Vote 21—Office of the Minister for Justice.

I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £161,210 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1966, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice, and of certain other Services administered by that Office, including a Grant-in-Aid; and of the Public Record Office, and of the Keeper of State Papers and for the purchase of Historical Documents, etc.

As the House is aware, the tradition in dealing with my Department's Estimates had been to treat the six Votes, for which the Minister for Justice is responsible, as one group so that there may be one general discussion, without, of course, prejudicing the right of any Deputy to raise a particular point on any individual Vote. With your permission, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I propose to follow this tradition.

The total Estimate for all the Votes for which I am responsible is £10,277,340. The total provision for last year was £9,709,300. The proposed provision for this year is, therefore, higher by £568,040 than the total amount provided last year. This increase is principally due to some salary increases determined by the conciliation and arbitration machinery, increases in the rates of travelling and subsistence allowances, increased provision for Garda pensions, the provision for a modest increase in staff, mainly in the Land Registry.

The Vote for the Office of the Minister for Justice caters for the staff and services of the Department's Headquarters, and shows an increase of £59,500. Of this increase, £20,000 is required for a new service, Free Legal Aid in Criminal Cases, to which I shall refer later. The headquarters staff is being strengthened by the provision of additional officers to deal with a growing volume of work on the law reform side, the requirements of prison and penal reform work, and the investigational activities of the Adoption Board, for which additional Welfare Officers are being provided.

The Vote includes provision for a substantial increase—from £500 to a maximum of £4,000, in the assistance to be given to the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for the publication of the Law Reports. Discussions between my Department and the Council, with a view to arranging for the sale of judgments at scrivenery fees, and for the prompt publication of enlarged volumes of Reports, have been going on for some time and we have now reached the stage where I can say, with some confidence, that a satisfactory outcome is in sight. As a legal practitioner at one time myself I was aware of the great need for these reforms and I am happy to have been able to bring the negotiations to the final stages. I am confident that the Courts and the legal profession will be well served under the new scheme. There is, however, a reduction from £3,500 to £1,500 in the assistance provided in the Vote for the Council for the publication of legal text books; the simple fact is that the sums provided in the Vote in the past few years have not been expended and the reduced sum reflects a more realistic assessment of probable requirements under this heading.

Dnring the past year, substantial advances were made in relation to our Programme of Law Reform which was foretold in a White Paper in 1962. This programme is so extensive and capable of such expansion that the determination of an order of priorities is unavoidable. For my own part, I am anxious that immediate emphasis should be placed on practical measures of reform which will benefit the ordinary citizen. To this end, I have asked the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure, which was set up in 1962 under the chairmanship of a judge of the Supreme Court, to examine as a matter of urgency certain proposals which I have put before it with a view to simplifying legal procedure and reducing the cost of litigation. I had in mind that the Committee might look at such matters as enlarging substantially the jurisdiction of the District Court and of the Circuit Court so as to make law more available to our people throughout the country. In my view, there are many issues between parties which could be agreed on a pre-trial basis and so save considerable time in the hearing of litigation. This is one of the matters on which I have asked the Committee to express their views.

I am glad to pay special tribute to this Committee for the good work that they are doing. They have already produced two valuable Reports in relation to the preliminary investigation of indictable offence— that is the taking of depositions— and in relation to juries. These Reports are being studied in my Department with a view to the promotion of the required legislation.

The Ground Rents Commission, under the chairmanship of a judge of the Circuit Court, reported during the year and recommended that leaseholders should be given the right to acquire the freehold of their premises. The Government have accepted the recommendations of the Commission, in principle, and the necessary legislation is now in course of preparation. I know the House will join with me in thanking the Commission who gave so generously of their time and valuable experience, and who by their report have hastened the achievement of a most desirable reform.

As regards the report of the Inter-departmental Committee on Malicious Injuries to the Person and Property, the Government have approved publication of a summary of the report and this is now with the printers. The action to be taken by the Government on the report must await consideration in the light of public reaction to the proposals made by the Committee.

During 1964 Bills relating to the abolition of capital punishment in most cases of murder, guardianship of infants, registration of title, civil liability, and pawnbrokers were passed. The Pawnbrokers Act came into force on 1st January, 1965, but the Registration of Title Act, which provides for the consolidation and amendment of the law relating to the registration of title to land and for the eventual compulsory registration of all the land, urban and rural, has not yet been brought into operation owing to the necessity for a large-scale reorganisation in the Land Registry.

