I move the first amendment circulated in typescript:—
In page two, line 28, to delete the word "expression" and substitute the word "word".
This is to correct a verbal error in the draft.
Vol. 101 No. 18
I move the first amendment circulated in typescript:—
In page two, line 28, to delete the word "expression" and substitute the word "word".
This is to correct a verbal error in the draft.
On behalf of Deputy Costello I move amendment No. 1:—
In line 41, after the word "order" to add the following words "but does not include an oral direction".
That would mean that the definition of "subsidiary instrument" would read like this—"the expression `subsidiary instrument' means an order or regulation made (whether before or after the passing of this Act) under power conferred by a Government Order but does not include an oral direction".
I think Deputy Costello put his amendment down to the wrong part of the section. I assume that what he meant to secure was that the expression "direction" should not be taken as including an oral direction. I have examined the matter and agree that it will be necessary to make an amendment in Section 9 of the Bill, which provides that every Order, subsidiary instrument and direction shall be judicially noticed, to exclude oral directions which clearly could not be judicially noticed but I could not agree to exclude oral directions entirely from the definition.
The best illustration I can give of the need for retaining the power of oral direction is the entry of an inspector of the Department of Industry and Commerce into the premises of a shopkeeper to check the stocks of rationed commodities and the observance of rationing regulations. The inspector would give an oral direction to the shopkeeper to produce the records and books necessary to enable him to carry out his investigations. We could not exclude altogether, therefore, the power of giving oral directions and on that account the amendment would have to be resisted. If Deputy Costello's aim was to ensure that an oral direction would not have the judicial notice provided for in Section 9 of the Bill, then I agree it is necessary, because clearly oral direction could not be judicially noticed.
Does the Minister propose to provide for that in Section 9?
By amendment on Report.
Why could not the inspector serve written notice?
It would not be practicable to do so.
Would not that be proof that he had served the notice?
It was found by experience that this power of giving oral direction is necessary. It frequently is necessary for the inspector to act quickly where there is evidence of black-marketing, say the accumulation of stocks which are obviously not required in the course of the normal trade of the trader concerned. The inspector in such circumstances would give an oral direction not to move the goods until the position could be further inquired into and if it was necessary to get a formal, signed and stamped Ministerial Order before that could be done, clearly, the goods would have disappeared long before the Order could have been delivered.
Deputy Costello can consider that.
I move the second amendment that has been circulated in typescript:—
In sub-section (1), paragraph (d), page 3, to add, at the end of the paragraph, the following:—
"including, in particular, provisions corresponding to those contained in the Emergency Powers (No. 366) Order, 1945 (S.R. & O., No. 251 of 1945)".
This is a drafting amendment mainly. The Bill provides for the continuation of compulsory tillage Orders. A separate Order is made every year but clearly the circumstances are such that it will be necessary to make a compulsory tillage Order for next year also. Such Order must be made under the provisions of this Bill and it is not quite clear that the wording of subparagraph (d) gives power to enter and take possession of unoccupied holdings. That power is exercised under the existing Order made under the Emergency Powers Act. While it may be possible to argue that the section as worded gives that power, it is better to have the matter beyond doubt and the effect of this amendment is to make it clear that an Order made under this section in relation to compulsory tillage can give power to enter on and take possession of unoccupied buildings.
There is a distinction between "occupied" and "unoccupied" then?
This related to unoccupied holdings.
There is a distinction in the Order between them.
And a different procedure?
Different procedure, undoubtedly.
I move amendment No. 2:—
To add at the end of the section the following new sub-section:—
Nothing in this section shall be deemed to authorise the removal of the limitation in Section 7 (6) of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 (No. 16 of 1924).
Section 7, sub-section (6) of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, provides that it shall not be lawful to appoint more than one Parliamentary Secretary to any Minister. That section was removed from being operative by an Emergency Order. On 3rd April this year, speaking in the Seanad, the Taoiseach discussed the position with regard to Parliamentary Secretaries. In column 1245 he said:—
"I think it is right that I should point out what, perhaps, some may not realise, that there is a considerable difference between a Parliamentary Secretary and a Minister in matters of this kind. My opinion is that generally it is not a good practice to delegate, as we have done in the matter of public health, to a Parliamentary Secretary powers which almost take him outside the supervision of the Minister. When you do this the Government, as a whole, which has collective responsibility, has no way immediately of dealing with the Parliamentary Secretary. The Parliamentary Secretary is outside: he has, in a sense, a greater amount of liberty in a situation like that than the Minister. The Minister has to share the collective responsibility and is immediately responsible to the Government. He has to meet direct criticism which he would not probably hear if he were not coming to the Government meetings.
It is not desirable that this situation should continue for any length of time."
There is only one Department where we have more than one Parliamentary Secretary, one dealing entirely with public health matters and the other dealing principally with matters that arose out of the emergency. I think the second Parliamentary Secretary was appointed when the turf scheme was begun. Now that we are getting away from the emergency circumstances but nevertheless holding in the Government's approach to very many things the spirit of the emergency I think it is undesirable that there would be any interference with provisions in the Ministers and Secretaries Act. The experience the Dáil has had of the discussions on the Public Health Bill has been an extraordinary one. The Committee Stage was carried on for a period of 15 days and during that time on more than one occasion we had to emphasise the fact that on a very important measure, there had been no consultation of any systematic kind with functional or vocational bodies outside who really ought to be the people advising this House. At any rate they were bodies that had the experience on which alone this House could satisfactorily make decisions with regard to certain matters proposed in relation to public health.
The other night, speaking in public, a representative of the Irish Medical Union discussed his relations with the Department of Local Government through the Minister, and his relations with the Parliamentary Secretary attached to Local Government. He disclosed a very extraordinary state of affairs. It was quite possible for the medical fraternity to be in daily touch with the Minister for Local Government on all kinds of matters, and to be received in the most cordial, agreeable and satisfactory way, whereas with the Parliamentary Secretary who was dealing with a very important measure in the House they found it impossible to make contact and they had to complain that they had not had discussion on any of these important matters with the Parliamentary Secretary who was the only person who came before the House to take part in the discussions here.
On two occasions on the Committee Stage of the Public Health Bill it was necessary in connection with resolutions similar to the two we have passed just now before the Committee Stage of this Bill for the Minister to appear in the House but the Parliamentary Secretary not being in the grip of the Government in the way in which the Taoiseach complains seemed to be able to prevent his Minister from coming here lest the Minister might be asked to take part in the discussion and it was the Minister for Lands and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs who moved the resolutions related to the Public Health Bill.
There is a second Parliamentary Secretary attached to the Local Government Department dealing with roads, housing and the turf scheme. It would be most undesirable when we consider the position of housing and the amount of work that requires to be done on roads or even in connection with the turf scheme— certain things are unsatisfactory with regard to it, particularly the cost of haulage—indeed, it would be a disastrous state of affairs if we were to get in respect of housing or roads or turf a Parliamentary Secretary to deal with these matters in the same way as we had the Parliamentary Secretary dealing with matters on the Public Health Bill. I suggest the time has come when no emergency condition should allow us to maintain in any Department more than the number of Parliamentary Secretaries dictated by the Ministers and Secretaries Act.
