In Committee. - Agricultural Credit Bill, 1946—From the Seanad.

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

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

In page 11, Section 14 (6), lines 49 to 60, deleted and the following sub-section substituted:—

(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the corporation may invest moneys in its hands in any of the stocks, funds and securities which are for the time being authorised by law as investments for Post Office Savings Bank funds or in the purchase of or subscription for such securities as may from time to time be approved (either generally or particularly) by the Minister for the purposes of this sub-section.

This amendment has been inserted in the Bill to meet the views of Senators who urged during the Committee Stage discussion in that House that the corporation should be confined to trustee securities in the investment of surplus moneys in its hands. In reply, I pointed out that the position in regard to trustee securities was not altogether satisfactory, but I promised to consider the matter. This amendment, which was inserted on the Report Stage, limits the corporation in its investments to securities authorised by law as proper for the investment of moneys deposited in the Post Office Savings Bank and such other securities as the Minister for Finance may approve. Sub-section (6) in the form passed by Dáil Éireann, allowed the corporation to invest its surplus moneys in the purchase of any stocks, shares, bonds or debentures, quoted on the stock exchange in Dublin. Certain Senators considered this too wide and I altered the section to the form which is now in the Bill.

And the only operative effect is that the approval of the Minister for Finance must be had for any bonds other than the restricted category which the corporation desires to purchase?

Yes. The scope of investments is also limited.

It is limited to the investments of moneys deposited in the Post Office and Savings Banks and some other similar securities.

It is not clear. I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say that in the original Bill, as we sent it to the Seanad, the corporation was free to invest in any security that they in their discretion chose to purchase. As I understand the Parliamentary Secretary's expositions of the amendment now inserted, the corporation may now invest in such securities as the Post Office Savings Bank or other securities contingent on the Minister for Finance approving the other securities. Is that correct?

All that means is that in the future if they want to go outside the Post Office category securities they must submit their proposals to the Minister for his approval and that, on his approval, they can buy anything he approves.

Question put and agreed to.

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

In page 13, Section 18, line 45, before sub-section (5) a new sub-section as follows inserted:—

(5) For the purposes of effecting any alterations in the articles of association of the corporation required or authorised by this Part, Section 13 of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, shall be construed as if the words "extraordinary resolution" were substituted for the words "special resolution" where the latter words first occur.

The purpose of this amendment is to enable the corporation to alter its articles of association in accordance with the terms of the Bill without holding the second meeting required under Section 13 of the Companies Act, 1908.

Under Section 13 a special resolution is required. The alteration under the sub-section now inserted in the Bill may be made by an extraordinary resolution which is a resolution passed by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the members voting at a general meeting. A special resolution is a resolution which has been passed at one general meeting in the manner required for an extraordinary resolution and then confirmed at a subsequent general meeting by a majority of the voters present at that meeting, which must be held not less than 14 days or more than one month from the date of the first meeting.

Had the Seanad any purpose in mind for putting that in?

Well, really, it is a Government amendment and it was put in for the purpose of saving time.

Was it put in for the purpose of putting Irish in the basement and English on the roof?

That has nothing whatever to do with it.

This was not consequent on the amendment which the Government brought in?

It is the difference between an extraordinary resolution and a special resolution.

I was wondering if this procedure was devised for the purpose of facilitating the new arrangement whereby the minor clerks were required to have a competent knowledge of Irish but the directors were not and I was hoping that it would provide the requisite facilities if the Government changed their mind and decide to stipulate that in addition to a competent knowledge of Irish——

There is nothing about Irish in this.

The Parliamentary Secretary has not told us why he wanted this expeditious procedure. I am wondering if he desires to impose on the directors an obligation analogous to that which he thought suitable for the minor officers of the corporation. Surely he will tell us. He must have had some purpose in introducing this amendment to the Seanad.

The Parliamentary Secretary made clear the distinction between the extraordinary resolution and the special resolution and in what way the special resolution expedited matters.

Under Section 13 of the Companies Act of 1908 a special resolution is required. The alteration under the sub-section now inserted in the Bill may be made by an extraordinary resolution which has to be carried by a three-fourths majority and, in addition to that, under the Companies Act of 1908 there has to be a special resolution subsequently passed by a majority at another meeting.

Only by a majority?

