Committee on Finance. - Vocational Education (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 1943—Second Stage.

Tairgim: Go léighfear an Bille an dara huair. Tá dhá rud le déanamh sa mBille seo: an chéad rud aea sin an dlí a bhaineas le coinníollacha seirbhíse oifigeach de chuid na gcoistí gairm-oideachais a chur ar aon dul leis an dlí a hachtuíodh san Acht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, agus sé an dara rud atá le déanamh socrú a dhéanamh i gcóir tuilleadh airgid a chur ar fáil do choistí gairm-oideachais óir tá barr-phoinnte an teacht-isteach a thig leo fháil faoi'n Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha, 1930, bainte amach ag cuid mhaith aca anois. Baintear feidhm as an mBille seo, freisin, le roinnt mionleasú a dhéanamh ar an bPríomh-Acht.

Nuair a bhíthcas ag cur an Achta Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, le chéile, ní raibh sé cómhgarach coistí gairm-oideachais a áireamh ar na húdaráis áitiúla a mbaineann an tAcht leo, toisc nár bhain ach forálacha áirthe san Acht sin le hoifigeacha de chuid na gcoistí gairm-oideachais. Is le teoranna aoise le haghaidh oifige, le oifigeacha a chur ar fionnraoi agus a chur as oifig ag an Aire a bhaineas na forálacha sin. Tá na forálacha sin á gcur isteach sa mBille seo anois i nAltanna a sé, a seacht agus a hocht agus tá siad ar aon dul leis na forálacha a bhaineas leis an gcás san Acht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, ag Altanna fiche trí, fiche seacht agus fiche a cúig. Ina theannta sin, tá beartuithe go mbainfidh na forálacha seo feasta le gach oifigeach de chuid na gcoistí gairm-oideachais is cuma iad a bheith i seilbh oifige le linn rithte don Acht nó gan a bheith. Déanann Alt a 9 den Bhille socrú dá réir sin.

Rinne an tAcht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, athghairm ar chodacha áirithe denLocal Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, codacha a bhaineas le dí-cháiliú ar bheith mar bhaill de chóluchtaí puiblí agus a cuireadh i mbaint le baill de chuid na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais faoi Alt 4 don Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha (Leasú), 1936. Dí-cháiliú a thárlas i ngeall ar bhaint a bheith ag ball le connradh idir é féin agus cólucht puiblí atá i gceist ins na codacha a hathghairmeadh ach ní bhaineann an dí-cháiliú sin feasta le baill de na comhairlí contae agus le baill d'údaráis áitiúla eile, mar is ag na bainisteóirí contae atá an chomhacht faoi láthair le connraithe dhéanamh. Chó fada is bhaineas le baill na gcoistí gairm-oideachais baincann na forálacha a hathghairmeadh leis an gcás fós, agus ní mór, dá bhrí sin, iad a achú arís i dtreo go leanfaidh siad i bhfeidhm i gcás na mball sin. Déantar sco in Alt 2 den Bhille agus san am chéanna athghairmtear Alt 4 den Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha (Leasú), 1936.

Tá an méid a bhaineas le cúrsaí airgid le fáil in Alt 4 agus in Alt 5. Nuair a ritheadh an tAcht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha sa bliain 1930, bhí súil againn go leathnódh scéimeanna na gcoistí gairm-oideachais do réir a chéile go ceann deich mblian no dhá bhlian déag. Dá réir sin rinneadh socrú faoi'n Acht i dtreo go mbeadh an scála ioncuim ionmhéaduithe do réir feoirlinge (¼d.) no leathphingne (½d.) sa bpunt ar luach ion-rátuithe an limistéir ach gan dul thar 4d. sa bpunt i limistéirí contae ná 6d. sa bpunt i gcontae-bhuirgí agus ins na bailecheanntair sceidealta. D'fhéadfadh coiste contae barr-phoinnte a ioncuim a shroisint sa mbliain a thosuigh an chéad lá d'Aibreán, 1940, agus i gcás coiste chontae-bhuirge no bhailecheanntair sceidealta ní sroisfí an barr-phoinnte go dtí an chéad lá d'Aibreán, 1942. Ceapadh dá mbreathnuíodh na coistí rómpa go stuama go mbeadh barr a bhfás déanta aca faoi'n am sin. Shrois ceithre coistí as na 27 coistí conndae barr-phoinnte a n-ioncuim sa mbliain 1940, agus as an aon cheann déag de choistí bailecheanntair shrois ceithre cinn aca a mbarr-phoinnte féin sa mbliain 1942. I láthair na huaire, tá barr-phoinnte an ráta sroiste ag cúig coistí déag ar fad ach níl barr-phoinnté a bhfás bainte amach aca fós agus níl rómpa anois ach teacht-isteach atá seasta agus caiteachas bliantúil atá ag dul i méid.

Ní i ngeall ar lochtaí ar fhorálacha an Phríomh-Achta a thárla sé seo. Leis an bhfírinne a rádh d'éirigh go han-mhaith leis an Acht agus tá ag éirghe go han-mhaith leis fós, cé gur seirbhís beagnach úr-nua a bhí le cur ar bun faoi. Chuir an tAcht ar chumas choistí ghairm-oideachais oideachas a bhí ag teastáil go géar ina gcuid ceanntracha a chur ar fáil. Tóigeadh céad agus ceithre cinn déag de scoltacha nua gan bacadh leis an méid leathnú agus feabhas a cuireadh ar shean-scoltacha. Ina theannta sin ceapadh trí chéad oide lán-ama sa mbreis agus dá chéad oide páirt-ama —oidí a bhfuair cuid mhaith aca oiliúnt speisialta faoi'n Roinn Oideachais. Leagadh an scéim oibre sco amach go cúramach do réir an méid airgid a bhéadh ar fáil ag gach coiste faoi leith agus, go dtí gur thuit ualach áirithe ortha nach raibh súil leis, níor braitheadh nach mbéadh an socrú a rinneadh sa bPríomh-Acht sáthach maith. Ní raibh súil, cuir i gcás, leis an méadú a tháinig ar an mbonus costais bheatha a d'árduigh ón uimhir 55 ins na blianta 1933-35—am ar ceapadh roinnt mhaith oidí nua i dtosach—go dtí 85, an áit ar horduíodh dó stop i mí Iúil, 1940. Ina theannta sin, o thosnuigh an cogadh, chuir an méadú mór a tháinig ar ábhar teine, ar sholas, ar abhair do na ranganna agus ar choinneál suas na scol isteach go mór ar scéimeanna airgid na gcoistí gairm-oideachais, agus rinne an bonus éigeandála a híocadh o Mhí Eanair, 1941, breis ceataighe dhóibh.

