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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 Jun 1939

Vol. 76 No. 7

Tourist Traffic Bill, 1938—Report Stage.

There are a number of points we should like to have cleared up. I do not want to delay the Bill in any way, but I wonder if we could get rid of the idea that only one speech is permitted because if the Minister explains an amendment, there are quite a number of questions on it which I should like to put to him.

Re-commit the Bill.

I do not think that will be necessary.

That is the reason I say I do not want to delay the Minister in any way, but I wonder could we get relaxation, so far as the rules of procedure are concerned?

I am sure the Chair will be as lenient as the Standing Orders permit.

If we re-commit the Bill, we could take the Report Stage immediately afterwards.

The question of allowing a Deputy to speak twice is a matter for the Chair. Re-committal is a different thing.

I think the difficulty would solve itself as it goes along. If the Deputy will put his questions, he will find that they will be answered without any difficulty.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 4, line 2, section 4 (3), to delete the word "five" and substitute the word "seven".

I move this amendment because I recognise that practically the success or failure of this effort will depend on the board. We have had from the Minister no indication—I gather that he does not yet know—as to who he is going to have on the board, and I must accept that innocence on the part of the Minister. I should be satisfied, however, if I thought that there was at least one good man on the board, and it is merely because we have been left completely in the dark as to the personnel of the board that it struck me that I might be a little more hopeful of getting that one good man, if seven were chosen instead of five.

The House is asked to pass legislation giving almost unlimited powers, in some respects, into the hands of the board. They register hotels, they register guest houses, they register camps, hostels and so on; and yet we do not give them the slightest hint, and nowhere in this debate have I heard the slightest hint, as to what is a hotel, what is a guest house, what is a hostel and what is a camp. Everything, therefore, will depend on the personnel chosen by the Minister. If, as I say, I were sure of getting one forceful, good man on the board, I would feel a little more confident.

This is the only way in which I can draw attention now to what is in my mind, after listening to the debate on the Committee Stage of the Bill, namely, that we have decided practically nothing on the major issues in regard to this Bill. We are passing legislation, and we give not the slightest hint of our views in regard to the most important matters connected with it. In reality, as I put it the last time, and as, I think, the Minister agreed, in substance, it would come to this: "Let me appoint the board and let the board do what it likes within certain limits." But it is a peculiar thing that we tell the board to draw up a register of hotels and a register of guest houses—I will return to this, possibly, later—and we do not know what either of these things means. We do not know whether the board will make any distinction, or can make any distinction, because the board is not there. We do not know what is in the Minister's mind. This is purely to see whether we can get clarification; it was in the hope that we could get at least one good man if there were seven on the board, that I put down the amendment. There is a better chance of getting one good man out of seven than getting one good man out of five. That is what I had in mind when putting down the amendment.

May I underline the point made by Deputy Professor O'Sullivan. The same difficulty has arisen in the case of a number of Acts passed by this House in the last few years—the difficulty of definitions. In the Shops Act and other Acts of that kind there were laid down general regulations for different classes of persons, and in practice it became extremely difficult to solve what the class of persons were and to whom the Act applied. One definition applied to shop assistants, another to domestic workers and so on. It became extremely difficult to draw up a definition as to what workers went into each different category.