I do not think I need emphasise what the Taoiseach appears to appreciate but we certainly had very good reason to appreciate how undesirable it was to have a position like that here. It is time that Emergency Order went.
The Deputy has discussed the provisions of the Emergency Powers (No. 111) Order.
It is true that is one of the Orders that will become a continued Government Order under the Bill. The Deputy has for subsequent discussion an amendment to delete that Order. We might perhaps discuss the matter on that amendment. This amendment is not necessary, because there is nothing in the Bill which gives power to amend any statute, either the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, or any other Act.
It gives you power to ignore any statute.
No. When the Emergency Powers Act ceases and this Bill becomes the law in lieu thereof there will be no power to make under it an Order similar to Order No. 111. There is nothing in the Bill to give power to amend any Act by Order. If the Ministers and Secretaries Act is amended it must be by legislation. The proposal to continue Order No. 111 is merely to hold the present position unchanged until a Bill to amend the Ministers and Secretaries Act, which the Taoiseach foreshadowed, can be submitted. Clearly that cannot be enacted before 1st September. The matter can be considered at that stage. We continue Order No. 111 so as to leave the situation unaltered until the amending legislation is prepared. Let it be clear that once Order No. 111 is revoked there will be no power under this Bill to make a similar Order.
If the Minister's point is that should we want a decision we ought to take it on the subsequent amendment, we are quite agreeable.
It is not necessary to have this amendment, because there is nothing in the section which gives that power.
Then we will withdraw this amendment and deal with the matter on amendment No. 5.
On behalf of Deputy Costello I move amendment No. 3:—
To add at the end of the section the following new sub-section:—
(4) The High Court shall have and alone shall have jurisdiction, power and authority to hear and determine all claims for compensation and damages in respect of the acquisition, user, or damage or injury to any land or any interest in any land or other property real or personal acquired (whether temporarily or permanently) or damaged by any Minister, Department or person acting or purporting to act or to have acted under the provisions of the Act of 1939 or any Order or subsidiary instrument made or purported to have been made thereunder or under this Act or any Order or subsidiary instrument made or purported to have been made thereunder.
I am moving the amendment on the understanding that I will be allowed to withdraw it afterwards, if necessary. Deputy Costello may desire to reintroduce it on the Report Stage.
The position is that there is no provision in ordinary law or under the Emergency Powers Act for the payment of Compensation where the State has occupied land and not acquired it. If the land is subsequently acquired, then compensation by way of rent is paid for the period of occupation. During the emergency certain lands were occupied by the military authorities but not acquired. The military authorities withdrew from the land when it was no longer necessary to remain in possession. There is statutory provision for the payment of compensation in such cases, but the practice has been to settle compensation either by agreement with the owners or by allowing the matter to go to court and paying the sum determined by the court. In all such cases compensation has been paid. I take it what Deputy Costello has in mind is to provide for the giving of power to the High Court to hear claims for compensation and to assess the amount of compensation in such circumstances. I am not clear that it is urgent to make any change in the situation. I am informed that all such cases have been settled. In any case, the practice has been to allow people to go to court and to pay the compensation assessed by the court. The Minister for Finance, whose Department is more directly concerned, is considering whether any other change is necessary in ordinary law to provide for cases where the State takes possession of lands but does not acquire them permanently.
I will convey that to Deputy Costello.
I move amendment No. 4:—
To add at the end of sub-section (1), line 24, the words and figures "provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as continuing in force, after the operative date, the provisions of Emergency Powers (No. 30) Order, 1940."
As the explanatory memorandum indicates, Emergency Powers (No. 30) Order, 1940 had for its object the suspension of the operation of the Civil Service (Transferred Officers) Compensation Act, 1929. The reason given by the Government for the suspension of that Act was that they were going to stabilise the cost-of-living bonus at that time and prevent officers' wages and salaries being adjusted in accordance with the rise and fall in the cost-of-living index figure and, as that would mean a worsening of the conditions of transferred officers, they decided to suspend the Civil Service (Transferred Officers) Compensation Act so that they could, on the one hand, stabilise the bonus of transferred officers and, on the other hand, prevent transferred officers from having any remedy in respect of a worsening of conditions. In the explanatory memorandum which we now have, we are told that it is the desire to continue that position as it is feared that if the Act were revived at this stage it would lead to the premature retirement of experienced staff whose retirement could not be permitted without loss of efficiency in the Civil Service. When we discussed this matter on the Second Stage the Minister even went further than that explanation for the continued suspension of this Act by telling us that in fact he or the Government had in mind the introduction of some kind of permanent legislation, the effect of which would be to ensure that a transferred officer, even if the Act is revived, cannot retire on the grounds that his conditions of service have been worsened merely because the Government had broken their agreement with him by stabilising the cost of living.
That is not what the Minister said.
The amendment seeks to prevent a continuance of the suspension of that Act, and I want to do it on very definite grounds, one, that the Act of 1929 was the result of an agreement between the Government of the day, on the one hand, and transferred officers operating through their organisation, on the other hand. If Deputy Costello, who was then Attorney-General, were present to-day, he would submit very definitely that he with several higher officers of the Department of Finance sat at one side of a table and negotiated this agreement with transferred officers. Deputy Costello and higher officials in the Department of Finance, acting for the Government of the day, met and endeavoured to get agreement providing for the safeguarding of conditions of transferred officers, that is, those who, in the main, wanted to continue to serve the State and who were satisfied to serve the State once they were assured that their conditions would be immune from attack. As a result of the passage of that Act of 1929 which, I think, was an excellent Act from the point of view of stabilising the service, a very large number stayed on in the service and served the Government who would probably have retired if they had not got an assurance from an Irish Legislature that they were provided for under that Act. There were others who could not be induced to have confidence in the Irish Parliament. They were those who could not be induced to believe that at some future date the Government would not break its word and perhaps would not provide equitable compensation in such circumstances as was provided under the Act of 1929. Those who doubted the Government's honesty and doubted that the Government would keep its word and retired are the winners to-day, because they were entitled to retire in 1929 under the Service (Transferred Officers) Compensation Act of that year on terms which the Minister says his Government is not now prepared to give to those who trusted the Legislature, trusted the Government and remained on in the Civil Service. In other words, those who would not retire and did not retire then but relied on the assurances contained in legislation are now in the position that they cannot get the terms that those who did not trust the Government got, and the Minister threatens that if the Act is revived they will not be able to get their pre-1940 method of remuneration back and they will not be allowed to get a remedy if the Government does not give it. I think that is an unfair method in which to treat State servants, and as the Minister knows, they have not the same kind of weapon against the Government as their employer as the ordinary worker has against an employer who would not treat him in anything like a similar fashion. The position, therefore, is that those who stayed on in 1929 and did not retire but continued to serve the State so long as their conditions were free from attack, subsequently found themselves in this position in 1940 that the Government said to them: "We took you over on the understanding that we respected your previous position as regards tenure, wages and conditions and we now give you the opportunity of retiring on certain terms. In 1940 we are going to stabilise your bonus to prevent you getting any increase for the rapid increase in the cost of living and on top of that solemnly deny a remedy that the Government contracted in this House to give you if at any time your conditions of service were worsened."
