REVENUE COMMISSIONERS' ORDER, 1923 (No. 2 OF 1923).

I move: "That this Dáil hereby approves of the Revenue Commissioners' Order, 1923, made on the 5th day of February, 1923, by the Executive Council, under Section 7 of the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2 of 1922), and laid before this Dáil on the 20th day of February, 1923."

This Order has been circulated, and it is rendered necessary by reason of the fact that some body must take control of the question of Revenue and Customs and Excise. The purport of the Order is to create one body of Commissioners to perform in the area of our jurisdiction the functions formerly exercised by two bodies—the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. The Commissioners of Inland Revenue are responsible for the care and management of all Inland Revenue Duties, Income Tax, Super-Tax, Corporation Tax, Stamp Duty, and Estate Duties, etc.; and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are responsible for all Customs and Excise Duties. It appears to the Executive Council that having two bodies functioning would be expensive, and that all the functions hitherto discharged by the Commissioners of the respective bodies— Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise —could be discharged by a single Board. and that is the purpose of this Order. The Commissioners in this case will be three in number. The Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise consisted of four Commissioners, who held their appointments under Royal Warrant. That is set out in Clause 7. In Clause 9 it is pointed out that "The Revenue Commissioners shall in the exercise of their duty be subject to the control of the Minister for Finance, and shall obey all orders and instructions which may be issued to them in that behalf by the Minister for Finance." In that connection I wish to draw the attention of the Dáil to the fact that in this clause the control of the Minister for Finance will extend to Civil Service matters, but will not affect the computation of any individual as to his liability to any tax. The position of the new Board of Revenue to the Minister for Finance is much the same as that of the Judiciary at the present moment to the Minister for Home Affairs. It will be observed at once that it is a most desirable method of arranging these matters. Clause 10 sets out the location of the chief office, and also makes provision for such other offices in such other places as may be deemed necessary. The provision for having the chief office in Dublin is necessary, as the Taxation Acts of the late United Kingdom specifically provided for the maintenance of the chief office in London. As regards the days and hours the office shall be opened, it will be noted that all the staffs of the Inland Revenue are Civil Servants, subject to Civil Service conditions as regards hours and holidays, and the Inland Revenue being now responsible to the Minister for Finance by Clause 9 are not given any extended powers to define what holidays they would like to appoint for their staffs. The point of the provision is to be found in such matters as arranging the opening and closing of bonded houses and warehouses. Clause 12 indicates the provisions for making Orders under this Order, where any Order must be signed by two or more Commissioners. That is the law as it stands at present, and this clause gives power for such Order to be signed by one Commissioner. Section 1 of the Inland Revenue Regulations provides that the appointment of Commissioners is to be made by his Majesty the King and other controlling Commissioners of the Treasury. The appointment by the King and control by the Treasury no longer exists because of the provisions in Clauses 7 and 9 of the Order. Section 3 of the Inland Revenue Regulations states that the Chief Office shall be in London, but that provision is rendered inoperative by the clause I have mentioned, that the Chief Office of the Inland Revenue shall be in Dublin.

Under the existing law certain documents, such as warrants to collectors, etc., have to be signed by two Commissioners. I have already explained that one Commissioner will do the signing in future by reason of the passing of this Order. It is, I think, due to the Dáil that it should be mentioned that the appointments to be made under this Order are three Civil Servants of experience who have been closely associated with the work which they will be required to discharge in connection with these Commissionerships. The Press, as usual, has rather overstated the case, or, I should say, has given some indication as to the personnel. It is not a correct statement. This Order must be passed by both Houses. It was introduced last week into the Seanad. I was not aware that the Seanad would be sitting this week, and it was before the Seanad last week in consequence. Now, under the Adaptations Act, it is necessary to have it passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas under Section 7 (1) of the Adaptation Act. The Executive Council may create a Statutory Board of Commissioners to replace any Board which was in existence before the 6th of December. Under Section 7 (2) it may apportion or combine the functions of two or more of these Statutory Boards of Commissioners, and it is only an Order under Sub-section 2 that acquires the approval of each House by way of Resolution. The Executive Council must first pass this Order, and it has so done, as enacted on the 5th February. I move the resolution.

