COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - ESTIMATES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES. VOTE 25.—CIRCUIT COURT OFFICERS.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim na raghaidh thar £49,239 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1926, chun Tuarastail agus Liúntaisí agus Costaisí Oifigeacha iomdha na Cúirte Cuarda, Bonus do Chléirigh na Coróinneach agus Síochána agus Costaisí Ath-fhéachainte.

That a sum not exceeding £49,239 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come due in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926, for Salaries, Allowances and Expenses of the various Circuit Court Officers, Bonus to Clerks of the Crown and Peace and Expenses of Revision.

It may seem rather anomalous that this Vote is accounted for by the Department of Finance. This is merely a continuation of a former practice and no alteration was intended until the new Rules of Court had been promulgated. It is naturally a Vote that should be accounted for by the Department of Justice and in subsequent years that will be the arrangement. The Vote follows the old lines but, of course, it is possible that changes of one sort or another may be made during the current year. The promulgation of the Rules of Court may necessitate changes which will render the scheme set out in this Estimate inoperative. It is put forward in that sense. One of the biggest items is sub-head (a) naturally. Sub-head (a) (1) deals with salaries of the Clerks of the Crown and Peace. They are charged on the Vote by Section 27 of the County Officers and Courts Act of 1877 and were not to exceed £26,100 in any one year for the whole of Ireland. The Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act of 1891 put the local officers for the registration of title under the control of Clerks of the Crown and Peace and provided for an increase of salaries for the additional duties imposed on them. I think there is no change in this Vote as compared with last year, except in the case of Dublin county and city where there is an inclusive salary of £1,200 against a salary of £1,200 with bonus last year.

Before the Minister leaves that sub-head, would he just touch briefly on some of the discrepancies in the figures where there are large counties with small salaries and small counties with large salaries attached to these offices?

These salaries date back, and I could not tell why they were fixed at the rates at which they now stand. Sub-head (a) (3) deals with the remuneration of registrars. Two registrars are employed at fixed salaries while others receive inclusive allowances for the days on which they are actually employed in court. They also receive allowances for each night that they are necessarily detained from home on the duties of their offices. It is difficult to make an accurate estimate of the amount required, as there is considerable variation in the number of days that the courts sit in any particular year. The provision in sub-head (a) (4) for salaries of process-servers is based on the present number employed. It is unlikely, with the new arrangement with regard to the jurisdiction of district courts, that the number will be increased. In point of fact consideration is being given to the question of the abolition of the office of process-server. However, that is a matter that will come up some other time.

Sub-head (a) (8) provides £4,200 for the remuneration of official stenographers. The amount estimated as being likely to be required for the service of stenographers when the Courts of Justice Act was being introduced was £6,000. The arrangement in regard to stenographers is still on a temporary and provisional basis, and arrangements have not yet been made for the appointment of permanent officials.

Did I hear the Minister say £6,000?

I think so. The provisional increase this year as compared with last year is due to the fact that the Courts of Justice Act was only brought into operation during the course of the past financial year, and there was not provision for the whole year. Sub-head (b) covers allowances for clerical assistance and office incidentals in the case of Clerks of the Crown and Peace, such as health and unemployment insurance, and travelling and subsistence allowances to the clerks when attending courts at certain towns. One feature that caused a slight increase is the fact that there is a completely new arrangement in regard to the Clerk for the County and City of Dublin. He is not only employed at an inclusive salary as against a salary with bonus, but the arrangement is that he will hand over certain perquisites, which the Clerks of the Crown and Peace received as expenses under the Juries Acts, to the Exchequer. An additional allowance has to be made in this sub-head for clerical assistance. The new arrangement is one that will be substantially cheaper for the State than the old arrangement. However, this matter is all pending the promulgation of the Rules of Court, and is on a very temporary footing now.

Circuit Court Judges are allowed expenses, when travelling, at the rate of £1 per night, plus 25 per cent. for an absence of not more than five nights in any one place, or in respect to the first five nights of a longer absence in any one place. In addition, they are allowed the actual cost of locomotion. With regard to the Appropriations in Aid, the offices of the Clerks of the Crown and Clerks of the Peace were united under the County Officers of Courts Act, 1877, and the holders of the united offices were granted fixed salaries to be paid out of voted moneys. Clerks of the Peace were entitled to receive payment under statute for carrying into effect the provisions of the Juries Act. Under Section 21 of the Act of 1877, the Clerks of the Crown and Peace were entitled to retain part of the payment that represented expenses in connection with juries, and part of the payment representing remuneration was payable to the Exchequer. By an Order in Council, half of the payment was regarded as expenses and half as remuneration. Consequently, half of what the Clerks of the Crown and Peace received from the counties in connection with the preparation of jurors' lists and in connection with jury work is handed over to the Exchequer.

Will the Minister say whether the stenographers are paid a bonus in addition to the rate mentioned?

I do not think so. They are paid a daily fee and a fee for the transcription of notes. When they travel, they are paid 10/6 a day to cover travelling expenses and subsistence allowance.

