Committee on Finance. - Local Government Bill, 1945—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following question:—
"That Section 36 stand part of the Bill."

Deputy Broderick made some very pertinent observations on Section 36 and then moved to report progress. Since he is not here now I assume that he has terminated his remarks. I should like, therefore, to reply to certain observations he made. He said first of all that there was no room in the Bill for free association between county authorities in respect of plans as they developed. He also spoke of there being nothing in the Bill to assist county authorities to co-operate where they could agree in advance. He further spoke of the difficulties arising from one authority carrying out work on a bridge in which another authority was vitally interested. In regard to these three different factors, so far as association between county authorities is concerned, during the preparation of plans there is nothing to prevent two county authorities from forming a joint committee under the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1898. They can form it informally or they can form it under that Act for the purpose of discussing matters and if possible of co-operating in regard to plans for the bridge. They can consider the cost to each authority and the distribution of the cost as between the two authorities. In regard to their agreeing in advance of the Minister making a bridge Order, I think I already said that before the Report Stage we shall consider some amendment to facilitate such agreement in advance and to enable some of the provisions of the bridge legislation to be dispensed with by allowing these local authorities at some point to decide that they are going to share the expenses in an agreed ratio. That will be considered on the Report Stage.

In regard to executing the work on the bridge, it is our opinion that one authority, and one authority only, must carry out the engineering work on the bridge and that the engineering administration should be related to one authority. We feel that the alternative of creating a separate engineering organisation by two authorities would be unwieldy and cumbersome and that any watching brief, so to speak, held by one authority on a work being executed by another authority must be in the nature of an informal arrangement. So far as I know there is nothing in the Bill which would prevent, shall we say, the Cork County Council from appointing an engineer with a watching brief to consult with the Waterford County Council from time to time in regard to the carrying out of the work. It should be clearly stated that if the Waterford County Council or if, alternatively, the Cork County Council, carry out the work, to them would be left full responsibility. I need hardly add that in view of the very heavy financial commitments involved in the construction of such a large bridge, it or any large bridge, would be under the constant supervision of the engineering staff of the Department of Local Government. It is estimated that bridges on national highways across considerable stretches of water will cost anything from £140,000 to £250,000. It would, therefore, be the duty of the Minister to see that the work is carried out competently and expeditiously at every stage.

Deputy Broderick also referred to one county authority having a particular preference for a particular engineer. In regard to that matter the Minister must decide, in the first instance, who is to be the executing authority, and, in connection with any grant from the Road Fund made for the bridge, he must be satisfied that the special engineer appointed to work with the existing engineering staff, is a person of high qualifications. He must be satisfied that the work will be carried out under the authority of that person but I think the Deputy will realise that it would be quite impossible to deal with the preferences of any particular locality for a particular engineer within the terms of this Bill. I think that disposes of the points which the Deputy made. Before the Report Stage we shall see whether we can short-circuit the operations under certain provisions of the Bill by making arrangements to assist and encourage local authorities to co-operate and present an agreed report in advance.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 67:—

Before sub-section (3), page 16, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Where plans are submitted to the Minister under sub-section (1) of this section and the bridge Order contains a requirement under Section 39 of this Act of a contribution by any road authority—

(a) the Minister shall cause a copy of such plans to be given by post to that authority and shall request them to consider such plans and, if they so desire, to send to him within a specified time their observations thereon,

(b) the Minister shall not exercise the powers conferred on him by sub-section (2) of this section until he has considered any observations on such plans which that authority may send to him within the time so specified.

This amendment follows the ideas underlining Deputy Hughes' amendment, which was not considered sufficiently specific. It is an extremely important amendment and affects the whole character of Part IV of the Bill. It is one of the sections in which it is quite clear that the Minister desires that all the authorities concerned should have full cognisance of the plan that is being prepared and of the way the work should be done. Before he finally makes a bridge Order, he must consider observations made to him by every authority. I think that is fairly clear and there is no need to give further information.

On reading Deputy Hughes' amendment, I think what he had in mind was the problem of arterial drainage, with reference to the Drainage Commissioners.