I have no criticism to make of the Order, and I am prepared to vote for the motion, but I would like just to underline the statement that was made by the Minister, and ask for consideration of a point of view in regard to the personnel. Our minds have been disabused as to the truth of what purported to be semiofficial information in regard to the personnel, but I want to urge upon the Ministry that it is desirable that the three persons to be appointed should have had experience of the Irish Excise and Inland Revenue. It would be a mistake to overlook the fact that you have in Ireland in the service of the Saorstát, experienced officers who are quite capable of doing the work that is necessary, and who have decided to remain under the Saorstát when they have the opportunity to go across the water; and bear that in mind, as a reason why preference should be given to such Civil Servants rather than appoint other Civil Servants, Irishmen, perhaps, but who declined to go into the service of the Saorstát when they had the opportunity, having had long residence in England. One knows how much weight is given in the Civil Service to opportunities for promotion, and I have no doubt that when Civil Servants were considering the question of whether they would accept transfers or not, they had in mind the probabilities of promotion due to seniority coupled with ability, and if that opportunity for promotion is to be taken from them it is not likely to add to the amount of content and good feeling within the service. I suggest that these considerations should be borne in mind when the Ministry are making these appointments.

I may have left the Dáil under a misapprehension in the statement I made about the publication of the names; two of these names are correct, and one is incorrect.

That is what I am bearing in mind.

I would wish to urge upon the President if he nominates these gentlemen one objection, and it is a pretty big objection, and one that may hold good in the commercial and trading world, and that is the appointment of three Civil Servants to such big posts as Commissioners of Customs and Excise. These men have been brought up, and are bound up in red tape, and will continue to be bound up in red tape to the very end. It is quite necessary you should have men of either financial or commercial ability in order to counteract these hide-bound rules that obtain in nearly all of the Civil Service.

I would like to say that I am informed there is no such thing as Irish Customs and Excise. The law is the same as in Great Britain.

At present.

In the case of Income Tax there are peculiar Irish provisions. No one knows these provisions, or has more practice of them than the gentleman who has been appointed Chairman of this Board. I think that will be admitted, even in the Civil Service. In England the Commissioners both of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise have been and are Civil Servants. Now, one other thing I would like to say is that the personnel of the Ministry of Finance is exactly the same as under the late Ministry of Finance, and the two gentlemen belonging to the Ministry of Finance whom we have in mind for appointments to these Commissionerships are gentlemen who were appointed by the late Minister for Finance, holding the same positions then as they do now, and I think, had he lived, he would have made these appointments himself if the gentlemen in question had been willing to accept them. Every appointment to be made is on the recommendation of the Chief Officer of the Department. I do not think that any individual Deputy would be in a position to question the nomination made by the responsible head of the Department because of the absence of previous knowledge of the fitness of people for these positions. Considerable criticism has been indulged in, both in the Press and in private representation to the Minister for Finance, regarding promotions and appointments, and so on. Now, I submit, that this is rather unfair. One must be guided in these appointments by some sort of standard, or by some person. As regards the standard it is obviously unfair to think that it would be possible, having regard to the experience that we have had, that you could set up such a standard, and one must be guided then by the responsible heads who have been entrusted with the control of the particular Department. From that policy we have not departed, and such recommendations or promotions or nominations that we have made we have made on the authority of those who were appointed by the late Minister for Finance, any how as far as the Ministry of Finance is concerned.

Motion made, and question put:—"That the Dáil hereby approves of the Revenue Commissioners' Order, 1923, made on the 5th day of February, 1923, by the Executive Council under Section 7 of the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2, of 1922), and laid before this Dáil on the 20th day of February, 1923."

Agreed.