Committee on Finance. - Defence Bill, 1951—Fifth Stage.

Question again proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

When I was speaking last night I was dealing with what one might describe as the superior attitude of the permanent Civil Service towards the Army. It is something that is felt with a good deal of resentment within the Army itself. Possibly I lean too much to the other extreme, but I feel that the general attitude of the country to the Army is epitomised in the Civil Service attitude. I have never felt—I have said this before here—that the respect and goodwill there should be for the soldier is really there and even though matters have improved in recent years there are still people who take it upon themselves to look down on Army personnel.

We might typify our efforts on this measure within the old cliché of the mountain in labour bringing forth a mouse. The more I ponder on this measure the more convinced I am that as far as the Army itself is concerned this Bill marks a retrograde step. I have argued during the course of the passage of the Bill and I propose again to argue that the whole approach to the nursing service in the Army as enshrined in this measure is completely wrong. The intake of personnel into the Army Nursing Service is from the best possible class of highly trained and efficient, fully qualified nurses. This kind of hybrid state of existence that the Bill envisages is fundamentally bad and in actual fact is detrimental to the best interests of the service. I have argued and still argue with the Minister that there is nothing at all to prevent the Army Nursing Service being incorporated as a permanent limb of the Army, in which the qualified personnel can be graded in commissioned rank according to their appointment and responsibility.

Where the care and maintenance of the sick personnel is placed, in the main, in the hands of the Army Nursing Service, it is essential that its personnel in their seniority should enjoy ranks of a commissioned nature. If the doctor, the dentist or the other qualified male personnel rank as commissioned personnel—with special pay, requisites and perquisites, as a result of their qualifications—I cannot see any justification for not allowing a similar position to obtain in regard to trained, qualified nursing personnel within the Army as such. It is very good from the point of view of discipline within the hospital itself that nurses in the discharge of their duty would carry the authority and weight that a commission would give them.

Why cannot we progress with the times? Why must we dig into the archives of outmoded defence measures to find the basis on which to create this monstrosity, as I describe this Bill? It is, indeed, a negation of all parliamentary effort when one finds that of an immense and widely-flung series of amendments but a microscopic few were accepted and that any alteration or easement within the Bill was, in the main, on non-major issues and on technical devices. We must ask ourselves the straightforward question, is this measure an improvement, from the point of view of the Army, on the Continuance Bills and the multiple amendments thereto? Bad as that system was, Army personnel had infinitely more protection under it than they will have within the framework of this measure.

The criticism of this Bill is not directed to any individual Minister. It is directed to the whole background to the measure which is now in final form.

Why must we admit defeat before we start? Why must we deny ourselves the opportunity to produce a worthwhile Bill? That is what we have done. The lack of interest in this measure has been very discouraging, and possibly the Bill is leaving this House in such an unsatisfactory form because there was not sufficient interest taken in the measure and because discussion was not sufficiently broad and Parliament was not sufficiently jealous of its duty to one of the major State services, the Defence Forces.

Even at this stage I ask why it is necessary to impose many of the restrictions embodied in the Bill. I want to know why it is not possible to put the Army Nursing Service on a proper footing and the personnel thereof on a proper basis. If we can delve into the archives of defence force regulations of other countries to find a basis for other matters it would have been worth while to examine the situation in other forces with regard to the nursing service. If these estimable young women who are members of the Army Nursing Service are entitled to wear special uniform and are entitled to certain privileges and certain added remuneration, why cannot we go the rest of the way and give them the commission from the President that vests them with officer authority within their own sphere?

We have noted with considerable alarm the numbers of Army personnel, particularly officers, who are resigning or seeking release from the Army to-day. This measure will not be a bait to encourage them to remain in the forces. Can the Minister explain why so many officers are seeking release from the Army or why so many have obtained their release and are emigrating? Can the Minister hold out any hope that the passage of this Bill will result in amelioration of conditions for Army personnel? Can he assure this House that this kind of treatment of the Army as a difficult step-child of the State services will stop and that the Army will be on apari passu basis with other State services?

I know that this measure has been laboured a long time and I feel that, at this stage of the proceedings, I may possibly have spoken for too long. However, I am activated in this whole contribution by a realisation of the frustration that all our efforts have met with in the Bill which is now about to leave this House. It is not often that I find myselfad idem with Deputy Cowan but, virtually right through this measure, we have been ad idem in an effort to cut out much of its archaic phraseology and much of its archaic conception and we have tried to make it a measure germane to the Army in its present-day position. We have not succeeded in doing so and I feel the futility of that failure.

