IN COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - JURIES BILL, 1927—FROM THE SEANAD.
The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.
I move: "That the Dáil agree with the Seanad in the following amendment":—
Section 3, sub-section (1). The word "may" deleted in line 50.
Some of these amendments, when taken together, constitute the change in the Bill, respecting the liability of women for jury service, that has been made in the Seanad. Deputies will remember that when the Bill left the Dáil the position in the matter was that, under Section 3, only male citizens were liable for jury service, but under another section, Section 16, any woman who wished to volunteer for jury service, and who was eligible as regards age and rateable qualifications, could so volunteer and, if she did, her name would be entered in the jury book. The amendments that have been made in the Seanad do not radically alter that position, but, as the Bill stands now, instead of defining a juror as a male citizen with certain qualifications and allowing women to volunteer, we are now saying, in effect, that men and women, if they have the necessary qualifications, are equally liable to jury service. That is the effect of amendment. No. 1. We then proceed to add to the Schedule of Exemptions the word "women." Deputies will find that word in Part II. of the Schedule in amendment 13.
The position with regard to women and jury service now is that they are exempted in the part of the Schedule that contains classes that we are prepared to exempt, prima facie, leaving it open to any individuals within those classes, who desire to offer themselves for jury service and who consider that they could undertake that burden without undue hardship to themselves or others, to notify the appropriate official. The Schedule has been changed. Formerly it was one single item. It is now a schedule containing two parts. Part I. contains the names of persons or classes whom, for one reason or another, we would not be prepared to allow to act as jurors. Part II. contains classes which, as classes, we are prepared to exempt, leaving it open to any individuals who feel they are available for jury service and could undertake that particular duty to apply. The change that has been effected, therefore, is rather one of form than of substance. But from the point of view of form it is considered an improvement on the Bill. It has been passed by the Seanad and it represents an offer that I made in the Seanad to meet certain objections voiced here. I ask the Committee to accept the amendment.
I have not got a copy of the amendments before me. Am I to understand that women are to be subject to jury service, the same as men?
No. The position is that women are exempted in Part II. of the Schedule, which exempts certain other classes. It exempts veterinary surgeons, medical practitioners, dentists and others. All these classes are on the same level as classes; they are exempt. If there are within any of these classes persons who wish to undertake jury service and who feel that they could undertake it without undue hardship to themselves or others, then they can notify the county registrar in the county in which they reside and their names will be entered on the jury lists.
Unless they notify the county registrar they are willing to serve, they will not be liable to service?
I happened to be listening to the debate in the Seanad, and I thought the decision was quite the other way—that if they did not want to serve they would have to notify the registrar.
Question—"That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 1"—put and agreed to.
Amendment 2.—In Section 15 (1) the word "women" deleted in line 54 and the words "exempted persons" substituted therefor.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 3.—In Section 15 (3) the word "women" deleted in line 8 and the words "exempted persons" substituted therefor.
Amendment agreed to.
I move: "That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 4:—
Section 16 deleted and the following new section substituted therefor:—
(1) Any person qualified and liable to serve as a juror but exempt from so serving by reason only of being included amongst the persons mentioned in Part II. of the First Schedule to this Act may apply in the prescribed form in any year at the time mentioned in this section to the county registrar for the area co-terminous with or including (as the case may be) the jury district in respect of which he is so qualified and liable that his name be inserted in the general list of jurors or the draft jurors' lists (as the case may require) then being revised under this Act by such county registrar, and such county registrar, if satisfied that such person is qualified and liable to serve as a juror in respect of a jury district co-terminous with or included in his area and is exempted from so serving only by reason of being included amongst the persons mentioned in Part II. of the First Schedule to this Act, shall insert in such general lists of jurors or draft jurors' lists (as the case may be) the name of such person, his place of abode, his trade, profession, calling, or description and the situation, description, and rateable value of the land in respect of which he is so qualified and liable as if he was not so exempted, and thereupon such person shall become and be qualified and liable to serve as a juror in respect of such jury district when and so long as the jurors' list derived from such general lists of jurors or draft jurors' lists is in force.
(2) Applications under this section in respect of the general lists of jurors revised in the year 1927 shall be made before the 28th day of May, 1927, and applications made under this section in respect of draft jurors' lists revised in any subsequent year shall be made before the 15th day of May in such year."
This is an amendment which deals with Part II of the Schedule.
