Local Government Bill, 1940—Report.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 9, section 20 (1), line 24, to delete the word "or" and to insert before the word "that" the words "or grade".

This is a drafting amendment, to bring the wording into accord with that used lower down.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 9, Section 21 (1), to delete in line 38 the words "age, health, or".

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 go together. Paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section are rearranged, and the words "physical characteristics" are introduced. This is a drafting amendment.

It seems to me that the introduction of a phrase like "physical characteristics" might be accompanied by a certain amount of danger. I do not quite know what is in the Minister's mind, but it is obviously possible to work all sorts of things into the amendment—as to whether a man has red hair, or anything of that sort. I do not know what the Minister's object is.

What is in mind is height, weight, girth, and so on. Persons of a certain height or weight may be necessary for some particular post, such as fire brigade officer. That is the intention.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 9, Section 21 (1), to insert before paragraph (b) a new paragraph as follows:—

(b) qualifications relating to age, health, or physical characteristics.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4.

In page 9, section 21 (3), to insert in line 51 before the word "Minister" the word "appropriate".

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5.

In page 10, to add at the end of Section 21 a new sub-section as follows:—

"(10) The Local Appointments Commissioners shall, before recommending a person to a local authority for appointment to any office, satisfy themselves that such person possesses the requisite knowledge and ability for the proper discharge of the duties of such office."

The position is that the Minister will prescribe the qualifications, but this is to see that the Local Appointments Commissioners are satisfied that the person they recommend is suitable— that, as well as having the necessary qualifications, they regard him as suitable.

Surely this is redundant? If the Local Appointments Commissioners have any functions at all, surely it is to see that the person they recommend is suitable and has the necessary qualifications? It is a bit late in the day to be bringing in something of that sort if it does not already exist. What else are the Local Appointments Commissioners for?

This is to see that they must be satisfied that he is suitable, as well as having the necessary qualifications. There is nothing there already to say that he must be suitable.

There is nothing in this to say that he must be suitable. The Local Appointments Commissioners must "satisfy themselves that such a person possesses the requisite knowledge and ability for the proper discharge of the duties of such office." Surely that is the function of the Local Appointments Commissioners' at the moment? Otherwise, what function have they at all?

They are not expressly required to do that already. It is not already set out that they must do that. We want to put it in that they must be so satisfied.

If it is not there already it certainly is desirable.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6.

In page 10, Section 22 (1), to insert in line 46 before the words "the appropriate" the words "where the remuneration payable to the holder of any office is fixed or altered by the appropriate Minister", to delete the word "the" at the end of line 46 and substitute the word "such", to delete in line 47 the words "of any office under a local authority" and the word "such", to insert in line 48 the word "the" before the word "local" and the words "under which such office is held" before the word "any".

This is a drafting amendment.

On the Committee Stage of this Bill—and also on the Trade Union Bill—objection was raised to the form in which some of the amendments were put. Here is an amendment consisting of nine lines, containing certain alterations in wording. The portion which it seeks to amend consists of seven lines only. I think the House should protest against the form of the amendment. It should be in an intelligible form that could be easily read, instead of this conglomeration.

The rules of the House prescribe that you amend by deletion and addition.

Surely you can delete a section and substitute another?

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In page 11, Section 24 (1), to insert in line 42 before the word "has" the words "before the appointment of such holder to such office," and to delete in lines 42 and 43 the words and brackets "(whether before or after the appointment of such holder to such office)".

This is to meet the point which was raised by Deputies Dillon and Brennan that there was power taken to prescribe qualifications after the appointment. We are taking that out. It was really intended for cases like that of persons who got married, and, as a married woman, was not regarded as suitable for certain posts. However, we are taking it out; it might be used in another way, of course.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:—

In page 12, to delete Section 25, lines 40-47, and substitute a new section as follows:—

25.—(1) For the purposes of this section, the following shall be the statutory grounds for the removal of the holder of an office from such office, that is to say:—

(a) unfitness of such holder for such office,

(b) the fact that such holder has refused to obey or carry into effect any order lawfully given to him as the holder of such office, or has otherwise misconducted himself in such office,

and, in this section, the expression "statutory grounds for removal from office" shall be construed accordingly.

(2) Where the appropriate Minister is satisfied as a result of any local inquiry that any of the statutory grounds for removal from office exists as regards the holder of an office, the appropriate Minister may by order remove such holder from such office.