I do not think Deputy Coogan was in the House when I indicated that there was a section in the Arterial Drainage Act whereby, in any waterway over which they have control, plans for any bridge must be referred to them for their consent.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 68:—

In sub-section (3), page 16, lines 47 and 48, to delete the word and figure "sub-section (2)" and substitute the words and figures "sub-section (2) and (3)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 69:—

In sub-section (4), page 17, line 2, to delete the word and figure "sub-section (2)" and substitute the words and figures "sub-sections (2) and (3)".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 70 not moved.
Section 37, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 38 and 39 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 71:—

In sub-section (3), page 17, line 55, to delete the word "fourteen" and substitute the word "twenty-one".

This amendment has been provided in order to give a little bit more time to persons, over whose lands survey and excavation work has to be done, to decide whether they wish to make an objection and apply for compensation. Deputy Hughes put down 30 days in his amendment and we compromised, as between 14 and 30, with 21. The work that has to be done will consist of survey work, water levels, soil gauging and so forth. Compensation is afforded in connection with this work and we consider that 21 days is long enough a period for a landowner to decide whether he wishes to object. It is really a compromise between Deputy Hughes and ourselves and I hope it will be approved.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 72:—

In sub-section (4), page 18, line 3, to delete the word "fourteen" and substitute the word "twenty-one".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 73 not moved.

On behalf of Deputy O'Connor, I move amendment No. 74:—

After sub-section (7), page 18, to add the following sub-section:—

(8) A justice of the District Court when making any order under this section (including the refusal of an application) may at his discretion order the costs, to an amount not exceeding three guineas, incurred in relation to the proceedings by any party thereto, to be paid by any other party thereto.

We thought this a reasonable amendment and are accepting it.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 40, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 75 not moved.
Section 41 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 76:—

Before Section 42, page 18, to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) Where a person other than a road authority is required by or under any Act to construct or maintain the bridge or a part of the bridge or to pay or contribute to the expenses of such construction or maintenance, the following portions of this Part of this Act shall have effect as if such person were a road authority, that is to say, sub-section (3) of Section 31, paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 33, Section 39 and Section 41.

(2) Where by virtue of this section the bridge Order contains a requirement under sub-section (1) of Section 39 of this Act of a contribution to be made by a company controlling a railway or canal, the Minister shall not make an Order under sub-section (3) of that section varying the contribution save with the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

This amendment has been inserted in order to apply certain portions of Part IV of the Bill to railway companies and persons other than road authorities who are required under any Act to construct or maintain a bridge or part of a bridge in respect of which a bridge Order is made or to contribute to the expenses of such construction or maintenance. A number of railway bridges has been built under the legislation governing the formation of railways in this country and, under the Railways Act, the railway was supposed to maintain the bridge in a certain condition. There has been a certain amount of litigation over this matter and, in order to make sure that the railway company continues to discharge adequate responsibility, we have inserted this amendment. A railway company will invariably be named in the application for a bridge Order where it has some responsibility in connection with the reconstruction of a bridge.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 77:—

In sub-section (1), page 18, lines 56 and 57, to delete the words "a road authority" and substitute the words "the council of a county or an urban authority".

This amendment is inserted in order to clarify the position in regard to the classification of expenses incurred by a county borough council. When we deal with the question of allocating expenses, in the case of main roads the expenses are raised equally over the whole of the county area; in the case of a county area road the expenses are raised over the county-ex-urban area; in the case of an urban area road they the case of a county borough, all the expenses are raised over the whole area and it is in order to define properly the words "road authority" that we have inserted this amendment and also the amendment further on in regard to county boroughs. It should be quite clear, that in regard to chargeability of expenses, the regulations governing main roads apply to county areas. Unless we inserted this amendment there would be a lack of clarity in regard to the chargeability of county boroughs.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 78:—

In sub-section (1), lines 58 and 60, page 18, to delete the word "main" and substitute the word "trunk".

Maybe I should have moved to add the word "trunk" and leave the word "main" in. However, the intention is to enable the corporation to get any benefit that may accrue from this section in respect of the repair, replacement, reconstruction or reconditioning of any bridge within the jurisdiction of the County Borough of Dublin. The words "trunk road" are defined in various Acts of Parliament, as are also the words "main road". What I have in mind is to ask the Minister's assurance that, by leaving out the word "trunk" in this Bill, there is nothing that will deprive the corporation of any benefits if they have to maintain or repair a trunk road. If it is not clear, maybe the Minister would accept the word "trunk", so as to ensure that the corporation will get any benefit they think they are entitled to or that they have been entitled to up to now.

