Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 12 Feb 1958

Vol. 165 No. 1

Public Business. - Office Premises Bill, 1957—From the Seanad.

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 1:—


In page 4, Section 3 (3) (b), lines 36 and 37 deleted.

The four amendments inserted in this Bill in the Seanad were Government amendments intended mainly to rectify minor drafting points. The first amendment refers to the exclusion of private houses. Deputies are aware that this Bill was drafted by my predecessor and, when he drafted it originally, he had no minimum number of workers prescribed in the Bill to bring premises within its jurisdiction, but he had provision for the exclusion of examination of conditions in private houses. Subsequently, a minimum number was put into the Bill and consequently that provision for excluding private houses was not necessary.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 2:—


In page 8, a new sub-section inserted as follows:—

(6) The Minister may make regulations for offices or for any class or description of office requiring that provision be made for fire preventive facilities.

The Bill as it stood made provision for means of escape in cases of fire. This new sub-section carries the matter a step further and empowers the Minister to make regulations aimed at the prevention of fire. I do not contemplate that these regulations will be made except after consultation with the Minister for Local Government, who is responsible for the administration of the Fire Brigade Acts, and also after consultation with the offices advisory council. I think it is desirable we should have in the Bill the power to make these regulations in case the existing legislation of the Department of Local Government should prove inadequate.

I take it these consultations will take place as the result of the Minister's approach?

I was merely declaring my intentions.

I want to make sure it is declared as the intention of the corporate soul of the Minister, not as the intention of Deputy Lemass personally.

If there is such a thing as a corporate soul.

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 3:—


In paragraph (i), line 30, "when making or signing a declaration" inserted before "required".

Question put and agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 4:—


In page 14, before sub-section (2), line 15, a new sub-section inserted as follows:—

"(2) An offence under this Act alleged to have been committed by the owner or occupier of an office may be prosecuted by a person employed in that office or by an official of a trade union of which that person is a member."

The only people specifically authorised to prosecute an offence were previously limited. This amendment specifically authorises an employee or trade union to prosecute an offence committed by an owner or occupier. I think it is useful to have it here.

Is it in the Factories Act also?

No, I do not think so. It is not quite the same matter. There is a different procedure for enforcement. There was a certain hesitation about doing it because one could foresee vexatious prosecutions brought just to injure a competitor's welfare, but I do not think in the circumstances that danger is very real.

I am not quite so certain about that. I could see considerable difficulty if a row blew up between an employee and his employer —if the employee left the employment of the employer.

That is one of the limitations put in. He must be employed by the owner; he must be a person employed in that way, or it must be an official of the person's trade union.

I would be perfectly happy with the amendment so far as the trade union is concerned, because, used in that way, the power will not be employed vexatiously. I can see a particular case in relation to somebody——

An employee getting the sack and trying to get his own back on his employer?

He would no longer be employed in an office.

If the employee had got notice, he would still be an employee for the purposes of this Act. He could still bring a prosecution. I can see another case that would be undesirable. Suppose, for example, an employee knew his employment had been most unsatisfactory, if he brought a prosecution under this Act, he would put his employer in an impossible position. It would leave him open afterwards to an accusation of victimisation.

Trade union organisations would not be extensive among these classes of workers.

That possibly does meet the point I have visualised, but it is reaching out an impossible, troublesome, vexatious use of the courts. You will always get cranks prepared to go to court on any excuse. Equally, you will get cranks who do not believe that anything a lawyer does is right.

Far be it from me to encourage cranks.

In any case, you have the same difficulty in the Conditions of Employment Act.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreement with Seanad amendments reported.
Report agreed to.
Ordered: That a message be sent to the Seanad accordingly.

Could the Minister say if there is a section providing for the coming into operation of this Act?

It is to come into operation by order. I hope to get it into operation by the beginning of next year. It took 15 months to bring the Factories Act into operation and I should hope to beat that schedule by three or four months.

In a year's time?

I should hope to have it in operation by that time.