I want to go a little further in regard to the question of stenographers. The Minister stated now that when the Courts of Justice Bill was under consideration it was estimated that the cost of these stenographers would be £6,000. It will be within the recollection of the Dáil that I, amongst other Deputies, raised this question of stenographers on the 3rd October, 1923, and the Minister for Justice, replying to a question from me, stated that eight stenographers should suffice and the maximum cost, including bonus, travelling expenses and everything else, could be provisionally estimated at £4,000. He said "every effort will, of course, be made to keep the cost at the minimum." Now we are told that the amount is £6,000. I hope that there is some explanation for the difference in the amounts mentioned. The Dáil, apparently, was given an inaccurate answer. It would appear that there was one estimate for use in the Ministry and another estimate of £2,000 less was given in the Dáil.

I do suggest that that is a very serious matter. We have hitherto reposed absolute confidence in the answers given by Ministers to questions, and we have always been ready to do so. I suggest that even if that was the first estimate, and it was subsequently found necessary to increase it, some statement to that effect should have been made. As far as my recollection goes, no such statement has been made. If a definite answer has been given here in reply to a question, and if the estimate is revised and corrected subsequently, the Deputy who asked the question has a right to be told of the revision and correction. It is a rather important matter. Unless we have absolute confidence in the replies of Ministers—and hitherto we have always felt confidence and have been justified in so doing—we shall not know where we are. It will affect the whole course of debate and the course of business in the Dáil very seriously and I hope the Minister will give some explanation.

I cannot give any explanation at the moment. I do not believe there is anything that would cause any lack of confidence in replies. As I indicated at the beginning, this is an Estimate which is a remnant of an old arrangement left to the Department of Finance to account for. I do not profess any great familiarity with it, or with the business done in connection with it. It may be that I have been in error in mentioning the amount of £6,000. I do not really know.

I am not indicting the Minister for Finance personally. I know he has been always frank and candid with the Dáil. There is apparently something wrong when there appears to exist one estimate in the Department of Finance and another in the Department of Justice.

That is not so. If there is a difference, it is a variation due to mistake.

I want to put the case on two grounds. The first is a comparatively small one, and it is that the Dáil did not receive any accurate impression. We were told that the maximum cost of the service would be £4,000. It now appears the cost of salaries alone is over £4,000—£4,200— to which you must put another £600 for travelling expenses. We were told the provisional maximum cost has been exceeded. At the same time, there apparently existed another estimate of £6,000 that we were never told about at all. I thought that the Minister had, perhaps, made a mistake in stating that amount. I asked him at the time —I did not want to raise this matter in this form at all—and he stood to his figures. That is the first ground. The second ground also seems to be of great importance. Those stenographers are, apparently, part-time officials, open to take other employment when they are not required in the Circuit Courts. Their function is one of vital importance. All appeals to the High Court are taken on the stenographer's notes, and his notes alone. Yet, it is a part-time job. That could mean that you may be placing the stenographer in the grossly unfair position of being threatened by another employer, that unless he varies or omits something from his notes he will lose his job under that other employer. That is important, in view of the fact that the appeals are only considered on the stenographer's notes. Counsel may appear, but no witnesses are heard, and the evidence is taken from the stenographer's notes. You might as well have a part-time judge as a part-time stenographer.

Imagine the position of a man whose normal work is for a local paper, who has to take down evidence in an action in which the proprietor of that paper is concerned. If the proprietor of the paper were an unscrupulous man, he could put pressure on that stenographer to defeat the ends of justice. A very small omission or inaccuracy, or what might appear to be an accidental inaccuracy, would do it. I do not say it is a normal case or one that is likely to happen often. I am sure it is not, but you must consider the possibility of there being an unscrupulous man and a weak man in combination. It is an altogether wrong basis. Therefore, for two reasons, the fact that there is this indecision about the previous estimate or the previous forecast, and also because these stenographers are employed on a wrong basis, I move to refer the Vote back for further consideration.

Of course, Deputy Cooper has raised an important point on this Vote, but I would also like to raise the question of the unreasonable —I think we must term it the unreasonable—delay there has been in the issuing of the Rules of Court in connection with this and the other courts. It is a very long time since we were told in the Dáil that the rules were practically ready for submission to the Dáil. That has gone on, and to-day we are no nearer, as far as any of us know, to having the Rules of Court laid on the Table of the House. It is a very considerable time ago since we were told that the Rules would be here within a week or two.

Will the Deputy allow me to tell him that at no time was the statement made that the Rules of Court would be here within a week or two? At one time the statement was made that I hoped to receive within a week or two from the Committee the Rules of Court. I have received from the Rule-making Committee of the High Court and Supreme Court draft rules which are at present under consideration, and some points will possibly be taken up with the Committee. I have also the District Court Rules from the Committee. I have not the rules for the Circuit Court, which will be much more detailed than either of the others. I have not received these yet, but I have two of the three sets of rules, and they are being at present examined in my Department. I would hope to be able to put these two, at any rate, before the Dáil for consideration and approval before the adjournment, but I have some doubts as to whether the Circuit Court Rules will be able to be placed before the Dáil this side of the adjournment.

With reference to the question of the employment of temporary stenographers, of course it is undesirable to have temporary stenographers employed, but they are not necessarily more subject to error or to committing some deliberate fault than, perhaps, people who are already installed in office, would be. There is likely to be a good deal of competition for these particular posts, and I think the people who are acting temporarily now are going to take just as much care to have their work done accurately as the men appointed permanently would.

