Amendment No. 1, as I have informed Deputies whose names are appended to it, is out of order as being outside the scope of the Bill. The effect of the amendment would be to amend the Shops (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1938, by taking hotels registered by the Tourist Board out of its purview. That is too wide a matter to be moved now. It is outside the scope of the Bill.
Committee on Finance. - Tourist Traffic Bill, 1938—Committee.
I understand the Minister made certain concessions when the Shops (Conditions of Employment) Bill was going through. I take it that, at any rate, he has given an extension of hours for employees in seaside and pleasure resorts.
The amendment is out of order. Is the Deputy speaking to the section or to the amendment which has been ruled out?
I was speaking on the provision with which the amendment is supposed to deal.
I agree with the Ceann Comhairle that the amendment should not be allowed.
The amendment being out of order may not be discussed. Deputy Hickey, I think, is interested in the merits of the case, while the Chair is interested only in the question of order.
The following amendments appeared on the Order Paper:—
2. To delete sub-section (3) and substitute therefor a new sub-section as follows:—
The board shall consist of—
(a) such number of members (not exceeding five) as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may from time to time determine, and
(b) two members nominated jointly by the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Association of Ireland Ltd., and the Irish Hotels Federation.
—Daniel McMenamin, Joseph W. Mongan, Eamonn O'Neill, William Broderick, Brooke Brasier, John L. Esmonde.
3. In sub-section (6), line 14, after the word "board" to insert the words "save those nominated jointly by the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Association of Ireland Ltd., and the Irish Hotels Federation".— Daniel McMenamin, Joseph W. Mongan, Eamonn O'Neill, William Broderick, Brooke Brasier, John L. Esmonde.
4. In sub-section (6), line 15, after the word "and" to insert the words "every member of the board shall be paid".—Daniel McMenamin, Joseph W. Mongan, Eamonn O'Neill, William Broderick, Brooke Brasier, John L. Esmonde.
Amendments Nos. 2, 3, and 4 can be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 2. I put down these amendments because it was not clear to the people interested who are to constitute this board and what are to be their qualifications with regard to the control of the hotel industry. For that reason it was considered desirable that the Minister should put one or two additional members on the board. That would not in any way affect the administrative costs other than, perhaps, the expenses of these members. The Minister told us on the Money Resolution that he expects that these people will be business people. There are thousands of very competent business men in this and every other country who are utterly ignorant of the hotel business. If that is the Minister's intention, I put forward the proposals here in different forms with a view to one or other of them being accepted, and it is very necessary I think that one of these amendments should be accepted. If these members are going to deal with hotels and tourist traffic and do not know anything about these things, even though they are first-class business men in their own particular line, it is essential that they should have some expert knowledge put at their disposal. I do not know where they are going to get that expert knowledge. Will the secretary of the board be a man who is fully versed in the hotel business, or will there be other members of the administrative staff who will be able to give advice? If that is so, the board will have to do their administrative work on the advice of people subordinate to them. For that reason, I think that there should be one or two persons who will help the board to deal with this industry, even in an advisory capacity. My view as to that is strengthened by the statement of the Minister that the members of the board will probably be business men, from which I infer that they will be men who are not engaged or have not been engaged in the tourist industry up to now.
The interests covered by the ambit of the Bill are so very wide that I think it is only fair that the Irish Hotels Federation and the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Association of Ireland should have representation on the board. Needless to say this is more or less in its infancy and, having regard to the importance of the tourist industry to this country, there should be on the board, at any rate, some persons who have expert knowledge, and by having two members representing the bodies I have mentioned you will ensure that information will be available of which some other members might be ignorant.
I could not agree to the amendment under any circumstances. I do not question that the two bodies mentioned in the amendment are fairly responsible organisations, and I am sure that any persons they might nominate for membership of the board would be very excellent business persons and suitable members of the board. That, however, is not the point. The point is whether we are going to have a board that will be effective to do the work entrusted to it under the Bill, composed of persons chosen because of their intelligence, integrity and energy rather than because of their representative capacity, or whether we are going to have a board of representatives. Since this Bill was introduced I have received representations from a whole multitude of organisations that want to be represented on the board. I have received representations from every county in Ireland urging that that particular county should have a representative on the board. It is not possible to have a board of representatives. The persons who are going to be appointed on the board will not be representative of anybody. They will be there as individuals charged with carrying out, with their associates, a particular job.
