Harbours Bill, 1945—From the Seanad.

The Dáil went into Committee, to consider amendments from the Seanad.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 1:—

In page 21, Section 24, sub-section (3), lines 37 and 38, the words "save where the question is the election of the chairman" deleted.

What is the trouble about this?

It is only a verbal change.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 2:—

In page 26, Section 38, at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows inserted:—

( ) (a) Where, before the passing of this Act, a person was appointed to an office or employment, under a harbour authority, which became vacant or was created on or after the 1st day of January, 1946, and which would, if this Part had come into operation on the 1st day of January, 1946, have been an office or employment to which the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts, 1926 and 1940, would have applied, then, that person shall, immediately upon the passing of this Act, cease to hold the said office or employment.

(b) Every question or dispute as to whether any particular office or employment is or is not an office or employment to which paragraph (a) of this sub-section relates shall be decided by the Minister after consultation with the Local Appointments Commissioners and such decision shall be final and conclusive.

Perhaps the Minister would explain to the House the reason for this extraordinary amendment, which in fact is ex post facto legislation, a provision which has the effect of rendering unlawful an act which, according to law, was lawful before the 1st January, 1946. The effect of paragraph (a) is that a person properly and lawfully appointed to an office after the 1st January, 1946, according to the law then existing, has his appointment now negatived. It is rendered nugatory and it would seem as if the appointment which was then lawful, is now unlawful and the person is regarded as not having been appointed at all and ceases to hold the appointment. I would like to hear from the Minister the necessity for this amendment.

The Deputy will remember that this Bill received a Second Reading in the Dáil in December last and subsequently was circulated to harbour authorities for their observations on its provisions and for the purpose of eliciting from them any amendments which they wished to have considered by the Dáil. Subsequent to the Second Reading of the Bill and its circulation to harbour authorities, some harbour boards proposed to take or did take steps to fill vacancies which arose in their service or which they anticipated would arise later in the year.

It will be remembered that one of the provisions of the Bill is to apply the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts to the staff of harbour authorities, that is to say, to ensure that vacancies in those staffs will be filled by the Local Appointments Commissioners, except in circumstances where promotion is approved. Having regard to the obvious intention of the legislation, which had already been approved in principle by the Dáil, I thought it was undesirable that harbour authorities should forestall the coming into operation of the provisions, by creating offices or by taking steps to fill offices which would become vacant later, where it was clearly the purpose of that action to prevent the operation of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts in relation to these vacancies.

There were two particular cases which came to my notice. Subsequently, I learned of a third one. The two cases which I had in mind, however, were Limerick and Cork. In the case of Cork Harbour, it is anticipated that the position of harbour master and the position of deputy harbour master will become vacant next May; but the harbour board proposed to appoint now persons permanently to fill those vacancies when they did become vacant. In the case of Limerick, it will be remembered that we had a provision in the Bill which postponed the appointment of harbour manager for Limerick until the present secretary retired. It was anticipated that the retirement of the secretary would not be long delayed after the passage of the Bill and, consequently, special provision was made in relation to that office. However, the secretary of the Limerick Harbour Board retired while the Bill was under discussion and the harbour board met forthwith to appoint a successor. In each case I think it was undesirable that the legislation should be forestalled.

The effect of this amendment is to make temporary only any appointments made subsequent to the 1st January and to ensure that the filling of these vacancies will proceed under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act when this Bill becomes law.

I think the Minister stated in the Seanad, when he was discussing the Limerick position, that, in the case of a promotion from among the existing pensionable officers of the harbour authority, subject to the requirements of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts, 1926 and 1940, a promotion could be made with the Minister's consent under Section 5.

That is right.

That promotion could be made within three months from the passing of this legislation. Is it really within the period of three months after the passing of this Act or within three months after the vacancy arises?

According to the Act, it is three months after the vacancy arises, but the vacancy will not arise in the circumstances which exist until this Bill becomes law.