It is seldom a person hopes this, but I sincerely hope that in the very near future the administration of this Act will necessitate a rapid review and amendments that will bring this Act into line with the type of Act which it could have been and would have been if there had been a reasonable response to the reasoned and abstract arguments adduced for its improvement. I will not repeat again the complaints that can be made against the first principles within the Bill. However, I want to warn the House that it has too lightly permitted the passage of a Bill that enshrines fundamental principles in regard to interference with the liberty of the individual and in regard to interference with his emoluments and remuneration. From the very initiation of the Bill we have the false concept in Section 4 of what constitutes a state of emergency and that is so right to the end of this long and exhausting measure. From the start, the dice is loaded by the administrative section of the Department of Defence against the serving personnel of the Army.

Mr. A. Byrne

I think the House has given over 100 hours to the discussion of this measure, and not an hour too long. I have sat out most of the discussions as I was very interested in the Bill. Right up to the time it was circulated, I thought that we would get an elaborate Defence Forces Bill, having waited so many years for it. Last night, one of the speakers said that this Bill is leaving the Dáil in a form worse than it was at the start.

There is one section where I think the Minister should have listened to the pleas made to him in this House. Those pleas were in connection with the matter of an appeal to a higher court from the decision of a courtmartial, especially when a life is involved. Some of us remember courtmartials which took place in days gone by and we would very much like to have known that there was an appeal to a higher court. The Minister is merely continuing the same old rules and regulations that were in previous Acts—Acts which were not passed in this country.

I notice, too, in the Bill that the Minister is the authority to approve of deductions and fines from the wages of officers and soldiers generally. I notice that it is the Minister himself who, apparently, has the full power to say what the conditions of serving soldiers should be. I agree with those speakers who said that our Army appears to be the Cinderella of State services. A serving soldier has no opportunity of taking up a sideline in order to enable him to meet the increase in the cost of living. He is on a very fixed wage and if the price of his cigarettes or of his bus fare should be increased he has no opportunity of finding some form of extra employment that will yield him an extra pound or two pounds to meet such increases. I hope that we will not have to wait until somebody puts down a motion—and maybe have a narrow division on it, as happened some years ago—before the Minister will decide to give soldiers generally and their families substantial pay and better conditions and, if I may say so, a better type of cloth in the uniforms which they wear.

The points which I have made may seem small points to the Minister and to the House but, with the very high cost of living. I hear soldiers' wives complaining about the inadequacy of the allowances and of the pay which their husbands get. In the case of men who come home and have to pay the increased bus fares, their wives cannot ask them for an increased allowance from their already inadequate wage. As the Minister has full power, I earnestly hope that he will give a substantial increase in wages to these men and improve their conditions generally.

I do not like committees, as a rule, because it frequently happens, even after a committee, that the whole measure is thrashed out again in this House—as we have seen in the case of this Bill. I wonder, however, if there is a committee of experts or of economists to go into the matter of the cost of living and to make a recommendation for increases in the pay of Army personnel—or is it left entirely in the hands of the Minister, or is it that the Minister is subject to the Minister for Finance and finds it difficult to get money from the Department of Finance when he himself thinks that the time has arrived to give substantial increases in wages? Undoubtedly, such increases are very necessary at the present moment.

Like other Deputies, I am disappointed that the Bill does not remedy many of the grievances and many of the things that were discussed by the Special Committee, which paid so much attention to the requirements of the Army as a whole. I hope that at an early date the Minister will see the desirability of bringing in an amending Bill to meet the complaints which were made by members of this House in regard to the inadequacy of this Bill and to meet the views of those Deputies who, though they may not have joined in the discussion here, listened to it with great interest and sympathy.

I should like to join with Deputy A. Byrne and those other speakers who found fault with certain aspects of this Bill. Undoubtedly, there is something wrong with the conditions that prevail in our Army because, if there were not, it would not be necessary to have these expensive recruiting campaigns in every town and village—recruiting campaigns which are not succesful inasmuch as the Army fail to get the number of recruits they require. I believe that there should be certain improvements in conditions in the Army and that if such improvements were made young men would be attracted to Army life. We are all only too well aware that thousands of our young men are unemployed and are signing on at the employment exchanges and drawing a few shillings dole per week. I firmly believe that if there were more generous concessions in the Army many of these young men would join it. As it is, when young men join the Army they are brought for training to the Curragh, County Kildare—a place where there is no life for the soldier. In the old days when another country was in control here we had soldiers in every town and this was a great asset to the business people of these towns. To-day we have our Army on the plains of Kildare where there is nothing to be seen only land and the sheep, except on a race day. I think something should be done about this.

I see advertisements in the paper stating that recruiting will be held in such and such a town. That is going on since the State was founded and at the same time it seems we have not sufficient numbers in the Army. That should prove to the Minister that there is something wrong and that there is not sufficient to induce young people to come into the Army. We also have a number of people in married quarters that are little more than slums. There is no doubt about that. In all the Army's married quarters, people—I know some from my own county who are here in the City of Dublin—are living in overcrowded, or almost overcrowded conditions, and no provision has been made through the housing section of the Army to build houses for these married members of the forces. Therefore, we have married men separated from their wives and families and this is due to not having a proper place to accommodate married soldiers.