I should like to know what is the principle at work in the exemption. There are persons exempted but entitled to serve on application—that is to say, so far as the normal procedure is concerned. A Peace Commissioner is exempted as well as "persons actually engaged as professors, schoolmasters, or teachers in any university, college, school or academy unless paid out of public funds," members of the Institute of Civil Engineers engaged in the actual practice of their profession, and others. It seems to me that there has not been any clear principle at work in these exemptions. I can understand the exemptions of a Peace Commissioner. He is exercising a judicial office and on that ground might be exempted. But having been exempted, to say that he may go on the register on application, seems to me to be quite anomalous, If it is possible for such a person to go on the register of jurors, on application, then he should not be exempted at all. It must be because he is a judicial person of a minor kind that he is exempted. But if that person remains a Peace Commissioner and seeks to go on the register of jurors he is to be allowed to go on.
Is the Deputy only raising the question of the exemption of Peace Commissioners?
And the other classes I mentioned. I cannot understand the reason for exemption in the cases I referred to.
Broadly, the test that we apply in the matter of exemption is not so much individual hardship as public interest. But the question of individual hardship does come in in some cases. For instance, one did advert to it a good deal when the question arose as to whether or not women should be exempt. There you had a composite thing. You had the public interest to some considerable extent, and also the question of personal inconvenience and hardship.
As to Peace Commissioners, there is no objection that I see to Peace Commissioners acting as jurors. Consequently, we did not include them in Part I. A Peace Commissioner who had been concerned in the early stages of a particular case might ask for exemption in connection with that case, and in connection with that case only. I am sure his application would be readily granted. But Peace Commissioners do a great deal of entirely honorary work for the State, and it seems not unreasonable to dispense them as a class and leave it to individuals within the class who feel that they would undertake quite willingly the additional burden of jury service to make application. Generally, my attitude towards the classes contained in Part II. is that we can afford to exempt them as classes, leaving to the individual within the classes to judge as to his or her own circumstances and decide whether or not he or she would wish to undertake the duty. Clearly there is a public-interest case for exempting medical practitioners, but the circumstances of an individual doctor might be such that there would be no public risk, no serious public inconvenience even, in his absenting himself for a day, or two or three days, in connection with jury service. It might be that he was on such terms with a fellow-practitioner in the district that it would be a very simple matter to arrange that he would take his calls and his duties during the period of his absence. Similarly with veterinary surgeons, dentists and others. There is a case for exempting them as classes, but the public-interest case is not so strong that you would say to those classes or persons: "We are not prepared to allow you to serve on juries." So we have this new conception of breaking the Schedule into two parts and putting in the second part classes that prima facie are entitled to exemption, leaving it open to individuals, if they feel they do not want that exemption, to notify the appropriate official.
I take it the practice will not be to give these exempted persons the right to serve, on application, in respect of particular cases. I take it the intention is that they shall be entitled, on application, to be placed on the register of jurors.
A Peace Commissioner is to be exempted because he is doing certain public work. It is as a sort of reward for his public work that he is being exempted. Let us take another case—persons actually engaged as professors, schoolmasters or teachers unless paid out of public funds.
There is a public-interest reason there.
The teacher who is teaching as an employee, or in his own private school, is to be exempted but may serve on application. But a teacher who is paid out of public funds is not exempted at all. I take it that is the meaning of the provision.
The teacher paid out of public funds is in Part I. of the Schedule. The teacher who is not paid out of public funds is in Part II. of the Schedule. He may serve, if he considers his individual circumstances permit him to do so, without causing undue dislocation in the school where he is employed.
Is it under "persons holding any public office?"
I wonder does that cover teachers who are paid out of public funds. I very much doubt it.
It is certainly a public office.
I very much doubt that. If it is not so, then the case is that the teacher who is paid out of public funds is not exempted at all. The teacher who is not paid out of public funds is exempted unless he wishes to apply to be put on the jurors' register. I suppose it is not worth disagreeing over, but it seems to me that we are turning out a Bill with exemptions which are quite anomalous. If it were not at the end of the session, I would be inclined to ask the Dáil to send this amendment back.
I think if a person is paid out of public funds he is a person holding public office.
If you could get that registered in the law courts, I think you would find very serious consequences.
There is a discrepancy between the two Parts. It states in Part II: "persons actually employed as professors, schoolmasters or teachers." Perhaps if the same words were used in the first Part it would make it more explicit, if that is the intention you want to carry out.
Question—"That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 4"—put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 5—Section 21, sub-section (3). The word "before" deleted in line 15 and the word "after" substituted therefor"—put and agreed to.
I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 6:—
New section. Before Section 27 a new section inserted as follows:—
"27.—Notwithstanding anything contained in this Part of this Act or any repeal effected by this Act, every panel of jurors prepared after the passing of this Act and before the 1st day of September, 1927, shall be prepared and the jurors named on such panels shall be summoned in the manner in all respects required by the law in force immediately before the passing of this Act, and such law shall be deemed to continue in force so far but so far only as may be necessary for that purpose."
