Local Government Bill, 1945—Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment. No. 127:—
To add a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) The proceedings at a local inquiry shall be governed by the rules of evidence and the findings of the inspector upon the evidence tendered before him shall be made public within three months from the date upon which the inquiry terminated.—(Deputy Coogan).

Since we were debating this matter on the last day, we had the rather interesting experience of finding the Taoiseach accepting the findings of this committee on Ministerial powers, from which we have been quoting so much, and even going so far as to say that the conditions in this country were not inconsistent, and for that reason, on Deputy Byrne's and Deputy Anthony's motion in relation to legislation by Ministerial Order, the Taoiseach voiced the opinion that he saw no reason for setting up a special committee to consider Ministerial powers here and gave the impression that he more or less accepted the findings of the committee which had been set up in England in 1932. He admitted that there was a problem and that there were certain necessary evils arising from that problem which would have to be faced. He concluded by a full expression of the view that he would look into this matter to see what could be done to improve upon the present position and indicated to the House that conditions on the other side and here were not dissimilar, and that, even if a committee of the kind asked for in that motion were set up, its findings would probably be identical with those of the 1932 committee. I mention that matter because the Minister for Local Government has throughout this debate resisted the principle that we should take the findings of this committee into consideration.

I was referring on the last occasion to certain principles of natural justice which were considered essential to safeguard the proceedings of public inquiries and Ministerial judicial and quasi-judicial decisions, and had got as far as mentioning two of these. The third principle of natural justice is that a party is entitled to know the reason for the decision, whether it be a judicial or quasi-judicial decision, and, in the opinion of the committee, there were some cases when a refusal to give the grounds for a decision may be plainly unfair and that this may be so even when the decision is final and no further proceedings are open to the disappointed party by way of appeal or otherwise. They then go on to say:—

"But it cannot be disputed that when further proceedings are open to a disappointed party it is contrary to natural justice that the silence of the Minister or the Ministerial tribunal should deprive him of his opportunity. And we think it beyond all doubt that there is from the angle of broad political expediency a real advantage in communicating the grounds of the decision to the parties concerned and, if of general interest, to the public."

The fourth principle which they maintained existed in these matters was that when Parliament has provided for what amounts to an oral hearing by the method of a "public inquiry", local or otherwise, held before an inspector appointed for the purpose by the Minister, as a means of guidance to the Minister in his decision——

On a point of order, Sir. Are we entitled to go into all the findings of the Donoughmore Commission? The Deputy's whole speech on Friday was taken up with this particular phase of the matter, and now apparently we are going through the whole report. The Donoughmore Commission has no relevancy in this House. It is the report of a commission set up by the British Parliament.

The Taoiseach takes a different view.

It does not even bind that House and it has not even been accepted by the Government which set it up. I suggest that we cannot traverse the whole report of the commission and discuss the merits of it.

What has it got to do with the Deputy whether it has been accepted by the British Parliament or not? Surely the Deputy is entitled to quote from it?

It should not be quoted from at length on an amendment.

I am concerned with only two points: the legal safeguards necessary in public inquiries—and in support of my argument in that respect, I have quoted the findings of the committee—and the publication of inspectors' reports. The fourth principle is that when Parliament has provided for what amounts to an oral hearing, by the method of a "public inquiry", local or otherwise, held before an inspector appointed for the purpose by the Minister, as a means of guidance to the Minister in his decision—whether judicial or quasi-judicial—it is contrary to natural justice that the inspector's report upon the inquiry should not be made available to the parties so heard. They went on to make a recommendation that where a decision was given by the Minister, or a Ministerial tribunal, in their opinion, the law required some safeguard by which the jurisdiction of the High Court could be preserved to the parties who were affected by such a decision, and they went on to set up what they considered a simple procedure for providing that safeguard.

As to the question whether or not inspectors' reports should be published, they went into the matter very fully and gave the arguments for and against publication. I do not propose to prolong the debate by giving these arguments, but they can be found, by any person who wishes to consult them, at pages 103 and 104 of the report. They say, in conclusion:—

"To these various arguments for and against publication we have given prolonged consideration, and on balance have come to the conclusion that publication is right. By that we do not mean that the expense of printing a long report should in every case be incurred; but that in all cases the report of the inspector should be made available to the parties concerned and to the Press, and in important cases should be officially published by the Department responsible for the inquiry. We fully appreciate the importance of not undermining the confidential relationship between the Minister and his officials and however strong the case for publication in order to allay a public suspicion, we should, in the public interest, resist the demand for publication if any such consequence were in our judgment likely to ensue."

What relevancy have the recommendations of a British committee in regard to the conduct of proceedings by the British Government in this House? Surely the whole principle of our Constitution is that we are able to determine these things for ourselves, irrespective of what is done elsewhere.

Tell that to the Taoiseach and to Deputy de Valera. They quoted the report in full and accepted it.

This report was accepted fully by the Taoiseach and by Deputy de Valera on Friday last.

I do not think so.

On a motion which was quite pertinent to what we are discussing.

The Deputy realises that a motion decided by the House cannot be reopened for six months.

I am only making the point that the document itself was quoted from and its findings endorsed. The reasons for not setting up the committee, as given by the Taoiseach, were, briefly, that the events in law, the trend of legislation here and in Great Britain and the system of legislation by Ministerial Order and the administrative confusion which is growing up from it, were so similar that there was no necessity to set up a committee here, that he was satisfied that it could not come to any other conclusion than that reached by the British committee.

I advanced this argument at whatever length I may have delayed the House solely in favour of my amendment that these proceedings should in some way or other be safeguarded. All I asked for was that the rules of evidence should be applied to such proceedings, and, failing that, that some legal safeguards be given to the parties affected by Ministerial inquiries of that kind. On the final point—that the report of the inspector holding the inquiry should be published—if I have delayed the House or irritated the Minister in any way by prolonging the debate by quotations from the Committee on Ministerial Powers, the Donoughmore Committee, my apology is that I wanted to advance these in support of my own views and not to stand up here merely to give expression to personal opinions.

This amendment seeks to give us a more judicial local inquiry than we have at present. I think the Minister was right in saying that this amendment seeks to change the law in regard to a local inquiry, but his attitude is to stand for the present position. Before we accept the Minister's attitude, we must realise that the law in relation to local government has changed fundamentally in recent years. The Minister pointed out on frequent occasions in this House that it is desirable, in the interests of local administration, that there should be local inquiries, and that local authorities in order to maintain efficiency in their services, whenever they think it necessary, should call for local inquiries. If a local authority is to call for a local inquiry it must, first of all, have confidence in that inquiry. It must be satisfied that the inquiry to be held is a judicial or semi-judicial one, which will act in accordance with the laws of justice. It is because the Minister has refused to accept that principle, and has refused to give us a fair and impartial local inquiry, that local authorities have been reluctant to call for inquiries. I am not arguing on theory in regard to this matter, because it was debated at Carlow County Council last week. Statements were made there by the manager which appeared to reflect on local officials, and a proposal was put forward that a sworn inquiry should be held, but the county council, having considered the matter, decided not to call for a sworn inquiry, mainly for the reason that sworn inquiries, as we know them, are not impartial, and, as constituted, cannot be impartial.

The Minister made the statement, in relation to a local inquiry, that he is in the same position as a jury trying a case. That is a most extraordinary position to take up. A jury, although it may consist of laymen—what the Minister claims to be in this connection —is a body of people selected because its members are known to have no direct or indirect interest in the case under consideration. If it was found that any member of a jury had some connection with the case under consideration, that person would not be allowed to act on it. Again, the members of a jury must be present at the entire trial. They must see the witnesses giving evidence, note their demeanour, and the manner in which they reply to questions. The Minister sitting in his office, engaged in transacting the business of his Department, has no opportunity of observing the demeanour of witnesses, or noting the general character of the evidence, so that there is no comparison whatever between the position of the Minister when dealing with local inquiries and that of a jury. If we were to accept the Minister's contention that his agent could act for him at a trial, we would be in the position that we should accept the plea that a farmer summoned on a jury could send his son, or some other member of his family, to represent him at a trial and report back to him. That would be a fantastic situation. Yet, it is not more fantastic than what the Minister put forward.

Local inquiries must be held, either at the instance of the Minister or of a local authority. If the Minister insists upon a local inquiry being held, that means that he is not satisfied with conditions in the area in which it is to be held. It also means that he has some direct interest in the matter. If a county council calls for an inquiry, it must, first of all, be satisfied that it is going to get an impartial inquiry. The fundamental error into which the Minister fell is that he regards local officials as officials of his Department, directly under his control. Local officials are officials of local authorities. The Minister does not seem to be able to realise that. I think everybody will accept the view that the Minister has the right to exercise very effective control—I should say drastic control—over the officers of his Department, but when it is a matter of dealing with locally elected bodies, or the servants of these bodies, the Minister dealing with an entirely different proposition. He is dealing with something for which other machinery must be provided, rather than disciplinary action by the Minister, for that is what he seems to demand the right to exercise.

The Taoiseach has expressed on various occasions, and even last week, an earnest desire for decentralisation, but the Minister is in direct opposition to the Taoiseach there, and is demanding more and more centralisation.

There is nothing in his section dealing with "more and more centralisation".