Both Deputy McMenamin and Deputy Brasier spoke, however, on this amendment in a manner which indicated that they are misinterpreting to a certain extent the purposes of the Bill. This is not a Bill for the hotel industry. It is true that the hotel industry plays an important part in our general tourist industry, and that the supervision, control, and development of our hotels will be an important part of any tourist development scheme. But this board will have a lot more to do than merely the supervision and control of hotels. On that account, it might possibly be urged and, in my opinion, could reasonably be urged, that we should take all due precautions here to ensure that the board does not get into the control of the hotel industry, or subject to the domination of the hotel industry. I am not putting that forward as an argument, but I could understand the argument being put forward. In any event, I think the main argument against the amendment is that we cannot have a board which will consist of representatives either of organisations or parts of the country. That is not possible. A board that would give even the minimum of representation to all the interests that would claim such representation would be unwieldy in size. We contemplate a small business-like board, able to do its job effectively, and which will consist of people appointed for their individual worth, and not because of their representative capacity.
I am not convinced by the Minister's speech. We do not ask for a general influx of representatives of counties.
You do not, because you are only interested in those organisations, but all the other organisations have asked for representation, too.
But these people represent industries.
The Minister says that this is not to be for the hotel industry. What is it to be for? Is it for farmers, for the agricultural industry? Surely, it is going to deal with one thing only, and that is hotels and the tourist traffic. It is proposed to spend £20,000 annually in advertising, and to devote £25,000 to salaries and administrative expenses. Where is the rest of the money going? Is it not going to deal with hotels? You ask me to deal with an industry about which I do not know sufficient without first getting expert knowledge and advice. The ablest business man could not, without being advised, deal with linen, beds, bedrooms, bathrooms and all that sort of thing connected with hotel life and catering. One would want to be a cook, butler, chef, and all these other things combined. Where is the business man who can have accumulated all that knowledge?
I do not see how this board is going to function independently unless it has got some expert advice. If you got only one person to advise them, it might meet the point. Here you are giving State moneys to a board that will be composed of ordinary business men who do not know anything about the industry or the first thing about tourist traffic. They can have plenty of ideas and speculate and put new schemes into operation. They may have no knowledge of the hotel industry, but possibly they may have acted on an organisation connected with the tourist industry. They know very little about hotel management and equipment. For instance, they may say there is only one bathroom or, perhaps, there are two bathrooms in this hotel, where there should be three or four. If a hotel is to be fully up-to-date there should be a bath for every bedroom and, better still, if it is a double-bedded room, there should be two baths. That would be the condition of a properly equipped, modern hotel. I hope a board of this kind will succeed, but I have grave doubts.
The object of the amendment is to ensure that the board will be composed of men who know something of the tourist industry. I have stressed the importance of the whole Bill through the country and what it means for our people. There is only a certain class of people who understand tourist industry. If you except transport, shipping and similar activities, what others besides the hotel industry understand how a board of this kind should be run? Unless there are men of experience on the board it will be a failure. Their duty will be to administer £600,000, and unless they understand the activities of a body like the Irish Tourist Development Association the thing will become an absolute farce.
The Deputy must assume—I ask him to assume—that this board will consist of persons competent to do the work of the board.
I am sure you have a big selection.
I have almost 100,000. I did not say that no member of the board will be associated with the hotel or railway business or any other interest affected directly by the provisions of the Bill. I said we are not going to put on a representative of the Restaurant and Caterers' Association, or a representative of the Irish Hotels Federation, or of any other association. Persons will go on as individuals and not as representatives. They will be chosen because of their particular suitability to perform the work of the board, but it will be their individual and not their representative suitability which will determine the choice. We cannot have a board of representatives, but we can have suitable individuals.
There is nothing in the Bill which debars an hotel proprietor or anybody else from being a member. We do insist that the board will not consist of representatives of various organisations. Such a board would be completely ineffective, apart from the impracticability of setting it up, unless it had 40 or 50 members, and then it would be incapable of working effectively because the members would be concerned with the interests of the particular bodies that sent them there and not with the work of the board. Such a board cannot consist of representatives.
