Local Government Bill, 1940—Committee.
Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
In addition to the bodies specified in sub-section (2) of Section 2 of this Act, each of the following bodies shall be a local authority for the purposes of this Part of this Act, that is to say:—
(a) a vocational education committee,
(b) a committee of agriculture,
(c) a sub-committee appointed by a local pensions committee under Section 8 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908.
I move amendment No. 1:—
In page 5, to delete in line 38 the words "each of the following bodies" and substitute the words "every sub-committee appointed by a local pensions committee under Section 8 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908", and to delete all from the word "that" in line 39 to the end of the section.
This amendment and the next three amendments deal with the exclusion of vocational education committees and committees of agriculture from this Bill. The Act dealing with agricultural committees was passed in 1931, and the Act dealing with vocational education committees was passed in 1930. When this Bill was originally introduced, we included these bodies at the suggestion of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. Certain conflicts have since arisen, and we think it is better that these bodies should be dealt with by their own Departments.
The amendment refers to "every sub-committee appointed by a local pensions committee". Why was it thought necessary to segregate the pensions committee and bring it under a separate section? It appears to me that it could have been included in the original sub-section (2) of Section 2.
A sub-committee is not a committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Section, as amended, agreed to.
Section 7 agreed to.
(2) Where, in the opinion of a Minister of State who, by virtue of the immediately preceding sub-section of this section or an order under this sub-section, is for the time being for the purposes of this Part of this Act the appropriate Minister in relation to a particular office or to offices of a particular class or description, the duties of such office or offices relate wholly or mainly to the functions of another Minister of State, such first mentioned Minister may, with the consent of such other Minister, by order provide that such other Minister shall for the purposes of this Part of this Act be the appropriate Minister in relation to such office or offices and holders thereof and thereupon such other Minister shall for the said purposes be the appropriate Minister in relation to such office or offices and holders thereof.
(3) Where a Minister of State, by virtue of an order under the immediately preceding sub-section of this section, is for the purposes of this Part of this Act the appropriate Minister in relation to any office or officer, such Minister shall not exercise in relation to the remuneration of such office or officer any power conferred on the appropriate Minister by this Part of this Act save after consultation with the Minister of State who is the appropriate Minister in relation to such office or officer by virtue of sub-section (1) of this section.
The following amendments were agreed to:—
2. In pages 5 and 6 to delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-section:—
(1) Subject to the provisions of the next following sub-section of this section, the Minister shall be the appropriate Minister for the purposes of this Part of this Act.— (Minister for Local Government and Public Health.)
3. In sub-section (2), page 6, to delete all from the word "a" in line 8 to the word "mentioned" in line 14, and substitute the words "the Minister, the duties of a particular office or of offices of a particular class or description relate wholly or mainly to the functions of another Minister of State, the".—(Minister for Local Government and Public Health.)
4. In sub-section (3), page 6, to delete all from the word "of" in line 27 to the end of the sub-section.— (Minister for Local Government and Public Health.)
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Section 9 agreed to.
(2) Any officer of a local authority who is aggrieved by a decision of such local authority in relation to his remuneration, duties, or conditions of service may appeal against such decision to the appropriate Minister in the prescribed manner and on notice to such local authority and the appropriate Minister, after consideration of such appeal and of the representations (if any) of such local authority in relation thereto, shall either (as he thinks proper) refuse such appeal or give to such local authority such direction as the appropriate Minister considers will remedy the grievance of such officer.
On behalf of Deputy O'Higgins, I move amendment No. 5:—
In sub-section (2), page 7, line 2, after the words "local authority" to insert the words "or of the appropriate Minister".
This is simply to clarify the position.
I do not see what the point is. It would mean that the appeal would be from the appropriate Minister to the Minister. Undoubtedly if any appeal is made after a decision the case is reconsidered. I understand that is the practice but I do not see what would be the purpose of having an appeal from the Minister to the Minister. I could understand an appeal from some other authority but I do not see any purpose in this.
Surely the Minister is taking that up wrongly. The section if amended as proposed would read "any officer of a local authority who is aggrieved by a decision of such local authority or of the appropriate Minister ...".
There is always an appeal to the Minister from a local authority.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 10 put and agreed to.
Sections 11 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
There are three amendments to the Bill in Deputy Brennan's name, Nos. 6, 12 and 29. Deputy O'Higgins has four amendments, No. 7 and, consequentially, Nos. 10, 11 and 13. They all aim at safeguarding the position of existing officers under local authorities. The principle might be debated on No. 6 and decided.
I move amendment No. 6:—
To add a new sub-section as follows:—
Nothing in this section shall empower the appropriate Minister, or any Minister, to deprive an occupant of office of the security or remuneration which such officer enjoys in such office on the coming into operation of this Act.
The danger in this section appears to be that every order by whomsoever made which is lawfully in force immediately before the commencement of this section and which directs the kind or number of the officers to be appointed by a local authority for any purpose, or determines the duties, conditions of service, or remuneration of any office, or regulates the continuance in office of holders of any office shall, from and after such commencement and in so far as it is not inconsistent with this Part of this Act, continue in force and be deemed to be made by the appropriate Minister under this Part of this Act and to be capable of being amended or revoked accordingly. If an Act is capable of being amended or revoked accordingly and if it affects the continuance in office or affects the position which an officer or an official of the local authority occupies for some time, I want to ensure that it cannot react against his continuance in office unless there is some reason for dismissing him from his post. It would be a very unfair position if in bringing in a new Bill of this sort we were to override the security which officials had in the ordinary way. Running through this Bill we have that type of direction to officials and a kind of threat, to my mind, to their security. I want to ensure, as far as possible, that the security they had is not impaired by this Bill.
Further than that, I have no interest in the matter. I do not think the Bill is clear enough in many sections, including this section, but I think there are much more glaring examples later on, where, if there is not some safeguard in the Bill, officials of local authorities will not have security in their positions once this Bill is passed.
The Deputy will not be precluded, if he thinks there is sufficient point in raising it, but the principle might be decided here.
As I stated on the Second Reading, this Bill is largely a clarification of the existing Orders and temporary provisions. This section in which the Deputy thinks something is introduced merely continues in force existing orders and temporary provisions. There is nothing in this Bill to abolish any rights that officers had. Under the Local Government Act of 1925, Section 44, any officer whose office is abolished or who is removed for any cause other than misconduct or incapacity, is entitled to compensation. This Bill does not interfere with that. There is nothing in this section that in any way changes the present position of officers. If I were to accept the amendment, it would prevent the Minister from altering or revoking any order that is already in existence.
I do not want in any way to hamper the Administration, but I do not want to worsen the security of the officials.
There is no attempt whatever in this section or in any section in the Bill to worsen the position.
I am not accusing the Minister of making an attempt to do it, but we might inadvertently do that and advantage might be taken of it.
As a matter of fact, the same point is attempted to be made by Deputy O'Higgins, where he endeavours to introduce a new sub-section to safeguard the position in the same way.
Is it not amendment No. 11?
They are all dependent on amendment No. 6. The implication is that there might be something read into this Bill that would interfere with officers. The purpose of these amendments is to prevent interference with their security and remuneration.