If the Minister does not learn to keep his temper under control I am afraid he will eventually develop into a disagreeable old man. I am dealing with a speech made by the Minister on Friday last, and I am replying to points he then made. He stated that he is the Minister for Local Government, elected by this House to look after local government, and he claims that he has the right to interfere, down to the minutest detail, with every aspect of local administration.

That is quite an incorrect statement. I made no such suggestion. I have the report of my speech here.

I have the report also.

Will the Deputy refer me to one passage in support of what he stated?

I will make my own speech. I advise the Minister to read his speech carefully. All through that speech it was stated that by virtue of the position which he holds, he has inevitably the right to resist any attempt to curb his powers in any way. Not alone did the Minister claim this far-reaching control over local affairs, but he also claimed to be judicial, as judicial as the judges on the bench. I believe that the Minister is endeavouring to convert the Custom House into a new Kremlin. It appears to me that, standing in all his dignity on the dome of the Custom House, he is becoming intolerant of the Four Courts. He told us how hard is the road a Minister has to travel in order to reach his high office. He told us that he did not reach his high office by accident. I am not going to comment, Sir, upon the manner by which the Minister reached his high office but I do think that the Minister is quite incorrect in asserting that he can be as impartial as a judge on the bench. A judge has one thing, at any rate, namely, security of tenure. I am dealing, not with the Minister personally but with any normal Minister for Local Government. A Minister has not only to discharge the high functions of his office but he has to fight a political battle to assist in maintaining his Party in power. For that reason, he cannot approach problems in the same judicial and disinterested manner as a judge approaches them. For that reason also he is not the person best qualified to decide issues which may be raised in a local inquiry.

The Minister must remember that in dealing with the servants of a local authority he is dealing with an entirely different type of public servants from those of his own Department. Many of the officials of local authorities are part-time officials. Medical officers, for example, may not only be servants of the local authority but may be men with a big private practice in their profession. The Minister must realise how serious a thing it is to have an adverse decision given against a medical officer in a local inquiry, what a reflection it must be upon his character and what an injury it must be to him not only in his position as a public official but also in his private practice. For that reason it is absolutely necessary that we should have impartial local inquiries such as is envisaged in the amendment and that the report of such inquiries should be made public so that everyone may judge as to the justice of the decision taken.

The Minister, by an extraordinary twist, after having denounced Deputy Byrne for attending a coronation ceremony and a royal funeral and having treated such ceremonies with ridicule, comes out openly and publicly in this House to tell us that he bases his authority for refusing to publish the findings of a tribunal on a decision of the House of Lords. The Minister does not like crowns but he appears to have a great admiration for coronets and now we find that a member of the Government of the Irish Republic is relying for his authority on the British House of Lords, that great citadel of liberty and justice. I wonder what would Maureen O'Hara say to that?

Does the Deputy want me to tell him?

The speech delivered by the Minister on Friday was an extraordinary one. I think it was one of the most peculiar speeches we have heard in this House for a long time, even from the Minister. Democracy was quoted by the Minister as his authority for his actions. I am afraid the Minister does not know the meaning of democracy. The Minister has come to the conclusion that the will of the people is the will of the Minister. He has, by an extraordinary philosophy, arrived at the decision that, because he is elected a Deputy and because he is elected by this House as Minister, everything he says expresses the will of the people. When Rome was in her glory and Cæsar used to ride in triumph through the streets, he used to employ a slave to whisper into his ear from time to time: "Remember thou art a mere man." I think it would be a good idea if the Minister were to instruct one of his higher officials to whisper a similar message into his ear from time to time because I believe that since he took over local government he has assumed that he has a right to dictate every aspect of local government, from the most important matter down to the smallest detail and that that is the reason why he is seeking, most resolutely, to oppose this perfectly reasonable and perfectly desirable amendment.

If we accept the view that the Minister, being responsible for local government, should dominate the whole local machinery, we should reject this amendment, but if we accept the view that decentralisation is good—as the Taoiseach suggested— and if we accept the view that local bodies should have considerable discretion, then we must accept the view that there ought to be an impartial tribunal to try issues that may arise as between local authorities and the Minister and as between local officials and the Minister.

Before you put the question, Sir, I should like to make some reference to the Minister's attitude on Friday against the amendment. In order that people may get some idea of how far removed the Minister's whole speech on Friday was from the amendment, I think it is necessary again to emphasise that the amendment which is before the House seeks to do two things: (1) that inquiries shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of evidence and (2) that the findings, the report or the observations—whichever word one chooses to accept—of the inspector shall be made public. That is the amendment in a nutshell. If one were to read the Minister's speech instead of reading the amendment, one would come to the conclusion that there was something far different before the House. The Minister, on Friday, tried to get the House to believe that an acceptance of this amendment would undermine completely his authority as Minister. He tried to get the House to accept that if they agreed to this amendment the relations between the Minister and his inspectors and, as a matter of fact, the relations between the Minister, and any official of the Department of Local Government. would be completely destroyed. He went further and suggested that the acceptance of the amendment would place an official of his Department in a position superior to that of the Minister himself. The Minister is rather fond of describing other people's statements or arguments as fantastic. Anything more fantastic than the case put up by the Minister on Friday it would be hard to conceive.

Deputy Cogan, during the course of his speech, has been dealing largely with the position where a local authority has demanded an inquiry. But, remember, that in the majority of cases it is the Minister himself who orders the inquiry. We must remember also that, when this Bill becomes law, the Minister will be empowered to order inquiries into matters which hitherto would not come within his power at all. We must remember further that, if and when the Bill becomes law in its present form, inquiries will be conducted, not necessarily by a trained or permanent civil servant, but by any person who may be appointed by the Minister for a period—I am speaking from recollection and the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—not exceeding 30 days. So that a person who is beholden absolutely to the Minister for his appointment to preside over a certain inquiry will make his report to the Minister on the inquiry and nobody but the Minister or that person will know what the report is. That is an aspect of the matter with which the House ought to concern itself. Remember, the Minister has to be satisfied that there is need for an inquiry before he orders it. The inspector goes down to hold the inquiry, human nature being what it is, with his mind more or less made up. Certainly he is biased against the person or the public authority which is to be the subject of the inquiry. He goes down knowing that there is aprima facie case sufficient for the Minister to order the inquiry. I want to put this as a bare matter of justice: an official, or a number of members of a local authority—when this Bill becomes law, it is not merely the local authority as a whole, but it may be one, two, three, five or ten members of a local authority—will be penalised, notwithstanding what the Minister said, very largely, if not entirely, upon the report of the inspector.

The Minister told us that he reads the evidence—I do not question that statement for a moment—and that on the evidence he comes to his decision. Take some of these inquiries which have been held. The evidence must extend to a very large volume. We are not legislating now for the present Minister for Local Government. Let us take it that we have at some time in the future a different Minister for Local Government who will not be quite as energetic or conscientious or who will not have quite the same judicial mind as the present Minister. Assuming that that Minister has the time, away from all the multifarious duties for which the Minister for Local Government is now responsible, but that he is too lazy or gets fed up after reading some of the evidence and does not finish the evidence, what is he going to do? He will read the inspector's report, the analysis of the evidence, and give his decision on that. Is not that a reasonable thing to say? I have not yet heard from the Minister one good, sound, solid argument against the report of the inspector being published. In my opinion, any official or any local authority charged before a local inquiry and penalised as a result of that inquiry will not be getting justice unless they are enabled to see the inspector's report. The Minister was very uneasy whilst Deputy Coogan was quoting from the Donoughmore report. He did not like it.

It was a waste of time.

Of course, it was a waste of time. Any reasonable argument put forward, whether directly or by extracts or quotations, to the present Minister is a waste of time.

It was a waste of time, because the Donoughmore report was not even accepted by the people for whom it was prepared 14 years ago.

I do not want to go into that report beyond saying that Deputy de Valera quoted extensively from that report here as an authority and no less a person than the Taoiseach himself quoted it and accepted it here on Friday last.

Not in relation to this matter, but other matters.

In relation to the delegation of legislation and there is a section delegating legislation in this Bill. I think it is very pertinent, because it is unjust to give the Minister power to an extent which I think no individual, Minister or otherwise, should have in this country or in any country which claims to be a free democratic country. Of course, the reason the Minister was uneasy was because it was a very effective reply to the fears which he expressed. I do not believe that the Minister has those fears which he expressed here on Friday. The Minister knows quite well, when he says that the intention behind this amendment is to destroy his power and authority as Minister, that there is no such intention or desire behind this amendment. There is a desire to restrict his authority.

I want to remind the Minister again of what I said on Friday. The Minister, apparently, thinks that his authority is above and beyond any other consideration. It is not. The rights of the citizen are above any authority which any Minister of State ought to enjoy. There is a question of a Minister exercising in a fair and just way the authority conferred upon him by this House and there is a question of that authority being abused to the detriment of the citizen. All we are asking is that the citizen shall be safeguarded. I do not think any Deputy will say that it is unreasonable (1) that the inquiry should be conducted in accordance with the rules of evidence and (2) that the report upon which a person will be penalised and may be victimised should be made public.

Now, I do not want in any way to be offensive; I do not want in any way to be accused of being personal, but if I were to judge the mind and the temperament and the outlook of the Minister as the mind and the temperament and the outlook with which he approaches the reports of inquiries, by the way in which the Minister carries on in this House, I would be very chary of giving the Minister any authority at all. I feel, and I believe I am right—I certainly hope I am right—that the Minister, acting in the Custom House as a Minister, does not show the same blind prejudice that he shows in this House. I believe that the Minister would not be deliberately unfair or unjust to any citizen or any person, but we are not legislating for the present Minister: we are legislating for the future.