Of course, the stabilisation of the bonus is a breach of the cost-of-living bonus agreement between the Government and the staff, and the stabilisation of bonus was a breach again of the public declarations here on the 1929 Act and the agreement arrived at between the Government of the day and Civil Service organisations in Government Buildings in 1929. If the Government had broken these agreements in ordinary circumstances and had said: "We intend to break them because we do not want to be bound by them now, but I will pay for breaking them", civil servants could then go before a compensation board and the Minister could say: "I undertook to observe certain conditions on the understanding that, if I broke them, I would give you a remedy against me in permitting you to go before a compensation board and asking that board to assess compensation for what you lost."
But the Minister says no, he will not do that. He says: "I will worsen your conditions; I will break the agreement; I will ride roughshod over all the guarantees given you; and, when all that havoc has been done, I will give you no remedy against me, either in the courts of the country or through a compensation board"—the compensation board which was set up under the 1929 Act as a guarantee that he could be sued and made amenable if he deliberately chose to worsen the conditions of transferred officers. He has succeeded in doing this; he has succeeded in worsening the conditions of these officers and he prevents them going before a compensation board to get a remedy against him by utilising the Emergency Powers Act, first, and now this Bill, to keep the 1929 Act in a state of suspension.
Now that the emergency is over, if the Minister could even produce any justification for doing what he did in 1940—and I do not believe he could ever have produced justification for his action in the matter—surely there is no justification whatever, in 1946, when the war is over and when the emergency is over, for continuing the suspension of an Act which was deliberately passed in order to ensure to people the conditions of employment on which they were transferred or, alternatively, a remedy, if those conditions of service were materially altered to the detriment of the officers concerned. The sole purpose of the amendment is to prevent the continued suspension of the Act, and, at the same time, to make a plea for the revival of the Act, so as to give the aggrieved persons an opportunity of having any claim they have against the Minister adjudicated upon by the board.
The Minister's fear, as innocently expressed in this explanatory memorandum, is that, if the board is revived, it would give rise to a large number of premature retirements. The easiest way of getting over the fear of premature retirements is for the Government to honour the promise it made in 1929. It can do that by restoring the cost-of-living bonus agreement which, as the Minister knows, the Government unilaterally repudiated in 1940, after having for a long number of years extracted every possible advantage it could get from that cost-of-living bonus agreement by reason of the downward tendency of the cost-of-living index figure. If the Government wants to prevent officers retiring, if it wants to get back to the stability which existed in the service in 1940, the easiest, the quickest and the surest way of doing so is by revoking the Civil Service stabilisation regulations.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, expressing the views of the Government, says that, in September, the wages standstill Order will go. There will be no further control over the wages of workers in private industry. In view of that, how can the Government logically pretend to have any right whatever, legal, moral, economic, or fiscal, to say to civil servants, with whom they had an agreement which the Government broke: "Although we leave the others completely out of the grip of wage control, we are going to maintain control, so far as the Civil Service is concerned". In other words, you put the civil servant into a vice, in the first instance by stabilising his wages ten months before you stabilise wages outside, and, when you release the control on outside wages, you still want to keep control over the civil servants' wages, which includes keeping control over the wages of the people who are paid as little as £2 and £3 per week and even less.
How can the Government justify that? Dick Turpin could justify that and various gentlemen who sailed the seas with the Jolly Roger as their ensign could justify conduct of that kind, but how can the Government justify such action—Government control over a body of people for no other reason than that they are near to you, that you can squeeze them, that it is convenient to squeeze them, and administratively not difficult to squeeze them and from an accountancy point of view, yields quite good returns? It is not proposed to do that to the generality of the people.
I put it to the Minister that he knows that what the Government is doing in this matter is a bit thick and cannot be justified on any reasonable ground whatever. What the Minister ought to do is not to take power to continue the suspension of this compensation board, but to tell the Government that, in his opinion, the time has arrived when, as the Minister charged with steering the State through the rest of the emergency, he does not believe, as I am sure in his heart he does not believe, there is any reason for continuing its suspension. It is merely a lazy way of continuing an unjust act, but, if the revocation of the suspension of this Act were brought about, the Government could easily think of what way it ought to get out of whatever situation existed. I am quite certain that transferred officers, recognising all the difficulties, would be only too pleased to deal with whatever problem had to be dealt with.
I am concerned in this matter from the point of view of advocating the maintenance of a contract and in seeing that the rights which people had are not invaded; I am not concerned at all with the person who wants to get out while the going is good, or because of some adventitious circumstance. I want to maintain the contracts which these people had, and to ensure that they will not be torn up in the lighthearted way in which the Government has torn them up for the past six years. The Minister ought to tell the Government that he does not feel justified in asking for a continuance of this Emergency Powers Order and the problem ought to be dealt with by a conference between the Government, on the one hand, and those who are its victims, on the other, with a view to getting over whatever difficulty may exist in the Government's mind in relation to it.
The weakness in the case made by the Deputy is his assumption that the termination of the bonus stabilisation would avoid the possibility of a large number of transferred officers retiring on the special terms which they could obtain under the 1929 Act. That is not correct. When I referred to the possibility of special legislation in this matter, I had in mind the fact that, even if the stabilisation of the Civil Service bonus ended to-day, these transferred officers would still be entitled to avail of the provisions of the 1929 Act by reason of the fact that their bonus was stabilised during the past few years. That has been done, and the fact that it has been would give them the right to retire on these special terms, unless the position is changed by legislation.
I cannot say how many of the 6,000 transferred officers still serving would elect to retire. It is clear, however, that if they all did elect to retire, there would be a complete disorganisation of many Government services. A number of these transferred officers occupy very senior posts. They are all skilled staff, and their withdrawal in large numbers from the Government service would create a position of chaos for a time. It was that fact which the Government had in mind in 1940 when it made this Order. Whatever possibility there might be of dealing with such a situation now, the opportunity of doing so in 1940, without very serious consequences, was slight indeed.
In 1940 the Government decided on a policy of bonus stabilisation. I admit that the stabilisation of the bonus was an alteration of the conditions of service of civil servants, whether transferred officers or other classes of civil servants. It was an alteration which was justified solely by the exceptional circumstances of the time. Having decided upon that policy, however, the Government had, I think, no option but to prevent the possibility of 6,000 necessary officers, holding key positions and possessing knowledge and experience, which newcomers could not possibly have, retiring en masse from the Government service and leaving disorganisation behind them. The Act of 1929 was the result of discussions with the Transferred Officers' Association and an agreement with the British Government. The agreement was given effect to by the Civil Service (Transferred Officers) (Compensation) Act here and by an Act of the British Parliament called the Irish Free State (Confirmation of Agreement) Act. When it was proposed to suspend the operation of that Act, following upon the stabilisation of the bonus, the British Government was so informed and, on the understanding that the suspension of the Act would be for the period of the emergency only, the British Government intimated that it had no observations to offer.