The Minister says that these men will be individuals. I should not like to see anybody connected with a railway company on this board. Would they not be there in a representative capacity? Nominally, they would not, but who will say that they would not be?
That is an argument against the Deputy's amendment.
I am taking the case that you put up against me. If it holds against me it holds against your argument. Nominally, in your case they would not be representatives; they would be individuals.
Apparently, the Deputy has begun to understand what I said.
If the board is going to be constituted in that manner, I can see the things that might occur. Assume that you put in a man connected with a travelling agency, with transport. He will have an interest in some hotel and, perhaps, he will arrange special travelling facilities to that spot. Could that not arise? Is that not an obvious argument that would arise from the appointment of a man like that? If you appoint men like that you will have this argument used against them.
Whoever you select, is he not bound to represent some kind of organisation?
The Deputy does not know the first thing about it.
The Minister seems to extend the intention of the amendment here. The amendment suggests that instead of a board of five, as the section provides for, it shall consist of such number of members, not exceeding five, as the Minister may determine. Two members shall be nominated jointly by the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Association, Ireland, Ltd., and the Irish Hotels Federation. The very fact that the Minister is indicating how the £600,000 for development may be divided, indicates that £400,000 of that is intended for the extension or the improvement of hotel and guest-house accommodation.
Out of the £600,000 £400,000 is intended to be applied to the improvement and extension of hotel accommodation. The underlying argument in this amendment is that the hotel position is the key to tourist attractions in this country. The hotel side of things is certainly entitled to some kind of representation on the board, or to some kind of special consideration. The suggestion made to the Minister is that he should add to the board of five that he contemplates, representatives of the hotels federation and the catering federation. The Minister has indicated that it is unlikely that the members of the board will be remunerated in any way except the chairman.
I did not.
The Minister implied that after being questioned.
I implied that they would not necessarily be whole time engaged on the work of the board.
Now is the time for the Minister to give some indication as to what remuneration is going to be given to members of the board, seeing that we were given to understand that there was an objection to taking persons nominated by the association. One of the difficulties Deputies have in considering the question of pressing the amendment is that the Minister has not given any indication, good, bad or indifferent, as to what kind of board he intends to set up.
I contemplate precisely the same kind of board as would be set up to run any other extensive industry, except that we will have to have due regard to the fact that it may call for particular qualities on the part of the personnel. This is a business proposition, to be run by men with the necessary business qualifications. My objection to having anyone on the board as a representative of some other interest is that that would immediately lessen its effectiveness. If persons are on the board as the nominees of some other association, or as the representatives of some other interest, they will regard their first loyalty to the association which nominated them, and their first job to protect the interests of that association, and not to carry on the work of the board so as to get the most effective results from the expenditure. An organisation to be effective must be composed of people whose main interest is the proper fulfilment of the work of the board. You cannot have that type of organisation if any members of the board are there in a representative capacity. If there was any question about the appointment of representatives on the board, we would have to consider many other interests besides hotel interests and, on that account, would have to enlarge the board. I cannot say what the remuneration will be. No decision on that has been made. No consideration has been given to the personnel of the board. I may say that I have got an amazingly large number of proposals from various organisations throughout the country with similar interests in relation to this board, but these have not yet been considered in relation to the board nor any selections made. I can only lay down the principles upon which I propose to act, and I have tried to make these as clear as possible. I think it my duty to resist any proposal in this House to secure special representation on the board for a particular interest. That is what this amendment proposes to do, and that is why I must oppose it.
I am rather inclined to oppose the section. There was some ground for Deputy McMenamin's amendment, in that it made it clear what the composition of this unnamed board is going to be, and that it would, at least, define that one of the biggest interests concerned would be represented on it. The Minister said that the members of the board would not be representative of any body. That is one of the things some of us regret. For all we know they may not be particularly suitable representatives. I am not going to say that that would be the case, but when a Bill is introduced we should try to make it as workable as possible. This Bill concerns numerous interests, the biggest being the body that Deputy McMenamin tried to protect. There will be other bodies that the board will be asked to control. I think the Bill should have been brought forward on lines similar to those that Deputy Cosgrave suggested with regard to a previous Bill. This board will have huge financial powers. Last week when dealing with the Budget we lamented the fact that money was difficult to get. As we are getting money for this purpose, we should be careful that the men selected on the board will be thoroughly suited to the job. We should have some indication in the Bill as to what class the board will be drawn from, even if we do not get the exact personnel.
