Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Appearance of Attorney General in Assurance Case.


andMr. McQuillan asked the Taoiseach whether in view of the fact that the Attorney-General appeared for the defence of the New Ireland Assurance Company in its practice of selling what the President of the High Court described as illegal gambling policies, and that this Company could not be prosecuted because of a time limit for taking proceedings under the Insurance Acts, and in view of the decision of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to warn insurance companies of the gravity of the practice of effecting industrial assurance policies which contravene the provisions of the Insurance Acts, he now considers it right that the Attorney General should continue to participate in this or any further similar case.

It is not proposed to change the present practice regarding the participation of the Attorney General in private cases.

Would the Taoiseach say how he reconciles the position of the Attorney General, in his private capacity defending a company found guilty of illegal practices, with that of the Attorney General in his official capacity prosecuting that same company on behalf of the State?

The Deputy's statement completely misrepresents the position.

The Taoiseach knows perfectly well——

Will the Deputy let me speak? The Attorney General appeared in civil proceedings in which there could be no question of anybody being found guilty of anything.

Is it not a fact that in this case the President of the High Court found that an insurance company had issued illegal gambling policies and that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, when questioned further in the House pointed out that, because of the passage of time since these offences were committed, they were statute-barred and no proceedings could be taken by him against the company? Is there not an offence there? Surely the Attorney General cannot now proceed to defend this company again in the Supreme Court?

The President of the High Court in his judgment stated that is was conceded by counsel for Mr. Wall that the company actedbona-fide in issuing all the policies, and it was never suggested that the directors, knowing that the policies were illegal, allowed them to be issued.

Is it not a fact that, under the 1936 Insurance Act, the Attorney General is bound to notify the Minister of what he suspects to be illegalities under this Act in order to allow the Minister to decide whether proceedings should be taken or whether the practice is in fact illegal? Was that responsibility not on the Attorney General as soon as he was acquainted of the facts of the case?

I do not think so.

Is it not a fact that Section 110 of the 1936 Act makes it mandatory on the Attorney General to consult with the Minister for Industry and Commerce as soon as the Attorney General gets what appears to be evidence of an illegal practice so that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has then an opportunity of taking proceedings? Is it not a fact that when the Attorney General two or three years ago got notice of this case he failed to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister although, according to the 1936 Insurance Act, that was mandatory?

The Attorney General appeared in civil proceedings.

Is it not a fact that under the Act there is no provision whatsoever for abona-fide assumption on the part of the defendant in a case such as this, that the case must be tried and the person found guilty or not guilty under the provisions of the Act?