Perhaps I could explain the matter to Deputy Byrne by indicating that the word "trunk" has no relation to the classification of roads in regard to their chargeability. In the case of a county borough, a trunk or a link road is regarded as one suited for a road grant from the Road Fund. Therefore, the use of the word "trunk" would not be of any assistance in clarifying the section. In the case of all bridges in county borough areas, so far as the local contribution is concerned, their expenses will be charged over the whole area of the county borough. If the bridge joins a road which has been declared a trunk or a link road, and has been accepted by the Minister as such, the construction of the bridge would be subject to a grant from the Road Fund; but there is nothing in Part IV of the Bill covering the question of the Road Fund—it is entirely a separate matter.

The Parliamentary Secretary has not satisfied me. I think there is something in the leaving out of the word "trunk" that will deprive the County Borough of Dublin of the benefits they have already been getting from the Road Fund through other Acts of Parliament. If the Parliamentary Secretary will give us an assurance that the dropping of the word "trunk" and the putting in of the words "main road" in this section will not interfere with the municipality of Dublin in the sense I have referred to, I will be satisfied. The municipality of Dublin may be called upon to improve, repair, rebuild or recondition in any way certain bridges and roads. Heretofore they have been getting grants under other Acts of Parliament and these Acts have the words "main and trunk roads" included in their sections. I should like to feel sure that there is nothing special in this section which will deprive them of any benefit because the words "main roads" only are mentioned and the word "trunk" is left out. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will look into this matter and tell us later that no imposition will be placed on the municipality of Dublin when they undertake repairs or improvements of any sort. I hope that such undertakings will not involve the rate-paying public in the whole cost and that we will get the share that we have been getting up to now. If I can get that assurance, I will be satisfied and I will not press the amendment.

I can assure the Deputy that there is nothing in Part IV of the Bill which would deprive the Dublin Corporation or any other city or county borough area of the grant from the Road Fund for the construction of a bridge if, in the ordinary course, the bridge is part of a road which is declared as one suitable for a grant under the Road Fund and which has been defined for that purpose as a trunk or link road. I hope that is satisfactory to the Deputy.

In this Bill "trunk" roads are not defined at all and in all other Bills the word "trunk" is defined. In this section the words "main roads" are mentioned but the words "trunk roads" are not. I just want the Parliamentary Secretary's assurance that if we have been getting anything for repairs to roads other than main roads, reconditioning or improving them, that we will not lose it under this section, more especially as regards what might be considered "trunk" roads.

I have already given the Deputy that assurance.

I accept that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 79:—

In page 19, to add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Every provision for the raising of expenses incurred by the corporation of a county borough in the construction and maintenance of roads, whether by means of rates or borrowing, shall apply in relation to expenses incurred under this Part of this Act by such corporation.

That follows from amendment No. 77.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 42, as amended, agreed to.

On behalf of Deputy Larkin, I move amendment No. 80:—

To delete all words after the word "work" in line 20 to the end of the section.

This amendment is submitted purely for the purpose of clarification. It is difficult to understand why the words at the end of Section 43 have been inserted. The section sets out:—

"The work may be described in the application for the bridge Order or the bridge Order by means of a general statement of the character and purpose of the work and without specifying the exact situation of the place where it is to be executed or the manner in which it is to be executed."

This amendment suggests the deletion of the words after "work". I would like to know what is the purpose of inserting in the section words which make it so vague. It does not appear to have any particular meaning. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will explain what is the object of putting in a vague sentence which appears to deprive the section of meaning.

