Local Government Bill, 1954—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on Section 66, amendment No. 49.

On the 15th December last I moved amendment No. 49 which reads as follows:—

"In line 10, before 'by' to insert ‘and after consultation with the Dublin City Council and the Dublin County Council'."

Would the Minister be prepared to say, having had considerable time for reflection, that he would accept that little suggestion?

I can see the Deputy's point of view in moving the amendment, but I cannot visualise circumstances in which the Dublin Corporation and the county council would not be consulted. For instance, the only circumstances in which the section would be invoked, in my opinion, would be for the altering of the Dublin Public Assistance boundaries. That would only come up from either the corporation or the county council. However, if the Deputy would prefer it, I will consider it between now and the Report Stage, but I cannot visualise any circumstances in which they would not be consulted.

If there is no objection in principle to a local authority being consulted as a result of an application made by one body to the Minister which would affect the other body, what is the difference in regard to putting it in this Bill? From our experience, we are held rigidly, word for word, to the Acts. I am speaking from experience over a long period of time. If it is not in the Act we will be told it is not in the Act and that therefore we do not have to be consulted. We are always tied to the actual phraseology, word for word, of the Act.

The only foreseeable reason that I can think of is the extension of either the city or county boundaries—and that can only be done at the request of the city and county authorities, and they would be consulted. My only reason for not accepting the amendment is, really, to simplify the Bill.

Major de Valera

I am speaking without my brief and completely from memory, but I have a recollection that I had a somewhat more fundamental objection to this section. I rather wanted to put this point to the Minister. Up to the moment, adjustment of the boundaries of the Dublin Public Assistance District, and so on and so forth, is rather confined: the powers to make these adjustments are rather confined. Will this section have the effect of enabling the Minister at any time, by Order, to adjust these boundaries in such a manner as he may wish—the Minister meaning the corporation, so to speak? Will this have the effect of giving the Minister and his Department complete flexibility from now on in the adjustment of these boundaries? That is apart from the point made by Deputy Briscoe, whose contention I support. Unfortunately, I have not my brief with me at the moment. Heretofore, adjustments in such boundaries could only be done under certain statutory conditions. Does the effect of Section 66 not work out that now, by mere Order, the Minister can more freely adjust boundaries and consequently this section abolishes, in effect, statutory restrictions on the Minister? Is that not the position? If that is so, I should like the Minister to examine that again before the Report Stage.

I will examine it.

I want the Minister to appreciate that, in discussing these amendments, it is not being done from the point of view of pure opposition.

I am not making any such suggestion.

The trouble is that if the Minister considers it and does not do anything further about it we shall probably be arguing all over again on the Report Stage. It is in order to save time that——

We will consider the wording of the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.
Section 67 put and agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 50 and 51 may not be moved as they are not in order. They are not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill. Amendment No. 50 is a disqualification for membership of a local authority. There is nothing in the Bill which deals with that.

The section deals with the very same things and leaves out one disqualification.

This is not the Bill which deals with qualification or disqualification for membership of a local authority and you may not amend that legislation by introducing an amendment here. Amendments Nos. 50 and 51 are out of order, as also is portion of amendment No. 52.

Could I get a direction from the Chair, please? The First Schedule provides for the repealing of Acts either in whole or in part. This amendment relates to the extent to which a particular enactment is being repealed. The amendment proposes to extend the repeal. To that extent, surely, it is in order?

No, it is not in order. The two amendments are not in order and a portion of the next amendment is not in order either. The Deputies have already been informed to that effect.

Major de Valera

On what grounds is the matter not in order?

Because these amendments are not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill.

Major de Valera

To what would it be relevant? With respect, certain rules are being made with regard to relevance here now and I should like a direction as to how private Deputies can properly and regularly challenge such rulings.

The Deputy had a very long period of time since he got the information.

With respect, when I got notice in writing from the Chair that certain amendments which were proposed were being ruled out, it was also indicated to me in a most courteous manner that, if necessary, I could argue about them here when the Bill would be under discussion.

The decision of the Chair is based on the fact that this Bill does not deal with qualifications or disqualifications of persons seeking membership of a local authority and therefore this is not the piece of legislation that it should be sought to amend in respect of amendment 50. It is not my intention to point out, as Deputy de Valera asked me, what code he has to amend. I am sure Deputy de Valera is sufficiently well acquainted with the legislation to be able to find a means, if he so desires.

