Financial Resolutions. - Road Traffic Bill, 1931—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
SECTION 3.
the word "driving" when used in relation to a mechanically propelled vehicle includes management and control, and the word "driver" and other cognate words shall be construed accordingly;
the word "owner" when used in relation to a mechanically propelled vehicle which is the subject of a hiring agreement (other than a mere contract for the carriage of persons or goods) or a hire purchase agreement means the person in possession of such vehicle under such agreement.
The word "year" means a period of twelve months commencing on any 1st day of January;

I move:—

In page 6, line 22, to insert after the word "includes" the words "all acts of" and after the word "control" to insert the words "incidental thereto either when the vehicle is in motion or when it is at rest".

The object of this Amendment is to amplify and clarify the definition of "driving."

In dealing with amendments at this stage, intermediate between the amendments that I propose to accept, and that I propose to oppose, there will be two classes that we will call No. 1 and No. 2. No. 2 are amendments the spirit of which I accept in general. I propose to consider them in the light of any discussions that may take place, and I propose to introduce amendments in connection with them on the Report Stage. Another class will be amendments that I disagree with, but that a Deputy proposing might put down again. In the meantime I will consider them. In connection with the present amendment I agree that a further definition of the word arises, and that it might have to be "all acts of or omissions in." Accepting the spirit of the amendment, I propose to put down an amendment on the Report Stage to amplify the word "driving" and I do not think it will be necessary for the Deputies to repeat it.

Might I ask the Minister what is his attitude towards the suggestions sent to him by the Dublin Corporation?

An Leas Ceann Comhairle

Surely not on this amendment.

It arises on the definitions, and a list was sent to the Minister.

An Leas Ceann Comharie

We can get them on the appropriate sections.

I want to save time. Perhaps the Minister would indicate what his attitude will be, otherwise Deputies interested in the amendment will probably have to put down further amendments on the Report Stage. I understand the Minister has accepted in principle a number of those amendments.

How does the Deputy understand that?

I understood that from the Corporation itself.

How do they understand it?

If that is wrong——

An Leas Ceann Comhairle

Let us dispose of this amendment, and then we can deal with these points as they come up on the sections. Amendment No. 1 by leave withdrawn.

I move:

In page 6, line 30, after the word "twelve" to insert the word "calendar," and in lines 30 and 31 to delete the words "commencing on any first day of January."

The object of this amendment is similar to that of the last. It is to clarify and amplify the meaning of the word "year." That is expressed in the Bill as a period of twelve months commencing on the 1st January each year. We think it would be better if it were described differently; that is, if it were changed to a period of twelve calendar months. That is the form in which it appears on the amendment paper.

At any rate, the definition of the word "month" is controlled by the Interpretation Act. This is another case in which redrafting will be necessary, and the Deputy need not repeat his amendment. The matter will be dealt with on the next stage.

Amendment No. 2 by leave withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

With regard to the general procedure on the section, Deputies will observe that no official amendments are down at this particular stage, and they will remember that I suggested on second reading that what we wanted was an early Committee Stage of this Bill in order to get a discussion on the points which Deputies wanted particularly discussed, and that in a fortnight's time I would recommit it on Report Stage. The Corporation of Dublin has made certain recommendations to the Department, but the most useful contribution that could be made here would be to discuss all the different points on the appropriate sections that have been raised by the Corporation, because I think Deputies will find that many of them are matters that require discussion here in Committee as distinct from any consideration that the Committee set up by the Corporation could have given to them. There is quite a number of them of which I do not approve, and I would like to hear them discussed.

Would the Minister in view of the procedure suggested by himself with the approval of the House, indicate when he comes to the suggested amendments what classification he has put these amendments into?

I do not think it would be useful.

Would the Minister not indicate which of these proposed amendments he would not approve of?

If the Deputy wishes to take any of them and discuss them on the appropriate Section. I will do my best to comment on them.