I cannot say at what stage it will be decided to terminate the stabilisation of the cost-of-living bonus or on what basis it may be done. Clearly, however, when it is done and when the stabilisation of the bonus Order is withdrawn the position of this Order, relating to the Civil Service (Transferred Officers) Act, will have to be considered, because at that stage the Government will also have to decide whether it is prepared to contemplate the withdrawal of these transferred officers from the service under the provisions of that Act, or whether it will be necessary to enact some legislation which will merely restore their rights as from that date, without giving them the right to retire because of the past stabilisation of the bonus. The possibility of numbers of transferred officers retiring is, of course, greater now than it was in 1940. All these officers are six years older now and, consequently, are nearer to the date upon which they would retire from the service in any event. Consequently, there will be a greater inducement now, than there was in 1940, to avail of the opportunity, if there were such opportunity, of retiring on Article 10 terms. The intention, however, of including this Order amongst the continued Government Orders under this Bill is merely to ensure that the situation will remain unchanged until a decision is taken upon the question of the future of the stabilisation of the bonus. I have explained that it would not be possible to consider the two questions separately. The Minister for Finance will, no doubt, have that matter under examination. But clearly the position in relation to these transferred officers must remain as it is until a decision is taken upon the question of bonus stabilisation. When a decision is taken upon that question, then the position of these transferred officers will enter into the picture also, because at that stage we must either contemplate the retirement of a number of them or some such arrangement as will obviate that risk to the proper administration of Government services. I could not, therefore, agree to this amendment, because it seems to me quite obvious that, whatever case the Deputy may make for permitting these officers to retire under the terms of the 1929 Act, it should not be a matter for decision until the whole question of bonus stabilisation has been decided.
I would ask the Minister to look at this matter from another point of view. In actual fact there seems to be a difference of approach to matters of this particular kind by different Ministers. At the present moment an Order has gone out to local authorities that everybody of 65 years of age must clear out. I know most valuable officers of local authorities throughout the country who are 65 years of age, but who are 65 years young, and who are being cleared out at 65 because the Minister wants to make room for other people who have grown up since and who are in the service, or whom he wants to bring into the service in present circumstances. Surely, when the Minister says that he believes these 6,000 officers who came over in 1922 are going to clear out he is imagining a very, very extraordinary situation in our present economic conditions, on the one hand, and on the other hand, ignoring the tremendous advances in position, status and emoluments which a number of these have enjoyed as a result of the setting up of the State here. We have gone through six years of emergency. Anybody who knows anything of the inner workings of the Civil Service machine realises, what even men who enter the service as junior executives or administrative officers realise, how long they spend there before they get the feeling that they are in there with their legs tied to a table, with a very, very dull existence, with very little opportunity of developing their imaginations in a vigorous way as far as their personalities as a whole are concerned, and with very little opportunity of doing anything worth while. The ordinary civil servant, no matter what rank he is, finds himself after a few years of service with his leg tied to a table.
Now, the emergency opened up a whole new world and the men who entered the Civil Service since 1927 had, during the last six years, an opportunity given to them of showing their worth both in an administrative capacity and in their ideas and general talents. They got a chance of expanding their activities, expanding their personalities, and expanding their general usefulness to the State which, in the ordinary course of events, would never come to any civil servant. The Minister finds himself—as every Minister finds himself to-day—with a very inflated machine. He will have to get rid of a lot of people who were brought in temporarily. He will have to demote a lot of first-class officers who were raised to higher rank and greater responsibility during the last six years. If there are people now who are dissatisfied because of the stabilisation of the bonus and who would leave the Civil Service rather than continue under these conditions, surely, the Minister ought to be glad to think that there are people ready to clear out at the top in order to make room for the newly trained material which has come into the service since 1922 and which has had an opportunity of proving itself during the last six years. Surely, he ought to feel that, so far from injuring the service by losing a few first-class men here and there, he would freshen up and invigorate the entire machine by allowing the young people who developed during the emergency an opportunity of moving still further to the top and getting service from those men who have developed under present-day circumstances. I think that the Minister is tackling this situation in a very limited fashion and with a very narrow viewpoint. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government in regard to the civil servants during the emergency. Take, for instance, the additional half-hour which they were asked to serve during the emergency; they had to come in a quarter of an hour before their normal time in the morning and they had to stay on a quarter of an hour later in the evening. I think that one of the quarter hours has been taken off already and that they are promised that the other will come off some time in October. I think it shows very little imagination with regard to what the Civil Service is as a machine and how it should be used and treated. I think the Minister is making a very great mistake in not taking the opportunity, if there is an opportunity in present circumstances, of allowing some of the older civil servants to go and some of the younger civil servants to take their place.
Surely the Minister cannot argue this matter 12 months after the war is really over without mentioning how many officials he really thinks might go under the new circumstances and how many of these officials he thinks would be a loss to the Civil Service. I do not know why the Minister is taking up this attitude. If he thinks that he is holding any powers in hand to prevent a general breakout of the Civil Service in a kind of revolt against conditions I think he is making a mistake even in circumstances like that, because, if you are to have a revolt of that kind, now is the time to have it before you reduce your Civil Service machine from emergency proportions to normal peacetime proportions.
I think, however, that all these fears are only invented for some peculiar purpose which I am unable to fathom. I strongly recommend to the Government, in the circumstances in which they find themselves, where they have to scale down their inflated Civil Service machine that, in the interests of the Civil Service and of the young people growing up in it, if some of the older people want to go they should be allowed to go, whatever reasons they may advance for going.
I do not suppose that anything I can say in addition to what has already been said urging the Minister to reconsider the policy in this matter of the Civil Service, particularly the transferred officers, would have any effect in altering his decision. At the same time, I should like to make a plea on behalf of these men. I think I can say that I am entitled to make that plea and that it cannot be said that it is made for any political purpose, or to gain any particular political advantage for myself or any of the members of the Party to which I belong. I had some responsibility in connection with the agreement reached in 1929 between the Irish Government, the British Government and the Civil Service, and at that time I threw whatever weight I had and whatever authority I possessed in favour of an agreement between the parties to the agreement that was ultimately reached, because I felt the justice of the claim of the Civil Service. I felt also the need for having in the Civil Service that strong body of efficient officers who had been transferred to our service and who were as Irish as any of the officers who came into the service. I felt it was necessary in the interest of efficiency that there should be in that body a feeling of security and that if there was a feeling of security there would be no retirement, or very few, and that if there were retirements, in the majority of cases of those who took advantage of the Act, the Civil Service would be just as well off without them and that the result of the agreement would be to have a contented and efficient Civil Service.