I am afraid that, running through the Bill, there is the feeling that they have lost the security which they had.
If the Deputy saw the orders in existence he would find this is merely a clarification of the orders made under the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923.
I can raise the matter on another section. As a matter of fact, I am afraid it is least appropriate on this particular section.
Has the Deputy any information from existing officers that they think there is anything in that that impairs their existing conditions?
I think there was that suggestion.
It has not come to my notice.
As a matter of fact, I am sorry Deputy O'Higgins is not here, but I think his amendment was inspired by people who thought they were badly hit.
The Deputy may be present for amendment No. 11.
He did not discuss it with me, unfortunately.
If the Deputy wishes, that can be raised on the Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 14 put and agreed to.
Section 15 agreed to.
Amendment 7 not moved.
Section 16 agreed to.
For the purposes of this Part of this Act, the following offices shall be deemed not to be offices under a local authority and every holder, as such, of any of those offices shall be deemed not to be an officer of a local authority, that is to say:—
(a) the office of coroner;
(b) the office under the Courthouses (Provision and Maintenance) Act, 1935 (No. 18 of 1935), of caretaker of courthouse accommodation, and
(c) the office under the said Act of assistant to the caretaker of courthouse accommodation.
I move amendment No. 8:—
To delete paragraphs (b) and (c).
I am endeavouring to curtail some of the exceptions which the Minister has already established while the Minister is attempting to add to them so that we are very far asunder. On the principle that the man who pays the piper has the right to call the tune, I think that the office of courthouse caretaker should be an office under the county council. The county council pays for the services of the caretaker and, since they pay for his services, I think they should be entitled to include him as an official of theirs. The same remarks apply to any assistant of the caretaker. The office of coroner is in a slightly different category. The caretaker of a courthouse must be under the orders of the county council, particularly where county councils have their offices or hold their meetings in the courthouse. It is not a desirable state of affairs that one body should have to pay for the services of an official while he is under the control of a different body. In this case, he would be under the control of the sheriff or the registrar as the case may be. I still maintain that the people who pay the piper have the right to call the tune. If the county council pay for the services of the court-keeper, they have a right to know in what way these services are to be given and to demand that any orders given by the county council will be carried out. I have no other motive in putting forward this amendment.
How will this affect present officers?
It does not affect them at all. Under Section 5 of the Courthouses Act of 1935, the county councils appoint those officers but the county registrar has control over them. Either the council, the judge, or the Minister for Justice can remove these caretakers. We do not want to have these officers dealt with in this Bill as the matter was dealt with in the Courthouses Act of 1935. We want also to get pound keepers taken from the Bill because, under another Act, they are dealt with by the Department of Justice.
When the Courthouses Act and the Pound Keepers Act were going through this House, I fought very hard to preserve for the county council direct control over all officers whom they appointed and paid. It was entirely against the wishes of the Dáil that the Minister insisted on this dual control. It is a very bad principle.
The county council can appoint or dismiss them.
But they are not under our control.
They must appoint them. If they do not do so the county registrar may appoint them.
A number of these courthouse keepers reside in the courthouse and are responsible for fires, the maintenance of light, damage to the building, etc. Therefore the local authorities are very much interested in these officers. They are interested in seeing that they keep the buildings in proper condition and that they keep fires lighting when necessary. The councils also usually supply the courthouses with fuel, and if these officers were not under the control of the county council they could waste all the fuel and light they wished. That is a problem that should not arise, as it puts the county council in an awkward position.
There should be some clarification of it, anyway.
If the councils must appoint and pay them and still have no control over them, it seems peculiar.
This matter was dealt with in another Act and I do not want to embody it in this. It was dealt with in Section 5 of the Courthouses Act of 1935.
I think this provision is very undesirable. After all we are endeavouring to pass some kind of permanent measure and I think we should be very careful of what we do. I certainly do not think that this section is going to make for proper administration nor do I think there is any reason in the attitude the Minister is taking. He has not given us any reason as to why control should not be in the hands of the county council. Of what authority will this person be an officer in future if he is not an officer of the local authority? Is he an officer at all and if he is, of what body is he an officer?
When the Courthouses Act was being passed it was intended that he should be under the control of the county registrar who is responsible for the courthouse. He can be removed by the judge or by the county council.
Who has control over the courthouse?
The county registrar has control. The reason for taking this office out of the Bill is that it has been already provided for by the 1935 Act.
What about district courts?
They are under the county registrar.
Not district courthouses.
I think the Minister ought to look into this before the Report Stage. It is a rather important point.
A very unsatisfactory position has arisen in regard to district court keepers also. I think the Minister would be wise to look into the whole matter and have it examined because we have had complaints with regard to the way in which district courthouses are being controlled by some of the district court clerks. There does not seem to be anybody in control.
I shall look into the matter. It was the Department of Justice that was responsible for that Act at the time.
You were Minister for Justice then.
There was good reason for making that arrangement, and I do not think there was any division about it at the time.
It is very unfair to the county council.
Would the Minister promise to look into the matter between now and the Report Stage?
I shall look into the matter, and if any Deputy wants to know whether I am putting in an amendment, I shall let him know in ample time.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 9:—
In page 8, to delete in line 12 the word "and" and to add to the section two new paragraphs as follows:—
(d) the office under the Pounds (Provision and Maintenance) Act, 1935 (No. 17 of 1935), of pound-keeper, and
(e) the office under the said Act of assistant to a pound-keeper.
This deals with pound-keepers and removes them from the control of the local authority. They were also dealt with by another Bill.
I should like to oppose this amendment for the reasons I have already given.
Amendment put and declared carried.
Section 17, as amended, agreed to.
Section 18 agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 10, and 11, which are consequential on No. 7, and No. 12 are not moved.
I thought we agreed to raise it.
If it is so desired, but I understood that all those amendments were postponed to the Report Stage.
I do not think so. I should love it if that were so.
It can be raised on Report.
Question proposed: "That Section 19 stand part of the Bill."
On Section 19, it appears to me that the Minister is making those regulations very much too rigid. When he comes down, as he does in sub-head (j) to making regulations:
"providing, in case of holders being ill, absent, or incapacitated, for the performance by deputy of such of their duties as relate to the functions of a local authority",
I think he is taking things to a rather extreme limit. Surely to goodness the local authority is capable of providing its own deputies in case of absence through illness, without the Minister having to make regulations.
I certainly would disagree with this section, which sets out to determine the hours of duty, to provide for records of attendance, and various other things with which the Minister should not interfere at all. Surely the local authority ought to be quite capable of dealing with matters of that kind. I am definitely opposing that section.
Regulations like those have been made since 1838.
Determining hours of duty?
I do not think the powers were ever exercised in that respect.
If that is so, I think it is a further argument for removing them from this Bill, because it might enable the Department of Local Government and Public Health to get on with some of the things that matter.
Regulations which are made in a general way will not hold up the Department very much.
Sub-head (g) refers to regulations prescribing the procedure to be followed by local authorities in making appointments otherwise than on the recommendation of the Local Appointments Commissioners. Will a council have any option in regard to the terms of appointment, or will all the terms of appointment be prescribed by the Minister—the terms as to salary and every single iota in connection with any appointment which the local authority may make under the Act?