If all these things were investigated and remedied, I think the money would be well spent and it would be unnecessary to bring in further Bills aimed at improving the Army. No Bill so far has been successful, and it seems, according to Deputy Collins and Deputy Cowan—both men with military service—that this Bill will not meet the requirements either. I believe when the Minister was going to do anything he should have gone the whole way and so arranged that young people would be able to say: "I am going to join the Army where I will have good pay; I will have certain time off for myself, and I will have some amusements to go to." This could be done instead of putting them into an isolated part of the country. If the Minister did that, he would be doing a service to the community at large. Army units should be stationed in provincial towns and removed from overcrowded centres. If that were done, it would be welcomed by the ratepayers as well as by the business people. More people would do business in the provincial towns, and you would have men going in to buy cigarettes and drinks. As it is, all that is confined to one centre. There is plenty of room throughout the country for the Army but everything is in Dublin and the rest of the country is forgotten.

Until conditions in the Army and everything attached to it are improved it will not be possible to wind up recruiting but if good conditions and pay are provided the young men will then join rather than stay on the dole for a few shillings. Others who are leaving this country to join other Armies because conditions are better there, will remain at home. During the emergency a number of people left our own Army to go to other armies because the pay was better and their families benefited. If the present Minister and Government are not prepared to make improvements then some Minister and some Government will have to do it and create encouragement for young men to join the forces.

I must say I have been surprised at the strength of opposition that has been shown on this Final Stage to some sections of the Bill. If I remember correctly Deputy Collins referred to a feeling of frustration that he had about certain amendments not being met. I do not think there has ever been a Bill put through this House on which any Minister went so far as the present Minister for Defence went to meet the views expressed on Committee and Report Stages of this Bill. I think well over 100 amendments were put down by the Minister to meet Deputies' points. He could not meet some of the points because he felt that it would weaken and probably ruin the Bill if he did so.

Section 4 was referred to. Personally I feel that without Section 4 this Bill would be absolutely incomplete, because as I see it, there would be no power whatever for the Government to put the Army on an active service basis in the case of an internal emergency, without Section 4. The Constitution refers only to an external emergency and if we had an internal emergency there would be no power at all in the Government to deal with it. The Government, I suppose, would deal with it, but if things went wrong, as happened in other parts of Europe, they could be tried and possibly executed afterwards for breaking the law. I think Section 4 is an essential part of that Bill. I think I explained that in committee——

But surely the Constitution provides a safeguard?

It does not; if my memory serves me rightly we had a debate on it in the committee and we had the legal view of the highest authority on that matter—as to why the section was necessary.

We have been told several times by the Minister that this Bill has been submitted to and approved by the Army staff. I am sure that the Army staff are not so far removed from their own Army days as not to try to see things right for the ordinary member of the forces. They have approved of this Bill.

Deputy Byrne referred to appeals to High Courts that were mentioned here. Some of the amendments that were put down on that point provided for appeals to an outside court or a higher civil court in wartime when possibly you would not have any civil court at all. Neither could you provide that there should be in wartime an appeal to a civil court on military offences. To my mind, that is not reasonable or rational and I would consider it an unreasonable innovation.

Personally I think the Bill is a good Bill. It has got grave consideration from the people who took part in the debate on it—I admit that. On the whole, I think it is a very good Bill and greatly improved since it was originally introduced.

I am sure Deputy Cowan will be amused at the sort of support he has got on this Final Stage. Of course, a couple of the latter speeches we listened to were made with a view to the general election. When you have the sort of statement made by Deputy O'Leary telling us that we should have the troops in every town in Ireland, the Deputy is thinking in terms of the days when there was an empire in control here capable of filling every barrack and every post in Ireland, and of the days when it was necessary to do that. We know the results of that. We are not living in that era. We are living in an era when a proposed Army of 12,000 was opposed by Deputy O'Leary and his fellow members of the Opposition and yet, in spite of the fact that we have not yet recruited 11,000 men, Deputy O'Leary wants to fill every town in the country with soldiers in order that commercial conditions will be made better. We would be delighted to do that if we had the wherewithal to do it.

You have the forces where the soldiers are stationed.

Of course we have. Will you get us the soldiers?

If you make the terms good for the young men you will get them.

The terms are very much better than they were some years ago and I hope they will be better still in the future; but the question of securing the wherewithal will have to get the support of Deputy O'Leary and his fellow Deputies. Now to get down to the discussion of this Bill, I say that the complaints made at this particular stage have been grossly exaggerated. I do not know why Deputy Collins and Deputy MacEoin came in at this stage with the vehement type of speech which each of them made when neither of them gave Deputy Cowan the fullblooded support he would have needed in the earlier stages to have forced through some of the points which he was endeavouring to force through. It is all very well to come in at the last moment and make these speeches.

