Death of President of Iceland. - Defence Bill, 1951—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The existing statutory provisions governing the Defence Forces are contained in the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Acts, 1923 to 1951, of which the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, is the principal Act. Although the 1923 Act was intended at the time of its enactment to be retained in force for a short period only, it has, as Deputies are aware, been continued annually ever since, with such amendments as were considered necessary from time to time. The Constitution of 1937, the establishment of a naval element of the Defence Forces in 1940 and the development of the Defence Forces during the emergency were responsible for most of the amendments. It may be said that the Acts operated successfully, and that the delay in the enactment of permanent legislation had the advantage of affording time to determine the type of organisation best suited to the country's requirements and of enabling use to be made of the experience gained over the years, particularly during the emergency.

The present Bill contains those provisions of the existing Acts which are considered suitable for permanent legislation, but amendments have been made as necessary to effect improvements. The Bill also includes a considerable number of new provisions giving additional powers for defence purposes and affording further safeguards for members of the Defence Forces. Certain of the provisions enacted during the emergency have been omitted, the intention being to reserve them for emergency legislation if the necessity for such legislation should arise at any time. The principal omissions are the provisions in relation to the precedence of military traffic on transport undertakings during an emergency; the adaptation of the plant of such undertakings to enable military requirements to be met, and the provisions regarding the restoration of civilian employment at the end of an emergency of members of the Reserve called out on permanent service and personnel commissioned or enlisted for the duration of the emergency.

Part I of the Bill, the provisions of which are generally similar to those in existing legislation, relates to the date of its coming into operation; its application to persons subject to military law; the declaration of a state of emergency; active service, and a number of other administrative matters. Many regulations and administrative arrangements consequent on the provisions of the Bill will require to be made before it can come into operation. Accordingly, it may not be possible to bring it into operation immediately upon its enactment.

Section 3 provides that a member of the Defence Forces remains subject to military law even though he is, for the time being, outside the State or is on board a ship or aircraft. As far as absence from the State is concerned, the intention is to cover cases such as those of a member attending a course of instruction abroad or travelling with an equitation team. Service outside the State in that sense is not a liability, because Chapter III of Part IV confines the service liability of members of the Defence Forces to service within the State unless they are employed on a State ship or a State aircraft. But even when voluntarily absent from the State, members remain subject to military law.

Section 4, which provides for the declaration of a state of emergency, is necessary because certain provisions of the Bill—for example, the power to enlist personnel for the duration of an emergency—become operative only when the existence of a state of emergency for the purposes of the Act has been declared by the Government.

In Part II, provision is made for the Council of Defence, which has, up to the present, been provided for in Section 8 of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924. That section is now being repealed. The Secretary of the Department of Defence, who has hitherto been secretary to the council, is now being added to its membership. He will continue to be secretary to the council as well. The purpose of the council is stated to be to aid and counsel the Minister on all matters in relation to the business of the Department on which he may consult it. As the council's function will thus be an advisory one in relation to him, the Minister will not be a member. Under the Ministers and Secretaries Act he was a member and chairman of the council.

That Act, however, provided for a degree of collective responsibility which never operated in practice. The council has, in fact, never been anything but an advisory body, and obviously the Minister cannot be a member of a body whose function is to advise himself. While he will not now be a member, meetings of the council cannot be held unless summoned by him and the meetings will ordinarily be held in his presence and under his actual chairmanship, unless he himself chooses otherwise.

Part II also provides for the Chief of Staff, the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General and for the three principal military branches of which these officers are the head. Under the Ministers and Secretaries Act, the maximum continuous period of office in these appointments has been three years. Experience has shown it to be desirable that this period should be five years and Section 12 now provides accordingly. It has been the practice for the Minister to delegate to the Chief of Staff certain duties of co-ordination in relation to the business of the three principal military branches. This is now covered in Section 13. Existing legislation provides for the appointments of Inspector-General and Judge Advocate-General and provision for these appointments is retained in Sections 14 and 15 of the present Bill. There has not been an Inspector-General for many years and it is not anticipated that the necessity for one will ordinarily arise. It has, however, been thought well not to remove the power to make the appointment. The Judge Advocate-General must be a practising barrister-at-law of at least ten years' standing.

The raising, maintenance, command and general organisation of the Defence Forces are among the matters dealt with in Part III which, generally, follows the lines of existing legislation. Authority is given to the Government to raise, train, equip, arm, pay and maintain the Defence Forces and for the exercise of the military command. The provisions in relation to command will permit, as at present, of delegation by the Government to the Minister and by the Minister to officers. The existing organisation of permanent and reserve forces is continued. Except for the formal inclusion of members of the Army Nursing Service, the constitution of the Permanent Defence Force remains unaltered. Nurses are at present employed as civilians and are not members of the forces. Their inclusion now is primarily for the purpose of their protection in wartime under the Geneva Red Cross Convention. They will not, however, be commissioned or enlisted and, under Section 288, will not be subject to the provisions of this Act except to the extent mentioned in that section. The existing classes of the Reserve will continue to be maintained, but power is taken for the establishment of new classes by the Minister for Defence, if he thinks fit, and for the abolition of any classes which at any time cease to be effective.

The absence from existing legislation of specific power to acquire lands for military purposes has at times been found to give rise to difficulties and it will be appreciated that, in certain circumstances, the lack of powers of compulsory acquisition where agreement could not be reached would be a very serious matter. Power is taken, therefore, in Chapter IV of Part III to acquire land for military purposes either by agreement or compulsorily and to enable the Minister to use any land in his possession for military purposes and for the carrying-out of firing and other practices over any foreshore, sea or tidal water adjoining such lands. In addition, power is taken for the restriction of obstructions and for the erection and maintenance of apparatus on or in the vicinity of military aerodromes. Similar powers are given to the Minister for Industry and Commerce by the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1950.

The provisions relating to billeting both in peace-time and during a period of emergency are similar to those in existing legislation. Billeting in peace-time has, of course, never had to be resorted to since the establishment of the State and could arise only in the most unusual circumstances. As, however, the possibility exists, although only very remotely, the provision is being retained.

Part IV provides for the appointment of officers and the enlistment of men and for the conditions of their service. Generally speaking, the provisions in relation to the appointment, conditions of service, retirement, resignation and dismissal of officers are the same as in existing legislation. Save in exceptional circumstances, it is the practice to grant commissions to Irish citizens only, and this is now specifically provided for in Section 41.

Some changes from existing legislation have been made in relation to the enlistment, transfer to the Reserve and discharge of men. At present, the procedure for recruiting is set out in the Defence Forces Acts and, accordingly, is incapable of amendment, except by statue, to meet changes in circumstances as they occur. Provision is now being made for the procedure to be governed by regulations. There are new provisions permitting the transfer of a reservist, with his own consent, from one class of the Reserve to another and for the continuance in service of reservists after 21 years' service. Other new provisions give power for the retention in service for the entire period of an emergency of a man who otherwise would be due for transfer to the Reserve or to be discharged. The present Acts permit of retention for a maximum period of 12 months only, but it will be appreciated that, as a practical proposition, it may not always be possible to release men during a period of grave emergency. The new provisions will, however, apply only to men enlisted on or after the operative date of the Act. Personnel serving before that date will retain their existing rights.

It is also considered necessary that, if an emergency is impending, there should be power to enable "key" personnel of the Reserve to be called out on permanent service in advance of the general calling-out of the Reserve. Provision is, accordingly, now being made in Section 88, empowering the Minister, when so authorised by the Government, to call out on permanent service a limited number of reservists, not exceeding 1,500, in anticipation of an emergency. Only men who have agreed in writing may be so called out.

As in the case of recruiting procedure, to which I have already referred, the circumstances in which the pay of officers and men may be forfeited are specifically prescribed in the existing Acts. The Acts also specify a number of circumstances in which penal deductions may be made and authorise the Minister, by regulation, to make deductions other than penal deductions. It is now proposed, as a more satisfactory arrangement, that all pay matters should be covered by regulations, but that regulations governing forfeiture of or deductions or stoppages from pay shall be capable of annulment by either House of Oireachtas. The matter is dealt with in Chapter IV of Part IV.

The provisions of Chapter V of Part IV regarding the disqualifications, exemptions and privileges of members of the Defence Forces are generally similar to or based on existing legislation. Section 103, which deals with membership of political and secret societies, recognises the right of members of the Reserve in ordinary circumstances, to participate in political activities, but enables such activities to be restricted when they are called out on permanent service and when they are thus in the same position as members of the permanent force. Section 104, which is based on Section 142 of the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, and certain Defence Force regulations relating to the same matter, deals with membership of local authorities by members of the permanent force and of the Reserve. The remaining provisions of this Part of the Bill call for no special comment.

Under the provisions of Section 113, dealing with the redress of wrongs, an N.C.O. or man can now have his complaint brought to the notice of the Minister, who is required to inquire into the complaint and give a direction on it. At present the appeal of an N.C.O. or man need not go further than the Adjutant-General.

Part V, which deals with discipline, differs in many respects in its form and drafting from the provisions of the existing Acts. This arises from the fact that the 1923 Act was in essence an Army Act. While it was possible to apply the disciplinary provisions of that Act to Air Corps personnel, it was found necessary, on the establishment of a Naval Service, to provide specially for certain offences by members of that Service and also to apply, by adaptation of terminology, etc., army law to naval personnel. A code of military law is now provided which will be common to all members of the Defence Forces, whether they are serving with army, air or naval components but which, at the same time, will permit of distinction being made between offences peculiar to the different services. A small number of new provisions, mainly in relation to aircraft and military transport, has been introduced prescribing additional matters which will constitute offences. This portion of the Bill can best be discussed at Committee Stage and I shall not say anything more about it now.

The procedure for dealing with the investigation of charges against officers and men and for the constitution and jurisdiction of courts-martial is practically the same as in existing legislation. The persons disqualified from acting as members of, or judgeadvocate at, a court-martial will, however, now include officers who, in an advisory capacity, have dealt with the charges or with the evidence or with the conduct of the prosecution. This provision, which, however, merely embodies what has been the practice for some time past, constitutes a very valuable safeguard for accused persons. The punishments that may be awarded by court-martial have been modified in some respects to bring them into line with civilian law. New punishments, similar to those applicable in the forces of other States, have been introduced to provide for the dismissal of an officer from his ship and for the forfeiture of seniority in rank. There is also a new provision enabling a court-martial to hold its proceedingsin camera.

A number of important new provisions is included in the proposals dealing with the action on the findings and sentences of courts-martial. Under the existing Acts, the Government is the sole confirming authority in the case of death sentence and the Minister is empowered to act as confirming authority in all other cases. It is now proposed that neither the Government nor the Minister will have any powers of confirmation, because it is considered to be incorrect that they should exercise judicial functions. Provision is, however, being made that a sentence of death shall not be carried out unless and until it has been approved by the Government.

