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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 24 Apr 1940

Vol. 79 No. 14

Local Government (Remission of Rates) Bill, 1940. - Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) (Amendment) Bill, 1940—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:—

Before Section 5 to insert a new section as follows:—

Section 12 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the deletion in sub-section (2) of the said section of the words "Within one month" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "As soon as may be", and the said section shall be construed and have effect accordingly.

Section 12 of the Principal Act sets out that "within one month after the end of every local financial year the Commissioners shall certify to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health the total amount expended in the preceding local financial year in paying the remuneration of the Commissioners and the expenses incurred by the Commissioners in carrying this Act into effect". It has been found that one month is too short a period, and hence this amendment is now being recommended to the House.

Mr. Brennan

I am quite sure that the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied now that after all there was possibly some merit in adjourning the consideration of this measure, since he has now proposed an amendment himself. On the last occasion he wanted to have all the stages taken on the same day.

Mr. Brennan

Well, apparently, the Parliamentary Secretary has found sufficient time to think the matter over and to put in an amendment of his own. However, I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary why, when he was making this amendment, he did not put in a definite period. I think that this method of amendment by reference is most objectionable. That is my first reason for saying that, and secondly I think that we are going further and further away from any attempt at the co-ordination of local government law. I should like to know why this is not being brought in and inserted in the Bill as a definite period. As things are, one has to go to the Principal Act to find out what a certain section there says, and then one finds that, possibly, that section has been amended in a succeeding Act. I think that is most objectionable. Why did not the Parliamentary Secretary make a definite period of two months, three months or six months? In the Principal Act a period of one month was fixed, and there must have been some reason for that. Why does not the Parliamentary Secretary consider mentioning some specific period instead of using that very flexible phrase "as soon as may be"?

Well, the phrase "as soon as may be" has been used just for the reason that it is so flexible.

Mr. Brennan

Yes, I can quite believe that that is so.

Really, the case is that many of the expenses referred to in the section have to be apportioned between the Civil Service Commissioners and the Local Appointments Commissioners, and in connection with such items as telegrams, telephones and other incidental expenditure, it might not be possible to make the proper apportionment between the departments concerned within one month or even within two months.

I agree that, if you fix a period of three months, it is more likely to cover all possible contingencies than a period of one month, but the only reason that can be put forward in defence of this particular phrase is that, by its very flexibility, it provides for every possible contingency. However, if the Deputy wants to put a limit, such as three months, definitely here, I have no objection, but it was thought that, in all the circumstances, seeing that we were making the change from the period of one month, it would be better to have this flexibility of phrase in order to cover all contingencies.

Mr. Brennan

I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary told us whether or not the original period of one month had, in fact, proved to be satisfactory.

I informed the Deputy of the facts.

Mr. Brennan

Well, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary did. He did mention the difficulty of a rush of work being occasioned in certain circumstances, and the difficulty of apportioning the expenditure in such cases. My point, however, is that we have not the Principal Act before us, and there is the difficulty of finding out that a section of the Principal Act is amended afterwards. There must have been some reason for making the period of one month originally, and, therefore, why should this phrase be used? I certainly am not inclined to give the Local Government Department any further opportunity for delays.

The commissioners have to make the appointment; it is not the Local Government Department.

Mr. Brennan

Yes, but so many things are left hanging over for such long periods. My point is that I should like to tie them down to some definite period.

Very well. Would the Deputy agree to three months?

Let us say two months.

Very well; we can make it two months. I should like to ask you, A Chinn Comhairle, whether it would be in order to amend the amendment now or to bring in another amendment on the Report Stage?

I think it would be more satisfactory to refer the matter to the Report Stage.

Very well. Sir, I shall withdraw the amendment with a view to bringing in another amendment on the Report Stage.

Mr. Brennan

And in the meantime the Parliamentary Secretary might think of bringing in a new amendment.

Well, yes. As a matter of fact, on the Report Stage I propose to bring forward an amendment empowering the Minister to fix an appointed day for the coming into operation of the Act. The Commissioners have a number of applications before them, and they want to have an opportunity of discharging these applications.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 5 agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, May 1st.