Committee on Finance. - Local Government Bill, 1954— Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on Section 18.

Major de Valera

I would like to clear up one matter which got a little bit loose yesterday. On a reading of Section 14, if the Minister's interpretation is right there, taking "holders" by itself, as the Minister suggested, I think the better opinion would be that Section 14 does impose a new type of power of suspension or does give a new type of power to the local authority by order. It does not actually give the power but it provides that the Minister may give such power and then any power that was in the local authority under Section 27 is removed by Section 18 which we were discussing. That seems to be clear on the drafting.

There are two points that arise. The first is the objectionable form of the drafting of Section 18. We have disposed of that. The second is the matter of the principle: Is it desirable to do precisely what the Minister wants to do here? I must leave it to members of local authorities and people with experience of these matters to form their opinion on this. Apparently the Minister and others who have examined the problem were of the opinion that what is being done in the Bill was the proper thing to do. You had powers under Section 27. That is the situation as it is to-day. There is a certain situation as it is to-day. What is this Bill going to do?

The powers under Section 27 will not be affected by this.

Major de Valera

No, but you have a situation to-day where a local authority has powers of suspension. There are certain powers of suspension at this date vested in the local authority by virtue of Section 27. These are to be taken away and if nothing further were to be done then the situation would be that all powers of suspension would be vested in the Minister and there would be no powers in the local authority. That is the effect of Section 18 which we are discussing simpliciter but, as the Minister has pointed out, there are new powers of suspension being granted indirectly to a local authority. They are being granted indirectly because we are not providing directly in this House that the local authority will have power of suspension. What we are providing is that the Minister may by Order or by regulation invest local authorities with a power of suspension within the terms of paragraph (m) of sub-section (1) of Section 14.

I do not want to go into the merits of this proposal, but I think it is the undoubted legal effect of what we are doing here now, and it is questionable whether it could not have been done in a more direct way.

There is this point arising—and this is the question I would like to ask members of a local authority to answer for us—is it desirable that where heretofore we gave certain definite powers to local authorities directly from ourselves we are now bringing about a position where the local authority will have these disciplinary powers only in the degree and completely at the pleasure of the Department or, more technically or more correctly, the Minister? Is that a desirable situation? I must leave that to the members of local authorities who have experience. It is quite obvious on the debate that some Deputies like Deputy Kennedy and my colleague, Deputy Briscoe, were not quite ad idem with myself.

There was one point raised yesterday at the end of the discussion by Deputy Sheldon which I think the Minister should look into before the Report Stage.

Of course, the main purpose of Section 14 (1) (m) is to give more powers to the local authorities than they actually have but, remember, the Minister for Local Government is not the only person who will be making regulations. It is the appropriate Minister.

Major de Valera

Quite.

Each Minister will be making regulations governing his own particular branch.

Major de Valera

That nearly makes it worse, does it not?

I do not think so. I do not see why I should make regulations governing health. However you regard it, it is precisely as I said on the Second Reading: It is introduced for the purpose of codification of local government law.

Major de Valera

But the Minister will appreciate that that is one of the main things that has alerted us—the statement of the Minister on the implications of the Bill. The Minister knows what the practice has been in relation to codification. I happened to be chairman of a Committee in the second last Dáil on the codification of the Fisheries Act and the terms of reference were "Codification". One of the terms of reference is that it cannot change the law; its task is to assemble the law in concise form. I am rather apprehensive that that would be the situation here and that we would have enacted here, unintentionally perhaps, a Bill containing much more power than would appear on the face of it and much more prejudicial to members of local authorities themselves. Then we would be met, when the main consolidation Bill came before us afterwards, with the suggestion that it was only a codification and an assembling of the law, which it would be strictly and technically.

Let us not form such a trap. This contains an unexpected trap, and when I say trap I do not mean a deliberate trap but an unsuspected trap, because we could bring about a situation which would be permanently embodied in a code of which there would not be a chance of rectification again. There is in this section a tendency to take away express legislation and replace it by legislation by Order. Perhaps it is too late in the day now because we have to face realistically the modern tendency of regulation by Order which seems to be a modern necessity. What I say, however, is that this tendency can go beyond the bounds of necessity. Here is just another instance, from the point of view of mechanics, where we are going to remove from the Statute Book—from the body of statute law— an express legislative authority given to a local authority. We are going to remove an express enactment of this House which heretofore was on the Statute Book, and replace it merely by a power which in its very nature is undefined to some extent—a power to a Minister to regulate matters by Order. It is too late in the day now because we have to face the facts of modern necessity. I am not quarrelling with giving the Minister these powers but I find myself faced with the provisions of Section 14. Is that a good thing?

The only interpretation I have arrived at in trying to understand this Section 18, consequential on Section 14, is that heretofore the local authority had power to suspend an official for a day, a week or a year, but they could not reinstate him without the sanction of the Minister and it has in practice been found to be unjust because sometimes for a minor offence where a person would be under suspension for a week——

We have taken steps to remedy that.

Yes, under paragraph (n) of Section 14 in so far as the local authority now has power to suspend for not more than seven days, and to reinstate. But by Section 14 the Minister is at the same time taking away the power to suspend for a longer period. If the Minister will consider eliminating the element of injustice which I see in this measure I shall have no argument if the local authority will have power to suspend——

They will have more discretion than they now have.

Then we have no grievance.

The only grievance I see is that we have spent an hour discussing this matter.

Because the measure was drafted in such a way. It takes a long time to know what it is all about.

Major de Valera

I may have been wronging the Minister unintentionally. Is the Minister making a distinction between "codification" and "consolidation".

It is "consolidation".

Major de Valera

Then my remarks stand.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 19.
Question proposed: "That Section 19 stand part of the Bill."

I think the Minister should try to explain what this means before the Opposition starts, because we are opposing it believing it means something that it may not mean at all.

Particularly the second portion.

All of it.

It really applies where the Minister has fixed a remuneration for a particular class or description of office of a major order. It is sometimes necessary to change a specific rate of remuneration for a particular major office within that class. For instance, if the rate of remuneration—I am only using this particular class for example—for a county engineer was a fixed sum of, say, £2,000, this section will enable the Minister to give a higher or a lesser rate to a particular county engineer operating in a particular county—say, Dublin or Clare. As I said, I am only using county engineer as an example.

Let us use county architect.

I am retaining the power to enable me to fix a higher scale, or possibly a lesser scale for individuals within a certain class.

If the position is that the Minister now has to have power in order to enable us in the Dublin Corporation to pay an appropriate salary to a housing architect in relation to other work we can have no grievance.

Still you have opposed the section.

The Minister has now stated the section gives him power in the case of a specific officer either to increase remuneration, which he hitherto could not do, or to reduce it. We in the Dublin Corporation have had a quarrel with the Local Government Department for years. We want to appoint a housing architect and the Department lays down a maximum salary. In the City of Dublin we cannot get a man to do our work for that rate of pay. If what the Minister has just said now can be understood to mean that this situation existed because the corporation could not get sanction as it was not in the power of the Minister to give sanction, we have no grievance because we feel that if this is enacted we shall be able to get our housing architect with a great saving to the ratepayers. But then the section goes on to bring in and extend this power right down to any particular office that the Minister may wish to take into account.

The Minister will bear with me because it is difficult for me to understand it, having read it and studied it and discussed it and taken a certain meaning from it. First of all, under Section 29 of the 1941 Act the Minister has power in relation to a specific class of office. Now the Minister by this section is widening his authority to cover any particular officer whom he may describe as belonging to a certain class of office to which he can apply this section. That is something quite new. Now, this is not in contradiction of what I said on Section 15; the position was in the past that we could not get sanction to pay £1,800 a year to a housing architect where the Department had fixed £1,400 as the maximum; if the argument now is that this will enable the Minister to meet us then, of course, it will be welcomed by us to that extent because it will remove the cause for the long battle we have been waging. That is not in contradiction of what we discussed yesterday on Section 15; if the Minister, with the additional powers he now gets to add additional duties to a particular office, can, believing there is an additional burden on the individual, give him additional salary or remuneration, there is no objection to that.

I am not quite clear, however, even now why this should be extended to bring in every salaried officer of a local authority. Elected representatives have the objection that every single thing that might at present be regarded as a reserved function is by this kind of section gradually being taken away from them. We in the Dublin Corporation meet and decide we want a certain office filled. We know the kind of work that has to be done and the responsibility attaching to it. We are capable of judging the qualifications required but we are not allowed to fix the remuneration, having examined all the other points. In the last instance it is the Minister who will say "Yes" or "No" to our recommendation. It is difficult to understand that. The Minister has an overriding sanction, but now he is proposing to take full responsibility out of the hands of local authorities.

From time to time I have had the experience of arguing with the Custom House—not with the Minister —about matters of this kind and I am invariably told that the machinery is such that if we in Dublin, who cater for one-sixth of the population of the country, who have to meet quite a different situation and problem from that which exists in relation to local authorities in the rural areas, fix a salary for an official it has to be graded down because otherwise we will put the Custom House in the awkward position that every similar officer throughout the Twenty-Six Counties will claim the same remuneration. Now our argument always has been that one cannot compare an office holder in a rural area with an office holder in the City of Dublin.

Deputy Smith was well schooled when he was Minister for Local Government. Take the case of our housing architect. We are building at the moment something between 2,000 and 3,000 houses and flats every year. Could all the other local authorities together reach that figure? Is it not obvious that the reason why is that we have to have a much more efficient man than the one required in an area where 200 or 300 houses are being built in a year in a completely different set of circumstances, even in so far as sites are concerned? That is the answer to Deputy Smith's query.

In justice to the particular office holder in the City of Dublin he should be given remuneration based on his ability and qualifications rather than remuneration based on what is paid to a similar office holder in Wicklow, Louth or anywhere else because the work we require him to do demands that he must be very highly specialised and efficient. In the City of Dublin we are waging a war against slumdom. I think the Minister will agree that there must be some fixed standards and that a particular position exists in relation to one particular local authority in the case of a particular office which can be regarded as very specialised and therefore deserving of consideration different from that given to similar offices in other local authorities.

I do not know to what extent Section 19 will continue to perpetrate and aggravate the present position by bringing this down to offices, as distinct from major offices, which the Minister may from time to time describe as coming within the section and therefore under his control in the fixing of remuneration, and that is the reason why we oppose this.

Major de Valera

I take it this section will still apply to major offices?

Major de Valera

It will not extend beyond that?

It will extend to all offices.

Major de Valera

Section 29 of the 1941 Act is amended as follows——

I misled the Deputy. It will apply only to major offices.

Major de Valera

So I thought. If the Minister will pardon the repetition, this form of drafting makes debate very difficult.

The Minister will agree it does extend to other offices not previously included in the 1941 Act.

Major de Valera

But only major offices.

We poor laymen have to be very wary. The Minister may describe an office, not previously regarded as a major office, as a major office for the purpose of dealing with it under Section 19.

Major de Valera

I fail to follow that. Is there any explicit power elsewhere to enable the Minister to extend the class of major offices in this particular Bill?

Under Section 9 of the 1941 Act. Section 9 gives me all the powers I require in that respect. It is not in this Bill.

Major de Valera

Section 29—the one which is being amended—of the Local Government Act, 1941, provides that "the appropriate Minister may, by Order, fix the amount and nature of the remuneration of holders of a specified major office and such Order...""Specified major office": the effect of Section 19 of the present Bill, as I conceive it, is that, instead of giving him power in respect of a specified major office, the Minister gets power in respect of the holders of such major offices as belong to a specified class, description or grade. In other words, it is widened to the class or grade. Is that not the position there? That is why I find it difficult to relate Deputy Briscoe's argument.

What does this mean— and I am reading from the explanatory note:—

"A major office is an office declared to be such by a declaration made or deemed to have been made under Section 9 of the Local Government Act, 1941. The term includes engineering, medical and other professional posts and the more important administrative positions under local authorities."

These were not previously included.

Major de Valera

As major offices.

They never were.

Major de Valera

The inclusion of them is under the 1941 Act. The net point in this section appears to me to be that the Minister had power to determine the remuneration of holders of a specified office and he had to deal with every office specifically.

Major office.

Major de Valera

Specifically?

Major de Valera

Now the Minister wants power to deal with the broad class. It seems to me, on my reading of this section, that, heretofore, the Minister had power to fix the remuneration, say, for an engineer in a particular place—a particular engineering post. Now he can blanket cover a number of engineering posts by fixing for the class.

Yes. It is really to clarify some doubt that existed——

Major de Valera

——as to whether he had to legislate for a class?

Exactly—and it will give the Minister power to assign special remuneration to an individual who may have to do work, such as mentioned by Deputy Briscoe.

Major de Valera

He has that power in the original section. It is a question of mechanics here. It seems to me, then, that Deputy Briscoe and the Minister are not quite ad idem because the Minister has already the power to do what Deputy Briscoe wants. There is nothing to prevent the Minister from fixing one grade of remuneration for, say, an officer in Dublin and another grade to suit local conditions for an officer anywhere else. But if you put this in now, you have a situation where you can blanket cover all the officers and bring in a uniform provision to cover all officers. Supposing there was an engineering post of a major office character to be filled in Dublin and another one somewhere down the country. At the present moment, to be on the safe side, the Minister would have to specify both posts individually and legislate. That does not seem to be in conflict with what Deputy Briscoe wants. Now, what the Minister could do in the new section is to specify for engineering posts at large as a class. Then, both of them would automatically be catered for.

If the Deputy reads the White Paper on the section I think he will agree that it is very explanatory. It deals with it fully.

Major de Valera

That is all right but it is precisely what the effect will be—where it goes beyond that. Of course, there is the other end to Section 19 that "the powers conferred by this section in relation to the holders of a specified major office may be exercised notwithstanding that such office belongs to a class, description or grade in relation to which the powers conferred by this section have already been exercised." That is probably a reasonable addition. I would not quarrel with that one. I cannot see that Deputy Briscoe's point is in any way vitally affected by this amendment. I think we could let the Minister have the section.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 20.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In sub-section (2), line 29, to delete all words from and including "in" down to the end of the sub-section and substitute "with the sanction of the appropriate Minister".

This amendment stands in my name and in the names of Deputies Desmond and James Tully. It is designed out of a desire by our people to keep to the minimum ministerial interference in the matters of fixing rates of remuneration for local authority employees. Our amendment would, in effect, delete sub-clauses (a) and (b) but would retain to the Minister the right of sanction of rates of remuneration when agreement had been reached at a local level between the representatives of the employees of the local authority. Our past experience has shown us and warned us that ministerial directions or regulations of the type envisaged in this particular section as it stands would, in effect, while not pretending to do so, fix rates of wages and salaries for local authority employees without taking into consideration the varying conditions applying in the areas governed by the various local authorities and without taking into consideration the desire of the local authorities themselves as to the rates of wages which should be applicable in these different areas. We feel that directions such as those envisaged in this particular section would, in effect, in similar cases now set the ne plus ultra as far as local authorities' employees are concerned in relation to matters of wages and salaries.

We think that these directions or regulations would hamper if not completely stultify normal relationships between the local authority and the organisations catering for local authority employees. We feel that, by reserving to the Minister the power of sanction of any agreement on wages and salaries which might be reached between the local authority and the employees, we are giving him ample powers to keep his finger in the pie. I do not think the Minister should desire any more power than our amendment seeks to give him. You will have noted that this particular amendment deals only with servants of local authorities. We suggest to the Minister that if our amendment is acceptable he might also bring in a similar amendment which would amend sub-section (1) of Section 20, which deals with the rates of remuneration for officers of a local authority. Much that Deputy Briscoe said on the last section might, I think, equally be applied to this particular section. Deputy Briscoe outlined some difficulties they have had in fixing a major post under the Dublin Corporation. Indeed, we in the Cork Corporation have had similar difficulties. As the Minister knows, at the moment we have no permanent city engineer in Cork City.

For the same reason?

Yes. There have been advertisements inviting applications for this important post but the position has been black-balled by the engineers' association—and quite rightly so, we feel—on account of the inadequacy of salary.

Is the Deputy advocating a higher salary for this local——

If you will allow me, Sir. The position is that the local authority, the city manager and the engineers' association can come to an agreement on the salary.

We are finding ourselves in a position at the moment, because the Minister has too much power in relation to these matters, that we have no permanent city engineer in the City of Cork. We have an acting city engineer at the moment. I would seriously ask the Minister to look into the merits of this particular amendment and if it is acceptable to him I would ask him to bring in a similar amendment to cover cases such as those I have mentioned.

I find myself in complete agreement with what has been said by Deputy Casey. It applies to the servants as well as to the officials. On a number of occasions I pointed out that the difference in the description in the Act of servants or officials arises from the fact that where a person is in receipt of a weekly wage he is a servant and if he gets it monthly he is an official. As far as the local authority is concerned, they all serve that body. Deputy Casey made a point in this connection and the Minister interjects: "Do you want us to raise the salary of engineers?" That is just the point at variance. Cork City, like Dublin City, wants to have a type of official, an engineer or an architect to deal with the problems of metropolitan areas. They should not be compared for the purposes of salary with engineers, architects or officials in other areas which are not city areas. What is the result? The Custom House sits down and mulishly refuses to budge and the City of Dublin has paid every year in fees an amount of money that would have paid five architects per year at the fee we want to pay. Possibly Cork City will find itself one of these days in the position where they will have to pay additional fees to outside consultants because they have not been able to get the quality and the knowledge in an official at a salary which local government insists on having.

There is an amendment in this section and perhaps you would allow me to discuss it in conjunction with what has been said, or perhaps the Minister might find something in between. If this section is made a reserved function both the point of view expressed by Deputy Casey and that expressed by me would be met both as regards the official and the servant. There is a slight difference in the treatment under the Act as between both and I am wondering why the Minister refuses to make that a reserved function. Deputy Casey quite correctly points out no matter what we fix by way of wage for the worker or for our officials it is always subject to sanction from the Minister, but at least he knows that whatever is agreed has come after the joint agreement between the manager and the elected representatives and the elected representatives are not likely——

I understood this amendment had already been disposed of.

If Deputy Briscoe is referring to amendment No. 15, it has already been discussed and disposed of.

I asked permission to relate it.

It was disposed of last week.

The Deputy did not refer to any particular amendment and the Chair assumed he was relating his remarks to amendment No. 14 which is before the House.

I will put it this way. I am trying to explain a position and I am asking the Minister to see it. Because these amendments that were similar in description but related to different sections were ruled on all together—I do not want to say the Chair is doing it—we find ourselves muzzled. We are making a suggestion to the Minister and there is a suggestion in the amendment of the Labour Party—I take it it is the Labour Party —and I said that maybe the Minister would find a way to meet either or both these suggestions. I frankly feel the Minister is going to heap on himself and the State a great deal of difficulty. At present if there is a dispute or an argument between a particular local authority and its employees whether they are servants or officials, that is a matter that can be discussed and settled locally but now the Minister is going to bring the whole country in, and a decision will affect the whole country at the one time and we will have turmoil. At the moment it is only on very rare occasions that there would be a serious dispute between a local authority and its employees. Sometimes we have to give additional remuneration to our servants, as they are called here in the Bill. We may agree—as we have done on a number of occasions—that 12/6 per week is a necessary and adequate increase in wages to those people. Another local authority with possibly more of a rural than urban population may consider that in their case 7/6 would meet the case. Now the Minister is going to put all the eggs in one basket. I do not think that is just and the elected representatives should be allowed to have some say.

Perhaps the amendment that is put here by Deputies Casey, Desmond and Tully—it amounts to the same thing as the amendment previously put down by us—would meet the case. I do not think the Minister realises or appreciates fully that there is a personal relationship between the local authority—and I am including the reserved function in that—its representatives and its workers. There is a special set of circumstances. That is all going to be taken away and there is going to be the cold situation that no local authority may now deal with its employees for adjustment of wages, conditions and so on. The Minister does that.

It is the very opposite.