The purpose of making Section 43 as broad as possible is in order to assist local authorities to propose the reconstruction or the building of a bridge in a manner which will not commit any other local authority in advance to a proposition with which they might not concur. For example, I can think of at least one important urban area where a bridge might be erected at a certain part of a river very expensively, whereas if it was erected higher up it might enable certain parts of the urban area to be used for port or harbour purposes. If it was erected in one place it might alter certain internal communications, such as railway termini. It might increase the distance between the bridge and the railway terminus. The whole purpose of the words at the end of the section is to enable any proposition for a bridge to be regarded in the broadest light possible. If a local authority had to commit itself to the exact position of a bridge and the manner in which it was to be executed, when the Minister begins to order the survey to be undertaken the persons undertaking it will be definitely limited. These words increase the scope of the Bill and enable authorities to make application for bridge Orders under the most favourable circumstances.

Right through the Bill steps are being taken to prevent chaos developing between conflicting or rival authorities. All steps possible have been taken to see that there will be one co-ordinating authority. I suggest that this will lead to considerable chaos— the idea that a bridge is to be built on some unspecified site. Is that considered good legislation—that you can give the general description or character of the work without specifying the place where the bridge is to be built? The site is the most important function, in my opinion. The Department inscribes here, voluntarily and gratuitously, something that I consider meaningless.

I do not think the position has been satisfactorily explained by the Parliamentary Secretary. The specification of the site is a thing that should be first determined. If it is to be a general thing, we will have nothing but conflicts between one authority and another, and we will have difficulty as to the eventual cost of the bridge unless you can specify a particular point across the river and that the length and width of the bridge will be so-and-so. I suggest it is not right to leave the matter in this vague state. If the words are deleted as suggested in the amendment, it will mean that the work may be described in the application for the bridge by means of a general statement as to its character and purpose. Even that is vague enough, but without specifying the exact situation where the work is to be executed and the manner in which it is to be executed, you will be asking for a good deal of trouble.

I have had some slight experience of dealing with contracts under the Local Government Department in connection with the erection of a bridge. Various parties were concerned, from the board of works down to the road section of the Local Government Department and the local authorities. I speak with some little knowledge when I say that if we had not a decision on the actual site, the whole thing would have ended in chaos. This matter should receive serious consideration from the Parliamentary Secretary. The site should be agreed upon beforehand—there should be general agreement on that point.

The last few words of the Deputy gave me a clue as to what is underlying his thoughts. I said that we are to consider, before the Report Stage, how to stimulate co-operation between the two authorities, so that Part IV of the Bill, dealing with the erection of bridges, may be conducted in the most amicable manner possible —that is, the consideration of it by the local authorities. I still say that when a local authority applies for a bridge Order it should be given the greatest possible scope to suggest that any examination may, in consequence of the application, be conducted in the broadest manner, without the Minister having to commit himself with regard to where the bridge is to be built and without committing any other authority as to where the bridge is to be built. I think they are abusing the section by making purely fantastic proposals that somewhere a river bridge should be built but without actually underlining where by an exact description of the site. There will be more than one local authority concerned, and a number of interests, as well as the whole question of the navigability of the river, and the comparative commercial value of various sites. There is the fact that the bridge, if at one place may be very much less costly, or that it may cause a dislocation of trade in certain areas or that if built in another place it may assist a town. In order to have the greatest measure of co-operation from all authorities going to be consulted, when the Minister has planned, the section is put in this manner, so that no local authority may commit itself too far in advance. In the long run I think we shall encourage co-operation and that there is less likely to be friction. If a local authority states too exactly in advance its purpose in relation to an application for a bridge, this section gives latitude to consider the whole matter.

The Parliamentary Secretary's remarks so far as they refer to the application are easily understandable, but the work may be called the bridge Order by remarks of a general kind. I cannot see why the Minister should seek a safeguard of this nature in describing the work of the bridge Order. From a reading of the section the Order may be so vague as to leave the exact location a matter of doubt. I can understand that when applied to the application but when we come to the bridge Order the Minister has full power under the section to make an Order in what terms he thinks fit. Why seek a further loophole and avail of the possibility of misdescription? I cannot see why the Minister should provide that the bridge Order should not indicate the exact location. Its terms should be such that there would be no doubt where the bridge should be built. They should be such as to fix the location.

I think what Deputy Coogan has said has some merit in reference to Section 43, dealing with the application for the bridge Order. I think that the application is worthy of consideration, and that we had better examine the section with regard to that matter before the Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 43 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 81:-

In page 19, line 24, to delete the words "navigable water" and substitute the words "a railway or navigable water (including a canal)".