The intention here is to ensure that no death sentence will be carried out without the fullest consideration and that the Government will be given an opportunity of recommending the President to exercise his powers to commute a sentence under Article 13 (6) of the Constitution. Apart from this change, the confirming authorities are the same as at present. They have, however, an additional power of confirmation inasmuch as they can now substitute a lesser punishment for a sentence of death. This provision is not considered to be in conflict with the Constitution because a sentence imposed by a court-martial is not valid until it has been confirmed by a confirming authority. Because of the possibility that a confirming authority may, owing to his knowledge of the case or of the personnel involved or for any other reason, feel prejudiced or be held to be prejudiced in his consideration of a finding and sentence of a court-martial, provision is made enabling him to refer the finding and sentence to a superior confirming authority.

Another new feature has been introduced which will operate in favour of persons who have been sentenced by court-martial and whose sentence has been confirmed. This is the creation of new authorities to be known as superior authorities who will have power, in cases where a sentence (other than sentence of death) passed by a court-martial has been confirmed, to mitigate or remit the punishment or to substitute a lesser punishment. A superior authority may also hold up the issue of orders for the committal of a person to prison or detention barracks until he has investigated the case and may suspend the sentence on a person, whether or not committal has taken place. The superior authorities are to be the Minister, the Adjutant-General and any general or flag officer appointed by the Minister for the purpose. A further new step for the review of sentences is contained in Section 238 under which provision may be made in rules of procedure for the presentation of petitions by or on behalf of persons sentenced by courts-martial.

In concluding my remarks on this portion of the Bill, I think I may say that the various new provisions which I have mentioned, coupled with the safeguards already in operation, constitute very valuable advantages at every stage for accused personnel on trial before courts-martial; for personnel in whose cases findings and sentences are being considered by confirming authorities and for personnel whose sentences have been confirmed. In the last-mentioned type of case, particularly, the new system of superior authorities and the powers conferred on them are most important. Hitherto, there has been no provision for the further revision of sentences, which will now be possible.

Part VI contains provisions as to offences which may be committed by persons in relation to the Defence Forces and military property generally. Apart from provisions dealing with forgery of discharge certificates, inalienation of identity and other certificates and sketching and trespassing on military fortifications without authority, the provisions of this Part are in accordance with the existing Acts.

Part VII, which relates to military manoeuvres, contains no departure in principle from existing legislation. The powers of the military and the offences which may be committed by the public are, however, now specifically prescribed.

Part VIII provides for the making of by-laws in respect of lands used for defence purposes. Except for the provisions relating to roads crossing or running near such lands, which are continued from the 1949 Act, the provisions in this Part are new. The powers now being taken are considered necessary, primarily to ensure legal authority for the Minister to control the lands and the foreshore in their neighbourhood with a view to the protection of the public against injury when firing or bombing practices or other exercises are taking place.

Part IX contains specific provisions for the organisation and control of the Army Nursing Service. I have already stated in my references to Part III that members of the Army Nursing Service are included in the Permanent Defence Force to secure their protection in war-time under the Geneva Red Cross Convention. It is not proposed to make the members subject to military law in peace-time, but in order to ensure that it will be possible to do so in the event of their being engaged on active service, power is being taken for the Minister to extend, by Order, the application of the Act to members of the Army Nursing Service. Any Order made by the Minister will require confirmation by resolution of each House of the Oireachtas before it can come into operation.

Part X contains the provisions necessary to apply the Act to the personnel of the Defence Forces established under the Temporary Provisions Acts. This part is intended to secure generally that any member serving, either in the permanent Defence Force or the Reserve, immediately before the operative date of the new Act, will retain, notwithstanding its provisions, certain rights and privileges which he held under the former Acts.

Part XI contains provisions to secure the necessary adaptation of legislation arising from the repeal of the Temporary Provisions Acts and the enactment of the Defence Bill. Part XII contains miscellaneous provisions not appropriate to other parts of the Bill. The provisions of this new part are substantially the same as in existing legislation.

The First Schedule simply sets out the enactments to be repealed.

The Second Schedule specifies the commissioned Army ranks and naval ranks and the Third Schedule the Army and naval non-commissioned ranks. Two naval non-commissioned ranks additional to those in the present Acts are proposed, namely, senior chief petty officer and senior petty officer. These naval ranks would correspond for status and disciplinary purposes to the Army ranks of battalion-quartermaster-sergeant and company-quartermaster-sergeant, respectively. Hitherto there have been no naval ranks corresponding to these Army ranks.

The Fourth Schedule indicates the principal matters in respect of which the Minister may make general regulations and the Fifth Schedule contains the forms of commission to be issued to an officer. The Sixth to the Tenth Schedules set out the forms of oath to be taken by officers and men of the Permanent and Reserve Defence Forces.

Generally speaking, the present measure does not differ greatly from that introduced by my predecessor as the Defence Bill, 1949, the Second Reading of which was commenced in May last but which was not concluded owing to the dissolution of the last Dáil. Most of the amendments since made are of a drafting nature. I may particularly mention, however, that I have omitted from the present Bill a provision of the 1949 measure which prescribed that a person who had completed his period of office as Chief of Staff, Adjutant-General or Quartermaster-General would not be eligible for re-appointment to the same office within the next 12 months. I expressed disagreement with that provision for a number of reasons when I spoke on the Second Reading of the 1949 Bill and I have now provided for re-appointment on the termination of a period of appointment if the circumstances should render such a course desirable.

I hope that the outline of the Bill which I have given, coupled with the particulars furnished in the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated with it, will have given Deputies a foundation for their consideration of its provisions. I think that what I said in the House in relation to the 1949 Bill, namely, that it could not be described as a very controversial one, continues to apply to the present Bill. It is, in fact, a measure which does not involve any big principles. It is largely concerned with questions of detail which can best be dealt with when it comes to be considered in Committee.

I might say, for the benefit of Deputies who, perhaps, would not be aware of the fact, that this Defence Bill has already been introduced on no less than three occasions, and that this is a second effort which is being made to have the Bill enacted. I do not have to tell Deputies who are conversant with the situation, as most Deputies are, of the extreme difficulty entailed in the administration of the Acts, as they are at present, so far as the administrative officers are concerned. The present position is that I might almost describe these Acts as being a matter of shreds and patches. They represent practically every Act passed since 1923. I think it is a great tribute to the persons concerned with their administration that they have been administered so effectively, so efficiently and so justly, I might say, in view of the fact that their administrators have to be continually referring back from one Act to another. It is, therefore, naturally my hope that this particular attempt will be successful in providing the personnel referred to with a Bill which will co-relate all these Acts and give them something which it will be possible for them to handle more easily, more effectively and more efficiently than the number of Acts they are dealing with at the moment.

Did the Minister give any consideration to the possibility of committing this Bill to a Special Committee of the House as distinct from dealing with it in the ordinary way in Committee? That matter was discussed on the Second Stage of the other Bill.

I did not. I do not remember that.

As the Minister in his concluding remarks has mentioned, the Bill now before us is substantially the same as the Bill which was introduced by his predecessor last year, and as such I welcome it. I have been looking over the report of the speech I made when introducing the previous Bill, and, so far as I can see, there is very little difference between the brief I used and the one which the Minister has just read to the House. The words are practically the same.

There is very little difference in the Bill.

There is very little difference as between the two Bills. It is a pity the Minister could not say to us "take it as read". That would save us trouble.

I would be very glad if that could be done, and if the House would agree.

There is just one little change that I notice. Last year, I described the existing legislation as a "patchwork quilt." The Minister says it is a thing of "shreds and patches." There is not very much of a difference between the two descriptions. Of course the Minister did not refer to one of the points which I made then, and it causes me some concern, and that is that the Second House of the Oireachtas will not in the future have a very great opportunity of reviewing Army administration and Army expenditure generally. It is true, of course, that this House can exercise that function when the Army Estimate comes before it. I think, however, it would be desirable if some steps were taken by which the Second House would also have an opportunity of discussing the administration of the forces of the State.

I want to pay tribute to the people in charge of the administration of the Defence Forces for the manner in which they have carried out their duties under this patchwork legislation. There is, however, one thing which, in my opinion, is worse than the patchwork legislation and that is the patchwork regulations. The Minister indeed may say that the existing Acts are patchwork. Well, I have had some experience of the regulations and, dear knows, they are nearly as bad.

They are worse.

I think that the word "worse" would, in this connection, be a better word to use than the word "bad." I suggest the regulations should also be codified and indexed so that one may be enabled to refer to them quickly and effectively. Time in the Army, as in anything else, means money.

There are a few powers under the Bill which disturb me somewhat. They relate to the acquisition of land. We all know that during the last emergency a very grave injustice and hardship was inflicted upon a citizen of this State because of the seizure of his farm in the Midlands by the Army. So far no compensation has been paid to him for that grave hardship. I hope to have some amendments tabled to the Bill on the Committee Stage in an effort to protect the rights of individuals.

Is it not better to lose a farm rather than lose the country?

I know that, but the country is, after all, made up of a number of little farms, and when the State starts taking one it can take all. The difference between Uncle Joe Stalin taking a farm and the Minister for Defence taking another farm is infinitesimal. Deputy Captain Cowan may think that does not matter, but he should remember that the care that should be exercised in such a case is not always exercised. In this particular instance there was no question of the country being lost had that particular farm not been taken over. No danger threatened. Unfortunately, there will always be some people who, when they get a little power, like to show it and show how they can use it; they do not always in the interests of the State or with the approval of the Government. When that is done the usual practice is to bring in an indemnifying Act to cover the mistakes that have been made and to make provision for compensation. But even in that eventuality the Minister for Finance keeps a very stiff finger in the pie. However, these are matters that can be dealt with more appropriately on the Committee Stage.

I have never been able to understand the validity of the decision not to commission the nursing services and not to make them part of the Defence Forces in peace as well as in war. These people are in uniform. They serve in military quarters and with military personnel. I do not know why they should be treated as civilians in uniform. There seems to be no reason for it. Any reasons that have been advanced have failed to satisfy me. It now appears that the Department has not changed its view despite a a change of Government.

There are some amendments I shall have to put down on the provision dealing with courts-martial. I think one trial should be sufficient. If a person is tried before a military court he should not subsequently be brought before a civilian court on the same charge and vice versa. That, again, is a matter we can deal with more effectively on the Committee Stage.

Many efforts have been made to introduce this measure. I welcome it now because it does put the seal upon the permanent establishment of the Defence Forces of the State. I am very proud of that. I trust that this codifying measure will be of benefit to all the serving forces. They deserve well of the State. They have suffered great hardships from time to time.

I am satisfied that the young man who joins the Defence Forces will, as a result of this measure, be enabled to play a very important part in the service of his country. If this is properly administered it will give us excellent citizens. Its administrators should keep in view the fact that it is their function to train men with a high sense of duty and responsibility and love of their country. In my time there were lecturers in the Army School of Instruction who lectured upon the moral code as well as upon the military code. I think that should be continued and should form part of the education of recruits and young officers. It is important that the two branches should be co-related.

I trust nothing unforeseen will occur to prevent the Minister giving effect to the Bill and I hope it will be welcomed now even by those who spoke against it in the past. I hope it will become law before this Government dissolves as a lasting memorial to them.

