I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. I think it will be of assistance towards the understanding of the need for this Bill and of its provisions if I fill in briefly the historical background. The Irish Civil Service, as such, got its statutory existence from the enactment of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924. Prior to that enactment there had, of course, been a Civil Service in being, consisting, in part, of persons taken over from the old Dáil service and, in part, of persons taken over from the British Civil Service. Former British Departments, such as the Post Office and the Ministry of Labour to mention a few, carried with them into the Irish Civil Service the departmental rules, practice and procedure, particularly in regard to control and discipline, which had applied to the staffs under the British Administration. With minor modifications to meet the new requirements these rules were applied in the new setting both before and after the passing of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, and continue to be applied to this day.
I mentioned that the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, gave a statutory basis to the Irish Civil Service. Shortly before the enactment of that legislation the Oireachtas had passed the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1924, providing for recruitment to the Civil Service. Singularly enough, and to my mind, perhaps inappropriately, that Act, though really dealing with recruitment, contained a provision empowering the Minister for Finance to make regulations for controlling the Civil Service and providing for classification, remuneration, conditions of service and the like.
This regulation-making power has been very sparingly utilised. It may, indeed, be said that to the extent to which regulations were made they scarcely impinged at all on the system of practice and procedure in respect of control and discipline which had been taken over. That system continued to function largely undisturbed by political and statutory change.
Notwithstanding that this system of control and management has worked and continues to work reasonably well, it has for long been felt that a definite basis in Irish law should be given to the system and that legislation should be available to the Irish public indicating on its face how the Irish Civil Service is to be regulated. The Bill now before the House is designed to supply precisely that need. It introduces nothing new. It makes no radical changes. It merely affirms practice of long-standing and seeks to enshrine that practice in legislation.
I do not propose at this stage to go into the various sections of the Bill. That can be done more readily and more conveniently on the Committee Stage. I should, however, mention that this Bill is complementary to the Civil Service Commissioners Bill which is at present before the House. I referred earlier to the fact that in the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1924, Section 9 gave power to the Minister for Finance to make regulations for the control etc. of the Civil Service. That provision is really inappropriate in a Bill which is designed specifically to cover recruitment. It is one of the reasons which led to the preparation of a separate Civil Service Commissioners Bill so that statutory provision for the regulation and control of the Civil Service would be contained exclusively in a single statute.
As I have mentioned, this Bill is mainly a Committee Stage Bill, once one accepts the principle that it is desirable to have an Irish statute dealing with the Irish Civil Service. For that reason, I do not propose at this stage to go into the Bill, section by section, as we shall have full and ample opportunity for any discussion that may be necessary on the various sections on Committee Stage. However, I do think it is desirable to stress that it is more for the purpose of enshrining in our own legislation practice and procedure rather than for the purpose of introducing any new practice or new procedure that I have brought the matter into the House.