This is a provision for the transition period, namely, from the time the Bill becomes law until the 1st September, 1927, when the new books will be ready.
Question put and agreed to.
Amendments 7, 8, and 9:—
Section 43, sub-section (1). Before the word "post" in line 34, the word "registered" inserted.
Section 43, sub-section (2). Before the word "post" in line 42, the word "registered" inserted.
Section 43, sub-section (3). Before the word "post" in line 48, the word "registered" inserted.
When the Bill left the Dáil it provided that the Minister for Justice, with the consent of the judge concerned, might in certain cases, direct that jurors should be summoned by post instead of through the Gárda Síochána, which is the usual method. A majority in the Seanad considered that if summonses were ever served by post they should be served by registered post. Personally, I do not consider that the amendment is a very important improvement of the Bill, and I can conceive the registered post sometimes being, perhaps, less effective than the ordinary post, but I do not consider the matter is of sufficient importance to warrant our differing with the Seanad, and I think the amendment ought to be accepted.
I do not think the amendment is of any value at all, because of the practice that we have in this country of dealing with registered letters, which we have inherited. In some Continental countries, in France in particular, a registered letter is only delivered to the person to whom it is addressed, and the postman takes it away until he can find the person to whom it is addressed. But in this country anybody can sign for a registered letter and it is quite as liable to be mislaid, not perhaps in the post, but in the house of the recipient, as any ordinary letter. I do not think it is of any value, but I agree with the Minister that there is no particular harm in it.
My grounds of objection in the Seanad were that cases have been known of people refusing to take a registered letter because they got the tip from the postman as to what it contained.
Perhaps it is not right for me to criticise another House, but I think some of these amendments were put in for the purpose of showing that the Seanad existed. I do not think they were serious about them. This will mean a national expense, and the work could be far more effectively carried out by the Gárda. The fact of the Gárda coming to a house to serve a summons on a juror is impressive and it takes effect, whereas this sort of thing can be evaded in twenty different ways. A registered letter can be signed for by any person, and the person to whom it is addressed can say he never got it. How are fines on jurors to be made?
The Deputy, I think, is making a mistake. This is not in substitution of service by the Gárda. The Bill says in certain cases service may be by post instead of through the Gárda Síochána, and the amendment says that whenever there is recourse to the post for this purpose then it shall be by way of registered letter. I thought it unnecessary, and perhaps even unwise, to lay down the condition that when the post was used for this purpose it must be registered post. The Seanad thought otherwise, and, as I say, I did not consider the matter of sufficient importance to warrant making it an issue between the two Houses. I suggest that the Dáil might accept the amendment, and I solemnly undertake, if it gives rise to any evil consequences, I will bring in an amending Bill.
Will not the real effect of the amendment be that service will be through the Gárda, almost invariably?
Question—"That the Committee agree with the Seanad in the amendments"—put and agreed to.
Amendments 10, 11 and 12:—
Section 50, sub-section (2). The words "summoning officer" deleted in line 60 and the words "master, registrar, or other principal officer of the Court or Judge by whom the fine was imposed" substituted therefor.
Section 50, sub-section (2). The words "the county registrar" deleted in line 2 and the words "such principal officer" substituted therefor.
Section 50, sub-section (3). The words "The summoning" deleted in line 4 and the words "Such principal" substituted therefor.
Amendments 10, 11 and 12 fall into a group, naturally. They are amendments of very little public interest. They are of an administrative nature. The effect is to transfer certain duties from one official to another. It is merely a question of whether certain duties should be performed by the under-sheriff as long as there is an under-sheriff in any county or whether they should be performed by the County Registrar. After some consultation with the officers themselves, we have adopted the principle that so long as an under-sheriff does exist he shall continue to perform his old duty. That principle was in fact adopted in the original text of the Bill and these three amendments are necessary only because in these three particular cases the principle was not effectively translated into legal language. That is the sole purport of the amendment.
Question—"That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendments 10, 11 and 12"—put and agreed to.
First Schedule. The Schedule deleted and a new Schedule substituted therefor as follows:—
Persons exempted from serving as jurors.
Persons absolutely exempted.
Members of the Oireachtas.
Members of the Defence Forces of Saorstát Eireann on full pay.
Members of the Gárda Síochána.
Persons holding any paid judicial office in Saorstát Eireann.
The Attorney-General of Saorstát Eireann.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General.
Members of the staff of the Oireachtas or either House thereof.
All officers and servants employed in any office attached to a Court of Justice or to the Chief Justice.
Persons holding any public office and paid out of public moneys or holding office under a local authority and paid out of local rates.