The purpose of the amendment is to extend to railway bridges a restriction on construction or reconstruction where navigable water is concerned and to make it clear that navigable water covers "canal". This also covers amendment No. 82.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 82 not moved.
Section 44, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 83:-

Before sub-section (1) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(1) At the first meeting of a council held after an election the secretary of the local authority shall preside pending the election of a chairman.

Perhaps this amendment and the next one might be considered together as they are somewhat indentical. The object of the two amendments is to ensure that at the first meeting of a county council or local authority after an election there shall be an impartial chairman. That is desirable. Frequently after an election campaign there is a tense atmosphere, and the fact that the person presiding belongs to one of the parties who had been contesting the election often gives the impression that he is not impartial. There may be an opportunity for a chairman to display some partiality, even with regard to the election of a chairman, and for that reason it is desirable that we should follow the precedent established in this House. The same procedure should be adopted by local authorities. I should like to know if the Minister has any objection.

A very strong objection to an attempt to create an analogy between this House and a subordinate body like a county council. If this thing goes on, we are likely to have a federation or a conglomeration of 26 separate republics functioning inside our shores. It is quite true that under the Constitution the Clerk of this House has certain functions as a responsible officer, but his duties are not at all analogous to that of a secretary of a county council or of a manager. I do not think we have had many exhibitions of partisanship, at least to such an extent that we should accentuate a tendency which some Deputies, who are generally opposed to the managerial system, allege exists, whereby we are erecting the principal executive officer of a local authority like a manager into a position of superiority and control over elected members. I can scarcely conceive that it is possible to carry that tendency, if it exists, to any greater extreme than is proposed in the amendment, where the secretary—not even the principal officer of a local authority—is for the time being to be put in actual control over an assembly of elected members. Of course that is what a chairman's function would be. We have heard many complaints, particularly from the benches occupied by Deputy Keyes and Deputy M. O'Sullivan about the way in which managers are supposed to control elected members of local authorities. Here is a proposal to put one definitely by statute in a position of control. That has never been done. It has not been done, at any rate, in the County Management Acts and I do not think that we ought to accept it, even for a brief and passing period such as is here contemplated. Apart altogether from that, the amendment is based upon a misapprehension as to what the position is. It has been assumed, I think, that the chairman of a county council or of a local authority ceases to hold office during the interim period of election or ceases to hold office if he is not re-elected. He holds that office until the new chairman is elected and it is true that some difficulties have arisen, not by reason of the fact that he acts as chairman, but there has been some uncertainty as to the voting powers of a chairman of the first meeting of the county council who while remaining chairman of the county councilpro tem has not been re-elected to that body. The section as it stands in the Bill—Section 45—is designed to deal with that case and to make it quite clear that his function at the meeting will be merely to conduct the meeting and not to participate by voting in the election of a chairman. I think many difficulties which have arisen in connection with any of the meetings of county councils will be obviated in future by the section which we propose where, as I say, the chairman of the old council will preside at the first meeting of the new council but will not be entitled to vote unless he has been actually re-elected a member of the council. That is briefly the case against the two amendments, Nos. 83 and 84.

I am afraid I will have to correct the Minister's memory a little because he stated that it was never introduced into any Local Government Act—the question of any individual other than a member of the county council being appointed to the chair.

No, I did not say that. May I correct the Deputy? What I did say was this, that never before has it been suggested that an officer of the local authority—the secretary or manager—should be placed in a position of authority over meetings of a county council or other local body, actually to preside at and control their meetings.

The section is obviously designed to meet a situation following an election. There was such an occasion under the Dublin Act of 1930 where actually the city manager of the time, the late Gerald Sherlock, was nominated in the Act to preside and did in fact preside on the occasion until the Lord Mayor was elected. The objectionable feature of this section, in the manner in which it has been drawn, is that an individual who was, say, chairman of the county council or of any borough authority and who had submitted himself to election and was defeated is, under this section, apparently, eligible to come back to preside at the opening meeting until his successor is appointed.

That is the law. He remains chairman of the council.