Does the Deputy suggest that the names of the persons appointed should be put into the Bill?
Perhaps if the names were there it would be a good thing.
I will consider that.
I would not regret it if the names were given. At any rate, we should know the interests from which they will be drawn. There is nothing whatever in the Bill about the hotels, about the catering, about the land, or the fishing that the board will take over. A Bill of this character requires men with very wide knowledge in charge of it. These men will be very difficult to get. There will be a remarkable absence of unanimity about their appointment. Certainly, we have a right to criticise the board when the members are going to be paid unnamed salaries. We do not know what salaries they will get. The only information we got from the Minister was that some of them would be part-time. We do not know if some will be whole time. I am as concerned as other Deputies in conserving the finances of the country, and I do not want to see a board set up that might engage in squandermania. I know that the board cannot spend more than a definite sum, but I would like to see the money well spent. I would also like to see the particular interests that the Bill provides for protected, and the object for which the Bill is brought in implemented to the fullest extent. The composition of the board is the most important section in the Bill. With the best will in the world the Minister may not get the right men. We should certainly have an indication as to what particular class the members of the board will be drawn from. I am not suggesting that they should be drawn from one class. It is well that the organisations they will be drawn from should be named, because that would give some indication of the personnel. We should also have some indication of the remuneration that the chairman and members of the board will get. That is due to the House. In its present form I could not support the section.
I share the views of Deputy Bennett about the composition of the board, having regard to the fact that there are various organisations catering for visitors, and that bring capital into the country to its benefit. There is great urgency that the selections should be the best. It is possible we may have members of the Hotels Federation on the board. Having regard to the composition of boards like the Irish Tourist Development Association with which I had some connection, it is certainly a matter for further consideration as to how this board should be composed. I do not know that, even with the Minister making the selections, he will be able to get a board that will satisfy everybody. We might get a good board by appointing civil servants to it. I am not so sure that that might not be the very best board we could have. At any rate, if there were one or two civil servants on it it might be a great help. The Minister has the nomination of the chairman of the board. He undoubtedly will be a person who will largely guide the destinies of the board. I think if the Minister could give us some idea as to the mode of selection it would certainly calm the fears of Deputies on this side of the House.
I should like if the Minister would give us some indication as to how the members will be selected, because I know, from my own knowledge of Cork, that there are quite a number of people there who aspire to be members of the board.
I know none of them.
I can appreciate your innocence. I think we should have some indication as to whether certain interests will be represented on the board, whether shipping interests or hotel interests, for instance, will have representation on it. A number of the people in Cork who aspire to be members of the board do not belong to any particular organisation. Still they claim they are qualified to be members of the board because of certain knowledge they possess. Some people say they have superior qualification to others because they have been in contact with people abroad. I think we should have some indication from the Minister as to how the board is to be constituted.
It is impossible for me to say anything beyond what I have said. The board will not consist of representatives of any interest. Nobody will come on the board as a representative of a particular interest. I do not know what I can say except that those appointed will have to conform to certain standards of intelligence, integrity and suitability. They will have to come from a respectable class of the community and they will have to be capable of doing the work of the board.
The Minister seems to indicate that it might be a sensible idea to embody the names of the members of the first board in the Bill. I should like to know from the Minister if, in that case, we would have an opportunity of questioning——
It would give us an opportunity of discussing the characters of their fathers.
If the Minister is afraid, or if the Ceann Comhairle would be afraid, of having to handle a discussion in Committee on a section like that, if an amendment were put forward by the Minister——
The Chair will deal with the amendments.
It might not be a pleasant task if there is anything behind the Minister's suggestion. I do not believe there is. If the Minister does not care to treat the matter in that particular way, can he tell the House on this section, or in some way on the next day on which the House discusses this measure, who are proposed as the first board. I do not know what the Minister means by saying that it might be a good idea to embody the names of members of the first board in the Bill.
I was merely thinking of this discussion. No consideration has yet been given to that matter. I may say that I have got anything from 50,000 to 75,000 applications and they have yet to be sifted.
Do not tell us that no consideration has yet been given to a board which is going to spend all this money.
Consideration has been given to the powers of the board.