Gan bacadh chor ar bith leis na deacrachtaí ó thaobh airgid a bhíos le réiteach ag coistí áirithe, ní ceart a dhearmad nach féidir leathnú ar bith, dá fheabhas dá mbeadh sé, a chur i gcion mara mbídh cúl beag airgid ag coistí gairm-oideachais le tarraingt air. Mar shompla ar an gceatuighe sin d'oil an Roinn roinnt timthirí le bheith ina n-oidí Gaedhilge le goirid le cuidiú le gluaiseacht na teangan faoi scéimeanna gairm-oideachais, ach cé go raibh fonn ar choistí áirithe na hoidí sin a fhostú ní raibh ar a gcumas sin a dhéanamh cheal airgid. Thárla an deacracht chéanna le goirid freisin i gcás daoine eile a cheapadh—oidí tuaith-eolaidheachta agus múinteóirí adhmadóireachta.

Tá socrú á dhéanamh, dá bhrí sin, faoi Alt 4 den Bhille an ráta is aoirde a árdú 1d., sa bpunt i ngach cás, sé sin le rá, o 4d. go dtí 5d. i gcás limistéirí gairm-oideachais contac, agus ó 6d. go dtí 7d. i gcás na gcontac-bhuirgí agus na mbaile-cheanntar sceidealta. Tá súil agam go gcuirfidh an méadú seo ar an ráta áitiúil, in éineacht leis an deontas áirithe atá iníoctha ag an Stát leo faoi Alt 53 den Phríomh-Acht, ar chumas na gcoistí gairm-oideachais sin a bhfuil cruadhóg airgid ortha a gcuid fadhbanna a réiteach, agus go leigfidh sin do scéimeanna gairm-oideachais i gcoitinne fás iomlán a dhéanamh do réir mar beifear réidh dóibh.

Séard atá ins na deontaisí Stáit:

(1) Deontaisí seasta no bun-deontaisí a háirmhítear do réir méid na ndeontas a bhí iníoctha as an bPrímh-Chiste leis na coistí ceárdoideachais a bhí ann roimh 1930, agus

(2) Deontaisí breise a háirmhítear do réir an méadú a bheas ag an ráta le haghaidh gairm-oideachais ar mhéid ráta de 3d. sa bpunt i gcontae-bhuirgí agus i mbaile-cheanntair, agus ar mhéid ráta de 2d. i gContae Chorcaighe agus ar mhéid ráta de 1¾d. i ngach ceanntar eile.

Tá beagán thar trí punt ar fad de dheontaisí á dtabhairt ag an Stát in aghaidh gach dhá phunt atá á chur ar fáil ag na húdaráis áitiúla iad féin.

Tá socrú déanta i gCuid V den Phríomh-Acht le oideachas leanúna a dhéanamh oibliogáideach no, mar adeirtear de ghnáth, aois fágáilte na scoile a árdú o cheithre bliana déag go dtí sé bliana déag. Tá foráil sa gcuid sin den Acht freisin a thugas údarás do choistí gairm-oideachais na costaisí a bheas ortha ag cur Cuid V den Acht in éifeacht a íoc as a gcuid cistí féin. Nuair a cuirtear Cuid V den Acht in éifeacht i gceanntar ar bith, ní mór do choiste gairm-oideachais an cheanntair sin cúrsaí oibliogáideacha a dtabharfar 180 uair a' chluig de theagasc ionnta a chur ar fáil, sin no cúrsaí saordhálacha a dtabharfar 180 uair a' chluig ar a laighead de theagasc ionnta. Níor cuireadh Cuid V in éifeacht fós ach i dhá gceanntar— Cathair Chorcaighe agus Cathair Luimnigh. Sa dá chathair seo, tá sé de oibliogáid ar dhaoine óga idir 14 bliana agus 16 bliana d'aois nach mbíonn ag freastal ar scoil nó rang ar bith eile freastal a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí speisialta teagaisc a mhaireas cúig uaire a' chluig sa ló lá amháin sa tseachtain ar feadh 36 seachtain sa mbliain. Cúrsaí seadh iad seo a thugas na coistí gairm-oideachais sa dá cheanntar seo de bhreis ar na cúrsaí lán-ama saordhálacha bhíos ann de ló agus de bhreis ar na cúrsaí saordhálacha a tugtar um thráthnóna.

Sa Meán Fhómhair, 1938, a tosuíodh na cúrsaí oibliogáideacha i gCathair Chorcaighe, mar gur ceapadh gurb í sin an áit do b'feiliúnaighe le triail a bhaint as an scéim. D'eirigh go han-mhaith leis, agus i nDeire Fómhair, 1942, cuireadh i bhfeidhm i gCathair Luimnigh é. Ó thárla cistí an dá Choiste seo bheith ar fad faoi iadh le haghaidh a gcuid cúrsaí saordhálacha, ní fhéadfadh siad Cuid V den Acht a chur i bhfeidhm mara mbeadh gur híocadh leo as an bPrímh-Chiste deontaisí speisialta breise den mhéid a ghlan costaisí na gcúrsaí oibliogáideacha. Cé nach é an cás céanna é ag gach coiste gairm-oideachais, beidh sé soiléar go leor ón méid atá ráite agam cheana, maidir le hAlt 4 den Bhille seo i dtaobh go leor de na coistí gairm-oideachais agus a gcúrsaí airgid, go gcaithfear an t-airgead a mbeidh gádh leis a chur ar fáil do na coistí gairm-oideachais má táthar le Cuid V den Phríomh-Acht a chur in éifeacht go generálta. Tá beartuithe seo a dhéanamh le hAlt 5 den Bhille seo. Tá socrú déanta san alt sin le go bhféadfaidh an tAire Oideachais i gceanntar ar bith a mbeadh Cuid V den Acht i bhfeidhm ann a ordú don údarás áitiúil rátúcháin pé suim is leor leis a íoc leis an gcoiste má bhíonn sé sásta nach leor chuige sin na cistí atá ag an gcoiste gairm-oideachais cheana. Ní féidir leis an suim bhreise seo a dhul thar 2d. sa bpunt ar an luacháil ionrátuithe ins na ceithre contaebhuirgí agus i nDún Laoghaire, agus, i gcás gach ceanntar eile, ní féidir leis dul thar 1d. sa bpunt.