Certainly with regard to major officers they will have to be prescribed.
The Appointments Commissioners will appoint the major officers. This sub-section applies to minor officers.
To whom would those regulations be applied?
To rate collectors, for instance. Is it proposed to determine by regulation the remuneration and every single detail of their appointment, and that the council must accept them?
That is the position. That is what is proposed, and that is what has been operating all those years.
Not necessarily. The local authority has power to put up certain suggestions.
And they have power still.
But the Minister is taking power to prescribe them now, and can put them across on the local authority if he wishes.
Not any more than we have done it in the past.
We know what happened in some of those cases.
Those regulations have been there, and you have been operating under them all those years.
It is a question of the way they are operated.
My main objection to this section is concerned with sub-head (i):
"fixing periods, upon the expiration of which in relation to holders respectively, they shall cease to hold office unless they have heretofore satisfied or complied with specified requirements or conditions".
That gives the Minister unlimited power even against officials and officers who were already fixed in positions. The Minister, under that particular section, would apparently have the right to make regulations setting out that an officer who had certain qualifications should, at the end of a year, or two years or three years or any fixed period, have certain other qualifications, and that if he had not those qualifications inside that time he would cease to hold office. That appears to me to be a very dangerous thing.
Those Gaeltacht Orders, for instance, have been in operation for years, and nobody has been dismissed.
I do not think it is a sound argument to say that the same type of dynamite has been in existence for years but nobody has exploded it. That is the type of thing which gives me a fear that there is at the back of this the right, possibly unintentional, for some Minister to exercise authority over officers which he ought not to have. I agree with the Minister that we have always been governed by regulations, and I do not think there is anything very new in what is set out here, with the exception of sub-section (1). To my mind, that is something new, except in so far as the Minister says it was in operation in regard to a knowledge of Irish. But here we have gone much further than that. This does not relate specifically-to a knowledge of Irish or any particular knowledge, but gives the Minister the right to fix a period within which a certain official must have certain other qualifications, and, if he has not, he ceases to be an officer.
Supposing the Minister got it into his head at some particular time that an officer should resign, say, at the age of 55, would this particular section give him authority to do that?
There is another section dealing with the age limit.
Surely sub-section (j) goes too far. It says:
"providing, in case of holders being ill, absent, or incapacitated, for the performance by deputy of such of their duties as relate to the functions of a local authority".
A man might be ill for a day or two— a clerk whom the county manager or county secretary could not do without. He would have to await the sanction of the Minister to get a man in his place.
The regulations will provide for that.
There are very few who could not be done without for a day or two, in my experience.
That is not a bit helpful.
You must leave it wide so that you can provide for all eventualities if you are to make regulations under the Act afterwards.
I agree, but I do not agree that the Minister ought to have the right to prescribe some qualifications for an official who is already established, and demand from him efficiency in that particular sphere, whatever it is, and dismiss him from office if he has not got it within the specified period. That right is there. I am not at all saying that the present Minister wants to do any such thing.
We have the condition in the Civil Service that every civil servant holds his position at the will of the Government. They simply are not removed.
Does sub-section (3) mean that the Minister may depart from any of the regulations quoted here?
It is a softening sub-section ; it gives the Minister the right to depart from any of the regulations.
That is what I am asking. Does it do that?
I think the Minister ought to take out (i). The Minister has not made any case whatever for its retention. The argument that it is in some other Bill is no argument.
I cannot see any objection to it. For instance, a junior clerk may be appointed, and you may want him to qualify in shorthand or accountancy within two years. This would make provision for it.
That is stipulated before he is appointed, which is quite a different thing. We are talking of a case in which the Minister takes it into his head to get him to do something not stipulated before his appointment.
From experience it is generally admitted that all local officials are practically irremovable from office.
They are not by any means, and we do not want to have them irremovable.
They will be very near the door under this provision.
Then they have been very near the door for a long time.
That is my complaint. If they are misfits in an important position, they are irremovable under the Bill. I would not be afraid of entrusting any Minister with the power to remove them from office, if they did not qualify as capable to do the work of the particular office to which they are appointed.
That is no justification for introducing some qualification not contemplated on his appointment.
That is the point. If you stipulated it beforehand, it is a different thing.
I certainly do not like (i).
None of us may like these things in a sense, but it is a question of finding yourself curtailed when you want to make regulations. You want to have the section as wide as possible to enable you to make regulations, rather than that afterwards you should find yourself curtailed in drafting regulations.
That is a good general case, but let the Minister make a particular case with regard to (i).
The nearest I can get to making a case is the Gaeltacht Order.
What power is reserved to the Minister under (g)?
Regulations will be made by the Minister prescribing the procedure to be followed and the qualifications necessary in the making of appointments which will not be made by the Appointments Commission. As the Deputy knows, certain appointments are reserved to the Local Appointments Commissioners, and, so far as the regulations governing qualifications are concerned, we have very little to say to them. When it comes to the other matters, it is a question of prescribing regulations which will be a guide to local authorities.
I am quite satisfied so far as the qualifications which the local authority will outline as necessary for the position are concerned, but I am not satisfied with the Minister's reserving the right to say what remuneration shall be paid.
Does it not simply mean that the Minister sanctions or varies the proposals of a local authority?
No, it does not mean that.
The local authority puts up the conditions, the Minister examines them and sanctions or varies them.
That, very often, is the position.
I do not think there is a lot in it.
There is a lot in it. I am quite satisfied that the Minister has a perfect right to say what the qualifications ought to be, and to insist on them, but I am not satisfied that he has the right to say what should be the remuneration for the position.
He has that right all the time.
Under the Bill the Minister reserves the right to say what the remuneration and qualifications shall be. I am satisfied that the Minister should have that power in respect of the qualifications for a particular position, but I am equally firm on the point that the local authority is the best judge of what the remuneration should be.
This will deal more with the procedure in regard to advertisements and promotion than with what the Deputy has in mind.
Remuneration is not mentioned in (g).
But it is part of the section. It is in (a).
And all these regulations are dependent on one another.
Does the Minister at present exercise the right to interfere with the fixing of remuneration?
He does not, and that is the reason why there are different salaries all over Ireland.
That is all the more reason why there should be uniformity in respect of conditions of appointment and salaries. The Minister is the proper person to deal with these matters. At present, those with the most influence get the best pay.
The Deputy may be speaking for his own county, but I am speaking for mine.
Question put and agreed to.
Amendment No. 13 not moved.
(1) The appropriate Minister may by declaration do all or any of the following things in relation to a specified office, that is to say:—
(a) define the duties of holders thereof,
(b) assign a particular duty to holders thereof,
(c) define the places or limits within which all or any of the duties of holders thereof are to be performed.
(2) Every declaration made under this section shall have the force of law in relation to the office to which it relates and to holders thereof.
I move amendments Nos. 14 and 15:—
In sub-section (1), page 9, line 33, to delete the words "relation to" and substitute the words "respect of", and to insert before the word "that" the words "in relation to which he is the appropriate Minister or in respect of such of the offices in relation to which he is the appropriate Minister as belong to a specified class or description".
