I move: "That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 4, which is as follows:
In sub-section (2) the words "the Minister for Finance" deleted in line 21 and the following words inserted in lieu thereof "an independent assessor nominated by the President and named in the public notice aforesaid."
This amendment is a more substantial one than the others. It was inserted to meet an objection in the Seanad to the procedure by which the Minister for Finance, having obtained a stop order from a District Justice, could, on his own responsibility, confiscate funds in the absence of evidence being produced rebutting the presumption that the funds were the proceeds of stolen property, or were, in fact, themselves stolen funds. It was urged that the Courts could be brought into the matter and it should only be done after such presumption had been withheld by the District Justice. Personally, I see grave objection to identifying the Courts with this procedure at all, which is, in fact, a procedure of confiscation on strong presumption, but still on something short of legal proof. Clearly it would be objectionable to establish a precedent of the Courts being involved in that kind of action. When we decided that it was necessary in the interests of the State, for instance, to arrest, detain, and intern people on something short of legal proof, we did not ask the Courts to throw their sanction over that matter. Similarly, I saw objection to asking the Courts to sanction a confiscation that would take place on something short of full legal evidence which would, in effect, be based on very strong presumption. There was that conflict of view, and to meet it an amendment was inserted stating that the Minister for Finance shall not act entirely on his own judgment and responsibility in the matter, but shall act on the advice of an independent assessor, nominated by the President and named in the public notice. That amendment was accepted by those in the Seanad who were urging that the Minister for Finance should not be placed in what was a quasi judicial position. I move the amendment, and there are certain consequential amendments to it.