I do not think that is entirely true.

I will tell you what I will do in order to show that I am not exaggerating; I will give a list of the attendances at the meetings of the Special Committee and at the divisions and I think that will endorse what I am saying and show that I am not exaggerating in any way. I have the greatest admiration that any Minister could have for the efforts which Deputy Cowan put into endeavouring to make this Bill, from his point of view, a better Bill than it is. I can understand his vigorous opposition throughout every stage of the Bill, but I find it difficult to take the same view of the attitude of some of the other Deputies who have spoken on it, especially Deputy MacEoin. If they had been present, as Deputy Cowan was, at every meeting of the Special Committee, I do not know that it would have made any difference. Their frustration might have been just the same as they say it is at present, because I had a task to perform and I endeavoured to perform it as fairly as it was possible to do it, and at the same time to give to the Army what they were looking for. I endeavoured as far as it was humanly possible to hold the scales fairly in that respect. Whether I succeeded or not remains to be seen.

I have not the same fears that Deputy Cowan or Deputy MacEoin has in respect to this Bill. I think it is an excellent Bill and that time will prove that it is an excellent Bill. It is mainly composed of the Bills which were inaugurated in this House from 1923 onwards and it largely includes the series of amendments over those 30 years. These amendments, as I said in the course of one of my speeches, and which Deputy Cowan seemed to think was giving him a handle in some respect, were made because of the experience developed over all those years that the Army was in being. It is only by practical experience that any of these things can be developed.

This is not a permanent Bill in the sense that it cannot be altered. It can be altered next year; it can be altered the month after the Bill is passed by the Seanad, if it is passed by the Seanad. Because somebody entitles it a permanent Bill, that does not make it a permanent Bill. If the necessity should arise to have it altered, it will be altered. I am sure that the Army would be the first to recommend an alteration if it were thought to be a desirable alteration. I do not want to wish will to Deputy Cowan, but I do hope that some day he will be Minister for Defence. If that day arrives and God spares me, I will follow his career as Minister with tremendous interest to see what he will do in respect of this or any other Bill of this type.

Of course, you know that will never happen.

I am not so sure of that. Deputy Cowan, at the beginning of his speech last night, said that he came to the discussion of this Bill with the utmost enthusiasm. I can endorse that. There is no doubt that he did that. He said that he came in with the utmost enthusiasm and that he brought in hundreds of amendments. I can endorse that also. I can say it is because Deputy Cowan came in with that enthusiasm and put down these hundreds of amendments that in course of time he became soured by reason of the fact that these hundreds of amendments could not be accepted. I can appreciate his feelings as a lone fighter at the Special Committee, endeavouring to push his views on to the committee and doing that, in my opinion, brilliantly. But he was up against what I might describe as a very level-headed and sound committee, a committee of individuals who were not swayed by oratory but wanted to have facts and to be given proof, and, unfortunately for Deputy Cowan, I was able to produce at all times legal opinion which was given to me in respect of the points that the Deputy was making.

I am in the position that I must rely on legal opinions. I was fortified by the fact that I had at my disposal perhaps the best legal opinions that could be secured and that I had the knowledge that this Bill was drafted by the best drafting lawyers at the disposal of the Government, men who were responsible for drafting some of the most highly complicated Bills that have ever passed through this House. Being fortified with that knowledge, and being fortified also with the knowledge that the sections which were described by Deputy Cowan and by Deputy Collins as being entirely unconstitutional were not in fact unconstitutional, I had to resist the Deputy's amendments. I had to resist them first of all because I knew the Army were anxious to secure this type of measure; and when Deputy Cowan said or suggested—he did not say it but he did suggest it—that I was slavishly accepting the military view when I should have been forcing my own opinion, I want to say in reply that I was not slavishly accepting military opinion but I was accepting military opinion that coincided with my own opinion and from that point of view I could not be expected to accept the Deputy's point of view. The Deputy talked about frustration. So did Deputy Collins. Deputy Collins talked about being up against an impenetrable wall against which it was impossible to make any progress. That is not so, and Deputy Cowan knows that it is not so, because at least Deputy Cowan said that some things in the Bill were good, while Deputy Collins said that nothing was good in it. Deputy Collins in his final speech denounced the Bill from beginning to end. Whether he really believed that or not I do not know. I think he was merely making a speech. But Deputy Cowan did at least admit that there were some useful and valuable points in the Bill. He would have to admit that. If he did not admit it then he would be denying that some of the amendments which he himself put down and which I accepted were any good.

