. We see a 3 or 4 ton lorry eating up the whole foundation of the road, so that I think the Government should consider the whole question when expending all this money. With regard to Clause 6, the people I represent are probably more at a loss from consequential damages than any other section of the community. The question is so complicated and so intricate, and to my mind lays itself so open to fraud, that I am doubtful if the Government have taken the proper attitude. I do not know that they would be able to deal with it, so that perhaps it is better to avoid the question altogether. The Bill, I think, will commend itself to the Dáil and have the support of the country.

With regard to the expenditure of money raised under this Act for roads, that money will not in any case be expended on ordinary maintenance. It will be expended for special repairs and improvements. The Road Fund can at present be used in such a way as to include ordinary maintenance, but the policy that has been adopted has been that it should not be so used, but should be used for special improvements. Now, there is no doubt at all but the roads of this country are in a very bad way, apart altogether from the special damage that has been done lately. The roads have been going down the hill for a number of years past, and if there is what we might expect to be a normal development of heavy motor traffic, within a reasonable period the roads will be entirely cut to pieces. It is necessary very large sums should be expended in order to make the roads fit for heavy traffic. There are parts of the country where it is probable that nothing but ferro concrete foundations would do the job. If that is to be done anywhere, to prevent the roads sinking into the bog, as they have done in places, it means very heavy expenditure indeed, greater expenditure even than would be provided by Clause 13. Some members propose to found a new and drastic road policy on that clause, but they are hardly allowing for the very heavy expenditure that would be required for the sort of policy that is suggested. Certainly there would be no possibility of carrying out the improvements that are really necessary in the immediate future, except on the roads that are definitely artery roads. In regard to the other matter that has been discussed, that of consequential damages, one of the reasons that consequential damages have been left out of the Bill has been for the same reason as that for which the question of compensation for loss of coin and bank notes was left out.

Consequential damages very frequently are merely problematical losses; even where there is a real consequential loss, the amount certainly will always be highly problematical, or nearly always. To include provision for consequential losses in the Bill would open the gates for a flow of fraudulent claims. Then, even when no fraud was very definitely intended, the State would be mulcted if we admitted the principle of paying for consequential losses, because of the impossibility of calculating surely. If a shop is burned and we admit consequential losses, we would have beautiful tables prepared showing the amount of the losses the shopkeeper had suffered, though it may be that during the same period his neighbour who was not burned out had suffered loss just as great as that shown in the tables. The table may be prepared in fairly good faith, but still it would mean, if it were admitted, and the calculations accepted, that the State was being obliged to pay an applicant for losses that he probably would have sustained if his premises never had been burned. Then, again, if you once come to deal with the question of consequential losses, there is no logical reason at all for confining the payment of the consequential losses to the owner of the property. It may not be, and it frequently is, not only the owner of the property who is deprived of his means of livelihood by that destruction. Others who have no proprietorial interest at all in the property may be just as much deprived of their means of livelihood as the owner, and on logical grounds they can just as well claim compensation for consequential losses as the owner. There, again, you would open the gate very wide indeed. I think that if we admitted the principle of compensation for consequential losses you would find this country trying to live by that rather exploded method, or something parallel to the exploded method, of gaining a livelihood by taking in each other's washing. Everybody would claim consequential losses— everybody nearly could claim consequential losses—and the people who were claiming would have to pay. There is no inconsistency such as Deputy Figgis thought he had found when he talked about the question of coin and the question of contracts in the Bill. The compensation that will be paid for agreement and contracts destroyed will be the amount that will be necessary to do the copying and the research and the investigation required to have those replaced, so that they are on an entirely different plane from coin or bank notes.

I would like, if I am permitted, to just say on this point that the gravamen of my argument was that absolute proof would have to be brought, in the case of such contracts, in which case some compensation would issue. If equal proof could be given in respect of paper money, paper worth money in some other form, why is it not just that compensation should issue there also, assuming that the proof were equal in each case?