I would like to ask if this places the Agricultural Credit Corporation in a more favourable position than an ordinary joint stock company. Is that the effect of this amendment?

I would not think so. It is to facilitate the proceedings and to make the work easier.

What I want to find out is whether the procedure that an ordinary joint stock company has to take under the Companies (Consolidation) Act, etc., has been short-cut in favour of this Agricultural Credit Corporation.

It is, to the extent that it is cutting out the second resolution.

Is that incumbent on the ordinary trading companies?

The ordinary trading companies are governed by the Act of 1908.

What I am anxious to find out is, why the procedure should be shortened in the case of a company such as this. In other words, is the law too onerous on ordinary trading companies or, in the case of this company, is the procedure being cut too short?

I agree perfectly, but the Parliamentary Secretary does not. You might just as well be talking Greek to him.

I can only point out that this amendment was brought in specially to facilitate the company and to get rid of a more cumbrous system.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary tell the House why any exception should be made in the case of an agricultural credit corporation? Why should they be exempt from the normal operation of the law?

The only thing is that the company law is——

——unrealistic!

This is a more modern idea of shortening procedure and facilitating the company.

Surely the correct term to employ here as the ordinary operation of the law would be "unrealistic" in this context and, therefore, as the High Court of Equity of the country, we intervene to declare that for the purpose of this company we sweep aside the ordinary law and substitute the realistic approach as determined by the wiseacres on the Government Front Benches.

Does it mean reducing the procedure by one meeting—that the corporation first meets and passes a special resolution and afterwards passes an extraordinary resolution, and that now the special resolution is cut out?

Yes, the subsequent resolution is cut out. I might point out that there is a precedent for this in Section 27 (3) of the Air Navigation Act, 1946.

Is it not wonderful how precedents come to be quoted? You make them on Monday and you quote them on Tuesday as coercive.

Question put and declared carried.

I move that the Dáil agrees with the Seanad in amendment No. 3:

In page 13, Section 18, line 47, the words "of this Act" deleted.

The words which are being deleted are unnecessary and have not been used elsewhere in the Bill. The Parliamentary draftsman considers that the words "this Part" are sufficient and that the words "of this Act" are not required.

Why is it necessary to delete these words?

Because it is considered by the Parliamentary draftsman that they are unnecessary and have not been used elsewhere in the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

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

In page 19, Section 25, line 11, after sub-section (3) a new sub-section as follows inserted:—

(4) A copy of this section shall be endorsed on every specific chattel mortgage, but non-compliance with this provision shall not invalidate the specific chattel mortgage.

What are the provisos of Section 25 of the Bill? Is the whole section going to be endorsed on every chattel mortgage?

Yes. I think Deputy Hughes is very keen on that.

I think it is a harmless kind of proviso.

Question put and agreed to.

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

In page 22, Section 29, line 39, after sub-section (2) a new sub-section as follows inserted:—

(3) A copy of Section 25 of this Act shall be endorsed on every notice served under sub-section (1) of this section, but non-compliance with this provision shall not invalidate the notice.

This amendment follows on amendment No. 4 as a consequential amendment and it provides that a copy of Section 25 is to be endorsed on every notice to a borrower converting a floating chattel mortgage into a specific chattel mortgage.

Question put and agreed to.

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

In page 34, line 22, after the word "be" and before the word "evidence" the words “prima facie” inserted; and the words “until the contrary is proved” in lines 22-23 deleted.

Although there is no legal difference in meaning between the words “prima facie evidence” and the words “evidence until the contrary is proved” which were originally in the Bill, I have accepted this amendment, which appears to emphasise the fact that the certificate of indebtedness is not absolute proof.

Question put and agreed to.

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

In page 34, Section 55 deleted and the following section substituted:—

(1) Subject to sub-section (2) of this section, appointments to situations in the service of the corporation shall be made in accordance with such arrangements for securing the appointment of suitable and qualified persons as shall from time to time be determined by the directors, after consultation with the commissioners, and such arrangements shall include—

(a) in the case of situations in the clerical grades, a provision prescribing, as an essential qualification for appointment, the possession of a knowledge of the Irish language of such a standard as the directors, with the concurrence of the commissioners, may fix,

(b) in the case of other situations, a provision for giving to suitable and qualified candidates, who possess a knowledge of the Irish language of a standard not less than that fixed by the directors, credit in respect of such knowledge.