The position is this, that I had 107 amendments to this Bill; and I should say that they were designed in the main to meet the views expressed at the Special Committee, views which in the main were expressed by Deputy Cowan; of the 107, 77 were amendments of the type which I have just mentioned. At least 77 somethings penetrated that impenetrable wall. Is not that so? It cannot have been so bad as Deputy Collins seemed to think it was. Deputy Cowan himself had 110 amendments down, which, I might say, were repetitions of propositions that he had made at the Special Committee. On the Report Stage, of the 110 amendments which Deputy Cowan had down I accepted 17, and 17 was, in the circumstances with which I was confronted, very reasonable, so that Deputy Cowan has something, at least, to show for the industry which he put into the discussion of this particular measure.

The Bill is a voluminous document. I do not know, of course, whether it is a record or not in respect to Bills going through this House, but I do know that it is a voluminous document, and I am just wondering if Deputies were frightened off from discussing the Bill for that reason. It consists of 12 parts, 22 chapters, ten schedules and 318 sections. That is a formidable type of document for a man who is not versed in the technicalities of military affairs, and especially military law, and that is one reason, I would say, why there was no great desire to rush into the debate on this particular measure. Deputies, no doubt, felt that if they started to participate in the discussions on this Bill and if, in the course of the debate, they were found wanting, they would be making themselves look somewhat ridiculous, and from that point of view they may have been frightened off. In support of that, Deputy Cowan's own attitude to the Bill in making it a purely legal discussion, which circled all the time round whether this was legal or that was legal, this was lawful or that was lawful, made it too technical for the ordinary Deputy to come in and to participate to the same extent as the few Deputies who did participate in these discussions.

It was introduced originally away back in, I think, July, 1939. Then the emergency came along and it was postponed, and properly so because, as everybody knows, during the emergency there were more amendments to the Bill. Every year I was in the unfortunate position of bringing in a whole pile of amendments to the Temporary Provisions Act. In view of that and in view of the fact that if we did attempt to bring in a permanent Bill we would have to be altering it and it would soon be in the same tattered state as the present Act, it was decided to postpone it, so it was postponed. Then in 1949, I think, the late Deputy Dr. O'Higgins introduced it, and because of the change of Government nothing occurred; but in 1951 I reintroduced it and we have been discussing it on and off regularly ever since. In regard to the Special Committee, as Deputies who took an interest in this Bill know, we were there for three solid months discussing it day in and day out, and I am prepared to say that very valuable work was done. Since coming out of the Special Committee in May, 1952, we have been discussing it intermittently. Whatever complaints may be made against the Bill I would venture to make this statement—that no complaint whatever can be made in respect to the freedom which was available to every and any Deputy who wished to speak on the Bill for as long or as short as he wished to speak on it; and from that point of view I think we can look back on the discussion of this Bill with a certain amount of pride.

Every time the Bill was discussed, whether it was in the Special Committee or on the Report Stage—I want to emphasise this, that on every possible occasion that any doubt was expressed as to the legality or otherwise of a section or a sub-section, or any question was raised as to the constitutionality of the Bill, I had the Bill or the section or the sub-section or whatever it was critically examined by the Attorney-General or the Attorney-General's office; and on every occasion I was assured that the position was perfectly legal, perfectly constitutional, and from that point of view I am perfectly satisfied that the statements that were being made in this House were statements that were ill-informed, to say the least of it, and were not accurate.

Deputy MacEoin in the course of his speech on this stage last evening referred in scathing terms to Section 4. Deputy Cowan also referred to that section. I should remind all concerned that this section deals mainly with a period of emergency—a period of emergency for defence. I do not think there is anything sinister whatever in the section, as some Deputies seem to think. The main powers that the Government could operate through this particular section have been referred to by Deputy Colley and his explanation of them was accurate. One power is to enlist men under Section 54. Under Section 54 we can enlist men for the duration of an emergency however long or short that emergency might be. Power is also given to call up the Reserve on permanent service under Section 87. Surely there is nothing wrong about these aspects of the section? Power is also given to billet members of the Defence Forces if necessary in private houses or whatever accommodation can be found. These things can be done only for the purposes of an emergency so why should we cavil at them? Surely the Army or the Government, which must accept responsibility for the situation which is likely to arise in time of an emergency, must endeavour as far as is humanly possible, to see to every possible contingency that is likely to arise and to provide for it? While I do not imagine that, even in a time of emergency, the Army would go rushing into a private house, the provision should be there in case the necessity should arise.

As I said in the Special Committee, this is the Army of the people and if the Army were defending the rights and the liberties of the Irish people they would, I am sure, be welcomed with open arms as billeting units. In addition to that there is the fact that their expenses would be paid. People who would do these men the honour of billeting them in their homes would be paid and would not be at any loss. While there might be a considerable amount of inconvenience caused, the very fact that the Army was there protecting the people would of itself be a sufficient reward, so that there is nothing sinister about that provision. I cannot see why Deputy Cowan and others who referred to it should try to read into the section things that are not there and that are not likely to be there.