Ar an gcostas a bhí ar na cúrsaí oibliogáideacha i gCorcaigh agus i Luimneach atá teoranna na rátaí sin bunuithe agus cuirtear san áireamh, do réir mar atá mínithe agam cheana maidir le deontaisí an Stáit a roint, go mbeidh deontaisí breise á ndíol ag an Stát ar son Cuid V d'Acht 1930 do chur i bhfeidhm ar aon dul le na deontaisí breise a díoltar de gnáth.

£5,500 sa mbliain an costas a bhí ar na cúrsaí oibliogáideacha i gCorcaigh agus nuair a bhéas an scéim iomlán ag obair i Luimneach, meastar go gcosnóidh sé £2,690 sa mbliain. Is ionann na suimeanna seo agus an teacht-isteach a bheadh ar ráta 1.1d. sa bpunt i gCorcaigh agus 1.2d. sa bpunt i Luimneach agus a chur san áireamh go n-íocfadh an Stát deontaisí breise.

Ní háirmhítear ins na figiúirí seo an méadú a thagas ar an líon scoláirí a fhreastalas ar chúrsaí saordhálacha lán-ama de thoradh ar Chuid V den bPríomh-Acht a chur in éifeacht i gceanntar ar bith agus, dá bhrí sin, bíonn na costaisí a bhíos le n-ioc as ciste na gcoistí gairm-oideachais i ngeall ar Chuid V den Acht a chur i bhfeidhm beagán níos truime ná thugas cosdas na gcúrsaí oibliogáideacha féin le tuigsint. Ach amháin i gcás Cathair Bhaile Átha Cliath, tá mé sásta nach dócha go rachaidh an costas a bhéas ag dul le feidhmiú Cuid V i gceanntar ar bith thar méid an ráta a bhfuil socrú ina chóir sa mBille seo, agus má théigheann sé, is as an bPrímh-Chiste a híocfar an bhreis.

Meastar, mar shompla, go gcosnóidh sé £45,000 sa mbliain i gCathair Bhaile Átha Cliath. Bheadh £18,600 le fáil sa gceanntar seo as an ráta 2d. atá beartuithe i gcóir Cuid V den Phríomh-Acht agus d'fhágfadh sin go mbeadh £26,400 le n-íoc as an bPrímh-Chiste.

Coiste gairm-oideachais ar bith a bhfuil leor-chiste aige cheana féin, ní gádh dhó feidhm do bhaint as forálacha Ailt a 4 no a 5 den Bhille seo in aon chor, ach tríd is tríd, 'sé an toradh a bhéas ar an dá alt, ná, áit ar bith a mbíonn Cuid V d'Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha 1930 i bhfeidhm go mbeidh rann-íoc áitiúil le fagháil ag coisde an líomatáiste sin do réir ráta áitiúil suas le 9d. sa bpunt i gcás na gceithre contae-bhuirgí agus Dún Laoghaire, 8d. sa bpunt i gcás Brí Chualann, Droichead Átha, Gaillimh, Sligeach, Tráighlí no Loch gCarman, agus 6d. sa bpunt i gcás contae. Baineann na forálacha eile den Bhille le mion-leasuithe no le leathnuithe ar an Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha, 1930. Ní dóigh liom gur gá dhom dul níos faide leis na poinntí sin faoi láthair.

This Bill bears some relation in its terms to the Bill which deals with county committees of agriculture. It is practically the same so far as officials are concerned, but it is a more attractive effort than the other Bill so far as the financial provisions embodied in it are concerned. The other portion of it which deals with disqualification is much the same as the provision in the other Bill. The only point I have not been able to follow is in connection with subsection (3) which sets out the powers of the Minister under Section 37 relating to a deficiency in the supply of continuation education and so on. The Minister did not give us any information as to what is implied by this addition to Section 37 of the original Act. The section sets out that the Minister may specify particular subjects. That is my interpretation of the section, but the Minister gave us no information as to what those subjects were.

There is no particular subject in question at the moment. There seems to be a doubt, and while, under the Principal Act, the Minister has power to require a vocational education committee to make such provision for the supply of continuation or technical education in its area as it thinks necessary, it is not quite clear from the wording of the section that he has power to impose upon a committee the obligation of teaching a particular subject. It is to cover that position, lest there might be any difficulties with regard to particular subjects, that this section is brought in.

Would the Minister indicate any of the subjects?

There is no particular subject at the moment.

There was in the Act of 1930 the proviso that there was a sufficient sum of money available for the purpose. Would the Minister say whether it has been found that that proviso operated against the administering of the section?

To some extent, perhaps, it has.

Would the Minister say if it is being relieved by the financial provisions of this measure? However, he can answer that in his reply. So far as Section 2 is concerned, I do not enter any objection, but I think a little amplification of the Minister's statement with regard to Section 3 is desirable. We should first like to know whether there has been co-operation by vocational committees with the Ministry in connection with the administration of the Act. Continuation or technical education has been referred to in many places throughout the country during the last few years, and I think the House should learn from the Minister whether he is satisfied with the progress of that part of the work of vocational committees generally. So far as Section 4, and, I suppose, Section 5, are concerned, we have to accept the altered circumstances of the last few years and the possibility that the original estimate of the cost was not up to the mark. I feel sure that vocational committees through the country would expend any extra moneys which they are entitled to levy to the advantage of the students.

We come then to the final portion of the Bill, which, on its face, appears to be almost the principal purpose of the introduction of the Bill, apart from the normal necessity by reason of the emergency for having Section 4 in the Bill. What I have to say on this measure is on all fours with what I said on the Bill dealing with county committees. No matter what changes have taken place in the law regarding State servants or servants of local authorities, it does not, on its face, appear to be right that one party only to a contract of service should alter its terms, without consultation or some measure of agreement with the persons affected. Nobody in the House or outside it with any sense will stand for retaining in office a person who is unfitted for that office, but the question of unfitness is capable of variation. It may be unfitness, so far as the person's qualifications are concerned or so far as his suitability for the particular duty he is performing is concerned. The State and the children are entitled to get the most proficient teachers available, and it is the duty of the State and of the vocational committee to determine the employment of any person not up to that standard, but it is not right that an official or teacher, who was efficient at the time of his appointment and who is now found not to be so, should be deprived of statutory rights which he had prior to the adoption of this higher standard. I think the approach of the Ministry to this question ought to be on the basis of what I have said.