I beg your pardon. I refer you to Section 42 of the 1946 Act.

It is not a reserved function.

The initiation comes from below, not from me. I only sanction it.

Major de Valera

I will deal with that in a moment.

Sub-section (a) of sub-section (2) says:

"Any direction given by the appropriate Minister regarding the considerations that should govern levels of remuneration of servants generally."

The Minister apparently has forgotten that that is there. He will direct us: "This is what you are to do". We cannot even negotiate.

These directions have been given since 1950. We are only going to give them some statutory authority.

That is precisely the reason the amendment is down. They have been there and we have experience of them.

Does the Minister mean there is going to be no difference whatever in the existing conditions as a result of Section 20?

As in practice at the moment there will not.

Of course, that is another thing. This Bill——

We are dealing with the amendment.

Yes, but this Bill, section after section, is brought about to make statutory matters which were in doubt or matters in which local authorities decided or declared they had a certain freedom. This is to limit it, to remove the doubt, and from now on there will be no doubt. It is now statutory and you must comply with it. That is the difference. There is no use in the Minister saying it is going to make no difference. The explanatory note says:—

"Under Section 19 of the Local Government Act, 1941, the appropriate Minister may make regulations governing the remuneration applying to offices. It is, however, impracticable to apply a general control by means of regulations to all local offices. Powers of control otherwise than by regulation are contained in Section 30 of the 1941 Act for major offices and in Section 42 of the Local Government Act, 1946, for other offices and employments. The latter section has not worked satisfactorily and it is proposed in Section 20 of the Bill to substitute a single provision applicable to all offices and employments under local authorities."

It is because the Minister's Department found it was not able to effect the absolute control which this section seeks to give the Minister that we have the present position. I say that to me anyway it is a gradual process of building a ladder, rung by rung, until the top is reached and you have a dictatorship from the Custom House to dictate every act that a local authority performs.

Major de Valera

I regret to say that I would not be prepared to say that Deputy Briscoe's last statement was too strong. We have here in this particular section—but I take it the Chair wants the amendment only—a classical example of the evolution of power in the case of local authorities. However, the Chair will permit me to deal with the section as a whole on the section, I take it, and I do not have to deal with it now?

In so far as it is relevant.

Major de Valera

But when it comes to the section I can deal with the section? We will have a separate debate on the section?

Major de Valera

In a nutshell, this amendment is to be commended and supported because as far as it goes it is aimed at deleting this peculiar power of direction which is beginning now to assume a statutory status that it had not heretofore. As I said, I think on another section, earlier on, everybody realises throughout all the Departments of State—and these Departments have been there for a long time now—that you have such things as administrative directions and administrative orders. In the ordinary course they are necessary and effective, but it is not necessary to give them the force of law. Rights are generally speaking regulated by statutes and Statutory Rules and Orders. This attempt to give directions an equal standing with legislation is in the end going to mean that legislation is unnecessary and it is going to be all administrative directions with the force of law. In fact, then, the logical sequel to that is that any direction emanating from the Custom House is law, and that is that. Deputy Briscoe used a word which I think is hardly too strong in the circumstances.

The Minister has power to make regulations and to give all the directions he wants to give in statutory form by means of the instruments —the statutory rules and regulations— and I do not see why his directions are to require the force of law, especially in regard to the debate which we had on paragraph (n) of Section 14 of this Bill. There are many people who have no interest in the Bill. I know the Deputies who have spoken have done so on behalf of people who are interested in the Bill—but there are many people and interests in the State—I mentioned the Departments of Justice and of Education as fields where there would be cause for great concern at trends of this nature—who will object to procedures for legislating in private and informally, and even to the extent where the Minister himself—the present office holder personally—is not immediately or actively aware of what is being done or what laws are being made. A direction that has the force of law is a very serious and important thing for the community, and here is another section in the Bill which in its content has the same dangers as we saw in Section 14. That is why I would add my voice in support of this amendment.

On the whole structure of the section, the whole objectionable nature of the section apart from this amendment, I respectfully reserve the right to deal with that on this section.

That has been the practice.

Major de Valera

It would be relevant to this amendment too, but I do not want to duplicate the argument.

I think it is right that I should clarify a misunderstanding which arose the other day and which Deputy de Valera has just referred to again. That is the discussion on paragraph (n) of Section 14. At that time Deputy de Valera endeavoured to make me say that a civil servant would have the right to legislate by means of directions. I want to make it clear now that any direction given under this Bill or any act or enactment of a local authority, could be given only by the Minister.

Major de Valera

By the Minister personally?

Yes, by the Minister, except in special cases where he may delegate to a certain individual.

Major de Valera

Ah, well, there we have it.

He may delegate to a certain individual but he still retains responsibility for it. As the Deputy knows, there are civil servants in this country who have before now been given the right to legislate in statutory effect. I am referring to the Revenue Commissioners and the servants of the Valuation Commissioners who of their own right may give certain directions of statutory effect.

We are thinking of changing some of these.

You have not a lot of say in it now. You had a good long time and you made no effort to do it. I am seeking no power for any civil servants to legislate by way of direction. Any power which I am seeking is the power which my predecessors had and which they have exercised down through the years. The effect of the amendment would be this: that the Minister would have to give personal sanction to all increases in wages or salaries of all officials. I will give the Deputy examples of some of the effects which this amendment would have. As the Deputy knows, circulars have been sent out from time to time with directions—directions for which we are now seeking statutory power. Here are examples of some of them. This is a direction with regard to county council road workers:—

"Proposals to increase the wages of county council road labourers apart from those employed in urban districts should, as heretofore, be submitted to the Minister for his sanction..."

That is one of them:

"The remuneration of all employees for whom the Minister is the appropriate Minister other than those referred to above should not, for tradesmen and skilled employees, exceed the locally recognised trade union rate, and for other employees the wage rate paid locally in what is regarded by the local authority as employment of a comparative nature..."

These are the types of directions that would be given.

There is a further one, another direction which was being given in 1950:

"Where there is no local employment of a comparable nature (e.g., waterworks caretakers and other caretakers) the road labourers' rate prevailing in the area should be taken as the maximum remuneration for whole-time employment. If, however, the local authority is satisfied that the responsibilities of the employment are comparable with those attaching to one or other of the supervisory grades of road workers referred to in paragraph 4 above, such differential as may be considered appropriate not exceeding that allowable to the comparable grade may be paid."

That is the class of direction. As the laws stands, and strictly speaking, the Minister should sanction the rate of wages or every increase in the rate of wages for all officials or employees of local authorities, that is, under Section 42 of the 1946 Act, he should, but we found that that is absolutely impossible. It was too inflexible and most inconvenient. So what was decided was this: my predecessor issued circulars stating that so long as the wages kept within a ceiling they may without sanction increase them.

If you insist on this amendment you will no longer be able to act in the manner in which we have been acting since 1950. We will be giving no option to the local authority. As it stands they have this option; they may increase the wages to a ceiling for a particular grade of workers as directed in the circular but, if you accept the amendment, they will not be able to do that; every increase, no matter how small, must come before the Minister for sanction. That is one of the things local authorities complain about—the delay—but here we will give under this section as it stands power to the local authority to raise the rate of wage and they need not refer to the Minister at all so long as it does not go above a certain ceiling. That is something which they have been doing but they have had no statutory power to do it. In view of that I would ask the Deputy to withdraw the amendment.

The Minister's remarks have puzzled me because I do not take the same interpretation out of that particular section as he does. He refers to the circular issued on 23rd December, 1950. That particular circular covered the wage rates of certain classes of workers but take, for instance, the people who are excepted, the general labourer, the employee of the county council. In my opinion, if the section is passed as it now reads it simply means that the Minister will have power to say that the wage rate for county council labourers throughout the country shall be so much and that settles that and in future there will be no point at all in trade unions negotiating with the county manager or county council or the local authority because they can say: "Really, that is a matter for the Minister and you had better go ahead and negotiate with him."

The Deputy appreciates that as the law stands the Minister has the last word? It is all subject to the sanction of the Minister.

Yes. We want still to leave that portion in it, but we do not want to have the question of day-to-day negotiations carried out between local authorities all over the country and the Minister directly because, unless I misinterpret that particular section, that is what it means.

Deputy Tully has put his finger on the position, but he could add to it. Every local authority has a different day-to-day problem. We in the City of Dublin, having certain types of workers, may want to give a particular employee some increase because his trade union have come to us and pointed out that the work he is doing is slightly different from the work others are doing, and they make a case that meets with the approval of the local authority. That will not happen any more, and Deputy Tully is quite right in what he says that you might as well abolish collective bargaining in the matter of employees of local authorities because the only person you have to deal with now is the Minister and not his employer, the local authority. I agree with and I support very strongly the attitude expressed by Deputy Casey and Deputy Tully. The principle is one that I am anxious to see continued.

Major de Valera

I am sorry that the Minister appeared to be vehement almost to the point of annoyance.

I am, because no later than to-day I was asked to give directions extending the time in which bonus may be paid in relation to the collection of the first half of the moiety of rates.

Major de Valera

Is not that an administrative direction?

Yes, but if I have not that power of giving these directions I would have to come before the House and lay it on the Table of the House.

Major de Valera

Why could not you have done it by Order? Why could you simply not extend it by Order? You would get it through in 21 days and there would be no prejudice to what you did.

The Deputy does not realise the effect it may have on a farmer.

Major de Valera

The Minister said one thing. We have been trying to be fair to the Minister in this. He tried to suggest that I tried to put something into his mouth. I have the record and, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I want to read the record again as it happened on the Local Government Bill on the last occasion, lest there would be any doubt about it, because I know the Minister in this matter would not willingly wish to make an imputation of that nature. I am afraid the record will look that way. At column 897 of the Dáil Debates for Thursday last, Volume 147, No. 6, we read:

"Major de Valera: I am serious, but if the Minister says I am not, again with respect and in appreciation of the Minister's difficulty—and I know the particular Minister's viewpoint and that it is probably not far remote from my own, in sympathy with keeping the power in the House—then he says I am seriously suggesting the impossible task of the Minister, that there are so many of these Orders. Does this mean in effect that an instrument purporting to be a direction——

Mr. O'Donnell: May be contained in a letter.

Major de Valera:——within the terms of this, may be framed, circulated and implemented by an officer of the Department without the personal knowledge of the Minister?

Mr. O'Donnell: Yes.

Major de Valera: The Minister says "Yes". Now, such a direction is, by virtue of this provision, to have the force of a Statutory Rule and Order. It is to have the force of law. Therefore, am I not right in saying that this provision means that a civil servant may now legislate without the House, the Minister or any member of the House being cognisant of even the fact?

Mr. O'Donnell: As he has been doing in practice for years.

Major de Valera: Has he been legislating in practice for years?

Mr. O'Donnell: No.

Major de Valera: Will he be legislating?

Mr. O'Donnell: I hope so—in minor matters.

Major de Valera: I do not want to be unfair to the Minister. What have I on the record now? I have this. He has been acting in a certain way for years, but he has not been legislating—when I asked the question, the Minister said "no"—but he will be if this is passed. There is the position. Now I am asking Deputies to consider this."

There is the position. That has not been contradicted. That situation has not been changed. We had the whole debate on it yesterday, and now this is thrown up. In fairness to myself and the Minister——

I did not wish to suggest that the Deputy was quarrelling with me. I was referring to directions given in letters and signed by civil servants as they are by me.

Major de Valera

Coming back to that now, and it is not a matter of whether the Minister in office does this or not, I completely accept what the Minister's intentions are. But what I want to say most vehemently, and to say to the extent of pressing it in every way and everywhere I can—and I would ask the Minister to check with any judge or lawyer—Section 14 (n) is wide enough to cover the case where a civil servant may legislate without the knowledge of the Minister. The situation is only made worse by the assurance of the Minister that it is only by his power that such things can happen. I should be quite satisfied if we had only evidence that such things could happen only with his knowledge. If we had only some evidence that such circulars or regulations would have his initial or his signature I would be satisfied. If his initial were there——

May I give him an example?

Major de Valera

Examples are all right. You can give a trivial example, but the loophole is there for a major one. A case was brought to my knowledge where there was an individual in a Department, and where the rights of the individual can be signed away by a letter if this sort of Order by regulation goes through. I could give examples, and they did not happen in the Minister's Government, of where that could be done. It is the principle of this thing we are fighting and if this principle is not maintained in, say, the Departments of Education and of Justice, the situation will be worse than Deputy Briscoe has envisaged. It means for one thing that no individual can set up his rights: a simple letter, a simple say-so can wipe out the rights of the individual. The Deputies on the opposite side of the House say that we are arguing this purely from a lawyer's point of view. We are not. We are trying to protect the rights of the individual. I know the Minister and I accept his assurance; I know that the Minister would take all precautions that the rights of individuals would be protected. I accept that. But the thing is wide open and that is what we are fighting. I do not see why a Department should take power of this nature and create a situation where individual rights could be taken away by Order —by a letter. This Bill gives power to wipe out the rights of local authorities. This thing, remember, is pernicious even from the point of view of officials from the Minister's own Department. This Frankenstein that is being created may crush the poor relations in the Local Government Department, because this is what they are being regarded as—poor country relations. It will not be long before this same machine will be turned on the individual members of the central machine itself. I think there has been no necessity to criticise its workings to date: nobody can say that in the administration of this State so far we have had Rules and Orders with statutory force. Things have gone on quite well. There have been cases where a Department slipped up—that would be the phrase used—and did not cover a loophole. That is no harm and there has been no great abuse.

It is a bad thing in my opinion that things should be made so easy that the people who form these regulations and give these directions will not have to worry their heads, because if they write a letter to-day they can write another to-morrow correcting the direction. We can all cite specific trivial instances but these can all be met quite adequately as heretofore in the ordinary course of administration. As I have said, it is on the principle that we are fighting this. I think that this section as it stands now will be delegating legislative powers to Statutory Orders. Legislation will be removed and be replaced by Statutory Rules and Orders and directions. Everything will be done by this new animal called direction.

I wholeheartedly support the Deputies who have moved this amendment, apart entirely from the merits it has and with which Deputy Briscoe will deal. If this section stands as it is there will be no individual rights at all left outside the Custom House.

Surely the Minister will accept the contention that the best, the most reasonable, and the most sensible way of fixing rates of remuneration of local authority employees is for the employees to negotiate with the local city or county manager or any sub-committee that might exist. The local manager or committee could deal with an application and then simply submit it to the Minister for Local Government or other appropriate Minister and say: "We have come to an agreement on such and such a rate of wages for this particular type of worker." But if the section is allowed to stand you can visualise a situation where a trade union making an application for adjustment of local authority employees' wages would be met by the local manager and told: "I agree entirely with the case you have put up. I think you are completely justified in seeking this increase but I have a circular here from the Minister for Local Government which puts it outside my power to give you the increase." That situation can arise even where there is agreement between a union catering for employees and the local authority.

The Minister makes the point that what we are seeking is that every single increase or fluctuation in wages would be met by the local authority subject to his sanction. What the Minister is seeking to do in clauses (a), (b) and (c) of the section is to see that every particular grade and type and class of worker throughout the country could be told: "We feel you should have £5 4s. or £5 10s. or £5 12s. and we are not going to take into consideration that you are living in a particular part of the country, that your local authority has not the same financial embarrassment as others and that they are not prepared to pay it." It does not matter what the trade union says. The matter of sanction will be a different matter altogether. An amendment would not bring on the Minister's head the trouble that the foresees. Could the Minister give one sound reason why he wants to have these powers? I am not at all convinced that the present Minister wants this power. Surely, he does not want to interfere unduly with normal labour relations between trade unions and employers.

Certainly not.

I would like to know then why he seeks this power. Can he not be satisfied with having the power of sanctioning agreements reached between local authorities and their employees? He has the right of sanctioning such agreements. Why should he seek power to come in at the initial stage and create trouble both for the local managers and the local trade unions? I would like the Minister to give me one good reason why he seeks this power.

Frankly, I do not understand the movers of the amendment; neither can I understand the support they have had from Deputy Major de Valera. One of the most frequent causes of complaint in local authorities is the delay experienced in the Custom House, the clogging of the machine. Here the Minister seeks to get rid of a certain element of day-to-day administration by making a sort of omnibus regulation, or direction, to cover it.

Major de Valera

I am not bothering with regulation.

Direction.

"Steamroll" is a better word.

Call it what you like. Deputy Briscoe mentioned that there may be special circumstances in special cases: why should a particular servant in a particular local authority be tied with others? That is exactly what would not happen under this section. I take it the intention is to make a direction covering it generally but if anyone can make a case for special treatment for any servant or class of servants in a particular locality paragraph (c) comes into effect. I am all for the section as it stands because I think it will speed up the work of the Custom House and, as a member of a local authority, anything that will do that is a good thing.

Far be it from me to divert the attention of the House from the specific problem with which the Minister and the House are dealing at the moment. I intervene solely to get the Minister to make one point clear. I do not want his answer now. Possibly he will deal with the matter in his concluding speech. I do not know whether this is relevant or not, but it has been brought to my notice on behalf of rate collectors who are officers of local authorities: under previous legislation they would have to opt to come within a scheme in relation to their remuneration, the lump sum payable to them on retirement and pension. I want the Minister to bear in mind that a number of these men did not realise what their position was under existing legislation. They have not opted one way or the other and it is agitating their minds that they may be too late now to come within the scheme. This may be an appropriate time to raise the matter and have it clarified since we are dealing with employees of local authorities.

It is really a matter which should come up on the Superannuation Bill. I am actually considering it in connection with that Bill. There will be an amendment of the Superannuation Acts.

Is there not a section in this Bill?

There is, but the point the Deputy has raised can be more appropriately dealt with on the Superannuation Bill.

I will accept the Minister's assurance that it will be dealt with elsewhere. These men are afraid that they may have failed to take advantage of their status. Quite a number of them are affected. I ask the Minister to bear the point in mind.

I shall certainly consider that.

Major de Valera

In relation to Deputy Sheldon's point, what I am dealing with is largely on the draft. I am supporting the amendment and I think if we can continue to debate this in a calm atmosphere instead of at the tempo to which the Minister and I raised ourselves some moments ago it will be better. I am not directly concerned with substance at the moment because, subject to this amendment, I am prepared to grant the Minister the substance of what he seeks. I am, however, apprehensive about this word "direction." Can we clear this point up? Will the Minister give me a statutory definition of direction? I know there is a reference to it in Section 13. He has already given me a definition of declaration.

It is not a command anyway; it is an advice.

Major de Valera

I am thinking of the formality. The Minister said a declaration was made by Order under seal and was made, therefore, either by the Minister or the secretary; I take it the secretary may have a statutory power, and that is something with which I would not quarrel; I go so far as to consider the Minister and the secretary as one so to speak. A direction is another thing. We all know the form of the letter that issues from a Government Department: "I am directed by the Minister, etc." That could be a direction. I am strongly supporting the amendment, but in principle I am against the section. I have made it clear that there is no imputation against an individual Minister; neither is there any imputation against any particular officer. Both will try to do their duty to the best of their ability and in the public interest. The trouble is that the machine is being geared up in such a way that it will eventually steamroll the lot of us. Frankly, I would urge the Minister to accept my suggestion because his acceptance of it will modify what I have to say on the section as a whole and, from that point of view, he would be well advised to accept this amendment. His acceptance will not in any way prejudice his own powers. Looking through the code it is obvious that his powers are very great.

Accepting this amendment would mean deleting the section altogether

Major de Valera

Is the whole substance of the section then to be found in these two hidden clauses? The Minister has been advised, and tells me that we might as well delete the whole section if he accepts the amendment. Does that mean that the whole purpose of Section 21 is contained in clauses (a) and (b) in sub-section (2)?

The Deputy knows very well it does not mean that.

Major de Valera

Then I do not know what it means.