In sub-section (2), page 9, line 40, to delete the words "to which it relates" and substitute the words "or offices in respect of which it was made".
These amendments allow a declaration in regard to the duties of officers to be made for classes of officers as against making it for individual cases. It enables declarations to be made in respect of classes, such as county surveyors, nurses and so on.
A class instead of an individual?
Yes, so that it will not be necessary to make a declaration for each individual.
Amendments agreed to.
Section 20, as amended, agreed to.
(1) The appropriate Minister may declare a qualification of any of the following classes or descriptions to be a qualification for a specified office in relation to which he is the appropriate Minister or for such of the offices in relation to which he is the appropriate Minister as belong to a specified class, description or grade, that is to say:—
(a) qualifications relating to age, health, or character,
(b) qualifications relating to education, training, or experience,
(c) qualifications relating to residence,
(d) qualifications relating to sex,
(e) the qualification that any woman holding the office in question be either unmarried or a widow.
(3) Before declaring under this section that any qualification is a qualification for any office to which the Act of 1926 applies, the Minister shall consult with the Local Appointments Commissioners.
I move amendment No. 16:—
In sub-section (1), page 9, line 48, to insert before the word "or" the words "physical condition".
I am not sure, however, that I may not have to bring in a further amendment on Report Stage. The phrase "physical condition" may often not cover "defect," which is the object of the amendment. I am not sure that "physical condition" covers what we have in mind.
When you have "(a) qualifications relating to age, health or character," why is the other necessary? Surely (a) is wide enough?
There are certain defects which are not covered by "health," I understand. It is purely a technical matter.
Is the Minister moving it now?
Would it not be better to leave it over until the Report Stage? I am totally against it as it is now.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 17:—
In sub-section (1), to delete paragraph (e).
I know that this is a highly contentious matter in some places. Paragraph (e) says that a qualification is that any woman holding the office in question be either unmarried or a widow. Now, my own opinion is that where there is any statutory embargo, if you like, against married women holding positions, you are, in fact, putting a premium on spinsterhood. I know that this is a highly contentious matter. Some people maintain that if such a woman gets married her husband ought to be able to support her but, as against that, there are many instances—particularly, as we know, in the Civil Service—where ladies who, in the ordinary way would have got married, remain unmarried because they would lose their jobs on marriage. I am against that. I do not think there ought to be anything that would operate against marriage or that there ought to be any premium upon spinsterhood. This simply sets out that a qualification for that office is that the woman holding the office be unmarried or a widow. I should like to hear the Minister make a case on it. I do not know exactly if a case can be made. I never agreed with the principle, at any rate.
Under the Local Government Act of 1925, local authorities were empowered to give a gratuity to women when they got married. Now, it was inferred that in certain positions women were supposed to resign when they got married. So far as this section is concerned, it does not make marriage a bar to any particular position, but certain positions may arise where marriage might be a bar. Where a woman would have to give her whole time to a particular position, it can be recognised that married women, perhaps, are not able to give that whole time. This is not making marriage a bar. I mean it is not making it that marriage automatically must be a disqualification, but there might be certain positions in which the Minister might have to make the qualification that the person must be unmarried or a widow.
Each appointment starts on its own?
Yes, it starts on its own and is not general. This section does not say that marriage is to be a bar but that if, in regard to a particular position the Minister thinks that marriage would be a bar, then he can make that regulation or that qualification.
Does it not afterwards follow that if a lady holding that position gets married she then has to vacate the position? If so, there is no consistency at all in the sub-section. If she occupies a position for two, three or five years and then gets married, what is the position then? I maintain that she ceases to hold office.
Yes, automatically. In that way, of course, you are putting a premium on spinisterhood, which is definitely bad and which has been proved to be bad.
There is nothing in this Bill to cut across the custom in regard to gratuities that has prevailed hitherto?
No, and although it has been taken as the inference that in certain positions women were supposed to resign when they got married, it was still done.
Yes, they had to resign when they got gratuities. The same thing applies in the Civil Service. A girl has to resign when she gets married.
I agree, and as a matter of fact that has been used by some of our highest moralists in this country in order to show why the population is declining so much in this country as it is. I am sure the Minister will agree that if a lady is in a position which she will lose on marriage, she is going to hold on to that position for as long a period as she can—possibly for too long, if she gets married late enough. That position has been deplored by some of our highest moralists and I do not think we should do anything further to increase that problem.
Would it not be a very small percentage of the population that would be affected? I think it would not amount to a quarter of 1 per cent.
It is the principle that I am concerned with. I am only quoting other people.
There is another point of view put forward by other sections, and rather strongly put forward, and that is that all females should resign any office they hold when they get married.
Take the case of midwives. The view is held fairly strongly that they should not hold office on marriage because they are not able to give their services over a long period.
Most of them do not become midwives until they become widows.
Of course, there is a section in the Constitution that sets out that women should not have to be engaged in work or labour to the detriment of the home.
Yes, and that was resented by many women.
There is also the point that a young woman might get married to a man with an excellent salary, hold on to her own job, and use her salary just as pin money while other women are walking around idle.
As I said in the beginning, it is a highly contentious matter and has been for a number of years.
So far as that sub-section is concerned it may not be very contentious because it is only enabling the Minister to make it a qualification in certain cases.
I think it is fair enough.
I think you should take a definite line on it all through.
One man one job, and one woman one job.
I am sure the Minister will take a note of the point that has been made.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 18:—
In page 10, to delete sub-section (3).
Section 3 says that
"before declaring under this section that any qualification is a qualification for any office to which the Act of 1926 applies, the Minister shall consult with the Local Appointments Commissioners".
I have put down this amendment in order to clarify the position in regard to the Local Appointments Commissioners. I always understood that they were people who were selected and that the qualifications were presented to them. The local authority set out certain qualifications and the Minister agreed or disagreed or, possibly, altered the qualifications, but now, apparently, the Minister is going to consult the Local Appointments Commissioners with regard to qualifications. I do not understand that, and I should like the Minister to tell us what he means.
What I want to make clear is that when the Department wants to get an official for a particular post it knows what the qualifications are and what qualifications they regard as most essential for that particular post. Now, in so far as one has to deal with the Local Appointments Commissioners, they practically can dictate those conditions——
——as the position is at present.
Quite, and I think that is right.
I think that it is not right——
——that they should have to do that, because the Department is the best judge as to the particular person it wants. When the Department sets out the qualifications it thinks essential for any particular post under the Department, then the Local Appointments Commissioners will have the selection of the person for the post, but before that you consult the Local Appointments Commissioners as to the qualifications.
I am afraid I misunderstood the Minister. Did he give the House to understand that, as matters are, the Local Appointments Commissioners can, in fact, dictate to the Department? That is what I understood him to say, but I understood that it was always the other way round, and that the local authority said first: "We want an official of a certain type with certain qualifications", to which the Minister agreed or disagreed or, possibly, altered the conditions until eventually there was agreement. I understood that the agreement on qualifications was presented to the Local Appointments Commissioners and that they then made a selection. Am I right or wrong in that?