Frankly, as far as I can see, objections could be levelled against that. First and foremost, what right has that individual, if he has been rejected at the polls? He has no longer the confidence of the people and therefore he has no right to be present there at all. Incidentally, there is a personal side to it. Such an individual, having received a rebuff at the polls, may not feel disposed, very obviously would not feel disposed, to attend such a meeting, to preside there and carry out the function which Section 45 assigns to him. He would have personal objections, I am sure, to doing it.

It is not essential that he should.

If such an occasion arose, then the council would be back to the position that we envisage, that nobody would be available under the machinery to preside.

No. The vice-chairman of the council would preside.

If the vice-chairman were in the same position as the chairman?

Very well then, they could at least elect or agree upon a chairman, but the virtue of that, of course, would be that he would be a member of the elected authority himself; he would be a representative of the people, not a member of the bureaucracy which the member of the Labour Party and Deputy Cogan's Party are so fond of talking about.

On that point, I am not satisfied with the machinery as set out in that section and I would suggest that a better form of machinery could be prescribed, that the election should take place from within the elected members following the election and you could leave out any question of a manager, a clerk or any other official.

The machinery regulating the first meeting is not laid down in this section; it is laid down in the Principal Act. What we are proposing to do here is to make it quite clear that unless the chairman of the old council has been re-elected a member of the new body, if he attends, the chairman of the first meeting of the new council will not have a vote at all. On the other hand, it may happen—and I suppose in general it might happen—that the chairman of the outgoing council would not attend. In that event, as I pointed out, the vice-chairman of the old council takes the chair automatically and if he should not be present or should not have been re-elected then the members of the local authority themselves have the right to choose, on this occasion, their own chairman who will preside over that meetingpro tem.

That would meet the point, if the machinery provides that in such event as I have indicated you have the alternative.

That is all provided for.

There is another point which I should like to direct the Minister's attention to. If the defeated chairman does turn up to the meeting and does take the chair and presides, he has no vote?

No vote at all.

In the event of an even vote, has he no casting vote?

He has no vote to balance the decision?

The Deputy is aware that under Section 43 of the Act of 1941, the section which is mentioned in sub-section (2) of the proposed new Section 45, in the event of a tie at a meeting of this kind the result is determined by lot. So that there is machinery.

That still operates? That will obviate that difficulty then?

I still think, with Deputy O'Sullivan and Deputy Cogan, that, as the section is one you want to alter and improve and as you are taking out that rather impossible portion of that section whereby the man coming back can exercise functions that are not his right, you should go further and make it impossible for the man to come back. It is really an obnoxious position for any man to have to come back after being defeated. The Minister should devise a means by which the newly-elected council could do their work without the defeated chairman having to come back for that particular occasion to the scene of his defeat and eat humble pie by presiding at the meeting and having no power to vote. I think that is very objectionable.

Of course, it is not quite so simple as that. A local authority is a continuing corporation and a continuing body with assets and responsibilities. In these circumstances it must have continuing officers. Therefore, you cannot get rid of the old chairman until you have elected a new one. You cannot have the elected authority without a head.

You could if you wished to do so.

It is desired to apply the same sort of principles that operate in relation to the Government of the country to the functions and procedure of local authorities. That is precisely what happens here. The head of the former Government continues in office until the Dáil meets again and then it is determined. That is, in fact, the closest analogy you can have to the procedure which is now prescribed by the 1941 Act.

The Minister apparently objects to any comparison being drawn between local authorities and this Assembly. In so doing, of course, he has to a great extent repudiated a great deal of the policy and propaganda of his Party, particularly when extending the universal franchise to the election of local authorities.

The Deputy has a very good memory if he recollects that.

At that time the argument was used: why should such-and-such a citizen have a right to vote for representatives to this House but have no right to vote for representatives to a local authority? We had that analogy drawn frequently. I think there is a very close analogy between this democratic Assembly and the smaller and subordinate democratic assemblies in the counties and urban areas. I feel that the secretary of a county council would be impartial as between one Party and another. I do not think that the leading member of any Party would be as impartial between the various Parties in the event of a very close tie between the various Parties for the election of a chairman. We have provision made here for an election by lot, and we have a position in which one of the leading combatants in that contest is to have control and supervision over the carrying out of this lot, which is, I think, objectionable.