I have listened very carefully to the discussion and I have been struck by the fact that the Minister has stated that directions such as those which it is sought now to make statutory have been given since 1950. The Minister has not satisfied me in his attempt to show why it is necessary to give statutory effect to these directions. I must say that I have a holy horror of giving directions to local authorities in matters such as those that are contemplated here. Deputy Sheldon who has had longer association with local bodies than I have had, seems to have a different view altogether. I do not mind confessing that while I was in the Department of Local Government the last thing in the world I wanted to give or to have any official in my Department give was a direction to a local body indicating in any way what they should do in regard to the remuneration or pay of the officers, servants and officials of all kinds. I can see the advantages that would accrue from a power such as this, provided you were of a certain type of mind. If you look for the sort of uniformity that, apparently, is pleasing to Deputy Sheldon, it might be all right. I think myself that there is nothing more humiliating to a local body than all this business of regimentation and giving statutory power to a Department and to a Minister to give directions such as those that I believe are contemplated here. Further, if we are thinking in terms of extending the powers of local bodies—we have been talking about what we are going to do for the past three or four years—I cannot fit into that setting some of what I see here in this measure, some of the arguments that are being advanced by those who are immediately charged with the responsibility of bringing certain proposals before this House.

I should like to see a certain degree of uniformity preserved in the services. At the same time, however, I would not like to have that uniformity preserved at the expense of the Department of Local Government or the Minister, even if I were the Minister myself, and more so if I were the Minister myself, giving directions as to what they should do, how they should pay and the standard of remuneration for every class and grade, and so forth. It means that if one local authority wants the directions, that local authority is robbed completely of its dignity. In one case, a local authority may be anxious to give even more than what the Minister suggested in his circular. In another case they may not want to give as much. The question of pressure then arises where the local authority fails to bring the amount up to the level suggested by the Minister and, in the other area, where it is felt the local authority would have gone further, the pressure is there to induce the Department to give a higher standard of remuneration. I am against this whole business —right, left and centre. I cannot see for the life of me, how those who have, in fact, at the moment — we will all have it later—the responsibility of amending the law as it is, or trying to amend it, can make sense out of the arguments, requests and demands made in this House as to the additional powers sought in this regard.

I think the Minister was being a little bit naive when he referred to the directions as being advice. In one particular case, the direction which the Minister himself referred to—those of December, 1950 —laid down a differential which might be paid to certain types of employees over the rate applicable in the area.

"Might be paid."

It also stated that in the event of any increase over that differential being required, the matter should be brought to the attention of the Minister.

For his sanction.

Trade union officials dealing with the various county managers throughout the country find that under no circumstances can we prevail on them to agree to allow a higher increase to be given or to refer the matter to the Minister. Even if we ourselves do refer it to the Minister, it is referred back again to the county council. The result is that the months of delay—which, apparently, Deputy Sheldon was very anxious to cut out— seemed to pile up. In my opinion, if this thing has the power of law it will simply tie up the whole question and mean that it will be absolutely impossible to get anything except what the departmental officials, acting under the direction of the Minister, lay down as being the rate for the job.

Major de Valera

I cannot understand why the Minister should be reluctant to consider this. After all, this is what is called, in general parlance, a Departmental Bill. This is a matter where there is no reason why we should not all come to the one mind on it after deliberation. I know that the Minister and some of the Deputies behind him sympathise instinctively with the fears I have expressed and I know they would not be anxious unnecessarily to extend the powers of delegated legislation particularly beyond the Minister. What have we here? I know we have a Minister who will try to consider the points reasonably—and we have acknowledged his helpful attitude in the whole of this debate. Now, we have from three different aspects in this House a case made. The movers of this amendment base their case from the point of view of the people primarily affected—the employees of the local authorities—and they have a very strong case indeed. In that, we support them. Deputy Briscoe urges an objection from the point of view of local authorities and the powers of local authorities and a former Minister for Local Government, who has understood it from the inside, urges that this is inconsistent with the concept of giving workable powers to a local authority. Finally, I have pressed another case on the Minister—the case of the principle of delegated legislation.

We have three separate very strong cases for this amendment and against the section. None of these cases has been answered. The only answers given here were trivial specific instances, but trivial specific instances do not answer matters of principle. A trivial instance does not answer the case of the movers of this amendment. Like myself, I do not think they would quarrel about specific reasonable adjustments. We have heard no case to stand up to the objections to this section which were logically expounded here. We have three very powerful cases. I appeal to the Minister to use his own judgment in this matter and to let us here in the House decide this ourselves and let us be the real legislators in this particular case. Let us be the real legislators in this Departmental Bill and appeal to the Minister to accept this amendment. It would make us very happy and it would enable us to proceed with the rest of the Bill, with great understanding for the Minister's difficulty. I have no objection to giving the Minister certain of the powers he needs. My particular angle is that he will exercise these powers in Statutory Rules and Orders and keep the power in his own hand.

Nobody objects here to giving him reasonable powers for administration but I think Deputy Smith's contribution is important. It is not going to be a good solution in principle if all authority is vested completely at headquarters to the extent, for all practical purposes, of bringing about a position where the authority down the line is nullified. That is over-centralisation. If we are going to have a local government organisation let it be a graded, properly co-ordinated organisation. Having too much power in the hands of the central Government is just as bad or even worse than not having enough co-ordinating power. They are both evils. I make that reasonable appeal to the Minister and if it will make it any easier I will repeat what we know. We know he has been only a short time in office. A lot of this has been debated and considered long before he had to assume responsibility for it. It is his task now to pilot it through. He has the right to accept it and to pilot it through in the best form in the national interest.

I would like to support the views expressed by Deputy Sheldon in this matter. It seems to me the section as it stands involves three ways of deciding remuneration: direction given by the appropriate Minister in relation to levels of remuneration, levels of remuneration in special grades and then the sanction of the appropriate Minister. The amendment would leave the sanction as the only thing. If the appropriate Minister has to sanction several assignments of remuneration under this section, he must presumably from time to time come to a general conclusion covering general cases with regard either to an area, a specific grade of employment or with regard to a specific county or local authority. It is to be presumed that the policy or the administration of the appropriate Minister when he comes to deal with his power of sanction—if that is the only power he has—must be based on something general with regard to grades, a particular time, and so on. If he is going to have a general policy, as I assume he must, in sanctioning it seems to me to be a distinct short-cut and a short-cut that should greatly ease discussion and negotiation between servants and the local authorities themselves if the Minister not only indicates what his general views on a sanction would be when he comes to give sanction at this particular time or in this particular area but divests himself of any further interest provided the negotiations between the servants and the local authority fall in accordance with those views. If they do not fall in accordance with those views, you still have the safeguard of the proviso that the Minister's sanction can be invoked. The House appears to be in agreement that the Minister must have the final power of sanction in this Bill.

Major de Valera

Yes, we accept that.

Yes, but it seems to me that it will greatly facilitate the negotiations between servants and the local authority if not only does the Minister indicate or not indicate, as he likes, what his general views are but if the local authority is in a position to act straightway without any further reference to the Minister——

I bet you believe in fairies too.

There is no point in asking me if I believe in fairies. The objection to the section is that directions are given. As I see the whole section as opposed to the remaining portion of the section it gives considerably greater freedom to the negotiations than does the business of coming for the sanction of the Minister every time. There is a lot in what the proposers of the motion are arguing, but I believe they are mistaken in its effect.

With regard to Major de Valera's remarks, it seems to me—although his view is one which we would all support —he is seeing more danger in this section than there is really in it. The position appears to me to be that the Minister at all stages and with regard to every single case would be asked by the local authority or by the person concerned for his sanction. Therefore, any directions which are given must be directions flowing from his hand. The technicality of whether they are sealed or come down as a result of his decision does not appear to me to make any real difference particularly having regard to the fact that a safeguard is there in that you come back to the Minister for sanction if the directions are unfair, unsatisfactory or inadequate. If, as Deputy de Valera pointed out, directions come, say from some junior official of the Department, which are unjust or harsh, they can be referred to the Minister. That is how these provisions appear to me. They are neither a dangerous delegation nor can they be regarded in any way as a hindrance; in fact they are a help to the negotiations between the servants of the local authority and the local authority itself.

I think we have spent such a considerably long time on this Bill that I hesitate to offer any suggestions that might shorten the discussion. It does seem to me that a lot of the discussion has been caused by the introduction of these powers of direction and by the powers given to the Minister of making declarations. It would probably shorten the discussion a lot if we could get some definite way of dealing with directions and declarations. We have already in the Bill given powers to the Minister to make regulations. I certainly am not clear, and I do not know whether the Minister is clear, as to the status of a direction and as to the status of a declaration. Is it a statutory instrument? Is it to have the force of law or is it merely an advice? I think the Minister has stated that it was merely an advice. I do not know whether he considered that or whether that was merely an extemporary reply to some question. If the Minister would agree that it is only an advice and that the direction or declaration has not got the status of an Act of Parliament or a law, then I think we could get over the whole difficulty by the very simple device of putting in a short section in the Bill to the effect that where the Minister or a Minister is given the power to make a direction under this Act such direction shall not have the force of law. That would clarify the position. I know that in the case of other legislation, particularly the Emergency Powers Acts, Ministers were given powers to make directions and that the directions made by them were regarded as statutory instruments. From what the Minister said I gather that the directions he visualises, certainly in this section and throughout the Act, are to be merely in the nature of an advice and have not got the status of a law. If that is correct, we could get over all this difficulty about directions and declarations by putting in a very short section in the Bill providing that these declarations and directions are advices and have not got the status of a law. Would the Minister consider that? If that is considered advisable it would deal not only with this section but with the other sections—about 20, I think—in which this difficulty occurs.

I am afraid that the introduction of so much legal talent has removed us a good deal from the section. The discussion on the section——

The amendment, Deputy.

Yes, but the section itself is described as a restriction on the power to assign remuneration and the amendment wants to preserve the position that the employees of a local authority should have the right to negotiate through their representatives with their employer. But what does this section do without the amendment—and I would direct the attention of Deputy Finlay to this? The practice at the moment is that the local authority has certain powers to assign remuneration subject to the overall sanction of the Minister. In practice, what is going to happen if this section in passed without the amendment? Representatives of the servants of the local authority come along to talk to the manager—he is the local authority—and the manager says: "You want to discuss additional remuneration for your members? I have a direction here from the Minister. It is the limit, and I have no further function, no further authority, and you are wasting your time talking to me." That is not going to make for a very helpful administration of local authorities, and you are going to drive the employees into desperation as a result of this particular type of frustration. In practice it means this. Sub-section (2) of Section 20 says:

"The power of a local authority under Section 10 of the Act of 1941 to assign remuneration to a servant shall not be exercised except in accordance with such one or more of the following as may be appropriate from time to time:

(a) any direction given by the appropriate Minister regarding the considerations that should govern levels of remuneration of servants generally."

Immediately after the passing of this Bill certain local authorities may find themselves suddenly the recipients of a direction in that connection. Paragraph (b) says:

"Any direction given by the appropriate Minister regarding the considerations that should govern levels of remuneration of servants of a specified class, description or grade, the servant being in that class, description or grade,..."

Deputy Tully and I think Deputy Casey and most of us who have been discussing this and supporting the amendment agree with me that you cannot just regiment into one particular class similar types of workers of local authorities in different areas. What is this Bill supposed to be about? —local government. It should be headed "Local Government" and the Bill and the sections should be taken to mean what they do, in fact, mean—the death-knell of local authority and the taking over by the Custom House and centralising of the form of government hitherto known as local government. As Deputy Smith says, this comes on the eve of a promise of a Bill to amend the County Management Acts so as to give greater authority and greater powers back to the local authority representatives. I do not mind what interpretation the Minister puts on it; the facts are those, and those of us with practical experience either as local authority representatives or as trade union representatives in negotiation with local authorities, know, and I think we agree, although the trade union representatives approach the matter from one point of view and the local authority representatives from the other, that when you kill the right of the local authority to assign remuneration you are going to kill the goodwill and the co-operation between the worker and the employer.

The Minister has had a very long and tough time on this Bill and there have been four or five Deputies who have been sitting here discussing the Bill throughout. Might I suggest that the House should adjourn for an hour, say, from 6 to 7 p.m.?

We are quite willing to facilitate the Minister as he has facilitated us, that is, if he wishes to have the adjournment.

It is not a question of facilitating the Minister; it is a question of facilitating ourselves.

I have no objection.

The House agrees to adjourn for three quarters of an hour at 6 p.m.?

Major de Valera

Yes.

Until a quarter to seven.

Major de Valera

I welcome Deputy Finlay's contribution to this debate if for no other reason than that it is good to have another point of view. I would like, first of all, to refer to some of the points he has made and to query one thing. Deputy Finlay, I know, has a great knowledge of local government and he may be able to give me the reference when he says: "They can always go back for sanction." The situation we have to visualise if this amendment is rejected is that by virtue of the words "as may be appropriate" if there are directions already given under (a) or (b) these will govern the situation in (c) and the question of going back for the sanction of the Minister will be nothing more than having to raise the whole case as against existing regulations and directions that are made. In other words, it is like going to the Minister to get an Act amended. We all know when you have a bad case and when you go to the Minister and find you are up against legislation you see about getting it amended. So that I fail to see the Deputy's point—perhaps I am not seeing what I should see. I know he is particularly learned in these matters and I should be glad of elucidation. From the practical point of view it seems to me that difficulty exists. He talks about "technically, it will be the Minister." Let me say that fundamentally my objection to directions is the informality of them and the fact that the words and the general tenor of the section are such that these directions may be given without the Minister himself or even the secretary of the Department being personally aware of them and such directions are to have statutory force. I would settle with the Minister on that side of the argument if I was convinced that the Minister needed all this. Suppose for a moment I was convinced that he did need them, if the section were amended so that the word "direction" meant "regulation"—that is a statutory rule or regulation—and sub-section (3) amended accordingly and the word "directions" substituted by "regulations", I would not quarrel with the Minister. I move to report progress.

Progress reported.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 6.45 p.m.

Major de Valera

I should like to refer to a point made by Deputy Finlay on the question of whether all directions would be given by the Minister. Deputy Finlay will appreciate that that is precisely the point on which we want some safeguard. This amendment expresses three cogent objections in one degree or another and in view of these objections I would urge the Minister to accept the amendment.

Deputy Smith mentioned the humiliation which local authorities would suffer in having to receive directions such as those proposed by the Bill. I am trying to avoid any humiliation of local authorities; I am trying to prevent this obnoxious situation in which local authorities have to send up for sanction every 2½d. rise they give to their officials. That is one of the methods by which I am preventing humiliation. The sponsors of this amendment expressed their fear that officials might be victimised by directions which might be given from the Custom House. I intend, when dealing later on in the evening with another section, to remind the House of point 12 of the inter-Party programme in which it is set out in agreed policy that there will be conciliation and arbitration facilities for employees of local authorities. If there is not agreement of the officials with the recommendations of arbitration they will have the right of appeal to the Labour Court the same way as any other body of workers. I can state on the authority of the Tánaiste that I will during this session introduce legislation that will bring local authority employees within the ambit of the Labour Court and of arbitration and conciliation.

I do not intend under this section to give commands and directions to local authorities as to the wages and salaries they should pay, but I do intend giving them a ceiling and I shall say to them: "Do not go beyond that ceiling and you need not come to us for sanction, but if you exceed it you will have to seek sanction." That, plus the right of appeal to the Labour Court, should protect the class of worker which the sponsors of the amendment introduced. I am impressed by the very constructive criticism which has been offered on all sides of the House. As a result of what I have heard I shall go further and give an undertaking that between now and Report Stage I shall consider this section and if there is anything I can do to eliminate objectionable features I shall certainly do it.

The Minister has met the case of the movers of this amendment very fairly and we particularly welcome his undertaking that it is the intention of the Government to introduce legislation which will in effect give access to local authority employees to conciliation and arbitration and to the Labour Court. If we had had an indication of that, much of the discussion on this particular amendment could have been obviated. However, we certainly welcome that announcement. It is something that the trade unions concerned have been seeking for a very long time. We were told and indeed we appreciated that there were difficulties in giving to these particular employees access to the machinery of the Labour Court and we are very glad that these difficulties have been overcome. Practically all the fears which prompted us to put down this amendment will be removed when the Minister's promise has been implemented. In view of that and in view of his undertaking that he is prepared between this and the Report Stage to deal with the fears as expressed by us here, we will withdraw the amendment.

Major de Valera

The Deputy who has just spoken must appreciate this fact, which I am not completely satisfied about—first of all, all the ministerial assurances in the world from any Minister in this House are useless in face of the written word of a statute. I would hesitate to make that statement if I were making it for the first time in this House to this particular Minister who has been so helpful to the House in this debate but the Minister and all other Deputies will recollect the number of times that we have had to say in this House at times that a ministerial undertaking is of no use. It may be information to non-legal Deputies that you cannot cite the debates in this House in a court of law. They are not evidence. They are not law. You cannot cite them. The undertaking is given. It is, I am sure, sincere on the part of the Minister for the time being who actually makes the statement but it has absolutely no binding effect whatever.

If the Deputies withdraw this amendment let them realise and let the employees concerned realise what we are doing in this section irrespective of ministerial undertaking. It would be unfair to press the Minister at another stage and to suggest that he has promised something that he has not promised. In fairness to him, all he has been able to tell us is that he will consider the matter for Report Stage.

He went further than that.

I would be prepared to say that I will have a section written for the purpose of relieving local authorities of the obligation of seeking any sanction which they would otherwise be legally obliged to seek and obtain before taking a particular course in regard to remuneration. The directions under the section would be limited to that.

There is a difficulty about a ceiling and giving a direction to a local authority in relation to officials employed by these bodies. The ceiling mentioned in the direction would be intended to remain for a considerable time.

Oh, no. That would be merely for the discretion of the local authority, and it is one which would be reviewed from time to time.

I understand the discretionary aspect of this very well. The Minister complains that as matters now stand the local authority makes a proposal which is submitted to the Department and Deputies complain here of delays. If you are to notify local bodies in relation to the staffs employed by them you must do so in some such form as this:—

"The Minister for Local Government would be prepared to give his approval to wages or salaries or remuneration up to certain standards,"

specifying the amount for each grade. If it is not to be a fairly high ceiling, review might have to take place very often and the delays that would be caused in having further review and arriving at a new ceiling would be as expensive from the point of view of time as the other method of sanctioning proposals when they arrive from the local body direct. I can see that there are practical difficulties in this apart altogether from some of the issues that have been raised here by those who have moved this amendment and by my colleagues on the Front Bench. My main objection to this whole method is that it robs the local body of all dignity and all responsibility because it makes them entirely subject to headquarters. There is a tremendous amount of resentment on the part of some members of local authorities against this method, and rightly so. I do not mind how many objections one might have to the other method, I still hold it is the better one because it preserves for those who have the major responsibility of arriving at a decision as to what the standards should be and, in the main, of finding the money, the right to implement that responsibility. If one robs them of that responsibility by a practice such as this in relation to directing them as to what the Minister is prepared to sanction, then I regard that practice as a bad and dangerous one and something entirely inconsistent with what we have been discussing hitherto.

Surely this is the practice which Deputy Smith followed when he was Minister?

It was against my very nature. It was an established practice before my time and I could not get away from it quickly enough.

The Deputy has never said that until now.

It is known to be my attitude.

I will accept the Deputy's word for that. I am giving the local authority employees something they never had before. If they are dissatisfied with any directions which may be implemented by a local authority they may go to the Labour Court.

We will deal with that when it comes along. Let us deal now with the section as it is.

We must take one in conjunction with the other.

Major de Valera

Where is the section making provision for the Labour Court?

It is not in this but I am giving an undertaking now that there will be introduced in this House by the Minister for Industry and Commerce an amendment to the Industrial Relations Act to bring within the ambit of that Act the employees of local authorities.

Major de Valera

Surely, then, it would be better to leave the whole thing until we have all the proposals before us?