(3) Where the appropriate Minister is of opinion that any of the statutory grounds for removal from office exists as regards the holder of an office, the appropriate Minister may send by post to such holder at the principal office of the local authority under which such holder holds such office a notice in writing stating the said opinion, and if the appropriate Minister, after the expiration of seven days from the sending of such notice and after consideration of the representations (if any) made to him by such holder, remains of the said opinion, he may by order remove such holder from such office.

(4) Where the holder of an office is convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the appropriate Minister, renders him unfit for such office, the appropriate Minister may by order remove such holder from such office.

This amendment is to meet objections which were raised here that officers who were being removed for misconduct would not have an opportunity of making their case. The position now will be that an officer may be removed, first, after a local inquiry, at which he will have an opportunity of stating his case and giving any explanations he may have to offer; in the second case, he will be notified in writing of the Minister's opinion, and will have an opportunity of making representations; and the third case is that he can be removed after notification.

Does a local inquiry mean a public inquiry?

It can be either.

Public inquiries are very good.

This applies only to the officers of public bodies, and not to the ordinary employees?

It applies only to the officers.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:—

In page 13, before Section 27 (3), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Whenever the holder of an office under a local authority is suspended under this section, he shall forthwith hand over to such local authority all books, deeds, contracts, accounts, vouchers, maps, plans and other documents in his possession, custody, or control which relate to such office.

Sometimes officials, when suspended, have books and documents in their possession. For instance, a rate collector may have certain books in his possession, and it is very necessary that they should be handed over.

It is very necessary.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In page 13, to add at the end of Section 27 a new sub-section as follows:—

(5) Section 11 of the Act of 1926 shall cease to have effect in relation to officers and servants of local authorities.

Amendments Nos. 10 and 27 go together. They are drafting amendments.

Would the Minister say what is the effect of this amendment?

It is not intended to repeal Section 11 of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926, in relation to all authorities, you have vocational education committees and committees of agriculture, and they have their own code and will still remain subject to that section. Section 11 of the Act of 1926 is being withdrawn from the Third Schedule, and this repeal is being confined to the local authorities, as defined in Sections 2 and 6.

Amendment No. 10 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:—

In page 13, Section 28 (2), to delete in line 37 the word "provision" and substitute the word "provisions".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In page 15, to delete Section 34 (2), and substitute the following sub-section:—

(2) Before the elections held next after the commencement of this section of members of councils of boroughs, councils of urban districts, and commissioners of towns, the Minister shall by order fix the total number of the members of every such council or commissioners and, on and after the fifth day after the day which is fixed for the holding of the said elections, and for the purposes of the said elections, the number of such members shall be the number so fixed.

This is to meet the objection that was raised by Deputy Brennan, who was of the opinion that it would be much better to have the matter fixed by order instead of having it fixed in the Act, because, if it were fixed in the Act, you could not alter it.

What is the significance of the "fifth" day?

Yes, I was going to ask that question also.

I understand that it has been the practice in other Acts, and this is following the same procedure. I do not know why it should be the fifth day, particularly, but I understand that that is the usual period. I suppose it could just as well be the seventh day.

Does this give the local authority an opportunity to appeal to the Minister to change a decision?

I do not think so.

I take it that it is in relation to comparatively small urban areas.

This is really to meet the objection that was made here. Deputy Brennan seemed to think that there was some virtue in having it this way, and the only purpose of the amendment is to meet his objection.

Well, I am not a bit keen on it, because it seems to me that it may lead to confusion.

It will make it more flexible, at any rate.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15 go together. I move amendment No. 13:—

In page 15, Section 34 (3), to insert in line 45 before the word "At" the words "Subject to the provisions of the next following section."

Amendment No. 13 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In page 15, to delete Section 34 (4) and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—

(4) Subject to the provisions of the next following section, there shall be four aldermen for every borough.

There will be four aldermen in every borough council, and when one of these aldermen dies during the life of the council, the council can co-opt, but the person whom they coopt will be only a councillor, and the council will continue with three aldermen.

That is the way it is at the moment.

Then they can promote a councillor to alderman?

No, I do not think that is right. They become aldermen by topping the poll.

Yes, but suppose a person dies, would not the man having the next highest number of votes be entitled to be promoted?

I do not think it matters very much.