With regard to the provision dealing with the acquisition of land, is the reference there to lands already being used by the Army? We are paying very dearly for land on which our soldiers are being trained in Fermoy. In 1938 and again in 1942 members of the Defence Forces played football and hurley on ground for which we were paying £224 a year. The present Minister, who was then likewise Minister for Defence, was summoned as a trespasser. The case went through all the courts and the decision was against the Minister. At that time the Minister stated that hurling and football were part of a soldier's training, but because of some technicality it was proved to the satisfaction of the court that the Minister was a trespasser, and the decision was given against him.

Whatever land is being used for our Army should be in the possession of the State. I am anxious to know if this Bill will deal with that matter.

I understand from a reply to a Parliamentary Question that was made not so long ago that there are 2,000 acres of land in the Curragh which is a commonage and that anybody who has an acre of land has a right to use that 2,000 acres for grazing. There is land outside Cork City, in Ballincollig, where the old barracks was, and I am anxious to know if we have complete ownership of that land. If not, I hope this Bill will deal effectively with that matter.

The time has long since arrived when the land that is used for the Army should be in the possession of the State. I would like to know from the Minister whether or not this Bill deals with that matter. Is there any reason why the 2,000 acres in the Curragh should not be in the complete ownership of the Government? At present that land is an eye-sore. It is like a wilderness, full of furze and rubbish. That land deserves more attention. If this Bill does not cover the idea I have in mind, I suggest that the Government should take complete control and ownership of the lands on which our soldiers are being trained.

I welcome this further attempt to have what we term a permanent Defence Forces Bill. This is something that officers in the Army, soldiers and persons concerned with Army administration, have been endeavouring for over 20 years to have. I appreciate that, coming as it does after the emergency, it incorporates provisions and valuable experiences that much enhance its value. Looking through the Bill, one comes to the conclusion that the military and civil advisers of the Minister have certainly done their best to produce a satisfactory Bill. There are clauses and sections here and there that give cause for some concern but I think there will be no difficulty in smoothing these matters out on the Committee Stage.

Deputy MacEoin referred to this old bogey which was trotted out so often as a defence of the old Temporary Provisions Acts, that it gave Parliament an annual opportunity of discussing the Defence Forces. That was an ingenious defence made by some hardpressed Minister some years ago when he was being urged to bring in a permanent Bill. Admitting the necessity for a permanent Bill, he said that, after all, the Temporary Provisions Bill introduced year by year gave a golden opportunity to the Dáil and Seanad to discuss the Army and Army matters. Of course, that is based on the historical position in Britain, which I need not go into, but with which every Deputy is familiar. There is no necessity to have an annual discussion on such a Bill from the purely parliamentary point of view. There is necessity, of course, for discussion on policy and administration, and the opportunities for that are still available.

It is only right that I should join in the tributes that have been paid by the Minister and by Deputy MacEoin to the authorities within the Defence Forces who have been responsible for administration over the years. Looking at it in a broad, general way, they have done an excellent job of work. Public servants who render such valuable service to the nation should be commended in the House. It is, perhaps, the only way in which their unselfish national service can be rewarded and I am glad of the opportunity of paying my tribute to them, having been associated as I was personally for many years with men who have risen to the most responsible positions in the Defence Forces.

Deputy MacEoin has referred to the regulations which are issued under the powers contained in the Defence Forces Acts and, undoubtedly, over the years they have become rather chaotic although very serious efforts have been made from time to time to codify them and bring them up to date. Very valuable efforts have been made. I think it is very likely that when this new Bill becomes law the Defence Force authorities will issue a completely new edition of regulations based on the Act, and also incorporating their own very valuable experience over the years. It is necessary that that should be done for the benefit of the new officers and young recruits, who are entitled to an opportunity of knowing what military law is. Military law is really contained in the Act and in the regulations that are made under the Act. Every young soldier is entitled to feel that he has the Chief of Staff's baton in his knapsack, and he will not be able to feel that unless the regulations under which the Army is administered and run are readily available to him so that he may study them and become familiar with them. I am quite sure that the Minister, the Defence Council and the responsible Army authorities would agree that it is desirable that that should be done and that it should be done at the earliest opportunity.

Some reference has been made to the Defence Council. I did not intend to deal with that now. It can be dealt with on the next stage.

The Bill, as drafted, makes provision again for a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence. I suppose, in theory, we have at the moment a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.

Yes, but I say that is theoretical. It is an appointment that is made just to fill a statutory requirement but for the moment, and certainly in peace-time the necessity for a Parliamentary Secretary does not seem to exist. However, as I say, it is a matter that may be considered. The Minister may consider whether or not it is desirable to make provision in the Council of Defence for an appointment that may not in fact be considered necessary from the general governmental point of view. At one time the Parliamentary Secretary did fulfil certain functions and had no other appointment except that of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence. The situation has altered in recent years, and there now is no person appointed just to that position alone. He carries it now, and for the past few years, in addition to another appointment. I think that aspect might be considered.

In considering a Defence Forces Bill, we have to consider whether the legislation is sufficient to enable the Government to provide an adequate and satisfactory Defence Force for the State and if there is provision in it for the just enforcement of discipline and for just and fair administration. In a general way, in fact in more than a general way, this Bill fulfils those requirements. As I say, there are points that can be dealt with at the next stage but, in a general way, the particular Bill under discussion fulfils all those requirements.

It will be necessary, however, to bring about some change of idea on what is discipline within the Defence Force itself. Discipline is generally accepted as that procedure by which persons obey the orders of the people who are their superiors, and necessarily in an army you must have discipline. But it has been my experience that "discipline" has been used too much to interfere with the private life of the soldier or the young officer outside his actual duty. That is a matter that we might well consider during the progress of this Bill through the House. After all, whether an individual is a private soldier or a general, he is a man and is entitled to be treated and respected as a man.

Unfortunately, for historical reasons, there has not always been that conception within the Army. When the Army was first established, we took over officers and men and non-commissioned officers who had been trained by another country, trained in ideas that we did not agree with. Those individuals had a tremendous influence on the Army and that influence has persisted and continued notwithstanding very serious efforts by many people in authority to bring about a change. I accept it that persons of authority, particularly Ministers for Defence in all Governments at all stages, have endeavoured to bring about the change. They have not been entirely successful, due to the fact that it is difficult to bring about a change which is something almost in the nature of a revolution.

Traditions die very hard.

Very hard. I do think that while a soldier is on duty he is bound to obey every lawful order that he gets from his superior officer. That is the basis of discipline; although, in a book I was reading the other day by a very distinguished American General quoting a very distinguished British Field Marshal, the British Field Marshal said that when he got an order he did not agree with he just did not carry it out. That is what you would call the Nelson-Montgomery approach to discipline. It is very useful and valuable at times if you are in the right place to be able to disagree with or disobey an order, but in a general way on duty the soldier must obey the order that comes from his superior authority.

When he is not on duty, there should be no interference with his liberty and he ought not to be subjected to discipline when off duty either in the barracks or camp or outside it. He should have all the freedom that is possible. If he wants to dress in any particular way he likes, whether it be in an artistic fashion or otherwise, outside duty hours he should have that freedom. He should also have considerable freedom of movement without inquiry or obstruction. That can be brought about by continuous persistence by the Minister and the superior authorities that the soldier will have that right. There are growing up to-day young boys, not only in this country but all over the world, who do not take kindly to the form of discipline that was all right at Waterloo or in subsequent campaigns.

It is necessary that we should have a full-staffed, full-strength Army, and, unless we are going to use some form of compulsion, young men will not join the Defence Forces unless they have the sort of liberties and freedom that I mentioned guaranteed to them, the freedom to do what they like outside their duty hours. I was upset very often seeing young soldiers in uniform walking with their girls in O'Connell Street being subjected to interrogation by military police. It was a humiliating thing done in the presence of their sweethearts.

I endeavoured for a long time to put an end to that state of affairs. I do not see it remedied even now, but I hope we will see no more of it once this Bill has passed. I have known occasions when, if a soldier laughed or enjoyed himself, he was considered to be insulting to some superior officer, and I have known times when young soldiers or officers had to become silent immediately some superior in rank came into the room or the place where they were. The Minister knows very well that such a state of affairs is all wrong and if he knew of these happenings I have mentioned he would not have tolerated or permitted them. Once these things have grown into an army it takes serious effort on the part of every person concerned to eradicate them. I mention the matter in the House to-night in the hope and in the belief that all necessary efforts will be taken to remedy it. We can have discipline in the Army without infringing on the individual rights or liberties of the soldier.

In the old Act there was a provision whereby officers or soldiers who had a grievance could take steps to redress it. However, the machinery provided for the redress of grievances was a fake and a fraud. Never in my experience did it lead to the remedying of even one single grievance. Most grievances of officers or soldiers arise in connection with matters which do not come within the power or control of the commanding officer—matters of pay, matters of location, matters of deduction from pay, and so forth.

At the next stage of this Bill I hope to be able to put down an amendment which I trust the Minister will seriously consider so that effective machinery for the ventilation and the remedying of grievances will be incorporated in the Bill. I am quite sure that in doing so I will have the support of all Deputies in this House who had actual experience in the Defence Forces and of those other Deputies who had no such experience but who have a sense of justice, and I trust that all Deputies in the House possess such sense of justice. One of the matters which annoyed officers and, to some extent, soldiers, was deductions from pay which were made on the Order of the Minister.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present,

Some individual, generally a civil servant in the Department of Defence, looking through a file came to the conclusion that some officer or soldier should pay a sum of money for some alleged deficiency, some damage or something of that kind. A letter was sent out to the individual concerned asking him to give reasons why the Minister should not make an Order deducting a certain amount of money from his pay. I do not know if the Minister ever saw that letter before it was issued, but theoretically at any rate, when the reply came back it was referred to him with a recommendation that he should make an Order for a deduction in pay, the person concerned not having given sufficient reason why the Minister should not make such Order.

Although I know that these Orders were not made just as a matter of form and that the Minister did look into them as best he could, the procedure did not lend itself to a fair examination of the position. I hope that an amendment will be accepted whereby that procedure will be ended and whereby the person concerned will be enabled to make his case to either a committee or a board of officers having some experience of Army administration and who are in a position to say whether there was any neglect on the part of the officer or the soldier concerned. I feel that every member of the House will agree that there is a necessity for such a safeguard.

Another matter which causes trouble is the appointment of officers to positions that should be filled by officers holding a higher rank. The general feeling is that, where such action is taken, the officer should be promoted temporarily to the higher rank, that he should be given the pay of such higher rank, and that his service in that higher rank should count for all purposes towards his service and his pension, and that if he continues for a reasonable time having the responsibilities of the higher rank he should be confirmed in it within a reasonable period of time. That is important for the reason that if an officer is appointed to fill an appointment higher than that normally carried by his rank he is expected to carry all the responsibilities of such higher rank, including the making good of any loss or any damage that might arise through some matter considered to be his responsibility. If he has to carry that financial responsibility he should at least be paid for it during the period he holds the responsibility.