I wondered a few moments ago if I was hearing aright when I heard Deputy Smith talking about stripping dignity from local authorities by putting on this ceiling. I am strongly opposed to the putting down of any kind of ceiling and I was strongly opposed to the motion as tabled here this evening. I forced the amendment as hard as I could and, unless I am mistaken, I have a distinct recollection of local authorities recommending to Deputy Smith, when he was Minister, an increase of 5/- per week for local authority employees; after three or four months that was reduced to 4/6. If that was not stripping dignity from local authorities, I would like to know what is.

I would like the Deputy to cite the case in which that happened.

Mr. Tully

Meath County Council employees. I will give the Deputy the details. It was two years ago. Possibly the Deputy did not see it.

I would like to deal with that case, but it does not meet the case I am trying to make.

It is an historic fact.

Mr. Tully

I do not raise the point to embarrass Deputy Smith but merely to show what can happen under present regulations. All I am interested in is ensuring that local authority employees will be able to get an increase of wages when such increase is warranted and that neither the Minister nor the county manager nor the county council will be able to deprive them of that right. Unless there is some way of getting away from what the county manager says or the Minister says, then up to now our hands have been tied. I am prepared to take the Minister's word that there is the intention of giving employees of local authorities the right of appeal to the Labour Court against the decision of the county manager or the Minister. If that is the intention I am perfectly satisfied it will meet the situation.

The very case the Deputy has cited is, in fact, entirely in conformity with the arguments I am making here and the line of approach I would like the House to take in matters such as this. Whatever I did in the case cited by Deputy Tully, at least the local authority took the initiative. That is what I want to preserve now.

What use is that?

I want the local authority to have the initiative in making submissions to the Minister. Deputy Finlay compared the two systems of having a ceiling, as suggested by the Deputy, or having the Minister and his officials examining the proposals coming from local authorities in the light of what is happening in different areas and in relation to the standard in Wicklow, Cork, Meath, Leitrim and so on.

Deputy Finlay, of course, looks at this from the point of view of what appears to be the neat way of doing things, the clear-cut way in which business matters are disposed of and so forth. That method may appeal to a young man who has no experience of the functioning of local bodies. He would endorse the system under which a local body would be told that it can pay its employees £5 per week without applying for sanction. If I adopted a certain attitude in the past in relation to a proposal from a local authority it was because I was trying to preserve a certain uniformity. But is it not better that the original approach should emanate from the local body in consultation with its employees rather than that the local representatives should be humiliated to the point of having a circular sent down stipulating the Minister is prepared to do so-and-so and so-and-so? I have been accused of following that practice. It was there when I arrived and every time I was called upon to give my approval to a circular going out to local bodies suggesting they were free to improve the salaries of their officials to a certain ceiling I gave that approval against my very grain. I tried to the best of my ability to modify it in every way possible. I had reached the stage when proposals were introduced to amend the managerial system so as to give local authorities some say. I continued the existing system only because I had to do so until such time as the law was amended. I objected very strenuously to such a system and I am here defending a principle which strikes me as a useful one from the point of view of local representatives. If I were a member of a local authority I would resent receiving a departmental circular stating how the medical officer, the dispensary doctor, the county engineers and all the other officials should be paid. I agree that has been done. It is being done at the moment. It is not right that it should continue and I am trying to ensure that we shall get away from it as quickly as we can.

I appreciate the Deputy's point. I believe, however, it is fantastic for us just to slip away from the statement made by Deputy Smith without weighing the consequences and realising the value of that statement. In contrast with the arguments put up by Deputy Smith, year after year we have consistently found certain members in local authorities— probably they are to be found in every county—playing the old soldier by telling local employees that they would be most anxious to support an increase but that they knew that when it would go to the Custom House it would not be sanctioned. Very often, a Minister for Local Government got the rap from members of local authorities because they did not want to support an increase for the workers and in order to get away from their own responsibility, they found it convenient to put the responsibility and the blame on the Minister in the Custom House. The statement made by the Minister is something that has gone completely ahead of anything that many members in this House had ever hoped for. In view of the statement made by the Minister as to what can be introduced as regards the protection of workers in local authority areas in the future, I believe that, while time has been taken on the matter, this particular amendment has brought to light something that will be of more advantage to the workers employed by local authorities than they ever dreamed of.

Major de Valera

I want to come back to the initial basis in this discussion. The fact that a certain thing is happening to-day is really not what is in question here. What is in question here is that there is something new in this section. New powers are being conferred and certain directions are acquiring a new force. It may be intended that the same procedure as heretofore will be followed but there is no getting away from the fact that, under this section, new powers are being taken in the Custom House. I think we will all appreciate a reasonable attitude on the part of Deputies. I, for one, am very glad to acknowledge the Minister's reasonableness when he says that he will consider this for Report and also his statement in regard to what the Tánaiste is going to bring in. But, again, remember that law is only law in so far as it is an Act of Parliament, an Order, a direction or regulation. The records of this House are not law. Ministerial undertakings are not law nor are they binding nor have they any value or force whatsoever against the written word of the statute. In face of that, the Minister will pardon me if I put it this way because I accept the Minister's sincerity in this question. We are going to give powers in this Bill explicitly that will become law and we have only a general undertaking as against it. If the Deputies sponsoring this amendment are satisfied with that, it is a matter for themselves. The mover of this amendment represented himself as speaking for local authority employees. If the local authority employees are willing to have the amendment withdrawn on the statement of the Minister—which simply means that the matter will be reconsidered on Report and then something about the Labour Court in general terms at a later stage—that is a matter for themselves. Too late they may realise what they are doing. Let them realise that the wording of the two things they very rightly propose should be dropped have the words "any direction". "Any direction" means any direction——

Did the Minister not deal with that in a subsequent statement?

Major de Valera

I have already pointed out that, while I accept the Minister's sincerity, we are dealing with what would be the contents of the statute and the legal position.

The Minister mentioned the form of amendment he would be prepared to introduce.

Major de Valera

I have not seen this in relation to the statute and I do not understand it. If this point is met, then so much more credit goes to the Minister for his reasonableness in the matter. However, I have not the amendment here and I am dealing with what is in the Bill at the moment. "Any direction"; "appropriate Minister": I wonder if the Deputies realise that "appropriate Minister" does not mean this Minister only. It embraces four Ministers—the Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Welfare. "Regarding the considerations that should govern." What does that mean? Is it not wide and blanket powers? Here is where we can get at cross purposes in this argument. I know that this Minister does not intend—he says so and we accept it—to make any regulation outside the spirit of what he is doing here. But, under the wording of this section and sub-section, as in the case of Section 14, the door is wide open. As the Deputies know, I have left the arguing of the local authorities' employees' case to them and the argument from the point of view of local authorities themselves to other Deputies: I have been concerned mainly with the principle of this word "direction". I happen to know that this particular amendment has been circulated to more quarters than to that of the Deputies who moved it.

I am afraid the Deputy is wrong in that. It is our own.

Major de Valera

Then there is a very peculiar coincidence. However, I accept what the Deputy says.

You would not be mistaking it for the other one?

Major de Valera

No. It was circulated to some other people as well by other groups and other people.

Not this one, dealing with officers.

Major de Valera

I want to deal with this objectively and I want Deputies to appreciate what is in this. I want them to appreciate that, in withdrawing this amendment, they are taking a general word—and I do not want any offence taken at that word. I have already pointed out that the records of this House are not evidence, neither are they law. I have already pointed out that ministerial undertakings are not law. I do not know what the drafting of the Minister's amendment will be but, saving that, this amendment is being withdrawn and in the section power is being given to do precisely what is objected to here in principle. I am trying to bring that out as clearly as I can so that the House may understand it. So far as argument is concerned, both Deputy Sheldon and Deputy Finlay have put up a counter-argument for the practicality of the substantive provisions of this section.

I will deal with the legality later.

Major de Valera

There is no doubt that, from the point of view of local authority employees, the removal of this amendment simply means that there is acceptance of these two new provisions in the Bill, with the very dangerous words, "any direction" and "appropriate Minister", regarding the considerations in both sub-sections involved. I am very glad to hear about the Minister's proposed amendment in this connection and I want to repeat again in this case what I said about the use of the word "direction". I think all these powers should be exercised by means of Order and in the proper way and that the extension of the principle of directions here is objectionable.

I think the House is at cross-purposes. Whether the fault is the Minister's and the Department's or whether it is Deputy Major de Valera's, as a lawyer, I am not quite sure. I think Deputy Major de Valera is making a mistake about this business of a direction. He seems to be afraid that a direction will now have the force of law because it is the statute. There is no such provision in the Bill to give it the force of law. I presume the phrase "force of law" means a similar type of regulation which has the force of law. Anyway, a direction under this section could not have that particular flavour at all. Anyway, there is no question of it being given the force of law. I take the position to be this, by strict law, every proposal with regard to remuneration from a local authority must receive individual attention in the Department.

That is the position.

By practice over a number of years directions—the word "direction" is most unfortunate, I think—letters of advice have come from the Custom House to the local authority saying: "Can we tell you this in advance? It will save you making particular cases." Every time such a general direction or advice is sent out from the Department of Local Government expense is involved. I could well appreciate the Department of Finance, if not the Comptroller and Auditor-General, saying: "By what authority do you incur this expense? There is nothing in any statute which gives you power to send such directions". I am not saying that that is the attitude the Department takes but there is that point. If Deputies would look at it in that way they would appreciate what the Minister says. He wants to give statutory authority to a practice that is in the Department; in other words he wants to legalise any expense incurred in sending out such directions. If the expense is queried he will say: "The law allows you to incur such expense". It will not, as far as I see, affect the amount of weight the direction can have at all.

I think Deputy de Valera is confusing the issue in this way, but the word "direction" turns up here and it was also in another section.

Major de Valera

An earlier one.

Yes, Section 14.

Major de Valera

And there is no doubt about the connotation there.

I do not think the fears Deputy de Valera very rightly had about a direction in Section 14 could be felt at all for a direction in Section 20. It is because the word is the same that confusion has been caused. As the Minister mentioned, the direction is just a letter of advice giving the Minister's general sanction——

Not on this section.

Of course. I am all for Deputy de Valera being afraid of some new power, but there is no new power in this except the power to legalise what the Department have been doing. The Department so far have been spending money illegally and sending out directions for which they have no statutory authority.

I am rather intrigued at Deputy Sheldon's suggestion that the word "direction" means advice, and if it is advice that advice becomes legally mandatory——

No, I did not say that. Legal from the point of view of the expense incurred.

I am speaking of the legal point. We are legislating for the first time, to my recollection over my 27 years in this House, on quite a new basis: live horse and you will get grass. There is a section, first of all, which says that extra additional duties can be imposed on certain officers for regional areas not yet fixed.

The Minister says: "Do not be afraid of this section because although I am going to give directions that there will be ceilings fixed there is going to be an amendment to the labour relations to include a right of appeal to the servants of local authorities in the Labour Court". There is a section here dealing with the service of people being ended at a certain time and the Minister has said that that will be dealt with in the amendment to the Superannuation Act. Then to cover a lot of blemishes and to cover the objections we have to this process of putting local authorities into a mincemeat machine and delivering them over baled and packed to the Custom House, the Minister says: "Do not worry, you are going to have an amendment to the County Management Act." Therefore, this Bill is to go through the House and become an Act with all its faults which we all admit, which we all fear, on the promises that all the objections that we have will be rectified. Up to the present, we have reached 20 sections of a 60-odd section Bill on the amendment of four other existing Acts.

I would warn the Labour Deputies who have withdrawn this—and I speak from the point of view of the local authority representatives, one of the 45 members to whom applications come —until such time as this amendment is brought about to enable the workers of local authorities appeal to the Labour Court, the position is going to be this, and the Minister has not hidden it from us; where this advice which is legally binding on the local authority is sent and one wants to accede to the advice, the Minister's sanction not being forthcoming, a demand comes from an organisation representing a certain section of the local authority workers. We already have a circular saying that for this specific class of workers, the ceiling in wages is this. Representatives come to the manager or to the manager plus the representatives and say: "We want to make an application for an increase."

The Deputy is completely misinterpreting what I said. I said it was the ceiling beyond which you could not go without my authority. Up to that ceiling you need not bother your head coming near me.

I am not talking of up to the ceiling; I am talking of exceeding it.

They will be in exactly the same position as they are now. They must come to me for sanction.

I have no experience on the receiving end——

Do you know anything about the Fire Brigade claim?

I know a great deal more about the Dublin local authority than Deputy Davin.

Does he know anything about the ceiling of 2d. a day which Deputy MacEntee imposed.

Let us not enter into a discussion on general terms.

The amendment is withdrawn.

That is a different thing. It is a technical matter.

I understand this amendment to mean something and it must have meant something to the Labour Deputies when they put it down. Up to this moment, and while this is still a Bill we had certain rights as local authorities and if the Deputies will take the Bill and read the description of the section in regard to restriction of power to assign remuneration——

It was after reading the section that we put in our amendment, which you did not do.

Deputy Desmond has a very limited mind. I put in amendments to a number of sections and I do not think the Deputy objects to those amendments. I accept the principle of a lot of the amendments that the Deputies have put in. We all cannot have the same approach because we view it from different angles according to our own experience and our own knowledge. This is a section to restrict power to assign remuneration that has not existed up to the present.

It has, always.

It has existed only in so far as there was a necessity to apply to the Minister for sanction but it did not prevent a local authority making an application arising from an agreement with these workers.

This does not in the least, and it does not deduct 2d. a day, which you did.

If Deputy Desmond could dilute some of that bitterness which he carries around with him all the time, he might be able to approach this as we have attempted to approach it, in a constructive manner. Deputy Desmond might be very sorry in a year from now that he has taken the line he is taking now. Furthermore, I do not think I interrupted the Deputy when he was speaking. My interpretation of this section, not as a lawyer but as a layman with considerable experience of a local authority that has had day-to-day contact and friction with the Local Government Department, and, knowing what this whole Bill purports to be, leads me to the conclusion that it is objectionable if it is not going to be amended. If the Minister would agree to amend the section, to say that this will not in any way adversely affect the present situation until the amendment comes to enable the workers to have recourse to the Labour Court I would be satisfied. However, I agree with Deputy de Valera that this kind of undertaking and promise will not be the law because they will not be executed in the Bill when it becomes an Act.

The Minister says there would be no difference to the present position if this section is passed as it is. I say a direction here, whether he classes it an advice or not, is bound to be honoured by the local authorities.

Why? What would happen a local authority that ignored a direction? They would just give the answer "no." That is all.

There is no fine imposed if they ignore a direction.

But the Minister is going to make directions. One direction may be that the ceiling wages of a certain type of worker is to be X£.

That is already being done.

It does not operate all over.

No. For instance Dublin Corporation is completely different from the rest of the country. The Dublin workers get different wages from those of county council workers. Is that not admitted?

This does not say it is going to be all-over. He could issue a direction saying: County Donegal, so much, County Mayo so much, and so on.

"The Minister may give any directions"—it is not limited or specified—"regarding the considerations that should govern levels of remuneration of servants generally."

"That should govern." It does not say "must govern."

"...regarding the considerations that should govern levels of remuneration of servants of a specified class, description or grade, the servant being in a class, description or grade." What does that mean?

That is what we are trying to find out for the last five or six hours.

Does that not mean it fixes the ceiling?

Without my sanction that is the ceiling.

You do not have to waste time asking for sanction.

If that is the case, that the position is no different from what it was, what is the purpose of the section?

I have already suggested the purpose.

Perhaps the Deputy will tell me.

To legalise expenditure that is being incurred at present in the Department.

The Minister will not subscribe to that suggestion. As I said before, if there is anything at all to object to in it, I say it would be far better, rather than accept the section or the promise of the Labour Court recourse coming some time, to hold this Bill back, introduce the County Management (Amendment) Act, introduce the Superannuation Act——

That will be done this session.

That is getting away from the amendment and the section.

Deputy Desmond seems to think nobody is entitled to speak except himself. I am not indulging in opposition for the purpose of holding this legislation up. I object to this Bill because I am convinced it is not a good measure. It is a measure being drafted for the past 20 years by the officials in the Custom House in order that they will hamstring every local authority——

The Minister is responsible for this Bill

When we were discussing this amendment, it was agreed by the House, I think, that we three Deputies here represent the local authorities' employees' interests, Deputy Briscoe, the local authorities themselves and Deputy de Valera the official side.

Major de Valera

I did not say I represented anyone.

The legal side.

Major de Valera

No. We made cases from different angles.

We from the local authority employees' side put in an amendment and the other people did not. What affects the local authority servants also affects, according to this Bill, the local authority officials and apparently it is accepted that the local authority officials will do nicely under the new Bill but as regards the local authority servants we were not satisfied, representing their interests, that they were going to get a fair deal. Therefore, we put in an amendment and the Minister has given us two assurances. The most important one, in my opinion, is the one in which he states that the Labour Court conciliation and arbitration machinery will be drawn up for employees of local authorities. The suggestion that we are just taking somebody's word for it and that we are being fooled by the idea live horse and you will get grass is not true, as Deputy Briscoe has said. If a Minister here gives a promise to the House, I am sure he intends to carry out that promise. The other promise he has given is that he would have the particular section checked up and see if he could fit in an amendment to suit what we are trying to have done. That was also accepted by us. I cannot see why this thing must be debated all night since the only people apparently who are interested in having an amendment put in have accepted the assurance given by the Minister.

See amendment No. 15.

Major de Valera

I think we should get back to the spirit in which we were dealing with this matter. My own attitude to this would be that having regard to the wide wording of these two sections, I would be very loath to let them in, unless I knew concretely how we stood—and this is without offence to the Minister. I accept what Deputy Tully said about the Minister. That is not the point, as Deputy Tully will appreciate. The point is that there are very wide powers that go in and once in they are in and we cannot go back on them so easily. That is why I question this so much from one angle.

Deputy Sheldon has raised a point of a certain amount of difficulty—the word "directions". There are several questions in answer to Deputy Sheldon. First of all, his idea that this is merely to give statutory authority from the point of view of the Department of Finance, does not hold water. There is no necessity to have statutory authority for the Minister or his Department to write letters, send out circulars or any of the other incidental routine business of the day. It is more or less generally implied in their powers. Deputy Sheldon is an expert on these departmental accounts and all these things, but I think a fair interpretation would be that the Minister and his Department have the normal ordinary powers of acting that due course of administration requires.

A thing I am not clear on—and perhaps Deputy Tully or one of the Deputies with experience can help me —is what is the status of these regulations that were sent out heretofore. I will deal with the whole history of this section when we come to the section and there is a very interesting bit of legislation there, but what is the status of the directions that are being sent out or the circulars or directives? At the moment they are not mandatory. I gather from what Deputy Sheldon says that they are instructions or advice; they are not mandatory.

That is what they would be on this too.

Major de Valera

There I disagree with Deputy Sheldon. The effect of this makes them mandatory.

Major de Valera

I am bold enough to say that the effect of this Bill will be to make them mandatory. I am not sure that I understand the position but, if Deputy Sheldon is right, then at the present moment any directions outside the main sections, except the amendment of the 1945 Act, the 1941 Act and so forth, and all the sections involved there, anything sent over and above that, the circulars and so on, are in the nature of general advisory directives.

"May" is the operative word.

Major de Valera

This is the present position. They are general advisory directives. That is all they are. I do not know what the Deputy is referring to. "May" where?

"May" is the operative word in the directives so far being sent out.

Major de Valera

They are permissive and they are advisory. Under this, I think there is no doubt about it, they will be mandatory and, as Deputy Briscoe pointed out, the marginal note to the section reads: "Restrictions on power to assign remuneration." There is no doubt about it there is a restriction on the present local authorities' powers in this section and the objectionable parts from a certain point of view—I say from a certain point of view—are contained in (a) and (b) and the Deputies saw that when they moved this amendment.