No, there is not much in it.

I know that.

I take it that we are discussing the three amendments, Nos. 13, 14 and 15, together?

Yes, they go together.

Well, amendment No. 14 is to delete sub-section (4) of Section 34, and sub-section (4) as it stands at the moment, says "the first four members of the council of a borough elected at an election shall be aldermen of the borough". That is now being removed, and it appears to me that there is no provision in the Bill now to say who shall or shall not be aldermen, because the proposed amendment merely says that there shall be four aldermen for every borough, but does not say how they shall become aldermen.

I do not think that any is necessary in this Bill. However, I shall look into that matter between now and the time when the Bill will go to the Seanad.

Yes, because there does not seem to be any provision to say who shall be an alderman.

I think it would be covered under sub-section (5).

Does not sub-section (4) deal with it?

But sub-section (4) is going out under amendment No. 14. That is the point.

Yes, I see. Well, it appears to me that you will have to reinstate it somehow.

I shall look into that matter.

Amendment No. 14 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:—

In page 15, before Section 35, to insert a new section as follows:—

35.—(1) In this section the word "borough" does not include a county borough or the borough of Dún Laoghaire or the borough of Galway.

(2) The Minister may by order divide any borough or urban district into two or more local electoral areas and fix the number of the members of the council of such borough or urban district to be elected for each such area.

(3) The division of a borough or urban district into two or more local electoral areas made by an order under this section shall have effect for the purposes of the election held next after the making of such order and thereafter.

(4) The number of members of the council of a borough or urban district to which an order under this section relates to be elected for each local electoral area at any election held after the making of such order shall be the number fixed in that behalf by such order.

(5) In every borough in respect of which an order under this section is in force, there shall, as from the election held next after the making of such order, be two aldermen for and elected from every local electoral area in such borough.

(6) The Minister may by order revoke, amend or modify an order under this section (including an order under this sub-section), and every such revocation, amendment or modification shall have effect for the purposes of the election held next after the making of such revocation, amendment, or modification and thereafter.

Sub-section (3) of the proposed new section says that "the division of a borough or urban district into two or more local electoral areas ... shall have effect for the purposes of the election", and so on. I thought the Minister said that it was definitely laid down that the whole area would be the borough. Does not this alter that?

No, but it gives power to alter it.

I wonder if that is desirable? The Minister will be subject to all sorts of representations at all times.

Well, I was more or less conceding Deputy Brennan's point.

I was against it at the time, and I should like to have it settled definitely.

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that with regard to sub-section (5) of this proposed new section the same difficulty arises as to the question of who shall be aldermen or what will be the qualifications.

I am not in favour of sub-section (3) of the amendment and I think it would be better for the Minister to lay down definitely what the area is going to be, so that he will not be subject to representations at all times.

That is the way I wanted to have it.

Yes, and I should prefer it the Minister's way.

Under the Bill you would have only one area for election.

That is so, in a borough or urban council.

Yes, and the objection to that was that you might have representations from one side only?

That is so.

And you will get more equal representation by dividing it?

Yes, but I think Deputy Corish's point is that you might have representations to divide the area before the various elections, and I do not think that is desirable.

I think Deputy Brennan had something different in mind.

This is going back to the old ward system.

And I want to get away from the old ward system.

If that is the view of the House, I shall look into the matter before the Bill goes to the Seanad.

This is a much more expensive way.

I think it was felt by the House that you might get all the representations from one side of the borough.

I would sooner have the whole area, and I think what Deputy Brennan had in mind was big rural areas.

You will be more likely to get a better personnel by having the whole area.

I shall look into the matter, in any case.

Yes, I think Deputy Brennan had long, straggling rural areas in mind.

It would be hard to have proportional representation in those areas.

Amendment No. 15 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In page 17, Section 38, to delete in line 35 the word "Second" and substitute the word "Third".

This is really a drafting amendment. In amendment No. 25, there is a transposing of the words "second" and "third". The references need to be altered, because a new Schedule was introduced on the Committee Stage. Deputies can take it that this is only a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In page 18, to add at the end of Section 41 a new sub-section as follows:—

(4) During the period of office of a person chosen under this section to fill a casual vacancy in the membership of the council of a borough occasioned by the death, resignation, disqualification, or refusal to accept office of an alderman, the number of aldermen of such borough shall be reduced by one.