I believe that was the result of the Act of 1929. It is for that reason that when I was associated with the Government any influence I had with the Government was exercised in favour of Civil Service rights. Since I have been in Opposition I have strongly retained that attitude because it is one of my firm convictions in principle. I gain very little if any advantage by advocating the cause of the civil servants. On the contrary if there is any political advantage, it is against me. It was used against me in the general election which followed the decision of this House on the motion with reference to Civil Service arbitration which appeared in my name and the name of Deputy McGilligan. It was against me then and one of my principal colleagues in this House, Mr. Lavery, lost his seat in that election. Therefore it cannot be said that we are moving in this matter for political reasons. So far as I am concerned, I can assert that I am doing it because I believe in it and because it is in the interests of efficiency, in the interests of the Civil Service, and, ultimately, of the country.
As I said, I do not think I can in any way influence the Minister at this stage. Apparently, a Government decision has been made and nothing that can be said here advocating the cause of these transferred officers will, so far as I can see, affect that matter. But there are a couple of points to which I should like to direct the Minister's attention. In connection with the operation of this Emergency Powers Order, No. 30 of 1940, the reason given in the explanatory memorandum circulated with this Bill for the making of the Order and its continuance now is that the stabilisation of the Civil Service bonus would give rise to claims for retirement by civil servants thereby causing an exodus from the service of these civil servants. So far as I know no other reason has been advanced.
There has been from time to time a suggestion made that the policy in this Order of 1940 was in line with Government policy in reference to the prevention of inflation. In the explanatory memorandum it is perhaps significant that there is no reference to inflation or the necessity for continuing this Order for reasons connected with currency or inflation. We may take it, therefore, that, so far as the Government are concerned, they base their reasons for the making of this Order and for its continuance on the possibility of retirements. What is past is past. But I should like to direct the Minister's attention to the fact that this Order was made in 1940, I think 12 months at least before the first of the standstill Orders was put into operation in reference to wages throughout the country. Therefore for a period of 12 months before the ordinary working man or clerk or the ordinary man was affected by these standstill Orders the impact of this Order was fully felt by the Civil Service.
The position at the moment appears to be that the Minister for Industry and Commerce stated recently that once the Industrial Relations Bill becomes law the standstill Orders will disappear. So that again the civil servants are being left in the same position in which they have been for the last six years. They are to be left with this stabilisation of bonus with, apparently, no prospect of any amelioration in the position as regards the bonus. Therefore, from the point of view of the basic rate, the only reason that is now given as I understand it from the explanatory memorandum and from the remarks of the Minister to which I have listened, for the continuance of the Order is the possibility of a large number of retirements. I personally do not believe that there would be any large number of retirements from the Civil Service if the Act of 1929 were put back into its proper operation. At the present moment the position is that 99 per cent. of the civil servants who would be affected by the bringing into operation of the Act of 1929 would be unable to afford to retire. A very small number indeed would take advantage of the position.
I think, therefore, that the Minister at least ought to take away the Orders suspending the operation of the Act of 1929. The Minister has stated that that Order suspending the Act of 1929, and, apparently, also this Order No. 30, was made after consultation with the British Government. There were three parties to this agreement and the Act of 1929 gives legislative effect to a tripartite agreement—an agreement between the Irish Government, the British Government and the civil servants. But, apparently, these Orders were passed in consultation with only one other of the parties to the agreement—the British Government—and no conference or consultation took place with the civil servants or the representatives of the civil servants. I do not know whether even now it might not be possible for the Minister to come to some arrangement in conference or consultation with the civil servants, or their staff representatives, by which an agreement would be come to in reference to this entire matter, and not to have this continued irritation caused by the continuance in operation of this Emergency Powers Order. That would give effect to the principle of consultation with all parties to an agreement where that agreement was going to be changed. It was altered, apparently, in 1940 by agreement with the British Government but by no agreement or conference or consultation with the other party to the agreement, namely, the civil servants. Could the Minister not consider, even at this moment, an approach to the civil servants and their organisation with a view to seeing if some arrangement could not be come to by agreement, just as it was come to in 1929 between this Government and the British Government and the civil servants? I do not think it is beyond the bounds of possibility.
I am not in touch with any of the staff organisations or with any civil servants in this matter. I make this suggestion entirely on my own responsibility, entirely from the experience I had in 1929, when I negotiated this agreement, because I think I can say that I was largely in the position at that time of a negotiator between the various parties to the agreements that were ultimately arrived at. I found the civil servants and their representatives very amenable to compromise and very appreciative of difficulties and, while they were anxious to maintain their rights as far as possible, they were anxious to serve an Irish Government to the best of their ability and also to see if the difficulties which that Government had in relation to their claims could possibly be adjusted and met. Could the Minister not now see if anything could be done along those lines? I think that if an agreement could be come to it would remove the irritation that must continue to exist as long as this Order exists.
I gather from what the Minister has just stated that so far from there being any amelioration of the position of civil servants or even transferred officers, the intention is that this Order is to continue until circumstances arise in which it will be possible to stabilise the bonus. In other words, the utmost that the civil servants and transferred officers can look forward to is a position where their rights will again be taken away from them and whatever their rights may be in reference to the bonus will be whatever is the stabilised bonus created in some years to come.
The other suggestion that I make to the Minister—again completely on my own responsibility—but which might tend to bring more accord between civil servants and Government policy would be for the Government on the advice of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, having formally arrived at the decision—which no advocacy on our part or on the part of any Party other than the Government Party in this House can persuade them to alter or to modify—that on the bonus they are adamant, would it not be possible to give continued operation to the Act of 1929 except in reference to the bonus? That will not be any very great consolation to those people who have felt the impact of the cost of living in the gap that has been ever-widening and ever increasing, each day and each month, between the amount of money they get and the cost of living, the disparity between the cost-of-living and the bonus which was supposed, in accordance with legal decisions, to be something which would adjust salary to the cost of living and really equate salary to the particular conditions existing at the time. This will not be much consolation to them but at all events there are a number of other matters arising in connection with administration in respect of which civil servants and the transferred officers in particular—only the transferred officers have any rights under the Act of 1929—might feel more easy in their minds if they had recourse to a tribunal, if the tribunal was there, in reference to all matters other than bonus.
I do not see there has been any case made, certainly not in this explanatory memorandum, for the continuance in force in its entirety of the Order suspending the Act of 1929. It is suspended, according to the Minister's statement and the statement in the explanatory memorandum, solely because if the bonus Order was taken away that would give cause for the retirement of a large number of civil servants. Be it so, what is the case for keeping it in reference to all the other matters that are dealt with in the Act of 1929? Can the Minister see his way to advise the Government to allow the Act of 1929 to come again into its full operation in every respect except in reference to bonus? There has been no case made anywhere that I know of for the continued suspension of the Act of 1929 except in reference to bonus. There are other matters, some matters of very great importance to civil servants, in the Act of 1929. The Minister knows them, I am sure, as well as I do and I believe that there will be little or no retirement in consequence of matters other than bonus if the Act of 1929 is given its continued operation other than in reference to bonus. At all events it will go a little way to righting the position and a little way towards regularising what is really an irregular position, namely, rights conferred by agreement between three parties being abrogated by agreement between two of the parties to that agreement.