I am not by any means trying to force the Deputies to alter their position. I am not. I want us to realise what we have. I would like to take this attitude with the Minister: "We are very glad to take your offer of having this on Report and we will see it on Report." That is only an ordinary, normal, sensible thing to do with any Minister who makes that offer in the ordinary way.

What would we like to see there? There are really two questions in this amendment. One is the question of what would be the right thing to do? Would it be a good thing to give the Custom House or the Minister the power to regulate all these things at the top? I will say that up to a point some co-ordinating power is necessary. What power will we give them and will we give them this power? That is question No. 1. Let us be clear what the power is. Question No. 2 is: Does the wording of this draft which will become law when it is passed give that power, no less or no more? I am leaving it to the Deputies on the first question. On the second question I think the wording is very much too broad. I dislike this word "direction". I am afraid of it.

I said we would support the amendment substantially as well and I think that is our position as fairly as I can state it. The Minister will consider it and we will take that.

I made up my mind for more than one reason when the discussion on this Bill started that I would prefer to listen attentively to the case for and against the various sections and the amendments but, whether I am different from other Deputies or not, I find it extremely difficult as the discussion goes on, unnecessarily prolonged, to listen in silence to some of the things that have been said from the Opposition Benches.

The Minister half an hour ago made a policy statement which commits the Government as well as himself to an amendment to the Industrial Relations Act which will enable the employees of local authorities, the organised workers employed by all the local authorities, and not only of the Dublin Corporation, in future, if they cannot get a satisfactory settlement of their claims at local level, to use the conciliation machinery in the first instance and perhaps later, if necessary, the arbitration machinery of the Labour Court for the purpose of settling these claims and disputes.

Do not Deputy de Valera and Deputy Smith, in particular, from his experience, know that that will relieve the officials of the Custom House and perhaps the officers of local authorities of a considerable amount of embarrassment in future? It will relieve the officials in the Custom House of the necessity to interfere in the way they used to interfere and were obliged by law to interfere.

The very fact that these amendments will be brought in to enable the employees of local authorities to seek, where necessary, the use of the conciliation and arbitration machinery of the Labour Court will, in my opinion, be an inducement to the local authority —which, I hope, in future will be the members of the body instead of the county manager—to settle these— some of them minor—claims at local level.

I would appeal to Deputy Briscoe and to Deputy de Valera to approach discussion of the other amendments and Section 25 on the basis of reality. Deputy Briscoe admitted, to my surprise, yesterday evening when he was speaking on one of these sections that he approached the consideration of this whole matter on the basis of suspicion.

Not against the Minister.

I was surprised to hear that admission from the Deputy. I would appeal to him, because I have been an attentive listener here, to realise that the problems that concern the local authorities of the country are not similar to the problems that he has much experience of dealing with in the Dublin Corporation and to realise for the remainder of the discussion on this amendment and on every other section of this Bill that Dublin Corporation does not mean the local authorities of the Republic.

They are included in the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 15 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 20 stand part of the Bill."

I would like to draw the attention of the Dáil to the fact that there was an amendment by me to the section.

Major de Valera

Let us take it on the basis of reality. The White Paper reads:

"Under Section 19 of the Local Government Act, 1941, the appropriate Minister may make regulations governing the remuneration applying to offices. It is, however, impracticable to apply a general control by means of regulations to all local offices. Powers of control otherwise than by regulation are contained in Section 30 of the 1941 Act for major offices and in Section 42 of the Local Government Act, 1946, for other offices and employments. The latter section has not worked satisfactorily and it is proposed in Section 20 of the Bill to substitute a single provision applicable to all offices and employments under local authorities.

Section 70 of the Local Government Act, 1925, prohibits any person from holding any office or being employed for remuneration under any local authority while he is or within 12 months after he has ceased to be a member of such local authority or any local authority in the same or an adjoining county or county borough. It is considered that eligibility for minor employment by a local authority is objectionable only where a person is or recently was a member of the employing authority. It is proposed, therefore, in Section 21 that the disqualification of a person from employment as a minor officer or servant shall operate only in respect of membership of a local authority, as defined in Section 2 (2) of the Act of 1941, by which he is employed, with the exception of paragraph (c) of that sub-section. This exception is to ensure that membership of advisory and visiting committees will not of itself involve the disqualifications of Section 70 of the Act of 1925."

Now that is the White Paper. Here we go one step further in the process of taking powers from the local authorities and putting it into the hands of the central authority—the central Government. The first thing we have to look at is Section 10 of the 1941 Act. Under Section 10 of the 1941 Act:—

"Any officer of a local authority who is aggrieved by a decision of such local authority in relation to his remuneration, duties or conditions of service, may appeal against such decision to the appropriate Minister in the prescribed manner and on notice to such local authority and the appropriate Minister, after consideration of such appeal and of the representations (if any) of such local authority in relation thereto, shall, etc."

Then it went on to provide that every local authority may appoint such officers and employ such servants as are necessary for the performance of the functions for the time being of such local authority; and that every officer appointed or servant employed by a local authority shall perform such duties and be paid such remuneration as such local authority may from time to time assign to him. The section provides for an appeal and then there is a further provision that the Minister may give a direction either refusing the appeal of the officer or giving such local authority such direction as the appropriate Minister considers will remedy the grievance of such an officer.

That is the Act of 1941, remember.

Major de Valera

It is immaterial who passed these Acts or what they are. This is a question of an evolving here of a certain situation which I think we should not let evolve any further. In the 1941 scheme the situation was that you had local authorities who were empowered to employ officers and servants for the purpose of their lawful and proper duties and incident to those powers they had the ordinary power of remuneration. There was the power of appeal under sub-section (2) of Section 10 and mark the way it was: first of all it was the employees and the local authority. A power of appeal was given to the employees who could appeal to the Minister, and the Minister had the power to determine the appeal and give a mandatory direction to the local authority in consequence thereof. Under Section 30 of the same Act there was reference to office holders—there was this provision which was referred to in the White Paper and which gave to the Minister the power of determining alterations of remuneration of holders. The section says:—

"Where in relation to any major office regulations under this part of this Act determining the remuneration of holders are not for the time being in force, a local authority shall not fix or alter the remuneration of holders generally or of any particular holder of the said office without the sanction of the appropriate Minister".

In connection with Section 10, there were certain overriding directive powers about which I shall not go into detail.

Under Section 19.

Major de Valera

As amended. There were powers of direction in regard to office holders. The Minister could make a lot of regulations determining the position. What I want to bring out is the scheme as it was then. The scheme first of all was of the local authority employing and fixing remuneration. The Minister had a kind of general directive power. He could by regulation direct in the case of appeal. Now look at how that evolved over the years. The Minister was more in the position of a custodian and he supervised rather than immediately controlled. Then you had the 1946 Act. Under the 1946 Act there were more stringent measures. It takes a different way. Up to that you had, say, supervisory control by the Custom House but the local authority were fairly free in their relationship with the employees subject only to the fatherly overseeing of the Minister and of his power of control. Under the 1941 Act the local authorities had certain powers but under the 1946 Act the powers were taken away. What I fear is that we are going to repeat further in this Bill the evolving process of the previous Acts; the whole tenor of this section seems to be a taking away of power from the local authority. I do not want to delay the House by repeating what has been said already but it seems to me that the local authorities will be subject in every detail to directions which can be conveyed by letter from the Custom House, and that these will be mandatory. That is the position as I see it.

May I point out something? If the Deputy were in court and if he quoted Section 10 of the 1941 Act would the Deputy as a counsel not be well satisfied to go before the judge on the general question of directions outside Section 10? Would he not say to the judge: "Why, if all the directions are mandatory, is it not made specific in the 1941 Act"? Would he not agree that he had a very strong case if he were going to argue on that basis in court?

Major de Valera

I am not dismissing the Deputy's point but I do not think I would have a very strong case.

In spite of the fact that the section we are now discussing is amending Section 10.

Major de Valera

Yes, it is amending Section 10.

Read paragraph 3 of Section 10.

Major de Valera

And read Section 10 of this Bill. Read sub-section (1):—

"The power of a local authority under Section 10 of the Act of 1941 to assign remuneration to an officer shall not be exercised except in accordance with such one or more of the following as may be appropriate from time to time:"

Then follows order, regulation, direction and sanction. Now I quite agree with the Deputy that sub-section (3) here specifically relates only to sub-section (2). I think sub-section (3) is perhaps, strictly speaking, unnecessary in that section. Coming back to the original point, I am afraid, and I think it will be so held, that the word "direction" is mandatory else why should it be necessary to give the Minister power to give directions at all. If the Minister will say that the word "direction" is not mandatory and that he will consider an amendment to that effect to make sure it is not mandatory I would, of course, accept that.

I said that two hours ago.

Major de Valera

What then will the directions be?

They will be merely advices.

Major de Valera

I will accept that. The Minister then will amend the section to ensure that directions will only be advisory.

I said I would consider amending it.

Mr. de Valera

The Minister will consider amending it on the Report Stage. Is that the position?

That is the position.

Mr. de Valera

It is the Minister's intention that it will not be mandatory.

I am merely giving advice, nothing but advice. I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy, but he appears to have two arguments. First of all, he thinks I am denuding local authorities of some powers which they have at the moment: on the contrary, on this section I am giving them much more power than they have had heretofore, for the simple reason that in the past, whenever a local authority wanted to grant an increase of 6d. per week in the wages or salaries of any of their officials, that proposal had to be sent to the Custom House for sanction; I am now giving them discretion inasmuch as they need not come to me unless they increase beyond a certain figure. They will have absolute discretion within the ambit of the figures I will give them. I am not fixing the rates of wages or the salaries for any of the officials. Is not that much more power than they have ever had? I am telling them that within a certain discretion they need not come to me for sanction. I am going further and giving an undertaking that if there is any dispute between employer and employee they need not come to the Minister; they can go to the Labour Court. I do not see what the Deputy is worried about.

Major de Valera

I am very glad to hear what the Minister has just said. It is very satisfactory as far as it goes. He cannot, however, escape the fact that actually in the section the Minister is taking greater power of control over local authorities.

That is a distorted view.

Major de Valera

What the Minister says, in essence, is that he is taking these powers but he will really use them to confirm more powers. The intention is good, but I see certain dangers. Now I do not like the word "direction" and I think the Minister could do all this by means of the time-honoured and established Statutory Rule and Order.

I was merely following my predecessor when he used it in 1941.

Major de Valera

That may be, but I do not like it. I would ask the Minister in general terms and for the reasons he has given to reconsider all this, especially if there is to be consultation. I still cannot see why it cannot be done by regulation.

Mr. Tully

Did the Deputy ever try to have it done before?

Major de Valera

Deputy Tully was not here when these points were discussed. It so happens that since I came into this House I have consistently opposed delegation. I have been successful in a number of instances. However, that is not relevant and it does not help the argument here. Either something is worth doing or it is not worth doing; that is the point. I am urging on the Minister to try to keep the system of delegating legislation within the bounds already there and not to extend the bounds.

In view of the Minister's last explanation, will he agree to take the word "restriction" out and put in "enlargement" in its place in the definition of the section? I will put an amendment down to that effect in order that the Custom House will not subsequently interpret this as a power of restriction.

The Deputy appreciates that is a matter for the draftsman.

Major de Valera

It is also a question of interpretation.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 21.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In page 9, line 48, to insert "unless such body has functions other than functions restricted to advice, considerations, report or consultation" after "1941".

Sub-paragraph (a) of Section 21 of this Bill would exempt members of local authorities referred to in Section 2, sub-section (2) (c) of the 1941 Act from disqualification for office or employment under Section 70 of the 1925 Act. This exemption has been found to be too wide, as it would permit members of such local authorities as a joint mental hospital board to be officers or servants of that board. That goes beyond the intention of the section, which was merely to exempt members of such minor bodies as visiting committees, advisory committees, and such committees from disqualification. The amendment will limit the exemption to membership of local authorities in functions other than those of advice, consideration, report or consultation.

My remarks will be very brief because they are directed to one point only. The Minister has stressed that the purpose of this Bill is to clarify local government legislation. If he thinks paragraph (a) of Section 21 clarifies anything, I hope it will be a long time before he starts codification. Surely some more easily understood phrase could have been found than all this elaborate stuff. One has to consult two previous Acts to discover what in the name of goodness is meant.

The Deputy knows better than I do that I have nothing whatsoever to do with this. It is the parliamentary draftsman.

The Minister is responsible to this House.

He is responsible for the contents of the Bill, not for the wording.

Major de Valera

This is a new principle.

It is too late in relation to this Bill, but I hope that in future when the Minister gets a Bill of this kind from his officials or the parliamentary draftsman he will send it back; if he does not do so, the House will be forced to do it in the end.

I will certainly consider that.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:—

To delete all words from and including "or" in line 51 down to and including "other" in line 53, and substitute "a member of such".

Up to the present, a member of a local authority seeking election and being defeated in that election is debarred from returning to work as an employee with a local authority for 12 months. While he is a member of a local authority he should not, of course, be also an employee. But if he is defeated in a local or general election and if work is available for him he should not be debarred from taking up employment for 12 months. I would like to have the Minister's views on that.

I am afraid I cannot accept the amendment because it would lead to abuses. As we all know, one of the powers which local authorities have at the moment is the appointment of rate collectors. I can see a county councillor resigning immediately a vacancy arises for a rate collector and his colleagues appointing him.

They might all resign, too.

I want to prevent that abuse.

It might not be abuse.

Deputy Desmond asks us to consider the case of a man who was a road worker and who was in the employment of the local authority for years before he became a member of the county council. Suppose he wants to cease being a member of the county council and wants to regain his employment. What was he doing when he was a member?

I did not say that he should go back. I said that if work was available for him——

He must have procured some other employment while he was a member. Surely his other employment would not terminate on his ceasing to be a member of a local authority? The amendment would lead to that very serious abuse which I have mentioned, that is, of a person becoming a member of a local authority for the purpose of getting the influence of his friends, and possibly the influence of county manager, to procure a position. That was my principal reason. I admit that, in very exceptional cases, there may be hardships such as those mentioned by Deputy Desmond but there is a danger of that abuse. Even as matters stand at the moment, we continuously hear protests about relations of members of local authorities procuring employment. I wonder what would happen if we found that a member resigned to take up employment with the council of which he had just ceased to be a member? For these reasons, I am sorry I cannot see my way to accept the amendment.

I happen to know men who at the present time are members of local authorities. The Minister may ask me what is keeping them. I will tell him. I know men who had been working as road workers for the county council and who have not been able to get employment with farmers or any one around them. I know that to be a fact. I can see the Minister's point. We can go a long way on the road together as regards stamping out any form of "pull," or anything like that. However, there are occasions when these individuals stand for re-election and, if they are not re-elected, why should they not be able to get the employment in question? We are told that, under the Constitution, every man is supposed to be given fair treatment as regards employment. If, in his generosity, the Minister would say that he had decided to increase the money for road grants in a particular county and if a man who had been a member of a local authority for some years in that county finds that the people have not re-elected him, and if such a man had formerly been working for the county council, why should he be put on one side when there is employment available for him as a result of the extra money to be spent on roads in that particular area just because he had been a member of a local authority? He might have given the best years of his life as a member of the local authority. Any man in public life knows that anyone who is a member of a local authority and works hard gets very little compensation for the work he puts into it. Why should such a man be told—

The Deputy understands that he is only debarred for 12 months?

That is the point. Under this glorified Constitution of ours, why should it be that a man, maybe a man with a young family, is debarred from such employment—even if it is there on offer by the county surveyor or the deputy county surveyor —just because he served a number of years on a local authority? Why should he be set aside to live on the air or the wind for 12 months and then, at the end of 12 months, go back?

Is the Deputy merely referring to employees of local authorities who became members of a local authority and wished to go back to their job when they ceased to be members of the local authority?

In the case of those who had been previously employed by a council——

If the Deputy would confine it to that, it may be possible to treat it as leave of absence during membership.

Why 12 months, anyhow? If there is justification at all for a period, why should it be 12 months?

When that 12 months was put into the Act, it did not refer to the class of employees Deputy Desmond has in mind. He is now merely referring to former employees of a local authority. I did not put it into the Act. I do not know who put it in. It has been the law down through the years

I do not care who put it in. Why should it be as it is?

It is good, for the reason that it deprives these gentlemen who may wish to enter into corrupt practices with local authorities to procure employment for them, of such an opportunity. However, I can see a lot of force in what Deputy Desmond says in relation, say, to a road worker—that when he ceases to be a member of the authority he wants to go back to his former employment. It might be possible to treat the period during which he was a member as a leave of absence.

I am amazed at the opinion of the Minister as to the gullibility of the members of this House. A very serious principle is being discussed. The Labour Deputies have put down an amendment. With other colleagues, I am down as opposing the section because of the principle involved. In the first place, the Minister says it is not right for a man who has secured election to a local authority to be able to become an employee afterwards because he may get the position through, if you like, the help of his colleagues. Why should the local authority representatives be any different from a Dáil or Seanad representative? If you become a member of the Dáil——

——you certainly cannot become a civil servant.

——you can become a member of the highest order. You can become a member of the judiciary— and you can resign immediately to take up the position. Why should the legal fraternity have a law for themselves?

Because the member of the legal fraternity, as the Deputy knows, is not appointed to the position he has secured by his colleagues here in the House nor by his colleagues of the Bar.

The Government of the day appoint the member of the House to the Bench. If anybody wants to tell me that if a member of a Party is appointed by the Government to which he belongs to become a member of the judiciary and that he is not being appointed by his colleagues then I do not know how to spell "cat." The Minister says it applies there only. There are many official positions in the Civil Service to which members of this House have been appointed immediately on resignation—and they have resigned only after being offered the job. The Minister does not apply the same arguments there as he does to the member of the local authority. The Minister is anchoring his undertaking in relation to this amendment to a member of a local authority who was previously in the employment of the local authority. Should it not apply to any member of the local authority who was elected and who on being defeated or ceasing to go forward was looking for a job? Why limit it only to an individual who was previously in the employment? A man may have been unemployed for many years, perhaps he could not get a job anywhere, and he stands for election and is elected to the local authority. Afterwards, when he ceases to be a member either by resigning or because he is defeated in another election or does not go forward, he is to be debarred from a job if it becomes vacant and even if he is suitable. Surely if there is to be justice——

That embargo was placed there in the 1925 Act and the Deputy was a member of a Party which introduced many amending Acts since but they did not amend that. I am giving them something they never got before.

I was not a member of this House in 1925.

No, but you were a member of the Party that was here for 17 years.

Neither I nor the Fianna Fáil Party were members of the House in 1925.

Well, they did get over 20 years to change it.

And the Act to which the Minister is now pointing the finger of scorn was enacted——

I did not point my finger at it with scorn——

Anybody can, at the beginning of a State, make legislation which will require to be amended in changed circumstances. As far as I can see, the time has come when the ordinary person who is a representative of a local authority should have the same rights as members of the Oireachtas and when, as in this case, the man concerned happens to be a workingman, why should he be denied the rights given to a professional man? I want to say to the Minister that we oppose this section because we believe this principle is wrong and there should be some amendment to take away a number of disqualifications. Some of these questions will come up later concerning the type of individual who is prevented from going forward because, under the Poor Law Acts, he was once given assistance. However, we are dealing with this particular amendment, and I do not know that the Labour members should withdraw until they get an assurance that will go further than what the Minister has said so far.

I want to make this suggestion to the Minister with regard to the amendment. He instanced a particular case. As it is, rate collectors are the only officers or employees that the elected representatives can appoint. Would it be possible in some way to indicate that where any employment was not in the gift of the elected representatives, the 12 months would not apply? In other words, only offices which are reserved functions.

Of course they would change from time to time.

Well, that would cover it. The officers or servants which are reserved functions.

Are not reserved functions.

This is a prohibition.

The manager could appoint him but not his colleagues?

