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.