I am not attacking them. I did not say they were inefficient or inaccurate. I am not suggesting that they are inefficient or careless. I am suggesting that the temporary employment renders them liable to undue pressure.

I do not agree with that at all. I think there is always an advantage in having your own official, a man who is accustomed to doing that work and over whom we could have some supervision on the question of mere sobriety and things like that. It it most desirable to have that, but I do not think there is any grave danger of wrong being done. Besides, as a matter of fact, if the accuracy of the reports was seriously challenged by the representatives of parties, the matters would not be without means of being remedied. All reports are liable to some extent to error. It is hoped that in a very short time it will be possible to make arrangements for the selection of the people to be permanently appointed. They will be recruited in a more or less ordinary way by means of a written examination and a practical test in stenography under the auspices of the Civil Service Commission. A scale of salaries has not been definitely fixed, but a scale is suggested of about £150 to £250 per annum plus bonus, which will mean that the cost will be less than the employment of stenographers at the present rate of £2 2s. per day. £150 plus bonus amounts to just a little over £250 per annum. If they were on that scale and reached their maximum with the bonus it would amount to about £384; £250 plus bonus would amount to £384. That is the scale of salary which, if it is the one ultimately adopted, will get us a sufficiency of very good candidates, and it will be cheaper than the present temporary arrangement, and will help to keep the cost of the official reporting within limits.

In considering these scales, has any consideration been given to the general rates paid to men who have equally responsible work?

I was referring to this question of the Rules of Court when the Minister for Justice intervened to give me some information regarding them. I think it is quite true that on the last occasion when the Minister for Justice was referring to this matter as being nearly ready for communication to the Dáil, he expressed himself in the manner he has just explained. I would like to correct myself by saying that I recollect that he did say he expected to have a copy of them in his hands within a week or two at the time.

I do say that as regards all these Rules of Court—High Court, Supreme Court, and Circuit Court—that sufficient time has elapsed to have all these Rules before the House if any reasonable diligence had been exercised in connection with their preparation. I think it is, to say the least of it, inconvenient. In this particular case it has been pointed out that the whole state of administration is kept in flux on account of the absence of these Rules, and one can quite well recognise that it is a great handicap on the whole administration of the courts not to have these Rules in operation, after having been passed through the Dáil. As regards the Circuit Courts, and I think to a lesser extent the other Courts, we are, I think, anxious at the earliest possible moment to be able to compare the cost of the new administration with the cost of the former administration of all the courts. When the Bill was before the House, I think it was pointed out that, at all events, considerable economy was expected as compared with the expense that was involved previously. I think that economy was held to be economy to the public as well as to the State administration, and I think the public are entitled to ask that some evidence should be available as to the economy that we might naturally look for in connection with the administration of the law when things are permanently settled down. It is very hard to analyse these accounts with any idea as to what the total cost of administration is going to be.

The point has been raised about stenographers. The explanation of the increase from £2,364 last year to £4,200 is a very apparent one, as that £2,364 did not cover the whole of the previous year. It has jumped to £4,200, and the amount now indicated is about £6,000, that is, when the matter is put on a permanent basis and when official stenographers are appointed. I support Deputy Cooper's statement regarding the importance of having these reports above question. It was understood when the Bill came in that the advantage of having stenographic reports of the proceedings was owing to the abuse in connection with the appeals from a lower to a higher court. In other words, that the lower court was made use of simply for exploiting a case for the purpose of re-hearing it in the High Court. Therefore, the importance of an accurate report of the proceedings cannot, I think, be overestimated. Clearly on this account we have not got any real estimate, so far as the future cost of the administration of the Circuit Court is concerned, and I certainly would press, so far as it may be possible, that if there is any means of expediting the laying of the Rules of Court on the Table of the House it should be done.

On the question of the Rules of Court, I am getting rather accustomed to the remark that they are over-delayed and the Deputies who, from time to time, unburden themselves of that sentiment are just a little vague as to what the practical inconveniences are of that delay, and what the degree or intensity of these inconveniences amounts to. I think they feel in their bones that the Rules of Court ought to have been out long ago. They feel that, with little or no realisation of the magnitude of the task of this Committee or of the personnel of this Committee. I explained here that the Rule-making Committees are composed of judges and rather busy barristers and solicitors who could only give week-end consideration to the task which is an honorary task.

Might I ask the Minister if he will not endorse the importance of the Rules of Court in connection with the whole procedure of administration in the courts?

You cannot, I say, drive people of that kind, performing an honorary task, in the way you might press officials if one felt that the matter was one of particular urgency. The Committees have been sitting and working regularly since the matter was taken in hands. I have received two sets of rules. They have to be examined in detail. They have to be examined by me and by other Departments, notably by the Department of Finance. Certain matters arising out of them will almost inevitably have to be taken up again with the Committees and if I am in a position to ask the approval of the Dáil and Seanad to two out of three of these sets of rules before the adjournment it is as much as I expect to be able to do. I have a feeling that it may not be possible to get the approval of the rules of the Circuit Court before the adjournment.

The rules for the Circuit Court are the most important.