I do not know what interpretation is to be placed upon the assent that was given by the British Government to the making of the Emergency Powers Order. The Minister says that the British Government agreed so long as it it only applied to the emergency. The emergency is indefinite and has no relation to the war which is now over and may continue in secula seculorum. It depends on the declaration of the Government. I do not know if the interpretation is to be placed upon it that once the emergency is over the British Government anticipated that the bonus would be given its full operation or whether, notwithstanding anything in the agreement scheduled to the Act of 1929 and the decision of the tribunal set up subsequently under that Act in reference to the rights of transferred officers to bonus, the British Government have agreed that the rights of transferred officers are to be abrogated in reference to their bonus. I do not know whether that is the interpretation or not. I would like to know whether the British Government, without consulting those officers, have gone the whole way and given a free hand to the Irish Government to deal in any way they like in reference to Civil Service bonus at any time after the emergency has passed.
The last remark I have to make is to direct the Minister's attention to this fact, when he is considering the case that he has made for the continuation of this Order—that there might be a vast number of retirements. It was suggested when the Public Economies Act, 1933, was being passed that there would be a large number of retirements from the Civil Service. There were very few. That is rather an analogous position to the present time. I do think that the number of retirements that would be brought about by the restoration of the cost-of-living bonus to civil servants or by giving them the opportunity of going to the tribunal set up under the Act of 1929, if the Order is continued, would be very small indeed. If the Minister cannot see his way to recommend the modification of the Government policy in this matter, perhaps he would consider the other point that I have put up in reference to the Act of 1929.
So far as I know the sole reason why the Act of 1929 was suspended was the anticipation that the stabilisation of the bonus would lead to the retirement of a number of transferred officers. I shall certainly ask the Minister for Finance to consider whether it is possible to amend the Order so as to bring the Act back into operation except in so far as claims may be based upon the stabilisation of the bonus. I cannot say to what extent transferred officers might retire if this Order were revoked. It may be a shallow argument to advance that if in fact 99 percent. of the officers could not afford to retire, then the Order does no injustice to 99 per cent. of the officers. I think, however, that there is some apprehension in the minds of the Department of Finance that in present circumstances retirements might be considerable.
The passing of the Civil Service (Temporary Economies) Act of 1933 resulted in the retirement of some hundreds of transferred officers and there were also retirements on that scale when the Constitution was enacted in 1938. It was pointed out to me that the inducement to a transferred officer to avail of an occasion to retire under the Act of 1929 increases as he approaches his retirement age and most of those officers are now getting close to the age at which they will retire in any event.
I have considerable sympathy with Deputy Mulcahy's point of view, that it is a good thing for the Civil Service that senior officers should retire and that promotion should be open to lower officers and new entrants to the service. I must say that from my experience the quality of the staff of the Department of Industry and Commerce was not at any time adversely affected by retirements under the Act of 1929. Whatever temporary inconvenience may have been caused by such retirements was in time offset by the promotion of younger officers with energy and ability.
I think that the position at present is that it is exceedingly difficult to get officers of the requisite experience for the higher posts in the Civil Service. There has been an expansion of the service and the number of civil servants is, I think, now higher than at any previous time. That expansion of the service gave exceptional opportunities for promotion to junior officers of outstanding ability, but if a number of vacancies in the higher grades were to arise now, there would be considerable difficulty in filling them. I know from experience in my own Department that it is not easy to get officers of the requisite experience and calibre for higher posts in the existing service. That position is likely to continue until there has been more extensive recruitment of new entrants to the service and the new recruits get an opportunity of acquiring experience, because experience as well as personal ability is essential for the proper performance of the duties of a senior officer.
The explanatory note relating to this Order contained no reference to the motives of the Government in stabilising the bonus. It is clear that this Order is linked up with the stabilisation of the bonus. I do not suppose any Deputy would contemplate the Government restoring the full cost-of-living bonus for transferred officers only. They will, I am sure, agree with me that it could not be done for transferred officers until it is done for the service as a whole. At some stage the Minister for Finance will have to decide on the restoration of the cost-of-living bonus or on the arrangement he considers most suitable for the regulation of the future remuneration of the Civil Service. What he contemplates in that regard I cannot say, but clearly the stage is approaching at which he will have to make decisions. I think some discussions with staff associations have taken or are taking place.
The purpose of continuing this Order is to maintain the present position unchanged until there is a permanent change, whatever form that permanent change may take. The permanent change will affect both transferred officers and other civil servants and I feel certain the Minister for Finance would not be prepared to contemplate improving the conditions of transferred officers until a decision affecting the whole of the service can be made. When that decision is made, then a decision in relation to this Order will also have to be arrived at, because at that stage the Minister for Finance will have to decide if he is then prepared to contemplate the possibility of a number of transferred officers retiring, or the enactment of legislation to provide that while they get back their rights under the 1929 Act the fact that the bonus was stabilised in the past will not be a justification for retiring under that Act.
This matter has been fully considered, and while it is not altogether correct to say the Government are not prepared to consider any arguments advanced to them, they have decided that this Order shall remain while the stabilisation of the bonus remains and a case for an early change must be related to the stabilisation of the bonus rather than to the maintenance of this Order. I will, however, ask the Minister for Finance to consider whether this Order cannot be limited in its scope to the issue of bonus stabilisation and so amend it as to permit the Act of 1929 to come back into operation in respect of other matters.
There are one or two observations I would like to make on what the Minister has said. The Minister has stated that this Order is to continue until some permanent arrangement is arrived at in reference to the stabilisation of the bonus. From that I deduce that Government policy is to have a stabilised bonus and not a bonus that will fluctuate with the cost of living.
I did not intend to convey that. There has been no decision on that.
It is a point of policy that has been considered. Has it not been stated as such?
Not that I am aware of.
Is that not being considered—to stabilise the Civil Service bonus at a certain point and give them no bonus thereafter?
I do not think so; so far as I know, no such matter has been considered.
I am only talking about that as a policy that has been considered.
I do not think so.
The Minister ought to know.
Nothing I have said should be taken as conveying that any decision has been arrived at concerning the future of civil servants' remuneration.