Another Act which has been brought into operation is the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act, 1962, which, in accordance with an order which I have made, commenced on 1st April, 1965. As from that date, in respect of criminal proceedings not initiated earlier, free legal aid may be assigned by any court to conduct the defence or an appeal, as the case may be, on behalf of a poor person. Applications for such free legal aid are to be determined by the courts on the basis of the insufficiency of the means of the applicants and of the seriousness of the charges and the circumstances of cases. Solicitors will be assigned by the courts and counsel are also allowed in more serious cases. The fees will be paid by the State according to a scale prescribed in the Regulations. Travelling expenses of solicitors and allowances to defence witnesses may also be paid.

This scheme of free legal aid is an experimental one and its continuance will largely depend on the way in which it is operated. Its financial aspects are of very great importance to the State and the intentions of the legislature will be disregarded if the scheme is not operated in a commonsense, uniform manner by the courts throughout the country. In introducing the measure, my predecessor thought it desirable to outline the circumstances in which free legal aid might be granted and now that the scheme is commencing to operate, I, too, feel it desirable to mention the circumstances under which it is expected that the scheme will operate. I think that I cannot improve on the Ministerial statement on the Second Reading of the Bill outlining the principles to be followed.

I quote:—

(a) The situation does not, however, call for the grant of free legal aid in every criminal case or even in serious criminal cases where, as so often happens, there is no difficulty about the facts or about the law applicable to them. For example, free legal aid could not be justified in the case of experienced criminals—and there are quite a few of them—who have deliberately decided to make a living of crime.

Accordingly, the scheme provided for in the Bill does not propose to allow the grant of free legal aid in any indiscriminate fashion. The courts will have the responsibility of examining each case—except where criminal appeals are permitted to be taken to the Supreme Court and where a point of law of exceptional public importance is bound to be involved—to see whether having regard to the particular circumstances it is essential in the interests of justice that free legal aid be provided. I have no doubt that the courts will interpret these provisions in a common sense manner just as similar provisions have been interpreted in Britain and Northern Ireland. In this way genuine miscarriages of justice will be prevented and the grant of legal aid will be confined to serious cases of real doubt or difficulty.

Two Bills are at present in course of passage through the House, the Succession Bill and the Extradition Bill. Deputies will be sufficiently familiar with the position in regard to the Succession Bill but I think it necessary to explain why it has not been possible, up to now, to make further progress on the Extradition Bill, which passed Committee Stage on 19th February, 1964, on the understanding that it would be recommitted to consider Opposition amendments which were to be tabled. Subsequently, as a result of decisions of the Supreme Court and of the British House of Lords, the existing reciprocal arrangements under the old Petty Sessions Act became inoperative.

The British, as a temporary measure, made an Order in Council which enabled our warrants to be enforced in Britain again and have since introduced legislation, after consultation with us, providing up-to-date arrangements in this matter. The Bill was re-introduced last week and the text and an explanatory memorandum will be circulated within the next few days. In this connection I might mention that already discussions have been taking place between the Commissioner of the Garda and the Inspector General of the RUC and between senior officers of the two police forces with a view to that closer co-operation in crime prevention and detection on both sides of the Border, which will be made possible by the enactment of the extradition legislation.

Proposals for the reciprocal enforcement of judgements and maintenance orders as between ourselves and the North and Britain are under examination in my Department, and I am hopeful that considerable progress will be made in these matters during the coming year. As regards our relations with the Council of Europe in the legal field, I had the honour of addressing the Consultative Assembly in January in relation to the deliberations of the Third Conference of European Ministers of Justice held in Dublin last May. My Department participated in the Council's legal activities during the past year, notably in the European Committee on Legal Co-operation, which directs and supervises the expanded legal programme of the Council, and in the Committee of Experts preparing a Uniform Law on Arbitration. We were represented also at the Tenth Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law held in October last and at a United Nations seminar in Rome on the treatment of delinquency.

The Adoption Board continues to handle a steady stream of applications for adoption orders. 1,003 orders were made in 1964, 163 more than in 1963. 499 of the orders were in respect of boys and 504 in respect of girls. At the end of 1964 there were 22 adoption societies registered by the Board and 77 per cent of the children in respect of whom adoption orders were made during the year were placed by adoption societies.