I recognise that, but I ask the Deputy in turn to recognise that the men working on these Committees are men who are giving their time freely and who have other work to do during the week. I made that point before. If the Deputy would be precise as to the degree and extent of the inconveniences it would be better than simply saying that everything is in a state of flux, as another Deputy holds that everything is in a state of chaos.

I maintain that the whole cost of proceedings lies in connection with the Rules of Court.

Speaking here on the High Court Estimate, to which, by the way, there was no contribution from any private Deputy, I pointed out that the Estimate was indefensible and could not be defended on its merits, that it was a scandal, and had been stigmatised as such by British Treasury officials prior to the establishment of this State. I pointed out that it could only be remedied by legislation, and that that legislation must be introduced next Session, but mere paternal or avuncular homilies on economy do not lead anywhere. If the Deputy will turn to page 119 of the Estimates, he will get there some perspective on the question of economy under the High Court system of the country, and he will see there simply a story of over-staffing, over-payment, and I may add from our own knowledge, under-work and patronage, possibly without precedent or parallel in the history of the administration of any civilised country, and the economies that will be effected in the High Court system will take time to work out, and are not a matter of £500 or £1,000 one way or the other, but are a matter of very substantial pruning. That will have to be done by a legal process after legislation has been introduced and considered here. I am not accounting for this Vote. My Department is not the Accounting Department for it at present. I want to state plainly that, if there is to be criticism of delay in the matter of introducing for the consideration of the Dáil the Rules of Court, that criticism should be based on some recognition of the magnitude of the task and of the kind of men called upon to perform it with their other occupations, and also with some sense of proportion without over-statement. There is no tremendous inconvenience arising out of the absence of the Rules. The courts are proceeding on the old Rules, and whereas it is true that here and there in matters of form and procedure there are hindrances and difficulties of a minor nature there is no general inconvenience. The judicial system of the country is, in fact, proceeding with its work more smoothly and efficiently than at any time perhaps for ten or twelve years. I say all that, while fully concurring with the Deputy and other Deputies in the view that it is desirable to have the new Rules adopted and suitable to the new system in operation as soon as possible. They cannot be in operation sooner than possible. It is a very big task, a detailed and complicated task, and one which it would be a great mistake to hurry unduly. Full consideration must be given to these Rules, and that consideration is being given to them. Some little time will probably elapse before even the two sets of Rules I have received will be placed before the Dáil for consideration, for we will have to examine them closely, and will probably have to refer one or two matters back for reconsideration by the Committee. If possible—I admit that it is adesideratum—the Rules of Court will also be before the Dáil before the adjournment, but I thought it right to inform Deputies that I have some doubt as to whether or not that will be possible.

In connection with the Rules of Court, I want to draw attention to cases before the Grand Jury. I believe the usual custom has been not to place depositions before the Grand Jury. I am aware of the fact that that has resulted in miscarriage of justice in more than one case. The Grand Jury return a true bill, or otherwise, but they have to go on the evidence which they have before them. If, having heard all the witnesses in connection with the case, they consider that they have absolutely nothing on which to return a true bill, they throw the case out.

On a point of order, could we not get back to some existing things?

I am referring to the Rules of Court, and I am in the hands of the Chairman and not of the Deputy. I am suggesting that it is a matter for consideration, that when the Grand Jury have not depositions before them, and witnesses have to be called in many cases, there has been a miscarriage of justice. I suggest it should be possible to place the original depositions before the Grand Jury.

I suggest that is a difficult matter.

I am sure that the admonition of the Minister for Justice to Deputy Hewat was unneeded, and that the Deputy realises how difficult it is for a busy man to find time to spare from his business to attend to other matters. The framing of the Rules of Court is a very necessary and important work, so also is the work of the Public Accounts Committee of the Dáil. So far, Deputy Hewat has only been able to devote a few moments to that work, and for lack of him to-day we had no quorum, and had to adjourn. When he realises that, I am sure he realises the pressure of work on the judges and others who are framing the Rules of Court, and I am proposing to extend the same kind of indulgence to Ministers. On one of my points the Minister for Finance has met me. I gather he has accepted the principle that Circuit Court stenography should not be part-time, that the present arrangement is transitory, and that in the near future it will be put an end to. So far he has not answered the point I made as to the difference of cost in the estimates, made apparently, in the Ministry of Finance, and answered by the Minister for Justice. On reflection, I am disposed to think that that is abona fide mistake, which is, perhaps, inevitable in a case like this, where one Minister gives the estimate and another Minister answers questions relating to the Department. Such a state of affairs must inevitably sometimes cause inconsistency. I gather that it is going to be put an end to, and that in future the Department of Justice will defend the Estimate, and that being so, I ask leave of the Dáil to withdraw my motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