Perhaps we ought to.

Well, yes, perhaps in a different Bill. I do put it, however, that the Minister ought not to take the debate on this amendment, or the reasons put forward by Deputies in support of it, as if they were solely, purely, and completely personal to him. They are not, and I am sure that the Minister knows that, but the Minister knows, perhaps better than anybody else, all the old tricks, and how many red herrings he can trail across a debate, when it suits him, just as he knows that sometimes he can succeed in knocking a Deputy off his point if he gets up and makes a sufficient number of irrelevant points of order. That is an old trick, as I say, but I do not want to go into that now. I want to put this question in as fair and plain a way as I can, and I want again to ask Deputies not to take the Minister's speech on this as all that can be said, or to allow themselves to be influenced altogether by the Minister's spoken words on this, but to read the amendment—the suggested new sub-section— for themselves, and to say then, if they can say so conscientiously, that it is an unfair thing to ask the Minister to accept this amendment. I think that if Deputies will read the amendment, they will come to the conclusion that it is a fair amendment. The Minister found fault with one word in the amendment, the word "findings", and we told him that we were quite prepared to accept any other word he suggested, if he accepted the principle. We are not wedded to that particular word, so long as we can get justice and fair play for the person who is charged with certain things, and so long as the report of the inquiry is made available to the public and, at least, to the person so charged, in order that he may know that he is getting justice and fair play.

I am supporting this amendment, Sir, because I think it represents the last attempt that can be made on this stage of the Bill to provide certain safeguards. I am of opinion that certain sections of this Bill contain very dangerous possibilities, and I want to approach this matter from the point of view of the future of local government in this matter. It is a subject in which I am interested, and in which, I think, members of all Parties in this House are interested. Again, it is a subject that is more intimately bound up with the lives of all sections of the people than perhaps any other one of the State services or Departments in this country. That being so, I have tried to find in the report of the debates here some substantial argument by the Minister against the acceptance of this amendment, and I want to say, without offence, that having read his speech I can see none. May I ask that this matter should be considered carefully before the proposals contained here are rejected, in view of the fact that the whole future of local government in this country will be affected?

There can be no doubt about it— and there is no exaggeration in this statement; it is not made for mere Party purposes or anything like that— there is a great deal of uneasiness with regard to local government in this country, and more and more people are beginning to feel that powers are being sought by the central local authority in this country that are not in the best interests of local government or in the best interests of fair play in this country. Now, that should be a concern of the present Minister or of any Minister for Local Government, and I think that the Minister would lose none of his dignity or none of his efficiency, nor would his Department suffer in any way, if he took the local authorities and the people, generally, more fully into his confidence and showed by his every official act that public confidence would be, shall I say, maintained in regard to the impartiality of local government or, perhaps I should say, that it would be restored to some extent.

I have been present at local inquiries, and let me say that I want to express my emphatic support of the proposal here that a decision, following a report of a local inquiry, should be promptly furnished to the local authority. There was a case some time ago where, as far as I remember, the delay in furnishing the decision to the local authority was as long as over 12 months. Now, the local authority had to pay for that inquiry: local authorities will have to pay for every inquiry. In that case, the reputation and the character of certain people were at stake, and I do not think it is reasonable that the decision in a case of that kind should take over a year, or a year, or even most of a year, before it should be furnished to the local authority or be published.

I am interested in this question of the rules of evidence, which is suggested in this amendment. As the Minister knows, and as any of us who have had experience of local inquiries know, there are no rules at the present time, and subjects may be introduced at a local inquiry out of the very distant past, and sometimes they tend to put the people against whom they are introduced into a very unenviable and disadvantageous position. That is an argument, I think, for changing the procedure in that connection, and I want to emphasise it. I am satisfied that it would be in the best interests of all concerned if the inspector's report were published. I am satisfied that if it were published there is no reason for thinking that efficiency would be impaired or undermined, or that any of those things suggested by the Minister would take place, or that a fair and just conclusion could be reached that the inspector's report should not be made available. I support this amendment and I ask the Minister, having regard to the whole future of local government in this country, and having regard to the fact that there is a feeling that the whole system is being removed more and more from the people and that local authorities have less to do with matters of this kind now than ever they had in the past, seriously to consider this whole matter.

All control over, and association with, staffs of local authorities is being taken away from the local authorities, and a situation is being created that tends to throw a mantle of silence over the whole position locally. Therefore, I believe that a good day's work would be done by, if necessary, initiating procedure of the kind suggested in this amendment. Seeing that the Minister is desirous that the fullest possible confidence should be maintained in every branch of local government in this country, I think that that would be the best way to go about it. It would be an earnest of the fact that the circulars the Minister has sent out to local authorities represent his will and his earnest desire to act in the best interests of local government here and that they are not just pious expressions issued for the purpose of getting members of local authorities interested in a system under which it is being made more and more abundantly clear to them their only function is to register and put into effect decisions that have been already come to. Each day and every 12 months the local authorities have to provide the money, from whatever source they can extract it, for the various services which are performed in their name.

During the debate on this amendment it was never suggested, I think, by any of those supporting it that local inquiries were not necessary in the past and would not be necessary in the future. I wonder if any Deputy, with experience as a member of a local authority, who has ever attended a local inquiry believes that it would be possible to put this amendment, if passed, into operation. The first thing set out in it is that the proceeding shall be governed by the rules of evidence. That presupposes that nobody except a person with legal training will be qualified to hold a local inquiry. A lay person would not be acquainted with the rules of evidence, so that in future a medical inspector, an engineering inspector or a civilian inspector would not, according to this, be qualified to hold a local inquiry. There will be agreement, I think, that nobody except a barrister, a judge, solicitor or other person acquainted with the rules of evidence would be competent to hold a local inquiry. I challenge those who are supporting the amendment to deny that.

The second point in the amendment is that the findings of the inspector on the evidence tendered before him shall be made public. That means, following my argument on the first part of the amendment, that the findings of the barrister or judge who holds the inquiry must be published before the Minister has adjudicated upon them. The position we reach, therefore, is this: that the Minister dare not express an opinion contrary to those findings, and if he does he is to be pilloried, to be put up as a cock-shot, in this House and before the public Press. Is not that what the amendment means, that the Minister who has ordered the inquiry is to have no right to express an opinion on the findings? Why did not the mover and supporters of the amendment go the whole way, and suggest that a judicial inquiry, presided over by a judge of the High Court or the Circuit Court, should be held, and that its decision should be final and not referable to the Minister at all?

That is the only alternative that I see to the present system under which those conducting the inquiries, whether they be medical or engineering inspectors, or an official of the Minister's Department, or some outside person, do not, I believe, come to a final decision at all. I have attended a number of those inquiries, and I have seen a stenographer take a verbatim report of the questions asked and of the answers given by witnesses. I assume that a transcript of the evidence is furnished to the Minister, and that, in addition, the inspector would send him a summary of his opinions of the different witnesses examined. When the Minister has that information before him the responsibility is on him, and on nobody else, to come to a decision.

It is nonsense for any Deputy to say that a Minister, in taking a decision, is not responsible to anybody. He is responsible to this House which elected him a Minister. Deputies on the Opposition Benches know very well that at any time they can put down a motion challenging a Minister's decision on any matter relating to his Department. If, at any time, it is thought that a Minister has made an unfair decision in respect to any of these matters he can be challenged in this House. Deputy Morrissey is well aware of that.

We know how useless it would be.

The Deputy is quite well aware of it all the same. While I do not agree with the Minister and his Department as regards every iota in this Local Government Bill, I honestly believe that it would not be feasible or possible to put the proposal in this amendment into operation. This system of holding local inquiries has been in operation ever since, I think, the Local Government Act of 1898 was passed. The Minister is not proposing to change it, although one would think, listening to the speeches of some Deputies, that he was putting some revolutionary proposals into the Bill. This amendment, if passed, would not be of any advantage to any local authority or to any person who had to answer before a local inquiry. It has not been suggested, either in this House or elsewhere, that any person has been victimised as the result of the holding of a local inquiry.

We could say it.

My point is that it has not been said, and I challenge the Deputy on that.

We do not want to debate individual cases.

All of us could say that, at some time or other in our lives, either by some individual or group of individuals, we have been victimised, but it has not been said in the debate on this amendment that one could name any individual who has been victimised under the present system of holding local inquiries. It may be said that one did not agree with the findings of the Minister, or with the action taken by him following our inquiry. Suppose the Tipperary County Council or the Wexford County Council were suppressed as a result of an inquiry, I am sure that neither Deputy Morrissey nor myself would be pleased with the Minister's decision, but whether in so acting he was right or wrong, we must assume, until the contrary is proved, that he had done right in the exercise of his opinion as a responsible Minister of the Government, and as a Minister responsible to the House and to the country. We must assume that Ministers may come to wrong decisions. They are not infallible any more than we are, but, in my opinion, the present system is the only one that we have of reaching a decision on these matters.

The only other alternative, as I have said, is to have a judicial inquiry, presided over by a judge whose decision shall be final and binding. That is the only alternative. This amendment will not be feasible as an alternative. I think that it is wasting the time of the House to flog this amendment, because it is not possible to operate it.