In the event of this amendment being passed, will the two positions which have recently been filled under the Cork Harbour Board, namely, the position of Cork harbour master and assistant harbour master, be declared vacant?

They will be declared vacant.

There is a slight difference. It occurs to me that this may operate unfairly. I take it from what the Minister has said that the two new appointments in Cork were made before the vacancies existed.

The vacancies will not have to be filled until May.

The position in Limerick is different?

Where the proposed new sub-section cannot be operated against a person who is being appointed to a vacancy in the ordinary way, without any intention on the part of the board to forestall the coming into operation of this Act——

There is such a case. That is why this amendment is worded so as to apply this provision only to situations which became vacant or were created since 1st January. In the case of the Dublin Harbour Board there was a vacancy which arose some time last year and steps to fill it were in progress on 1st January. That will not be interfered with. It is only where the vacancy arose since 1st January that the section will apply.

Are these the only three cases?

I received a report concerning another harbour board, but I have not had an opportunity of confirming it. At present the Minister has no right to get any information concerning the activities of a harbour board, and I could not check on the information I have received. I am having the information about that third harbour board checked.

At the present moment the Limerick Harbour Board is formed in a particular way. Ultimately, when this Bill becomes an Act, the representation of the Limerick Harbour Board will be on a different basis. Will the present harbour board be restricted from making an appointment by promotion?

Until the new harbour board is appointed?

No. The present board continues to be the harbour authority until there is another election.

The Minister, by the power he is taking now, will not accept the decision taken in Limerick regarding the appointment of a secretary?

That is so. It will be open to the Limerick Harbour Board to seek the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the filling of the vacancy by promotion. They can fill a vacancy by the promotion of a permanent and pensionable officer. The Minister would have to consider such an application on the facts, and I would not like at the present time to say anything which would appear to pre-judge the case.

What the Minister is doing will not necessarily prevent the three persons concerned from being appointed to these posts, if the Minister is satisfied?

In the case of Limerick, that would not necessarily apply, so far as I am aware of the facts. The harbour board can fill the vacancy by promotion with the Minister's consent. In the case of Cork it was not a promotion; it was somebody brought in from outside to fill the post.

That did not apply in both cases in Cork?

I could not say.

Can the Limerick Harbour Commissioners reappoint Mr. O'Brien, who was recently appointed secretary?

They can apply under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts for sanction for the filling of the vacancy by promotion instead of by reference to the Local Appointments Commissioners.

They have appointed him by promotion already.

The situation will arise again after this Bill becomes law.

All the Deputy has to do is to ask for the Minister's permission. If he gives it, you are all right.

The officer himself must be qualified in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

A number of square pegs have got into round holes before, you know.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 4:—

NEW SECTION.

In page 28, before Section 43 a new section as follows inserted:—

(1) The Minister may prescribe any specified age to be the age limit for every office under a harbour authority to which the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts, 1926 and 1940, as applied by this Act, apply, or for every such office as belongs to a specified class, description or grade or for one or more specified such offices.

(2) Every regulation for the purposes of this section shall come into force six months after the day on which it is made.

(3) Where a regulation for the purposes of this section is for the time being in force in relation to any particular office, the following provisions shall have effect:—

(a) if on the day when the regulation comes into force there is a holder of the office, the regulation shall not apply to such holder,

(b) if, on a day after the said day, a holder of the office (other than a holder to whom paragraph (a) of this sub-section relates), reaches the age specified in the regulation as the age limit for the office, he shall cease to hold the office on the day on which he reaches that age.

Has the Minister any particular type of appointment in mind to which he proposes to fix age limits?

No. I am not responsible for this amendment. It was moved in the Seanad and I accepted it. There was a feeling among Senators that there should be power to prescribe a maximum age limit and I accepted the amendment, having regard to that feeling. I did not propose to take this power and I have not fully considered the circumstances under which it will be used.

The idea is to prescribe a retiring age?