Two or three variations may occur in connection with this matter. First of all, a teacher may have been appointed at an advanced age, say, 50 years of age. He brought to the school an experience ranging over 30 years. Perhaps he took up the appointment at a smaller salary than he was earning outside. Perhaps the attraction that the appointment had for him was that he had a chance of serving for 20 years and then getting a pension. In determining the matter, we have to take into account the claims of a person in that position. Merely drawing a line now and saying that no teacher will be employed above a certain age, does not appear to me to be fair to the teachers. That is the first point.

The second point is that if a line be so drawn, the Minister should undertake that this will be done at the end of the school term and not, let us say, after the first week of the term or in the middle of the term, thus putting the committee to the trouble of getting a substitute, because it is undesirable to change a teacher during the course of the term. Therefore, it ought to be done at the end of the term, even though it might mean an additional year of service for the official concerned. The third point is that, in the case of some of these officials, my information is that they applied for and got leave of absence to improve their qualifications and, having done that, they either took service again with the committee with whom they had been serving or were employed by another vocational committee. In a case of that sort, I think that, whatever service was rendered to the vocational committee from the commencement, ought to count, even if it were broken by a temporary absence of that sort.

The fourth point I would put is that, in the case of those officials of advanced years whose superannuation would be negligible by reason of the age at which they entered the service, the Minister should give an undertaking that there will be an addition made to the number of years of service. I am not putting that by way of asking for a concession. I am putting it, in the first place, on the ground of fair play. Under the legislation in operation in this country before we commenced to manage our own affairs, the usual superannuation allowance given on the abolition of an office was two-thirds of the salary. I am not even making a case that that should be given. I am making the case that some years should be added to the service, say, one year for every three years or every five years of service.

The last point is that the Minister now takes upon himself authority to suspend an officer of a vocational committee. By an officer I mean a teacher or any other official employed by the committee. I put it to the Minister that he ought to take power to get the vocational committee to suspend the officer. Then he ought to hold his inquiry and, having received the report in connection with that inquiry, he should transmit the decision to the committee and then let the determination of the service of the person concerned rest with the committee. A complaint with regard to an official, I suggest, should be dealt with in the same way. I have experience of one case where, through a series of mishaps extending over a whole succession of Departments, an official of this State was on the point of being dismissed, although really no strong case was made for his dismissal. It was a consolation to me that the responsible officer in my Department, having reviewed the matter, found that there was no case against that man. I want to ensure that we shall have a safeguard against anything like that happening. Again, there are occasions when a central authority, with the best will in the world, acting on the inforination at their disposal, may take certain action against an official. If the matter were dealt with by the local committee in charge it might happen that an explanation, which possibly would not find its way to the Minister, would be given. In that way the interruption in the service of the person concerned and the disturbance which is occasioned by an inquiry, and so on, would be avoided.

These are the principal points I wish to put in connection with this matter. I am not authorised to speak on behalf of any officials in the vocational education service. I have discussed it with people in order to see if it would be possible to make this measure appear less of a penal measure. I put the matter shortly in this form. We will not deny to the Minister the right to ensure that the officials or the teachers in these schools are of the highest possible standard, and possess the highest qualifications. We do say, however, that we have no right to do anything which would savour of hardship or unfairness in dealing with these officials or teachers who, during the period this system has been in operation, have rendered good service to the State and have done their best, according to their ability, to carry out the wishes of those in authority.

There is no general principle involved in the discussion of this Bill. There is, however, as has been pointed out by Deputy Cosgrave, a close similarity to powers taken by the Minister for Agriculture in the Bill which has been given a Second Reading to-day. We may say in regard to this Bill what has been said in regard to that measure, that there is an invasion of the democratic rights of these committees and of the officers who function under them. We, in this House, I think, have to act as a barrier between the rights of these officials and any infringement of those rights, no matter how well intentioned that infringement may be on the part of the Ministry. The Minister for Agriculture in this invasion formed a bridgehead to the north of the citadel. Now, the Minister for Education proposes to form another bridgehead to the south and, between them, they are going to fan out—to use modern parlance—and take away many of the hard-won rights of officers in these two similar and closely related services.

We might be asked to look upon this Bill in a liberal manner, not to take everything that is in it in its narrowest sense but, in order to safeguard these rights, we must, I submit, view everything in the narrowest possible sense, even though we might give the greatest possible measure of goodwill to the Minister in his implementation of the Bill. I think, with Deputy Cosgrave, that everyone who knows the service, who has been connected with it either as a member of a committee —as many Deputies have been—or actually working in the service, will agree that it is the aim, ambition and hope of the officers that the standard of efficiency should be the highest possible, not only for national reasons, not only for reasons of their obligations to the citizens, but from the very narrow professional reason that, by maintaining high standards in their profession, they elevate that profession and give it a standing it would not have were it in any way considered to be inefficient or unworthy of the task that devolves upon it.

It is for that reason that the officers who are concerned under this Bill are very disquieted by its provisions. They may be wrong—the Minister may satisfy their minds by his declaration in this House; he may give us an entirely different interpretation of the Bill from that which the cold words would convey—but their view of the matter is that there is a deliberate attempt in the Bill to destroy the security of tenure which has been enjoyed by the officers of this service.

To our surprise, we see that the Minister puts as the first part of his purpose in this Bill the bringing into line of the conditions of service of the officers of the vocational education committees and those that already obtain under the Local Government Act, 1941, and only second the making of provision for additional financial assistance. One would imagine by the way the Bill is drafted, the precedence and priority given to the financial provisions, that these would take first place in his consideration of the Bill. However, whether they are first or second, the provisions regarding these officers require very close scrutiny and earnest examination by this House. I do not think it can be passed over in the manner indicated by the Minister's remarks, that it was not found convenient at the time of the drafting of the Local Government Act, 1941, to include the vocational education committees among the local authorities to which the Act applies, and that the present is found to be a propitious time to do it. Even were that correct, even were the statements in regard to the sections in that Local Government Act, and their relation to the sections of this Act, correct—although I think we would have to reserve judgment on that matter until we have had a closer examination—yet, that should not prevent us from refusing, if that is within our power, further sanction to these discriminations against officers. The Minister for Agriculture, in introducing his amending Bill, used much the same phraseology, but the actual provisions inserted in his Bill are not at all as far-reaching and not at all as onerous as those which we find in this Bill, as I will proceed to show as we go along.