I am glad of this opportunity to acknowledge gratefully the readiness of the Minister's Department to assist, in so far as they could assist, by suggesting what the probable true interpretation of the statute is. But even when the Department is good enough to do that, it is then found that the average citizen painfully learns that the courts are not bound by any interpretation of the statute by the Department of Industry and Commerce. The courts themselves say that they have no statute at all defining the meaning of the word. They may suggest probably a true meaning. For these reasons it is very necessary where practicable that we should incorporate in the text of the statute as comprehensive a set of definitions as is practicable so that the average citizen when he comes to determine what his obligations in law and what his liabilities are, may adapt his premises to what the words of the statute require. Otherwise he is in the unhappy position of embarking on some expenditure for the equipment of his premises, expenditure which brings him under a part of the statute which he never meant to come under. He may then find himself faced with liabilities which are far in excess of what he would willingly accept. I, like Deputy Professor O'Sullivan, fully realise the practical difficulties of preparing a comprehensive set of definition clauses, but definition clauses which go as far as is practicable are better than none at all. Therefore, I invite the Minister in this case to accept Deputy Professor O'Sullivan's suggestion and attempt a definition clause which would segregate hotels, guest houses, holiday hostels, youth hostels, etc., so that anyone starting would know precisely what he has let himself in for when he holds himself out as an owner of a guest house, hotel, etc. I think the Minister will find that he will get very willing assistance from anybody in this House who would care to suggest definitions. I am sure the House will take an intelligent view if the Minister tries to produce definitions that may produce certain results. When these results manifest themselves, I do not think the Minister would meet with any serious criticism if he finds it necessary to come back to the House to correct some misinterpretation of the clauses in the Bill when it passed the House.

The Deputy will realise that the amendment has only to do with deleting the word "five" and substituting the word "seven."

What Deputy Professor O'Sullivan and I are trying to do is to get this amendment on the Report Stage. As at present arranged, the board can set up registration of various types. Deputy Professor O'Sullivan is arguing on——

Not on amendment No. 1.

He is arguing that some reliable person would be put on the board to see that what we want to have done is done. I am suggesting that by passing this amendment some prudent person may get on to the board.

Might I suggest that the Deputy would help the House in this way: Will he attempt a definition of the difference between a hotel and guest house for the information of the House? I would be very glad to hear him on that.

There is a distinction. There must be.

I agree. Deputy Dillon suggests that somebody should define it. I suggest that Deputy O'Sullivan should try his hand at it. I am not at all now speaking from a debating point of view, or to get any advantage as against the Deputy, but I would like to see the Deputy's idea of the size and standard of definition.

The functions of one of the seven members of the board will be to co-operate in the definition of those premises.

Quite; but the question before the House is whether there are to be five or seven. Deputies sought some consideration from the Chair, but they rambled away from the Report Stage.

A further amendment will arise later which will be within the rules of order.

I take it the suggestion is that some addition should be made to the board so as to have a greater chance of bringing in somebody on the board who would have a practical knowledge of the business. It is not within the rules on this amendment to suggest anything about definitions, but in passing I might say that when this board is formed and when it is set up some difficulty about definition will arise. This is a very easy way for the House to evade its duties. We are legislating here, and when we purport to legislate we should legislate. On this matter of the number of the board, a number of questions will arise. These are questions which will need to be solved at an early date, because until this grading takes place a whole lot of people will be in the position that they will not know where they are. The question will arise when people are starting to do repairs or decorations as to whether these will be done in first-class style or otherwise. I think personally that the board should be constituted at an early date, and that some steps should be taken to indicate what the board is to do, irrespective of what the number on the board should be.

The Deputy is confined at the moment to the number, whether it is to be five or seven. In view of Section 6, I have grave doubts of the amendment being in order.

It may be suggested that a very small number may be a more efficient board. We are dealing with a matter that will occupy a considerable time, at least for the first year or two after the Act comes into operation. A very small body of men can give all their time to that work. In the first year they are going to have a very extensive job of it in the matter of grading hotels and guest houses. There will be thousands of applications from all sorts of hotels. It would be a big job, in the first place, and it would be essential that it should be carried through in as short a time as possible, so that the people who own these houses which are to be segregated should know precisely where they are. It is a question of opinion whether five is better than six or seven, or whether a smaller number would be better. My idea, when I put down this amendment, was that if the Minister were going to choose five lay people, this provision would give him an opportunity to put on the board in a consultative capacity somebody with expert knowledge of the hotel business. It may be that he will select somebody with experience of hotel work who has no connection with any of the existing hotels. Unless that is done, I do not see how this work of grading can be carried through. I do not know how people without professional knowledge of hotel work would be able properly to distinguish between hotels, guest houses and hostels. It is, in my opinion, imperative that this board should include somebody with technical knowledge, though it may be difficult to get a man who is completely independent.