With regard to the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, paragraph (xiv) of sub-article (10) of Article 36 of the Schedule is being repealed. What is being repealed is, in principle, similar to what I am asking.

Major de Valera

Here is the point of order on procedure that I want to raise.

By what canon are we to judge relevancy? With respect I would agree that if a particular act or code were not dealt with in the Bill it could be excluded on such grounds but when a particular enactment, namely the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, is included in the schedule of repeals, it seems difficult to see what legitimate distinction can be made to prevent the other portion being dealt with.

There is a statutory disqualification from membership of a local authority and all the Order is certainly not open.

Something is being altered by this repealing but there is one left out that is not being included.

That has already been dealt with and the Deputy should have drawn attention to it. He cannot deal with it now on these amendments. I wrote to the movers of these amendments on the 17th November, 1954, it is now the 9th February, 1955. I think that gave the Deputies sufficient opportunity to make representations to me if Deputies thought that my rejection of the amendments was incorrect. I am now standing by that ruling.

I am not complaining of the fact that you ruled them out. I say quite openly here that you gave me that in writing promptly, but you also extended a further courtesy in which it was explained to me by yourself that if I felt that I needed to argue the matter further you would be quite willing to hear me.

I always endeavour to give that courtesy to every Deputy.

I am availing of the courtesy extended to me by the Chair because I feel there is a very urgent note in the section to be repealed.

I cannot allow an argument on an amendment which has been ruled out. I am ruling that amendments Nos. 50 and 51 are out of order and that amendment No. 52 must be amended in so far as reference to Section 57 therein is concerned.

I cannot move it, if it is ruled out of order.

I have ruled out the reference to Section 57 in amendment No. 52 which deals with disqualification. I have ruled out amendments Nos. 50, 51 and amendment No. 52 in so far as the reference to Section 57 is concerned. I am allowing amendment No. 52 to be moved, to delete the references to Sections 12, 22, 26 and 30 and to substitute Sections 12, 19, 22, 26 and 30. We stop at 30. The reference to Section 57 may not be moved.

Because it is analogous in principle to other amendments I have ruled out.

Will the Minister say what ones are in order? Is it expected that I should have an argument on every one of these sections? They are all different sections.

The Deputy will remember the discussion we had on Section 14 of the Bill which was passed.

Major de Valera

Subject to——

I quite agree—subject to my looking into the matter, and certain undertakings given by me.

Major de Valera

Your ruling here, a Cheann Comhairle, does raise a question of procedure. I take it that it is by resolution we have to question that. There are some Deputies who are rather perturbed at some of the advice that is given in these matters. I am wondering whether a panel of qualified lawyers to advise the House on such matters might not be desirable. Has that to be done by resolution?

If the Deputy wishes to raise this matter, I am prepared to facilitate him and to discuss the matter fully with him although I do not say that I would be prepared to agree to a panel of qualified lawyers looking into the Standing Orders.

Major de Valera

If the Chair will allow me, apart from any question of courtesy or respect for the present occupant of the Chair, there is a question of principle involved. There is the principle of interpreting here what is or what is not a relevant code of legislation. I want to avoid raising a precedent here in regard to such a ruling. I should like to enter a formal caveat so to speak, in regard to any precedents being created in this matter pending an opportunity by the Oireachtas of considering the rules.

The Deputy can have this matter before the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Major de Valera

Yes, that would be the correct procedure, but in the meantime I should like to register a caveat rather than a protest.

The matter can be brought before the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and I shall facilitate the Deputy in getting the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to examine the matter.

Major de Valera

The Ceann Comhairle appreciates that there is no personal objection to him as occupant of the Chair.

I realise that.

With regard to amendment No. 52, we are in the position that the Minister in his Bill moves in relation to Sections 12, 22, 26 and 30 and my amendment accepts and reintroduces these but then Section 19 is introduced in addition to those mentioned by the Minister so that we have only to deal with Section 19, 57 having been ruled out. Will the Minister say first where we are in connection with Section 19?