Deputy Allen endeavours to use as an argument against those who support this amendment that we have never proved that the Minister was wrong in his decision. How could we? It is impossible.

There is a way of doing it in the House.

Mr. Morrissey

You cannot prove it, for the very reason that you have not the full evidence before you.

The inquiries are held in public.

Mr. Morrissey

The report of the inspector, on which the Minister's decision is largely based, is not before us.

What is the evidence taken from?

Mr. Morrissey

I do not want to go into that point. Does Deputy Allen suggest that a person against whom there is a serious charge should be dependent not only on the Minister's decision but on the infallibility of the shorthand note-taker?

What about the infallibility of the inspector?

Mr. Morrissey

That is a different point and the Minister knows it.

I have yet to hear that an inspector is a more infallible judge of evidence than a Minister.

Mr. Morrissey

Nobody has suggested that.

The Deputy's whole case is that he is.

Mr. Morrissey

I am not going to be side-tracked by the Minister, who knows where I am leading. Under the 1924 Courts of Justice Act, the system of appeals was changed. The old system of rehearing by the Judges of Assize was done away with and all appeals were decided on the notes of a shorthand writer. There was such an outcry against that that a Courts of Justice Commission, of which I had the honour to be chairman, was set up by this House. That commission included members of the Party opposite. It sat for 14 months and took evidence from every person in the country who was interested, from the Chief Justice down, including members of the legal profession and judicial personages. That commission unanimously recommended that appeals should be decided by way of rehearing and that recommendation was accepted by the Government. That is that.

Deputy Allen's speech was merely a repetition of what the Minister has been saying. The Deputy fell into the trap against which I warned him. Instead of reading the amendment and analysing it, he read the Minister's speech, and repeated that the person who felt he was unjustly treated had a remedy, because the Minister could be pilloried in this House. That is the appeal held out to a man whose future may be blasted by a decision by the Minister. What is that appeal worth? Nothing. Let me put this to Deputy Allen, as a member of the Minister's Party: if we bring in a motion here and prove to Deputy Allen's satisfaction that the Minister's decision was wrong in a particular case, will Deputy Allen vote against the Minister? The appeal will be decided, not on the justice of the case, but on the size of the majority which the Government has.

Deputy Allen reminded us that he did not agree with certain things in this Bill. Of course, not. There are fundamental sections of the Bill with which he disagrees and he had the courage to get up and say so. But, when it came to a decision, Deputy Allen and his colleagues did not vote against them and the same thing would happen if the Minister were pilloried in this House in the manner which is described by the Deputy as a safeguard. Deputy Allen knows that that safeguard is not worth twopence. With all respect to Deputy Allen and the Minister, I do not think it is quite honest to try to convey to the House and to the people outside that a person who believes he has been unjustly treated has an appeal. That is not playing the game. There is no appeal whatsoever.

In answer to Deputy Morrissey, not a day of the week passes in which decisions in respect of officers are not come to in the Department of Justice and in the Department of Defence—two large employing Departments. In the case of the Gárda Síochána and the Army, the Minister decides the fate of some officer on the private report of another officer of the Department, probably, every week of the year. Deputy Morrissey knows that. That applies also in the case of civil servants. A Minister may make a decision which will affect the future of a civil servant. The civil servant may be dismissed as a result of that decision. An officer in the Gárda or in the Army may be dismissed on a private report made to the Minister. Does Deputy Morrissey challenge that? Does he see any difference between the report in that case——

Mr. Morrissey

Indeed, I do.

Between the report made by the Minister's inspector sent down to hold an inquiry and the report of an officer of one of these Departments?

Are county councillors civil servants?

Deputy Cogan tried to make a case and failed to convince even himself. He is now asking idiotic questions. That is all he is capable of doing at any time. Does Deputy Morrissey suggest that, because an officer in the Civil Service, the Gárda or the Army is affected in his career by a Ministerial decision, the Minister should be pilloried before the country and in the public Press? If a Minister for Local Government, whoever he may be, takes a decision affecting the future of an officer of a local authority, public opinion in the country will put the Minister where he should be if that decision be unjust?

Mr. Morrissey

I hope so.

Nothing is done in secret in this country. The results of a local inquiry will be known to the public. Nothing is done in Star Chamber, either good or bad. No matter what decision the Minister comes to, the public will be aware of it in a short time. I should like Deputy Morrissey to tell us how a local inquiry could be held under this amendment about which there is so much talk.

Deputy Allen insists that nothing can be done in secret in the Department of Local Government. The last issue of the report of the Royal Society of Antiquaries gives an account of the various heads of the river gods which adorn the present Custom House. There are 14 of them—representing the Liffey, the Boyne, the Foyle, the Barrow, the Nore, the Suir, etc. Reading the report while this Bill was under discussion I could not help feeling that the head of another river god should be added—the head of the god of the Poddle, because it goes so much underground. I do not think that what goes on in the Custom House will be sufficiently represented by the heads which adorn the Custom House until the head of the god of the Poddle is added.

Deputy Allen states that it has never been suggested that an injustice has been done to anybody as the result of a local government inquiry. There have been persons affected by inquiries. There have been persons driven out of employment as a result of inquiries whose case would have been raised here if it were not for the fact that Ministerial prestige is so identified in the Minister's eyes with public interest that the fact that the case was raised here would only result in that person suffering further injustice. Deputy Allen, particularly, ought to know what is possible and what has been happening. I listened to the Minister last Friday when he spoke about his responsibility as Minister and his responsibility to the Oireachtas. He conveyed practically that, when he proceeds to exercise his functions as Minister, he acts as if he thought he was the Oireachtas. All we are asking is that, if Ministers are servants of the Oireachtas, in order that we may have full confidence in them and in any action which they take, the Oireachtas should have all the information it requires in order to judge any particular matter. The Minister takes up the line that if he is questioned or criticised in any way, if any reflection is cast upon the justice or the propriety of his actions by criticism here in the Oireachtas, the public interest is injured.

When have I taken up that line?

In the whole of Friday's speech.

Would the Deputy refer me to one passage which would bear that out or is he going to be like Deputy Coogan?

I shall refer the Minister to the whole of his speech.

Mr. Morrissey

And the whole debate on this Bill.

The only course then that remains open to me is to follow what seems to be the utter disregard of the rule in regard to repetition and repeat my speech of Friday last.

Mr. Morrissey

That is no trouble to you.

None at all.

I think that would be much more helpful than to sit silent, as the Minister has sat, during the whole of the afternoon in this debate. I want to repeat to Deputy Allen what Deputy Morrissey stated in regard to the rules of evidence. The Minister's attitude makes it all the more necessary that we should insist that evidence be given in accordance with some kind of rules at these inquiries. We are dealing with the provision in Section 83 of the Local Government Act of 1941 which details the arrangements enabling the Minister to hold public inquiries and we are dealing in this Bill with powers the Minister is now taking to wipe out completely any local body, with whose rating policy he disagrees, after a public inquiry. If we are going to extend the Minister's power in relation to the holding of any local inquiry, to the extent to which it is now sought to extend it, I think it is nearly time that the law in regard to these local inquiries should be carried out and that the information which the Oireachtas should receive as the result of a local inquiry will be made available to it.

Deputy Morrissey and Deputy Coogan have stressed the necessity for this amendment. The circumstances in which local government is being carried on at present are very different from those in which it was carried on in the past. The fact is that the administration in the Department under the present Minister is such, one might say, as to terrorise the officials of particular local bodies and, to some extent, the officials of his Department into complete acquiescence with the dictatorial, Minister-over-all mind of the Minister disclosed here. The legislation coming from the Department to-day not only shows that that mentality persists but that it is growing. The evidence we have of that makes it necessary that we, here in the Dáil, should take every possible step to ensure that we shall know everything that takes place at local inquiries carried out for the purpose of suppressing local government in the country. Again I remind the Minister that his speech on Friday showed that he faces his duties as if he were the very embodiment of the Oireachtas. He told us that he will hold inquiries, that he will send down an inspector, that he will receive a report, and that he will not make public the terms of the inspector's report to him. I think that is simply insisting on ignoring the Oireachtas and insisting on denying that the Minister is the servant of the Oireachtas.

I think, a Chinn Comhairle, I shall have to reply to some of the speeches made in the course of the debate this evening. What I said on Thursday and what I said on Friday has been subjected to such misrepresentation as I have seldom listened to in this House. The Leader of the Fine Gael Opposition, who has just sat down, said that the terms of my speech on Friday implied that when I came to exercise my functions as Minister for Local Government, I felt that I should exercise them in the belief that I was the embodiment of the Oireachtas. The Deputy must neither have listened to nor have read my speech. That statement of his has no relation to anything I said. It is a figment of his distorted imagination. I have here the official report of Friday's speech—I was going to traverse some of the statements made by Deputy Coogan—so I have just read it. In it I emphasised, not once but several times, that as Minister for Local Government I had, and felt imbued with, a sense of my responsibility to the country, to the Oireachtas and to the Government. It is the primary duty of the Minister for Local Government, as the very title itself implies, to ensure on behalf of all the citizens that the standard of local administration in this country will be high. That is the responsibility which the Minister holds to the people. Under the Constitution, the Minister is also responsible, not only to the House but to the Government as a whole, by virtue of the doctrine of collective responsibility, to discharge his duty to the citizens, that is to say, he has a responsibility to the Oireachtas and to the Government to ensure, let me repeat, that the standard of local government in this country is high. Not once but several times I enunciated this position in the course of my speech. I will repeat the report, so that there should be no misunderstanding about it. I challenge the Deputy who has just sat down to show me in that speech, it was a fairly long one, one single statement which is inconsistent with what I am about to say now and one statement which would support the charge which he has levelled against me. I said, as reported in column 1854:—

"It is the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, whoever he may be for the time being, who is responsible to his colleagues in the Government in the first instance under the doctrine of collective responsibility which is enshrined in our Constitution, for...seeing that the local administration of this country is properly carried out and is above reproach. It is the Minister who, subsequently, is also responsible to the Dáil on the same grounds and, of course, through the Dáil to the community as a whole, and, so far he is a citizen, to every individual within that community. That is his primary responsibility."