I desire to express my agreement with the Minister regarding the difficulty of drawing up these Rules of Court. Of course there are different kinds of Rules of Court—the High Court Rules, and the Circuit Court Rules. The High Court Rules obviously do not require anything like the same fresh attention brought to bear on them as the Circuit Court Rules, for in many respects both the High Court and the Supreme Court are similar to the old courts, but the Circuit Courts are an entirely new judicial system. They have been operating in a different way, and along different lines, over different areas, and in different spheres to what the old County Courts did. That being so, it must require a considerable amount of special attention and time for the framing of Rules for these courts. The very fullest consideration must be given to this almost gigantic problem. Many questions have to be determined. The Committee dealing with this matter have to determine new forms of procedure, forms that never arose under the old judicial system, and also to determine the question of costs. All that naturally constitutes a knotty problem. The contention put forward by the Government when they introduced the Courts of Justice Bill, and during its carriage through the House, was that it would lead to economy in the administration of justice. Well, Deputy Hewat is right when he says that up to this we are not in a position to judge truly whether or not it has been more economical. During the course of the passage of the Bill through this House I ventured to prophesy that it would not be found to be more economical, and, unfortunately, I am still of the same opinion. However, that is really in the lap of the gods, or will be dependent on the reports to be received for the various courts, and also on the method in which they are received and adopted here.

There is one point that I would like to raise. I regret that I was not present while the Minister was speaking, or I should have raised it sooner. That point concerns the question of the extra Circuit Judges—they are called Deputy Circuit Judges. Of course, the salaries of the Circuit Judges, or any of the other judges, do not arise upon these Estimates. The salaries of these temporary Circuit Judges do, and I would like to impress upon the Minister the immediate necessity of providing extra Circuit Judges, not only in Dublin but even throughout the country. Take the office held by Judge Drumgoole; that is, the office of Circuit Judge for the City and County of Dublin. He is distinctly in arrears. That is not his fault by any means. The work that he is engaged upon now is almost a year old. I would press upon the Minister the necessity for giving this judge assistance in the shape of an extra Circuit Judge. Of course, the objection that I took during the passage of the Courts of Justice Act through the Dáil still holds. I object to anything in the way of temporary judges. I dislike the term and the method; I would rather that the number of judges had been increased than that temporary judges should have been appointed. But we must appoint them now in order to get on with the work, especially here in Dublin. Another class of judicial officer that will have to be augmented is the District Justice. That does not strictly come within this Vote, but it is subsidiary to it. Both as regards the Circuit Judge in Dublin and the District Court Judge, the work is such that they cannot possibly cope with it. I do hope that immediately other judges and District Justices will be appointed to carry on the work. The delay is considerable and is causing inconvenience. In some cases, the delay is as much as a year. That is not good for the litigants nor for the administration of the law.

There is one other aspects of this Vote that I would like to touch upon. This is a Vote for Circuit Court Officers principally. Of course, that concerns all the various officers as they are in existence now and as they were in existence at the time this Act came into operation. There is this great disadvantage about the present intermediate or interim system—as it is, undoubtedly, and must be—between the operation of the old system and the coming into operation of the new, that as far as the Circuit Court officers are concerned, we do not really know where we are. A Bill has been promised and, of course, a Bill will have, of necessity, to be brought in dealing with the County Court officers. Until the Rules of Court are in operation I find it very difficult to see how any measure can be brought in, either delineating, limiting, increasing, or dealing in any way with County Court officers. It is like a vicious circle. Until you have the rules you do not know what Circuit Court officers there will be, and until you have Circuit Court officers it is difficult to know how you are to frame rules around them. As far as I understand, the Rule-making authorities have, so far, gone on the assumption that there will be certain classes of Circuit Court officers. At present we are dealing entirely with the old regime. I have not seen the rules, and I do not know anything about them, but I imagine the Rule-making authorities have suggested that there should be certain classes of County Court officers, and that they have framed rules to fit in with those officers. When the rules are framed, it will be for us to create the officers. We will have to bring in a new Bill and do it immediately in order to put the courts into proper working order. I trust, therefore, that when the Rules do come along, we shall have the County Court Officers Bill. Of course, I deprecate the delay. It is not advantageous to any class—litigants or lawyers, or anyone else. But I appreciate the difficulty and the obstacles in making these Rules. When these Rules are formulated I trust that immediately following the introduction and passing of them, we shall have this County Court Officers Bill. Of course, there would be a good deal to say upon the nature and the scope of that Bill.

There are a great many officers who will have to be pensioned. Again we will be up against the problem as to whether it would be more economical to make a clean sweep of the lot of these officers, as was done with the Petty Sessions clerks, and put people in their stead—paying two sets of people—or whether it would be wiser to keep as many as possible of the existing officers, and utilise them and their office and experience in the working of the new system. That will all come up on the Officers' Bill. There is just one thing I would like to say about the Rules. I think it might be possible to have the High Court Rules formulated prior to the Circuit Court Rules for the reasons I have given. The work of the High Court at present differs in very few essentials from the work of the old High Court. And I think if a beginning were to be made, and High Court Rules were to be brought in, it would give satisfaction to the country, and would give an earnest of our intention to put this Act into proper working operation. If, even before the Circuit Rules were ready, the High Court Rules could be placed upon the Table of the Oireachtas, it would make for the proper working of the Act.

I did not understand that it would be requisite to have a new enactment to put these various Rules into effect. I gather from Deputy Redmond that it is his view that it will be necessary to have new Acts passed to give effect to the recommendations.

That is in respect to the officers.