(2) Sub-section (1) of this section shall not apply to—

(a) appointments made in the ordinary course of promotion, or

(b) appointments of casual employees, or

(c) appointments of industrial workers, or

(d) the hiring of persons to perform subordinate duties.

(3) In this section— the expression "the directors" means the directors of the corporation;

the expression "the commissioners" means the Local Appointments Commissioners appointed under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926 (No. 39 of 1926).

During the Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann a number of Senators supported a suggestion that the Civil Service Regulation Acts should apply to appointments in the service of the corporation. They urged that this would prevent suggestions being made in future that appointments were not made on merit and would ensure that successful candidates possessed a good knowledge of the Irish language.

This amendment provides for the association, in a consultative capacity, of the Local Appointments Commissioners with the directors of the corporation when arrangements are being made for the recruitment of persons to the service of the corporation and, in addition, that the commissioners must be satisfied as to the standard of knowledge of the Irish language which the directors of the corporation fix as an essential qualification for appointment to clerical posts in the corporation's service. The section is not to apply to appointments in the ordinary course of promotion or to the employment of casual and subordinate workers.

This amendment is a slight improvement on the original section which was taken exception to in this House; but I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary why there should be any consultation between the directors and the commissioners. Why is it that when a local authority is making an appointment the power of determining the qualifications is left absolutely in the hands of the commissioners? Why should we make an exception in this case? Is this is to permit the dispensing of patronage? Is the Parliamentary Secretary prepared to be honest about it and get rid of the opportunity of dispensing patronage and exclude the directors so far as appointments of this kind are concerned? It may appear to be a start in that direction, but it is only an appearance, to my mind. It is true that according to paragraph (a) there is to be a provision prescribing as an essential qualification for appointment the possession of a knowledge of the Irish language of such a standard as the directors, with the concurrence of the commissioners, may affix. I want to argue that the same law should apply to the appointments under this board as applies to a local authority, and that there should be no question of consultation between the directors and the commissioners. It still leaves the power of patronage with the directors of this board, and we object to that.

We have gone as far as we reasonably could to meet the objection raised both in this House and in the Seanad in connection with this matter. Deputy Hughes wants to know why there should be consultation between the directors and the Local Appointments Commissioners with regard to certain appointments. The argument put forward both here and in the Seanad was to the effect that the directors may not be the proper body to determine the proper standard of a knowledge of Irish and, in the circumstances, this amendment has been brought in to ensure that a competent authority would be the determining body as to the standard of knowledge of Irish for any of these appointments to which this Bill would apply.

With regard to local authorities, this corporation is not the same type of body as a local authority, as Deputies are well aware. This corporation will have to operate on a business basis and it is totally different in composition from that of a local authority and the directors cannot be denied the right to select the type of employees they have to engage. After all, they have to bear the responsibility for the proper management of that concern, and, if they have not a say in the persons whom they employ, it would be very hard to hold them responsible for the proper working of the organisation subsequently. If we go too far in limiting their powers the danger is that we would get no responsible people to accept directorships in that corporation.

The brazened-faced and shamefaced indecency of the Fianna Fáil Party is a source of fascination to me. There they all are sitting like a row of hypocritical statues, all of them laughing up their sleeves behind the back of the Parliamentary Secretary at the positive re-enactment in this House of a proviso that the clerks in this corporation must be able to speak Irish and that the directors need not. There is Deputy Ó Briain, the watch dog of the language. He believes that it is right that persons enjoying public or quasi-public employment in this country should be competent to transact their business through the medium of Irish, or through the medium of English as circumstances may require it. How does he reconcile with justice imposing that obligation on the minor employees of the corporation and exempting from it the directors? How can he subscribe to a proposition that a group of men, the directors of this company, should be charged with the responsibility of determining that their employees have a competent knowledge of Irish when they themselves could not bid you "good morning" in Irish and when they themselves fixed this House with notice in advance that they will not submit their own persons to any such test?

