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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Vol. 188 No. 11

Committee on Finance. - Civil Liability Bill, 1960—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

Like other speakers, I welcome the introduction of this Bill. I feel that there may still be some misconceptions in the minds of some people in view of one remark by Deputy Costello who pointed out that, in his view, this Bill would be of benefit not only to members of the lay public but also to the legal profession. Possibly he did not quite adequately stress the fact that benefit to the legal profession would come much more from clarification of the law rather than any financial advantage which may result to them. In actual fact, the legal profession would make much more money, if the law remained in its present uncertain condition, so that in no circumstances should the Bill be regarded as a lawyer's Bill which will benefit them financially in any way.

I think, too, that this is not a Bill on which either side should reprimand the other on the question of delay. Certainly Governments from different Parties had up to now failed to produce this Bill. The Bill is really in the hands of experts. I could well understand that as the experts proceeded through this very difficult sphere of an analysis of the whole question of civil liability, they must constantly have been finding one other point, and two other points, which needed further elucidation.

I can well imagine that those who drafted this Bill must themselves be far from satisfied with its scope as it now stands. It is a difficult matter to discipline oneself and say: "I have gone as far as I propose to go at the moment. We will let it stand and let further amendments be taken under another Bill at a later stage." That has had to be done. In general, the amount of amendment and clarification is very considerable. In particular, the whole question of the survival of causes of action after death is one which certainly was crying out for attention. I welcome this because great injustice has been caused through causes of action ceasing on the death of one or other of the parties.

I was very glad that Deputy Costello dealt very fully with the question of the basis for assessing damages especially in cases of dependency. I have long felt that this question of damages is one which calls for substantial clarification because, as long as the amount of damage is a matter purely in the hands of a jury, the danger of an injustice is very great indeed. Anyone who has sat on a jury in a running-down action where damages are claimed will know that the final decision as to the amount of damages which will be awarded when liability has been established is purely a matter of averaging out between the various members of the jury. To allow the assessment of damages to rest with the jury is basically unsound. The only justification for the jury is to get a layman's opinion as to where the liability should properly rest, but the calculation of damages is not a matter for 12 ordinary men.

There is too much danger of prejudice, of gross irresponsibility, and cases have arisen, and are arising almost every day, where one member of a jury will say that in his opinion £10,000 would be adequate whereas another will put the damages at 5/-. With such excesses on one side or the other, it is almost impossible to reach a just solution. I would hope, therefore, that at some stage we might consider some better basis for the calculation of damages altogether. I agree with Deputy Costello that a purely actuarial calculation is very often unsound, but, at the same time, if we could get some standardisation we would be doing a very good day's work and, apart from anything else, we might be able to avoid the awarding of excessive damages which inevitably results in increases in premiums on insurance policies.

Mention has been made of the possibility of adopting the British procedure of the formation of a law reform committee. That also is something which is very close to my heart, but, unfortunately, with our comparatively small numbers it is very difficult to form the number of committees which this House should have, and it is regrettable that even with the small number of committees at present in existence there is a high proportion of members on each committee who are on the others as well. We find it difficult enough to form committees of this House. Despite these difficulties there is very much to be said for having some standing committee of the House keeping a watchful eye on the whole question of law reform and being prepared to receive representations and make recommendations on the whole question.

The main difficulty about the law is its uncertainty, and, as Deputy McGilligan pointed out, lawyers are always being blamed for the tortuous procedure of the law. It is up to us in this House to make the law more easy, more understandable and more reasonable, and to take the responsibility off the lawyers, because they should not have it. I am not fully persuaded that on this Bill at this stage we should refer the matter to a committee. It has already gone too far. It is generally agreed that the Bill as it stands is basically sound and that the sooner we get it passed the better, but the matter of forming a committee to deal generally with the question of law reform is one which certainly would have my full support.

Mention has been made, too, of the fact that the tortious act of the State does not lead to any liability on the State against a third party. I would agree very much with Deputy O'Higgins on that point that the time has come when the State should no longer be able to avoid its responsibility for any negligence on the part of its servants. I know that at times ex-gratia payments are made in such cases, but I agree with Deputy O'Higgins that the rights of the individual should be preserved against the State just as they are against another individual.

I am glad that this Bill should have been met in this way because I feel that the more we can deal with law reform as a matter of general agreement the better, and it is a pleasure to take part in a debate where we find ourselves so much in agreement. At the same time, I would hope that the fact that we seem to be in general agreement on this measure should not prevent us on the Committee Stage from going into it in great detail, because sometimes a Bill, even when it is agreed, may require amendment either by deletions or by additions, and I hope that in the general spirit of goodwill which is prevailing we may not find ourselves failing to be critical of the whole provision.