By what feats of misrepresentation can the Deputy allege that that statement implies that, in exercising my functions, the functions in which the Oireachtas has confirmed me—by what stretch of the imagination can he allege——

By the rest of the Minister's speech.

——that I, in discharging my functions as Minister for Local Government, regard myself as being not merely an executive of the Oireachtas but the Oireachtas itself? I do not want to weary the House but, as I have said, not once but several times was that statement repeated. In the course of his speech to-day, Deputy Cogan alleged that my speech on Friday indicated that I regarded the officers of local authorities as my officers, as officers of the Minister and not as officers of those by whom they were directly employed and retained. My speech was a long one and I challenge Deputy Cogan to show me one reference to an officer of a local authority, one sentence which did in any way relate to an officer of a local authority—except, incidentally, when I said that a Minister, in considering the evidence and the reviews of the evidence given at local inquiries, had often to bear in mind that the decision which he was going to take might, if not jeopardise the whole future of a certain individual or individuals, certainly reflect very seriously upon them; and I said that, bearing that fact in mind, the Minister must be very slow and very reluctant to come to a decision which would gravely and seriously affect the future of an individual. That is a paraphrase of what I said, and that was the only reference I made to an officer of a local authority. Yet Deputy Cogan got up here to-day and, relying on the shortness of human memory, deliberately misrepresented the whole tenor of Friday's speech.

Not only did he misrepresent what I said here, but he made some reference to the proceedings of the Carlow County Council last week, which suggested to me that he misrepresented even the proceedings of that body. He alleged that the procedure now under discussion, investigation by sworn inquiry, had fallen into such disrepute with local authorities that, at the meeting of the Carlow County Council on last Tuesday, when a question arose that seemed to warrant a local inquiry, statements were made by members of the local authority that they had no faith or confidence in an investigation of this sort. Now, this matter has been raised by Deputy Cogan in the course of his speech this afternoon. Here are the facts, as I have been able to ascertain them since. A question or questions arose as to the conditions in the Carlow Fever Hospital. Deputy Hughes, who is a member of the Carlow County Council proposed, and Deputy Cogan, who is a member also, seconded a resolution calling for a sworn inquiry into the conduct of the staff. Well, I am glad to see that at least two members of that particular local authority, who are also Deputies of this House, have not lost confidence in this procedure of a sworn inquiry, as they both recommended to their colleagues that they should ask for one. Then a discussion ensued, during which the manager made statements, not reflecting on the staff but exonerating the staff. He stated that the conditions in the fever hospital were such that it was impossible for the members of the staff to be responsible for what had occurred there and that he was removing the patients temporarily to Naas while certain improvements in the fever hospital were being carried out. As a result of the manager's statements, Deputy Hughes and Deputy Cogan withdrew their motion, being finally satisfied, I understand, that the members of the fever hospital staff were not responsible for what had occurred.

Now, in the whole course of this discussion, as reported in the Press, the method of conducting these inquiries was not referred to at all— was not referred to by any member of the county council, in so far as the report in theCarlow Nationalist is a fair and accurate report of what took place at the meeting. The inquiry, I understand, was not requested solely on the assurance of the manager, that (1) a new hospital must be built, (2) that temporary facilities were being provided for the fever patients, and (3) that the staff had behaved satisfactorily. But would any person listening to Deputy Cogan's reference to these proceedings on last Tuesday at the Carlow County Council certainly have gathered that Deputy Cogan himself had seconded a demand for a local inquiry, and would he have understood that the staff had been exonerated? On the contrary, if my recollection of Deputy Cogan's exact words is correct, they would rather have apprehended that the county manager, in his report, had reflected very gravely and seriously upon the staff of the fever hospital and that this had seriously disturbed the minds of the members of the county council, so disturbed them, in fact, that the question of asking for a sworn inquiry had arisen and that the sole reason why a sworn inquiry had not been asked for was, that the members of the county council had no faith in that method of investigation. That is not what the report in the Carlow Nationalist tells us, even though that was what Deputy Cogan wanted the House to gather from his speech, that was the impression he wished to convey, just as, relying on the weakness of our recollection, he endeavoured to misrepresent the whole purport of the speech I made here on Friday on this motion.

This amendment of Deputy Coogan's makes two proposals. It proposes, first of all, that the proceedings at a local inquiry shall be governed by the rules of evidence, and it makes then a second proposal, that the findings of the inspector upon the evidence tendered before him shall be made public within three months from the date upon which the inquiry terminates. I felt that, so far as informed opinion was concerned, that in so far as a great number of Deputies of this House are members of local authorities, the first proposition, that the proceedings at a local inquiry shall be governed by the rules of evidence, would be so plainly and clearly impracticable that it did not require any argument of mine to induce the House to reject it. Accordingly, on Friday, I addressed myself solely to the issue as to whether what is quite erroneously and inaccurately described in the amendment as the findings of an inspector should be published. I am certainly convinced, as are, I believe, those members of the House who are open to conviction, that it would be contrary to the public interest to publish any review of the evidence submitted to the Minister, whether by the officer who conducted the inquiry or by any other officers whose duty it would be to review that evidence on behalf of the Minister.

It would be, as I have said, quite contrary to the public interest to permit these confidential documents, which are provided for the assistance of the Minister, to become public property, to be bandied about in the sort of debate we have heard here, in which not only the views and judgments of the Minister, on the one hand, and his officer who presided over the inquiry, on the other, would become the objects of public debate, but, in addition, the views of other officers whose duty it would be to consider that evidence and to present their views upon it to the Minister—for they also would become the object of public debate. We should not only have chaos in the administration but we should have distrust and we should have confusion created in the public mind if a proposal of this sort were to be adopted. And the proof that what I am saying is of great force indeed is to be found in the fact that the recommendations of the Donoughmore Report, about which we have heard so much in the course of this debate, have not been accepted and applied in Great Britain. I do not want to say any more than that.

But it was good enough for you.

What the British have not thought good enough for themselves——

Is good enough for us.

——is thought by Deputy Morrissey and others to be good enough for us. Precisely.

The other way about.

Becoming more British than the British themselves! To-day Deputy Allen, in a very forceful speech, pointed out what were the implications and consequences of the other proposal in this amendment, the proposal that the proceedings at a local inquiry should be conducted in accordance with the laws of evidence. Only lawyers, skilled lawyers, are familiar with the rules of evidence and are competent to apply them, and they would have to be applied rigorously and strictly in accordance with the law if this proposal were accepted, under the penalty that if they were not so applied, then the proceedings of every investigation would be rendered null and void.

It is not, I think, without significance that this amendment has been put down by a lawyer and has been supported by some lawyers, and that the Deputy who put it down was thinking purely in terms of legal proceedings, of the trial of an issue, rather than of what a local inquiry is. A local inquiry is an investigation primarily not to determine points of law but to determine matters of suitability—the suitability of an officer, in some cases, to hold his post, the suitability, in other cases, say, of land as a building site or the suitability of a certain area to continue to be a residential area. There are many more local inquiries held into housing questions, construction of bridges, failure to keep records, shortages of stock, refusals to admit people to hospital than there are local inquiries into the conduct of a public authority. How would one apply the rules of evidence to ascertain whether a slum area should be cleared or not?

Surely evidence is given?

Of course evidence is given. Factual evidence is given which cannot be rebutted, evidence in regard to which there is no prospect of rebuttal. Evidence is given as to the density of the population, as to the conditions of the structures within a certain area and as to the feasibility of putting these structures into habitable repair. Who is best qualified to advise on questions of that sort? Surely it is not a lawyer? Surely it is an engineer.

The Minister is getting away from the difficulty about the rules of evidence.

In general, the most difficult questions that arise at an inquiry of this sort—quite the most common in this country, I might say— are questions as to what is to be the amount of compensation for people deprived of the property rights which they have in, say, a slum area and as to what is the best way of providing alternative accommodation for them. These are not questions which a lawyer is better skilled to settle than a layman. How could one possibly determine these matters according to the rules of evidence? Yet we should be compelled to have these inquiries conducted, as Deputy Allen has pointed out, by a person versed in the rules of evidence and skilled in applying them, when the sole question is whether, in a street like Waterford Street or Marlborough Street, where so many people are living in single rooms, there is proper sanitation in these ghastly tenements, and where there are licensed premises in the area, the amount of compensation which will have to be provided and what alternative accommodation is to be given to these people. These are the sort of questions that arise most frequently.