As far as I know, that was the procedure. If the local authority wanted an official, a town clerk, let us say, or some other official, they sent up to the Minister what they considered the qualifications of that particular person should be. The Minister agreed or disagreed, and eventually, there was agreement between the local authority and the Minister. I think it is very injudicious for the Minister to get into touch with or consult the Local Appointments Commissioners in this matter, because it will be said by some people that he suggested certain things to the Local Appointments Commissioners or influenced them. I am not suggesting that the Minister would do that, but there is room there for that suggestion or insinuation to be made. I think the further away the Minister gets from the Local Appointments Commissioners the better.
I think the Local Appointments Commissioners more or less dictate the terms of the appointment.
I do not think they set out the qualifications.
I know they do not, but they send them to the Department.
They come to a decision on the qualifications presented to them.
My experience has been much the same as that of Deputy Allen; that is, that the local authorities specify certain conditions.
The Appointments Commissioners prescribe the qualifications necessary for a particular post. The concurrence of the Departments is necessary in connection with those qualifications. In connection with suggestions that we have made from time to time, it was pointed out to us that it would be very difficult if not impossible to secure what we sought. Certain qualifications that we thought might be added to the prescribed qualifications, it was pointed out to us, would be very difficult to get, and eventually the position was that we would concur in things that did not quite represent our view.
A situation may be brought about where the local authority will be ignored altogether. They will not know anything about the alterations they have suggested until they see the advertisement in the newspaper. That is the first intimation to the local authority that they will get an official with certain qualifications which they may not have prescribed.
I think the Minister ought to alter the phraseology of the section. There is a certain amount of confidence, which I believe is justified, in the Local Appointments Commissioners.
I am making no reflection on them whatever.
It is all right to discuss this matter in the House, but when that section comes to be read later on, when a certain appointment is going to be made, and it is stated that the Minister shall consult with the Local Appointments Commissioners, the attitude the Minister takes up with the commissioners may be misinterpreted.
It is the duty of the Local Appointments Commissioners to get a properly qualified person to fill the post. Dealing with that particular person is their responsibility. They have experience of the various duties that have arisen and the necessity for certain qualifications in the occupation of the post by whoever previously filled it. From time to time different things may crop up. I think it is the responsibility of the Minister to see that the qualifications considered necessary for the post are prescribed and, having set out those qualifications, he has no further responsibility as to whom the commissioners select.
We are in entire agreement on that point.
In setting out those qualifications you consult with the Local Appointments Commissioners, and I think that is as much as is necessary. You put before them the qualification required.
I agree with the Minister up to a point, but surely the particular council who require the services of an official are as familiar with what is required as the Local Appointments Commissioners or even the Minister? Would it not be far better to get agreement between the council concerned and the Minister and then let the Minister tell the commissioners that he requires an official of the type indicated by the council? The Minister should not be placed in the position where he will be bartering with the Local Appointments Commissioners. The Minister ought to be the supreme authority.
I think this section is open to an unfair interpretation. We all know the statements that have been made about the Local Appointments Commissioners—how they have been subjected to influence. Many things were said that ought not to have been said but, nevertheless, that is the feeling in certain portions of the country. I think we should do something to remove that impression. It is more or less a reflection on the Local Government Department to say that, with full knowledge of what is required—the qualifications necessary for any position—they yet have to consult people whom they take indiscriminately from different parts of the county and put on the Local Appointments Commission in order to decide whether an applicant for a position has certain qualifications. I think the Department and the Minister ought to know their own minds; they ought to realise what qualifications are necessary.
It will be open to a very unfair interpretation in the country and possibly be considered reprehensible if there is to be a consultation between the Minister and the Local Appointments Commissioners. The further he keeps away from the Local Appointments Commissioners the better. He should let them decide on the qualifications that he or his Department has put before them. If he does that a higher opinion will be entertained of the Local Appointments Commissioners.
Let the Minister set out the qualifications and omit consultation.
That is not the practice.
We want an official in Cork and we have sent the terms of the appointment to the Department. Am I to understand that the Minister will have to consult the Local Appointments Commissioners about the qualifications of that man?
The Appointments Commissioners get £24,000 a year for carrying out that work. I wonder what they are doing with the £24,000?
There are certain qualifications which will be set out other than the qualifications that will come under (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). Those qualifications will originate with the Appointments Commissioners. If that is so, the Appointments Commissioners will, first of all, set out the qualifications and the Minister will then add to those qualifications, but he cannot do so without consulting the Appointments Commissioners. Therefore, all the qualifications entirely rest with the Appointments Commissioners and the Minister has nothing to say.
I take it the Minister will not agree that the local authority should be consulted. The Minister will be acting for the local authority. I do not at all agree with the proposal set out in the Bill, and I will call a division on the section because that is there.
There seems to be an unnecessary amount of heat generated in connection with this matter. Everybody seems to want the same thing.
The only point is with regard to the way in which it can be got. I understand the position is that the Local Appointments Commissioners, to all intents and purposes, define the qualifications.
They have no right to do so.
The Minister may need to make a change there and define the conditions himself.
If he does, I support it at once.
The only point of criticism is that he must consult with the Local Appointments Commission. I think the House will be satisfied if the Minister takes it into his hands to define these conditions. There is a feeling that it is possible to read into these words "shall consult with the Local Appointments Commission" that in fact the Minister is going to influence the Local Appointments Commission.
Not in the House, but outside.
Not in the House, but it is possible, if a person is prejudiced, to read that suggestion into it; and it is in order to guard against that that all the heat has been generated. If the Minister would agree to keep the defining of the qualifications entirely in his own hands, everybody would be satisfied.
It must be remembered that, under the Local Appointments Act, the commissioners have power to define qualifications.
I do not remember that in the Act.
They have certain powers and under those powers they have been operating. I never had any doubt about that.
There are very few people in the country who know that or there would be a terrible outcry.
I got it through a local authority, that they set out the qualifications.
There is a feeling in the country that when a local authority wants a certain official they send up to the Minister asking for sanction and set out terms and conditions. The Minister agrees or disagrees but eventually agreement is reached. Then they send to the Local Appointments Commissioners. The point is that there is no collusion between the Local Appointments Commission and the Minister until the person's name is sent up to him for sanction. That is as it should be. It is a grand thing if that will continue. If not, it will do harm to the Local Appointments Commission.
I think Deputies are confusing conditions and qualifications. The local authority sets out conditions and the Minister sets out the standard qualifications as determined by the Local Appointments Commissioners. The two should not be confused.
I shall try as far as I can to meet local authorities when they put up a qualification for a particular post. In the Department that is the attitude towards these qualifications. The statutory position is that, while the Local Appointments Commission cannot make the regulations without the concurrence of the Minister, it is much better that I should be in a position to make the qualification after consulting the Local Appointments Commission. It is a much stronger position for a Minister to be in. For example, you have here every other day in the House the position where you consult another Minister. If the other Minister does not agree with what you propose then your word goes. It is mere consultation. It will, I believe, make the position easier for both the Department and the Local Appointments Commission, that the commission should be consulted as to the qualification. It would make the selection much easier for them, as they would have an opportunity to understand what we required or consider necessary for a particular post. That would be much stronger than the present position. While the Minister has to concur, you may hold up a post for a time if there were disagreement—I am not aware of any in particular— but you cannot hold it up indefinitely. If I am in a position as Minister of the Department—or whoever happens to be Minister—that, after putting up the qualifications that we deem necessary for that particular post, we then consult the commission and, if there is not agreement, those qualifications go —they stand.