I want to make two points, both of which are precautionary. The Minister for Justice seemed to suggest that the Rules in respect of the High Court and District Court would be laid before the Oireachtas and become effective before the Dáil adjourns. If my memory serves me, there is a certain number of days during which the Dáil shall be sitting —I think it is not less than twenty-one days——

I am sorry to interrupt, but I think the Deputy is wrong. The Rules have to be approved positively by resolution.

Surely we are to have a certain number of days' notice to examine them.

The ordinary notice which is given in the case of a motion would be given, but a positive motion of approval is necessary. The provision is not that the Rules shall lie on the Table for a certain period, but that they shall be approved positively by resolution.

But I would assume that we would not have merely three or four days' notice to consider a complicated matter of this kind.

I would endeavour to give more, but there is no statutory provision to that effect.

I am sorry there is not. I think there ought to be. I hope the Minister, in the absence of statute, will at least give us as much time to consider the Rules in detail as is given in connection with the ordinary Bill. Having that in mind, I cannot imagine these Rules coming into operation until we resume in the Autumn. I think it is well to make clear that the chances are that they will not come into operation until then, if the hopes of every Deputy are to be realised that we shall adjourn before the harvest.

The other point to which I desire to allude arises out of the statement by the Minister for Finance regarding stenographers. I assume that it is intended that the official stenographers will be whole-time employees. Having regard to the services they will have to render, it ought to be considered necessary that they should be experienced. I am certain that it is essential that they should not only be experienced in the operation of stenography but that they should have some experience of life and the responsibilities arising from that experience. In these circumstances, I do not think that the terms that the Minister suggested—£150 per year, rising to £250, plus bonus—are sufficient to attract the stenographer, with experience and ability, to take up this very responsible position. One hundred and fifty pounds, with bonus, would amount to about £5 per week and at the present cost of living I do not think that is enough to attract sufficiently experienced and competent stenographers to do this class of work. I hope that the Minister has not even come to the point of deciding that that is to be the rate which is to be offered, with a view to attracting the efficient and capable stenographer.

I do not want to go into the general line of criticism that has been taken on this Estimate. There is one point, however, on which I wish to offer criticism, and I hope I will be able to do so without drawing on myself the charge that my criticism is avuncular—whatever avuncular criticism may be, I cannot quite determine. My criticism is in regard to sub-head (b). There is there a certain allowance for clerical assistants—(1) to Clerks of the Crown and Peace, (2) to local registrar of court of bankruptcy, (3) to local registration authorities. There, then, appears what seems to me to be the most mysterious item in the whole of this Vote —I cannot understand why it has not been mentioned before, and I have some doubt about it as a consequence —£5,898 as bonus. These clerical assistants are not civil servants, if I understand the situation aright. I am open to correction upon the point. I think they are persons appointed by the Clerks of the Crown and Peace, and that they are not civil servants. Yet to these clerks appointed by Clerks of the Crown and Peace who are not civil servants—unless I am wrong in my assumption—salaries are paid amounting to £6,205, and salaries not at all reaching such a high figure are paid certain other persons, while in respect of the whole you get bonus amounting to £5,898. That strikes me as being somewhat mysterious, and I should like explanation of it. I think this is not avuncular criticism, whatever avuncular criticism may be.

I would like to get a little information from the Minister in reference to the Clerks of the Crown and Peace. I have never been particularly clear as to what the duties of these gentlemen were, and a great many members of the public are in a similar position. Neither am I very clear as to what salaries they get, even with the assistance of this return, because their salaries seem to be divided under a great many headings. First of all, we have a group containing five or six with over a thousand a year. With the others drawing lesser salaries, this amounts to about £22,000. Then we have, at the end of that group "additional salaries to Clerks of the Crown and Peace as registration officers under the Electoral Act of 1923." That comes to £6,000. Then we have further on, under sub-head (3), £4,500 as remuneration to registrars and additional clerks. Further on we have under the heading of "allowances to Clerks of the Crown and Peace" £6,205. So far as I can make out, these gentlemen seem to get between them in or about £40,000 a year. Under sub-head (c) — (travelling, etc., expenses)—there is a further £1,900 for Clerks of the Peace. Then we come to that expression at the end of the page which has always puzzled me at the Public Accounts Committee: "Appropriation in Aid." That appears to yield £3,250, which, I presume, is subtracted from the total salaries of the Clerks of the Crown and Peace. I would like the Minister to tell us something about the duties of these Clerks of the Peace. This is a pretty costly service, amounting to over £40,000 a year in salaries alone. I would like to know whether these various allowances, under different sub-headings, are distributed on a percentage basis, or what the basis of distribution is. In the case of some of the gentlemen who are down for big salaries, the salaries are stated to be inclusive.

I desire to raise a question regarding the petty jurors who are summoned to the Circuit Courts three or four times per year. It is a great hardship on these poor men to be brought three or four times in the year long distances to the Circuit Court. In the case of a large county, they may have to travel fifty or sixty miles and to remain for three or four days while they receive no remuneration whatsoever.