I do not want to argue the matter at any great length at this stage, but there is no parallel. A contract may deal with a matter of £50,000, and the cost of having to replace it may only be £1. If notes alleged to be burned amounted to £50,000, the matter would be very serious. I think no Deputy, except Deputy Figgis, has challenged the decision of the Government to follow the lines adopted by insurance companies, for instance, to refuse to entertain any question of losses sustained by the burning or destruction of money.

There are just a few points in regard to this Bill I would like to have made clear by the Minister. Alderman Byrne touched upon one point; that is, injuries to the person. I have not had much time to consider the Bill. No malicious injury claims will be allowed in respect of injuries to the person. Claims have already been lodged with most of the local authorities by relatives of soldiers shot in ambushes, and also in respect of persons who were shot accidentally by soldiers, and where persons were shot by Irregulars, accidentally or otherwise. I agree with Deputy Byrne that it is very hard upon those people, who have in some instances lost the head of the household, that they should be deprived of compensation. There should be some method of compensating them for the losses they have suffered. I know of instances where the fathers of families have been lost, leaving widows and families of six, seven and eight without any support.

There is another point with regard to the Bill that I should like to have made clear. The Bill covers all cases from the 11th July, 1921, where damage has been done. A number of claims have been lodged with local authorities for damage caused by the orders of the Second Dáil. That particularly applies to the case of the Belfast boycott, where goods were destroyed at stations because they had been ordered from Belfast in defiance of the orders of the then Government. I would like the Minister to state whether those cases will also come under this Act, and whether compensation will be payable in respect of those cases. I only received this Bill to-day, and until one sees the sections of previous Malicious Injuries Acts which have been repealed, one cannot see how this Bill stands. The point is that in previous Malicious Injury Acts where damage occurred within one mile of the border line of a county, claims were lodged in either of the two counties, and, as a general rule, both counties were sued, the claims being lodged with both County Councils. There are a number of cases at the present time pending in the Six-County area where councils in the Twenty-six Counties have been cited as respondents, and I think some attempt should be made in the Bill to settle that point definitely. I do not believe that if a judge in the Six Counties allowed a decree to go against a county outside the border line, it would be collected. But some provision should be made in the Bill with regard to it. With regard to the local authorities, I think the only persons who can really defend these claims are the local authorities, because they are on the spot. They have all the local evidence dealing with these claims, and I do not think that the State having taken upon itself responsibility of paying claims, that the local authorities will raise any question about defending the claim. In any event they have an interest in defending the claim because, whether these claims are paid in rates or paid by the State, they will have to be paid by the ratepayers in some form of taxation or other.