Deputy MacEoin referred to placing of officers on half-pay. In one of the sections we do make provision for placing officers on half-pay. While that can be used as a disciplinary measure, its main purpose is to provide for officers who are seconded from the Army to another State Department. For instance we had the case of Captain Boles who was seconded to Radio Éireann. He was placed on half-pay; in other words, the Department of Defence paid one-half of his salary and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs paid the other half. I think the same thing happened in the case of Captain, or as he now is, Lieutenant-Colonel Doyle. At the present moment I think there is a case of an officer who is engaged on work on the historical aspects of An Tóstal. He is also seconded on half-pay from the Army, one-half being paid by the Department of Defence and the other half by the appropriate authority.

Then the Inspector-General was referred to by Deputy MacEoin. I am not sure whether Deputy Cowan was interested in that or not.

Not in the way it was put.

The fact of the matter is that there is not an Inspector-General at present. He was there for a very short period a very long time ago.

That was in 1924.

It was deemed desirable to mention him in this Bill mainly from the point of view that if ever we should need him we could have him. Section 14 deals with the Inspector-General. Anyone who is sufficiently interested to read this section will see that his powers are circumscribed by sub-section (4) of Section 14. Under sub-section (2), his period of office may be terminated by the Government at any moment, so there again the fears that seem to exist in the mind of Deputy MacEoin are not, I think, real.

Deputy Cowan expounded his views on the question of the Court of Criminal Appeal and he was at least consistent, because, in the Special Committee, as well, he put up a strong fight to have the Court of Criminal Appeal made available for appeals by persons who were sentenced by courtmartial. The constitutional position in regard to this proposed appeal was debated in the Special Committee and I had the question considered by a committee of legal experts. Deputy Cowan will remember that I had it examined by a committee consisting of a legal expert from the Attorney-General's office, another from the Department of Justice and a third from my own Department, all of whom sat down as a group of neutral individuals, whose minds were not obsessed with any particular views, one way or the other. They gave their impressions and the views they put forward are embodied in the Bill and are those which we propose to operate.

I am satisfied that the machinery provided in this Bill for courts-martial will provide adequate safeguards for a sentenced person. In view of the further criticism which has been made on this Final Stage, it may be well for me to set out the proposals again. To show the harmful effects that speeches of a certain kind may have, we had the spectacle of Deputy Byrne, on this Final Stage, standing up and saying how affected he was by what he had heard on this Final Stage. I want to point out that sentences do not become valid unless they are confirmed by a confirming authority, and that the confirming authority, in every case, obtains the advice of the Judge Advocate-General before confirming the sentence. Deputy Cowan knows, but other Deputies may not know, that the Judge Advocate-General is a civilian lawyer, a man who sits outside the Army altogether. He must be a man of not less than ten years' standing as a barrister. He sits down and examines a sentence from every possible aspect before it is confirmed. It will also be seen from Section 15 that the Judge Advocate-General must, as I have said, be a civilian. He cannot be a military officer, even though he may be a military legal adviser. In addition, confirmed sentences, other than sentences of death, are reviewed by a superior authority who is, generally speaking, a Minister or the Adjutant-General. At this stage, the punishment may be mitigated or may be remitted entirely.

In the case of a confirmed sentence of death, the sentence cannot be carried out unless it is approved by the Government, and I do not know if there is any body of men in this land —Supreme Court or any other court— who will have more humanity and more regard for life than a body of 11 or 12 men who are men of the people, elected by the people, and who are confronted with the serious decision of whether a life should be taken or not.

In addition, in all cases, the sentenced person will have the right of appeal in the form of a petition. Deputy Cowan made very little of the provision in relation to that petition, and seems to think it was a going hat in hand to somebody and saying: "Please, sir, will you let me off? I have been a bad boy, but I will never be a bad boy again if you will let me off." That, in fact, is not the position.

In the case of the 1949 Pensions Act, when the decision was taken to provide an appeal under that Act from the 1934 or 1924 decisions, strangely enough, it was not called an appeal. The draftsmen went out of their way—I am sure they must have done so for some very good and sound reasons—to call it a petition, but they are the only people in the country who call it a petition. Everyone I hear referring to it refers to it as an appeal against the decision arrived at under the 1924 or 1934 Acts. In this case, the very same applies. It is named a petition—I do not know why —but it is in fact an appeal and I think it will be the most effective type of appeal it would be possible to make, because again it will be made to the Minister.

Deputy Collins got hot under the collar about the nursing service and Deputy MacEoin made an impassioned plea to have the nursing service brought into the Army.

Not impassioned —I asked was it examined.