I think the Minister ought to explain before the section passes why he has given the Commissioner of the Gárda the status of a Minister. We have always understood that the Commissioner of the Gárda was a subordinate officer, like any other civil servant. In this Bill he is being made an independent authority. He is to deal directly with the Minister for Local Government. He is mentioned in the Bill and there is no reference in regard to any of his duties that he is to have the concurrence of the Minister to whom he is responsible. If Deputies will refer to Section 8 they will find there is material there for conflict between the Commissioner and his superior officer, the Minister. The section states:

Every bye-law made by the Commissioner under this Act which is required by this Act to be made with the consent of the Minister shall be submitted in the prescribed manner to the Minister for his approval and, if and when approved of by the Minister, shall be published in the prescribed manner, and no such bye-law shall be of any force or effect until it has been so submitted, approved of and published.

The Commissioner has to deal directly with the Minister for Local Government and if the Minister for Local Government does not approve of the bye-laws which the Commissioner makes, apparently the Commissioner has got to remake his bye-laws. Suppose the Minister does approve of the bye-laws and that the Commissioner's superior officer, the Minister for Justice, if he has any authority in the matter, vetoe them, what is to happen? I think the Minister should explain if the Minister for Justice has any function in the matter, and if the functions which should ordinarily belong to the Minister for Justice are being taken out of his hands and given to the Commissioner, and why that is being done.

There is no function which the Minister for Justice has had being taken out of his hands under this Bill. If the Deputy considers that the Commissioner ought not to have power in respect of traffic that is mentioned here and that the Minister for Local Government should not be the person to supervise in his particular way the traffic regulations and by-laws, I would like to hear what his suggestion in the matter is.

The Minister has not answered my point. I asked is the Commissioner to be responsible to his superior officer, the Minister for Justice, under this Bill, or are the functions of the Minister for Justice in this matter being given to the Commissioner, where he is mentioned? Is he to act independently?

The Commissioner is being given power here to frame certain regulations dealing with particular matters. Perhaps the Deputy could mention any one of these particular matters in connection with which he thinks the Minister for Justice should have some function.

I think that where the Commissioner is mentioned the Minister for Justice should be substituted. I would say that the Commissioner is a subordinate of the Minister for Justice, and that he should not be given the authority of a Minister. Is it not a fact that in any other Bill it is the Department that is referred to as the authority? In this case authority is being taken out of the hands of the Minister for Justice and is being put into the hands of the Commissioner. By implication, he is to be independent of the Minister.

The Deputy cannot mention a single function for which the Minister for Justice might be responsible and in respect of which the Commissioner is asked to deal with the Minister for Local Government. The Deputy cannot mention a single function in connection with which the Ministry here is asked to operate which is a function of the Minister for Justice, work with which the Minister for Justice, because of his functions, is competent to deal. The Minister for Local Government, on the other hand, has functions in connection with the regulation and control of traffic, and it is because of that that the Commissioner, who has definite responsibilities for the control of traffic, has to get the approval of the Minister for Local Government for his by-laws and regulations.

Then we may take it that in connection with this Bill the Commissioner of the Gárda is in no way responsible to the Minister for Justice?

The Minister for Justice is not competent to tell the Commissioner of the Gárda that traffic should go in one direction in a particular street. He has no function in connection with that.

That is a big admission. It means that the Commissioner of the Gárda, who has, I think, always been regarded as responsible to the Minister for Justice, is no longer to be in that position, that he is to get the status of a Minister.

Deputy Briscoe referred to the definition of "mechanically-propelled vehicles" in the Bill. The definition states that the expression does not include a tramcar or other vehicle running on permanent rails. I think that should be extended so that it does not include a steam-roller. A case was reported in the Press where a driver of a steam-roller belonging to the London Country Council was fined for not having a driving licence.

It is intended to include steam-rollers.

What particular advantage does the Minister think would be secured by compelling drivers of steam-rollers to get driving licences?

It is a mechanically-propelled vehicle, and perhaps reasons will be stated as to why drivers should not have a licence.

Is it intended that persons employed by a local authority to drive a steam-roller will be compelled to take out driving licences and have to pay for them? Should not the local authority pay for the licences?