Possibly, the most welcome feature of this to me is the fact that this, a very technical Bill, is being dealt with by experts—not only those who are practising the law but also the Parliamentary Secretary, who has dealt with this matter in his introduction of the Second Reading in a most competent way. I know from my own personal experience that his work so far is greatly appreciated by the legal profession, and I feel that the way in which this Bill has been introduced to us has shown us that the Parliamentary Secretary is making a very real contribution to the whole question of law reform. In that I would like to wish him success, not only in this but in any subsequent law reform which he may be able to introduce.

I have only two points to make. Certain Bills come before the House which could be described as lawyers' Bills. In regard to these Bills, the lawyers know all the answers but the layman finds it difficult to follow them, especially a Bill of this magnitude. The layman should be able to follow a Bill. Apart from the Bill presented to this House, a popular Bill, simplified and with explanatory notes, should also be on sale to the public. The public should have an idea of what the law is. They are told that ignorance of the law is no excuse. It is extraordinary that very few people know anything about the law when they find themselves in the dock. They know the common crimes—that they should not break windows or rob a bank—but they do not know the law contained in measures of this nature.

The last speaker said that the question of damages should not be a matter for 12 men to decide. I was in court last week. I was not a party to the issue. I was a friend of the party to the issue. I do not go to the courts often. Somehow, I do not like them. I do not like the atmosphere— a few people with wigs.

I thought the Deputy told us on a previous occasion that he never goes near the courts?

That is true, but a friend of mine was involved in this case. A jury is most important, because if it has any tendency to sympathise, it will sympathise with the victim, with the poor person rather than with the big insurance companies. From my observations of the courts, the lawyers representing the insurance companies are very wide-awake fellows. Obviously, those big business people know whom to pick. They pick the fellow who knows the ropes, who has been at the same sort of job all the time. But the other party to a case might go to any lawyer, a lawyer who does not specialise in that branch of the law, and is therefore at a big disadvantage.

The jury, however, is human and will have sympathy for the small man, instead of the big insurance companies. If the matter rested solely with the judge, he might be a severe judge, rigid as far as the law is concerned and with no human aspect. I say: long live the jury. I found one poor person frightened out of her life, being bullied by a "smart aleck" lawyer. Those are the people who must be protected.

Mr. Ryan

If I may, I shall open with the personal comment that I should not like to be under cross-examination by Deputy Sherwin. I think he might be more unnerving than many of the wigged fraternity he has no great love for.

I have travelled the hard road. Leave me out.

Mr. Ryan

It is very fortunate that Deputy Sherwin has contributed to this debate. I think many of the law Bills in this House would be the better when they go from this House, if some nonlawyers were to participate in the proceedings. The difficulty is that lawyers look at these Bills from their own particular angle. Whether they be practising or non-practising lawyers, they are, nevertheless, soaked in the traditions of their profession.

This Bill is one which can touch any person in the land. Any person who has suffered injury or who may suffer injury in the future is affected by this Bill. While people complain about lawyers and about the injustice which they sometimes believe is meted out to them in the courts, I think it is a pity non-lawyers do not come into this House on an occasion like this when we are discussing such a vital Bill, affecting thousands of cases which go through our courts every year, contract cases, cases of torts or personal injury cases. Our legislators and draftsmen might produce better work, and our amendments might be better, if the non-lawyers were to assist in the framing of legislation such as we have for our consideration today.

To quote Deputy Booth's phrase, in the general spirit of goodwill which prevails, and being prepared to be generous, I want to ask a question. Who, in the main, is responsible for the lines this Bill has taken? It is an unseen group of men who have been labouring not this year only but for many years past, men who have been engaged in intensive research through the legal system of this country and other countries and drafting many Bills, which, it is common knowledge, are pigeonholed in the Department of Justice, ready to be taken out as soon as there is a frenzied call from a Government short of legislation from other Departments. While any non-lawyer must be grateful that we have some badly needed law reform Bills at the moment, let it be said that one of the reasons for it is the Government's gross inactivity in other important Departments of State.

Surely we cannot argue that on this Bill?

