Committee on Finance. - Statute of Limitations Bill, 1954—Money Resolution.

I move:—

That it is expedient to authorise such payments out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to consolidate with amendments certain enactments relating to the limitation of actions and arbitrations.

I am in rather a difficulty. I do not know exactly what the Money Resolution will involve. Perhaps the Minister could say whether there is anything more than a nominal expenditure involved in it?

It is the usual procedure.

I know the usual procedure. This is a Bill to amend the statute of limitations, and I just do not know how the need for a Money Resolution arises on it. Perhaps the Minister or the Attorney-General would be good enough to say.

We are only taking precautions. We cannot say yet what it will cost.

Perhaps the Attorney-General could say how the need for the Money Resolution arises?

In case there might be money required. It is a precautionary thing only.

Under what particular provisions of the Bill is it envisaged as likely to arise?

Is the Money Resolution agreed to?

No. I am sorry, Sir, but there must be some particular provisions of this Bill under which it is feared—to put it that way—that the need to ask the Oireachtas to provide funds may arise and surely, before the House adopts the Money Resolution, it should be given the information as to the particular clause in the Bill under which the need may arise.

I take it the Money Resolution has been agreed?

No, Sir. I have been at pains to make it quite clear that before the Money Resolution is agreed to, the House is entitled to have a statement from the Government which is promoting this Bill as to the sections of the Bill under which it is feared the State might find itself involved in expenditure and the House would be asked to vote funds.

Right through this Bill there is a distinction made in respect of State authorities which is defined in various sections. It is quite clear, under the Bill, that State authorities might have to take action in the court to establish a right. If that is the case that would require money. It is a precaution taken in case the State might find it necessary to take action.

Let us know what provisions of the Bill we are taking precautions against.

Any number.

That is all very well. There is no doubt the Attorney-General advised on the drafting of this Bill.

I do not propose to enumerate them here and now.

If that is the case, the House must settle this in the usual way.

We do not want to make this a matter of contention, but we are certainly entitled to be treated with some courtesy. The idea of flinging this Bill at the House, as though Deputies were to be like so many letterboxes with apertures down which this measure was going to be shoved by the Attorney-General, is not good enough. There has not been such a mass of legislation before the House that, when a Bill of this sort comes and the House is asked to give general authority—that is what the general resolution means—to enact legislation which may involve the State in expenditure and may, of course, ultimately make the taxpayer subject to taxation, we could not be treated with some greater courtesy than has been extended to us here this evening.

Again I am entitled, in view of the line which the Attorney-General has taken, to go through this Bill section by section and to ask the Attorney-General, who is in charge of the Bill, to tell the House whether in respect of any one of them expenditure may be incurred. I do not want to be difficult in a matter of this sort but I certainly will not permit the House to be treated as though it was a mere rubber stamp. I want to ensure that Deputies, when they ask for information from those who are responsible to the House for the conduct of its business, they will be given that information.

It is not good enough to come in here and, from a superabundance of caution, ask the House to vote a Money Resolution if, in fact, a Money Resolution is not necessary. The procedure which is laid down in this House has been very carefully considered. There is the requirement that before any Bill which may involve the expenditure of public money passes to Committee Stage a Money Resolution will be put before the House, not merely put before the House in a formal manner in which it has been done here but put before the House in detail. On numerous occasions I remember Money Resolutions being debated at great length. I do not propose to follow that example, but I do propose to insist, if I can find sufficient support in the House to do so, that the business of the House will not be treated in the perfunctory sort of way of which we have an example here.

I notice that Part IV of the Bill relates to arbitration. Is it anticipated that any public liability will be incurred in relation to these arbitration proposals? Perhaps the Attorney-General could answer that point?

No. I would say not.

Why could the Attorney-General not say that in the beginning?

Because that is re-enacting what is there already.

If it is re-enacting it and if under previous enactments expenditure may be incurred is there anything in this part to show that the State may not find itself involved in expenditure again under this Bill? However, it is quite obvious that those responsible for the Bill are not disposed to treat the House seriously, that they have, as they have indicated on other occasions, a contempt for the procedure of this House. Even outside this House some members of the Government indicated that they have a contempt for public opinion and they have challenged the people to get them out of this if they dare. I am leaving the House.

Question put and agreed to.
Money Resolution reported and agreed to.