We can have that considered.

I think Deputy Lemass has raised a very important point. I think the Minister should give an assurance that if drivers of steam-rollers are asked to take out a licence that the local authority should pay for the licence. As the Minister knows, drivers of steam-rollers have a very low rate of wages, and it is too much of a hardship to ask them to pay a high licence.

We will have the whole question with regard to the limitations reconsidered. In connection with amendments of this particular kind I would ask that those Deputies who are particularly keen in connection with them would safeguard themselves by putting down amendments in connection with them, in case that on consideration I would find that I was not prepared myself to put down an amendment to deal with the matter.

Section 3 and 4 agreed to.
SECTION 5.
Amendment 3 not moved.

On the section I may state that during the short time at my disposal on the Second Reading Stage of this measure I endeavoured to ascertain from the Minister the reasons why Section 5 provides that exemption should be made in the case of public servants or public vehicles under the conditions laid down in Section 50. I realise that the Minister had not sufficient time at his disposal in order to make his position in regard to this matter quite clear. As a matter of fact, I did not refer to it at all. However, Section 50, in my opinion, lays down very necessary conditions in order to enable a person to secure a licence regarding third-party insurance and other matters mentioned in Section 50. I have personal knowledge of at least one case where a military driver during the civil war period of 1923-24 killed one of my constituents, and it was only after a long correspondence with the Department and subsequently raising the question in this House that relatives of the person who was killed received an ex gratia grant of £50. I think it very desirable in a Bill of this kind that the same conditions should apply to the owner and the driver as apply to the ordinary member of the public who received a licence to drive, and that the person who meets with the accident or the representatives of a person who is killed should receive proper compensation.

I would like to know from the Minister why it is proposed to exempt the drivers of State vehicles from the conditions laid down in Part V, Section 10, of this particular Bill. Unless very definite assurances are given that the owner, namely the State in this case and the person employed by the State, should be held answerable in the same way as ordinary citizens I am certainly going to oppose the exemption provided for under Section 5 of this Bill.

Two things will happen if we apply insurance principles of this kind to servants of the State. In the first place the State will be under the necessity to insure. That is not the point. The point is, that the Deputy wants to see the State put, in the eyes of the law, in the same position as an ordinary owner with regard to compensation. The purpose of this Bill is not to change the law with regard to the liability of a person negligently driving a car, injuring a person with regard to his liability for compensation. It is to put the person liable under the law normally into the position that if he does injure a person he will be a good mark for the compensation that is normally due to the injured party.

The position with regard to the State in cases of tort is that it is not liable to be sued. That is fundamental in the law generally and if it is to be challenged at all it is to be challenged in an objective and definite way and by statute. The position with regard to the State and its servants is that those persons who are injured as a result of the negligence of State servants are not deprived of compensation. Whenever a person is injured in an accident by a servant of the State the case is reviewed by the Attorney-General as to the facts of negligence in the case and if negligence is established in his eyes then the State does pay a suitable ex gratia compensation grant, so that the State is in fact not in a different position from any other person. It is not done by an assessment of the Court but by an assessment of the Attorney-General as an ex gratia matter.

That is a matter of practice. There is no definite obligation on the State to pay whatever.

The State is not liable in law.

Can the Minister give any reason as to why it should not be made liable in respect to road accidents? Quite a number of people have been killed in accidents arising out of the negligent driving of cars. Is there any reason why the relatives of persons so killed should not have a positive claim against the State for compensation?

In the first place, I do not know whether there is any use in discussing individual cases, but in general it cannot be alleged that persons injured by the negligent driving of State servants have not been compensated. In the second place, there is a fundamental position that the State is not liable to be sued in respect to cases of tort, and we are not prepared to open that case for discussion except by a general facing of that whole position. No one is being put in a prejudicial position as against where they stood in the past by this legislation; and we claim that no one can claim that, being entitled to compensation in the past owing to negligence on the part of State drivers, they were not paid.