What does the Minister mean: "They go or they stand"?
That is the point. If, on passing a clause of this kind, the Minister is boss of this as far as the qualification is concerned, it would be all right, but certainly the phraseology, "shall consult with the Local Appointments Commission" is as much as to say "By your leave".
I would like to see that phraseology changed, to let us see that the Minister definitely has power to make regulations.
Would the Minister redraft the section between this and the next stage to meet that point? It is not a want of appreciation of the Minister's sincerity that causes this request.
I do not like the word "consult".
I am afraid there appears to be a certain amount of misunderstanding. Generally speaking, we appear to be at one. We are fighting the Minister's case, but he appears to be giving it away.
What I feel about the Local Appointments Commission is that they are in an unassailable position, as they are independent of everyone. They are three people chosen for their integrity and honesty to find, upon certain qualifications set out for them, the best candidates. That is what I always thought. If, for instance, the Minister wanted an engineer with certain qualifications, possibly relating to architecture, the Minister's Department has certain people with qualifications who are well able to determine what qualifications are proper. He could not get any enlightenment whatever from the Appointments Commission for that, and they should not be chosen for that. What I always thought was that the local authority put up a case that they wanted an official of a certain type to do a certain job, and between the local authority and the Minister agreement was reached on certain qualifications necessary, and the Local Appointments Commission was asked to make a selection on those qualifications. On that basis, the commission is unassailable and that is why it has been such a success. I was always in favour of that and still am, but I do not think they have the right to fix the qualifications necessary. They have only the right to find the best candidate.
Could the Minister not put in any phraseology in that section to show that he is to be the final judge as to what the qualifications are?
That is the meaning of consulting.
It is a peculiar meaning for the word.
Has the Minister found, in the past, difficulties arising because he had not such a sub-section as this to rely on?
The local authority wants a certain person appointed. They send a request to the Minister for sanction and say that the man should have certain qualifications. The Minister agrees or disagrees. Perhaps he disagrees in the first instance and they agree afterwards. Does the Minister go then to the Appointments Commission and make certain suggestions on which they act? Do they make an appointment without any reference to the local authority? That would not be fair to the local authority or to the Minister. I wish to see the Minister in control and do not wish to see him consult with these people at all. He should say: "I want a man with these qualifications and you must go by those." This leaves it open to people in the country to see that there is no abuse. I would ask the Minister to have that examined between this and the next stage and take out that word "consult" and make it so that we will understand that he is the boss.
If no difficulty arose in the past I do not see why the Minister introduced this sub-section at all.
A Cork board applied to have an engineer appointed and forwarded the terms to the Department, which, it is understood, were accepted, and the matter was then referred to the Appointments Commissioners. I always understood that the commissioners had a choice in the selection. Am I to understand that the Minister has to consult with the commissioners about qualifications? Would it not be better to leave the matter to the three men to select the best official?
Is it not the Selection Board that actually does the work and makes the selection?
The three individuals do not come into the picture in the way suggested.
I am backing the Appointments Commissioners. Why should there be any question about qualifications if they are there to make a selection?
If the Minister has consultation with three people about a certain post, when the qualifications are agreed upon a selection board is set up by the Appointments Commissioners. In what way could consultation have any effect on an appointment?
Why should the Minister consult three unqualified persons when he has a qualified staff available? He has engineers, doctors and other officials in his Department and they should be the people to set out the qualifications for these positions.
An attempt has been made to create the impression that the Appointments Commissioners are actually responsible for determining the merits or otherwise of people who seek appointments. They have no such responsibility.
Of course they determine the merits.
They do not. That is done by the selection board.
The point is that no one is able to judge qualifications better than the experienced officials in the Department. I cannot be accused of using any language that would not inspire respect for local authorities and for the National Assembly, but in the phraseology used in the Bill it is left open to question whether the appointment will be bona fide or not. The Department will not always be in charge of the same Minister. The wording leaves it open to the suspicion that there can be influence by the Department on the Appointments Commissioners. We are all quite satisfied that the responsible authority pre-eminently is the Minister who has experienced officers in his Department. Why then should there be any necessity to consult outside people who have no responsibility to the people? The Minister can be questioned in public about appointments. It is unnecessary to have consultation and it only leaves the matter open to suspicion and doubt in a country which is only too ready to avail of any opportunity of that kind. I cannot see any necessity to go outside the Department for advice, because in it there are experienced officers who are in touch with the country. We do not wish to divide on this question unless compelled to do so in the best interests of the State.
I hope Deputies will not call for a division. Unless I read the section wrongly, I agree with the Minister's interpretation. It appears to me that the sub-section provides what Deputies are looking for. The effect is that the last word is not left to the Local Appointments Commissioners in setting out the qualifications required for an appointment. The Minister is changing that and creating a position in which he will be able to go to the Appointments Commissioners —it may be about the appointment of an engineer—and say that he requires a man with such a degree, and they are then in the position that they must accept that view. That is what I understand by consultation.
We maintain that the Minister has always done that, and that he had a right to do it.
The effect of the consultation is that the Minister informs the commissioners of the qualifications required for a position. They may make representations, but if he disagrees he has the last word.
That is what is meant by "consultations." The Minister has to declare the qualifications, but before doing so he consults the commissioners.
He has always been doing that, and we want that continued.
I cannot see how the section derogates from his power. To interpret the wording as interfering in the making of appointments is absurd.
One can visualise a situation in which there has been agreement about a certain officer between a local authority and the Minister as to the qualifications required. The Minister having agreed, he goes to the Local Appointments Commissioners and has consultation, and they may disregard what he has sanctioned or what the local authority wanted, and they would not know anything about it until they saw the advertisement. I want to strengthen the Minister's position. "Consultation" conveys to my mind the suggestion that the Minister has to go to the commissioners with his hat in his hand. There are doctors, engineers and others in the Department to lay down what the qualifications should be for these positions. It should be in the power of the Minister to say what he wants and he should not have to consult anyone.
The Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act of 1926 lays it down definitely that the Local Appointments Commissioners can do everything that is considered necessary. Sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the Act to which I have referred provides:—
Whenever a local authority or the Minister requests the commissioners to recommend a person for appointment to an office to which this Act applies the commissioners shall with the consent of the Minister prescribe the qualifications as to age, health, character, education, training, experience and (where in the opinion of the commissioners the duties of the office so require) sex for such office.
That section says: "With the consent of the Minister". To my mind, that means that the Minister prescribed the qualifications.
The new position will be very different from what the old position was. Heretofore, the qualifications were prescribed by the commissioners. Undoubtedly, the Minister had to concur. Difficulty might arise in this way—I am putting this as a purely hypothetical case—that if the Minister was not prepared to concur, except on certain conditions, he might be told that the position could not be filled as there were no persons available possessing the required qualifications.
Would the Minister say what the words "with the consent of the Minister" mean in the section read by Deputy Allen?