The Minister introduced the question of the county manager. I think that was more or less to draw a red herring across the trail. We know that there are cases in which there is a county manager exclusively for one county; in other cases, there is a manager for two counties. I think that the secretary, as the official directly concerned with the functions of the particular county council, is the person who should be naturally selected to hold the balance fairly until the chairman is elected.

I cannot follow the argument of Deputy Cogan in this matter, because I have actual experience of a case where a former chairman was defeated in an election and expressed the wish to preside at the meeting to elect a new chairman, even though he was not a member of the council. The new council facilitated him and invited him to come there and take the chair. The former chairman, if you like, came to say adieu to the old timers and to welcome the new. If you adopt this proposal, you exclude altogether a case of that kind and prevent a former member from presiding. I do not see any great objection to such a man presiding at a meeting. He has no power, no vote, and no interest in the matter. I think it would be preferable to putting an official in the chair.

In the event of his being elected, he has a vote.

Of course he is not a member of the body.

He could be a member. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 84 not moved.
Section put and agreed to.
Section 46 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 85:—

Before Section 47 to insert a new section as follows:—

Sub-section (1) of Section 44 of the Act of 1941 is hereby amended by the insertion before sub-section (2) of the following sub-section:—

The members of a local authority shall not be removed from office under the foregoing sub-section of this section until the Minister has furnished a statement of his charges to the local authority; a public inquiry, consisting of a person or persons appointed by the chief justice has been held and its report furnished to the Minister and the said report has been published by the Minister.

I think that is quite a reasonable section to put into this Bill. It is only fair to members of local authorities that at least this amount of justice should be done to them if, following any action or alleged action of theirs, a local inquiry has to be held that might subsequently result in some form of prejudice arising which would mean that the board would be abolished and the powers delegated to a commissioner or a manager or some appointee of the Minister. Following the Cork Street Fever Hospital inquiry and the question of the publication of the documents concerned——

Before the debate proceeds much further, it would be well to be clear on this subject. I wish to know whether we are entitled to discuss the Cork Street Fever Hospital inquiry or any other inquiry on this amendment. If we do, it will mean a prolonged investigation and it seems to me to be——

I do not think the Deputy would be entitled to go into any details concerning any other parallel case, but he can quote a parallel case in passing.

I hold I am entitled to make a passing reference to a case in which I think a grave injustice has been done——

That is a little more than a passing reference—that is a charge.

——to elected representatives. This Minister raised objections the other night and got the House adjourned——

Will the Deputy come down to his amendment?

I do not think he should be allowed continuously to interrupt me. I will be very short in putting before the House the reason why this new section should be put into the Bill in order to give all of us who are members of the House and those who are not members of the House but who are members of public authorities the right to get a fair trial at an inquiry by persons appointed by the Chief Justice and the report furnished to the Minister and published by him. I have given due notice of the amendment and, in passing, I should like to make reference to the injustices done in connection with the Cork Street Fever Hospital, where people were removed from office——

I beg your pardon, Sir. On a point of order——

——who had rendered very valuable service——

On a point of order.

On a point of order. Obviously, if the Deputy is allowed to proceed to allege that injustice has been done in a certain specific matter, I must be allowed to refute that and the debate then, instead of turning on an amendment to this Bill, will turn on a matter, not of general importance, but a specific and individual case.

I think I have already ruled that the Deputy is entitled to raise this matter.

Is this a point of order or a speech?

I am putting it to you, Sir, that if the Deputy is allowed to proceed——

If the Deputy feels that an injustice is being done, he is quite entitled to refer to it.

I put it to you, Sir, that the administration of the Department of Local Government by the Minister, properly, arises on the Vote for the Department. There will be an opportunity in this House then to discuss the matter. An opportunity has already been provided to discuss it and I suggest that, since there will be an early opportunity of discussing it again, the Deputy is not entitled to raise it in this debate in the form in which he is doing.

I think that the Deputy is entitled on an amendment of the kind he is moving, to refer to the matter so long as he does not dilate too long on the merits of the particular question.

I must ask that the Minister will not be allowed to persist in these continual interruptions and force the House to adjourn as he did on last Thursday night.

These are matters for the Chair. The Deputy should confine his remarks to the amendment under discussion.