The Deputy will have to keep to the question of "five" or "seven."

I hope I am keeping to that question. I am only urging the question of qualifications as regards these members.

The question of qualifications does not arise.

I shall not press the matter further.

One argument has been advanced in favour of this amendment. That argument was advanced by Deputy O'Sullivan. He said that if seven persons were appointed, there would be a better chance of getting one good member on the board than if only five were appointed. I do not think that Deputy Dillon referred to the amendment at all. Deputy McMenamin gave me the impression that he only began to think of arguments in favour of the amendment when he got on his feet. Let us deal with the one argument we have got in support of the amendment, and see if there is any force in it. If it be true that, by increasing the size of the board from five to seven, you increase the chance of getting one good member, why stop at seven? Why should you not go on to 70, or even 500?

Why stop at five?

I shall answer the Deputy's point, because that is the sole issue—why we should stop at five. I am disposing of Deputy O'Sullivan's argument, in the first instance, because, to me, it seems that there is no force in that argument. There is no reason why we should stop at seven if the idea be to get one good member, irrespective of the total number of members of the board. It is the board and not the members which will function. The board, and not the members, is the important consideration. You have got to get a board which will be compact, efficient, capable of meeting at short notice, capable of arriving at expeditious decisions, of having continuity in its decisions and a logical sequence in the development of its policy. Because of these reasons—efficiency, compactness and convenience—we decided to limit the membership of the board to five.

This is a business board. It will carry out business functions. It will be entrusted with considerable resources in money and it will have wide powers. I want to ensure that it will exercise these powers and expend this money in the most efficient manner. The question is: what is the most efficient type of board we can get? It is not a question of getting a good member or a bad member, and it is not a question of whether we shall have hotel keepers or people with other qualifications on the board. The question is whether, taking the board as a whole, it is going to be an efficient instrument for the carrying out of the work. In our opinion, a board not exceeding five members is necessary for the efficient discharge of the functions which are being given to this body under the Bill. It must be capable of meeting at reasonable intervals, of meeting at short notice, of dealing with the various matters that will come before it in a reasonably efficient way and it has got to be of such a character that it can act as a whole. It is because of that latter consideration that I resisted, and will resist, any proposal to put on the board persons in their capacity as representatives of other people. We do not want representatives on this board. We want a body which will have a certain unified character and which will not consist of persons whose interests or loyalties will be concerned with some other organisation.

Does the Minister propose to select these people from the City of Dublin or neighbourhood?

There is no such proposal in the Bill. We are not confined even to selecting persons resident in this country. The intention is to get a board capable of carrying out the functions given to this body by the Bill efficiently and well and of ensuring that there will be a reasonable balance of qualifications amongst them, so that the organisation as a whole will be able to work efficiently. On that account, I think it would be unwise to increase the membership of the board. Increased membership would, in my opinion, reduce its efficiency and make it less capable of acting in the manner we contemplate. Therefore, I ask the Dáil not to accept the amendment.

The Minister tells the House that the board is to be a small one because it must be compact, efficient and capable of meeting at short notice. I asked the Minister was he going to select the members from a circumscribed area. He said that there were no such limitations in the Bill. I know that. I did not require to be told that by the Minister. Is he going to get a board which will have a quorum of five to meet at short notice if the members are scattered all over the country?

The quorum will not be five.

The Deputy misunderstood me when I used the phrase "capable of meeting at short notice." I meant by that "capable of meeting without undue difficulty." Obviously, the larger the board the more difficulty there would be in arranging dates, places and times which would be convenient to all the members.

Has the Minister any experience of this sort of thing?

No. I never sat on a board in my life.