I think it is my duty to point out that the delay in introducing this Bill is not the fault of the Law Adviser or of any particular pressure of work that he had. The main things which held up the Bill were questions of policy and the particular methods of distributing the burthen, such as are indicated by Clause 13. It is right that I should myself accept the responsibility for the delay. Now, "consequential loss" has been dealt with by many of the speakers, and some criticism is made of the Bill by reason of the fact that consequential loss is being excluded. I think the Dáil will realise that the Minister for Finance has not, and had not, a free hand in dealing with this Bill. There are limitations which everybody knows and must appreciate—the limitations of our ability to bear this burthen. It is a very heavy burthen, and sooner or later it will come home to every Deputy in the Dáil, and to most of the public outside the Dáil, that in shouldering the burthen we have shouldered within the four corners of this Bill, the country is certainly taking on as much as it can bear. That is fundamentally the case against compensation for consequential loss. The point mentioned by Deputy Johnson in connection with reconstruction of plant and building I will take note of. It is a very good point, I think. As is quite natural in reading over Bills of this sort, one loses sight of some of the provisions. I do not know whether this is in it or not, but I will see that the matter gets very careful consideration. Deputy Davin mentioned, I think, about legal expenses. It is rather a surprise to me to learn that £8,000 of legal expenses should have been incurred in a case in which £28,000 was awarded. I do not know. This is the first time I have heard that, and I will make enquiries about it. As regards the second case, mentioned by Deputy Davin, I think I know the case he has in mind. The sum awarded in that case was, I think, £28,000, and we are alive to the seriousness of the situation. I have asked already for information about destruction of houses by military, and I will look into that. Now, I come to the duties of local authorities. As Deputy Ward has said, this Bill deals with a very large sum of money which the tax-paper will have to pay, and most, if not every single one of the ratepayers or residents in the area of each local authority, are tax-payers. I do not know, having regard to the enormous sum involved, if it is fair for local authorities to ask for any contribution in respect of the expenses they will be put to in respect of this particular Bill. One Deputy, whom I know very well for many years, urged that side of the case. I would ask that the Government side of the case be considered by the particular local authority that that gentleman represents—the huge sum of money we gave that local authority for housing, the big sum of money that particular local authority will get by reason of the damage done, and the fact that that particular local authority benefits more largely than any other from the presence of Government institutions within its area. Certainly there ought to be consideration for those matters. The Government purse is very slim, and that particular local authority is not in a bad financial position. I know that because I have some experience of its work and some responsibility for that particular local authority having a very good purse at the present moment. The sooner every single person in the country realises that the country is his as much as it is the Government's, and that the good work of the country is his concern, just as much as it is that of any other person, civil servant or soldier, or officer or member of this Dáil—the sooner there is some real appreciation of all our difficulties, the more beneficial will be the effect on the country. We are in this position now, that this Dáil is so popularly constituted that the one enemy of the people in the Dáil is the Minister for Finance. He must be. He has to stand out against claims coming in, and suggestions coming from different sides of the Dáil that this person has suffered, that that person must be compensated, and that that local authority must get something else, and that we require the development of industry and commerce and fisheries, and other things in every part of the country. There is only one fund, and the feeding of that fund is limited, and any distribution that takes place is a distribution for which each and every one of the Deputies here is as responsible as the Minister for Finance. That is the one real limitation there was in bringing forward this Bill. With regard to the Road Fund, I calculated by a rough and ready method that the sum of money which this particular imposition on local authorities will amount to in five years will be a million and a quarter, and I estimate that the whole of the resources of the Road Board Fund for the next five years—bearing in mind what sum of money there is to credit at the present moment—will make up the balance of three millions of money that there would be available in that fund during the whole of the five years. The one infirmity there is in this proposed enactment is that local authorities may say, "Oh, this is a new source of income, and we need not assess as much money for repair of roads as we did last year." I hope Deputies in the Dáil who may be in touch with members of local authorities, or who are members of local authorities, will impress upon those bodies that the ordinary normal expenditure that would be incurred by them if this Act had not been passed should be incurred in order that a real improvement will be effected, and that they will not be looking to the revenue made available by reason of this particular clause or the ordinary income of the Road Fund to carry out their particular work. In other words we want honest appreciation of this Bill and of the particular section of it which deals with local authority. Now some criticism has been given of the repealing of the Acts of 1919 and 1920. I think that most of the members of the Dáil who have had a close and intimate knowledge of Local Government for the last two years will realise that the two Acts of 1919 and 1920 were the real cause of the downfall of the Local Government Board administration at the Custom House. It was because of this huge imposition that an alien Government imposed upon local authorities and which local authorities resented and repudiated and would not accept liability for—that is, soldiers, police, magistrates and other persons who were injured or killed were a charge upon the funds of those local authorities—that was really the cause of the fight between the Local Government of Dáil Eireann and the Local Government Board administered under the British Government. Those Acts were unpopular. The people never subscribed to them. They never admitted their legality or morality, and it is right that now having for so long taken that view, and since it has been generously subscribed to by the people, that those Acts should be repealed and we propose to repeal them in this Bill.