We put uniforms on the nursing service during the emergency period. These uniforms were not put on them to make them glamorous or anything like that, but as a protection at a time when we did not know the day or the hour we might be invaded. If these people were found in contact with warring elements, they might lose their lives and the uniform was put on them primarily as a protection. If they were brought into the Army their lot would not be made any better as Deputy MacEoin seemed to think it would, and as Deputy Collins certainly seemed to think. It might, in fact, be made more difficult, and we might have Deputy Collins, Deputy MacEoin and even Deputy Cowan coming in here and pleading with me for the removal of some disciplinary measure which could be utilised in respect of them. Under Section 290 provision is made for the application of any of the provisions of the Act to the nursing service, so that if we want to bring the nurses into the Army at any time we are given full scope to do so. I cannot see, however, what benefit it would confer on them.

Deputy Cowan will have to forgive me for mentioning him continually. I have to do so because he was the main source of discussion, and the daily newspapers have referred to the continuous duel going on between Deputy Cowan and the Minister. I suppose it was a wordy duel, but that is why I have to keep on mentioning him. He objected to the power which this Bill gives to acquire land. I cannot understand Deputy Cowan objecting to me or my successor getting the power to acquire land when the Minister for Industry and Commerce has a similar power. That Minister has the power mainly in respect of the acquisition of land for aerodromes in case he might need it, but the strange thing is that that is mainly what the Minister for Defence would be likely to have it for also. If there was a war here to-morrow we might have to ensure——

You would have the whole country then, and it would not be necessary.

——that we would get places where our planes could land or the planes of our allies, if we were allied with anyone, in the central portion of the country.

I think I was drawing attention to the fact that this Bill affected the ordinary people as well as the Army and to the fact that there was so little interest taken in the House in matters affecting the citizens as a whole. I was trying to relate this matter to that point.

Section 32 gives the Minister for Defence power, with the consent of the Minister for Finance— so that there is a certain safeguard there, too——

I felt that there should be further safeguards.

——to acquire land by agreement. We did acquire land during the emergency on a number of occasions and there was only one case in which we could not get agreement and in which we had to take it compulsorily because it was necessary. I am sure that Deputy Cowan would not object, in a time of emergency, to the acquisition of land, if it was for the common good and it would not be taken except in circumstances which demanded that it should be taken for the common good.

As regards pay, forfeitures and deductions, I think the Deputy will have to admit that I went a very long way to try and meet his views in regard to this particular phase of the Bill. I think I have actually incorporated in the Bill the points made by the Deputy. They have been inserted in the Bill. In other words, I put into the Bill the very things that the Deputy referred to as being unfair. I inserted them in the Bill so that the individual would know what fine could be inflicted on him and for what a forfeiture would occur. Having put them into the Bill in the form in which they are, naming the headings, they will be made in that respect now and circumscribed to the extent that regulations can be made now only within the limitations which the Bill imposes on them.

The Bill gives the headings on which stoppages may be made.

To that extent the regulations will be limited.

At some stage in the course of the discussion somebody said that the regulations might even go further than the Bill. That will not be so. Deputy Cowan also said that this Bill consisted mainly of Civil Service red tape. At the same time and at another period he was endeavouring to ensure that as far as it was humanly possible the military should not be brought in on everything. The military have been brought in on everything in this Bill and if the Civil Service forces its opinions down the necks of the military, then all I can say is that I would be surprised. I do not think that happened when they sat down to discuss the measures contained in this Bill. There was compromise, agreement, insertions, deletions and so on. What we have before us to-day are the things that have been agreed by those who originally drafted this Bill roughly. They are, in fact, the things for which the Army are looking. It is wrong to say that I slavishly accepted the military viewpoint merely because the military wanted it. As I said a few moments ago, I only accepted the military viewpoint when it happened to coincide with my own and other civilian viewpoints. From that aspect, I think, if I may advert to the view of the man in the street, things will be all right.

Deputy Collins said we were putting provisions into this Bill we would never use and asked why we should clutter up the Bill, as it is now, with provisions that we may never have any possible use for. Again, I can only say that we are trying to foresee as far as it is humanly possible the likely things that may arise either in peace time or in times of an emergency. One might as well ask oneself why does the Board of Trade, or whoever is the authority, enforce on all the great shipping lines the regulations which make them carry all the life saving devices which they have to carry—hundreds of huge lifeboats, rafts, buoys and all the rest— especially when we are told that these great liners to which I refer are unsinkable or thought to be unsinkable.

The only answer is the possible off-chance that something may happen such as happened, say, to that great liner theTitanic. It is just an effort to try and foresee the likelihood of that off-chance ever occurring. If that off-chance ever occurs, we are at least provided with the ways and means by which protection can be offered or authority used. Deputy Collins talked about officer personnel leaving the Army. I am not aware of that. I am not aware of any desire on the part of officers of this Army to get out of the Army and leave the country.

If such was occurring, I would have to be fully aware of it because I have got to see every resignation which is tendered by an officer. I have got to recommend acceptance or otherwise of the resignation. The very few of those which I have seen are for officers who are generally going from the Army into some other branch of the State service, bettering, themselves no doubt. That is the only type of resignation with which I am confronted. I can only regard as a gross exaggeration the suggestion that the Army officers are running away.