As far as I can ascertain, there are thousands of servants in the State employed through the Post Office, through the police force and the Army departments in charge of cars, and according to what I now hear from the Minister these people, if and when charged, will be tried by themselves, in effect. The case which I have in mind, and under which I have a very clear recollection, is a case where a military driver at a particular period knocked down and killed an old woman. After exhaustive inquiries, lengthy correspondence, and after raising the question in the House and after careful consideration by the Department and the Minister, her husband was given £50. I did not, and do not at present, regard that as what the Minister calls a suitable ex gratia grant in the circumstances. An inquiry was held in that particular case by the officer who was in charge of the particular individual in the area where the accident occurred. I am not prepared to have cases like that continued under legislation of this kind. I do not see why we should pass legislation putting a certain obligation on the ordinary citizen and saying that the State and the State employee would be relieved of the same obligation and responsibility. I don't think that is fair. No matter what the Minister may say, there is something wrong with a Bill that allows that to be continued. The Minister says that this is a question of having to change the law. The whole law with regard to traffic regulations is out of date. It is being brought up to date in this Bill. The State, in this age of modern transport, has a large number of vehicles under its control. It must have a very high percentage of the number of registered vehicles in the State, and there is no reason why it should be relieved of this obligation. I ask the Minister to reconsider seriously the whole matter of relieving employees of the State of obligations which he is endeavouring to impose, through the means of the Oireachtas, upon the ordinary citizen. I ask the Minister to reconsider the matter before the next stage of the Bill is reached. Otherwise, I shall challenge the section giving this privilege to the State.

The Minister may attempt to stand on the principle that the State cannot be sued, but he must realise that the increasing number of mechanically-propelled vehicles in use by Government Departments must, of necessity, bring about a change in the obligations imposed by law. Deputy Davin has spoken about motor cars in use by the State. In the City of Dublin there are a tremendous number of motor cycles ridden by the messenger boys in the Post Office. The Minister wants to put the citizen in the position that, so far as State-owned vehicles are concerned, he is not to have the same redress that he has against his fellow-citizens in cases of negligence. The Minister says that the Attorney-General will consider the claims put before him and that they will be dealt with on an ex gratia basis. That is not the way a citizen expects to be treated in a matter of this kind. In the ordinary course, the citizen goes to court and a judge and jury measure the damages which are due to him, having regard to all the aspects of the case. I think the Minister knows that he cannot absolve the State of this liability on the mere statement that the State cannot be sued. We know that the State is not going to insure in the ordinary way. It will bear its own insurance, but the citizen who is injured by a Post Office van or bicycle or by an Army lorry should receive the same treatment as if he were injured by a vehicle driven by an ordinary citizen. You cannot legislate in one way for the State and in another for the citizens. I think the Minister will have to reconsider his decision and bring this matter more in line with common sense and fair treatment.

I support what Deputy Davin and Deputy Briscoe have said. The State, for reasons which are thought good by some people and not so good by others, is becoming more and more a commercial concern. In the City of Dublin and in other parts of the Free State, there are vehicles used for what may be called commercial purposes by the State, without talking of the Army or Post Office vehicles. When I was coming in here, I noticed a van belonging to what was formerly known as the Stationery Office; I do not know by what name it is known now. The position, however, is, as defined by the Minister, that if a citizen be knocked down and injured by a commercial vehicle of that sort under the control of the State, he is not entitled in law to any compensation. The person injured, or the relatives of a person killed, may obtain an ex gratia grant from the Government through the medium of the Attorney-General. A person who is thus killed has only the honour of being killed by a State-owned vehicle, whereas the relatives of a person who has not that honour can have compensation assessed by a judge and jury. I do not think it is fair to leave the citizen who is injured by a Government-owned vehicle at the mercy of the Attorney-General. If the Attorney-General assesses the damages in respect of a person killed at £50, as mentioned by Deputy Davin, the relatives of that person have no redress. If they demur as regards the amount, the Attorney-General can tell them to take it or they will get nothing. There is no court to which they can appeal. I think that that is an unfair position to leave the citizen in. The number of vehicles owned by a Government Department is growing and will continue to grow. The risk will be greater, therefore, for ordinary citizens in all parts of the country. There ought to be the same law for State servants as there is for other citizens. If they are guilty of negligence and cause injury to citizens, they should stand their trial before the court and have damages assessed in the ordinary way.