This Bill consists of four parts. I am not going to deal with all of them. I assume that there are other Deputies who have a better right to deal with the questions relating to the committees and the questions relating to finance. As far as I can judge, the four parts of the Bill are: first, the question of the qualification, or disqualification, of members of the vocational education committees; second, the requisition to supply education in particular subjects—with that we are in general agreement; third, the contributions by the rating authorities towards normal schemes, such as obtain at present, and towards an extension of what has come to be termed compulsory continuation education. The fourth, and the last part with which I am primarily concerned, is that which relates to the conditions of officers under these vocational education committees.

Section 3 gives a more explicit definition of the powers already taken by the Minister in Section 37 of the Principal Act. That has been covered by Deputy Cosgrave by way of question and answer. I take it to mean that the Minister can compel a committee to provide instruction in some particular subjects, if the original section in the Principal Act is right, this further definition of the Minister's powers would, I consider, also be right. The point might be made, however, even in regard to this, that there should be some form of understanding between the committee and the Department in reference to any extra subject. I can visualise quite well that there are committees which might not, under certain circumstances, be prepared to carry out instruction in certain subjects which would be necessary from an economic and industrial point of view in their own locality, and that the Department might be better advised than the local committee as to what would be required by the citizens generally in that area in the way of vocational education. The Minister should have the right, therefore, I think, to make provision for carrying out such instruction as is necessary but there should be some form of round table conference. There probably will be, but it does not appear to be mentioned in the Act. There should be some method of obtaining expression of views from the committee and whatever difficulties the committee has in the matter or whatever point of view it has in regard to a particular subject of instruction should be thoroughly considered by the Department before there is an attempt to compel them to adopt any subject for instruction.

Sections 4 and 5 are the financial sections. To put them in brief—they have been dealt with fully by the Minister—they increase the maximum rate by a penny in the pound, that is, from sixpence to sevenpence in the county borough and urban districts, and fourpence to fivepence in the counties. There is a well-considered case for that, which has been given by the Minister and we need not dilate upon it.

It is obvious that, if the scheme of vocational education is to coutinue, is to form a part of our national life and is to develop, the funds at present available are insufficient and an increase is necessary. Owing to the fall in the purchasing power of money—the pound to-day, we are told by the economist, is worth only 12/3—there is a very good reason for improving the finances of the scheme. The scheme has expanded since the Act of 1930 and there are now 114 new schools in addition to those which were carried out under the old scheme. Under that new development, there are about 300 additional full-time teachers and about 200 part-time teachers. All that would put an extra strain on the finances of the scheme, and the Minister is quite right in taking additional power to stabilise the finances of the committees.

We must also look to post-war development and the tremendous extension of technical education, particularly in view of changes in our economy and industry and a better appreciation by the mass of the people of the value of technical education. I believe the work already done and the changing circumstances, will make vocational education after the emergency more highly prized by the average citizen and that it will be of greater value to the State. Section 5 gives the Minister power in areas where the compulsory scheme—Part V of the Principal Act—is in operation or fixed to come into operation, to compel the levy of a rate above the maximum allowed by the previous section. This, too, has been extensively dealt with by the Minister and very little extra requires to be said. It should be noted that the extra penny required is optional where compulsory continuation education is not in operation. There is no guarantee, however, that the Minister will give any equivalent grant from State funds, but he may do so. Under Section 53 of the Principal Act—

"the Minister may, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, make grants to vocational education committees in aid of expenditure under annual schemes in accordance with regulations made by the Minister with the approval of the Minister for Finance."

—and he shall take into consideration certain things when doing so.

You, Sir, in your capacity of private Deputy, made, on the second Reading of the Principal Act, in 1930, a special plea for a grant of £1 per £1 by the State. I think I am right in saying "you" in this connection.

Speak of him in the third person.

He is sitting up, very proud.

You made an eloquent plea for an equivalent grant by the State, a grant of £1 for every £1 put up by the local authority. We have not yet achieved that, even after the passage of all these years. There should be power to enable the Minister to provide for the development of technical education and the Minister should try to persuade the Minister for Finance to make such provision. With the expansion of the vocational education scheme, this additional financial provision will be necessary.

While we are on finance, I would refer briefly to the amount paid for vocational education. In some quarters, and particularly in one newspaper, there appears to be great apprehension in regard to this matter. It has been stated that excessive sums have been paid out and that there has been lavish expenditure. I submit that, out of the total of £5,000,000 spent on education, only £370,000 is given direct from the State to vocational education, which is, roughly, 7½ per cent. The rates themselves provide at present only £207,000, which is not a large sum and which is not large enough. The same people who criticise the lavish expenditure on vocational education call, at the same time, for a higher technological standard in this country. Those two views are, I think, incompatible. I say this in order to support whatever measures are being taken under this Bill for extra finance for the scheme.

It must be remembered that this branch provides all the post primary education, except, of course, the secondary education, which caters, as we know, for the respectable professions, more or less. The children of the masses of the people go to the vocational schools, which are looked upon, quite rightly, as the poor man's university. As such, they are credited by the people with doing very necessary work and are worthy of every support from the State.

If you want to consider the question of cost, technical education is probably the cheapest form of education that we have in this State. Primary education costs, per pupil, £9 18s. 8d.; secondary education costs, per pupil, £13 17s. 4d., and post-primary education, which is really vocational education, because the other sections of it are insignificant, costs only £8 13s. 11d. As well as carrying on the normal educational programme, these schools, in these sections, deal with art and science and there are lectures for the adult population, which is a very good contribution to national work and has proved to be of exceptional importance in a time of emergency. For instance, during the food emergency that we had in this country, it is stated in the report of the Department of Education that 120,000 people attended lectures given by domestic economy instructresses in relation to the proper preparation of emergency food. That was a national service, and a service of that description well deserves increased financial support. Secondary education receives as much as technical education can get from the State and tha rates combined— roughly £500,000. It is not that we want to have less spent on secondary education, but to show that we are not people who are, so far as education goes, wallowing in the lap of luxury, or that there is any lavish expenditure of State funds on technical education.