Mr. Ryan

We have had a measure of generosity thrown out, and in order to keep the scales right, might it not be in order to say why certain things have taken place? Let me ask another question. Is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice deserving of any thanks whatever in relation to this Bill or any of the current law reform measures? He is not. If he is doing anything in relation to the matter, he is not doing anything the Minister for Justice could not do or is doing something the Minister for Justice ought to do. The Minister for Justice is not in the House to-night when he could be in the House to-night. He was not in the House when other law reform Bills were going through and he could have been.

All that is before the House is the Second Stage of the Bill. The Deputy should relate his remarks to that.

Mr. Ryan

Bouquets have been heaped on the institution of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice in the course of this debate. He is no more responsible for this Bill than the gas lighter is for the sunshine.

Deputy Costello disagrees with you.

Mr. Ryan

Thank goodness, we in Fine Gael can disagree. It is pitiful to see Deputy Booth coming in here so often and speaking against his own convictions. He might feel a lot better and his Party might be a lot better, if there were some disagreement. Perhaps it is that Deputy Costello is a more generous man than I am, but I believe in being exact. I want it to be understood, however, that my criticism of the wasteful institution of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice is not a criticism of the individual who, unfortunately for himself, has to suffer the embarrassment of holding that unnecessary position.

What about the Bill now?

Hear, hear.

Mr. Ryan

This is most pertinent to the Bill. Deputy Booth spoke about how gratified some people were with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice.

I spoke of the way he introduced the Bill. That was as far as I went, as the Deputy would know if only he had listened.

Mr. Ryan

Even in relation to that, the Deputy was being generous to the point of error.

In that event, so was Deputy Costello.

Mr. Ryan

This measure is obviously not one which could have been drafted since 6th May, 1960. If it had been drafted since then, the Parliamentary Secretary would not have been able to open so many car parks and things of that nature.

Nobody said it was.

Mr. Ryan

Our Parliamentary system provides that the head of the Department must take responsibility for the mistakes of his Department. That is democratic advantage. A democratic disadvantage is where the work of a Department lies to the credit of the head or deputy head of the Department although he may have had nothing to do with it.

There has been a tremendous amount of work in relation to this Bill. Obviously, any Bill which seeks to make tremendous amendments in the law of tort, which is one of the main branches of legal knowledge, must entail a colossal amount of work. I think sincere and full congratulations should be extended to those who have done such tremendous work and have brought it to this conclusion.

Having said that, I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary or his advisers or the Minister or the Attorney General have considered whether an Act of Parliament can amount to a breach of copyright. If such can occur, this Bill may put this country in some jeopardy. So much of it has been copied almost word for word from a draft Bill of Dr. Glanville Williams that we might well be leaving ourselves open to an action. I should hope that in such circumstances the members of this House would not be joined with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice as concurring wrongdoers. The Bill as it stands might leave us open to that. It might not be open to us to plead the privilege of this Parliament if proceedings were taken in the country in which the book was published.

While I say that, it is not necessarily to the disadvantage of the Bill itself that that has been done because what Dr. Williams has recommended has a great deal to be said for it. This Bill is principally a Committee Stage Bill—one to which amendments and addenda can be made. Short of trying to deliver in half an hour a lecture on the law of tort one cannot really cover this Bill properly. A number of matters have been left out which we of Fine Gael believe should not have been omitted. We did not take the opportunity we should have taken to abolish the ancient, pernicious and grossly unfair doctrine that the King can do no wrong and of sheltering behind that ancient monarchical institution to protect our Ministers and Departments of State from actions which may lie against them.

The mere fact that ex-gratia payments have sometimes been made in advance is no reason why the Department of Finance should jib at any move to repeal that outmoded and grossly unfair legal rule. I cannot believe that the Department of Justice or any progressive Department want to retain that rule. I believe the blame lies entirely with the Department of Finance. I believe it is time this House indicated it will not tolerate such a feudal and Middle Ages idea as that the State can do no wrong.

Of course, the State and institutions of the State can do as much wrong as anybody else even though the general taxpayer will have to compensate for anybody who has done wrong. Obviously, a burden spread amongst 2¾ million people would be far less severe than a burden can be on one individual.

What is the position at the moment? Let us take the high Government building in Kildare Street. Suppose a fault should develop in the lift and the lift doors remain open. Suppose the lift is at the bottom and some person at the top of the building walks into the empty lift shaft and falls to sudden death. As things stand, there would be no right of action to anybody against the State because the State could not be responsible for the condition of the lift. We have an exception where we provide under the Road Traffic legislation that action can be taken against the Minister for Finance in respect of a State-owned vehicle. There are many fields outside that in which damage can occur to individuals and not to amend that sorry state of affairs in a Bill in this age is a deplorable position.

