DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - COMMITTEE ON FINANCE.

I beg to move the motion on the Orders of the Day:—

That for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for the better administration of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and for that and other purposes to amend the law relating to the said Police, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas of any expenses incurred under such Acts by reason of the alteration of the conditions of certification prescribed by Section 3 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923 (No. 34 of 1923).

The reference at the end of the motion to the change in the conditions of certification prescribed by Section 3 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1923, arises from the fact that certain ex-members of the D.M.P. who would have been entitled to reinstatement were in the National Army last year, and failed within the statutory time to produce the evidence to secure reinstatement. The wording of the Act was that they should be reinstated in the force after the 6th day of December, 1921, and not later than three months after the passing of the Act. The Act was passed in August, 1923. They are now given a further period of three months for reinstatement. I think there are only five or six men altogether involved.

I have two amendments on the Paper to the Bill, and these amendments may be affected by this resolution. They were tabled before I saw this resolution. I only saw it this morning. The amendments do not, in intention, though they may in actual fact, differ from the purpose of the resolution. I have no intention of increasing the pensions, other than the pensions that the various officers would be entitled to under this Act. I have no intention of giving them a larger pension than that given under the Bill, but I would like to know if my amendments will be in order, or if the Minister in charge will give me any information as to his intention in dealing with them, because I do not want to be estopped because this resolution has been passed.

Without presuming to rule on the question of order, I will venture the opinion that the Deputy's amendments go outside the scope and purport of the Bill. But I am quite willing to deal with them now on this financial motion and to give him information which I think will meet his point and meet his object in putting down the amendments. The amendments seem to have been put down under the impression that the tenure prescribed in this Bill for the Commissioners of the Dublin Metropolitan Police differs from the tenure of permanent civil servants. It seems to me that the Deputy would be satisfied if I gave him an assurance that the tenure prescribed for Commissioners of the Dublin Metropolitan Police is precisely that prescribed for Civil Servants. Under the Civil Service Regulation Act, the Minister for Finance has power to prescribe the terms and conditions of service of permanent Civil Servants. Under those powers, the Minister, by Regulation dated 26th April of the current year, prescribed that Civil Servants should hold office under the will and pleasure of the Executive Council which, mutatis mutandis, is the identical tenure by which Civil Servants in England hold office. The Deputy will appreciate that the tenure prescribed for Commissioners of the Dublin Metropolitan Police is therefore really Civil Servants tenure. The tenure of Civil Servants in England is tenure during pleasure and I doubt if anyone will contend that a Commissioner of Police is entitled to any greater safeguards than those accorded the permanent Civil Servant. With regard to pension rights, pension rights for Civil Servants are prescribed by the Superannuation Act, and pension rights for police are prescribed by orders made under police statutes. The Deputy will appreciate that, while theoretically the tenure of permanent Civil Servants is the tenure of the Police Commissioners —during the pleasure of the Executive Council—that, in practice, there is no possibility of either a permanent Civil Servant or a Commissioner of Police being arbitrarily dismissed. The position of the permanent Civil Servant and the position of the Police Commissioner are analogous and there is no intention, and there will be no intention, of discriminating. Under the Bill these officers get the highest tenure that is known. Their pensions are already fixed, and I think the Deputy scarcely adverted fully to these facts in putting down an amendment which seeks to fix pensions at a larger sum and seems to aim at giving some greater tenure to these officers than they at present possess or than they will possess under the terms of the Bill. Perhaps the Deputy would like to say whether I have met his case as fully as he would have wished. The position, as it appears to us, is that the amendment is superfluous.

I thank the Minister for the information he has given, but he has not met my case as fully as I would wish. I would like to ask the Minister a question. It is necessary for me to ask the Minister this question, because private Deputies of the Oireachtas have no access to the volume of statutes. We were promised that three months ago but we have not got it yet. I want to know, in the first place, will not this Bill we are now passing, when it becomes law, over-ride all previous police statutes. Is it contended anywhere, outside Northern Ireland, that a subsequent statute does not over-rule an earlier one? Because, if so, that removes from these officers the rights they hitherto possessed. They may at any time be removed from their office by an Executive Council. That is certainly a new condition. The second point I would like an answer to is in respect of the statement that a Commissioner of Police is in just the same position as any other Civil Servant, and is no more likely to be removed.

The Commissioner of Police is an active agent in the policy of the Government to my mind and in the event of a change of policy or a change of Government it might be found impossible to continue that officer. I am endeavouring to make what is at the back of my head clear to the Minister. Is the Minister quite certain in his own mind that there is no danger in consequence of a change of policy or Government of the Police Commissioner being removed, not through any fault of his own, but because the policy he carried out is unpopular with the new Government?

On that point Commissioners of Police have as much and as little tenure as any Civil Servant, as any of what are called permanent Civil Servants—Executive heads of departments—who may be regarded equally with Police Commissioners as active agents of the policy of the Government which is in being at any time. Practically all the important Civil Servants are that. The Executive head of the Ministry of Justice—the Chief State Solicitor— any of these officers of the State are active agents of the policy of the Government which will change from time to time with a change of Government; but the tenure of these officers is not altered by the Bill. The Deputy says that under the Bill they can be removed by the Executive Council. They could be removed by the Executive Council before the Bill. Their pension rights are not altered; they remain what they were and I know of no device unless to say that these men by statute are to be made irremovable. Unless you are going to say in their case what is not said in the case of any other employee of the State, I do not see how one could improve on the existing position.

Question put and agreed to.