Similarly, inquiries will be held when a local authority proposes to undertake a work of public importance such as a waterworks scheme, a sewerage scheme and even, in some cases, a hospital scheme. These are the matters that will be discussed and investigated by a local inquiry. It is not a case of presenting a charge that the local authority has not got a proper water supply and of putting the local authority in the dock because it has not got a proper water supply. The inquiry arises in general from the fact that the local authority wants to have a water supply and that the Minister will ultimately have to sanction a loan in regard to it. The question to be determined there is whether the proposals for providing a water supply are sound and adequate, and we are to have that question decided, if you please, according to the mover of the amendment, by a judge.

Decided by the Minister, is it?


What qualifications has he got?

He has around him a number of advisers who are well qualified. Very often—and this is the point—these advisers may differ, and then the Minister who is responsible to Parliament has to take the decision for himself. Sometimes he will refuse to sanction the water supply and, if so, the matter is raised here and the Minister has to justify his action. The proposal here, however, is that, for a Minister responsible to Parliament, we should substitute a lawyer who is responsible to no one. That is the proposal here in relation to the question of a water supply. I know how absurd such a proposal seems to Deputy Morrissey now. Similarly—it may be a very simple question, but, in certain circumstances, a very grave one; I referred to it in connection with an amendment put down by Deputy Keyes and supported by the Labour Party—as to whether a patient was denied admission to a hospital when accommodation could have been provided. That is not a question which requires a lawyer to settle because it is a question which can be properly settled by the records, if the records are properly kept.

If the records are properly kept, the question can be easily settled and responsibility can be put definitely on the person who refused admission in circumstances in which admission was necessary. Who is going to advise the Minister in relation to that matter—whether, first of all, admission to the hospital was essential in order to preserve the life of the patient? Is it to be a lawyer? Is that question to be settled according to the rules of evidence by a man in a wig and gown? I think most of us would prefer to be guided in a matter of that sort by a medical opinion rather than by a legal opinion.

The Minister has completely reversed his whole tradition.

Having, I assume, secured the assent of Deputy Morrissey to the proposition that a medical man would be a better adviser as to the condition of a patient and the treatment which that patient would require, than a lawyer, the next question which arises is why the patient was not admitted. In general, perhaps, the explanation would be that a bed was not available. If a bed was not available, then the records of the institution should show that beyond yea or nay, at any rate. Do we have to have a lawyer in wig and gown to examine the written records of the institution? Must these books be solemnly paraded according to the rules of evidence, in the sense to which they are applied to documents? Is it not the commonsense thing to let your inspector go, as inspectors do, to investigate the books, and, if any question arises as to the accuracy of the books, examine those who were responsible for keeping them? If the records are properly kept, then the responsibility for refusing admission to the institution can clearly be brought home to the person on duty at that time, which will also be recorded.

This is the difference between an inquiry and a judicial proceeding. A judicial proceeding proceeds on a definite pleading and on definite charges. If the records have been properly kept the responsibility for refusing admission can be definitely brought home. On the other hand, if the records were not properly kept, then the person responsible under the terms of his appointment for keeping the records has himself or herself been guilty of dereliction of duty, and can be dealt with. The purpose of the investigation often starts in a narrow field, but is not confined to the point at which it starts. If the exposure of one abuse indicates the need for inquiry, the inspector sent down is not confined to the narrow issue from which that inquiry starts. Once his investigation starts, he is bound to pursue it, and to examine every other weakness which the initial proceedings might disclose in the administration of the institution. Is it necessary, in order that we should be satisfied that the records of an institution have not been properly kept, that we must have a lawyer in wig and gown to examine the records? The records to be kept by these institutions are prescribed by the Minister, and surely the Minister is capable of determining, without any legal assistance whatever, whether his requirements are being complied with.

Yet, if this amendment were to be adopted by the House, the Minister could not decide that. He would have to get a legally qualified person to hold the inquiry, and would be solemnly bound by his decision. Are we not carrying that to the limits of absurdity? There are dozens and dozens of similar cases that I could quote to the House. As Deputy Allen has shown, the House would stultify itself by agreeing to this and would certainly make supervision of local administration, which is already very cumbersome, very much slower. I hear very many more complaints about the inactivity of the Department of Local Government in relation to matters of local administration than about our undue interference. The reason for that is that we are hedged around, if you like, by regulations, and by statutes, which limit very definitely our powers of supervision and investigation. So that, as I have said, we are more often blamed for being slow and dilatory than for any excessive zeal. If the House were to adopt a proposal of this sort, then I think you could wipe out the Department of Local Government, and the Minister for Local Government, as an effective instrument for ensuring that the standard of administration in the local services would be a high and an effective one.

The Minister, when referring to my statement regarding what happened recently at Carlow County Council, charged me with relying on shortness of human memory.

No. I did not say that in relation to the Carlow meeting. I stated that in regard to the Deputy's description of what I said on Friday last.

The Minister said I was relying on the shortness of human memory in order to misrepresent what was said. He attempted to misrepresent what was said in the House by saying that I declared that statements were made at Carlow County Council expressing distrust in local inquiries. I made no such statement.

That is precisely what was said.

The Minister can get the official record and he will find that I made no such statement. I stated that Carlow County Council, after discussion, ultimately decided not to call for a public inquiry because members of the county council distrusted local inquiries. There was no discussion about a local inquiry at the county council.

How does the Deputy know that there is distrust then?

The Minister pointed out that I, as a member of the county council, seconded a resolution calling for a local inquiry. Does the Minister know what passed through my mind on Tuesday last at the meeting of the county council? Does he claim to know what influenced me in deciding to withdraw that proposition, and to propose an alternative which was unanimously accepted by the county council? I withdrew the proposition calling for a sworn inquiry because I felt, having regard to the manner in which public inquiries are constituted, and having regard to the manner in which their findings are ultimately treated, that it would be unwise to submit the very important matter which arose at Carlow County Council to a sworn inquiry such as that.

Why did you not find that out before you proposed it?

If the amendment which is before the House was incorporated in this Bill, and was part of the legislation covering sworn inquiries, I would never have consented to withdraw my proposal calling for a sworn inquiry. The matter before Carlow County Council was a grave and a serious one, as the Minister pointed out. It was one which did not arise at the last meeting of the council. It arose at a previous meeting, where statements were made, and action was taken by the manager, which seriously reflected upon the officials of the local authority. The manager went to the greatest possible extremes, at the last county council meeting, to explain away his previous statements and his previous action and to exonerate the staff. The county council, while believing that if there was a proper judicial inquiry it would clear the whole matter and clear the officials of the staff and restore confidence to the people of Carlow in their institutions, could not press for a sworn inquiry as long as we have the dice loaded as it is loaded.

There is not one word of that in the report as published.

Everything is not published, not even all the Minister says.

The report of the meeting of the Carlow County Council.

This is not a meeting of the Carlow County Council.

No, it is not.

And I am not going to traverse the entire debate which took place at that meeting and of which the Minister has the Press report. If the Minister wants to know what happens at the Carlow County Council, perhaps he will send down his verbatim reporter, as he does to sworn inquiries, and perhaps he will send down an inspector who will give a report which will be treated as absolutely confidential. The Minister has failed to justify his opposition to this amendment. He has failed, even though he relies upon the authority of the House of Lords, to sustain it because here we are dealing, not with officials of the Minister's Department, but with the elected representatives of the people and officials of those elected representatives. While the Minister may claim, and proclaim, as he did in the House, that he is responsible to the people and that he cannot be impeded in his exercise of that responsibility—he spent a long time on Thursday evening defining his responsibility and enlarging upon the dangers that would ensue if he were in any way hampered in carrying out his responsibilities—he must acknowledge that local authorities also have their responsibilities. It is neither fair nor just that any issue that arises between a local authority, elected by the people, and a Minister, elected by the people, should be decided by a jury which consists of the Minister, who is not present at the inquiry.

I do not know whether the Minister's mind is closed on this matter or not but his speech was clearly directed to an amendment stipulating that the law of evidence should apply in these inquiries. That is not what the amendment says. The amendment speaks of the rules of evidence. If the Minister were to consider the amendment, deleting the word "the" and saying that inquiries should be held "subject to rules of evidence" I think he would come a long way to meet the purpose for which the amendment was put down. May I make the case, founded on one of the examples the Minister himself has adduced: If a complaint is made that a dying patient has been refused admission to a surgical hospital, the real truth is that that is an allegation on the part of the relatives of the dying person that either the medical officer or the matron of the hospital is either grossly incompetent or shamefully inhuman and in fact either of those parties comes before the inquiry to defend themselves against that peculiarly injurious allegation. Would it be unreasonable to stipulate that in inquiries held under the auspices of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, where matters of that character were drawn down, at least there should be a rule that the inspector would refuse to hear hearsay evidence? A lot of laymen in this country, when they hear an expression like "hearsay evidence", back away on the ground that it is a technical term but, when you come to examine the grounds upon which hearsay evidence is excluded under the law of evidence, the reason is perfectly simple.