Another extraordinary aspect of our legal position at the moment is that there are less damages or compensation for death than for the loss of a limb or an eye. I appreciate that if you die you cannot get the damages yourself but your dependants will get far less. There will be far less money to provide for them if the breadwinner dies than if the breadwinner were to remain living but disabled. It can be argued that if the person dies you do not have to maintain, feed and clothe that person for the rest of his natural life. Quite true. But the difference between the compensation awarded in the case of death and the compensation awarded in the case of living persons is so great as to require legislative measures to ensure that proper compensation be paid in the case of death.

The matters covered by this Bill are ones which a solicitor in the ordinary way would not dream of making a decision upon. He would refer it to a senior counsel for advice and perhaps senior counsel would advise that a second senior be brought in. It happens that solicitors in their business have to explain the law to poor people—people coming to seek redress. Many cases never reach court at all because poor people have not the means to initiate legal proceedings.

While I would say that the greater number of lawyers will always endeavour to assist the poor and people without means, nevertheless there will always be cases in which justice cannot be done to a poor person. It may require a system of free legal assistance in order to arrive at a position in which the courts would be open to all without consideration of their means.

This Bill goes some way to assisting people with limited means to recover compensation in respect of injuries. At the moment, if, as happens, one person is only 1 per cent. responsible and another is 99 per cent. responsible, the person who is 1 per cent. responsible puts himself in jeopardy by taking legal proceedings. If he goes to court, the jury may well find that the defendant has been guilty of negligence but that the plaintiff has been guilty of negligence also. The result is that such a plaintiff not only does not get any damages but has awarded against him a substantial bill of costs which in a High Court action may run into several hundreds if not thousands of pounds. Obviously, where you have such a system, people are hesitant about seeking redress in our courts and that will create, as it has done, feelings that the courts are open only to people with means. This Bill proposes to provide that if a person has contributed to some extent to his own misfortune, then to that extent—but only to that extent—he will not recover against the other side.

I believe that will increase the number of cases in which people will seek redress at law but it will also have the effect, and this will be one of the advantages, of getting more actions settled out of court. Those who jeer at the lawyers think this is a lawyers' Bill and that only the lawyers are interested in it because of the money they will make out of it. At the moment insurance companies with vast reserves behind them can easily stand the cost of defending a High Court action or even going on to appeal in the Supreme Court, if they feel there is the least prospect of succeeding on an issue of contributory negligence, so long as they think the other side is any kind of a mark for money. One of the effects of this Bill will be to compel insurance companies to have regard to the degrees to which people have been responsible for an accident and on that account, I believe we may be saved some of the excessive and unnecessary legal actions which have been taken from time to time.

Deputy Booth attacked the jury system and I was glad that Deputy Sherwin rose to rebut that attack. It is not by way of criticism of our circuit court judiciary that I say that I have found in the circuit court, where actions are frequently decided without a jury, that you can get more biassed decisions, either with small or great damages, than you get even from a jury. Lawyers who practise in court from day to day can forecast in circuit court actions what damages will be awarded, depending on what judge takes a particular case. It is obviously undesirable that decisions affecting compensation or damages in large amounts should be left to the whims and fancies of particular judges. It is not criticism of them to say that I have no doubt that were we to empanel 12 members of the House and ask them to decide in a matter of compensation, we might well get 12 different decisions. But suppose you have a case where you have a motor cyclist and a motorist involved. You may have a judge who has a bee in his bonnet about motor cyclists or cyclist generally. He will give purely nominal damages to a motor cyclist who may have been injured by the carelessness of another. Alternatively, you may have a judge—there are not many that I know—who may be a motor cyclist and who would give substantial damages to a motor cyclist.

We know from experience that where decisions are made by individual judges, you can get those extraordinary extremes, but if you submit a case to 12 jurymen, they are charged with their responsibilities. The barristers on both sides explain to them the considerations that must not enter into their minds and the considerations which ought to be considered. In case there is any doubt, the judge, in his final charge to the jury, limits the matters which the jury may take into consideration. Recently, we had a discussion on juries in the course of the Juries Bill debate and I think it was common case that jurymen, by and large, are responsible people, not likely in the mass to take extraordinary decisions. There may be individuals who do it but they are almost certain to be evened out when you have 12 jurymen.