Yes, a retiring age.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 5:—

In page 28, Section 45, sub-section (2), in line 53 after the word "Act" the following words "and was appointed to that office before the 1st day of January, 1946" inserted.

This is consequential.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 6:—

In page 29, Section 45, sub-section (2), paragraph (c), lines 11 to 20 deleted.

This also is consequential.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 7:—

In page 29, Section 45, sub-section (3), line 25, the words "and shall have effect as if it were," deleted and the words "in such manner as the said commissioners think proper, and the person so selected and recommended by the said commissioners for appointment shall be appointed general manager of the harbour under Section 39 of this Act as if the said selection and recommendation were" substituted.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 8:—

SECTION 69.

In page 37, Section 69, sub-section (3), line 16, the words "harbour master" deleted and the words "harbour authority of the harbour" substituted.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 9:—

SECTION 76.

In page 38, Section 76, lines 15 and 16 deleted and the following words substituted: "shall inquire into the cause and extent of any damage which may have happened to such goods either by sea damage, improper storage or otherwise and shall make a written report to the harbour authority of such survey, examination and inquiry."

This is a verbal alteration.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 10:—

SECTION 79.

The section deleted.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 11:—

SECTION 111.

In page 47, Section 111, sub-section (1), line 38, the word "notice" deleted and the words "or such shorter notice as they may specify" inserted instead.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 12:—

SECTION 133.

In page 58, Section 133, at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows inserted:—

(5) Where the amount required to be raised by a local authority for a local financial year ending on or after the 31st day of March, 1947, in order to defray the cost of assisting harbour authorities in that local financial year exceeds—

(a) in the case of the corporation of a county borough, a sum equal to a rate of 1/- in the £ on the total of the rateable valuations of the hereditaments and tenements rateable to the municipal rate in the county borough at the commencement of that local financial year,

(b) in the case of the corporation of a borough not being a county borough, the council of an urban district or the commissioners of a town, a sum equal to a rate of 8d. in the £ on the total of the rateable valuations of the hereditaments and tenements rateable to the poor rate (or, in the case of the Borough of Dún Laoghaire, the municipal rate) in the area of the local authority at the commencement of that local financial year,

(c) in the case of the council of a county, a sum equal to a rate of fourpence in the £ on the total of the rateable valuations of the hereditaments and tenements rateable to the poor rate in the county at large at the commencement of that local financial year,

then, the Minister may, out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas, pay to the local authority a sum equal to one-half of such excess as a contribution towards such cost.

I informed the Dáil, during the discussion on the Bill here, that I would arrange to have an amendment of this character moved in the Seanad. The purpose of the amendment is to allow relief to be given to a local authority in circumstances in which it has to make good a guarantee given to a harbour authority for a loan raised for harbour purposes where the amount falling on the local rates exceeds certain limits.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 13:—

SECTION 135.

In page 60, Section 135, sub-section (2), sub-paragraph (b), line 2, the words "a newspaper" deleted and the words "two newspapers" substituted instead.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 14:—

In page 60, Section 135, at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows added:—

(5) An Act passed by the Oireachtas to confirm a provisional harbour works Order shall be deemed to be a public general Act.

Question agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 15:—

In page 65, Section 151, at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows added:—

( ) Where—

(a) an allowance or gratuity is payable by a harbour authority (in this section referred to as the paying authority) to any person under a superannuation scheme in respect of his ceasing to hold office under them, and

(b) in ascertaining his service at the date of such cesser any service under another harbour authority (in this section referred to as the contributing authority) has, in accordance with that scheme, been aggregated and reckoned, and

(c) at any time during which he was in the service of the contributing authority there was in force in relation to the contributing authority a superannuation scheme applying to him,

then, the contributing authority shall refund to the paying authority a part of the allowance or gratuity reckoned in the prescribed manner.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 16:—

In page 67, Section 161, the words "local authority" wherever they occur deleted and the word "person" substituted, and the words "local authorities" wherever they occur deleted and the word "persons" substituted.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 17:—

In page 69, Section 165, sub-section (1), after the word "authority" in line 24, the words "and of any committee appointed by the harbour authority" inserted.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 18:—

In page 73, Section 181, sub-sections (1) and (2), lines 40 to 48 deleted and the following sub-sections substituted therefor:—

(1) In this section the expression "the corporation" means the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of Waterford.

