I move amendment 2:—
To add at end of section a new sub-section as follows:—
"An order made by the Executive Council under this section shall be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and shall not come into force and effect until the expiration of twenty-one days on which the House of the Oireachtas has sat after it has been so laid."
The proposition I put before the House is to add a new sub-section making it clear that any order that is to be made by the Executive Council in fulfilment of this section shall not have effect until it has been placed on the table of the House. I would rather discuss the issues raised to some extent by Deputy Thrift's amendment although the point he made was perhaps too technical for my understanding. I think the section itself is very dangerous in its present phraseology. We are asked to give the Executive Council power to adapt, to modify, any charter so that it may have the force of law and so that the adaptation may have the force of law if, in the opinion of the Executive Council, that modification is necessary to enable the charter to have full force and effect in the Saorstát. On the face of it the intention, I think, was to give the Executive powers to enable charters to have force and effect in Saorstát Eireann which they have not at present, owing to the change in the constitutional position. But it is not that only that we are asked to agree to: we are asked to agree that the Executive Council shall be empowered to make such adaptations as they consider are necessary, and I take it that if that section is passed in its present form there will be no appeal as to whether the opinion of the Executive Council as to the necessity for any particular adaptation was, in fact, required by the needs of the case. To adapt a charter in such a way as to make the charter itself effectual in the Saorstát is one thing; to allow the Ministry to modify such charters in any way they may think desirable—they say necessary, but it is their opinion that it is necessary according to the phrase in the section—is another thing. Then there would be no appeal from the opinion of the Executive as to whether any particular adaptation or modification, which means alteration in the charter, is required. There was recently an adaptation made of certain enactments altering the constitution, for instance, of a certain Nurses' Council. It was altered rather considerably, not merely adapted to suit needs; that is, the technical phraseology was not altered merely to adapt it to the necessities of the Saorstát, but the actual constitution was adapted and what was equivalent to the charter was modified.
I want, if possible, to prevent the Executive from taking powers to alter charters beyond what is absolutely necessary to make these charters effective in the Saorstát, and I think that the section, as it stands, goes much beyond that. The amendment that I have put down, of course, does not ensure what I desire, but I am drawing attention to what I think is the defect in the section itself, and I think that the words "in the opinion of the Executive Council," ought to be deleted, though that is not my amendment. The amendment is a sort of second best, to ensure that if any Order has been made by the Executive Council in respect of a charter that that Order will not be effective until the House has been made aware of it, and has had an opportunity to disagree with it. We are in the great difficulty that we have not any conception of how many charters are in operation, how many institutions are working under charters, and what is contained in those charters. Furthermore, we have no idea as to what is in the mind of the Executive Council as to the adaptations or modifications that they wish to make in these charters, and what we are asked to do is to leave the whole matter entirely in the hands of the Executive Council to modify, which means to alter, any of these charters in any way that they may think it necessary to make them effective in the Saorstát.
I assume that the stress in this section is upon the word "necessary," and I would assume, too, that if we leave out the words "in the opinion of the Executive Council," there might be some appeal to the courts as to whether any modification was necessary to enable a particular charter to have effect in the Saorstát. But while we leave in these words, "in the opinion of the Executive Council," it seems to me that we are leaving all power to the Executive Council in the manner of adapting, modifying, or otherwise altering charters. The amendment, however, seeks to ensure that before any adaptation or modification is made the Order will be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, and that the Order shall not come into effect until after 21 days during which the Houses shall have been sitting. I therefore move the amendment.