Does the Deputy appreciate that Section 19 of the 1941 Act deals with the making of general regulations with regard to officers? We amended that section by Section 14 of this Bill. Section 14 has been accepted and you ask me to include Section 19 of the 1941 Act although we have already amended it in this Bill. I think the Deputy will realise on considering the matter that that is impossible.

I think the Minister is right but at the same time I am right.

I will accept that.

Because I am in this difficulty that the Minister is a legal man. He is legally trained.

You have got a very good legal adviser beside you.

I agree, but at the same time I am not always inclined to accept his advice, probably quite wrongly.

I shall not comment on that.

My colleague, Deputy de Valera, agrees with the Minister that the previous amendment to the section does in effect knock out Section 19. I feel that if you take the section here and the 1941 Act, of which I have not got a copy at the moment, a consequential amendment is required of the 1941 Act, because what the Minister intends to do under Section 14 is not fully implemented in Section 19 of the 1941 Act. I am, however, quite willing to re-examine it. We would not press this to-night. Perhaps I would be permitted to raise it again on the Report Stage, or the Minister might deal with it himself.

Major de Valera

Perhaps we could settle for the deletion of paragraph (n) from Section 14.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On the First Schedule, there is just one point that I would like to hear the Minister explain. It is in relation to the amendment of No. 39 of the 1926 Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act. The amendment takes out certain words from a section and what is left, on my reading of it, does not then make any sense at all. The extent of the repeal is to remove the words:

"and every person so appointed shall hold office until a person is appointed to such office under the provisions (other than this sub-section) of this Act"—in Section 5.

When those words are deleted, subsection (2) of Section 5 then reads:—

"Whenever an office to which this Act applies becomes vacant or (in the case of a new office) is created the local authority, if satisfied that the circumstances of the case so require, may with the consent of the Minister appoint and without requesting or obtaining a recommendation from the commissioners under the subsequent provisions of this Act any person to fill such office temporarily, or the expiration of six months from such office becoming vacant whichever first occurs."

That is what is left.

Major de Valera

There is an injection elsewhere, I think.

It is not clear on the section of the Bill.

Does it not leave Section 5 of the 1926 Act still operating? I speak subject to correction.

The 1940 Act amended Section 5. Has the Deputy Section 5 of the 1926 Act before him?

"on the expiration of six months from such office becoming vacant whichever first occurs"—that was deleted by the amending Act of 1940.

I am delighted, because this now gives a perfect picture of the present Bill as something that seeks to clarify local government law.

I am glad the Deputy appreciates that.

Question put and agreed to.
Amendment No. 53, not moved.
Question proposed: "That the Second Schedule be the Second Schedule to the Bill".

Major de Valera

On the Schedule, we are here dealing with something which relates back to the section in connection with certain conditions in relation to pensions and pensionable employment. We have already made certain submissions. I made some in the course of the debate. Deputy Colley and others have done so too. There are, I think, the seeds of potential injustices within the present framework. Without labouring the arguments already advanced, and of which I hope the Minister is aware, can we ask him now to give that particular matter further consideration?

It will certainly get sympathetic consideration.

Major de Valera

I would like to take this opportunity of mentioning once more that this is, as the Minister says, apparently a departmental Bill prepared with a view to consolidation. Now consolidation is merely the process of clarifying and codifying the existing law. It does not involve new law. This Bill, however, is bringing in new law and one of the most objectionable things I see in the Bill from start to finish is the extension of the power of legislation by Order, particularly in relation to paragraph (n) of Section 14. We have pressed the Minister very strongly on that and we will press him still further on the remaining stages. He has given us, however, a courteous assurance that he will look into the matter and I hope we shall see that defect remedied on the Report Stage.

The Deputy knows my point of view in this matter and I am in complete agreement with him. As I said before, I will look into the matter between now and the Report Stage. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Deputy de Valera, Deputy Briscoe and the Labour Deputies who have given me such considerable help and assistance on the Committee Stage of the Bill.

As well as a few headaches.

We enjoyed curing them.

Question put and agreed to.
Title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

With regard to the next stage, perhaps we could get some agreement. We got the County Management Bill yesterday morning but the Minister has not yet indicated when he proposes to take that measure.

I would hope to have the Second Reading before we reach the Report Stage of the Local Government Bill.

Major de Valera

That would be very satisfactory.

Ordered: That the Report Stage be taken on Wednesday, 23rd February.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 10th February, 1955.