I should like to see the Minister a member of this board when an endeavour was being made to get three out of five members, who would be scattered all over the country, to come together. He would have great difficulty in getting that done. A man may have other appointments for the day on which he is summoned to Dublin to a meeting of this board. These men will not be at the beck and call of the secretary of this body. They will be men of affairs and they will not be waiting in glass-houses for a post card from the secretary to attend a meeting of the Tourist Traffic Board. They will not be able to make off in an aeroplane to Dublin when they get such notice. There will be difficulty in getting a quorum.

Has the Minister any idea of how he is going to select this board? He spoke about a balance of qualifications and he suggested that the board would consist of a number of experts or quasi-experts in particular lines. Has he any idea of how he will get these experts?

By a process of selection.

By the Minister. The Minister has got to make the appointments.

I know that. But the Minister has given us no idea of the considerations by which he will be guided. I do not want to be unreasonable so far as the Minister is concerned. He will admit that the Bill merely says that a board shall be appointed and that they shall be allowed to do pretty well what they like so as to improve the tourist industry. The Minister says that we shall have five businessmen on this board who will conduct its affairs. That is no guarantee that they will not be five "duds." I suggested that one man might be got who would pull the thing together.

If the Deputy can suggest an effective method of selecting the board, leaving the Minister out of it, I shall personally be very glad, but I do not think there is any such method.

That is what I was afraid of—that there was no method of selecting a good board.

Other than that in the Bill.

I do not like to challenge the expert view of Deputy McMenamin in matters of this kind. I have not intervened in the debate but I have read the speeches made by the Minister. I read, with a certain amount of amazement, a statement contained in the Official Report to the effect that the Minister had received a number of applications—between 50,000 and 70,000 are the figures given in the report. Is that a misprint?

Well, I do not know if there has been an exact tot of them but there has been a very large number.

It is as accurate as most of the statistics we get.

That is a statement contained in the Official Report of the speech delivered by the Minister on the Second Reading.

If you take one from each townland, it would be about the average.

I can tell Deputy McMenamin that there is such a large number of aspirants for this particular board that, I am sure, a large number will be prepared to get up in the middle of the night if they have the satisfaction of being put on the board. I believe, at any rate, the Minister is quite right. The smaller the body the better they will do their business. I think he should stick to the number five even though he may have got 55,000 applications.

More or less.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, line 25, Section 11 (3), to delete the words "may, if it so thinks fit," and substitute the word "shall."

This amendment is incomplete because it did not seem to me necessary to go through the whole Bill and produce all the consequential amendments necessary to this as that can be done in the Seanad, if this amendment be carried. What is involved here is the withdrawal from the board, after it has been appointed, of the invidious task of choosing its own employees. The Minister has told us now that for the vacancies, five in number, which are available on the board, he has 55,000 applications, more or less. He is to undertake the Herculean task of considering 55,000 applications and rejecting 54,995 of the applicants. I have no doubt that Deputy Moore, Deputy Allen and Deputy Briscoe will be active to assist the Minister——

I have no ambition for it.

In determining the merits of the several applicants, I have no doubt that while disinterested patriotism will largely inspire these Deputies, their minds will not be unaffected by the seemingly irrelevant fact of whether an applicant comes from Wicklow, Wexford or South Dublin——

The Deputy should not judge everybody by himself.