It was pointed out that amendment No. 1 was out of order because it proposed to amend another Act by this Bill. I suggest, Sir, that Section 5 is out of order in that it is an amendment of the Electoral Act.
I do not think it is out of order.
If it is not out of order——
That is not a question for the Chair. The Dáil has the power to pass any Bill. Similarly it was asked, on Second Stage, whether Section 5 was unconstitutional, which the Chair should not be asked to decide.
If the Chair is satisfied, then the section is before the House. Here we have a section under which it is proposed to set up a board, and to give them very wide powers in the development of an important branch of the social and, if you like, the business life of the country. The Minister comes before the House and says that "every member of the board shall, while holding office as such member, be disqualified from being nominated or elected and from sitting or receiving payment as a member of Dáil Eireann or of Seanad Eireann". I should like to hear the Minister on that proposal.
I am quite prepared to give the House reasons why it was included in the Bill. I think they are good reasons. If the House presses strongly for the deletion of the section, I might consider it, but I do not think it would make any difference. It certainly will make no difference, so long as the reasons which prompted the inclusion of the section remain good because these reasons will obviously influence the selection of members of the board, whether the section is in the Bill or not. I consider—and it is the view of the Government; it is not a personal opinion—that the appointment of members of the Dáil to positions upon boards established by Acts of the Dáil, particularly boards which are financed out of public moneys, could, if practised upon a large scale, easily become a public abuse. We think that the danger of such abuses arising should be avoided and that, if possible, a precedent should be established by having, in Bills of this kind, sections debarring members of the Dáil from membership of these bodies.
Apart from the danger of abuse, there are practical considerations which make it undesirable that members of the Dáil or Seanad should be on these boards. Somebody must be answerable to the House for matters relating to these bodies, in so far as the House is entitled to deal with them. It is clearly desirable from a practical point of view that the member of the Government charged with that responsibility should alone be answerable to the House. If there are sitting in the House members of the body whose affairs are under discussion or are being questioned, a situation of some difficulty might arise. I do not say that it is an insuperable difficulty, but it is one which, in the course of time, might be a cause of grave embarrassment.
There is another point of view which, in relation to this particular board, should have very careful consideration from Deputies. This is a board which will have powers to expend substantial sums of money in the development of tourist resorts. In this country every country is, or is capable of being developed into, a holiday area. Certainly there is no county in respect to which a claim could not be made for the expenditure of such money in it. Of course, on that account, it is inevitable that local organisations and local opinion will be strongly in favour of putting pressure upon this board to ensure the maximum expenditure in each particular area. No Deputy could possibly go upon a board of this kind, of five members, with an impartial frame of mind; he would be bound to be prejudiced in favour of the representation from his own particular area.
That is no reason for having a section in the Bill that implies that Deputies could not carry out their duties with integrity.
Even if we got the ideal Deputy—the person who was absolutely impartial—there would be inevitably, in the parts of the country that had not a representative on the board, the feeling that because they had no representative on the board their interests were being overlooked, and the people in these parts of the country would be very critical of their own Deputies for not having succeeded in getting membership on the board when a Deputy from another part of the country had succeeded in getting representation. Certainly, at any rate, the presence of Deputies on these boards would be a source of trouble. I know, of course, that in this House at the present time—on both sides of the House—there are members who would be particularly well qualified for appointment on this board, but I think the considerations I have mentioned are sufficiently strong to make it impossible for us to consider them in the circumstances.
But not based on the Minister's experience of these men, although they handled sums of money in this line already?
Certainly not. I am quite certain that many of the difficulties we think might arise if membership of that board were open to Deputies would possibly arise if the people I have in mind were appointed in the first instance, but we are at the beginning of a new phase in our national history. We are trying to establish a new State here, and everything we do constitutes a precedent, and one way to establish confidence is to see that organisations of this kind which, in my personal opinion are likely to become more numerous in the future, should not be composed of members of the Oireachtas. I think that that might develop very easily into abuses, and it certainly would create difficulties for Ministers who have the appointment of these boards and who would find it not an easy matter to reject proposals put forward on behalf of colleagues of their own in the House. In any event, they might find it difficult, even as politicians, to satisfy the claims of particular areas that would be made to them to give representation to the various areas. Apart from that, board having in its membership one or more Deputies, would not be as efficient or as fully capable of carrying out its duties well and efficiently in all parts of the country as a board otherwise constituted would be.