Some officers come into the Army as the result of certain professional qualifications, university degrees or something of that kind. They are paid additional pay, based on their professional knowledge. You may have those particular officers in the combatant corps, such as the Engineers or Signals. There is no reason why these officers cannot attain to the highest rank in the Army. There is no reason why they cannot, some day, become Adjutant-General, Quartermaster-General or Chief of Staff. If they are promoted outside their corps they immediately lose the additional pay that was based on their professional qualifications. I think there are grounds here for provision in the Act that would prevent those particular people losing their professional pay on promotion.

I have, in fact, said more on this stage of the Bill than I intended to say. I realise that the vital stage of this Bill will be the next stage, when each and every one of us should contribute what he can towards sending to the Army a Bill which will enable them to be more successful and more just in their administration of the Defence Forces and which will give to the Government all the powers the Government needs to deal with any crisis that may arise in the future.

I have mentioned these matters, almost casually, for the purpose of getting Deputies, and particularly the Minister's advisers, to consider in the meantime, between this and the next stage, the particular points I have made. Each and every one of us is anxious to make a success of this Bill. As I say, I welcome it. There is no politics in it. It is a Bill which gives the House an opportunity of showing itself at its best in passing legislation that is necessary for the welfare of the nation.

If the fact that one has to call a quorum of the House at approximately 6.20 o'clock on a Bill it has taken 27 years to bring into the forum of this House for discussion is a tribute to the interest of the Deputies of this House in a permanent Defence Forces Bill, then well might it be true that even now its introduction is premature.

An té nar dhein peacadh caitheadh sé cloch.

Cad é féin?

He who is not without sin among you let him throw a stone.

There has never yet been a discussion on defence in which I, as a Deputy, have not played my part as an officer of the forces. It is an extraordinary thing, no matter what glib excuse may be given by any Deputy, that this measure can attract into the House for a Second Reading discussion only 11 members.

Ni raibh éinne ach cupla duine anseo go dti nóimeat ó shoin.

Deputy MacCarthy may have been out of the House for a while——

You have the grievance and you are doing very little to confirm it.

Are you finished your grousing now?

All right.

It is true that there is a unanimity of thought among people interested as for the necessity of this Bill and as for a wish for its expeditious passage through the House. There are many features of the Bill to which I intend to refer in a serious way.

It was amusing to hear Deputy Cowan this evening in a completely different vein to the obstructive, effervescent Deputy Cowan he was on the occasion when a Bill, virtually the same as this, was introduced on Second Stage before the dissolution of the Dáil. Of course, one has become used to Deputy Cowan's will-o'-the-wisp tactics. He comes into this House, makes his speech and concludes by describing his speech as something that was virtually casual. I hope it was because there is one thing certain that he painted a picture of menace by the military police of interference with N.C.O.s and men and with junior officers by senior officers which I, having served in the forces when Deputy Peadar Cowan was exempt, never found.

I should hate to think that Deputy Cowan, drawing on his constant vivid imagination, is painting a picture that has any reality in fact. To come into this House and talk in a casual way about the right to laughter, the right to speak even by junior officers being denied them by either military police or by a senior officer walking into the room is something that is ridiculous in the extreme to any of us who had the privilege to serve throughout the emergency in the colours of our Army. I do not think he is doing any service to himself or to the Army by making these casual observations about something on which he is obviously completely misinformed, if informed at all.

I should hate the Minister to feel that there was growing up within the Army, as described by Deputy Cowan, this queer kind of a tradition. It is not there. It never was there and God grant it never will be there. I have known the Army as a private soldier, as a potential officer and as an officer. I have known the activities of the military police and of my senior officers. Deputy Peadar Cowan pays a tribute to administration and control and in the next minute he refers to this other matter. There could not have been good administration and control—things which he commends—if the other system had been allowed to grow up. Why does he in a casual way try to throw mud where it is not necessary to throw it?

That particular type of activity not only annoys me but distresses me, because we are dealing with a body of officers, N.C.O.s and men to whom this country owes a signal debt of gratitude. That certainly is not being paid to them by lip-service at one stage of Deputy Cowan's speech and by criticism of a system that does not exist, at the end of his speech. I am glad I was here to refute, and deliberately refute, the suggestion that is being made by Deputy Peadar Cowan.

It was made in an ill-judged manner by a person who is not talking from either first hand experience or first hand information of the problem to which he adverts. Deputy Cowan apparently sees something wrong in the idea of this House, the sovereign House, asking the right to review year after year the activity of the Army. When I spoke before on the Second Stage of this Bill I was subjected to interruption by Deputy Cowan asking why I thought it necessary that there should be some provision within the new Bill whereby this review will take place. At that stage Deputy Major Vivion de Valera indicated that he too was of my opinion that it is necessary, that distinct from the Estimate for Defence this House should have the right, if it thinks fit, to review and discuss the general facets of the Army— personnel, enlistment, expansion, reservists and all other facets in general.

This is a most welcome Bill. Anybody who has any Army experience will appreciate the necessity for it. You recollect that on being commissioned you were presented with a conglomeration of Acts known as the Defence Force Acts, and an absolute myraid of Orders and amendments to those Acts and you were instructed to file them properly and bring your Acts up to date by sticking them where they were relevant. You finished up with a Defence Force Act. You could not wade through the sea of amendments and you could not co-relate an original section with the amended section. In so far as this Bill removes those defects and serves to consolidate and co-relate into one Act the experience of that period it is welcome.

It has been a very large task for the Army, the civilian personnel attached to it, and the parliamentary draftsman, and I think that the commendation of this House should go to all the persons connected with its background and the background work necessary to bring this legislation before the House. It is necessary, it is desirable, and I trust that on this occasion, even if a general election is imminent, we will have this Bill passed into law before it takes place.

I feel, as I indicated previously on defence matters, that with the importance of this Bill, the wide range and scope of its sections, and its actual size, it might be well for the Minister and the House to consider a special committee of the House to deal with the Bill on its Committee Stage so that effective work could be done on it. Going through the sections, there are many amendments which I would contemplate; most of them I trust will be non-controversial, and many of them I hope will be accepted to improve the present Bill. It was inevitable in a work of such considerable magnitude that there should be certain omissions and errors, and they might well be rectified on the Committee Stage. It might serve the best interests of the House, and ultimately of the Army, to have the Bill dealt with on the Committee Stage by a Select Committee of the House in a non-controversial manner, which would put the Bill into the best possible shape. It would leave out questions of controversy and remove politics from the arena when we are discussing the remaining stages of this Defence Bill.

I fail to see why the Minister is in love with the continuation of the provisions making possible the appointment of an Inspector General of the Forces. Are we contemplating some imperial expansion or numbers of armies that we need an Inspector General? We have a President who constitutionally is the Commander-in-Chief; we have a Chief of Staff, an Adjutant-General and a Quartermaster-General; we have directors of every individual service in the Army.

I would ask the Minister why he retains in permanent legislation a feature that is not necessary. There has not been an Inspector General for years. I cannot conceive, and neither apparently can the Minister, a situation in which an Inspector General would be necessary. Why, therefore, incorporate it as a feature of permanent legislation unless, of course, it is to be regarded as a possible palliative or a place to which some distracted soul removed from high Army office may be retired before his ultimate annihilation. I think it is a bad thing to have it in the Bill. It sets out that the Inspector General must be a member of the permanent forces. That means that it would be conceivable that over the appointed Chief of Staff of the Army or the recognised heads of the other departments, the Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General, an officer could be precipitated into the position of Inspector General. It is a bad feature and I make an earnest appeal to the Minister to erase it altogether from permanent legislation. The chain of control with the President as the constitutional Commander-in-Chief is sufficiently broad and effective to deal with an army of the strength proposed.

Speaking on the stage of the Bill similar to this one, introduced last May, I adverted very positively to the nursing service. I was glad to see Deputy General MacEoin subscribe to-day to my view. I do not see any reason at all why the personnel of the Army Nursing Service should not immediately be put on a proper footing.

If the Army medical personnel, the doctors, are graded as officers according to their various ranks and if the other personnel are graded as N.C.O.s, sergeants, company-sergeants and quartermaster-sergeants, what is the difficulty about having proper commissioned personnel in the Army Nursing Service, responsible for the maintenance of the discipline of their own unit and answerable, in the final analysis, to the Director of the Army Medical Service, who, in turn, is responsible to the higher authority, whether the Adjutant-General or Chief of Staff? What is wrong with the personnel of the Army Nursing Service being given the full standing in peace-time that we envisage for them in war? These young women are as conscious and as proud of the uniform they wear as the personnel of any other branch of the Defence Forces, and I should like to know from the Minister if there is any real basic reason why they are not put on such a footing.

It is a fetish of mine, I admit, but I do not see why, if there is not some insurmountable reason, if we are putting into the Defence Forces as integral parts the naval services, engineering services, medical services, air corps, signals and all the various sections, the nursing corps cannot be incorporated in peace-time as well as in time of emergency as an integral part of the forces, subject to the control of the non-commissioned officers and officers who in the normal way are responsible for discipline. I have often adverted to the fact that there are enough civilians surrounding the Army in the Department of Defence without having civilians in uniform within the Army.

I come back again to the issue I raised when a Bill similar to this was introduced by the Government which I then supported. I want to know if there is any concrete or valid reason why the Secretary of the Department of Defence should be made a member of the Council of Defence. I asked that question previously and got no satisfaction from the then Minister, General MacEoin. I asked the question seriously, realising that the responsibilities of the Secretary of the Department are distinct from those which fall on the Chief of Staff, the Adjutant-General or the Quartermaster-General and that his advice is entirely different from the advice or opinions which should be given by serving personnel.

Major de Valera

He is the accounting officer for the whole Department.

Is it necessary to have the accounting officer a member of the Army Council? Since when?

Major de Valera

You need to handle the finances to make a job of it.

I feel very definitely as Deputy de Valera used to feel when he was an Army officer, that it is a very good thing if you can keep the cold hand of the accounting officer out of as many Army councils as possible. I want to know: why the departure and why the necessity for the departure? It may be argued that the present occupant of the post is an ex-general of the forces, but what guarantee have we as to whom a future occupant may be? What is the necessity to constitute him a member of this council? I cannot see any. It may well be that a recommendation from the council will have to go through him to the Minister as administrative head of the Department, but, as I said previously, it is a most unwise thing to have him a member of the council voting and taking decisions with the council.

Major de Valera

Is the Deputy not now confusing the duties of a planning staff with those of the Council of Defence?

The Deputy is confusing nothing. The master of confusion in this House is the Deputy himself.

Major de Valera

I am reading the section. I wonder has the Deputy done so?

I did so, twice. I read it in this Bill and in the previous Bill. Why the change? Why does it become necessary in 1952 when it was not necessary throughout all the previous years? Can the elucidating Deputy give me an answer to that?

Major de Valera

Whatever aboutde jure, he always was a member de facto.

There is no statutory provision for it and no statutory appointment of him as such in any Act previous to this. What I think is wrong with the Army is that there are too manyde facto these and de facto those, and, as I said before, infinitely too many civilians guarding too few soldiers, whether officers, N.C.O.s or men.