That is the point I want to clear up. What the Minister said conveyed to my mind that the policy was to stabilise the bonus and not have a bonus that would fluctuate with the cost of living. I gather that no decision has been reached and it is not a definite Government policy. I suggest it is a matter that will require very careful consideration. There is one other point arising out of what the Minister said. He spoke of whatever policy must be arrived at in reference both to the transferred officers and the civil servants who are not transferred officers. The transferred officers would not require themselves to be put into a special category. The fundamental basis of the whole matter is that the civil servants shall be properly paid and that their payment should have some relation to existing circumstances and to realities. Although I speak on behalf of transferred officers, I really speak on behalf of all civil servants. They have suffered, whether they are transferred officers or not, far more severely than any other section of the community—all civil servants have—and I say that the impact of high taxation and increased cost of living and other matters during the emergency has fallen heavier upon the salaried classes in this country than upon any other classes. What I am making an appeal for, although I am speaking on the subject of transferred officers, is for a proper scale of salaries for civil servants, related to facts and, in particular, to the cost of living.
The Minister said he found it difficult in his Department to get people of experience and calibre to replace higher civil servants who go out. I have on more than one occasion in this House declared my view, that the underpayment of civil servants is bad public policy. I would prefer to see a smaller number of civil servants very well paid, rather than a vast number of underpaid civil servants in the State. I think it is bad policy. That is what I want to advocate here when speaking on the subject of transferred officers. Have decent salaries for civil servants and, in return, efficient service to the State would be given the more readily if they had not the worry and trouble caused by the anxiety which they experienced in the last few years.
What the Minister is asked to do now is what he would have done in 1939 if there had been no war and no emergency. If it had not been for the outbreak of war in 1939 the Government would not have contemplated interfering with the Act of 1929 or altering the bonus arrangement. Now that the war and the emergency is over, and that thanks to Almighty God we escaped its horrors, we are getting back to normal conditions. What is the difficulty of going back to the normal position that we had up to September, 1939? What is the difficulty in going back to the functioning of the 1929 Act and revoking the stabilisation of bonus regulation? The Minister has already decided to go back in respect of every type of worker in private industry. He says that the target is that there will be no more stabilisation for them after 1st September. As far as the Government is concerned it is finished with the policy of interfering with wages, which will then be controlled by collective bargaining between workers and employers in the field of industry and commerce.
While the Minister could announce that decision as far as employers and workers are concerned in May, 1939, apparently he cannot do so in June, 1946, as far as civil servants are concerned. What insuperable difficulty is there in getting from the Government a decision such as that which has such a far reaching effect on workers in private employment? What is the difficulty about the Government making up its mind if it is going to effect stabilisation of wages? When the House is in session what is the difficulty of saying: "We have gone into this matter. Our point of view is so-and-so and the opposite point of view is so-and-so, and between the two we have taken a decision. Here is the decision."
Why should the House be asked to pass a Bill, to continue until September, 1947, an Emergency Powers Order, the effect of which is to suspend the Act of 1929 until September, 1947? The Government should now, seeing that it has taken a decision in regard to wages in private industry, be able to make up its mind as to what it is going to do in regard to stabilisation of the bonus. If it is going to lift control in one case how can it maintain control in the Civil Service? The Government to-day controls the wages of unfortunate postmen who are paid less wages than industrial workers. How can they justify the lifting of control in respect of outside employment, when they are not lifting control off the lowly paid employees in the public service? I think the Minister ought to go to the Government and say to them that as apparently they had made up their mind in respect of the standstill Order, as far as private workers are concerned, it was time that a similar decision was arrived at in respect of stabilisation of the bonus regulation. If the Government decided — and I think it ought to decide—that the bonus stabilisation regulation must go, an announcement to that effect would have a more steadying effect in keeping trained and experienced people in the Civil Service than methods calculated to embitter them and induce them to get out of the service, without having regard to what the cost was going to be.
I think that people close to the retiring age may want to retire if this Civil Service (Transferred Officers) Act is revised. There is some value in stabilising the bonus. Everybody who retires, retires on half salary and no more. If you take the ordinary civil servant, one in the lower employment branches, you will find that in the main the lump sum received is required to pay debts which have accumulated over a number of years. A good many are waiting for the lump sum in order to have things squared up. As far as ordinary retirement is concerned at the maximum a civil servant gets half salary. It is not too easy to-day to live on a whole salary. Many people will not like the experiment, when retiring, of living on half salary if there is a chance of getting the whole salary without stabilisation of the bonus. I think if the Government took its courage in its hands and revoked the stabilisation regulation, simultaneously with a revocation of the suspension of the Act, they might very well be surprised at the extent to which people would be anxious to serve the State, notwithstanding the fact that they got a pretty raw deal during the last six years. I think the Minister cannot make any case for the Government delaying a decision on the stabilisation of bonus regulation. If it is decided to revoke it the time is ripe for decision. There is no point in continuing the position until 1947.
I suggest that between now and the Report Stage the Minister ought to bring to the notice of the Government the views expressed here, in the hope that next week or the week after he will get a decision on these two matters. Every factor likely to guide that decision is present now. If the Minister will do that I am willing to withdraw the amendment, so as to facilitate him or the Government. We will then know where we stand. Large numbers of civil servants will know where they stand. I think the Government and the Minister owe it to them that they ought not to be kept in doubt. Between now and this day fortnight the Minister ought to sound the Government and get a decision.
I do not know if this is the section on which I wish to raise a point.
The amendment has first to be disposed of, unless the point arises on the amendment.
I think it does. The explanatory memorandum states that Emergency Powers Order (No. 260) provides for the control of remuneration to employees generally. It states: "It would be necessary to retain these Orders pending the enactment and coming into operation of the Industrial Relations Bill, 1946." I understand that the Order will be revoked when the Industrial Relations Bill comes into force.
A further point is that he says nothing about Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order which is, in part, another wages Order. The explanatory memorandum says:
"These Orders impose restrictions on the distribution of profits of companies and on directors' fees and remuneration of employees and it is necessary that they should be continued for the present."
Is the idea that this Order will go at the same time as Emergency Powers (No. 260) Order?
Is not that a matter for the section?
It is. We are dealing with a particular point.
Deputy Norton put certain questions to the Minister which he has not been able to answer yet. I wonder would he correct me if I am wrong in giving these as the reasons. The question as posed by Deputy Norton is: what is the distinction made between the Civil Service as a whole and the transferred officers as a special group and the workers in ordinary private industry? Deputy Norton makes the point that workers in industry are now to be left to the sway of ordinary industrial action and surely it is time to repeal the stabilisation Order and let ordinary conditions operate with regard to the Civil Service. The difference is that the private worker has no contract, whereas the civil servant has. The civil servant has such a contract, a contract which entitles him to a bonus and the transferred officer has a double contract.
I understand that the question was put already and not answered, but it appears as if the Minister has gone into a huddle with his dearest enemies, the British Government, and has arranged to beat the legal right of these transferred officers. The case made for it is, if you please, that these men are so valuable—one would have thought that the conclusion to be drawn from declaring that men are so valuable is that we ought to pay them up, to the extent of their services— that we must keep them, whether or not we break a contract with them. I have several times in this House raised the morality of this action, and I have been informed that more than one clergyman has written to the Government protesting against this whole matter of the stabilisation of the bonus as definitely immoral.