Now we come to Sections 6, 7, 8 and 9. These affect the rights of the officers and, from their nature, there is no other course open to me but to look for amendments of these sections. I regard them as an attempt at an extension of arbitrary authority which should not pass a democratic Legislature like this without severe scrutiny. I am taking the narrow view, and I am taking it purposely and deliberately. If we were to take the more liberal view, perhaps we would not give such emphasis to the sections; we might let them pass; but, once having passed here under whatever pretext, they become statutory principles, and it will be found extremely difficult in the future to remove them.

Section 6 relates to the authority of the Minister to fix a retiring age. In fact, if you read it as it appears in the Bill, he can fix the lower as well as the upper age limits. Most officers, of course, are looking at the upper age limit but, taking a narrow view, the Minister can fix a lower limit; he can fix an age and a person may not enter the service until he has attained that age. The main concern, of course, of existing officers, is the retiring age, the upper limit, and that requires to be dealt with in even a more extensive manner, perhaps, than that which we gave on the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill lately before us. I may point out that up in this an officer had the option to retire at 65, but he could not be compelled to do so unless he was in a state of ill-health or incapable of carrying on his duties. He could retire if he had 25 years' service, but he could not be compelled to do so if he was fit to carry on. That means that hitherto there has been no specified retiring age in the service. Now it appears that one will be fixed by the Minister.

Retirement up to the present was governed by Section 44, sub-sections (1) and (2) of the Local Government Act of 1925. It might be well to remind the House of the provisions of those sub-sections. Section 44 (1) sets out that:

"A local body shall with the consent of the Minister grant to a pensionable officer in their employment who either (a) has attained the age of 65 years and has at least 25 years' service: or (b) becomes incapable of discharging the duties of his office with efficiency by reason of permanent infirmity of mind or, body or of old age and has not less than ten years' service upon his resigning or otherwise ceasing to hold his office, an annual allowance for his life not greater than two-thirds of his yearly salary and emoluments."

Sub-section (2) sets out that:

"A local body shall with the consent of the Minister grant to a pensionable officer in their employment who has at least ten years' service and (a) who is removed from office for a cause other than misconduct or incapacity or (b) whose office is abolished or (c) whose position has in the opinion of the Minister been materially altered to his detriment owing to changes in the conditions of his employment made without reasonable cause and who resigns his office with the consent of the Minister, an annual allowance for his life not greater than two-thirds of his yearly salary and emoluments."

These were the conditions which every officer understood would apply to him on entering the service, Now it appears that by an Act of this Legislature, long after he has entered the service, these conditions will be materially altered.

There are other points to be considered on Section 6. Up to recently all vocational education officers joined the service after the age of 25 years. This is not a service which the youngest men join. The officers are mature when they come into the service, and that was especially so in the early years of the technical instruction scheme, when the Department had no training facilities or courses, and officers on appointment were required to have had previous business and educational experience. These men are all affected by this measure. You must take into account, too, that the date of the adoption of the Agricultural and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 1899, does not permit any officer a full 40 years' service. If appointed after the age of 25 years, as most were, none of them would have 40 years' service around 65 years which, I assume, is the age that will be fixed by the Minister. There are few graduates at the University who finish before 25 years and many of them have to wait several years for an appointment. Even after appointment, if they are lucky enough to secure that from a local committee, they have to spend several years on probation, and rightly—that is one of the conditions of service—until they are appointed as permanent whole-time officers and become pensionable.

The passing of the 1899 Act did not mean that the technical instruction schools arose immediately. Several years elapsed before most of the schemes came into effect. We have reviewed the situation and found that 1905 and 1907 were the years when most early appointments were made. Those officers are a long time in the service and they are coming near the retiring age. The Dáil will see how the actual dates affect this question of retirement and pensions.

There is another point in reference to these officers: that a condition inherent in their appointment and implied in the provisions of the superannuation clauses of the Local Government Act was that they were to continue in employment until rendered unfit by permanent infirmity, incapacity or such like cause. We have no objection, and I think few in this House would have any objection, to the fixing of a retiral age. It was suggested, I believe, by another Deputy that the remarks made on the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill in reference to the same thing meant that we left the door wide open, and that officers could continue on in service until they were 80 or 90 years of age. That is, of course, absolutely impossible. We have no objection to the fixing of a retiral age, but there must be certain qualifications in regard to that. We must take into consideration, as I have pointed out, the efficiency of the teacher, his private rights, the work that he has put into vocational education, and the lifetime that he has spent in the service of the State. If there is to be a retiral age fixed, there should be with it some provision for an arrangement to let officers be credited with added years to bring their service up to 40, or as near 40 as would be deemed equitable in the circumstances of each individual officer.

This question of added years is nothing new. We refer to that again, but in fixing the pension, if we do not give the teacher these added years, if we do not allow the officer to be credited with 40 or as near as possible to 40 years, we adverse1y affect him in this way: that until recently, unlike the Civil Service, there were no salary scales in the vocational education schemes, and in many cases years elapsed between the receipts of increments of salary. Again, in the early stages of the vocational education schemes, the officers were underpaid. Scales were non-existent, and, later on, when they did come into force, they could not be said to remunerate the officers for what they had already suffered in regard to small salaries. Therefore, in the case of pensions granted to officers who have less than the 40 years' service, who have roughly, say, 30 years or something less than that, the officers will be very adversely affected.

The training and the practical experience required before appointment as a teacher in a vocational education school or the special qualifications required in connection with some particular post, such as the head of a department, a headmaster or a chief executive officer, implied that on appointment the officer was so matured that it would be impossible for him, on the completion of 40 years' service, to be 65 years of age, if we take that as the likely retiring age. The Department of Local Government has given evidence of the fact that it recognises this state of affairs. In Circular No. G.15477/25 the Department states:

"For positions requiring highly technical qualifications it is realised that it may not be possible to secure the services of suitably experienced officers at ages sufficiently youthful to enable them to qualify eventually for the full two-thirds superannuation. In such cases, where the services have been satisfactorily carried out, reasonable additional years might be added to the actual numbers served for the purpose of calculating pensions."

and they suggested, as a maximum, one-third. I think that this circular which was explanatory of the 1925 Act, showed that the Department approved of this principle of added years when an officer joined the service late in life, or joined because he could not have attained that position without business experience. In view of the facts that I have adduced I think the House will agree that vocational teachers should either be allowed to continue their service until they reach the forty years' service necessary for a full pension, or if they are retired earlier under this Bill that this principle of added years should be adopted—that years should be added to their service to enable them to receive the full pension.