There are features of the Bill which are experimental. I wonder if the Minister has any cogent reason to offer for seeking, together with an extension of the period of headship of a department of the Army from three to five years, power to extend the period of these appointments beyond five years? There are very few cases in which it could be conceived that it would be necessary for the occupant of the post of Chief of Staff, Adjutant-General or Quartermaster-General to serve beyond five years. There was much to be said in favour of the argument that three years was too short a period. Let us accept the principle that five years is a reasonable period. Any extension beyond five years must inevitably react on the morale of senior personnel in the Army because it must inevitably diminish, if not preclude, their chances of occupancy of such a position before reaching retiring age.

It is true that, as Deputy Traynor, the Minister adverted to the case of General McKenna, who was Chief of Staff during the emergency, and, like Deputy Traynor, we all pay considerable tribute to the services that officer gave; but I do not think his case can be cited as a reason why any power to extend beyond five years the period of service in such an office should be granted. I think it is a bad principle to establish and the Minister should be well content to accept the unanimous view of the House that an extension from three to five years is desirable and leave it at that.

Any organisation such as an army is jealous of its privileges and very jealous of its chances of promotion within itself. I should say, in regard to any senior officer with long service in the Army, that it must be one of the coveted aspirations of his life to finish either as Chief of Staff, as Adjutant-General or as Quartermaster-General.

Deputy Cowan made reference in his speech—I thought in an unreal way— to personnel specially recruited with professional qualifications. He did not seem to advert to the fact that fundamentally the person recruited with professional qualifications was recruited either to the corps or service because there was special use and need for his professional services in that corps or service. Whether he is an engineer or a master of science, or whether he has some particular qualification that singles him out for a special corps, the only reason he gets professional pay is that his professional qualifications are necessary in that particular corps or service. It seems unreasonable to suggest if that man is promoted out of his corps or service into a more responsible senior position in the Army not relevant and not in any way appertaining to his professional qualifications, that he should take his professional pay with him.

I do not think Deputy Cowan knows the situation. In the main, most officers recruited in that limited way are recruited within a corps or service in which they can attain, on a basis of professional pay, directorship of that corps, which will bring them up to an army rank of colonel—and beyond that, only by the grace of God, by appointment to Chief of Staff, can anyone go. Therefore I do not think there is much substance in that spurious argument— as I suggest it is—advanced by Deputy Cowan. It is possible for these people to do command and staff courses and be available for advancement in other branches of the service. If they take that advancement in a corps or in a service to which their particular professional attainment has no application, they take it deliberately, they take it with open eyes; and I think it would be unfair to other personnel if such people were allowed to carry professional pay or preferential emoluments into that appointment.

The Minister could listen very seriously to one argument advanced by Deputy Cowan. It is true that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction generally when a junior officer for a long period carries out the duty and appointment of a senior officer, without either promotion or any emolument commensurate with the job he is tackling. I think that is unnecessary. Where a man is posted to the position or to a command that normally carries a substantive rank higher than his own, when he has served a reasonable period efficiently in that post and when he is in General Routine Orders posted to that command, there should be no delay in promoting that man to the rank commensurate with his appointment.

Hear, hear!

If that were done, I am suggesting to the Minister deliberately that one of the most heartbreaking and serious of all Army officer grievances would be eliminated.

That is done in the Department of Finance, with the civil servants.

There is no doubt about it—if the Minister were to be truthful before this House to-day— that many of the posts and many of the commands are being held by officers not only one rank but sometimes two below the substantive rank to which their appointment would entitle them. I am asking the Minister to try to incorporate in this permanent legislation that feature which will ensure that where any officer is posted in General Routine Orders to a command which carries a rank higher than the one he holds, once he has been posted and established in that command immediately should follow his substantive promotion to the rank it carries.

I think the Minister will have to face up to the fact that many ameliorations are necessary within the Army Corps, particularly in relation to reservists and to our new Volunteer Army force, An Forsa Cosanta Aitiúil. I had advocated when in government, as I do now in Opposition, these ameliorations. I do not do so to embarrass the Minister in any way, and I think he appreciates that: I do it in the interest of development of a really strong First Line Reserve and a really strong worthwhile Forsa Cosanta Aitiúil. Both of these are the paramount desire of the Minister himself and, as I said in the House before and as I repeat on this stage of the Bill, where any help that can be given by me is of any service to the Minister, in any drive to get recruits for any section of the Army, it is willingly and unquestionably forthcoming.

I feel that when we are dealing with this permanent legislation, now is the opportunity for the Minister to get, once and for all, the minimum standards set. There is discontent with regard to the First Line Reserve, and there is a large reservoir of people, to whom I adverted before, trained personnel who served throughout the emergency, who with a little amelioration of the condition of the First Line Reserve would be a pool readily available to increase substantially the numbers at present on that Reserve. I know the Minister wants it, and I say to him that now, when the House is in a kind of unanimous mood about this permanent legislation, is the time to try to set minimum standards that will serve not only as an inducement but as a beacon to all people anxious to enlist either in the First Line Reserve or in An Forsa Cosanta Aitiúil.

I do not think it is necessary on this stage of the Bill to try to deal specifically with sections. The Bill has been very wisely broken up into Parts and Chapters.

I think there is a great effort at correlated cohesion in this Bill and that, when it is ultimately enacted into law, it will be a Bill that will be easy of analysis and easy of reference. I really feel that the Minister is not getting, nor did his predecessor get, from this House the interest and the help to which he was entitled with regard to this legislation. Many Deputies are inclined to look at the Bill and, seeing the size of it, to say: "There are a few fellows interested in this; I need not bother about it." I think that is a bad feature, particularly when so many soldiers of the first generation and of the second generation are included in the membership of this House. The fact that it is in their power from their experience to do something better for the Army is something that they should cherish with a jealous pride and anxiously safeguard, because the Army deserves extremely well not only of this House and of this country but of each individual member of the House, and any contribution we can make towards securing better conditions for the Army and towards improving the terms of this Bill should not be withheld.

I do feel that there are departures in this Bill, particularly with regard to courts-martial, that need careful analysis. While the general principle laid down is a move in the right direction, it will be necessary carefully to analyse each section, apropos of offences against military law and of punishment of personnel subject to military law. The departure envisaged in this Bill of an ultimate final court of appeal, if one might describe it as such, is, I think, fundamentally sound. Once the prerogative of mercy, as outlined by the Minister, is in the final analysis vested in the Government, I think the Minister has taken a wise line in having as a superior authority to the court-martial certain officer personnel of senior ranking who would be able to take a more impartial view of certain offences against the military code than would any Government or any civilian. That is a feature of the Bill that should commend itself to the House. All the vicissitudes and the various idiosyncrasies on various matters that can arise amongst personnel, are best judged by Army personnel.

I think that possibly a serving member of the Army, be he private, N.C.O. or officer, in the ultimate analysis, might get a more rational and reasonable deal from senior officers of the Army than he would from an outside authority not aware of the queer little customs, habits, and maybe evasions that grow up under an army code. I welcome that departure because I think it will make for fairer administration ultimately of the military law.

I should like the Minister seriously to consider the proposition made by Deputy MacEoin. In the main, I feel that the experience of Deputies who have attended courts-martial is that a man is seldom, if ever, subjected to both the peril of a court-martial and the peril of a civil trial. Whether that is due to custom or has statutory authority, I cannot find any statutory authority for it, and I suggest that the Minister should consider incorporating into the military code a provision that where penal action is concerned—say where the offence to try which the court-martial is held is commensurate with an ordinary civil charge such as larceny, thievery or something of that nature—the man who is tried by the military authorities should not subsequently be tried by a civil authority, or if he has been tried by the civil authority, he should not subsequently be tried also by the Army authority. This theory of not putting a man in peril twice, while in fact I have no experience of its arising, should be made clear in a statutory way.

In general, I think this Bill is a really worthwhile measure. It has many very commendable features, but, before concluding, I should like to refer again to something to which I adverted while the Minister was out of the House. I suggest that it might be possible for the Minister to have this Bill, as distinct from submitting it to a general committee of the House, committed to a special committee where, in a non-controversial atmosphere, we could deal with amendments, get through the general work of the consideration of the detailed provisions of the Bill and come back with a more or less unanimously agreed measure to pass its final stages in this House. I think that would have the considerable advantage of expediting the passage of the Bill because there seems to be unanimity in the House as to its need, and, once we are satisfied that it is necessary, we should get on with the job of getting it enacted as quickly as possible.

On the general terms of the Bill, I should like to go a little bit outside the scope of the measure. I think, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, that under the long title, I am permitted to speak on every facet of defence. I should like to hear from the Minister what I hope is good news in regard to his drive for recruits. I should like the Minister to tell us if he is getting a reasonable and continuous response that holds forth a prospect of building up the Army to establishment strength.

Major de Valera

Are we, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, enlarging the debate now to a debate on policy?

The Chair feels that the Deputy should keep within the scope of the Bill.

With respect, may I read the title of the Bill—"An Act to make further and better provision in relation to the defence of the State and the Defence Forces and to make provision for other matters connected with or incidental to the matters aforesaid." When this matter was questioned by the Chair last May I think it was ruled that under the long title to the Bill there was nothing to stop me from enlarging on the subject——

Major de Valera

I was merely inquiring if it is in order.

——and the very person who alleged at that time that I was outside the scope of the Bill was Deputy Major de Valera. If the Deputy so desires, I will quote the record. I sincerely hope the Minister can give us a picture that will encourage us and be of benefit to the country. I make the inquiry not in any anxiety to embarrass the Minister but because I feel, from what I have gleaned, that the Minister is in a position to make a statement that is encouraging and that will be of benefit to the situation as far as the country in general is concerned.

I thought of asking the Minister some of the embarrassing questions which he, as a Deputy — aided and abetted by Deputy Major de Valera— asked. I feel, however, that it would be wrong to introduce an air of crisis and panic, artificially created by them, and possibly allow mundane politics to transgress on what we hope will prove to be a non-controversial measure. For that reason, I shall not be so unpleasant as to press inquiries regarding equipment and matters of that nature at this stage. I feel we have had enough unwelcome controversy where the Army is concerned.

I am with the Minister to the last step of the road in everything he can do to help the Army. I am with the Minister to the last step of the road for the betterment in every way of conditions in every section of the Army. I do not intend to thrust controversy on him at this stage. It might be well for the Minister to consider, between this and the next stage, some way whereby from time to time, if he so desired or if the House so requested, it would be possible to bring in for review, in a limited way, a Defence Bill. Once we make it a permanent measure we shall not have the hardy annual which gave us an opportunity of expressing our views on Army administration. I think the Minister will agree that the discussion on the Estimates is not broad enough for the type of review I contemplate. The only type of review which I contemplate would be necessary and would be one to improve, in the light of experience, the permanent measure. It might be well for the Minister to consider the possibility of such a periodic review.

The Minister should consider, too, at this stage the possibility of incorporating the nursing service as a regular corps of the Army, with its own officer personnel, responsible for its own discipline and ultimately responsible to the Director of Army Medical Service.