—and that these representations will be received by the Minister——

Is the Deputy now speaking to amendment No. 1 or amendment No. 2, or to an amendment which he has not moved——

—and that he will do the best he can for them. If the Minister for five positions has received 55,000 applications, by adopting the formula employed by the Minister, but mostly by the Taoiseach himself, in other matters, and by multiplying the number of positions available in this instance by the appropriate multiplicand, we discover that for 15 positions there will be 165,000 applications. If these applications are going to be sorted, examined and checked, and the representations of the friends of the applicants heard, the poor five members of the board will have no recourse but to retire to Portrane Lunatic Asylum or to Grangegorman, where they will certainly rapidly go if applications for positions under this body are anything like as numerous as the Minister received for appointment to the body itself. I therefore, harmlessly enough, offer to members of the board, the unfortunate five, a ready escape by placing a statutory obligation on them to refer all appointments to the Appointments Commission so that when the army of 165,000 advance to the fray they can simply divert them to the boardroom of the Appointments Commission. Let the Appointments Commission select the 15 employees required and pass them on to the board. The board, of course, would have a perfect right, if these 15 employees did not come up to expectations or did not do the job as they wished it to be done, to dispense with their services and to instruct the Appointments Commission to get a new staff.

Everybody knows that if we do not do this, the board will become very largely the resort of jobbers. Everybody who has been on a local authority knows that unless you have power to refer an appointment to the Local Appointments Commission your life is a misery. If a wardsmaid has to be appointed in the Roscommon County Home, people are knocking at my door at all hours of the night. As a matter of fact, they spend more money travelling round the county canvassing than the successful applicant can ever hope to earn in a lifetime of service. Why they do it I cannot imagine but everybody who has been on a local authority knows that that is true. If you are going to subject these five unfortunate members of the tourist board to the representations of 165,000 applicants every time 15 people will have to be appointed, no work, except that of holding the ravenous hordes at bay, will be done.

I find, on the other hand, that where we refer an appointment to the Appointments Commission no difficulty or no undue delay arises. Speaking as a person who has had experience of the patronage of a public authority, I say without hesitation that the most welcome news that has ever come to us on a public authority is when the secretary tells us, that we have the right, and even better still, the obligation, to refer an appointment to the Appointments Commission. Remember this, if you have the right but not the statutory obligation to refer an appointment to the Appointments Commission—there are some temporary appointments or some minor positions where you have the right to send to the Appointments Commission or to act yourselves—and if you are left a discretion in the matter, you are far worse off than if the Appointments Commission were not mentioned at all, because you are first canvassed not to send the appointment to the Appointments Commission. There is a fight that 40 can join in about that. When that is determined and you have been overruled and they have decided not to send the appointment to the Appointments Commission, the canvass begins by the several candidates for the position. I can see no reasonable objection to having all applications for positions under this board sent to the Appointments Commission. I am perfectly satisfied that the efficiency of the members of the board will be increased by placing a statutory obligation on them to send all such applications to the Appointments Commission. In fact, I think the members of the board would be deeply indebted to the members of the Oireachtas if such a statutory obligation were placed upon them.

Deputy Dillon said that this is an amendment to deprive the board of the power to appoint its own officers. That is a fair description of it. I think it would be most unwise to deprive the board of that power. We discussed this matter at great length when the Bill was in Committee, and I expressed my views on it then. I thought we had disposed of this point in Committee, but apparently there was no amendment actually moved such as we have now before us. This is a business body. It is not a local authority, and the experience of local bodies has nothing to do with this question. The people who sit on this board will not be elected by popular vote, and therefore will not be open to be influenced by candidates or their relatives. It will be its job to appoint a staff to carry out its work, and it will be at complete liberty to dismiss, remove or reappoint any member of the staff as occasion requires.

I think it is essential to get, in a business organisation, full and complete control over staff by the executive authority. I think that without that full and complete control you will not have the discipline and the efficiency, which comes from discipline, and which success requires. I could easily visualise cases in which it would be a quite practicable line for the board to take to utilise the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission to recruit its staff. Certain classes of staff, or even, in the course of time, the whole of its staff might possibly be recruited in that way when the formative years had passed, and when knowledge had been acquired as to the qualifications that were best suited in particular grades of officers, and so-forth. In the beginning, however, I think that we must give the board the same freedom which our predecessors found it necessary to give the Electricity Supply Board. This section, as Deputies know, is taken word for word from the Act which set up the Electricity Supply Board. The members of that board were also given the power to utilise, if they so desired, the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission. They had never utilised that machinery.