These are the reasons that prompted me in connection with this section. We have had similar points with regard to other enactments. There have been similar sections in connection with other Acts. If there is objection on the ground that this casts a reflection on the impartiality of Deputies, I am prepared to consider its deletion, subject to the approval of my colleagues, but in any event these are the main considerations which prompted me in this matter of the board. As to the Constitutional point raised by Deputy Mulcahy, I presume that that was considered and taken into account by the Parliamentary draftsman.
I am certainly not arguing for the appointment of Deputies on these boards, but I am arguing against the unseemly way in which a clause like this is put in, and I think that the Minister's concluding remarks, about the difficulties of Ministers, even make it more unseemly. After all, it is a degrading thing if a Minister has to say: "I want to put this clause into an Act so that members of Parliament will not make it difficult for me to exercise my judgment in finding the right people for particular positions." I welcome the Minister's suggestion that he is prepared to consider the deletion of this clause. I do not want to discuss the matter further, and I think that a little more consideration of the matter will lead the Minister and his colleagues to the definite conclusion that this ought to go out.
If a member of the board should be elected to the Dáil, would you agree that he should continue to sit on the board?
I am not arguing that Deputies should be on the board at all.
I mean, if a member of the board should be elected to the Dáil or Seanad, do you agree that he should continue to sit on it?
I am objecting to the way in which this is put.
I put down an amendment, which does not appear here, to delete this section. I think that this is particularly blunt. I am not interested personally, but I think it is a reflection on members of this House and that it is casting a slur on their integrity and impartiality. It is as much as to say to Deputies of this House: "You are disqualified from membership because you are not men of integrity." I quite agree with the Minister's point, and I would go a long way with him in what he said. It is the form of the section to which I take objection, and the blunt manner in which it is drafted. I agree with practically everything the Minister has said, and I think he has said everything that is to be said on the matter. That is apart, however, from the from of the section, and I suggest that it would be better if he could put in a section that would have the same effect but not in the same language or in the same form.
Take it out altogether.
Undoubtedly, the form of the section could be reconsidered, if necessary.
With regard to Section 7, Sir, I think it goes a bit far. The section reads as follows:—
"The Minister, whenever he so thinks proper, may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, remove from office one or more or all of the members of the board."
I do not mind taking power to remove a member of the board because of incapacity, lack of integrity, misconduct, or something like that. I am quite prepared to agree that the Minister should be allowed to remove a member for such causes, but I think that it is very drastic that a Minister, merely because he may take some snuff in his nose at some time or other, should be allowed to say: "I shall wipe out this entire board." Of course, I shall be told that, even though the power is there, the Minister will not exercise it. Well, I have often heard that said by Ministers here with regard to other Bills giving similar powers, but once the Bill was passed these powers were exercised, and when the Minister was charged with it afterwards he said: "Oh, well, it is in the Act; there is my authority; there is the Act." I agree with giving the Minister power to remove a member of the board, but I think that the section should be remodelled with a view to deleting that part of it which gives power to remove the entire board. I do not think that should be there at all. I think it is bad for the administration of the board, to think that on any particular day the whole board could be wiped out. It begets a feeling of insecurity, and I think that if men are to be taken away from some work on which they are engaged and put on to a part-time job, they should have some sense of security—I mean, as a board, as distinct from individual membership. I quite admit that there should be power to remove a man when his misconduct becomes so apparent that it becomes necessary to remove him, but I hold that it is going too far to have power to wipe out the entire board, and it is putting the whole board in the Minister's hands.
First of all, I should like to make it clear that I am not asking the Deputy to pass this section on the plea that the powers proposed to be given there will not be exercised. I am asking the section to be passed in the full knowledge that the power will be exercised if the necessity should arise. Clearly, there must be some power given to remove a member of the board.
I am meeting the Minister there. I agree that there should be power to remove a member of the Board, but not the entire board.