They simply mean that the concurrence of the Minister was required: that the Minister could not hold up the filling of a position indefinitely simply because persons with specified qualifications could not be got. Deputies know very well that in many Acts passed by the Dáil the concurrence of one Minister with another is required on specified matters. In this case the Minister will prescribe the qualifications, but as a matter of ordinary prudence he will consult with the Appointments Commissioners as to whether the prescribed qualifications go too far, or can be fulfilled.
I suggest to the Minister that he should take this provision out of the section and leave the position as it was. It is humiliating on the Minister and on the Department to have it as it is.
I do not regard it as humiliating. Under the old position, the Minister had to concur.
Would the Minister be prepared to give the House his interpretation of the clause we are dealing with: "with the approval of the Minister"? In my opinion these words mean, with the sanction of the Minister, and hence a local authority cannot proceed unless they get his sanction. My interpretation of these words is entirely different from that of the Minister and Deputy Allen.
Does the Minister really consider that consultation with the Appointments Commissioners is really of any advantage to him in dealing with the local authorities?
I believe I am going a good distance in meeting the local authorities by putting the Minister in the position of prescribing the qualifications. Under the 1926 Act the qualifications were prescribed by the commissioners. The old position was that the Minister had to concur. Under this the Minister will "consult". I believe that will be of some assistance in filling positions. Ordinary prudence suggests that this is the line that should be followed so that the commissioners will be able to get people with the required qualifications for the positions to be filled. I believe it will be of advantage to consult them.
To my mind the section does not bear the interpretation the Minister has put on it.
We have been on this point for nearly an hour and it is time, I think, we came to some decision on it. Previously, the qualifications were prescribed by the Appointments Commissioners. Under this they are to be prescribed by the Minister. The whole point of the objection seems to rest on what the word "consult" means, some Deputies fearing that people may get the idea that arising out of this consultation influence may be used with regard to the filling of appointments. I think the Minister should carefully consider the wording of this sub-section between this and Report Stage.
"Consultation" means just a mere matter of courtesy.
What happens at the consultation may go a little beyond courtesy.
Will the Minister extend to the local authorities the same courtesy that he proposes to extend to the Appointments Commissioners?
There is one important point that I think the Minister should take into consideration. It is that the local authority may have a particular point of view with regard to the qualifications which they think the person about to be elected to some position should possess. On that matter the local authority may go beyond what the Minister and the Department think about it, with the result there may be disagreement between the Minister's Department and the local authority. I hold that the point of view of the local authority on such a matter should be taken into consideration to the fullest extent possible by the Department.
The point of view of the local authority is always taken into consideration, though perhaps it is not always adopted.
Suppose the Minister reaches agreement with a local authority as to the qualifications that should be possessed by a person to be appointed to a particular post, and that subsequently at a consultation with the Appointments Commissioners they press him and he agrees to alter these qualifications, will the local authority be told nothing of the change until they see it for the first time in the advertisements? I think the Minister should give a guarantee that a thing like that will not happen.
They send them down a draft version, as a rule.
That is not an agreement; it is an ultimatum.
Does the Minister not consider that, before consulting the Local Appointments Commission, he should have statutory authority for so doing because the difficulty could then be got over?
A sub-section of the 1926 Act is being repealed and this is being substituted for it. Where you had "concurrence" before, you now have "consultation".
It is not fair for the Minister to talk about "concurrence". Deputy Allen asked a question about consulting local authorities. The local authorities have to get the consent of the Minister. Will the Minister say that "consent" there means "concurrence"? He will not.
Is 1926 the date of that Act?
Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 46; Níl, 33.
- Allen, Denis.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Beegan, Patrick.
- Bourke, Dan.
- Brady, Brain.
- Breen, Daniel.
- Buckley, Seán.
- Carty, Frank.
- Cooney, Eamonn.
- Crowley, Tadhg.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Flynn, John.
- Flynn, Stephen.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Gorry, Patrick J.
- Hannigan, Joseph.
- Harris, Thomas.
- Hogan, Daniel.
- Humphreys, Francis.
- Keane, John J.
- Kelly, Thomas.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kissane, Eamon.
- Lemass, Seán F.
- Little, Patrick J.
- Loughman, Francis.
- McCann, John.
- McDevitt, Henry A.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- Meaney, Cornelius.
- O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Loghlen, Peter J.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- O'Rourke, Daniel.
- O'Sullivan, Ted.
- Rice, Brigid M.
- Ruttledge, Patrick J.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Walsh, Richard.
- Ward, Conn.
- Bennett, George C.
- Benson, Ernest E.
- Brennan, Michael.
- Broderick, William J.
- Browne, Patrick.
- Burke, Patrick.
- Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
- Coburn, James.
- Corish, Richard.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Costello, John A.
- Daly, Patrick.
- Doyle, Peadar S.
- Esmonde, John L.
- Everett, James.
- Hickey, James.
- Hughes, James.
- Hurley, Jeremiah.
- Keating, John.
- Keyes, Michael.
- McFadden, Michael Og.
- McGilligan, Patrick.
- McGovern, Patrick.
- McMenamin, Daniel.
- Mongan, Joseph W.
- Morrissey, Daniel.
- Murphy, Timothy J.
- Nally, Martin.
- O'Donovan, Timothy J.
- O'Sullivan, John M.
- Pattison, James P.
- Redmond, Bridget M.
- Reynolds, Mary.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Smith and Allen; Níl: Deputies Everett and Hurley.
Question declared carried.
Section put and declared carried.
I move amendment No. 19:—
In page 10, to insert before sub-section (5) a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) For the purposes of the Act of 1926, none of the following qualifications shall be deemed to be professional or technical, that is to say:—
(a) certification as a midwife,
(b) registration as a nurse,
(c) any qualification relating to training or experience as a nurse or midwife,
(d) any qualification relating to the knowledge required by a nurse or midwife.
Under an Act that was passed recently, nurses were excluded. Now it is provided in this amendment that certification as a midwife, registration as a nurse, any qualification relating to training or experience as a nurse or midwife, any qualification relating to the knowledge required by a nurse or midwife, shall not be regarded as technical or professional qualifications, so that the appointments may be made by the local bodies. The cases that are in mind are matrons and some similar positions.
Is it the Minister's reason for bringing in this amendment that a certain Bill was passed recently which gave local authorities the right to make those appointments?
Personally, I am against the thing. I think the people who have qualifications, and who have given service, such as nurses and people of that type have given, ought to be placed in the same position as everybody else. Their qualifications and their selection are matters of very great importance. The Minister mentioned matrons. Matrons do not come under this.
It is not mentioned. If they do, I certainly would object.
There are certain religious orders in this country and from time to time positions like that arise where nurses' training is a qualification and it has been urged that these appointments could be made in the usual way by the local authorities.
There is an obvious way out of that difficulty and it has been got over in the last number of years where members of religious communities have been appointed. They have been appointed rather automatically, if you like, by the Appointments Commissioners. But supposing you are getting a lay matron for a hospital at the moment, does the Minister propose leaving that in the hands of the local authorities and just taking it as coming under this? What will be the position once we pass this Bill with regard to the appointment of a lay matron to a hospital?