They set up an exactly analogous machine of their own.

They decided that was preferable from their point of view in their particular case. It was open to the Electricity Supply Board under the Act, to employ the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission for the recruitment of, say, clerical officers. Those entering that grade must have certain educational qualifications, and, as the Deputy knows, are selected en masse by the Civil Service Commissioners to fill positions in the Civil Service. But it is only in such a grade that this method of recruitment is particularly suitable. The case is different where you are dealing with a business concern. Persons required to fill positions of executive responsibility in a business concern must, I think, be picked individually by those who have to carry responsibility for the manner in which they discharged their duties.

I am not prepared, however, to modify the section in the manner suggested by the amendment. I think that we should give this board whatever power it decides itself to avail of in the matter of the appointment of staff control of staff and dismissal of staff. I do not think it would be at all a suitable arrangement to require it to utilise the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission in respect of all grades of officers, whether or not that machinery was suitable from their point of view or not. There may however, be certain classes of staff employed by the board in respect of which the Local Appointments Commission machinery would be suitable. We are giving the board power to call upon and utilise that machinery if they think it is suitable, but if they do not think it is suitable then they can proceed otherwise.

I am sorry that the Minister is so obstinate in this important matter. Listening to him, I should not have recognised the Local Appointments Commission. He spoke as if the Local Appointments Commission had only one way of recruiting staff—by examination. His whole argument was directed to show that there are certain cases in which that is not suitable. Surely, the Minister is aware that there is another method open to the Local Appointments Commission, one that is frequently employed. In the case of certain appointments, the Minister mentioned that certain scholastic qualifications are necessary, and, therefore, that for them the procedure of the Local Appointments Commission would be suitable for selection en masse. But here you have to choose employees individually. I think that was how the Minister put it. In answer to that, may I say that the Local Appointments Commission is doing that every other day?

For local authorities!

And for all sorts of businesses conducted by local authorities. The idea that a local authority is to conduct itself in an unbusinesslike fashion was voiced by the Minister the last day, and again to-day. I cannot see what the objection is to the amendment. The Minister implied to-day, as he did the last day, that, if a person is recruited in this particular way, it deprives the board of power over him: that the person so appointed is less disciplined. I fail to see it. The Minister did not bring forward the slightest argument in favour of that. I must say that from the point of view of the government of this country it would be an outrageous assumption, because both the Local Government and the Central Government of this country are open to the objection the Minister raises.

May I interrupt the Deputy? I think that, from the point of view of the local authorities and of the Central Government, the power of direct appointment of staff would lead to better discipline and more efficiency, but there are objections to that procedure, objections that were voiced by Deputy Dillon. There is the objection that the individual members of local authorities and individual members of the Dáil are elected by popular vote, and consequently cannot afford, and sometimes are not allowed, to apply considerations that the board of a business concern would apply. The Local Appointments Commission would never have been created but for the objections to that method of appointment by individual members of local authorities to which Deputy Dillon referred. It is because these objections were there that the Local Appointments Commission was set up, but these objections do not exist in the case of this board.

I am very glad that I gave way to the Minister, because the statement that he has just made is a very extraordinary one coming from a member of the Government —that the main thing that can be said in favour of the present recruitment by the Civil Service of officials under local bodies, is that you prevent open, downright and wholesale corruption.

I said nothing of the kind.

The Minister's statement practically amounted to that. If the Minister will allow me to interpret him, does he think that because the board appoints a man that they are not likely to be canvassed? He himself has already been canvassed. Surely he knows perfectly well that any body of men, no matter how they are appointed, whether they are elected or not, are liable to be canvassed. Does the Minister think that the only consideration with a man who is a member of a board of that kind is his future election or non-election; that if he had not that before him, he would not be amenable to pressure of that kind? The Minister knows perfectly well that there will be a tremendous amount of canvassing. The mere fact that you appoint a board, and that the members of it are not elected, is quite irrelevant. Canvassing will be quite a consideration in this as in the case of any other board. The Minister knows perfectly well that those five people will be liable to continuous canvassing. You will have that situation going on from one end of the year to the other. It will go on all the time—not merely when appointments are to be filled.