(2) The Minister may, if he so thinks fit, by order declare that, on and from a specified day,—

(a) the charges commonly known as water bailiff's fees chargeable at Waterford Harbour shall cease to be charged, and

(b) any obligations of the corporation (whether acquired under charter or by statute or otherwise) whereof the said fees or any part thereof were in consideration shall cease.

(3) The Order under this section may contain such supplemental and ancillary provisions as the Minister thinks proper, including provision for the payment by the Waterford Harbour Commissioners to the corporation of such sum as the Minister thinks proper towards compensating the corporation for loss sustained by them owing to the operation of the Order.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 19:—

In page 73, Section 182, sub-sections (1) and (2), lines 51 to 59 deleted and the following sub-sections substituted therefor:—

(1) In this section the expression "the corporation" means the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of Dublin.

(2) The Minister may, if he so thinks fit, by order declare that, on and from a specified day,—

(a) the charges commonly known as city dues chargeable at Dublin harbour shall cease to be charged, and

(b) any obligations of the corporation (whether acquired under charter or by statute or otherwise) whereof the said dues or any part thereof were in consideration shall cease.

(3) The Order under this section may contain such supplemental and ancillary provisions as the Minister thinks proper, including provision for payment by the Dublin Port and Docks Board to the corporation of such sum as the Minister thinks proper towards compensating the corporation for loss sustained by them owing to the operation of the Order.

I would be glad if the Minister would tell the House what the position will be under sub-section (2), paragraph (a) of the amendment. Am I to understand that all the obligations referred to shall cease? Will the Minister say if the provision by the corporation of the ferry comes under one of these obligations?

No. The obligations on the corporation were to provide certain beams, scales, tubs and weights for the discharge of cargoes of coal.

If the ferry was not an obligation and was not exactly tied up with the city dues, nevertheless, I think it is correct to say that it was always regarded that the city dues were a recoupment to the corporation for the ferry service.

The ferry service is provided under a separate charter. This is where the dues were provided in consideration of the corporation providing facilities for discharging and weighing certain types of cargo: coal, salt and potatoes.

My point is that, although it is a different statute, still the obligation remains on the corporation, and that they are losing on the credit side of the transaction.

Has the Minister changed his mind with regard to the ferry service?

No. The ferry service has nothing to do with city dues.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 20:—

In page 74, Section 183, subsections (1) and (2), lines 3 to 11 deleted and the following subsections substituted therefor:—

(1) In this section the expression "the company" means the body corporate known as the Commercial Buildings Company of Cork.

(2) The Minister may, if he thinks fit, by order declare that, on and from a specified day,—

(a) the rates and duties, charge able under the British statute passed in the year 1814 and entitled an Act to raise a fund for defraying the charge of commercial improvements, within the city and port of Cork, in Ireland, shall cease to be charged, and

(b) any obligations of the company (whether acquired under charter, or by statute or otherwise) whereof the said rates and duties or any part thereof were in consideration shall cease.

(3) The Order under this section may contain such supplemental and ancillary provisions as the Minister thinks proper, including provision for the payment by the Cork Harbour Commissioners to the company of such sum as the Minister thinks proper towards compensating the company for loss sustained by them owing to the operation of the Order.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 21:—

In page 75, before Section 187, a new section as follows inserted:—

A harbour authority which is a pilotage authority may make such contributions towards the expenses incurred by them in their capacity as such pilotage authority as, with the consent of the Minister, they may determine.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreement with amendments Nos. 1 to 21 reported.
Amendments reported and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Seanad be notified accordingly.