I may say that it is quite obvious to those who know the facts that officers in the vocational education services are not anxious to retire while they are still vigorous and can carry out their duties efficiently, and can be of service to the State. It is not merely a case of hanging on in order to obtain a pension. They feel that they have a function in life and desire to continue that function as long as it is possible.

Section 6 is also, if you examine it, a violation of Section 99 of the Principal Act. I think it would be a deplorable act on the part of this or of any other Legislature to give solemn statutory protection to public servants in one Act—the Act of 1930—and then after a lapse of years, and with the development of the Act and when these officers' proved worth is admitted by the Minister, to treat the protection given as scrap paper. I think the very least, the Minister might do is to exclude existing officers from the provisions of this Bill. The spirit of the original Act should permeate this amending Bill, and there should be, I think, no amendment by implication. I think that the Minister, if he is not prepared to go to that extent in this Bill, might give some undertaking or some guarantee to the existing officers that they will not be adversely affected by this measure, and that the newcomers, if they like to take service under these conditions, will be free to do so. It is a contract between them and the Minister, and they should stand or fall by it, but existing officers, officers who are already in the service and who came in under different conditions, should not now be brought within this legislation and adversely affected by it. They should in all honour be excluded from it.

I said that this Bill was a violation of Section 99 of the Principal Act, and I think I had better quote the particular sub-sections to show exactly what I mean. Under sub-sections (2) and (3) of that Act of 1930, there was given a statutory guarantee that the conditions of service and the remuneration of officers of vocational education committees taken over under the Vocational Education Act would not be altered to their detriment. Sub-section (2) sets out:—

"Every officer transferred by this section shall, subject to the provisions of this section, perform in the service of the vocational education committee to which he is so transferred the like duties as he performed in the service from which he is so transferred."

Sub-section (3) sets out:

"Every officer transferred by this section shall not, in the service of the vocational education committee to which he is so transferred, receive less remuneration or, subject to the provisions of this section, be subject to less beneficial condition of service than the remuneration to which he was entitled and the conditions of service to which he was subject in the service from which he is so transferred."

These were sub-sections which safeguarded the rights of these transferred officers, and obviously the spirit of these sub-sections should continue down through this amending Bill. Further, if the Act were to be worked in a proper spirit, the Minister should also he given power in reference to specified appointments, not only in regard to the ordinary officers but particularly with regard to chief executive officers, head masters and those in very responsible positions, to extend the age or to add years for pension purposes. There is, as I said, no great desire in the part of these higher executive officers to leave the service. Many of them at present have reached the age of 60 and 62 years, and they are considered by the Department to be still in the full vigour of life and capable of carrying out their duties and functions with the greatest efficiency. Why then should these men be compulsorily retired by any such section? Many of them, if they were to get the full benefit of their pension, would have to continue much later in life than 65 years and the Minister, I think, should take the power or should modify the sections in the Bill to enable him to grant that benefit.

Finally, many of the existing officers were recruited and, for all I know, future officers may be recruited, from other branches of the educational service and, for that reason, I think that for superannuation purposes this previous service should be recognised. In particular, I specify service given under the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, the Commissioners of Intermediate Education, the primary and secondary branches, the Gaelic League, and even service under the former Congested Districts Board. Officers were taken from all these different spheres and asked to man the vocational education schools. They were ask to take on this new form of instruction and to develop it. Their efforts met with success, and I think they should be duly credited with their previous service. I think we have made a good case for an amendment of that Section 6 and even for the withdrawal of it. If we cannot get that we might get from the Minister some undertaking or some statement with regard to these existing officers.

Section 7 is also a violation of the existing rights of officers guaranteed by that Section 99 of the 1930 Act. It follows the usual pattern which we have examined in the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill. The section gives power to either a vocational education committee or the Minister to suspend an officer summarily, if there is, in the opinion of such committee or of the Minister, reason to believe that the officer has done something deserving of disciplinary action. As I said with regard to the Minister for Agriculture —and the same applies to the Minister for Education—the phraseology is too loose. The Minister may have reason to believe anything he likes—no one can prevent it. Every one of us can believe anything he wishes and particularly in the sphere of human relations, it is quite easy to believe things which afterwards turn out to have no foundation whatever. Despite that, on the mere belief of the Minister or of the committee, an officer may be suspended.

Some safeguard should be inserted calling for greater grounds for belief or retarding the movement which results in the suspension of an officer and causes him grave detriment. An officer may be suspended with the approval of the Minister, but, under sub-section (2), the Minister has power to terminate such suspension when he so wishes, and every such suspension, it states, shall continue until so terminated. If one reads that correctly, the meaning of it is that suspension may be indefinite. There is no conclusion to be reached, if the Minister does not so wish. This, of course, is taking a narrow view of the situation, but it is set out in the Bill. There is nothing to fix a time limit and surely in ordinary justice to the officer there should be some time limit. No investigation or inquiry could conceivably last indefinitely. There should be a time limit to prevent the proceedings being drawn out to an unwarranted length, particularly in view of the sections which deal with the remuneration of an officer during suspension. It follows from the section that, during suspension, an officer, even though not even accused, even though he has not come under inquiry—there may be no inquiry—gets no pay whatever.

His remuneration is suspended with his suspension. If, after his case has been inquired into, we assume the best, and say he is reinstated, the Minister still has the power to keep his pay, either in whole or in part, or devote it to whatever object he desires or dispose of it as he so wills. That, I think, is an extremely loose method of dealing with the matter. One would imagine that there should certainly be some method of recompensing the officer for all he suffered during an unjust suspension. If the inquiry finds that there was no ground for his suspension, that the whole proceedings were misconceived and taken incorrectly, if he is declared not guilty and, if the movers in the matter, whether the committee or the Minister, are shown to be at fault, even though that fault may have been by no means without justification so far as they can see, yet the person concerned has suffered all through that period from the ignominy of being under suspension and from the loss of his remuneration. If he is not guilty, I say there should be put explicitly in the Bill some section to make it mandatory that he should receive his full remuneration for that time. It should not be at the discretion of the Minister. He should not only receive it in full, but there should be some method of recompensing him for the costs that he might incur in defending his case.