The Minister should advert very seriously to one feature of Deputy Cowan's speech, that is, the method by which in the Army deductions can be made from your cheque. You get your cheque at the end of the month and you see that, with reference to some Order or other, the amount of your cheque is reduced by £10, £12 or £14 because of something of which you were unaware until you got your cheque. You find that every attempt to seek redress is thoroughly and well blocked by the Department which was successful in bringing about the deduction in the first instance.

The two real features that seriously upset the Army are: (1) Junior officers holding for too long appointments of senior officers without getting their due promotion and (2) stoppages, either by way of barrack damages from the non-commissioned personnel or under some ministerial Order which the Minister never saw, but which was turned out of the administrative monster over which he has control, and which have the effect of deducting a fair portion of a man's pay. I have some practical experience in this connection. Without knowing it you might find yourself with a whole stores on charge to you or with a company's equipment, which you never had, on charge to you. Ultimately, some years later, maybe at a time when you can ill-afford to pay it, you may be faced with some surcharge.

The Minister will receive every help and co-operation from this side of the House to make this measure a permanent feature of our legislation as quickly as possible. I earnestly appeal to him to commit this Bill to a select committee of the House in order to get the Committee Stage effectively and quickly so that the Bill may become law before any temporary Act to carry us on next year should become necessary.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo. Déanfaidh sé maitheas do chúis chosanta na tíre. Beidh fáilte roimh an mBille seo ar fud na tíre agus ins an Arm féin. We welcome this Bill. It makes for stability. It gives confidence both to the country and to the Army. In the present tense situation it gives the ordinary citizen assurance for the future.

I should like to avail of this occasion to pay a tribute to the Army for their immense work during the emergency. When hostilities broke out in 1939 our Army, though it was a very small force at the time, expanded in the shortest possible time and assured our defences. They established the local Defence Force, which later became Forsa Cosanta Aitiúil. They gave us confidence. The local barracks, whether in Athlone, Longford or Mullingar, was the focal point of duty. The young men of the country, irrespective of their political affiliations, flocked to the defences. They left their work, their occupations and their professions and donned the uniform of their country. During the years of the emergency they were a bulwark in defence and a guarantee of our neutrality. At the end of the emergency, after splendid service, they went back and honourably filled positions on our farms, in our municipal bodies, in the State service or as professional men and, as citizens, they rank second to none. We feel very proud of them. We feel that every soldier and every officer in that Army, whether they had years of service or went in during the emergency, were prepared from the lowest rank to the highest to lay down their lives for the defence of the country. It is only right and proper that, while we welcome this Bill, I hope in a unanimous House, we should pay tribute to what they achieved for us 12 or 13 years ago. We sincerely hope that the example they have given will be followed by the young men of the present day.

I was glad that Deputy Collins welcomed the bigger effort to get larger numbers into Forsa Cosanta Aitiúil. I hope everybody will co-operate in that; that they will avail of the services of the able area administrative officers and their good N.C.O.s, who give a splendid training to those who cannot go into the Army. I hope that in this debate on this very important Bill we will not hear the doctrine of futility preached from any side of the House. If anybody proposes to get up in this national Assembly to throw aspersions on the national Army, to mock them and make little of their efforts, he would be serving the national interest if he gave us a "béal dúnta" on this occasion. If he wishes to talk in that way, I would advise him to go over to Egypt and talk in that way to the Egyptians, and he will get very short shrift if he goes over there. There is very little use in talking of the greater forces which are in existence. We are proud of the Army. Whenever an emergency comes, we know that they will be our first line of defence. Even though this well-thought-out Bill was a long time in coming, we welcome it as a guarantee and a safeguard to every private and officer in the Army, and as a guarantee for the defence of this nation.

The House seems to be unanimous in praise of the Bill. When Deputy Collins spoke some time ago, the question he raised was not the question of a quorum being in the House, but the question of interest in the Bill. If attendance in the House is to be the criterion of that interest, I think those on the benches behind him did not give a very good example. I do not intend to pursue that line of argument, but to deal with the aspect of Army life to which Deputy Cowan made brief reference, namely, that the members of the Army in times of peace should be allowed to follow, in so far as may be judicious, their ordinary ways of life. Those of us who have had some experience of social problems, particularly in the cities, know that, even with a legacy, perhaps a bad one, of military quarters attached to barracks, the married members of the forces find it very difficult to get proper housing accommodation. Very often the father perhaps is in Limerick or at the Curragh, while his wife and young children may be in Cork or one of the other cities, perhaps in a flat or some place that may not be suitable to the raising of a young family, especially with the husband away somewhere else.

That is an aspect which the Army authorities ought to consider because, after all, our Army was based on the volunteer spirit, the Forsa Cosanta Aitiúil continues on the same basis, and I hope they will never lose their contact with the people or with our national traditions which were a feature of the Army conditions during the national struggle. In consequence, I am not entirely in favour of these military colonies, as I might call them, in married quarters attached to barracks. I think it would be comparatively easy for the Army authorities to erect small terraces of houses, not altogether perhaps near the barracks, where members of the forces may make their homes and be in close contact with their families.

It sometimes happens that a widow has a son who goes into the Army. She may be lonely and may wish that he should come home at night if he is within easy reach of the home. Permission should be given as often as possible for soldiers to do that, because it will be a bad day for the country when any section of our people are forced by circumstances to be away from their homes which mean so much in the life of the community. Some provision, therefore, should be made for the housing of the married units in the Army. I join in the general tribute paid to the Army and to the Volunteer forces during the emergency. I hope that in the coming years we shall have no reason to regret the way we deal with those who are the first and second line of our national defence.

Major de Valera

As somebody remarked on the last occasion, this Bill, being a consolidating Bill very largely, is primarily a Bill for Committee. There are, however, a few general observations I should like to make, although they may be a repetition of something said before. The Bill is a restricted one dealing very largely with the administration of the Army and it still runs very much on the old lines, conceiving the duties of defence as confined to the forces as we have had them heretofore. But there is a wider aspect of defence in modern times, even of defence in the narrower sense as within the purview of the Minister for Defence. It arises from the fact that technical developments in a large number of fields have intruded themselves of necessity on that most realistic of businesses, war.

This Bill, which corresponds to a type of legislation that is now relatively old, is related to an Army in a narrow sense, an Army composed of so many different corps and services thought of as operating more or less independently, of the general national set-up behind it. To that extent, it is adequate, but behind all defence now there is the necessity for a tie-up between our whole economy and the Defence Forces, particularly when the Defence Forces are called upon to undertake the task for which they are actually there. One asks oneself, in the light of that, whether a Bill such as this should give, in some regards, consideration to that wider aspect: for instance, whether, in relation to the Defence Forces and, say, production and supplies, there should not be some provisions, whether there should not be envisaged a tie-up, suspensory, naturally, in peace-time and contingent to peace-time, but a thing that would become an actuality in a time of emergency, a tie-up, say, with our transport services, our communication services and with all these other things that, of necessity, enter into the picture when the Defence Forces are needed, and which are, in fact, of paramount importance.

Now, how the tie-up can be achieved is something that needs thinking out. I think that basic legislation of the broadest kind and of the most flexible kind to meet such a contingency should be considered at this stage, and should furnish a possible further addition to a Bill such as this. I mentioned certain services. I can think of the whole medical services even as being involved in this to some extent. Now, I shall try to be a little bit more concrete. I want to avoid limiting the generality of the idea which I am trying to put across now by a few narrow specific instances.

You were questioning my generalities a minute ago.

Major de Valera

Now, to give an example. In regard to certain medical aspects, if anything like hostilities came our way there would be a big medical problem. I understand that during the emergency special schemes were considered and, to some extent, were put in force for the special commissioning of people who did not actually mobilise and would not have come into the picture until the need arose for them in hospitals and so on. I think that, if my memory serves me, there were a number of senior commissions made. There was something done in advance.

Could not the Minister do that by Order?

Major de Valera

I am wondering how far it would be desirable to consider such things now. You see, we are dealing with reserves here and things like the reserve. Again, in connection with transport——

Is the Deputy now thinking on the line of having field hospitals set up by permanent surgeons who had to be brought in?

Major de Valera

I give that merely as an example. Another thing that would happen in the case of actual hostilities is that the transport system, virtually, has to be integrated with the Defence Forces. There will be a certain call on it for operational purposes and possibly a call for evacuation, and so there will be a need for liaison.

And Córas Iompair Éireann.

Major de Valera

Córas Iompair Éireann would be of importance. The point is, how the thing should be thought out and how that liaison is to be effected. Now, I am not making actual concrete suggestions. I purposely refrain from doing so, because this is a problem that wants to be examined. I know what was considered before. I know there are a couple of alternatives that can be considered. The important thing is that the problem should be considered and a solution got, and then, whether it is necessary to be tied up with the scheme in this Bill.

Deputy Cowan mentioned, in another connection, the question of professional officers. There, again, you have a difficulty which is acute in a modern army. I am going to go outside the officer class now and follow the remarks of Deputy Cowan at the other end. There was some years ago an actual decision made in regard to, I think, fitters and people like them which had the result in the end of leaving the Army without its quota of trained technical personnel. There will be a growing need in a modern army for having technicians in it.

Particularly through the air corps.

Major de Valera

Through all its units, and in a wider sense than before. You need specialist officers and you need specialist men. You will not be able to carry in peace-time easily all you require. First of all, there would be the difficulty of being able to get them. I am in favour of what Deputy Cowan has said in that regard, that if these men are brought in for these narrow professional purposes, even though they can go higher, it usually means that the fact they are in such appointments they will not go any higher.

I do not want to follow that line at the moment. What I want to say is that the vacancies in the Regular Army itself and the vacancies in the Reserve will not be sufficient normally to get the quota of personnel required, and the right type of personnel, that you want in that regard. You may have to consider, therefore, the question of a special technical supplement to your Defence Forces, particularly where what you may call scientific or technical matters are concerned. When it comes to the pitch you will probably require a certain quota of scientists and technicians of various kinds which you will not easily be able to get on your establishment, and which, even if you do get on your establishment, you will not easily be able to use and keep up to date. That seems to indicate liaison with the institutions that can produce such personnel.

That will be the main difficulty there.

Major de Valera

It always is a difficulty. These are all aspects of a problem that they need consideration under modern conditions. It is not sufficient merely to approach the Defence Forces as a unit. Our Army must be supported by something if it is to be effective and reasonably independent. Up to the moment its organisation has been such as to leave it largely in the position of a dependent unit without having a higher organisation to depend out of it. That problem was acutely felt during the emergency. The emergency solutions that were adopted got us through then, but they would not be enough for the future.

Now there is a wide line of country there which, perhaps, we can go back to more properly on the Estimates. It is only of importance in this respect in so far as legislation may be necessary to provide for the co-ordination of defence needs for certain normal essential services which become essential defence services when an emergency arises. There is a complete absence of that in this Bill which makes one wonder if the conception of this Bill has not been largely concerned with routine and tradition.