Reference was made to the fact that it was a pity this permanent Bill was coming in and that there would no longer be ways and means for a discussion of Army matters. I do not think that is correct. First of all, we are provided with ample opportunity for discussing Army and defence matters on the annual Estimate for Defence. If that is not sufficient, I feel that a Deputy can always put down a motion to have some particular aspect of Army or defence affairs discussed in full. But that is not a very serious matter. It is a matter that can always be brought up at the will of a Deputy who is sufficiently interested to take the matter up.

I should like to conclude on this note. As far as I am concerned, unless my vision is blurred and I am not being properly advised, I think the situation in the Army at the present time is one which can be described as happy. In my perambulations around I see young men who seem to me to have all the appearance of being happy young men enjoying Army life, perhaps, for the first time. They are well clothed and fed. They are provided with the best of shelter and with every possible means of relaxation or form of amusement when their duty period is over. They have ample time to go home if they live convenient to their homes and enjoy reunification, if you like to call it that, with their friends.

I think I can say that, on the whole, the position, as far as the Army is concerned, is as good to-day as ever it was and that it is only necessary to continue recruiting to ensure we will have an Army of some strength and, in having an Army of some strength, we will also develop and build up a Reserve. I think that should be the aim of every Government and every Minister who occupies the honourable post which I occupy at the moment.

I should like to pay a tribute to all the Deputies who participated so loyally in and who gave their services during the period of the Special Committee and gave them generously. Especially would I like to pay a tribute to Deputy Cowan, whose industry in regard to this Bill was, to say the least of it, remarkable. It is an astonishing thing to find a Deputy going to the trouble of putting down the very intricate amendments which Deputy Cowan put down and then dealing with them, both in committee and on Report Stage, mainly by himself. I think that is a tribute, first of all, to his industry; it is also a tribute to his parliamentary ability. I say that now because in the course of the debate I may have said a number of things that hurt him. If I did, I want to say that I did so merely because I was trying to be emphatic in asserting my own belief in what I was saying. His attendances at the committee were 100 per cent. He was in many respects a heroic, lone figure when it came to divisions. Anyone who likes to take the trouble of reading the report of that committee will see there Deputies Colley, Hilliard, Brennan, Gallagher and so on against the lone Deputy Cowan. From that point of view, his industry in respect of this Bill is understandable. His attendances at the committee meetings were 100 per cent. There were 23 meetings and there were 24 divisions. He attended the 23 meetings.

Mr. O'Higgins

This is obviously an appeal for Deputy Cowan's No. 2 at the coming election. Why not be straight about it?

The Deputy is the best electioneering agent that ever was. He has only to read the Order Paper to-day to see the number of questions he asked about Laois-Offaly in order to buidd up his chances as far as it is humanly possible to build them.

Let us get back now to the Bill.

I am paying a tribute to a man I regard as an opponent.

Mr. O'Higgins

This stunting between the Minister and Deputy Cowan is wasting the time of the House, giving election bouquets to Deputy Cowan in order to get his No. 2.

The Minister should be allowed to conclude.

I sincerely hope Deputy Cowan will be elected and anything I can do to get him elected I will do.

Mr. O'Higgins

You want him in.

That will not stop me paying him the tribute he deserves. Deputy O'Higgins was a member of the Special Committee.

Mr. O'Higgins

I assure the Minister this will not affect me in the slightest.

He attended one division and he put down one motion, which he did not move.

Mr. O'Higgins

I put down an amendment to delete Section 4 of the Bill and I spoke on that amendment. I must say the Minister was not very good on Section 4.

If a man allows his name to be put forward for a committee he should at least attend that committee. I am paying a well deserved tribute to Deputy Cowan.

Mr. O'Higgins

The Minister is paying a timely tribute to Deputy Cowan because we are on the eve of a general election.

Order! The Minister should be allowed to conclude.

Anyone who reads this document will see that he deserves those tributes.

Mr. O'Higgins

That is not what the Minister said.

I condemn Deputy O'Higgins for the manner in which he treated the Bill.

Mr. O'Higgins

The Minister's condemnation will make no difference to the results of the general election.

He attended three meetings out of 23 and one division. That was his contribution to this Bill.

Mr. O'Higgins

Is that an attack on the Chair?

Perhaps if I were to go down this document I might be regarded as going deliberately out of my way to injure other Deputies. I did intend to read it. Now, because reading it might be regarded as not doing justice so to speak to other Deputies who allowed their names to go on it, I will refrain from reading it. Anyone who wishes to find out the truth of what I am saying would be well advised to study the special report. In studying that report he will appreciate the sincerity, or otherwise, of some of the speeches to which I have had to listen from Opposition Deputies.

Question put and agreed to.