Not long ago the county council of the county that I represent indicated that they would get rid of the system of collecting the rates by means of the post office, and appoint ratepayers to do the work. The Minister for Local Government indicated that he would not give his consent to any such step. The result is that the whole county is alive and buzzing with canvassers for the jobs that are not in existence. Is the Minister simple enough to think that those five people, merely because they are his nominees, are going to escape that? He may answer that they have the power to ask the Local Appointments Commission to act. They have, but they will not do that. They will be urged, as Deputy Dillon has pointed out, not to use that power.

The Minister seems to have forgotten that there are two ways of making appointments. One is by means of examination. As regards clerical appointments, the Civil Service and the Electricity Supply Board in some cases do not require candidates to do their examination before appointing them to positions. Instead, I understand, they take the results of the candidates' leaving certificate examination. But when it comes to the individual qualifications for certain technical jobs, that is precisely the thing which is foreseen in the Civil Service Commission Act and in the Local Appointments Commission Act, namely, a selection board of people who would be acquainted with the precise qualifications required, and in connection with whom there is a distinct disqualification of any candidate who attempts canvassing. That is a tremendous safeguard which you have not at the present moment in the Bill. For that reason, I am sorry that the Minister thinks it necessary to be so obstinate with regard to this particular matter. I am convinced that, no matter what Government is in power and no matter what Minister makes the appointment, there will be a much more effective working board if they are relieved of this very invidious task which the Minister now throws upon their shoulders. That is the reason I put my name to this amendment.

Would the Deputy say what kind of selection board he visualises, assuming that his amendment is passed?

As Deputy Moore knows, for every particular kind of appointment there is a particular kind of selection board set up. Deputy Moore suggests that five men appointed for general purposes are a better selection board than five people appointed ad hoc to fill a certain position. You have two selection boards— one the tourist board, and the other a board set up definitely to fill a particular job, on which men are appointed by the Local Appointments Commissioners. I assume they will do their duty and take some trouble——

As far as I can see, the five members of the board would have to be the selection committee.

Why should they? Deputy Moore might as well suggest that, when a doctor is being appointed, the members of the local authority should be the persons——

You have a lot of men who are authorities on medicine.

There are 55,000 who are authorities on tourism in this country.

I cannot see the point of the remark, except that the five people appointed for the general purposes of this particular board are people appointed ad hoc for particular purposes, namely, making a certain appointment.

The Minister sees fit to reflect on the local authorities, but surely he does not reflect on the Executive Council? Is it not true that the higher civil servants are all chosen by selection board? I am only advocating for this comparatively insignificant tourist body the procedure whereunder the civil servants who constitute the permanent Government of the State are chosen. Surely, the procedure suitable for choosing the most responsible public officers in the country ought to be suitable for choosing the underlings of the tourist board. Deputy Moore seems to think that, having chosen five suitable persons to sit upon this board, we have exhausted the possibilities of tourist experts in Ireland. The Minister tells us he has 55,000 clamorous experts —11,000 boards; he can have 11,000 boards with a different personnel for each board.


It is the Minister's own statement, and I accept it at its face value. It is ludicrous to say we are placing an unreasonable restriction on this body, when it is precisely the same restriction as is placed upon the Minister himself in choosing his own staff in the Department of Industry and Commerce. Does the Minister deny that? Is it unreasonable to place on this board precisely the same restriction that is placed upon the Minister himself?

It would be utterly unreasonable. Their function is entirely different from that of a Government Department.