Touching on that, there is the question of an officer who relinquishes his commission or who retires. An officer who retires ceases to be an officer. I wonder if that is not too sweeping. These men gain a very valuable experience and knowledge of the machine. They acquire a certain steadiness. They have, if I may put it that way, a routine value. Should an emergency arise there will always be an expansion beyond the point covered by normal reserves. There will always be administrative problems. In such cases an active young officer may be wasted in the orderly room; the authorities may have no desire to keep him in that orderly room but he has to fill that post; an untrained outsider cannot take his place because he is not familiar with the system of administration, and in a change-over from normal peace-time conditions into emergency conditions such posts must be filled by experienced men.

I think there is a strong case for keeping regular officers who retire available to fill such posts. Deputy Captain Cowan raised this matter on another occasion and I am sure he will agree with me on this. Such retired officers should continue on the retired list and should be available for recall in case of emergency. There may be certain financial provisions bearing on that and it might be desirable to have a special class of reserves. I shall not argue that at the moment, but it does appear to me to be a wasteful procedure to let personnel go before they have reached the end of their usefulness.

I am speaking now only of the regular officers. Again, in the case of officers who may retire before their time, for one reason or another, one has valuable potential material which should be very useful in times of emergency. The bald words of the Act in that respect give the Minister no flexibility. It may be desirable to reconsider the matter. Up to the present century, soldiering was a narrow profession. When war broke out the army was sent to fight one's battles and the civilian population sat comfortably at home. That type of warfare has gone. It is an all-out effort now for the entire community. Those best fitted to fill certain posts should be put into them. Officers who have retired would be an asset because of their experience in any expanding organisation.

Many of the matters arising on this Bill are more germane to the Committee Stage. Deputy S. Collins mentioned the Council of Defence. Under the 1924 Act, the idea was that there would be a kind of executive council.

That is Deputy Captain Cowan's pigeon, not mine.

Major de Valera

If the Deputy reads the provisions in regard to the Parliamentary Secretary he will realise that there was very definite administrative business and a member of Dáil Éireann was to be responsible to the Minister for Defence for the finances of the Defence Forces and such other business etc. In practice, of course, that does not happen.

That has gone by the board.

Major de Valera

The Secretary of the Department of Defence was the secretary of the old council. I think the Minister and his predecessors all realised that this Council of Defence as an executive organisation simply did not work. It was purely an advisory body, a kind of committee, where the heads of the Department of Defence met and dealt with routine administrative matters affecting the Department, such as promotions; these had their financial side as well as their military side. I understand the intention now is to continue that council more or less along the same lines. In no sense will it be a planning council in relation to defence, something I think the Minister and his staff will probably deal with in another way. But there, again, I see no reason why the Secretary of the Department of Defence as the civil head of that Department should be completely excluded. It is I suggest a rather narrow concept that he should be so excluded. It seems to me the secretary should be an essential member of this committee. I am amused to find myself arguing on behalf of the civil side of the Department because certainly in the past the civil side, particularly the Department of Finance, had an overriding effect on the purely military side and in pre-war days practically throttled it. Indeed the shackles were only shaken off during the emergency.

Were they shaken off?

Major de Valera

To a certain extent.

It was very limited.

Major de Valera

They were shaken off to some extent. I have put it on record as a matter of fact myself, if the Deputy is interested. The facts and figures are given for actual expenditure and the Deputy will see how that worked out. Now that balance must be kept properly adjusted. My views will be found in the debates on the Estimates and I would not like to be taken as in any way going back on the views I expressed in the past and which I have always considered it essential to stress, particularly during peace-time. But taking a sane view, the accounting officer and Secretary of the Department is a person who comes into the picture and sanity demands that provision should be made for him in that organisation. It is quite a different matter when another Department comes along and tries to dictate as to type of organisation required. I remember a case in which the Department of Finance tried to override the tactical Defence Force suggested and put forward an alternative scheme. I think that was going a bit too far. However, that is an old story now and we need not go into it.

It would be a very good thing if, through such a body, a balance could be arrived at, and I think that since the emergency there has been a balance there that certainly was not there before the war. That is something and we should leave it at that.

The constitution of the force remains very much as it was, a permanent force and a Reserve and Second Line Reserve. To some extent the remarks that I have made in regard to the Regular Force in connection with experienced personnel who are no longer actually on the strength, could be made in regard to the Reserve, particularly where there is some specialised knowledge available, for instance, if you have somebody who has, say, specialised administrative knowledge and who also had long experience in the Regular Defence Forces. One could make a case that there is a possibility for a person like that still being available, no matter in what category. The same applies to specially trained officers or artillery officers, and people like that. Even though they had ceased to be officers at some time since the last emergency, if they are still available, they should be considered in connection with something corresponding to what I call the retired category for the permanent force. Considering that our resources are small, I definitely think that where there is an officer with special qualification which is not easily got or special experience, if he is young enough to have served recently enough not to be completely out of touch, even though he has severed his connection, if he is willing to act on some kind of non-active list or something like that, a case can be made for getting such personnel.

I can think of quite a few. I think of it in two categories. I can think of one officer whom I know to have certain service in the Regular Army and service on the Reserve, and who had specialised training as well as experience of administration, who would probably be useful. I can think of a young engineer who had excellent qualifications, who gave excellent service, displaying initiative and originality, and who, for the type of work he was on, could not easily be replaced, who is still in the country and who is still young and who is no longer a member of the force and who, so far as the Department of Defence is concerned, is forgotten. I think that is a pity. At least there should be some arrangement by which such specialist personnel could be gathered up. How you are going to do it, I do not know. Certainly, there is no provision for doing anything like that within the framework of this Bill. I think the Bill is too old-fashioned and too conservative in that regard.

The Army Nursing Service has been mentioned. It is largely a matter for the Committee Stage. I can see that there is probably a case for and against incorporation these girls in peace-time as completely subject to military law. In making the point he did make, Deputy Collins should bear in mind that if they are brought in and given ranks they become completely subject to military law, that there is no halfway there that is easily struck and that there are disadvantages in that from their own point of view which may go a long way to outweigh the advantages. That is a matter we can discuss on Committee Stage.

There is one thing I would like to say to the Minister about this Bill. I know that many Army officers, especially the young harassed Army officer, who will be asked in peace-time something about section such-and-such, if something goes wrong with reference to that section, may find himself, as things are up to the moment, with a heap of amended Acts and the amendments in the form "delete line so-and-so from section such-and-such"—that is, by reference. The same applies in regard to Defence Force Regulations. He would need not only to be a trained lawyer but to put his whole time into it to get the hang of these regulations and this legislation.

It is grand to see a nice clean Bill like that coming into force. I am sure it will be very welcome. I would like to see all the Defence Force Regulations and other similar regulations knocked into a clean form. But, thereafter, there will inevitably be amendments and I would recommend to the Minister to make a firm decision now that all amendments in future will be in a form that is easily understood. In other words, if a section is dealt with, instead of legislation by reference, the whole section should be struck out and a new section put in. It costs only a little bit of paper. Paper is an expensive commodity now but the amount involved is insignificant. The same would apply to regulations. Otherwise, it can lead to injustice. I have known cases of soldiers and civilians dealing with the Department of Defence who have not known their rights and I have known cases where their rights have been misrepresented as a result of misinterpretation of these amendments and of the legislation as it is.

I am going back a long way now, but I once raised this point and the answer was given to me that it was the Attorney-General's Department. I went to the trouble of checking that and the fact is that this has been the policy of the Department of Defence, not the Attorney-General's Department. I am prepared to go back on that for facts if anybody wants to raise that particular issue. If that answer is given to me again, there is only one way of dealing with it, because the facts were that it was the Department of Defence that were at fault in that. I would urge on the Minister very, very strongly that henceforth a regulation should be made in respect of legislation in this matter. It would be better for everyone. At present it is difficult for the civil officers of the Department; it is difficult for the persons who have to deal with the code and it is impossible for the people who are affected by that legislation. Now, we start with a nice clean Bill. It will not remain clean for ever. Inevitably, there will be amendments, and I would urge that these amendments should be done in a form which will still preserve the position that you have one document. In the case of an important Bill such as this, having secured amendment in that form, it is not too much to ask that the whole Bill be reprinted anew from time to time as may be required and that the regulations made thereunder are amended in an intelligible way.

The rest of the matters arising under this Bill can easily be lealt with in Committee and should be dealt with in Committee. The question arises, what kind of Committee? There is a very large number of sections in the Bill, schedules and so forth. Frankly, having regard to the business likely to be before the House in the next few months, and the nature of the material, I find it very hard to see how this Bill can be dealt with in the ordinary Committee way. It is largely in the nature of a Consolidating Bill. I see little hope of its being quickly disposed of— that is, effective disposition—unless it is submitted to a Committee. Incidentally, if the House were looking for a Committee I would recommend that they would not look only to people who have had some association with defence in one way or another. I think there should be fresh minds on this. If the Bill goes through the House in the ordinary way it will have one of two fates: either it does not get through for donkey's years because there is so much of it there if it is seriously considered; the alternative fate might be worse. The Bill would simply go through without having got any real consideration from the members of the House. It would go through rapidly. The question, therefore, of a Special Committee to examine the Bill should at least be considered so as to get the Bill through as quickly as possible. I do not wish to minimise its importance. I have criticised it in some regard. It is important from the point of view of administration and discipline and the basic aspects of the force, but there are wider and more urgent aspects of defence which are not covered, nor are they, indeed, the proper subject matter for such a Bill. They will have to get attention separately. The House should not delude itself into feeling that in passing a Bill like this it has done all it should do in getting it through as rapidly as possible. Members should remember that the broader, more urgent and more practical aspects of the matter still remain to be considered.

It is naturally very pleasing to me to find that a Bill of this character has been accepted by the various Deputies in the House who have been interested enough to speak on this matter. It is a voluminous Bill and might, in fact, create the impression that it needed a greater amount of examination than smaller types of Bill introduced into this House. In actual fact, the position in regard to this Bill is that almost every section of it, with a few exceptions, has been in operation for over 20 years. It may well be that the Bill in its present form and in its past form does not meet with all the requirements Deputies of this House would demand, but the fact remains, nevertheless, that it is made up of Bills which have been operating throughout a long period of time. I must presume that it meets the requirements of the Army personnel, who have devoted so much time to its examination before it eventually came to be drafted. I must also presume that it was similarly carefully examined by the civil side of the Department of Defence, and in that respect I rather imagine that, as far as the Army itself is concerned, and as far as the civil side of the Department of Defence is concerned, the Bill represents the best of their efforts. Having said so much, I am not going to suggest for a moment that the Bill could not be bettered. Every Bill coming into this House is entitled to debate and has on very many occasions been returned from the House better in one way or another than it came in. As far as I am concerned, I will welcome the fullest possible discussion on every section of the Bill when we come to the Committee Stage.