If you bring a man before a sworn inquiry, he is put upon his oath and he tells on oath what he knows of his own knowledge. But if he then comes forward and says: "and furthermore, the hall porter in the hospital told me that he saw this dying man brought to the hospital, and that he heard the matron tell his relatives to take him to Hell away out of that", you are immediately confronted with this problem, that it may be perfectly true; the hall porter may have told him that; the sworn witness is telling the truth; he did hear that story from the hall porter; but the difference is that when the hall porter told him that story, the hall porter was not on oath, and that had the hall porter been given the Bible and told to call upon God to witness that that which he was about to say was true, he might never have told that story. But, when the sworn witness in the box recites, first, his own suspicion that something was wrong and that the rejected patient should have been admitted, and adds, "and the hall porter told me that he heard the matron tell that dying man's relatives to take him away to Hell out of that", say what you like, from that moment the whole position is very seriously prejudiced because the impugned matron is now no longer presumed to be innocent, because at least there is someprima facie evidence before the inspector that she is guilty, and she is now on her defence. She is now obliged, in that position, to disprove something, but she has not been put in that position by a man who staked his oath that she was in the wrong; she has been put in that position by a man whose observations are being reported by a person who is on oath, but the man who made the statement was not on oath when he made it, and need not have attached to his words any more gravity than the average gossip or backbiter who sins against charity.

There is a very wide difference between sinning against charity and committing the sin of perjury, not only in the eyes of God but in the eyes of the civil law. A person who tells lies about his neighbour may or may not be susceptible to an action for slander but a person who on oath categorically states what he knows is not true is amenable to the civil law and may get jail. If an inspector may hear hearsay evidence, every public official whose conduct is called in question at a sworn inquiry is the victim of any liar or gossip who has made reckless allegations against him, if he can get those allegations repeated by somebody who is on oath before the inspector. Without unduly circumscribing the inspector—and I agree with the Minister that an inspector ought to have the widest discretion to range over the widest field for the purpose of ascertaining truly the cause of whatever is wrong—surely the Minister would not think it unreasonable to make a rule of evidence for his own inspectors—"You are not to receive hearsay evidence. If somebody wants to adduce in evidence what the hall porter said, then insist that the hall porter be produced before you and put him on oath. But, in the course of your inquiry, do not let anybody allege anything on oath which he has in fact had second-hand. Get from each witness that which he knows of his own knowledge and, if some complainant alleges there is yet another witness who has further and better evidence to offer, insist that that person be produced. But permit no one to state on oath what he heard another man say when the other man was not on oath." Is it unreasonable to suggest that rules of evidence of that character should be laid down for the guidance of departmental inspectors when hearing the very kind of case that the Minister himself has envisaged?

It is all very well to say that the function of an inquiry is to find out the facts. I quite agree that, whoever may suffer, if there has been a misfeasance or a nonfeasance where there was a duty to act, without regard to persons or any personal consideration the inspector should range far afield to bring responsibility home. But there are lots of people in this country, notably, I think, matrons in hospitals and overworked county medical officers who may not keep records well and who may not keep them well because they opt, consciously and deliberately, between keeping records or looking after the patients. They look after the patients and sometimes let the records look after themselves. Who will blame them for that? We are all familiar with the situation that arises at a county council or a board of health if a matron asks for clerical aid to complete forms and keep records. Many county councillors take up the position: "Let her do it herself; we are not going to pay a clerk to do her work," and she finds herself in the position of looking after the patients or the records.

The Deputy is departing from the amendment.

The point I want to make without further detail is that the case the Minister adduces could be reduced to this, that while the inquiry may be primarily designed to ascertain facts, from the point of view of those of us who live in Roscommon or Monaghan the real vital thing that is at stake is the reputation of an honourable man who has been doing his job to the best of his ability and who stands charged with a grave dereliction of duty. If the inspector's report is adverse, that man is humiliated before all his neighbours, and that is a very heavy penalty. Is it unreasonable, in the knowledge that that is true, to ask that a person whose reputation is at stake should be given the protection of some rules of evidence?

If the word "the" is taken out of this amendment, will the Minister go so far as to say that he is prepared to accept an amendment which will provide that inquiries conducted by his inspectors will be subject to rules of evidence? Let him prescribe the rules of evidence, not on the assumption that the person conducting the inquiry will be a trained lawyer, not on the assumption that the rules of evidence will be of such an elaborate character that no one but a trained lawyer could, in fact, carry them out, but for the purpose of providing guidance to ordinary professional men, such as his inspectors are, and giving confidence to those whose reputations are at stake before these inquiries that at least they will be entitled to elementary justice and that only those who are prepared to stake their oaths will be heard in evidence and that casual gossip will not be read into the record for the purpose of influencing the mind of the inspector who is discharging the unaccustomed duty of seeking judicially to determine what truth is in accordance with the evidence brought before him.

This debate, to my mind, seems to have taken an unreal turn. We have before us an amendment proposing that the proceedings of a local government inquiry should be governed by the rules of evidence and, then, that the report of the inspector should be made public within three months. Really, these two matters have nothing to do with each other. They are both essentially different, although they appear in the one amendment. I said that, in my opinion, this debate has taken an unreal turn and I will say why I think so. We seem to have got into a discussion on the legal advisability of publishing or not publishing rules of evidence. But I should like to remind the House that essentially this amendment has arisen because many Deputies, and all the Deputies of the Opposition, have a great degree of uneasiness concerning local government inquiries. That uneasiness exists also to a considerable extent amongst the general public. There have been many local government inquiries and, so far as I know, all of them have been carried out in a fair fashion. But Deputies and the general public are uneasy because they feel that in certain inquiries the Minister has not followed the evidence which was submitted, while within the last week in this House he admitted that the evidence was the basis for his decision. That is the reason why we cannot trust the final decisions of the Minister.

In an effort to keep the Minister on the strait and narrow path, we press for the publication of the inspector's report. Why? Because the inspector is a public servant, a disinterested man, not a man likely to be swayed in the smallest degree by matters political. I do not like to say these things in this House. I can honestly say that it does not give me any pleasure to say that, in my opinion, the Minister has acted wrongly. I consider that, in the case of the Cork Street inquiry, the decision of the Minister was an injustice.

It has been stated in the House that a motion will be tabled on that matter, and the Deputy should not try to prejudge the issue.

I bow to the decision of the Chair, but may I say that the Minister spoke at great length about the Cork Street inquiry?

When challenged about it, he challenged the Opposition to table a motion on the matter, and the Opposition said that they would.

May I submit that the Deputy is in order in referring to the matter until such time as that motion appears on the Order Paper?

In any event it is not on the Order Paper. A lot of matters that were raised, ranging over a three-days' debate, were not relevant to the amendment.

Fortunately, the Chair cannot apportion the blame, but we know where it lies.

In all deference to Deputy Dockrell, may I say that the Minister, when speaking in regard to this matter, kept, as far as I know, to the general principle? He did not actually discuss the nature of the findings of the Cork Street Hospital inquiry. If I remember rightly, he challenged the members of the Opposition to ask for an inquiry, and did so in order that this debate could be carried on without reference to that particular issue. The Minister's challenge to the Opposition was accepted by Deputy Morrissey, but now Deputy Dockrell is going into details on the matter. I simply want to make sure that the position is understood, and that the Minister never at any time referred specifically to the inquiry.

I can quote for the Chair from the debates which I have here.

The Chair is at a disadvantage in not being able to sit constantly from 3 o'clock until 10.30 to hear every word that is said.

May I say, in reply to the Parliamentary Secretary, that when the Minister made that statement or interjection he referred specifically to Cork Street? The point that I want to make is that essentially this amendment arises out of the uneasiness that exists in the public mind on that particular matter. That uneasiness is fully echoed by members of the House. We want to get some measure of protection that, if people consider that an injustice has been done by a decision of the Minister, there should be some machinery by which people will be able to have the injustice righted. The Minister has talked about the inadvisability, from the legal point of view, of publishing the inspectors' reports. Some members on this side of the House have quoted other legal men whose opinion is that it is advisable, in certain circumstances, to publish inspectors' reports. I do not think any of us have tried to make the point that it is always advisable to publish the Minister's report, but what protection is there for people on whom an injustice has been done by the Minister? The Minister has not answered that. I would point out to the House that, in the case of Cork Street, the Minister went so far as to publish a White Paper, and that many of the matters categorically set out in it were denied by documents.

Surely it is not revelant to canvass the merits of the Cork Street inquiry on this amendment?

Well, they are the foundation of this amendment. I bow to the ruling of the Chair, and will not refer to Cork Street again except to say that I consider an injustice has been done there. I think that in an effort to protect the public from the possibility, nay, I would say the probability of injustice, the Minister should accept the amendment. If he is not prepared to accept it in its present wording, then I think he should accept the principle of it and bring in an amendment himself on Report Stage.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 41; Níl, 58.

  • Anthony, Richard S.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Bennett, George O.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Cafferky, Dominick.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Commons, Bernard.
  • Coogan, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Everett, James.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Timothy J.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Donnell, William F.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas.
  • O'Sullivan, Martin.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Brennan, Thomas.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • De Valera, Vivion.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Friel, John.
  • Furlong, Walter.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • Lydon, Michael F.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Burke, Patrick (County Dublin).
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Colbert, Michael.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, John S.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Skinner, Leo B.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Ward, Conn.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Bennett; Níl: Deputies Ciosáin and Ó Briain.
Amendment declared lost.
Sections 62 to 65, inclusive, put and agreed to.