Yes. If the appointment is being made by the Appointment Commissioners I do not see why a man if he has ceased to be a member should not be open to get that appointment. The 12 months is put in to prevent corruption, as the Minister says. Surely it is only where elected members of a local authority——

I have a very open mind on the whole thing.

Major de Valera

We are glad to hear it.

What is the difference between, say, a member of a local body offering his son to the council, and perhaps securing his appointment as rate collector and the man himself resigning and getting the post himself?

The Deputy knows there is a big difference.

I was just going to ask if the Minister could explain this sub-section a little bit more fully. I agree with the remarks which have been made in the main by Deputy MacBride and I think by some other Deputies in relation to this Bill generally. It is exceedingly hard to follow it. It is practically impossible to follow it, unless the earlier Acts of 1925, 1941 and 1946 are available. I must confess that even as a lawyer I find it very difficult to follow it even when I have the 1941 Act in front of me. Deputy Briscoe addressed himself to this amendment as a matter of principle. I think he possibly anticipated his opposition to the section when dealing with the amendment. It may be that there is a principle involved which was imported into local government legislation in Section 70 of the 1925 Act, but as I read Section 21 of the present Bill, what the Minister is doing is relieving to some extent the impositions or the disqualifications which were imposed by Section 70 of the 1925 Act.

Section 21 (b) of this Bill is intended to provide that the prohibition shall not apply in certain specific cases. The White Paper explains it in this manner: "This exception is to ensure that membership of advisory and visiting committees will not of itself involve the disqualifications of Section 70 of the Act of 1925." The amendment proposed by the Deputies who have put their names to it is, I think, for the purpose of broadening the exception which the Minister is making.

The only reason I am intervening at this stage is that I am a little confused myself with regard to the whole meaning of this and after Deputy Briscoe's contribution, when he saw some important matter of principle involved and when he addressed himself to this amendment on that basis—that the Minister appeared to be imposing some further restrictions—I thought it was time to ask the Minister to give some explanation because as I read the section——

He is not removing enough disqualifications.

That is a different thing.

If I might shorten the discussion—I would be prepared to bring in an amendment permitting any person to obtain employment immediately he ceases being a member of a local body but, of course, that would not apply to a member of a local body while he is still a member of the local authority. I would be prepared to meet the House in that way.

Major de Valera

That is very fair.

There is another point of the same kind which arose in the Dublin Corporation.

What, again?

This man was a vocational teacher and he became a member of a local authority. He resigned and he had to wait a period before he could get teaching work again.

Surely that would come under the Vocational Education Act and not local government.

In withdrawing this amendment I, on behalf of my colleagues Deputies Tully and Casey, wish to thank the Minister for the way he has met it, and to express the hope that it will work out satisfactorily.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 21 agreed to.
SECTION 22.
Question proposed: "That Section 22 stand part of the Bill."

Perhaps the Minister would explain Section 22. The White Paper gives a good deal of information but there is some further information which members would like to have. It refers to powers, functions and duties of surveyors and assistant surveyors of local authorities under various statutes from the Grand Jury Act of 1836 to the Local Government Act of 1946, but nowhere does it say what the particular powers, functions and duties are. I went through the 1946 Act but I could not find any particular power, function or duty. I did not go back, I admit, to the Grand Jury Act.

Look at Section 34 of the Local Government Act of 1925. The position is this. At the moment only county surveyors may prosecute for offences such as cutting hedges or barbed wire and some other offences under the Summary Jurisdiction Act, so far as I can recollect. We have counties at the moment where we have no county surveyor and as a result we are prohibited from prosecuting offenders under Section 34 of the Local Government Act of 1925. It is merely to centralise functions such as this by taking them over from the county surveyors and giving them to the local authorities that we have this section.

Mr. J. Tully

It is not purely for the protection of the county surveyor himself?

No. That would not be right.

Major de Valera

I think the position is this. Under the very old Acts they gave statutory powers to officers. Quite obviously the local authority is the authority now and there is a new conception that these officers are now the servants or agents of the local authority and this is designed to bring about more flexibility. I do not think there is any particular danger in this section. The powers, functions and duties are specified in this and it does not affect an officer's powers, rights or remuneration.

I am not quite sure about the last part of Deputy de Valera's statement. Did not some of these officers referred to in Section 22 have a right to collect certain specified fees, and I suppose that will be regulated if these fees exist?

There is one power which I am not sure is covered. I think the power to grant a building permit along a main road under some Local Government Act——

Surely it is the Roads and Highways Act.

Will that be transferred?

Major de Valera

Arising out of what Deputy Briscoe has said, I have a vague recollection of some case recently that got some publicity about fees or remuneration or that kind of thing for particular work done. Is there any point in that? Would any particular officer or servant because of that lose substantially, financially or in any way?

Absolutely no. There are no such fees.

Major de Valera

I am satisfied if the Minister says so.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 23.

I move amendment No. 18:—

To delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-section:—

(1) Where—

(a) a person, at the commencement of this section, has a period of pensionable local service for the purposes of Part II of the Local Government (Superannuation) Act, 1948 (No. 4 of 1948), and

(b) during any period or periods, being a period or periods not reckonable for the purposes of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1954, such person performed the duties of a local authority by virtue of an appointment made under statute,

the period referred to in paragraph (a) of this sub-section and the period or periods referred to in paragraph (b) of this sub-section may be aggregated and deemed to be service for the purposes of the said Part II.

This proposed amendment deals with sub-section (1) of the Bill. As it stands at the moment the sub-section only covers one particular individual but there are three other individuals in a similar position and the amendment is merely to bring them into line with the individual concerned in the sub-section so as to cover the four of them.

This is under Section 23?

I do not wish to mention names.

Does it affect a city manager?

Major de Valera

There are certain cases still uncaptured by this amendment and if it was desired to capture them some simple amendment would do so. The wording of the section refers to "Saorstát Éireann". On the technicality of the "Saorstát Éireann", the Saorstát ended technically in 1937, I think.

We are dealing with amendment No. 18.

Major de Valera

It is on the section, but you are deleting sub-section (1) and substituting this. Does it cover the point I was making?

It does. "Saorstát Éireann" goes out.

Major de Valera

Does that cover, or is it wide enough to take in any period of service?

I am so advised.

Major de Valera

There is another problem here which might be worth considering. There were circumstances where a member of the Civil Service was transferred to duty with a local authority and there were under various Acts and statutes provisions enabling him to take his pension with him but these provisions are subject, I think, to the consent of a number of people, the local authority and the Minister for Finance in particular. There are cases—I know of one which I can give the Minister specifically—where there is a departmental rule that does not allow the pension to be taken except when there is a service of ten years. That is my information—that the consent while given by the local authority was not given by the Minister because there was some matter of months in regard to this local rule which is merely a conventional internal rule about ten years' service. Had the transferee known this was going to be the case he could have waited until he had ten years.

I think that is a matter which will arise under the Local Government (Superannuation) Bill.

Major de Valera

I am told most of these cases can be met by a simple amendment—where you had the word "and" between (a) and (b) to substitute the word "or". There are two concurrent clauses and you would make them alternative. I know the amendment is here and that has to be related to the amendment. Perhaps if I might make separate representations to the Minister in regard to the individual case involved it might be the best way to do it.

Arising out of what Deputy Major de Valera has said —I think the case to which he is referring is one in which I have already made representations to the Minister and I would be glad if he would discuss the matter with me so that we would compare notes. I do think that it may be discussed on the Superannuation Bill.

Major de Valera

I think there are a number of cases and yours may be a different one.

No, I think it is the same one.

Major de Valera

I do not know how you can know that.

The Minister's amendment, I take it, is intended to cover a number of cases.

They are mentioned in the White Paper.

The Minister has stated it is not desirable to mention names, but I submit it would be better that we should have the names and that the reasons given here for what we are proposing should be on the record. I do not want to embarrass anybody, but I do not see that it should be any embarrassment to have that done.

I would prefer not to give the names, but one of these relates to a man who was formerly a commissioner and who was never a civil servant.

The City Management Acts did not specify an age limit for city managers.

That is just debatable. I think the Minister introducing it actually said that it did.

That is coming back again to what Deputy de Valera said about what a Minister says in this House and what is included in the Act. The Minister in introducing the City Management Act did say, possibly, that there was to be an age limit but he did not include it in the Bill and the result now is that by reason of certain action taken in an area under the administration of a city manager the court held, or I understand that the court is to hold, that he has an appointment for life or until he resigns or otherwise.

There is no court decision.

His case is sub judice, if you like.

This does not apply to him anyway.

If the Deputy would hold over his argument for the discussion on Section 24, we will come to the age limits.

What worries me is that I think Section 24 should be where Section 23 is and Section 23 should be where Section 24 is. Then we would have things in logical sequence.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 23, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 24.
Question proposed: "That Section 24 stand part of the Bill."

I do not know whether it is fair to prescribe the treatment of servants of local authorities by retrospective legislation. Many persons were appointed to certain positions and no age limit was fixed. I hope the Minister will agree with me that an age limit of 65 is rather antiquated, that with the development of health services and improvement in the standard of living the span of life has somewhat lengthened. At least, that is the view of insurance companies.

It may appear longer.

There are many men of 65 to 70 years and upwards who are as able as they ever were and, in many cases, because of the experience they have had, even better men. There are leaders of nations whose ages are far in excess of 65. In connection with the judiciary the retiring age is not 65. In particular, where persons were appointed to positions in which it may suit them to carry on for a few years over the age of 65 and where they are able and willing and competent to carry out the duties of the office, it is unfair for us to bring in legislation compulsorily to retire these people without proper consideration or regard to the circumstances.

A man may have married at a certain time in life. His family may be almost reared and his responsibility for them may be almost ended. He may want to complete the education of some of his children in a profession or otherwise. We come along and say that because he is 65 years of age, and for no other reason, he must retire.

At one time an opportunity was afforded to people to opt. Deputy Moran referred to it earlier. They could opt to take a certain line which would guarantee them certain pensions or to continue to carry on their duties on the basis of a statutory right they had arising out of their appointment.

I should like to hear Deputy de Valera or some other legal luminary dealing with this type of legislation. I do not mind if the position is that from now on new appointees may have to retire at a certain age, but that should not apply to persons with whom there is already a contractual obligation.

Are we to set the headline now that the State may lay down regulations governing the intake of persons to service and a person takes an appointment on those conditions and rights, nothwithstanding other offers of employment or other vocations that may be open to him and that he may then find himself in the position that the Dáil brings in legislation whereby the terms and conditions on which he was appointed no longer exist and that that person should retire at 65, and that is that? I think it is unfair. It should not apply to existing holders. If you want to fix an age limit for any particular appointment, that should not apply to those who are half-way or three-quarter way through their service.

Even if you say that if they are retired at 65 they will be given the full pension rate as if they had worked 40 years, it is not satisfactory because even if he is given the maximum pension of two-thirds of his salary he is being deprived of his full salary.

Could the Deputy give us any particular case in which there is dissatisfaction?

The Minister did not want us to mention names.

The Deputy need not mention the names. He could give us the position.

Rate collectors.

You mean as a class?

Yes. I do not want to mention names. I know a number. The position of rate collector is one case in point. I think the Minister will agree that they are included in this.

I understand that there is no doubt whatever about the Minister's power to bring in an age limit, without this section, in so far as rate collectors are concerned.

I do not know.

You can rest assured of that. There is no doubt whatsoever.

The Minister says he has power at the moment compulsorily to retire a rate collector at the age of 65?

He has done it.

It was done by my predecessor.

Just because he is 65 years of age?

No. He has to have an earning capacity of a certain sum.

I agree but there are some conditions attaching to it. A rate collector appointed, say, in the City of Dublin, would have a sufficient collection to warrant his having a reasonably comfortable income.

It does not arise under this section at all.

Where does it arise? I do not want to waste the Minister's time or to delay the House. Is the Minister prepared to assure the House that under this section or any other section he is not asking powers compulsorily to retire rate collectors at the age of 65 years?

He has got those powers already.

Then I must sit down and look up my notes.

We have had complaints here about this Bill and about the manner in which it has been drafted and the difficulties of following it. I think these objections arise with particular force in regard to this section, because we have a vital question put into this section. I think this section is one of the most objectionable in this Bill and we have had some very objectionable clauses already. We are asked in it to take away statutory rights which were given to certain people at the time of their appointment. We are asked to have these rights taken away with retrospective effect to 1941. We all know the chorus of protest there has been against retrospective legislation, and now we are asked—apparently because some case is pending in the courts, which apparently will benefit somebody who is taking action —in advance to take away the rights of anybody else who may be able to come along and claim under that decision. We are told in the last paragraph of the section that we are not making any change. I think the whole section is grossly objectionable. It means that, as far as the State is concerned, nobody has the legal right given to him at the time of his appointment.

That is what this section means, as far as I can see and I say it is contrary to all justice. The Minister has said now that rate collectors have to retire. Has that been contested? Not as far as I am aware. But if any collector wants to contest it when it comes to his time he is going to be debarred. I say if it is contested soon he will win on it. The collector who was appointed for life—this has been law for as long as any of us can remember—is debarred under this section in which we are asked to go back with retrospective effect to 1941. We are asked to take those rights away from some people who may have based their lives on those legal rights. I should like to ask the Minister what is the reason behind all this? How is it that certain people with statutory rights will have them taken away under this section? A person under the vocational scheme apparently has certain rights because there is a special part of the Schedule in this section dealing with it. Why this hurry to attack those people? We are going back and exempting some people under Section 16, but here in Section 24 we are coming down on people with statutory rights at the time of their appointment and taking these rights away.

To whom is the Deputy referring? To what class?

I am referring to Section 16 where married women and widows are dealt with. Why could this not have been dealt with on that basis? Why are we taking the statutory rights away from certain people under this section? Why the difference? In Section 16 we are rectifying a previous wrong, and in Section 24 we are coming along and committing a bigger wrong. I think if the Minister will read this carefully and fairly and without any regard to persons he will agree this section is a gross injustice. It is unfair to ask us here to perpetuate this injustice and to rule out the legal rights which people might have in court as from the 7th July last, because anybody who had not his case in before that is to be ruled out by that section. I put it to the Minister as a reasonable man and as a legal man if anything I have said is not in accordance with the facts as set out in the section. If that is so I think he will withdraw the section.

I think that the practice in other Departments is the very opposite to that proposed in this section. Take, for instance, the case of married teachers. That regulation was introduced only from a certain date. Teachers married before a certain date, 1934, could remain teaching, whereas people who became qualified as teachers afterwards were not allowed to continue. I think this case should be on a par with that. In the case of the Irish qualification, some of those appointed at a time when it was not necessary to have Irish were allowed to continue. In fact, a High Court case was fought on the point and was won by the teacher. I think this is on a par with it.

I should like to point out to Deputies Section 23 of the Local Government Act of 1941, introduced not by me but by a Minister representing the Deputies who have spoken on the other side of the House. Sub-section (1) of that section says that:—

"The appropriate Minister may declare any specified age to be the age limit for all the offices in relation to which he is the appropriate Minister or for such of those offices as belong to a specified class, description, or grade, or for one or more specified such offices."

What is the meaning of that? Does that not mean "without affecting the rights of existing officers"?

It does not say any such thing. I have heard Deputy Colley protest strongly about the hardship imposed under this section and I should like to point out that my colleague, Deputy Smith, introduced a Bill last year—the County Management Amending Bill, 1953, and he had word for word in that Bill a section dealing with the very same matter as this— compulsory retiral at 65 in respect of county managers.

City managers.

There was no protest then by Deputy Colley.

There was an amendment by me which I think Deputy Colley signed.

There was no outcry then by Deputy Colley. I am cutting down to some extent the powers conferred on the Minister by the 1941 Act and I think the amendment is a reasonable one. If Deputies give me the name of any individual who they say would suffer under the amendment I will consider it.

Major de Valera

This is a case where, I think, the Minister can help us. The White Paper contains a paragraph dealing with Section 24.

"The age limit orders are, however intended to apply only to office holders who on compulsory retirement would be entitled to a pension and it is now proposed to limit the powers of the Ministers accordingly and lest there be any doubt in the matter to validate any orders that have been made."

That suggests that actually the effect of this section is to limit the powers of the Minister. I would like the Minister to tell us precisely how this limits his powers. I will confess I have a certain amount of difficulty in interpretation as against Section 23 of the 1941 Act and the draft section here. If the Minister could tell us, first, where his powers are limited by this, it would be helpful because it does appear to me on the face of it to be a retrospective enactment which is, if not taking, confirming, powers further to and in excess of Section 23 rather than the reverse.

I would like the Minister to explain the first three lines of paragraph (b) of Section 24.

The first three lines of paragraph (b):—

"This sub-section shall be deemed to have come into operation on the commencement of Section 23 of the Act of 1941..."

It is quite simple, is it not?

We are now saying that what we are now legislating came into operation in 1941.

This is merely clarifying the position.

Major de Valera

Will the Minister reply to my question? Where are his powers limited?

They are limited inasmuch as we can only deal with certain classes, namely, pensionable officers.

Major de Valera

The Minister says that he had powers in excess of that and that he is limiting himself to pensionable officers. I do not want to misquote the Minister but I want to get the legal content. I think the Minister's case is that under Section 23 of the 1941 Act there was a power to declare age limits and that power went further than the power the Minister now wants. Is there any doubt that these powers under Section 23 of the 1941 Act apply to pensionable officers?

I will not answer that. The Deputy knows very well the reason why I will not answer that.

Major de Valera

I do not know the reason.

Does not the Deputy know I am not in the witness box?

Major de Valera

If that is the answer, then I can only say that I am alerted and I am beginning to wonder. There must then be some cases of pensionable officers which are not captured by Section 23, and the Minister intends to capture them now. That suspicion and that fear is borne out by the fact that there is a reference to High Court proceedings and an exception in the case of High Court proceedings already instituted.

Major de Valera

I think the Minister should be frank. Surely we should know the case before we are asked to legislate. Are we dealing with the kind of case where something has happened, where it was found that the Minister's powers are deficient and the Minister wants to close the gap and he is saving a particular case in court.

There is no decision given at all.

Major de Valera

The Minister is closing the loophole. That is something we should consider because it raises the whole question of retrospective legislation. I am surmising now, though I do not think I can be very wide of the mark judging by what is here in this section; here we have a case where apparently there has been either a declaration as to age limit or an attempted declaration in relation to an officer in the pensionable class; that declaration has been disputed; possibly there are proceedings pending and these actual proceedings pending will be saved. But there may be other cases and we may be legislating now to cure a particular difficulty.

Or possibly to amend. I did not introduce the 1941 Act, but I must amend it.

Major de Valera

That is fair enough from one point of view, but from another point of view there is the fact that if that be the situation then there are more individuals because we know Departments do not usually introduce sections into Bills frivolously in relation to the pensionable officer class, who, by virtue of the state of the law at the present moment, have certain rights which the Minister desires to take away. We cannot judge whether the Minister is justified in wanting to take these away when we do not know the facts.

I do not concede that at all. I have to implement an Act introduced by a previous Government and, if I am satisfied I cannot work it, surely I am entitled to amend it.

Major de Valera

There are obviously some people, and the Minister will not deny it, in the pensionable officer class, and there is either a doubt, or it is clear, that they are not covered by some declaration and they have rights which it is desired to take away.

I do not concede that at all.

Major de Valera

Then why introduce the section?

The Deputy knows very well that the mere fact that a person goes into court does not say he has any right.

Major de Valera

It does not, but if he succeeds he has certain rights and we are going very far if we try, before those rights are determined, to make sure he has not got them.

Deputies opposite did their best when they introduced the 1941 Act.

Major de Valera

If it is necessary to bring in legislation to remove rights now, obviously those rights have not been taken away by a previous Act. I can appreciate that the Minister may not want to mention names but I think he could tell us frankly the case for which we are legislating.

The case is sub judice and I am certainly not going to mention it here.

