I would hold myself remiss were I to recommend an amendment to this House without offering the House an adequate explanation of it and justification for it. Fortunately, although my observations do not seem to have made the impression which I had hoped they would, I have a copious note of what I then stated and I am in a position substantially to recapitulate it. I submit for the consideration of the House that it is a model of succinct clarity. This is purely a drafting amendment required by the Land Commission for the purpose of administrative convenience. The intention of the exception referred to in the section is to make it unnecessary for the Land Commission to notify the Registry of Deeds in the case of unvested land held by tenants and allottees. As the sub-section left the House after the Committee Stage, the exception does not extend to a parcel of land allotted on an untenanted land estate which was registered land at the date of its acquisition by the Land Commission. The fact that a charge in these cases has not been notified to the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds does not mean that the charge has not been recorded. The holdings in question being non-vested holdings, a solicitor or other interested person would normally approach the Land Commission if there was any question of sale and the Land Commission would have a record of the charge in their books.
Now, is there any facet of this drafting amendment that is not succinctly and clearly described in the language I have just employed? It is not an uncommon practice in this House, where a Minister is called upon to deal with a highly technical aspect of Land Commission administration, which is notoriously obscure, for a childish member of the Opposition, who himself does not understand the amendment—and I do not refer to Deputy de Valera but to Deputy Smith—to ask, in terms which make it quite clear that he did not know what the amendment was about, for further and fuller clarification, the object being to suggest that the Minister in charge of the Bill is inept or incompetent.
I decline to offer the affront to this House of dissimulating an expert knowledge which I have not got. I do not hold myself out to this House as an expert in the land law. Anyone who knows as much about the land law as I do—which is a good deal—appreciates what it takes to be a facile expert in the land code. Anyone in this House who has an expert knowledge of it would regard it as offensive deception on my part to suggest that I was in a position to go through the land code and explain it to the House. It is no reflection on my sense of responsibility in coming before the House if I recommend an amendment to them as being purely administrative, of no effect to the principle underlying this section which it is designed to amend, having no other purpose than to simplify administration but of so technical a nature as to tax the capacity of one not competent to expound the land code in all its complications in presenting it to this House. Armed, therefore, with a copious note from the best authorities that can be found in the country, I did not attempt to pass off on the House the statement as representing my considered view. I have told the House that I had got the best advice I could, that I vouched for the accuracy of my version of that advice to the House, that I guaranteed its authenticity and that, on that, I asked the House to incorporate the amendment in the Bill.
I think Deputy de Valera approached this matter honestly and fairly, but I do not think he is right and I think it is something that is regrettable if we try to bring the procedure of this House into disrepute. I do not think it is a right thing to try to raise the suggestion that a Minister would have the insolence, the impertinence, to present to this House an amendment, disowning his obligation to hold himself at the disposal of the House to explain it to the limit of his capacity and it is grossly offensive to me to suggest that I would do it. I was surprised when the Leas-Cheann Comhairle found himself constrained to allow a wide relevance to Deputy MacEntee on the ground that I had made no attempt and had disowned the duty of explaining my amendment. I think the words I used in opening, which I have recapitulated from my copious note, constitute as succinct and clear an explanation of this amendment as it is within the power of any Minister to give. Nothing less would have satisfied me in preparing myself to meet the House. I confess that when Deputy MacEntee was speaking it seemed to me as though for a moment we had passed with the white rabbit through the looking-glass, we were hurrying down the burrows of Wonderland where the Duchess shook pepper on her baby and the red Queen played croquet with the stork.