Numerous points were raised by Deputies and some were duplicated. As far as possible I will refer to these points, and I will give what appear, to me at any rate, to be satisfactory replies. In the course of his speech Deputy MacEoin referred to the fact that a section dealing with the compulsory acquisition of land was one which was used in the past in some kind of unfair manner and that, because of that, it might possibly be used in a similar manner in the future. First of all, I must say, as far as my own experience goes, that I have no recollection of any incident of the kind to which the Deputy referred. As the Deputy himself did not give us any evidence of an incident, I can only say that, as far as the compulsory acquisition of land is concerned, the Department of Defence who would, in the main, be responsible for conducting discussions, entering into contracts, and so forth, would not do so lightly.

The Army, I can assure the House, would not compulsorily acquire land if it could be secured by reasonable negotiation. I do not think any Deputy will suggest that, if it were desirable to acquire land, for instance, for the purpose of establishing an aerodrome in a particular district the land should not be so acquired. I feel it would be in the national interest that the land should be acquired for such purpose. When Deputy Captain Cowan intervened in the course of Deputy MacEoin's speech to refer to that particular point, I feel sure that he meant just that. If land were required for an urgent purpose no individual should be allowed to interfere with the safety of the nation in such circumstances.

The reference number is 2/89222 of 1945.

Is it the Deputy's suggestion that land was compulsorily acquired without any compensation?

I am referring to the general acquisition of the land——

Without compensation, is that the point?

——of the individual who was in possession.

I think the Deputy himself would be the first to admit, if the circumstances were such, that the land should be acquired for a purpose such as the one I have mentioned.

The safety of the nation must be the first consideration in matters of this kind, and what is regarded as the greatest good for the greatest number of people must always operate. Deputy MacEoin, Deputy S. Collins and perhaps one or two other Deputies mentioned the desirability of having an annual Defence Act of one kind or another, or some substitute, which would provide an opportunity for debate on the question of defence.

I can see no reason why, if it is necessary to have a discussion at any time on national defence, a discussion cannot be arranged through the medium of a motion. I think that the fullest possible form of debate would be provided by that means. There would be very little sense in passing a permanent Defence Act if that particular Act was to be discussed every year. It is true what Deputy de Valera said: that in the course of time this particular Act will be added to considerably. Evolution will call for that. But, as far as can be provided, we do not want to have the Act brought in annually merely for the purpose of providing amendments. We will be just returning to where we are endeavouring to leave if that is the position. I believe the fullest possible form of debate will be provided if we operate through the medium of a motion.

There was also the question of consolidating the Defence Force Regulations. This is actually being done at the present moment and a number of regulations are being prepared in conjunction with the present Bill. It would be completely and entirely wrong if we were to have the Defence Bill in the form that it should be in and not to have the Defence Force Regulations as compactly and properly prepared.

Deputy MacEoin also referred to lectures. The lectures to which the Deputy referred are being continued in the college as usual. Deputy Hickey referred to the Curragh. Most Deputies are aware, I think, that the Curragh lands are governed by the Curragh Lands Acts and not by the Defence Acts, so there is very little we can do in respect to that.

Deputy Cowan and other Deputies referred to the question of junior officers holding appointments higher than those appropriate to their ranks. This, of course, is necessary at times. It is not desired that we should, so to speak, fill these appointments permanently or semi-permanently. All the Deputies who are acquainted with Army matters know that there is such a thing as the establishments. There can only be a certain number of officers of each rank within the establishments, and it is quite impossible to go outside that. Anyhow, these officers who have been referred to usually fill the higher appointment during a period when the officer who should be there is on leave or is doing a course or, perhaps, may be ill; but in any case it would, in fact, be only a temporary arrangement.

The question of professional officers was raised by Deputy Cowan also. I do not know that it is possible to do anything in regard to that. An officer comes in as a specialised technical officer. He gets the benefit of the fact that he has professional qualifications, carrying degrees of one kind or another and he fills a vacancy in a specialist corps. While it would not be impossible to take him out of that to put him into an infantry rank he would strongly object to that fact if he was placed on the pay of the infantry rank into which he might be transferred. However, the question of technical officers is such that the question of transferring such an officer would hardly ever arise, first of all, because of the difficulty in obtaining this technical type of officer and, secondly, for the reason that they have gained a large amount of experience in the Army which it would be very difficult to replace for a considerable time.

Deputy Cowan also referred to the question of discipline. I think that discipline is one of these matters in which Ministers should not interefere. I do not believe that any Minister who has occupied the position of Minister for Defence has ever attempted to interfere with the question of discipline in the Army. If he did, and if the necessity should ever arise for the Minister having to take the type of action that he might desire to take in regard to something that had happened, he could not take that action if, for instance, he had turned down a decision taken by the military authorities in respect to some act of indiscipline.

I do not think that the discipline is enforced in the manner which Deputy Cowan outlined here this evening. Personally, I would be very shocked and I am sure every Deputy here would be shocked, if he saw a soldier in O'Connell Street or some other main street in a state of intoxication. It would be hopelessly undesirable and it is something that no Deputy of this House would stand for. Therefore, it is necessary to have the P.A. on duty. With reference to the case mentioned by Deputy Cowan, I have never seen it happen myself and I have never had a case brought to my attention, and therefore I must presume that if it does occur it is very rare, where a P.A. interfered with a soldier who was talking either to his male or female friends. I do not think that could come into the category of acts of indiscipline. Therefore, it is very questionable if I should take action on a matter of that kind. There is nothing to prevent any officer or soldier who has any grievance in regard to his pay from writing in with regard to whatever action may have been taken in respect to his grievance.

The point was also made that the Parliamentary Secretary was, in fact, only Parliamentary Secretary in theory. I do not think that is correct. The Parliamentary Secretary sits on the Council of Defence and he has a voice there. He can express his opinions on any matter that is under discussion. My first promotion, if I may call it so, was to the Parliamentary Secretaryship of Defence. I actually acted in that capacity for six months, occupying the ministerial office all the time. The Minister himself was, as far as I remember, acting in some other capacity at the time. I carried out practically all the duties, with the exception of signing documents which it was necessary that only a Minister should sign. Certainly, I was not there in a theoretical way. I was there in an actual form, carrying out all the duties that are allotted to the Parliamentary Secretary.

There was also the question of whether the Secretary of the Department of Defence should be a member of the Council of Defence. The Secretary of the Department of Defence, as far as I remember, has always been, in a manner of speaking, a member of the Council of Defence. He has acted as secretary all the time. He is the only civilian, along with the Parliamentary Secretary, who is present at council meetings. From my own experience, I can say that he has been as helpful to the Army officers who are at present on the Council of Defence as they themselves are to each other. He has not, on any occasion that I have been aware of, taken a line completely in opposition to them. He has, of course, advised on questions of finance where finance was at issue. He is the accounting officer to the Department and must accept all responsibility for any expenditure. Where suggestions were made that involved expenditure of money, he, naturally, voiced his opinion on those and gave his advice; but, there again, only in the form of advice. The council are only an advisory body, with no executive powers. They could, if necessary, talk for a week and at the end of that week the Minister's decision will be the only decision that counts.

The only known case where the minority carries a vote.

I think there is on record a story of a certain Minister who said: "The `Noes' have it," there being only one "No". The other question, which, I hope, will not be a controversial one, is that of the re-appointment of a Chief of Staff, Adjutant-General or Quartermaster-General. In this respect, I should like to say that, from my own personal experience, it would be highly undesirable—I have already said this on the Second Stage of the Bill on a former occasion—to deprive any Minister for Defence of the right, if he thought it desirable in a time of stress and danger, to reappoint a Chief of Staff who had given satisfactory service. There is nothing whatever to prevent the Minister from changing the Chief of Staff at any time after his appointment if he is not successful. If, in the event of emergency, you had a Chief of Staff who might have been a good administrative Chief of Staff in a time of peace and who failed to rise to the occasion in time of stress, there is nothing to prevent the Minister from changing him.

If a Chief of Staff who replaced a Chief of Staff was not successful he, too, could be changed again. Similarly, then, I think that it would be undesirable to prevent the Minister, if he secured the services of an outstanding Chief of Staff, from retaining him in that position in time of emergency. I can hardly imagine that with a five years' period—and I am fully in favour of the five year period—any Minister would ordinarily desire to reappoint a Chief of Staff at the end of that period. From that point of view, I would strongly appeal to Deputies to accept that particular section. I think that any Deputy who has spoken against it—there were not very many—will, on consideration, come to agree with the view which I am putting forward.

Deputy Collins—I am not sure if anyone else spoke on this matter— referred to the question of a special committee of the House. I think Deputy de Valera referred to it also. I do not know whether we would be entitled to have such a committee. I take it that the suggestion is that the matter would be dealt with by a special committee in some room in this House rather than in the House itself. I do not know if we would be entitled to do that. Would it be necessary for the committee to refer back to another committee of the House?

The committee would report back to the House sitting in committee.

It has been done on several Bills.

If it would facilitate the passage of this Bill, certainly I would not see any objection to it. I do not myself oppose it. I think it is highly desirable that we should get this Bill through the House as quickly as possible. Even after this House has dealt with it, the Bill has then to be dealt with by the Seanad. The President has to put his signature to it. When that is done the regulations will have to be attended to. The consideration that will have to be given to the regulations will, in my opinion, take something like six or eight months, so that, with the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas, we will have anything up to another six months' delay.

I think one or two Deputies mentioned the nursing service. I do not think that we can do what has been suggested in regard to the nursing service. First of all, it would be very difficult to deal with it as a military unit because there are only less than 100 all told in this service. In a time of war, as far as I am aware, there is the V.A.D.—the Voluntary Aid Detachment, but I am not sure if that is the correct definition. They are the people who in war would be at the front and the nurses would probably be restricted to hospital work. However, I do not think that to turn the nursing service into a military unit would be desirable except to the extent that, in an emergency, we can do through the Bill.

I think that that covers most of the queries which were raised in the House, with the exception of the question of recruitment. I am very glad to be able to report to the House that the present recruiting campaign has had excellent results. We now have what I might describe as a battalion of new recruits. That represents what I understand is a new record for normal recruiting. The House I know will be very glad to hear that. I am very grateful for the statement which Deputy Collins made this evening that any services which he can give towards recruitment either for the Army proper or for the Fórsa Cosanta Áitiuil will be freely given. I think that that represents the view of most of the members of the House.

It was stated in the course of the debate that this is in fact a nonpolitical Bill. It is and I am very pleased to be able to say that it has been dealt with in that way in the House this evening, and I feel that it will so be dealt with on the other stages when we come to them.

Again I want to repeat that while it may not be possible to accept all the amendments that will be tabled, nevertheless Deputies are entitled to table them and they will be considered and debated. From that point of view I think we can all say that the Bill will have been given the fullest possible type of consideration by the members of the House.

Question put and agreed to.

The Order for Committee to be taken to-morrow, the form of Committee, and the date on which the Committee will commence.

I will need to consider that question.

The Minister can deal with it to-morrow.

I will consider that.

Did I hear to-morrow mentioned?

The convenience of the Minister has to be considered.

Will you make an announcement to-morrow or later?

I will endeavour to do so.

A Committee of the whole House or a Special Committee.

Order for Committee to be taken to-morrow.