Major de Valera

Why should we legislate? That is an appalling admission. We are going to legislate in respect of a case which is sub judice. We save the case all right, but we are legislating in relation to what is happening in it.

We are doing no such thing and the Deputy is misconstruing the entire matter. We do not want to prejudice that case in any way.

Major de Valera

This is a very different approach.

Are you not attempting to do here what in fact you castigated me for doing when I was amending the County Management Act?

I did not castigate you at all. It was your colleague, Deputy Colley, who castigated you.

I am not objecting to any reference you may make in the record at all.

Would Deputies please use the third person?

The proposal contained in the amendment to the County Management Act introduced by me was designed to meet the case that the Minister is now attempting to meet.

Yes, and I was in full agreement with it but Deputy Colley attacked me for trying to do something which a predecessor had tried to do before me.

The Minister has a complaint as to the distance to which his predecessors went in 1941 to deprive certain individuals of certain rights. Now he himself as Minister is filling up any openings that were left and he is curing any deficiencies that resulted from the piecemeal fashion in which the managerial system was introduced.

I am ensuring that non-pensionable persons will not be affected by this retirement age limit. That is one thing I am doing which you did not do under the Act of 1941.

Major de Valera

That is one of the points in the Bill. The Minister says he is ensuring that non-pensionable people will not be affected by the age limit. Fair enough—if that is the effect of it, and that justifies the use of the phrase: "The age limit Orders are, however, intended to apply only to office holders who on compulsory retirement would be entitled to a pension and it is now proposed to limit the powers of the Ministers accordingly...." However, let us come to the case of the pensionable officers. If that were all the section were doing, a simple declaration that it was only going to apply in that way would be sufficient. The Minister has refused to answer me across the floor of the House, which he is entitled to do. My fear, however, from this reference to the High Court and from the retrospective nature of this legislation, is this: Will the Minister say categorically that there are not one or more people whose rights will be taken away in the pensionable class—who, but for the passing of this section, would, or might have, had rights? The Minister says the thing is not determined. However, if this section were not passed, either one or more persons who could have taken the same action as is the case here and have the same chance, and who will not have the same chance now under this Bill——

I do not admit that a bad Order was made under this——

Major de Valera

Obviously the Minister would not, because he is going to contest it in court.

Remember that I am not going to contest it in the court. I am not a party to the proceedings.

A local authority.

Major de Valera

I would not seek to put the Minister into a position like that. I am trying to get at what we are legislating for. It is a piece of retrospective legislation. I have more than grounds for suspicion that this piece of retrospective legislation will affect the rights of some one or more in the pensionable class. Surely, at this late hour, we are not going to go into the whole question of retrospective legislation. The Minister is aware of the great jealousy with which courts look at it, the principle being that you will not have retrospective legislation. I am sorry we have not adhered to that principle in this House too much in the past.

I am afraid we have not.

Major de Valera

I am afraid Deputy MacBride is as much in the glass-house as anybody else.

No, I am not. I have a completely clean bill of health on that score.

Major de Valera

It is a question of principle. We do not want to be unreasonable in the matter. We have had cases before of a somewhat similar situation—a case for retrospective legislation to cure something that was justified. However, we cannot know what we are dealing with until the Minister tells us and I think he should tell us here. It is also proposed, according to the White Paper, to make clear that Orders will apply notwithstanding any statutory tenure for life that an officer may possess. I should like to look up the debate on the 1941 Act. It is just coming back to me now. This is just a shot in the dark, I admit.

I hope it was not as long as this one has been.

Major de Valera

I should not be a bit surprised if the debate on Section 23 of the 1941 Act were bristling on the ground of retrospective legislation and the taking away of the rights of Ministers. I have a kind of idea that that type of section would probably have evoked from the then Opposition and other members of the House a long discussion on the taking away of rights retrospectively. I may be wrong. The other point is that it would be a very legitimate objection and I am not so sure that if I had been there in 1941 I would not be talking as I am talking now. One objectionable feature about Section 23 of the 1941 Act is failure to save in any way existing rights. Apparently it has not succeeded 100 per cent. on its face value although, to me, its face value is pretty wide and pretty far-reaching. However, it seems that it is necessary at this stage to make it quite clear that Orders will apply notwithstanding any statutory tenure for life that an officer may possess. Here is something then. There may be some people who claim that they have a life tenure there. All right. We may have to take their rights away. There may be a reasonable case. What is the compensation for it? Again, all I would ask for is that we would know the specific cases we are legislating for. If we knew specifically what we are legislating for here it would be easier. I am surprised I do not hear Deputy MacBride object to the form of this section.

I have not had an opportunity.

Major de Valera

I certainly object. There is one thing at the end of the section which is in the Second Schedule: "(c) A declaration under this section may be framed either with or without indication of the effect of this sub-section." There is more of what I might call departmental convenience. I think it would be very wise from the point of view of knowing what one is dealing with that a declaration should be related to its authority even if it is only for the convenience of people who want to know their rights. I suggest that subparagraph (c) is unnecessary and that the Minister might drop it. I wonder could the Minister help me on the main points? I was sincere in making them.

Could the Minister give some information to the House as to whether or not any claims have been made since the 7th July, 1954? I notice that paragraph (b) exempts from——

No claims have been made.

Have no claims been made since the 7th July?

Is the Minister certain?

I am certain.

Could the Minister give me one explanation? I am bemused, listening to all this legal jargon the whole evening. Is it a fact that, because there was a case due in the High Court before the 7th July, 1954, the Minister has exempted that case from any provision under this Bill and that, in order to prevent anybody from taking advantage of the result of that case, he has inserted this section? Is that the position?

The Deputy will appreciate that we do not want to prejudice this person who is going to the High Court and we had to exempt——

Is that the position?

I suppose that summarises it.

Deputy Briscoe, in his general remarks, compared the employees of local authorities to two other groups of people—the judiciary and politicians. I would be loathe to say anything about politicians in this particular matter—about the running of countries, and so forth.

Is this on the section?

It is not.

No, Section 20.

It was Section 24, I am quite sure.

Whether he said it or not I do not see how it arises.

It is the age at which people retire.

I apologise. The Deputy is quite right.

I would like to say a few words about this question of the judiciary and people who are in an administrative position. It is my opinion quite frankly that they are two entirely different walks of life, and I do not accept Deputy Briscoe's view that this business of medical development, health and all the rest of it, has progressed to such an extent that this age limit of 65 is out of date. I believe the age limit of 65 is about right in relation to administrative posts, particularly where we have continuous, new social and administrative conditions arising.

In the administration of the law it is a different matter. The man who acts in that capacity goes home to his chambers and considers the case that has been made before him. Another point is that this Government extended the service of certain Army officers by two years and the Party opposite only yesterday put down and pressed a question as to why that had been done and suggested it was unfair to other people. Why is the Party opposite not consistent? These Army officers were not anything like 65; they were much under 65 and yet the Party opposite pressed that question very strongly.

There was no such suggestion in a question on the Order Paper of yesterday.

It was the same as Deputy Briscoe's suggestion a while ago. There certainly was. The Deputy is just as wrong as Deputy Briscoe was.

Apparently the Parliamentary Secretary knows better what is in a person's mind when putting down a question than the person himself.

I will give way if you will explain.

I do not see why questions on the Order Paper yesterday should be introduced in a matter of this kind.

Why should they not be? It is a question of policy. The Party opposite indicated their interest in that yesterday. I would like to suggest that we should have a reasonable amount of consistency in matters of this kind instead of a lot of talk backwards and forwards about legal terms. I will finish on one note: I do not agree with Deputy de Valera's definition of retrospective legislation and I am not a lawyer at all.

I do not know if the Deputy who has just spoken really appreciates that I was not trying to offend the judiciary or the heads of State when I said that men a great deal older than 65 were in a position to carry out their occupations. I do not know anything about the question he was referring to yesterday, but I did recently read in some military journal that for certain specific types of officerships the age limit had to be lowered because a man when he reached 50 years of age could not march at the same pace or as far as the fellows of 20 and 21 years of age.

You know Sir Winston Churchill is only 80 and going strong.

Apparently so. I know we do not pay old age pensioners at 65.

In some countries they do.

I know, but we do not. The White Paper definitely says: "Lest there be any doubt in the matter to validate any Orders that have been made." It has happened dozens and dozens of times that as a result of old proceedings defects have been found in the law and the law has been amended, but it did not affect the right of appeal. It may affect future new claims arising from a new situation, and we have had it brought to our notice in this House many times. But here we are anticipating a decision.

We are not anticipating. "Lest there be any doubt."

It appears to me it would have been a much more courteous thing for us to have at least waited while this case was sub judice and the decision had been reached.

It would have been more courteous to the legal profession.

The legal profession go into court to get a decision. That is their job.

We are trying to prevent them going in often.

The Minister said before he did not think there were many cases. Now he says this is to prevent the legal profession going in too often. You cannot have it both ways. This is retrospective legislation. We are now passing this and deeming it to have been passed in the year 1941.

It should have been passed.

Yes, but it was not. What we are really doing, if I may use the term, is attempting to cod ourselves. We are now doing something we are supposed to have done 13 or 14 years ago and we did not do it at all. That may be the draftsman's means of getting a thing in a legal position but the fact is it is retrospective. But What we are concerned about is the right of the Minister to pension off occupants of office when they reach the age of 65 because they are pensionable. I say the House is at liberty to bring in at any time legislation saying that from now on any new person coming into such a job will be retired at 65 but it is most unfair to bring in legislation now and make it affect people who when they took their particular position took it with the contract that it was for life, not until they reached the age of 65. They made their whole programme in the bringing up of their families fit in with that particular position and now they are to be deprived of it without adequate compensation. If there was a suggestion here that we are now going to bring in an age limit of 65 for all occupants but we are going to deal fairly with the people in the position and we are going to bring them up to the maximum pension even if they have not served the particular number of years, there might be some reasons for arguing, but I certainly feel when the Minister reads out the Act of 1941, on which anybody can put their own interpretation, I could argue as a layman—and I do not know what the argument in court would be—that the Act did not specifically state that this referred to present occupants of these particular positions.

No. It says the age limit shall be 65 but that could be argued for new people coming in or for people coming in as from now.

It also applies to existing holders. Will the Deputy quote the section correctly?

I can be excused if I am not able to carry the legal side of it well when dealing with an Act that is very difficult. The Minister pointed out something which appeared to me to have that meaning. All I can say is this: there is no doubt that in the City Management Acts there was no reference whatever to retiring age, but in the County Management Acts there is a retiring age. The Minister may have attempted by declaration to do something there and a lawsuit is on the hands of a particular local authority. The Minister is coming in now in anticipation of a decision.

There is no lawsuit about a manager, or is the Deputy ——

Because the Minister is letting him stay on? Is he staying on in his position? Or is the particular case to which this is related not in connection with a city manager?

No, not that I am aware.

Is there not a city manager of Waterford——

We had better not discuss any particular cases on this.

There is an amendment which will be considered at a later stage.

Oh, I see. However, city managers were appointed without any time limit as to age. It is now sought to amend the Act and to put an age limit in. It may be all right if you are going to give them added years so as to give them full pensions. It is a matter between the managers and the State, but in the case of other occupants, where there is a doubt, the benefit should be given to these men, and the Minister should not attempt in the case of a doubt to come in here and get us to help in bringing in legislation which will penalise these people.

The Deputy does not appreciate that the managers' age limit Order was made prior to the particular manager to whom you are referring taking up office.

I suppose we will come to that later. There are defects in many of our Acts and we hear of them from time to time.

There should not be many if we spend as much time on them as we are doing on this section.

That is because the Minister is trying to do too much at one time and trying to bring in side-issues which are not concerned with former legislation. This Bill should have been in our hands for a considerable time longer than it was. It took 20 years to prepare it and we had to deal with it in a matter of weeks from the time we received it. I want to protest and say that I think it is wrong, and I am on good ground. The Minister talks about the Managerial Amendment Act brought in by his predecessors. I, at least, have been consistent because I had amendments down to that on the same lines as I am taking now. I would ask the Minister to postpone this particular section. He can always come along afterwards with an amending Bill. At any rate, he should postpone it until this case is over—if there is a case and it is not settled.

Major de Valera

The difficulty in discussing this is that we do not know the case the Minister wants to cover. It might be that he needs more powers——

To give you a clue— he is a rate collector.

Major de Valera

I see. What I would like to say is this. I have stated what I would vote against in principle, and what I would ask the Minister to do would be this. We take it the Minister is satisfied as to the necessity of bringing in a provision of this nature. Will the Minister satisfy himself personally—could I make this request? —apart from the Department and the civil servants as far as is necessary that he is taking no more power that he specifically wants to take?

I am taking no more than the late Deputy Ruttledge when he was Minister thought he took in 1941 or that Deputy MacEntee—also a member of the Deputy's Party—when he was Minister thought he had when he made these Orders. Actually I am taking less than they thought they had.

Major de Valera

Fair enough, but if the Minister puts it that way that the Deputies he has named and associated with me had powers very much in excess of what he is taking, I do not think that takes us any further. Retrospective legislation is dangerous in principle, but sometimes it is necessary and we have to leave it at that.

With regard to the Parliamentary Secretary—he seems to think there is a lack of consistency here, but it obviously is a very different thing to talk about taking away rights which somebody has, such as in the case of the age limit, and to impose an age limit on a man who has no age limit. That is not in the same category as extending the age limit of the Army officers he mentioned. The objection to the extension of the age limit of these particular men was that such extension would adversely affect the promotion of all junior officers. Quite obviously if the Government were to ensure that the officers affected had the same chance of promotion everybody would be glad to see the senior officers getting an extension of service.

This is not a limitation that would prevent other people getting promotion.

Major de Valera

I am not arguing that point. It may be desirable, but if they have rights for years and if, as Deputy Smith is saying, these rights have to be regarded they should not be just wiped away. I admit it may have been done, and possibly was done, in the past, but because that happened does not make it any more desirable now. The Parliamentary Secretary will say there are conflicting issues in these things. We see that, too, but in this case my difficulty, particularly in regard to this section, is that I do not know the specific case to which it relates, or what it is meant to do, and I am not in a position to say how desirable or undesirable it is for the Minister to take these powers. I am content in asking the Minister to be very wary so that the pernicious thing that happened in the past should be avoided, namely, that an instance like this is taken as an excuse or a case for taking wider powers which govern a lot of other things with the possibility of sweeping a whole lot of things overboard. If the Minister will direct his attention to that I think we will let the matter go.

I am afraid to rise in case I might unloose further oratory or cause further delay in the House, but I would like to ask the Minister to clarify, if he can, one matter. Altogether in this Bill we have been dealing with amendments of a great many different Acts—the amendments have been contained in the section. In this particular case the draftsman has adopted a new device. He amends Section 23 of the Act of 1941 by the addition of a sub-section set out in Part I of the Second Schedule. Why is that? Why is there a new system put into operation, and why have two systems of amendment?

I am afraid I do not know that.

Will the Minister look at paragraph (a) of sub-section (1), Section 24? The purpose of that paragraph is to amend Section 23 of the Act of 1941. He is not pursuing the ordinary method which he has pursued for the previous 20 sections of including the amendment in the section.

It would look very untidy if he put it into the section.

I wish they would follow one system or the other.

You should have five or six more Schedules.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 25.

Before taking the amendments to Section 25 perhaps you would permit me to make a statement to the House. Section 25 of the Bill was intended to institute a system of conciliation for servants of local authorities. This was intended to be a first step in implementing the Government's undertaking to establish a system of conciliation and arbitration. As I have already stated earlier this afternoon, however, the Minister for Industry and Commerce is now promoting legislation and bringing forward proposals to amend the Industrial Relations Act, 1946 to permit those covered by Section 25 of this Bill access to the conciliation and arbitration procedure of the Labour Court. In such circumstances the interim procedure contemplated in Section 25 is no longer necessary. With the permission of the Chair, therefore, I would propose that this Section, that is Section 25, be deleted from the Bill. If this is agreed to, it will not be necessary to move the amendment.

Major de Valera

Before the deletion of this section——

Major de Valera

Deputy MacBride cannot complain about the time.

On a point of order. Three Deputies in the Labour Party put down an amendment to have the section deleted and there were amendments from other Deputies. We are the people mainly concerned in this because of the fact that the section affected concilation for local authority employees. We are prepared to accept the statement made by the Minister and we want to congratulate him on removing this section. It would help if the deletion of the section could be agreed to without further discussion.

I am afraid I cannot prevent a Deputy speaking on any amendment. The wider amendment includes the lesser and therefore I am allowing the wider amendment to go to discussion—that the section be deleted. If the section is deleted the other amendments naturally fall; they cannot be moved.

I understood that the Minister had accepted the amendment that the section be deleted.

He is moving it. It is his amendment.

We had no notice of that.

It is on the Paper.

Major de Valera

I was going to make a short remark when Deputy MacBride spurred me to say something else. I do not think anybody can complain of our examining a Bill like this. In regard to appeals on behalf of servants, there is an appeal mechanism here. I was going to say that the section had very little reality, particularly in regard to another section that was there beforehand, because it was cumberous and we were going to object to a number of things in the section.

I am withdrawing it.

It is withdrawn.

Major de Valera

It is going. In regard to the substitution of the machinery here, this is the simple question I want to ask: Will there be anything in the local government code in regard to appeals by servants? Apart from the general thing, will there be anything in the code?

No, not for servants.

Major de Valera

Will there be for officers?

There is at the moment for officers.

I am very glad that this section is being deleted, not for the reasons, perhaps, that other Deputies would advance. I was trying to think of our discussions here in regard to the power of the Minister to give directions to local authorities creating ceilings on wages and so on for the different types of servants and employees of local bodies. I was thinking also of the assurance given earlier by the Minister as to the prospect of the establishment of conciliation machinery for local bodies. I was looking forward to Section 25 and what was proposed there. I was trying to fit into all that vast mechanism for the regulation of wages and conditions the Minister's approval. I was just wondering where on earth the local body, whether it be the local body as defined in the law as it now is or the local body as defined when the law would be amended, would find itself in the midst of all that mechanism in doing the work that is normally done by a local authority. Therefore, I am very glad that the section is gone, irrespective of the differences of opinion and the different reasons that we have had for its deletion.

Since the section is being discussed, if the Chair permits me, I should like to state the reasons why we asked for its deletion. That is only fair considering that the matter has been discussed, despite the Minister's promise that he would have it deleted.

Our reason for asking to have the section deleted was simply that we could see that no useful purpose would be served by having conciliation machinery, such as was envisaged by this section, at local authority level, simply and solely because it would be asking the representatives of the employees of local authorities to go to court with the devil and to hold the court in hell. That is what it amounted to. Actually, the local authorities would set up a committee of their own members along with some people outside, possibly, who would report back to their own council. We could see no useful purpose would be served. As a matter of fact, we consider that there would be considerable delay in dealing with the question of wages and working conditions where local authority employees are concerned. We are very glad that the Minister has agreed to delete the section completely and we hope the Minister for Industry and Commerce will in this session introduce the amendment to the Industrial Relations Act in order to give the appeal of local authority employees to the Labour Court.

If the section is taken out, it will be unnecessary to move amendment No. 46 to section 59.

Section 25 deleted.

Amendments Nos. 19 to 23, inclusive, not moved.
SECTION 26.
Amendment No. 24 not moved.

Amendment No. 25 is out of order.

I am not disputing the order of the Chair.

It is not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill.

My view is that this Bill will, as a result of fixing an age limit for the present city manager——

I cannot allow the Deputy to make the argument. He will have to deal specifically with the ruling that it is out of order. The Deputy is endeavouring to deal with the amendment.

I am hoping to get permission from my Party to introduce a Private Bill on the matter.

Question proposed: "That Section 26 stand part of the Bill."

What does this section mean anyhow? We want to get this clear. This seems to be giving additional powers to the Minister—in other words, limiting again the rights of local authorities in connection with the specific principles referred to. Will the Minister admit that?