In the 1930 Act, Section 27, there was a slightly different provision. The Minister could not remove the officer under that Act without having first held a local inquiry, the procedure for which is described at length by Section 105 of the Act. We need not go into that. But the holding of an inquiry in itself would not absolve the Minister from having regard to the necessary rights under Section 44 of the Local Government Act. If the officer were dismissed following such an inquiry, his remedy would be to take his case into the courts, and that is the last resort of the citizen. In this Bill, however, we find, as I read it, that the Minister is given judicial power. He is given power to determine these things and, so far as I can see, under this Bill the aggrieved officer could not go into the courts, could not contest the case. If he has gone through the correct procedure as laid down by the Bill there does not, appear to me to be any further relief for the officer.

In this sub-section (1) (a) the question of unfitness comes in. I think I have dealt fully with the view of the officers as a whole on the question of unfitness. But, is it not rather loosely phrased in the Bill? Should there not be some further qualification—that the statutory grounds for the removal of the holder of an office under Section (8) would be the unfitness of such a holder for such an office? Should there not be some definition of this unfitness?—educational unfitness, may be. The Minister should have this made more definite in the Bill. As it stands, unfitness might include any number of things. It might include the political opinions of the officer. It might include individual idiosyncrasies. To put it in the most extravagant way, it might include such things as his views upon matters which might not affect education at all. He might be quite fit so far as the educational standard was concerned, but, in regard to other standards, he might be considered unfit. Should there not be then in this Section 1 (a) some closer definition of what unfitness means?

In sub-section (2) there is mention of a local inquiry, but there is no provision in the Bill as to how this is to be constituted. We do not know whether there will be the right to call witnesses, whether those witnesses are to be examined on oath, or what is to be the power or judicial function of this inquiry. It mentions "any local inquiry". What does "any" mean? Who is to hold it? Is it to be held by an inspector or by the committee, or by the two combined, or is it to be held by some local court? Finally, is it to have the same meaning as in the Principal Act? If it is to have the same meaning as in the Principal Act, it should be so stated and there might be no objection to it.

But the worst sub-section of all is sub-section (3). The Minister's opinion is the only test here. It would appear from this sub-section that the Minister has power of dismissal without an inquiry, merely because he is of opinion that the officer should be dismissed. Surely that is a contravention of the Principal Act. If we are to have democratic rights in this State—and I am perfectly sure we are all democratically-minded; we are not a totalitarian State—every accused should have the right of defending himself against an accusation and every citizen the right to be considered innocent until he is proved guilty. That right appears to be taken away from the officer under this sub-section (3).

But there is even worse here. Perhaps I had better read it in order to be quite clear on it, because I have read it several times and it seems to me so extraordinary that I do not believe there is any relation whatever to any other Act previously passed here or we would have heard about it. I would be surprised if any Dáil passed any Local Government Act in the same terms as this sub-section, which states:—

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

Surely the Minister never contemplated taking this power. I doubt very much whether the Minister would ever exercise this power. It is so unjust, it is so outrageous that a Minister, or anyone else, should send by post to an accused party notice of his dismissal and that seven days after the sending of such notice the Minister may remove him from office. Mark well the word "sending." It is not seven days or one day after the receipt. The Minister only requires under this law to prove that he sent the notice; it does not require him to prove that it was ever received by the aggrieved party. That short space of time, seven days after the sending of the notice, is given for the aggrieved party to make his representations, if any, but there is no provision in this Bill whatsoever to ensure that the officer has received the notice and has been able to consider the opinion of the Minister.

Surely the members of the House, who have had a great deal more experience than I, never passed a sub-section of any Bill which gave a Minister such arbitrary power as that.

They did.

I am very much surprised to know it, and I do not think my opinion of the House that did it is in any way enhanced by that knowledge. Surely it is beyond all understanding that the sending of the notice should be the operative part of this sub-section, not the receipt of the notice. Surely Deputies were not carrying out their duties and functions as members of a democratic body when they allowed that to pass. In sub-section (4), again, the opinion of the Minister on the offence for which a person has been convicted is the sole test for dismissal. The punishment inflicted by a court which might try such a case would be nothing compared with the penalty of dismissal put in the hands of a Minister. As I said before in regard to a previous section, I think this section gives the Minister judicial power, and gives him power beyond that of any court to inflict a penalty.

Section 9—this is the section that I think is of the gravest concern to the officers—states:

"The fact that an officer is in office at the date of the passing of this Act shall not be a ground for contending that Sections 6, 7 and 8 of this Act do not apply to him."

That matter has been dealt with very elaborately, I think, on the Second Reading of the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill. It is a glaring example of the evil effects of retrospective legislation. If that is extended, in regard to any set of officers, there is no security of tenure whatever. No officer can be assured after he signs conditions of appointment, that an Act of this Legislature is not going to rob him of all the benefits under those conditions of appointment. It would be eminently reasonable if the very reverse had been laid down in this Bill, that existing officers are not to come under the provisions of Sections 6, 7 and 8 of this Bill. To bring them under those sections means that every guarantee that was given to them under the Acts which I have already quoted, every idea of security, every hope of advancement in their profession that they had under the Act of 1930, are now filched from them. In the minds of the officers, there is no possible justification for this. Newcomers to the service would understand quite well that the Minister has powers of dismissal and of suspension in regard to them and their salaries which did not obtain hitherto in the service, but the older officers, who have been in the service since 1905, and officers who have joined the service even more recently—the 300 officers in regard to whom the Minister quite rightly boasted of the work they did in extending the service—are very adversely affected by this section of the Bill. There is a spirit of disquiet, a spirit of uncertainty, growing up in the service as a result of the Bill, particularly of that Section 9, which the Minister would do well to eliminate as soon as possible, if he wishes the service—as he does—to continue to operate efficiently and harmoniously.

I do not know whether the Minister is prepared to take this section out of the Bill, or whether he is prepared to amend it, but if not, I think he should give some indication that there will be a liberal interpretation of it; that he should in some way or other that may appear to him the best way give an assurance to these officers that there will be no punitive measures taken under these sections, that this is a mere legal formality, perhaps, that is necessary by reason of legal enactments but that, as far as he is concerned as a Minister, he has no intention of using the powers that are conferred on him by this Bill.

I have spoken at length upon the things that are in the Bill which I do not like to see there, which I would prefer to see taken out of the Bill, but, as this is an amending Bill, it gives occasion for one to indicate also what one would like to see in the Bill that the Minister has not thought fit to put into it.

It decidedly does not give such opportunity.

The Deputy could have said it but for the fact that he announced his intention of doing so.

That was tried twice on other measures to-day.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned until Wednesday, 1st December.
The Dáil adjourned at 9 p.m. until 3 o'clock on Wednesday, 1st December, 1943.