If justice is to be done, I believe our system of dealing with damages in the High Court must continue to depend on juries. This Bill will allow juries, I believe, to give more just decisions than may have been the case in the past. There was always the possibility, even probability, that in the past juries here awarded greater damages in some cases than they might reasonably have done. It was felt in such cases that you were only stinging an insurance company and that you were paying high premiums and that there was no great harm done. That did not happen in all cases, but it happened in some, and it may have been what Deputy Booth had in mind when criticising juries.

Under this measure, the jury will have a dual responsibility. They will have to consider the proportions in which the two parties have been responsible so that in road accident cases they may well find themselves having to balance one side against the other. I believe there will be less likelihood in such cases now of excessive damages being awarded than there might have been in the past.

Some Deputies have favoured sending this Bill to a Select Committee of the House. I think that would not be the best way of getting it through quickly and that, with the limitations which are in it, it would be better to put through this amount of reform at this stage rather than send the Bill to a Select Committee. From information elicited in the House recently, we know that the various court rules committees have not been overworked, that they have been rather ineffective and that some of them have not met at all. Obviously, the people best equipped to sit on a Select Committee on this Bill are those who are busiest in the practice of the law. If this did go to a Select Committee, I think it would lead to procrastination, even with the best of goodwill on all sides, and it would be better to have this House consider the Committee Stage of the Bill. A Bill of this kind, if understood properly, should be debated by others besides lawyers.

There are some individual comments which I should like to make on the Bill but I think I had best reserve them for Committee Stage. I renew my congratulations to those responsible for the Bill and for the vast amount of research which went into it. We should not, I think, let the occasion pass without making special comment on the practice which has grown up in the Department of Justice of issuing explanatory memoranda in connection with Bills of this kind. Even to lawyers, believe it or not, a Bill such as this is hardly comprehensible unless there is an explanatory memorandum with it. Magnificent a piece of work as the Bill is, the explanatory memorandum surpasses it. Every commendation is due to those who put so much work into the preparation of the Bill and the accompanying White Paper. It would be churlish on my part to criticise further. I shall reserve my more individual comments for the Committee Stage.

I want to thank the House for the manner in which they have received this Bill, and to say that the majority of the speakers have accepted the Bill in a very excellent spirit. With regard to the comments made by Deputy McGilligan, I shall confine myself to saying that he might, at least, have given me the credit for being able to read. I should have thought that Deputy McGilligan would not have been so foolish as to think that just because we adopted, in the main, the proposals of Dr. Williams, the House cannot amend the Bill in any way it pleases. Of course, it can.

I should also have expected that Deputy McGilligan as a member of a Faculty of Law would have been familiar with the practice which prevails in many countries, particularly in the United States of America. There, academic lawyers, professors in the Universities, very often provide the Legislation with a piece of legislation ready for enactment. I suppose it was too much to hope that Deputy McGilligan would be sufficiently in touch with other legal systems around the world. I make no apology for accepting Dr. Williams's Bill. I made it absolutely clear in my opening remarks that we were doing so. If Dr. Williams's Bill is a good Bill and if we believe it will do what we want to do, we make no apology to anyone for adopting it.

The carping, niggling criticism that we have copied the Bill in full from Dr. Williams's book is not even correct. If those who made the criticism had studied the Bill in full, they would have seen that we have made certain changes. I should also point out to Deputy McGilligan that we are fully aware of the comments the judge made in the Moloney v. Llewellyn case. We are also fully aware—I suppose it is too much to expect that Deputy McGilligan should be aware—that judges have been apportioning damages in Canada since 1924, in England since 1945, and in Northern Ireland since 1948. I do not think that particular aspect will terrify our courts or make the Bill in any way difficult to work.

I was particularly grateful for the manner in which Deputy Costello spoke on the Bill. In his comments there was evidence of a constructive and thoughtful approach. His suggestions will be very carefully examined. We are, indeed, very grateful for that kind of constructive criticism. I am certainly quite prepared to have another look at the provision excluding damages for reduction in the expectation of life. As I said in my opening remarks this is a difficult and complex problem and we finally came down on one side. It is, however, a matter on which we will be only too pleased to have the considered view of the House and from that point of view I am particularly grateful for Deputy Costello's very useful exposition of the problem as he sees it.