I think there is a good deal in what Deputy Davin and Deputy O'Kelly have said. Some of these mechanically propelled vehicles, such as motor vans carrying mails, and bicycles, are very recklessly driven. It is somewhat hard that a person who is maimed or injured, or the relatives of a person who is killed by one of these vehicles, should have no redress beyond the acceptance of an ex gratia allowance. I think the Minister might consider the inclusion in the Bill of a clause providing for arbitration. I suppose the State cannot be sued, but there should be some way of providing for arbitration at which the person injured or the relatives of the person killed could be represented by counsel. Some of these vehicles are driven most recklessly.

I have tried to appreciate the point of view of the Minister, but the arguments of Deputies Davin and O'Kelly have convinced me to the contrary. I cannot see why the State should not be responsible in cases of this sort. It does seem inequitable that where one citizen is injured by a motor vehicle belonging to another citizen, he has an opportunity of going to the courts and securing redress, whereas where the State is the aggressor he has only the possibility of obtaining charity, because an ex gratia grant really means charity. I think that is wrong.

I think it is up to the Minister, if he does not wish to destroy the prestige of the State by making it amenable to the law, to find some other means. There is hardly a Deputy in this House who, at some time or another, has not been obliged to put up a claim for his constituents for damage done by the servants of the State. We all know that it is not a very satisfactory method of dealing with the matter. But in the case of an ordinary citizen against another citizen, even if the judge and jury turn down his claim, he has had the satisfaction of having had a fair trial. I do not agree that it is a satisfactory method that an aggrieved person should have his compensation assessed under circumstances that have been described by Deputy Alton as charity.

I should like to ask the Minister if it is clear that the section as now worded would not exempt from liability a civil servant driving his own car.

It probably would. It will have to be amended. A civil servant driving his own car is in a different position from a civil servant driving for the State. There is no want of appreciation on our part of the case that is put up that a person injured by an officer of the State as a result of negligence, is entitled to be compensated equally with a person who is injured in any other way. But Deputy Davin has had to go back eight years to a particular case in which we had no evidence at all that negligence was absolutely proved.

Does the Minister challenge the accuracy of my statement?

We cannot be persuaded here that in that particular case negligence was absolutely proved.

There was an ex gratia grant.

The Deputy goes back eight years to find a case to show that persons injured in this particular way might not be suitably compensated by the State. There is also the fact that a person who is a servant of the State is liable to be proceeded against as the person causing the injury, so that if a yard-stick is wanted by anybody injured in connection with a case like this to have the damage suffered by him measured, if he is able to prove negligence there is nothing to prevent him proceeding against the individual directly responsible for it.

A private soldier?

A Post Office messenger boy or the driver of a Post Office van earning 42/- a week.

Will the Minister read sub-section (4) of Section 50 on that?

The Deputy can say what reference it has.

The Minister will find it in the sub-section.

Not only is there the position that in fact persons are compensated, but if there is any inadequacy in the type of compensation given at the present moment, there is a more general provision here establishing how the compensation may be measured in the future, if Deputies think there is anything in that. But we cannot agree that even in this particular matter we can create a situation in which the State can be sued. I do not know whether Deputies can suggest some other way in which the matter might be more adequately dealt with than a system under which the person actually responsible may he sued and brought into court.

I suggest there might be some scheme of arbitration, or when passing a Bill here this should be put down in black and white so that there would be protection for the citizen.

That might be done, but personally I do not see any way out of it.

How many vehicles at present owned by the State are registered?

There are several thousand.