Nowadays, when the cost of travelling is so high, it becomes a serious item for these men to have to leave their homes and their work and to spend two or three days at the Circuit Court awaiting the trials that are to be disposed of. It often happens that the number of cases to be heard at the court is very small, and that therefore these men have very little to do. The hardship in cases of that kind is considerable. When the Minister is revising the law system he should give some consideration to and, if possible, remedy this grievance in some way. These men, when summoned to attend on a jury, are obliged to do so under threat of a very heavy fine—a very serious threat for poor men. When hotel and railway fares are considered, as well as loss of business, the expenses which these men have to incur are certainly very considerable and impose a great hardship on them. It is a hardship on them to have to attend these courts at so much expense to themselves while at the same time they see around them in the courts other men who are being very well paid for the business they have to do. There used to be a sort of halo around the jury system, but I think it can hardly be said that it has any attractions for the men I speak of. It inflicts a great hardship on them and should be reconsidered. I trust that the Minister will be able to do something to remedy this grievance.

The bonus system has been referred to several times, but even so I wish to draw attention again to one item in this Vote. On page 92, the remuneration of official stenographers appears as £4,200, and that seems to carry a bonus of £8,230.

That is not so. That bonus is for sub-head (a).

I do not think that is very clear in the Estimates.

If the Deputy will look at each sub-head, he will find that the bonus is set down in exactly the same way at the foot of each sub-head as it is at the foot of sub-head (e).

I take it the Minister's explanation is, that bonuses are paid on a certain scale. I suppose that would be regarded as an amply sufficient answer to any queries that I might put on this bonus question. To get back to the question I raised in connection with the Rules of Court, I might say in answer to the remarks made by the Minister for Justice that I never intended to suggest that there was any want of attention on the part of the Committee, or that it delayed the matter at all. What I do say is that the production of these Rules is a matter of very considerable importance, and that if any assistance can be given to expedite their issue it certainly ought to be afforded. Of course, if the Minister for Justice says that that cannot be done, then I am willing to accept that statement. I did not impute to the Committee any shortcomings as far as their attention to the work is concerned. One has to recognise that the work is very important, and that it cannot be rushed. Perhaps we do not understand the difficulties.

I think I am voicing the general opinion—at all events, this is my own opinion—when I say that the settlement of the procedure in the courts would be greatly expedited if these Rules were available and were put into operation. I am not so much interested in the High Courts as in the Circuit Courts. Notwithstanding what the Minister has said, I do claim that the production of these Rules and the putting of them into operation would effect great and far-reaching changes in connection with the settlement of the whole judicial system.

I desire to ask the Minister whether it comes within the terms of reference of this committee to consider the advisability, or otherwise, of placing the assistants to Clerks of the Peace on a permanent basis. At the present time these men have not got fixity of tenure in their office. The work they perform is very important, and I do not see why they should be treated differently to other people who do, perhaps, very much less important work. These men, I understand, have suffered by reason of the coming into operation of the Treaty. Prior to that, the question was under consideration of placing them on a permanent basis. Since then, men in similar positions in England and in Northern Ireland have been placed on a permanent basis. I think it is only fair that the men in the Saorstát, occupying similar positions, should be similarly treated. They have given their lives to this work, and it is time now, I think, that they should be placed on a permanent basis.

There were some points raised in the course of the debate that I would like to refer to. Deputy D'Alton seems to be under a bad misapprehension with regard to the point he raised. He said that there was trouble, and a danger of miscarriage of justice, by reason of certain original depositions not being before the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury has been done away with for a considerable time, and the point, therefore, does not seem to arise. I would like to touch briefly on the point raised by Deputy Cooper about the discrepancy between a particular answer given by me and the figure appearing in the Estimates—a difference of from £4,000 odd to £6,000. The only comment I have to make on that is that the Deputy should have shouted sooner, because in a statement presented to the Dáil in November, 1923, "in fulfilment of an undertaking given by the Minister for Home Affairs in the Dáil on the 10th October, 1923," the £6,000 figure appears. If one figure was given by accident or mistake in reply to the Deputy, and this got publicity, the other figure got greater publicity, or certainly equal publicity, in a White Paper presented to the Dáil.

That was merely avuncular publicity.

That was three months later. Deputy Sears raised a point about jurors. I am not quite sure whether or not it comes up properly under this Vote, but the grievance is not a very real one when it is examined. Some time ago we circularised all the under-sheriffs on the point, and the fact is that no individual is called for service, or is liable for service in the average county, more than once, say, in every two years, and in Mayo the position is that common jurors are called upon once in four years, or at the very most, once in three years. So you simply have the position that the individual living in the County Mayo is liable to service, or may be called upon for service as a juror once in four years, or at the oftenest, once in three years. That is part of the burden of civilisation which I am sure the citizens of Mayo are willing to share with the citizens of the other 25 counties. While it is proposed to introduce a comprehensive Bill dealing with the jury system, just on the facts as I see them before me nothing very definite would be done in that Bill to meet the point raised by Deputy Sears. It will be a matter of relieving the Dublin jurors more from the heavy pressure of work which is put on them rather than meeting the position in the country areas.

The Dublin jurors have reason to complain.