All the points made by both Deputy Costello and Deputy O'Higgins will be carefully considered. The question as to whether adequate damages are provided for dependants is one on which we can always have a useful and helpful discussion here, a discussion in which the views of the practitioner will be of very great assistance in coming to a decision. I agree with both Deputy Booth and Deputy Costello in their criticism of the purely actuarial calculation of damages for dependants. As they are aware, in Scotland there is the solatium provision which is an attempt to compensate for the actual sorrow suffered.

We shall also examine the question of the lodgment in court of money for persons under 21 and the case of the unborn child. I can tell the House that we did consider the whole question of the distinction between misfeasance and nonfeasance on the part of a local authority. Deputy O'Higgins referred specifically to this matter. He will appreciate that there is more than just legal reform involved. There are the very considerable financial implications for the local authority. We gave a lot of thought to that. I should not like the House to think that, just because we have not included any provision with regard to it, we have not explored it pretty fully.

I want to give Deputy O'Higgins full credit for the fact that he has been interested in this matter of the introduction of a Bill of this kind for a considerable time. I should be less than gracious if I were to deny him that credit. He has consistently here prodded and repeatedly asked when the Bill would be introduced. He has shown his interest to-night in the constructive speech he made. He raised the question of the old maxim that "The king can do no wrong". We have modified that to some extent with regard to motor vehicles.

That was some time back.

I agree that the whole question of State liability should be examined. I have had suggestions made to me in regard to that matter. One aspect of the approach of both Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Ryan struck me as a little amusing. In so far as the Bill was a good one and the explanatory memorandum excellent, the officials of my Department must get the credit; in so far as the Bill was alleged to be nothing more than a mere cog in some respects, I was to be blamed. That was a fine distinction that did not escape me. I also realise, as some members have pointed out, that the whole background of this Bill must be considered in relation to the question of whether or not we continue to have juries in civil cases. We have not made any proposal in this Bill in regard to juries in civil cases and I do not think this would be the appropriate Bill to make any such proposal.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be very slow to entertain any such proposal.

My personal approach to that problem is to proceed very slowly and cautiously. That is why there is nothing in the Bill on those lines. We wanted to have this Bill introduced and circulated. If the matter of injuries were to be covered, we should not have had the Bill during this session; and I feel sure that Deputy T.F. O'Higgins is as anxious as I am to have this Bill enacted without too much delay.

Deputy Sherwin mentioned that the Bill was complicated and difficult. Certainly this branch of the law is a complex and complicated one but he should realise that we published with the Bill a very detailed and clear explanatory memorandum. Indeed Deputy Sherwin, if he goes through the Bill slowly, will find it extremely readable even to the layman. I do not think he can be too critical of us in regard to the complexity of the provisions. The Bill itself is not in general too difficult to follow and our explanatory memorandum attempts to make at least the main issues involved clear to the layman. I would agree with those who very rightly said this is primarily a Committee Stage Bill.

I am anxious that as it is a legal reform measure it should be brought into the House here and discussed as such and that any element of Party politics should be removed and that we should all confine ourselves to devoting whatever measure of skill and experience we have to providing for the people the best possible Bill. I am confident that once some of the initial things that some people have to say have been said, we shall be able to go on from there and do that. I understand there is a desire that this Bill should go to a Special Committee of the House?

A Select Committee.

I want to suggest that a Special Committee would be a more suitable vehicle. With regard to the question of people presenting evidence, I think we will be able to achieve that through a Special Committee. We have, as Deputies know, sent the Bill to everybody who might be able to make a contribution and we confidently expect to get back in due course the considered views on the Bill of those persons and bodies. I undertake that if we have a Special Committee all the views we receive will be put before the Committee. I think if we go through the procedure of having a Select Committee, we will not do our work expeditiously. I should strongly advise a Special Committee, with the clear understanding that all relevant and useful submissions will be supplied to that Committee.

There is not any note taken at a Special Committee and we regard it as essential there should be a note.

There is no reason why we should not have a note.

Is that not one of the differences between a Special Committee and a Select Committee?

Special Committees are officially reported.

We were led to believe that they were not. I understand the usual channels are in agreement that we should leave until to-morrow morning the question of the type of committee so that we can iron out the whole problem between now and then.

Our concern in that regard was that the views of the affected bodies—the Bar Association of Ireland, the Incorporated Law Society and the body representing the insurance companies—would be heard from the representatives of those bodies —that they would be received by the committee. It would be much more efficacious if the committee heard the views of those people. Time is lost in the preparation of memoranda from such bodies, as well as which the written word may not express fully what is sought to be conveyed.

The usual channels have been in communication and the matter can be referred to in the morning.

Question put and agreed to.