The Minister stated in his argument now that a yardstick to define the amount might be got by suing the individual driving the car or vehicle. Now, supposing the Minister eliminates the idea of damage to the person or, say, the killing of a person, and he comes to the case of damage to property, is he going to ask the individual who has been injured to risk suing the person driving the car, who might be a person with a very small wage, in order to establish his right of proving that he has suffered, say, £15 or £20 damages, and that after doing that he is to go on and find out whether the Attorney-General will consider whether he has made good his claim or whether he is entitled to compensation? Now Section 50 (4) says:

"Where a person charged with an offence under this section was, on the occasion on which such offence is alleged to have been committed... it shall be a good defence to such charge for such person to prove that he was using or driving such vehicle on such occassion in obedience to the express orders of such owner."

If the servant of the State is driving a Post Office car, and he is travelling speedily to catch a train, that is a good defence for him, and the citizens under the Bill cannot sue him. Yet the Minister calmly says that he knows that it is in the Bill. The citizen is debarred not only from suing the State, but from suing the driver.

Surely it is expressly stated in Part V that this does not refer to servants of the State?

From the reading of the Bill it might be found that it does.

The Minister in the course of his remarks states that he does not want to put the State into such an embarrassing position that if any of its drivers knocked down and injured a person, it will be sued. He suggests an alternative way of going about it by suing the driver. What would be the good of any person injured by a State motor car or cyclist suing a telegraph messenger or Post Office driver earning 42/- a week? I quite realise the difficulty the Minister is in. The suggestion I would put up is that instead of the victim or the victim's relatives suing the State, the State should take out premiums which would cover every driver. That would get over the difficulty, and a section could be inserted in the Bill to that effect.

I took a particular note of certain remarks made by the Minister in his reply, in justification for putting in the conditions laid down in Part V of the Bill so far as these conditions apply to the ordinary individual. "These conditions," he said "have been put into the Bill in order that the persons responsible for the accidents would be regarded as a good mark for the liability." Does anybody suggest that the State would not be as good a mark as the ordinary citizen?

My suggestion is that it is and has been.

But the exception which is provided for in Section V of this Bill certainly does not make me feel that the State will be as good a mark for liabilities as the ordinary citizen if even the servant of the State is guilty under Section 50 in Part V of the Bill. I am prepared to accept any way out of this difficulty other than the continuance of the conditions which have hitherto operated, namely that an inquiry into the accident might be held by the Department responsible for the accident, or somebody immediately connected with them; that the case should be reviewed by the Attorney-General and that a suitable ex-gratia grant should be paid to the people concerned. I am prepared to accept any other way, arbitration if you like, in preference to the existing conditions.

Is the Minister undertaking to give this matter consideration?

I appreciate everything that has been said, and I do not think there is any way out unless you allow the State to be sued in its own courts. I do not think arbitration will be expedient. The matter can be considered and Deputies can make up their minds on it later on.

Would not insurance of the drivers meet the case?

That means the State shouldering its own insurance.

The matter can be further examined.

Will the Minister give an assurance that he will reconsider the matter with a view to having a better way of safeguarding the citizens laid down?

I am prepared to have the matter fully considered but I am not prepared to give the slightest assurance. Deputies will have to reconsider the matter themselves on the Report Stage and see if they cannot suggest any other alternative. I do not want to have any misunderstanding on that matter.

The Minister will make a statement on Section 5 on the Committee Stage.

Do I understand the Minister to say that the Section will be redrafted?

Yes, so that civil servants, as such, apart from acting at the time of the accident for the State, will not be exempt.

Section 5 agreed to.
Sections 6 and 7 agreed to.
SECTION 8.
Question proposed—"That Section 8 stand part of the Bill."

On this question of the bye-laws, in reference to the point made by Deputy Moore, I would agree that it would be better if these bye-laws were made by the Minister and not by the Commissioner. If there is any clash between the Commissioner and the Minister it is the Commissioner's view that would prevail, as the initiative is with him.