Yes, they certainly have a grievance. Deputy Egan asked for some slight information about the Clerks of the Crown and Peace. At the moment their duties are something as follows: They attend the judge in court and they have final responsibility for forming the orders, &c.; they perform various semi-judicial duties, such as taking accounts in cases referred to them by the judges; they are in charge of the office work, in the past in connection with the County Courts, at present in connection with the Circuit Courts; they are in charge of the work of registration of land titles; they prepare the jurors' list and the voters' list, &c. In the autumn, or next session, there will be introduced a Bill that is necessary to supplement the Courts of Justice Act, and it will deal generally with the question of court officers, and assign their duties, definitely and in accordance with the new system and the new rules.

I accept, of course, Deputy Hewat's statement that he was voicing the general opinion with regard to delay in the courts. He was saying, in fact, what he heard someone else say. I am well aware many people are saying it is a pity that the Rules of Court are not in operation, but they are saying that without a minimum of examination or advertence to what it involves to those performing the task. If it be remembered that the Committee consists very largely of judges you get a perspective of the thing. The Circuit Rule-making Committee consists of five Circuit Judges. The Circuit Judges are doing their work down the country in different counties and so on, and yet for the Committee to perform its task they would have to lay down their judicial labours at the week-end and come together to do that task.

Could not a lot of the work be prepared for them?

Each of the committees has a draftsman, but each committee has to meet, and each member has to give his view, and so on, and the proposals of the draftsman have to be discussed and approved, and that, particularly in regard to the Circuit Judge, is a very big task. If it is really humanly possible, remembering the limitations and difficulties, these Rules will be before the Dáil before the adjournment, but I just feel, at the moment, that I could not be sanguine.

Could the Minister say is there any delay owing to differences of opinion? I do not know, but are there difficulties amongst the committee in arriving at a conclusion?

I do not know, and from the nature of the position would not know, but in every committee set up to consider a big task you will have different views, and it is right and proper, and perhaps it will be ultimately to the good, if there are such differences.

I only mentioned that because the Minister is attributing the delay to the difficulty of giving time to the committee, which is explainable. I was trying to emphasise that if the committees could get any assistance required it might expedite the work.

I do not think any additional assistance would meet the delay. There are, as I have said, draftsmen attached to each committee, and I think the delay is just due to the fact that they cannot meet very frequently, and that their task is a big and technical one.

The Minister has not answered the point I put under sub-head (b).

I did not purport to answer all the points raised. Certain of these points will be dealt with by the Minister for Finance. I was only dealing with the points which impinged on my own Department.

Perhaps the Minister would answer about the assistant to the Clerks of the Peace?

The Court Officers Bill that will be introduced in the autumn will deal with the question of the court staff from top to bottom under the new system and rules, and the Deputy will have, of course, an opportunity of raising the question of the assistants to the Clerks of the Crown and Peace.

As the matter specially appertains to the Minister's Department, may I ask him whether steps will be taken to relieve the congestion that now exists in the Circuit Courts?

Yes, it is proposed to appoint immediately in Dublin an additional judge to assist Judge Drumgoole. The case for that, from the figures and information laid before me, shows that is clearly necessary. We have power under the Courts of Justice Act for three years, if it is considered necessary, to appoint additional judges, and I am taking steps to get a corresponding picture of each Circuit Court with that laid before me with regard to the position of business here in Dublin, and then we will see whether in any particular area there is sufficient case for an additional appointment. It will, of course, take time to see whether in any area the position is a transient, abnormal one or one that you can count upon as being constant. You could not judge that really at present. There is, of course, a great deal of litigation at the present moment and a great many tangles to be straightened out arising out of the period through which we have passed, and the volume of work arising out of compensation claims and things of that kind is, of course, considerable also. Just at the moment all I would care to say on the Deputy's remarks is this, that we are making an appointment in Dublin, and that I am having the position in each circuit with regard to the progress of business examined with a view to seeing whether any further appointments will be necessary.

Is the Minister making similar investigations in regard to the district justices?

No, I cannot say that I am. No district justice has represented to me that he is unable to cope with the volume of work arising in his area.

Even in Dublin?

No. The Clerk of the Peace has certainly satisfied me that there was an acute position in Dublin with regard to the business of the Circuit Court, and that an additional judge would have to be appointed immediately.

In reply to Deputy Johnson, I might say that we have not yet come to a definite conclusion in regard to the scale to be fixed for the permanent reporters for the Circuit Courts. It may be that the scale I suggested would not be sufficient to attract the right type of applicant and to keep him in the reasonable degree of contentment that is required. The matter is still under consideration.

With reference to the point raised by Deputy Figgis, the reason why the bonus is so large a proportion of the total of sub-head (b) is that these clerical assistants are all paid very low salaries, and, consequently, they receive bonus at very nearly the maximum rate. If they actually received it at the maximum rate the bonuses might come to nearly a £1,000 more, that is, on a payment of salaries or wages amounting to £8,000 the bonus would be round about £6,800, provided that every person was employed at a rate of salary less than £91 per year, in which case everyone would be entitled to the bonus at the maximum rate.

Are they civil servants?

No, but allowance had to be made for them when the cost of living went up during the war. The bonus had to be applied to them in the same way as to other people.

They are statutory officers, are they not?

I am not aware that they are.

I notice a reference to certain Acts here. That is why I thought they were statutory officers.

The Acts make provision for allowing these officers money for the purpose of providing assistants.

Vote put and agreed to.