I merely want to establish that those who are giving service on public boards will not be unjustifiably removed from office by any Minister of State. I have asked in this amendment that a report should be furnished to the Minister and that the said report shall be published by the Minister. In justice to people who are prepared to serve on public boards, I want to refer to the report of a committee on Ministers' powers presented by the Lord High Chancellor to Parliament by command of his Majesty in April, 1932. It is called the report of the Donoughmore Commission. The Donoughmore Commission sat for many years considering the question of Ministers' powers.

"I, John Sankey, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, after consultation with the Prime Minister hereby appoint the following——"

Surely this is out of order?

I do not think this is relevant.

I shall only refer to the document briefly and then I can get away from it. I shall refer to it briefly for purposes of my argument. I quote this very important document dealing with a report of a committee which sat for many days and eventually decided in the interests of public order and justice in favour of the publication of inspectors' reports. I go back to page 104 of this document which has the title "Arguments for publication of Inspectors' Reports."

Surely this is completely out of order. I know that the Deputy on one occasion in his ardour attended a coronation ceremony in Westminster.

This is most irrelevant.

It is just as revelant as what the Deputy is quoting from.

The Minister on one occasion used that same phrase at a public meeting with the thought of capturing the cheers of a mob.

The Deputy must relate what he is saying to the terms of the amendment.

You have heard a statement that I attended a coronation at Westminster. If I did, I would make open boast of it seeing that I would be doing honour to my city in attending there in my capacity as Lord Mayor of Dublin but I did not.

Whether the Deputy did or did not has no bearing on the amendment.

I want it to go on the records of the House that the Minister is deliberately misleading you and the House.

The Deputy will have to try to relate his remarks to the amendment and, if not, he will have to leave the House.

Am I to be misrepresented by the Minister and am I not to have an opportunity of repudiating his allegations? I attended the funeral of His Majesty the King and, if the same opportunity arose again, I would be doing honour to my country in attending there.

The Deputy must leave the funeral and come back to the amendment.

The Deputy would have to work a miracle first.

The report of this inquiry says that the publication of the inspectors' report was demanded

"even from witnesses like the representative of the Surveyors' Institution who spoke most warmly in commendation of the impartiality of the inspectors of the Ministry of Health."

Then they go on to say:—

"We think that there is real substance in the demand"

and to add:—

"Moreover non-publication in cases where the decision does not appear to square with the outcome of the inquiry, may readily expose the inspector to the quite unfair suspicion of having failed to do justice to his task."

That is, if the Minister gives a verdict that does not appear to satisfy those people who are called upon to render an account of their stewardship, they are inclined to blame the inspector because of the decision given by the Minister. The report further states:—

"We have given very long consideration to the matter and on balance have come to the conclusion that publication is right."

Perhaps the Deputy would give us a summary of the finding of the commission.

My last words give that summary. The conclusion they come to is that the publication of the inspector's report is right. On that I am basing my case that if an inquiry is to be held before the Minister abolishes a county council, the county council is entitled to have a copy of the inspector's report to see on what the Minister bases his decision. I think my suggested amendment is quite reasonable. I believe that it would make things easy for the Government. If a county council is to be abolished the members should be told where they have gone wrong and then the public would be satisfied that the Minister did right, and that those who had lost their powers must take their medicine without making any complaint or without there being any outcry in the newspapers that they have been unjustly treated. This commission stated that publication is right. I want to add that there is a feeling of hostility against this legislation by the Local Government Board and against the action of the Custom House in issuing orders taking powers away from local authorities. If a local authority does not do what they are told by the Custom House, the authorities in the Custom House have power to abolish that local authority. Under the Managerial Act, the only power which was left to us was the right to fix our local rates. The Minister has now taken that power from us and it is because I see the danger of further intrusion by the Minister for Local Government that I am moving this amendment. I ask not alone for the support of the Opposition, but for the support of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party who are members of local authorities, to see that the local authorities of which they are members in their own towns are not unjustly treated because of a desire to shake them off. I ask the House to accept my amendment, which is a reasonable one, merely asking that the report supplied to the Minister be supplied also to those who are under the test and who want to see whether the report was fair and if the Minister was justified on the report in giving a decision that might abolish the authority. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again later.