If there is a clash between the Commissioner and the Minister, the Minister's view will prevail, because if bye-laws are made by the Commissioner the interests of the local authorities are likely to be involved and that will have to be taken into consideration in connection with this matter. Under the Bill the Commissioner is made responsible for bye-laws for the whole country. At present, he is responsible for making bye-laws for the City of Dublin subject to the approval of the Dublin Corporation. He may under the Bill make bye-laws for particular areas or for the country as a whole and the interest of the local authorities will have to be taken into consideration. Just as the Corporation of Dublin can overrule the Commissioner in the making of his bye-laws at present, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health will under this Bill be able to overrule the Commissioner in the making of the bye-laws.

If the Minister overrules the Commissioner and the Commissioner sticks to his point of view then there will be no bye-laws. For that reason, I think it would be better if the Minister, who is approachable by the local authorities, should make the bye-laws and that they should not be made by the Commissioner.

I will undertake to have that point looked into. The question has been raised about the relationship of the Commissioner to the Minister for Justice in connection with this particular matter. I would like to consider the relationship with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health and the Commissioner in the matter of getting the Commissioner to put up the material to the Minister for Local Government. The Minister for Local Government would issue the order. I feel the thing is satisfactory as it is at the present moment, but we can have it examined.

Would the Minister say whether it would be in order for any public body to approach the Commissioner in matters of traffic, and in that way to deal with the authority that they will definitely have to deal with?

In practice there is the closest possible co-operation between the local authorities and the Gárda authorities, and particularly so in Dublin, where the Commissioner has special functions. I think the co-operation between the local authorities has been satisfactory.

What I want to point out is this: that if we alter the section as it stands we would do away with the advantage so many of us made use of from time to time. I would like the House to have that in mind in altering this particular section.

In repealing the Public Traffic Act of 1875, the Minister takes away from the Corporation the powers they have. Taking that in conjunction with what Deputy Lemass points out, would it not be far better to enable the local authorities to have access to the Minister and have him as the person who will make the bye-laws? The repealing of that particular Act takes away that particular power, and then it comes to this: that the Corporation has no right or power to criticise for the purpose of getting an amendment made in the Commissioner's bye-laws.

As far as that is concerned the section here prescribes:

"Every bye-law made by the Commissioners under this Act which is required by this Act to be made with the consent of the Minister shall be submitted in the prescribed manner to the Minister for his approval, and, if and when approved of by the Minister, shall be published in the prescribed manner; and no such bye-law shall be of any force or effect until it has been so submitted, approved of, and published."

The Public Health Act of 1878 gives power in certain circumstances to hold an inquiry in connection with the preparation of the bye-laws for a particular district. There has to be a public inquiry in connection with these bye-laws, and then when they are framed they are deposited in a certain place, and it is advertised that they are there for examination. We were not able in the drafting to apply directly these clauses of the Public Health Act with regard to these inquiries to the procedure, but it is proposed that in the regulations which the Minister has power to make, the bye-laws framed by the Commissioner will have to go through a routine such as is gone through when bye-laws are made under the Public Health Act, 1878; that there will be if necessary an inquiry, that there will be publication and a deposit of the bye-laws in a particularly advertised place for examination before the bye-laws are actually sanctioned.

Where does the Minister get the power to make that regulation?

Under Section 6 it is stated that the Minister may make regulations prescribing any matter referred to in this Bill as to be prescribed. Under Section 8 the bye-laws are to be submitted to the Minister in the prescribed manner, and published in the prescribed manner, and the regulations that the Minister will make will prescribe the routine for the Commissioner's bye-laws somewhat along the lines prescribed in the Public Health Act for bye-laws made by a local authority.

Section 6 only says that the Minister may from time to time make, as he so desires.

That is the intention.

You are taking away from local authorities the power which they have, and giving nothing in exchange except what the Minister may choose to do from time to time. If there were embodied in the Bill some phraseology which would protect local authorities by stating that these things will happen which the Minister has enumerated, that would meet to a certain extent the case which Deputy Good has in mind and that we have in mind. But the Minister is taking away all the rights and powers the local authorities have under the old Act in exchange for which a section is put in which says that the Minister may from time to time prescribe certain regulations in any form he likes. There is nothing in the Bill to make it obligatory.

Section put and agreed to.
Progress reported.