Is it possible that an intelligent man, who is charged with responsibility for all industry and commerce in this country, may legitimately be made subject to a certain procedure for the appointment of his staff, who, as we know, in fact, control the very vital functions of the national life of this State, and we are told that that procedure is proper and reasonable and expediticus for the choice of those men——

I would not agree that it is expeditious but it is reasonable.

——but when we come to choose the underlings of the Tourist Board, the procedure under which some of the most distinguished men in the public service of this country were chosen is unsuitable, and there must be fuller discretion. If I may say so to the Minister, that is reducing the thing to a complete farce. Words have lost their meaning if you can reach that stage, but the result is that the Minister put a section in a Bill—the section is in the Electricity Supply Board Bill—and the Minister is damned if he will change it. He has 70 tried and true, ready to do the march. There is scarcely any use wasting public time in exercising the creaking joints of the Fianna Fáil Party, but the Minister reflects little credit upon himself. His arguments are grotesque.

One would have thought there was no other autonomous body ever set up by this Government or the previous one on the same principle as this. In addition to the Electricity Supply Board, you have the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the Industrial Credit Corporation and the Drumm Battery Board.

I thought that had gone.

Each of those autonomous bodies had the right, if they wished, to go to the Local Appointments Commissioners or to select their own staff. This new board which is to be set up by the Minister will be so corrupt, in the minds of Deputy Dillon and Deputy O'Sullivan, that they will be incapable of selecting an efficient staff. On the question of the Local Appointments Commission and the official staffs that they produced for local authorities, I will admit right away that they got good staffs, but they got no better staffs than those local authorities got before the Local Appointments Commission came into existence—no better in any way. There were just as efficient staffs there before the Local Appointments Commission came along as any that the Appointments Commission produced. I am prepared to back my opinion against that of Deputy Dillon.

You sold that pup to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, but he did not hold it long.

We did not sell him any pup. What I have said is quite true. Many of the most efficient men in the local government service to-day were appointed by the local authorities, and I challenge Deputy Dillon to deny that.

I desire to support the view expressed by Deputy Professor O'Sullivan. The Minister will, I am sure, admit that the very fact that he nominates or appoints five members of this board would place on those men, I do not say responsibility, but some kind of obligation to bear in mind anybody that he, the Minister, might wish to recommend to them for appointment. The Minister is not so simple as to tell me that he will not be canvassed for the purpose of making an approach to members of the board in favour of some applicants who can bring sufficient political pressure to bear on the Minister. That, I am sure, will not be denied. That is the natural course of events in cases of this kind. I can see a good case—and I believe it is likely to happen—for all authority being handed over to the permanent member of the board; that is, for the chairman, or the chief executive officer, whoever he may be, having a considerable say in the selection of the staff who will have to work under him subsequently.

In this scheme as visualised by the Minister the whole of the board will have the responsibility for making appointments. I say that there is a loophole there. I am not making any allegation of corruption against the Minister in connection with this or any other case. There is there a method of approach to the Minister, and people are in a position to bring sufficient pressure to bear upon every Minister of every Government to get him to say a word on behalf of some applicant to a member of a board that he himself has appointed. The member, in turn, would regard himself as being under some obligation to the Minister, who appointed him, to pay particular regard to any recommendation which would go to him in that way. I put that point in favour of the suggestion put forward by Deputy O'Sullivan, without, I sincerely say, making any allegation of corruption against whoever will be the members of the board.

I should like to know what are the circumstances in which the board might consider it desirable to refer any particular appointment to the Local Appointments Commission. So far as I can see, discretionary power is to be given to the board only for the purpose of relieving them of an awkward situation such as, say, when there might be an exceptionally large number of applicants for a particular position. I fail to see why they should have discretionary power.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 33.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Hannigan, Joseph.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kelly, James P.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Meaney, Cornelius.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Bennett, George C.
  • Benson, Ernest E.
  • Brasier, Brooke.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cole, John J.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, John L.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Debate adjourned.