I did not hear the Deputy.

Will the Minister admit that by this section he is taking further controls from the local authorities and giving them to the Local Government Department?

No, no! The Minister in this section may mean the Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Education and so on.

I do not think I am getting a fair crack of the whip at all. What I understand the section to mean is that it is transferring to appropriate Ministers rights that heretofore they did not have and if that is so, they are taking away functions and rights which local authorities previously had.

This is purely a drafting section.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 27.
Question proposed: "That Section 27 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with the exclusion of certain officers from the scope of the relevant section of the 1926 Act. Section 2, sub-section (1), of the 1926 Act prescribes that every office of a professional and technical nature under a local authority must be filled by means of a recommendation from the Local Appointments Commissioners. This particular section of this Bill proposes to exclude from the relevant section of the 1926 Act temporary officers and part-time officers such as engineers and surveyors under urban district councils and town commissioners. I should like to hear further from the Minister on this particular section before passing over it, because it does seem to me that if Section 27 is allowed to stand as it appears in the Bill at the moment it will fix in the local managers—county managers or city managers—further powers which I think no one of us here in this House agree they should have.

This section would, as far as I see it, empower the local manager to fill professional and technical posts without reference first of all to the members of the local authorities concerned and, secondly, without reference to the Local Appointments Commissioners and, of course, without reference to the appropriate Minister. Under this section, apparently the local manager has supreme powers in that matter and the fixing of such further powers in the local manager could only lead to further abuses. The Minister indicated in this House about a week ago that a measure will be introduced later on which will curtail the powers of the manager and, therefore, it does seem that this section, if it were allowed to stand, would create a Gilbertian situation. Under it, we would be extending the manager's powers and maybe next week we would come along and try to pass a measure curtailing them.

In the White Paper there is reference to a number of part-time posts which will be filled not through the Local Appointments Commission at all but by county managers. The town surveyors for average-sized towns like Listowel and Letterkenny would at the moment be paid something in the neighbourhood of three guineas a week. If we had to fill these posts through the Appointments Commission we would never get an application. Under the section, the county manager would appoint these men in a temporary capacity and would be able to recruit them locally. What I want to do is to regularise the position and to give the local authority permission to appoint these men.

Even on a permanent basis?

Yes. There is also the question of certain technical offices which should be filled under the 1926 Act by the Local Appointments Commissioners—offices such as that of a radiographer. As this is strictly not a technical office, it would be much better that local authority should make the appointment. I should like to remind the Deputy that the manager will be bound by normal regulations. If we found later on that these appointments were not being made impartially and fairly, we could bring them back into the scope of the Act by referring them to the Appointments Commissioners. I am trying to cater for these part-time appointments and technical offices.

While the Minister is dealing with this section and, as he said, trying to regularise temporary offices, would he give me permission to cite cases of temporary officers in the County Dublin who have seven or eight years' service?

I have no authority to give the Deputy permission. The Deputy might ask the Ceann Comhairle.

Surely what the Deputy is raising is purely a matter of administration.

But there are temporary officers who will have to go now if this section is passed.

We are not dealing with the administrative side of this. I cannot permit the Deputy to drag in administration on this Bill.

But the Minister is dealing with temporary offices.

That does not justify discussing administration. If the Deputy wants to discuss this section it is quite all right but I cannot allow him to discuss administration of a particular local authority or of a Government Department.

On Section 27, I suggest it is the only opportunity I may have—

The Deputy will have several opportunities and I feel sure he will avail of them. He can discuss it under the Estimates for the Local Government Department.

It is a very important matter.

I know, but I cannot permit time to be dwindled away when there is so much business to be done.

Even though it is dealing with temporary offices?

It is not within the scope of this Bill and does not come within the terms of what we are now discussing.

If that is so, I am satisfied. I shall raise the matter later on at the appropriate time.

Is there a danger that officers employed at the moment, such as town surveyors, will be displaced by this section, and that the manager or somebody else will appoint a successor to the position?

On the contrary, some of them who have been temporary for years will now be made permanent.

Can the Minister guarantee that there will not be cases in which advantage will be taken of the fact that this Bill is passed to displace these people and replace them by others?

No. I think the Deputy can rest assured that advantage will not be taken.

Section put and agreed to.
SECTION 28.

I move amendment No. 27:—

To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) If the Local Appointments Commissioners fail to submit a recommendation within a period of six months from the date of the formal request from the local authority then the local authority shall be at liberty to proceed to make the appointment itself without further delay.

Would the Minister accept this amendment without discussion? It simply says that if an individual is appointed to a job and does not take up duty within six months the local authority can deal with him. If a position is declared vacant and we are asking to have it filled, and the Local Appointments Commissioners fail to submit a recommendation within a period of six months from the date of the formal request then "the local authority shall be at liberty to proceed to make the appointment itself without further delay." We sometimes have a suspicion that certain posts are not advertised and no attempt is made to fill them because particular persons are not at the time free to apply for the posts. If one wants to operate one's machine and carry on with one's work it must be obvious to the Minister and the House that a vacant post must be filled as soon as possible.

We appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment so that if the Local Appointments Commissioners fail to submit a recommendation the local authority will be authorised to make the appointment without further delay. In a sense, it is the reverse, perhaps, of the section itself. Is the Minister prepared to accept the amendment?

I cannot accept it.

Is the Minister prepared to argue as to why he will not accept it?

If we said 12 months instead of six, would that make it acceptable?

I am particularly interested in this section myself. I am aware of a case in which a dispensary doctor was advertised for and the post was filled by the Local Appointments Commissioners. The particular appointee did not take up duty and actually three doctors were appointed temporarily in succession. The appointee kept postponing his decision to take up duty for a period for 12 months; he then found another position. None of the three doctors appointed in succession ever took up residence or took up the appointment. Now it is to prevent that kind of thing happening in the future that we have introduced this provision.

Would the Minister argue against the amendment?

The Local Appointments Commissioners have power to fill a post temporarily. We could not possibly grant this power to the local authority under this amendment. The Local Appointments Commissioners, for instance, might receive no applications in answer to their advertisement. The applicants who apply, on the other hand, may not be suitable. I could not possibly accept this amendment because it would mean abrogating the whole principle at the back of the 1926 Act.

A reference was made to this matter at Question Time today in a question to the Minister for Health. The experience has been that a certain position is not filled, but a temporary officer is appointed. The suggestion made by the Deputy earlier to-day was that the position was being held deliberately for a particular individual and was not, therefore, in a sense, open to competition. We say that if a certain position becomes vacant under our local authority—and I am sure this applies to many other local authorities—and we notify the Minister and his Department that we want the Local Appointments Commissioners to advertise the post and that body does nothing, then at the end of a period of six months the local authority should be at liberty to fill the post. This has nothing to do with the post being advertised and no applicants coming forward, which is the case made by the Minister. Surely, in the circumstances I have outlined, we should be allowed, since the Local Appointments Commissioners have done nothing, to make the appointment at the end of the six months period. Can the Minister say under what set of circumstances the Local Appointments Commissioners are justified in postponing the advertisement of the position? It may happen on occasion that they advertise the post and a number of applicants present themselves, but none is found suitable or sufficiently well qualified for the position; in that case all they have to do is to re-advertise the post and permit the local authority in the interim to appoint someone temporarily. What I am concerned with is where they make no move of any kind.

I suggest the Deputy should put down a question to the Taoiseach on the matter.

We are dealing with a particular Bill here and we are trying to make certain improvements in local government by giving the Department much more control. Now, the Minister has a section in this Bill which reads as follows:—

"If a person referred to in sub-section (5) of this section does not take up duty within the period notified to him—

(a) the local authority shall request the commissioners to recommend to them a person for appointment."

If the person appointed in the first instance does not take up duty within a reasonable period, then the position will be filled with someone else. But the local authority is also in existence and the local authority, through the Department of Local Government, requests the Local Appointments Commissioners to advertise the position and that body fails to do so and does not give us the necessary officer for the job, then I hold the local authority should be allowed to fill the vacancy after a lapse of a specific period of time. I urge the Minister to say that he will at least consider this between now and the Report Stage and allow it to be discussed again on that stage. I do not think anyone could say that my request is unreasonable. Speaking from a local authority point of view, is it unreasonable? If the Minister is prepared to say that he will consider this and get further information on it and find out how often it happens, if it happens, and agree to discuss it on the Report Stage I am quite prepared to withdraw the amendment and discuss the matter again on the Report Stage.

I am afraid I could not possibly accept the principle behind the amendment.

Make it 12 months.

What is the principle? Surely if a local authority is aware of an individual qualified to fill the vacancy the local authority should be entitled to fill it when the Local Appointments Commissioners fail to even advertise the post. We feel aggrieved by the kind of attitude: "You will fill it if and when we permit you." Sometimes a person is available for appointment, a person who would be a godsend in the post and, because the filling of the vacancy is held up for an unconscionable time, we lose the services of that individual; probably he emigrates because he cannot even apply for the job. I am quite serious about this. I think the Minister ought to agree that some time limit should be fixed.

When the local authorities get all the new powers everything will be all right.

The 1926 Act was accepted by all Parties in this House.

I was not here then.

Deputies have seen the results of that Act down through the years and this amendment would cut right across the whole of the 1926 Act. There is nothing to prevent the local authority in a case such as that cited by the Deputy withdrawing the statutory request from the Local Appointments Commissioners and filling the vacancy temporarily. The Deputy is well aware that in one of the cases to which he referred the Local Appointments Commissioners had no control whatsoever over the failure to make the appointment. He is referring to a case I presume in Dublin.

I am talking of the general position. The Minister says that if the Local Appointments Commissioners will not give you the official you want you can fill it temporarily. If the Minister realised the difficulties there are attaching to temporary appointments in Dublin city——

Of course, I do.

If you employ a person temporarily you cannot employ him for longer than a certain period. We have all that trouble already on our hands, tenfold. We have enough trouble about it. I am not asking the Minister to give a firm decision now. However, I am asking him if he will examine how often this has happened——

Do you mean now that the managers should have the appointment or the elected body?

It all depends.

It is right that I should mention that I interviewed the local authorities of this country and that that was one of the things they told me—each and every one of them. They said to me: For goodness' sake, do not give us the powers of appointing personnel.

I am not discussing the general position. I am discussing the point in regard to a specific office that becomes vacant and it is vital that it should be filled. Arising out of our statutory requirements, we communicate with the local authority and inform them that we want this post filled and we ask them to put the machinery in motion. We expect them to draft the conditions of appointment and to advertise in the public Press with a view to getting applications. We do not expect that nothing at all will be done about it and that we will be left without a permanent officer in that particular section. It is all very well to talk about a temporary post. When you are making a temporary appointment, you cannot always get the best person. The limit to a temporary appointment—in Dublin, in any event—is a matter of a few years. It is very serious.

I am very sorry that I cannot accept the amendment. I suggest that the Deputy put down a parliamentary question to the Taoiseach——

How would a parliamentary question solve it?

——about any particular case and find out the cause of the delay. I am sorry I cannot accept the amendment.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

I thought that, when the powers were restored to local bodies, the need for the amendment would not arise.

Evidently the Deputy is not in touch with the opinion of local bodies.

I thought you meant only the chairman.

With the greatest respect, I meant a lot more than the chairman.

On that point, he did not find that attitude in Dublin City. The amendments that have been ruled out of order would show that we want some say in the admission of officials and the drafting of the conditions attaching to their appointment. That is ruled out of order. All I can do is to record my dissent and say that I have been beaten. I will try and find some opportunity of raising it again because it is a grave injustice on local authorities.

I think the Minister is at cross-purposes with Deputy Briscoe when he refers to the local authorities' opinions about making appointments. That is not Deputy Briscoe's point at all. I think he has a very good case as far as temporary posts are concerned. I look upon them with horror so far as medical men——

Surely the answer is to expedite the proceedings whereby the Local Appointments Commission make these appointments?

Has the Minister or anyone any power to make the Local Appointments Commission start into operation?

I have made a suggestion.

The Minister is being naive.

I am quite serious.

The Minister is taking all sorts of powers in this. Surely he will be able to——

I have not the authority of the Government to cut across that particular Act of 1926.

There is no question of cutting across it. It is only if the Local Appointments Commissioners fail to do their duty within a certain time.

Surely there must be another method of making them do their duty?

What other method?

Give particulars of any individual case in which there is delay.

It should not rest on the individual. That is the worst thing that could be done.

What about the battle of Newtowngore? Surely that should have brought the matter home to everybody?

I am ignorant of it.

It concerned the appointment of a doctor. There was a pitched battle there a short time ago.

I never heard of it.

The Minister's contention is that someone should put down a parliamentary question based on some particular case. That is just the very attitude that should not be adopted. If it has been found that the Local Appointments Commissioners have been dilatory in pursuing their functions, surely some means should be found—not necessarily by the method suggested in this amendment——

The Deputy knows well that I could get rid of this by saying that I will look into it. Either I will or I will not. I have met the Deputies on every amendment, right down to the present amendment, and when I said that I would accept the amendment, I have done so. However, I will not mislead any Deputy by saying that I am going to look into it.

I think the Minister should look into it.

Does the Deputy think I brought it before the House without looking into it?

Does the Minister really want me to answer that one? If he does, I will refer him to paragraph (m) of Section 14 in the White Paper.

Should the Deputy not deal with the amendment? The amendment is not covered in the White Paper.

I can give the Minister a few examples, judging by the White Paper, as to how far he went into it. Deputy Briscoe has made a case that it is possible for the whole principle of the Act of 1926——

Yes, but surely that is not my job? I am not responsible for the Act of 1926. It is not part of my administration.

But the Minister could do something about it.

Just as much as the Deputy can.

As far as I can see, the Minister has six amendments in this Bill to the Act of 1926.

And that is what my authority is limited to: six amendments.

What could a parliamentary question to the Taoiseach do if we cannot amend it here?

Because he will answer it here in the House, and he is answerable to the House for the Local Appointments Commission.

I know he is, but how can he amend the Act of 1926 in a parliamentary question?

I did not suggest he would or could.

What else could he do?

Deputy Sheldon said he does not know that there is any necessity to amend it or not.

We would find out——

I do not understand the attitude now being adopted.

I find it difficult to understand the attitude adopted all the afternoon, to tell the truth.

It is an endurance test.

It is not the first time it has happened in this House. Both sides can do that.

Are we supposed to take legislation and just look at it and pass it without criticising it and without making any attempt to try to amend it for its improvement. Is that what Deputy Davin wants? Chapter II of this Bill deals specifically with amendments of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926. The Minister says he has no responsibility for that Act—but he is bringing in all these amendments to it.

We are dealing with one particular amendment at the moment.

Surely it is in order, and you have ruled that it is in order, that an amendment to one of these amendments is in order? It is not fair for the Minister to say he cannot accept or consider this amendment simply because his jurisdiction in connection with the 1926 Act is limited, and limited absolutely, to six amendments. In other words, take them or leave them. Section 28, which is the amendment of the 1926 Act, is the one to which I am referring. I am quite prepared to withdraw this and re-enter it on Report Stage. If the Minister were prepared to say: "All right, six months is too short, make it 12 months"; if he made some time limit and not leave it without a time limit and make us absolutely powerless in this regard, it would be an improvement. Surely there is nothing unreasonable in what I am asking. If the Local Appointments Commission were to carry on at that rate, causing delay in a number of cases, you could have the efficiency of a local authority seriously interfered with. All we say is: "If you do not do the job within a certain period let the manager or the local authority make the appointment subject to the sanction of the Minister."

The Deputy will appreciate that none of the amendments which I have moved affect the principle of the Act of 1926, but if I accepted the amendment now which Deputy Briscoe has put in, it would cut across the entire principle of the 1926 Act.

I do not understand that.

Would the Minister do this? He suggested the Deputy should put down a question to the Taoiseach. Would the Minister review the records of his Department as to delays, and if he thinks there is a case would he make a recommendation to the Taoiseach?

If necessary.

I am sure Deputy Briscoe would be satisfied with that.

I do not know what the Minister is undertaking to do now.

It has nothing to do with this Bill.

We have had to put up with months and months of trying to get Bills through. Is the Minister seriously suggesting that this amendment cuts across the whole principle? It is extraordinary that it has not been ruled out as such by the Chair because other amendments were ruled out for much lesser reasons than that. I am afraid I cannot accept that, that the whole Bill is affected by an amendment of this kind.

I am referring to the 1926 Act, not this Bill.

The whole Act. Surely an amendment of this nature is not going to upset the Act of 1926.

Is it not merely a whip over the Local Appointments Commission?

No, it is taking the whip out of their hands.

Only after they have admitted their failure.

Have they not in many cases? I do not know exactly where the fault lies. It may be with the Minister or it may be with the local authority.

I did not wish to say that myself. The Minister has put his finger on it.

I would not have said it at all if I thought I was going to start the Deputy off again.

That is it. It is the Minister who authorises the Local Appointments Commission to go ahead and if he has any particular reason in connection with a certain individual he can hold up notification to the Local Appointments Commission. That is the whole point. I did not want to say it before but we have suffered as a result of that. I am not prepared to withdraw the amendment. My colleagues are not here but I am telling the House that this is a matter of vital importance. If the Local Appointments Commissioners are to hold confidence in the selection of competent people on the basis of qualifications, the position must be rectified. These delays are not sensible at all. Is the Minister going to look this up and discuss it with the Taoiseach?

He said he would make a recommendation if necessary.

If I find it necessary.

I am prepared to accept the Minister's word on that.

If the Deputy has information in this connection I would be glad to get it.

Amendment No. 27, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.
SECTION 29.

I move amendment No. 28:—

To delete all words from and including "amended" in line 20 down to the end of the section and substitute "repealed."

It may seem on the face of it that there is not a whole lot to this amendment but it is important. It is in connection with examinations for entrants into local authority offices. Every two or two-and-a-half years examinations are held by each local authority for boys and girls. There is an entrance fee of 10/- or it might be £1. In many instances these boys and girls must come from outlying areas into Cork City, or to a centre in some other county to do the examination. This means a certain amount of money has to be paid for travelling expenses by these boys and girls and perhaps they have to obtain living accommodation there during the period of the examination. It must also be remembered that in many instances they may in the same year or within the same few months sit for different examinations whether for the Civil Service or for clerkships elsewhere.

I think the Deputy is referring to the competitions held by local authorities.

But the section refers only to appointments made by the Local Appointments Commissioners. It does not deal at all with the appointments to which the Deputy is referring.

Will it in any sense refer to the appointments I have mentioned?

No. This merely deals with the appointments made by the Local Appointments Commissioners, the competitions which are held in Dublin. It does not refer to competitions held down the country or interviews such as those held by local authorities.

Is there any provision in the section as regards the other centres?

It refers only to Dublin?

This is only to clarify certain matters set out in the White Paper.

In that case we are prepared to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.
SECTION 30.

I move amendment No. 29:—

In sub-section (1), page 13, line 39, to insert "(Whether existing or proposed)" after "qualifications".

The amendment covers a very minor point indeed where the Local Appointments Commissioners would wish to seek the concurrence of the appropriate Minister in dispensing with the written competitive examination for an office before qualifications had been declared or prescribed. This will help to avoid the delays of which Deputy Briscoe has been complaining.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 30 stand part of the Bill."

Major de Valera

There is a point I would like to make. It really relates to both this and the next section and I might make it now. In a later section there is provision for a panel and in this section there is provision for a competitive examination. The only point that arises here is that if an applicant is successful under the scheme of both these two sections and if he does not take up the post he should not lose his position in the list. This arises to a certain extent in this section but it arises more appropriately under Section 31.

I think that is really a matter within the discretion of the commissioners themselves.

Major de Valera

It would be a point to be cleared. I can deal with it on the next section.

Question put and agreed to.

Major de Valera

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m., until 3 o'clock on Wednesday, 1st December, 1954.