The section says that the Minister, whenever he so thinks proper, may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, remove from office one or more or all of the members of the board. If the board fail to do their duty or if a member of the board fails to carry out his functions in that capacity or acts in some way detrimental to the public interest or in a disgraceful manner or in some other way which calls for immediate action on the part of the Minister, there should be power of removal. It is necessary to have this provision in order to give that power. The Minister is not going to remove from a board of this kind a person whom he himself has appointed unless there is really serious cause. The mere act of removal is a criticism of himself and of the appointment he made. The power will not be used unless there is real necessity for its use. In case circumstances should arise in which we would all agree that a particular individual or individuals or the whole board should be removed, then this power should be included in the Bill. That is all the power that the section gives.
I see the Minister's point. It is obvious that he would not wipe out the entire board appointed by himself, but can the Minister guarantee that the Minister in charge to-day will be there in years to come? A new Minister may come in and say that the whole board should be wiped out. I do not think that we should give that power. If a member of the board disgraces himself, he should, of course, be removed, but I do not think it is wise that the Minister should have power to remove the whole board.
Suppose all the other members had knowledge of the misconduct of an individual member, should not they all be put off?
It is theoretically possible for a board to be appointed under this Bill which might act in a political way, favouring a political Party or fraction. The Minister should have power to remove that board. Whether we are going to have the spoils system in this country—a system which involves complete change of public servants with every change of Government—is not going to depend on an Act of Parliament but on the public spirit of the people and the wisdom of political Parties. When we came into office, we found the Electricity Supply Board composed of persons nominated by our predecessors. These persons are still there because we did not think there was any justification for their removal, even though they had been appointed by our predecessors. But if there had been an idea in relation to any of these boards that they were acting in a particular way, instead of carrying out their functions, with a view to some political purpose, it would have been our duty to use any powers which we had for their removal. If the board concerns itself only with carrying out its functions under the Bill and is carrying out these functions well, whether there is a change of Government or not they are likely to be left there because good men are not so plentiful that we can afford to get rid of those we have in positions of this kind. If the board is not doing its business properly and is allowing certain influences to interfere with its work, then there should be power of removal.
"Good" and "bad" are relative terms. What I should fear would be that a Minister, in a moment of pique, would clear out the entire board. If the Minister has power to remove one or two members it is all right, but there should be continuity of experience, and one or two members of the board with experience should be left to guide the new men who would replace the men put off.
Everybody will agree with the Deputy. That merely means that Ministers will follow that opinion when exercising their powers under the Bill.
There is a bad flavour about this provision. The Minister holds the board in the hollow of his hands.
Every civil servant in the State holds his position at the will and pleasure of the Government. That is the law. In practice, there are changes of Government and changes of Ministers but civil servants go on for ever because it would not be practicable to remove all of them, even if we desired so to do. But the law says that they hold office at the will and pleasure of the Government. The law here will be somewhat similar and the practice will depend on the circumstances.
I move amendment No. 5, on behalf of Deputy Benson:—
In sub-section (2), line 42, to insert after the word "imprisonment" the words "with hard labour".
I do not see the point of the amendment.
I did not consult with Deputy Benson about the amendment but I think I see the point of it. A person may be sent to prison for some simple offence that does not involve any dishonour. A person will not get hard labour unless the offence is somewhat serious. I think that that is what is behind the amendment and that it is a prudent provision. A man could be sent to jail for standing up in defence of some moral right. If that were so, I do not think it would be right to disqualify him for this position.
The case is even simpler than all that. A member of the tourist board might very easily be found on licensed premises in the City of Dublin during prohibited hours. Another member might be found on licensed premises in a certain part of County Mayo after the prescribed hour. It would be all right if he were found in Mayo but it would not be all right if he were found in Dublin. A member might be caught with some poteen in Mayo and another member might be caught under similar circumstances in Galway. The man found in Galway might get imprisonment whereas the other offender might get off safely in Mayo.
Is this a case for appointing Mayo men on the board or something of that kind?
No, it is a case for phrasing this section in the normal way in which such sections are framed.
I think that this is the usual phraseology.
I suggest that the Minister has departed from the usual phraseology.
I shall examine that. In my opinion, any person sentenced by a court of competent jurisdiction to imprisonment should be, in fact, debarred from membership of a board responsible for the expenditure of public moneys.
The Minister will find that he has departed from the usual phraseology and, as he is to look into the matter, I withdraw the amendment.
I move amendment No. 7:—
In sub-section (2), line 48, to delete the word "two" and substitute therefore the word "three".