It is clear that these people were induced to take up service. Many men entered the service on the condition that they were getting not merely a particular salary but were to be prevented from suffering the impact of a slump. They accepted that particular contract, but, as that contract has gone on through the years, what has happened is that the Civil Service in the main has lost. When the cost of living went down, they made what the secretary of the Department of Finance called a generous contribution to the State, amounting, according to the figures which have been given, to £2,000,000 in a certain number of years.
The Taoiseach at a meeting in Ennis told civil servants to hang on to their cost-of-living bonus. He forecast a general increase in prices throughout the world and his glorious statement was that they would have the bonus to safeguard them against the impact of any rise in costs. When the rise did come, when the rise was permitted to come, the Minister steps in and tells them: "We are not going to carry out our contractual relations with you." He did that earlier than with regard to the ordinary worker, but now he proposes to do it later with regard to them than anybody else. He started in 1940, whereas the ordinary worker was dealt with about 1941, by means of a standstill Order. Now he says that the ordinary worker is to be left to the impact of ordinary industrial conditions somewhere between September and whatever is to be the appointed day under the Bill which we discussed last night. But we are going to keep this immoral situation operative with regard to the Civil Service generally, and transferred officers particularly, until some date which may be as late as this day in 1947.
I say again that the only justification made for it is that these men are so valuable that we must keep them—the most amazing excuse ever put up for a breach of contract: the people whose contract is being broken are of such value that you dare not let them take their rights under the contracts, one of the rights being that they could go, if they were able to prove before a court that what was being done was a worsening of their conditions. That is the bargain we solemnly made as a State. The Government carried it forward, as following the people who made that bargain, and encouraged people to hope that the contract would be kept, but when, for the first time in the history of the Civil Service, the contract was any good, they stopped it being of such substantial benefit to them and now when it is understood that the conditions which made them break that contract, even immorally, have disappeared, it is proposed to carry this arrangement further.
I am glad that the idea of inflation as an excuse has gone. It has not been mentioned so far, and I do not suppose it will be mentioned now, but up to date the only reason given for depriving these people of the right to get the money due to them—and they have been deprived of £1,000,000 per year—was that it was considered that one million pounds per year handed to the Civil Service, to whom we had contractually bound ourselves, would have an inflationary impact. Having said that, they allowed in £13,000,000 sent in here by the people who had to flee across the seas. In the end, the only answer made is: "We can let the ordinary industrial worker go free to get whatever conditions he can through industrial activity, because he cannot go into court, plead a contract and get enforcement of it, but these men can. Therefore, we have to treat them in this shocking fashion."
On the question put to me by Deputy Norton, I could not hold out any hope that an announcement on the question of the future of bonus stabilisation would be made within a fortnight or before this Bill is enacted. There would be no point in postponing a decision on this amendment in anticipation of such an announcement. An announcement will be made at some stage, but I could not at present attempt to forecast when it will be made.
The Minister has heard the arguments and I cannot imagine that he is still without a considerable measure of sympathy with them, inwardly, no matter what he says outwardly. He must recognise that there is something incongruous in a situation in which he releases 500,000 people from the control imposed by the wages standstill Order, while he says to about 25,000 people: "You have still to remain within the net." That cannot be justified to any logical mind. The Minister must realise that it is time we got a decision on the stabilisation of bonus regulations in the same way in which we have got a decision in respect of outside workers. I am willing to withdraw this amendment to give the Minister an opportunity of reporting the discussion to the Government, with the right to re-enter it on Report Stage, but in the hope that by the time we reach Report Stage we will have had some definite decision from the Government or some definite date on which we will get a decision.
I can give no promise to the Deputy that it would be possible to give him any more definite intimation of the Government's attitude on Report Stage than now.
I am willing to let the Minister try, and, in that spirit, to withdraw the amendment. I am willing to let the Minister try, not blaming him, if he does not succeed, but, at the same time, hoping that he will succeed.
With regard to amendment No. 5, I think it is the same principle as amendment No. 2.
It is the very same as amendment No. 2.
Is the Deputy moving it?
I move amendment No. 5:—
At the end of the section to add the following new sub-section:—
Nothing in this section shall be deemed as continuing in force after the operative date the provisions of Emergency Powers (No. 111) Order, 1941.
Need I repeat what I said on amendment No. 2?
That is for the Deputy to decide.
I suppose the Minister heard all about it. The Minister has heard what I had to say on amendment No. 2 and I would like to know if the Minister has anything to say in reply.
The quotations the Deputy read from the statement made by the Taoiseach in the Seanad can be taken as representing the Government's attitude. There will be legislation to amend the Ministers and Secretaries Act arising out of the reorganisation of Ministries which the Taoiseach foreshadowed. The sole reason why this Order is being continued is to maintain the situation unchanged until that comes into operation.
I am not satisfied to have the situation remain unchanged in view of the experience of this House when dealing with the Public Health Bill. Now, I move this amendment and, in moving it, I refer the Minister and Deputies to the remarks made by the Taoiseach—I shall not quote them again, but they will be found in column 1245 of the Seanad Debates of the 3rd April, 1946. The Taoiseach there complains that a Parliamentary Secretary is a person who, when he gets the bit between his teeth, passes outside the control of the Government. We have had experience of that here. We have had the experience of a Parliamentary Secretary dealing with public health matters, not only keeping the Minister out of the debate but keeping out of the debate a Minister who, judging by the speeches made the other night at a dinner given by the medical fraternity, was in close touch with that profession and who proved most satisfactory in his manner of receiving them. Yet, we have the situation where that Minister was kept completely out from any discussion on the Public Health Bill here while, at the same time, the representatives of the medical fraternity were kept completely away from any discussion in the matter. I have been given this opportunity now of asking the House to take a decision on that. I ask the House to take a decision now so that in any other matters appertaining to local government, whether it be housing, or roads, or anything else, we will have here in the House a Minister who will be responsible and who will help to guide the discussion in the House.
I do not think a vote on the amendment will give the Deputy the decision for which he is looking.
At any rate if the amendment is carried, it will make the position quite clear that there can only be one Parliamentary Secretary in the Department of Local Government.
Unless the Ministers and Secretaries Act is amended—that is the point I put to the Deputy. There is a question of amending the Ministers and Secretaries Act. The only point that arises is whether that must be done before the 1st September or whether, by continuing this Order, the amendment can be postponed until a later date.
At any rate if we carry this amendment it will save us between this and the 1st September having to discuss the Public Health Bill in the manner in which we had to discuss it up to the present.
The Order would still be in force up to the 1st September.
That is why I wanted to cover the situation in two directions.
The Order would still be in force under the Emergency Powers Act until the 1st September.
Then I was quite right in instinctively putting down two amendments.
No. The position is that after the 1st September this Order will not be in force except as a continued Order. There will be no power under the Supplies and Services Bill to make a corresponding Order as there is no power under the Supplies and Services Bill to amend any existing Act.
I want to press this amendment. It is the only method which we have of making it quite clear here that we do not want a return to a discussion on the Public Health Bill similar to the type of discussion which we had up to the present.