Clergymen in Holy Orders and other persons who teach or preach in any religious congregation and do not follow any secular occupation.
Persons in the employment of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.
Barristers-at-Law actually practising as such.
Solicitors actually practising as such, including solicitors employed at a salary or otherwise to render services as solicitors exclusively to their employers.
Persons actually employed as clerks on work of a legal character by solicitors who are themselves exempted or entitled to be exempted as such solicitors.
Persons who cannot read or write and persons who from lunacy, imbecility of mind, deafness, blindness or other permanent infirmity are unfit to serve as jurors.
Persons Exempted but Entitled to Serve on Application.
Licensed medical practitioners actually practising as such, including licensed medical practitioners employed at a salary or otherwise to render medical services exclusively to their employers or to any particular class of persons.
Veterinary surgeons actually practising as such.
Registered dentists actually practising as such.
Pharmaceutical chemists duly registered actually practising as such.
Persons actually employed as professors, schoolmasters or teachers in any university, college, school, or academy unless paid out of public funds.
Masters of vessels actually employed as such.
Duly licensed pilots.
Persons engaged in wholetime employment on the staff of any daily or weekly newspaper as editor (whether chief, subordinate, or special), literary manager, writer of articles, reporter, or artist.
Corporate Members of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland engaged in the active practice of their profession.
I wonder would the Minister agree to an amendment of this Schedule and risk the Seanad's assent. To delete these words "unless paid out of public funds," which would ensure that teachers' names would not be liable to be inserted in the jury list. Some of the other categories are not less important to be kept at their work than teachers. We know of many schools in the country that are one-teacher or two-teacher schools, and if you take the principal away for jury service there might be considerable dislocation of the work of the school. That is a distinct reason for exemption. I see on this list "Corporate members of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland engaged in the active service of their profession." I cannot see why that section should be exempted when we are not exempting, say, electrical engineers. I take it within the next few years electrical engineers will be in more demand for public service in their own way than civil engineers.
They will all be paid out of public funds.
Oh, no, sir. This particular exemption does not seem to have relationship to anything except the existence of two or three civil engineers in the Seanad, and I would ask the Minister if he would not agree to sending this Schedule back with these two amendments with a view to having it in some form which one could be proud of. I think the reference "unless paid out of public funds" means the ordinary lay teachers in secondary schools and all teachers in primary schools will be entitled to be put on the register whether they wish or not. It is apparent from the Minister's own statement that his desire would be that teachers should be exempted. Therefore, to effect that desire it would be necessary to delete these words "unless paid out of public funds."
I will accept the deletion of these words, and the Bill can go back to the Seanad. I think myself that the words "unless paid out of public funds" went in there on the basis that teachers paid out of public funds came in under Part I. of the Schedule. It is possible that they did not; in fact, I think it is likely that they did not, because they would if you had in Part I. of the Schedule: "Persons holding any public office, or paid out of public funds." I do not think that under the wording, "Persons holding any public office, and paid out of public funds," national teachers, for instance, are covered. So that I am prepared to accept the deletion of these words, "unless paid out of public funds" in Part II. of the Schedule, leaving all teachers covered by Part II. of the Schedule.
Amendment to delete the words in Part II. of the Schedule, "unless paid out of public funds," agreed to.
I move that the Committee agree with amendment 13, as amended by the deletion of the words in Part II. of the Schedule "unless paid out of public funds."
Does the Minister say anything about civil engineers?
That was a thing that was pressed on me. There are, perhaps, 200 persons in the country coming under that exemption. I did not encourage the Seanad to pass that exemption. But they did pass it, and I do not think it is worth fighting about. About 200 persons are covered by the exemption, and by far the greater proportion of these are covered by the condition in Part I. of the Schedule: "Persons holding any public office and paid out of public moneys, or holding office under a local authority and paid out of local rates." I discouraged the addition of these exemptions, but they were passed in spite of my discouragement. But, as I say, they are not worth fighting about.
As far as I could see it was some Senators on behalf of railway companies who put this forward. They said that the taking away of very important engineers from their business would hold up the work, and that this would be a very serious matter on the railways.
I hope Deputy Johnson will not press his objection to this. It is a matter of some importance. There are two reasons in favour of this. One is that this body had exemptions on the list previously. That might appeal to Deputy Johnson. The other point is that frequently the work of a number of other people would to a considerable extent be disorganised by the withdrawal of the engineers.
The electrical engineer would be, at least, as important from that point of view.
He may in the future, but so far he has not secured his exemption on any list of exemptions.
Question put and agreed to.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Agreement with the Seanad in its amendments, with one exception, reported.
Question—"That the Dáil agree with the Committee in its report"— put and agreed to.