Mr. Corish

I move amendment No. 127a, standing on the Order Paper in my name:—

Before Section 66 to insert a new section as follows:—

66. Section 78 of the Act of 1941 shall apply and have effect as if after sub-section (2) thereof the following sub-section were inserted:—

(3) Where a pensionable officer was immediately before the commencement of his service as a pensionable officer, in temporary Civil Service employment which would if it were permanent be pensionable employment, the Minister may, if he so thinks fit, direct that a specified part (not excluding one half) of the period of such temporary employment shall be reckoned as service in a pensionable office and such part shall be so reckoned accordingly.

Section 78 of the Act of 1941 provides that in the case of a pensionable officer who had been in the temporary employment of a local body, half of the service of such local official shall be taken into consideration when his pension is being assessed. This amendment asks for similar terms for a person who had been in employment in the Civil Service in a temporary capacity and who immediately went into the local government service. I was prompted to submit this amendment because there are cases of young engineers who took temporary employment in the Board of Works, and some of these men have left the Board of Works to take up permanent employment under local authorities. If they had stayed in the Board of Works in a temporary capacity, half the temporary period would have been taken into consideration when their pension was being assessed. I think that the Minister should consider the position of those temporary civil servants who have gone into permanent employment with local authorities.

I could not accept this amendment for a number of reasons, the least of which is, perhaps, that, some time in the course of this year or early next year, I hope to introduce a Bill dealing with the superannuation of local officers. A provision of the type suggested in the amendment would be more relevant to a Bill of that description than to the measure now before the House. Even if it were proposed to insert such a provision in the Superannuation Bill, I should have very great difficulty in accepting the proposal. This amendment proposes to confer upon an individual who had temporary employment in the Civil Service certain pensionable rights which not all temporary civil servants who become established enjoy. It makes no provision for the payment of the superannuation which would result. Occasionally, in special circumstances, temporary civil servants who become established are allowed to count half their temporary service for pension purposes. That is not the invariable rule, but, if this amendment were to be accepted, it would become the invariable rule in the case of those persons who, being temporarily employed in the Civil Service, leave the service and enter the employment of a local authority.

Even if that could be accepted as reasonable, the question would arise as to who would be responsible for the payment of pension in respect of the period of employment in the Civil Service. I am perfectly certain that the local authorities would jib at being made responsible for the payment of pension in respect of the period spent in the service of the State. The ratepayers of Wexford or Carlow would quite properly say: "If this man, who was a temporary civil servant, is to get a pension in respect of the period during which he served as temporary civil servant, then we ought not to be called upon to bear the cost of that pension." I think that this amendment would be out of order if it were framed to provide for a pension at the expense of the State for any temporary civil servant, because that would impose a charge on the taxpayer. It is rather adroitly framed. I am not raising the question of order, but I am pointing out that, as the local authority would object to paying a pension in respect of Civil Service employment, if effect were to be given to the amendment, the Exchequer would be called upon to pay that portion of the pension. My colleague, the Minister for Finance, who is responsible for superannuation in the Civil Service, would strongly object to the Minister for Local Government imposing by a side-wind such a burden on the State, so that, irrespective of any other objections I might have to the amendment as it stands, I should have to resist it on that ground.

Mr. Corish

I should not like to impose any charge on County Wexford which should not be imposed upon it. Would the Minister inform me as to what happens when a medical officer who has been in pensionable service, say, in County Carlow and County Cork, finally winds up his service in County Wexford? Is his pension charged on County Wexford or is it apportioned between County Wexford and the other counties in which he served? If the Minister would answer that point to my satisfaction, I should be willing to withdraw the amendment. However, I do not think that he need have any fears regarding the amendment. It is worded according to Section 28 of the Act of 1941 and it states that the Minister may "if he so thinks fit....". It does not bind the Minister to do anything.

Section 47 of the Act of 1925 deals with the point which the Deputy has raised. The phrasing is somewhat complicated and I shall not read the whole section but it commences in the following manner:—

"Whenever an allowance or gratuity is payable by a local body to any person...under this Act in respect of his ceasing to hold office under them and in ascertaining the service of such officer at the date of such cesser any service under another local body has been aggregated... the contributing body shall refund to the paying body a part of such allowance or gratuity reckoned according to the service and pay of such officer under the contributing body...."

The section winds up by stating that the matter shall be settled by agreement between the two bodies or, in default of agreement, by the Minister.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 66 to 69 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 128:—

In page 26, before the repeals in the Local Government Act, 1871, to insert the following repeal:—

“31 & 32 Vic., c. xxxiii.

Cork Improvement Act, 1868.

The words ‘and from time to time for good and sufficient reason may alter the name of any street or court, and’ in section 139.”

This amendment is designed to repeal certain provisions of the Cork Improvement Act, 1868.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 129:—

In page 26, to delete the following repeal:—

“42 & 43 Vic. c. clxx.

Dublin Port and Docks Act, 1879.

Sections 17 and 18.”

This is to delete the reference to the Dublin Port and Docks Board. The Dublin Port and Docks Board is now being dealt with under the Harbours Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 130:—

In page 26, before the repeal in the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, to insert the following repeal:—

“53 & 54 Vic., c. 59

Public Health Acts Amendment Act, 1890.

Section 52.”

This relates to the provision dealing with investments.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 131:—

In page 26, before the repeals in the Public Libraries (Ireland) Act, 1894, to insert the following repeal:—

“53 & 54 Vic., c. ccxlvi.

Dublin Corporation Act, 1890.

The words ‘and may at the instance and with the consent of the majority in number and value of the ratepayers in any street alter the name of such street or of any part of a street’ in section 42.”

This also relates to naming of streets.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 132:—

In page 26, before the repeals in the Local Government Act, 1898, to insert the following repeal:—

“59 & 60 Vic., c. cxxv.

Waterford Corporation Act, 1896.

Section 68 from the words ‘and may’ to the end of the section.”

This also relates to naming of streets.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 133:—

In page 26, in the third column opposite the mention of the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, to insert before the words and figures "Article 35" the words and figures "sub-article (10) of Article 22, Article 23,".

We have provisions in the Bill, as amended on Committee Stage, to deal with the issue of stock.

Amendment agreed to.
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present. House counted and 20 Deputies being present,

I move amendment No. 134:—

In page 26, in the third column opposite the mention of the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, to delete the word and figures "Article 35" and substitute the words and figures "sub-articles (3), (4) and (5) of Article 35".

This is consequential on Section 59 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 135:—

In page 27, before the repeal in the Local Government Act, 1927, to insert the following repeal:—

“No. 32 of 1925.

Fisheries Act 1925.

Sub-section (4) of section 15.”

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 136:—

In page 27, before the repeals in the Road Traffic Act, 1933, to insert the following repeal:—

“No. 29 of 1930.

Vocational Education Act, 1930.

Sub-section (2) of section 58.”

This is to delete the reference to Ministers in the Vocational Education Act.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 137:

In page 27, before the repeals in the Road Traffic Act, 1933, to insert the following repeal:—

“No. 8 of 1931.

Agriculture Act, 1931.

Sub-section (2) of section 31.”

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 138:

In page 27, before the repeals in the Rates on Agriculaural Land (Relief) Act, 1939, to insert the following repeals:—

“No. 22 of 1934.

Town and Regional Planning Act, 1934.

Sub-section (2) of section 19.

No. 44 of 1935.

Cork Fever Hospital Act, 1935.

Sub-section (4) of section 39.

No. 21 of 1936.

Dublin Fever Hospital Act, 1936.

Sub-section (4) of section 33.”

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 139:

In page 27, in the third column opposite the mention of the Rates on Agricultural Land (Relief) Act, 1939, to delete "Paragraphs (c) to (g) of sub-section (1) of".

Amendment agreed to.
First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 140:

Before the Second Schedule to insert a new Schedule as follows:—


Proportion of the valuation on which the hereditament is to be assessed

Nature of the hereditament


Land used solely for one or more of the following purposes, that is to say:—as arable, meadow or pasture ground or as woodlands, or market gardens, or nursery grounds.


Lands covered with water and used as a canal and any towing path to the same.


Lands used as a railway constructed under statutory powers for public conveyance.


Half-rents rateable to the poor rate under Section 63 of the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838, and the enactments amending the same.


Proportion of the valuation on which the hereditament is to be assessed

Nature of the hereditament


Land used solely for one or more of the following purposes, that is to say:— as arable, meadow or pasture ground or as woodlands, or market gardens, or nursery grounds.


Lands covered with water and used as a canal and any towing path to the same.


Lands used as a railway constructed under statutory powers for public conveyance.


Half-rents rateable to the poor rate under section 63 of the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838, and the enactments amending the same.

This deals with the preparation of the valuation upon which hereditaments are to be assessed in boroughs and urban districts. I dealt very fully with this matter on an earlier amendment and I do not think it necessary to cover the ground again.

Amendment agreed to.

This amendment deletes the original Second Schedule.

Amendment No. 141 not moved.
Second Schedule deleted.

As the Third Schedule is being deleted, amendment No. 142 in the name of Deputy Coogan does not arise.

Third Schedule deleted.

Perhaps it would be opportune at this stage to say that I am considering the introduction of an amendment on Report Stage better to regulate the disposal of the property of certain local authorities and to clarify the position referred to by Deputy Allen on Thursday last, as reported in column 1782 of the Official Debates.

Title put, and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 20th March.