How can Deputy Ó Briain justify that, knowing that the directors-to-be of this corporation are already panting outside the door with their tongues out waiting for their patents of appointment so that their salaries can become payable, no one of whom could express his gratitude for this permit of access to the swill bucket in Irish, while all their appointees must submit themselves to that test? How can Deputy Ó Briain justify the position of a young graduate of one of our secondary schools who wants to work in Ireland and who recoils from the prospect of having to go to Great Britain or to the United States of America to earn his living, who is highly competent to discharge the duties of any clerical position in this corporation, but who is just one of those born without the linguistic gift and, the vernacular of his home never having been Irish, has been unable to master the language with fluency—and there is a high percentage of every community who simply have not got the linguistic gift? That boy applies for a position in the Agricultural Credit Corporation and there is preferred above him a far less competent person, because he is prepared to prostitute himself by pretending that he has what is known as a competent knowledge of Irish.

Will the Deputy have some regard to the amendment before the House? The question of Irish being necessary for the clerical staff was decided in the Bill; it is not affected by this amendment.

The amendment provides that the directors must consult the commissioners and it was put in because the case was made that the directors did not know B from a bull's foot about Irish and therefore could not examine the candidates.

Quite, but the point is that we are dealing with Section 55 (2) and it has nothing to do with the qualifications of the directors; it simply states what was decided when this House was dealing with the Bill.

And I am deriding Deputy Ó Briain because he is going to make himself responsible for a proviso in this amendment founded on his knowledge that the directors of the corporation do not know enough Irish and will not know enough Irish to entitle them to examine the most junior clerk and, therefore, we must bring in the commissioners for consultation because no one of the directors is competent to conduct the examination. The poor man's son must go to England because he does not know Irish, but the director who does not know Irish can consult the commissioners. Should not Deputies opposite be ashamed of themselves; should they not be humiliated to think that they can be flogged through the Lobby for that kind of thing?

I want the Deputy to realise that it was decided by the House that the clerical staff must know Irish. It was proposed in the House that the directors should, but that did not get through. That matter has been decided. In dealing with an amendment from the Seanad, this Committee is confined to that amendment—whether or not the commissioners should be consulted about seeing what amount of Irish the candidates know. Its having been decided that they must know Irish, I fail to see how the directors come in.

Is it not the directors who get the benefit of the consultation? The directors have announced in advance: "We do not know an iota of Irish", and Deputy Ó Briain's remedy for that is to bring in the commissioners. Now he is off like a lamplighter.

This amendment has not been submitted by Deputy Ó Briain.

I have always regarded the Deputy as the archangel in this House, always anxious to rise like the archangel with the flaming sword if anyone calls him Deputy O'Brien. It jars on his ear. He is gone off now in his chariot of fire down the stairs because he does not like to look at himself in the rôle he is now called upon to play.

I think you are most offensive.

There you are. Have I said a single word of a rude or of a crude character except to describe in detail the things that the leaders of that Party are asking their followers to do? I agree with Deputy Loughman that it is offensive to ask them to do it. I am ashamed that leaders in this House should ask their followers to do such a thing.

They do not ask us; we make up our own minds.

When I refer to their action in that connection I am told I am offensive. A cold, detached analysis of what they are about to do is described by Deputy Loughman as grossly offensive.

You stated that we were flogged through these Lobbies and I think we have every right to object.

If that word jars upon the Deputy's ear I shall be very glad to substitute the word "induced" or "persuaded".

The Deputy should not try to read our minds; we can make up our own minds without Deputy Dillon's assistance.

Then this spontaneous rising of the Fianna Fáil Party to sweep through the Lobby in noble array——

The Opposition seem to do the same thing.

——is something I hope they will enjoy. I trust it will not grate unduly on Deputy Loughman's sensibility if I say that, noble as they feel themselves to be, they do not look very noble.

Question put.
The Committee divided:—Tá: 47; Níl: 27.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Brennan, Thomas.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick (County Dublin).
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Honor Mary.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera Vivion.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Furlong, Walter.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Kilroy, James.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Frank.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • McGrath, Patrick.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Ua Donnchadha, Dómhnall.
  • Walsh, Laurence.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Bennett, George C.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Coogan, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finucane, Patrick.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Halliden, Patrick J.
  • Heskin, Denis.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Timothy J.
  • O'Driscoll, Patrick F.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas.
  • Reidy, James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy; Níl: Deputies Dillon and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Agreement with amendments Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, reported.
Report agreed to; Seanad Éireann to be notified accordingly.