As I said, a tribunal would be set up which would deal with compensation to persons who ordinarily would have claimed under personal injuries or in certain cases their relatives or their next-of-kin would have claimed. For dealing with other personal injury cases it is proposed at once to set up a tribunal which will deal with cases for which the British Government does not accept liability.

The principle of the thing is what we are now once and for all finally determining, that is, that no such compensation will be admitted in future. We are taking away that. I do not know whether the fact that such compensation would be payable has to any extent been responsible for the very poor estimation of certain people of the value of human life. It is possible that if it were generally known that there would be no compensation in respect of the person whose life was taken in such a crisis as we have been passing through for the last ten or twelve months or more that certain people would hesitate before taking away life. You often hear the saying, "Well, they will be well compensated." That certainly produced a callousness that was not here previous to the passing of the Act of 1919 and 1920. It is a matter upon which the Dáil may exercise its discretion. That is my view and that of the Government, and it has been generally accepted by the country that those two Acts were punitive and distasteful and there was no real support behind them. I think that deals with the points that were raised. I do not know whether I have missed any of them. If there are any other points I have not dealt with perhaps some Deputy would remind me of them.

The real point I should have stressed was that this special tribunal is proposed to be set up over the whole of the country. Where there are 26 or 27 County Court Judges it is quite possible that the same case or a parallel one in counties far part would get different treatment from different County Court Judges. That is the reason we are proposing this special tribunal so that no person affected would have any cause of complaint or any reason to say that if he lived in such and such county he would have got better treatment.

In the event of criminal and malicious injuries continuing, would the Government consent to an alternative method of compensation? There is another method of meeting these besides that the public as a whole should have to pay for them.

We are considering that.

Question: "That the Bill be read a second time," put and agreed to.

The Committee stage will be taken on Thursday next at 3 o'clock.

Unless the Minister thinks this is very urgent and that there is no other business, I would suggest even a longer delay, because there may be references to Acts and so on for the preparation of amendments, and the week-end is coming in now between this and Thursday.

There is real urgency in it. There are, I am informed, a very large number of people who have had to leave the country and in respect of whom we are not in a position to grant compensation. Once this Act passes we shall be in a position to deal with them. I believe the privations they have suffered are the subject of very adverse comment on us for not having dealt with this sooner. That is the cause of the urgency.

I may point out that this is a kind of Bill which will excite interest in the country and the country will not have an opportunity of understanding the Bill, and to suggest the Committee stage begin on Thursday means that amendments are to be printed on Tuesday, and that does not give time enough. I suggest the Committee might be postponed to the week after next.

I suggest to the President that the Committee stage instead of being delayed would be expedited by allowing a longer period. By insisting on having four days' notice of amendments the Government would have three days' clear notice in which to decide upon what attitude they would take upon them.

If we do postpone it for a longer period, then if we get through quickly after that I hope there will not be any objection.

So far as we are concerned, we will not obstruct the Bill.

The Committee stage then will be taken on Tuesday week.

That means that amendments must be in on the previous Friday.

Amendments should really be ready by Thursday so that we could have them printed. Deputies would then have a longer period to consider them.

Before we pass on to the next item on the Order paper, may I ask what time the Army debate is to be taken?

I have not heard any suggestion of an Army debate. Deputy Cole asked whether he would be able to raise the occurrences at Ballyconnell then. I replied that he would.

I thought such a suggestion was made yesterday.

We will have a statement from the Minister for Defence at 6 o'clock.

I was not present yesterday, but I have a report of yesterday's debates and I understood the Minister for Defence was to make a statement either at the beginning of the proceedings to-day or at some other time, and I am assured by my friend, Deputy Magennis, that some such statement was made yesterday in answer to a question by Deputy Milroy in regard to what had occurred at Ballyconnell.

In the course of a debate on the adjournment yesterday—I was not in the chair—I understand the President said he would to-day make a statement after questions on the occurrences at Ballyconnell. To-day the President said that the Minister for Defence would be present at the adjournment and that he would propose to take the adjournment at 6 o'clock.