I have referred to this before. When an alderman dies, the vacancy is filled, and the person appointed becomes only a councillor and not an alderman.

I think the council should have authority to appoint an alderman from its members.

I do not know the origin, but it has been the practice that the person elected at the top of the poll becomes an alderman.

But when there is a vacancy on the council, a man is coopted and becomes a councillor. Then, by their own votes, they elect an alderman instead of the one who died. I do not know whether they had authority to do that or not.

It makes no difference.

It is only a waste of time in passing it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:—

In page 19, Section 44 (3), to delete in line 47 the words and figures "Act, 1937 (No. 14 of 1937)" and substitute the words and figures "Acts, 1937 and 1940".

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:—

In page 29, before Section 63 to insert a new section as follows:—

63.—The Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act, 1921, shall apply in relation to commissioners of towns and, accordingly, wherever the expression ‘local authority' occurs in that Act, it shall be construed as including the commissioners of a town.

This is to give borrowing powers to town commissioners. Some of these town commissioners have undertaken housing schemes and it is necessary to give them borrowing powers for temporary loans for revenue purposes until rates are collected as in the case as urban councils at present.

For the purpose of housing?

It is for the same purpose as in the case of local authorities.

This is to remove certain limitations?

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In page 30, Section 66 (1), to delete in line 13 the words "the next following sub-section" and substitute the word and figure "sub-section (3)".

This is a drafting amendment, which is necessary because a new sub-section between (1) and (3) was adopted in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:—

In page 33, to add at the end of Section 72, (1), line 4, the words "and such county council may at any time revoke such delegation".

I will deal with amendments 21, 22 and 23 together. These amendments are to meet a point made by Deputy Benson about the power of revoking a delegation, and mean that the council can revoke a delegation to these parish councils.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

In page 33, to add at the end of Section 72 (2), line 9, the words "and such public assistance authority may at any time revoke such delegation."

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:—

In page 33, Section 72 (4), to insert in line 21 before the word "shall" the words "and the power to revoke any such delegation".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:—

In page 33, before Section 75, to insert a new section as follows:—

74.—On the occurrence after the commencement of this section of a vacancy in the office of treasurer for a county or other borough, the Minister, after consultation with the corporation of such borough may by order abolish the said office, and on the making of such order the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—

(a) the corporation of such borough shall appoint a banking company to act as their treasurer for the purpose of receipts and payments of money and the keeping of accounts of such receipts and payments, and the banking company so appointed shall act as such treasurer;

(b) from and after such appointment, all the powers and duties conferred or imposed on the treasurer for such borough for any purpose other than the purpose referred to in paragraph (a) of this section shall be exercised and performed by such officer or officers of the corporation other than the treasurer as the corporation, with the consent of the Minister, directs.

In boroughs there was a borough treasurer under the Act of 1840.

The banks are the treasurers now, in most cases.

This does not affect the position in Dublin. It is only when an office becomes vacant.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:—

In page 40, line 1, to delete the word "Second" and insert the word "Third" and in line 13 to delete the word "Third" and insert the word "Second".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:—

In page 41, Third Schedule, in the third column, opposite the mention in the second column of the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, to insert immediately after the words and figures "sub-article (5) of article 12" the word and figures "article 20,".

Article 20 will not be necessary when Section 81 of this Bill comes into operation.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:—

In page 41, Third Schedule, to delete the repeal of Section 11 of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926.

Will the Minister say what that means?

It is the same as amendment No. 10.

What does that really mean?

It is intended to repeal Section 11 of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926, only in relation to local authorities defined in Sections 2 and 6 of this Bill.

What is this Section 11?

It deals with the suspension of officers.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

I suggest that the Fifth Stage be taken now.

Is there any objection?

It is shocking that Bills that are just after being amended should be put forward in this way. This is a rotten habit which has been growing up lately. The Bill is not printed before us, but we are asked to receive it for final consideration. It is not reasonable. We should see it in print.

The amendments I have introduced were mostly meeting points that were raised here.

I know, but surely the Bill, as amended, should be seen by members.

It would be better to leave it until Thursday.

I am quite satisfied if I get it this week. I have suggested this, as it would be awkward to have to attend to Bills in both Houses sitting at the same time.

We have not been unreasonable.

I know you have not.

Fifth Stage ordered for Thursday next, 10th July.