The lay matrons will be appointed by the commissioners.
By the Appointments Commissioners?
Will the Minister say if registration as a nurse includes mental nurses?
And, presumably, male nurses as well as female nurses?
So that male attendants can now be appointed by the local authorities.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 21, as amended, agreed to.
Section 22 agreed to.
On behalf of Deputy O'Higgins, I move amendment No. 20:—
To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) The appropriate Minister may authorise a departure to be made in any particular case from any declaration under this section and thereupon it shall be lawful to make in that particular case the departure so authorised.
I do not know whether the Minister has met this already or not. Has he? I think he has in sub-section (3) of Section 19.
No. I agree that there is something to be said for leaving a Minister or Department a discretion in the matter of age but, on the other hand, I see it is a matter that would become one of incessant pressure to try in particular cases to get extra years' service given. On the whole, I think it is better to let the thing work automatically, certain classes retiring at certain age.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 23 stand part of the Bill."
The Minister takes power there to declare a specified age to be the age limit. Does he consider that it is not necessary to have a lower limit? I take it this refers to the upper limit. It does not say so.
Does the Minister not consider it advisable to specify the lower limit also, or does this merely deal with the retiring age?
The lower limit, of course, comes in as a qualification for appointment. There is no definite age limit in mind as a general rule. In certain classes of occupation under local authorities, you must have different age limits. While 65 might be considered reasonable in certain occupations and certain parts of the service, it would not perhaps be reasonable in regard to, say, members of a fire brigade or some occupation like that. You cannot fix a definite age limit that would cover all classes. You must have varying age limits for retirement.
Question put and agreed to.
(1) Where the appropriate Minister is satisfied—
(a) that the holder of an office does not possess a qualification which has been declared (whether before or after the appointment of such holder to such office) under this Part of this Act to be a qualification for such office, or
(b) that, on account of any alteration (whether it has already occurred or is in contemplation) in the conditions of service or the nature or extent of the duties attached to such office, it is in the public interest that the holder of such office should resign therefrom,
the appropriate Minister may require the holder of such office to resign within a specified period.
I move amendment No. 21:—
To delete sub-section (1), page 11, and to substitute a new sub-section as follows:—
Where the appropriate Minister is satisfied that the holder of an office does not possess a qualification which has been declared (before the appointment of such holder to such office) under this part of this Act to be a qualification for such office, and it is in the public interest that the holder of such office should resign therefrom the appropriate Minister may require the holder of such office to resign within a specified period.
This is a very important amendment, to my mind. I think the provisions outlined in this section are manifestly unfair. That is why I endeavoured to introduce an amendment at an earlier stage providing that the position of an official should not be worsened as a result of the passing of this Act. It would be manifestly unfair if the Minister were empowered to declare some new qualification for an office that has been held for a number of years by the present occupant, and if that person is not in possession of such qualification, that the Minister should have power to fire him out of office. If the Minister contemplates perpetrating any such injustice, it would be an appalling thing. Possibly the Minister does not contemplate that, but if the section is passed in its present form, he will have power to do it, and the object of my amendment is to curtail such power. I am giving the Minister the right to call upon a person to resign if the Minister is satisfied that he does not possess a qualification which has been declared to be necessary for the office, but my amendment stipulates that such qualification for the office must have been declared before the person is appointed to the office. It would, as I say, be manifestly unjust that qualifications for the office should be declared after a person had occupied it for a number of years, and that a person could be removed from office as a result of his not possessing any of these qualifications.
As I stated on the previous section, any persons removed from office through no fault of their own—that is for some cause other than misconduct or incapacity — are entitled to compensation under the Local Government Act of 1925. What is contemplated by this section is that at some future time, as a result of changing circumstances, it may be necessary to bring about a reorganisation of a particular service. As a result of such reorganisation, we may define the qualifications for various offices. The section is intended to meet a situation such as that. If as a result of such reorganisation the position which any person holds is abolished he will be compensated for loss of office or he may be fitted into some other part of the scheme.
That is a different matter.
If the Minister has in mind merely a desire to retain power to require an official to resign, if that official does not fit in to some future reorganisation of local government, why does he not say that?
I have not any such reorganisation in mind at the moment.
The individual's remedy against the Executive in this country is to go to the courts if he feels that he has been unjustly treated. The Minister says that he wants the Oireachtas to give him this power, and he envisages a situation in which the power might be used, that a reorganisation of local government in some particular branch might be contemplated which would make an existing efficient official inefficient for the purposes of that reorganisation. He says that in these circumstances he must have power to require that official to resign. Very well, why not say that? If the services of an official are then dispensed with, as he thinks unjustly, he can go to the courts and ask: "Where is the reorganisation of my department which the Minister said was a prerequisite to requiring me to resign?" If the courts say there has been no such reorganisation, then the Minister is required to reinstate the official, whereas if there is reorganisation, as contemplated in the statute, the official is told that he has been properly called upon to resign. Let us have the reductio ad absurdum of this proposal in order to see where it leads. This section enables the Minister to go, say, to the Secretary of the Roscommon County Council and say: “It is a qualification for your office that you should have red hair. Because you have black hair you must resign.” Will the Minister not have such power under the section? Surely it is obviously unreasonable to give such power to any Minister? I am not suggesting that the present Minister is going to go to the Secretary of the Roscommon County Council or any other officer——
You are not suggesting that he is fond of red hair?
No, but I am suggesting that he is taking a power which he himself must realise is quite extravagant in order to meet a possible situation which can be perfectly easily provided for specifically in the Bill. I put it to the Minister that he should accept Deputy Brennan's amendment and, if need be, bring in a further amendment on the Report Stage giving him specific power in the event of a reorganisation of any department requiring an official to resign if the qualifications of such official do not fit in to the reorganisation plans.
Before Deputy Dillon came into the House we had an amendment by Deputy Brennan dealing with cases where marriage might be a bar, as far as ladies in occupation of certain posts were concerned. I stated in dealing with that amendment that in the 1925 Act, provision was made for giving a gratuity to a lady on marriage. The inference from that, although it may have been overlooked at the time, was that we expected her to resign on marriage, otherwise there would be no point in having a provision for the gratuity there. This Bill, as I say, is intended as a clarification of various orders and temporary provisions that were made under the 1923 Act—that is apart altogether from any reorganisation scheme in the future. You might possibly have the position that a lady on marriage might refuse to resign and apply for a gratuity. Without going into any question of a reductio ad absurdum, it is to deal with cases of that kind that this section is intended. There are a number of whole-time posts for which married women are not suitable, and while it might not have been a condition at the time a lady was appointed that she should remain unmarried whilst holding the office, the intention when providing a gratuity on marriage was that she should not retain office after marriage.
Surely the Minister knows of the questionable practice that has been followed in many cases where a public appointment has to be filled by advertisement and application and there is a judgment on the merits of the candidates? The person concerned to make the appointment wants to appoint a particular man. He finds that that man has all the common qualifications for the office, and that he has also a degree in tropical medicine.
Perhaps the Deputy would move to report progress.
I move to report progress.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again on Tuesday, 10th June.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Tuesday, 10th June at 3 p.m.