One of the Board's problems was removed by the Adoption Act, 1964, which provides that, where a child was illegitimate when the mother gave her formal consent to its adoption and the Board has had no evidence brought to its notice that the child was subsequently legitimated, it may assume that the child was not legitimated. This provision is important primarily because it relieves the Board of the need to make last-minute enquiries to ensure that the natural parents had not married—a task that was often difficult and almost invariably had a negative result. The 1964 Act also made some other modifications that benefited some applicants.

Under the 1952 Act, an application for an adoption order had to be made before the child reached the age of seven—there was an exception in favour of children in the custody of applicants before the passing of the Act. The Board is now empowered to raise that limit to nine years, to deal with cases where, for one reason or another, the adoptive parents had failed to make the application in time even though they had informally adopted the child earlier. Under the 1952 Act the minimum age for adopters, save in the case of relatives where special provisions apply, is 30 years. The 1964 Act reduced the limit to 25 years in the case of a married couple, married to each other for at least three years.

In order to facilitate adopters, the Board are holding more meetings out of Dublin. In 1964, 23 out of a total of 61 meetings of the Board were held outside Dublin. Meetings were held in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and Tralee. The Chairman of the Board, who is a Metropolitan District Justice, has recently been relieved of his ordinary judicial duties so that he can devote himself full-time to the duties of Chairman.

The number of welfare officers working for the Board has been increased from two to four and it is hoped to recruit another officer in the near future.

During the year, 3,384 aliens were in residence here for periods of three months or more. The corresponding figure for 1963 was 3,183 and, in fact, there has been no significant change in our resident alien population for many years. It is estimated that, apart from those who came here from Britain and Northern Ireland, over 68,000 aliens came to this country direct from the Continents of Europe and America, as compared with 55,500 in 1963. Of course, the very great majority of aliens arriving here are visitors for a week or two and as their stay does not exceed three months they are not classifiable as registered aliens under the Aliens Act.

Eighty-one persons were granted certificates of naturalisation as Irish citizens in 1964. In all, just over 2,400 persons—roughly one-fifth being under 21 years of age—have been naturalised since 1935, when provision was first made in our law for the grant of certificates of naturalisation. Twenty-eight per cent of these were British, 16 per cent German, 7 per cent Italian, with lesser percentages otherwise. Aliens of 44 nationalities have been granted Irish citizenship.

The Film Censor examined 980 films in 1964. Eight hundred and twenty-four films were passed — seven on appeal—and 113 were passed with cuts —three on appeal. Forty-three films were rejected. The total footage examined was just under 3,300,000, a drop of about 80,000 feet on the previous year.

As the House is aware, from earlier discussions on the subject, the five-year term of office of the Censorship of Films Appeal Board expired at the end of the year and, in reconstituting the Board for another term, I decided that it would be as well to have appeals heard by entirely new personnel, persons who would not feel tied down by decisions made in earlier years when standards of viewing differed somewhat. The personnel include a judge of the Circuit Court as chairman, a Metropolitan Justice, two Catholic and a Protestant clergyman, a psychiatrist, a trade union leader and social workers, all of whom were interested in film presentation. It would seem that the operation of our film censorship system is generally regarded as satisfactory. Of course it is impossible to please everyone.

The Censorship of Publications Board examined 537 books and 31 periodicals in 1964. Of these, 16 books were examined as a result of formal complaints and 521 were examined on reference from the customs authorities. The Board made 361 Prohibition Orders in respect of books and 21 in respect of periodicals. Seven of the books had been the subject of Prohibition Orders in earlier years but, for technical reasons, it was necessary to make repeat Orders in respect of them. There were 10 appeals in respect of books, one of which was allowed, and two appeals in respect of periodicals, neither of which was allowed.

Comhairle na Mire Gaile awarded two bronze medals and 46 certificates for bravery.

I now pass on to the Garda Síochána Vote, which is No. 22. The provision for this Vote shows an increase of £291,520 on the total provision made in the original and supplementary estimates last year. The major portion of this increase is in the pensions subhead—subhead H—which shows an increase of £1,73,000. This is due to the continuing increase in the number of pensioners caused by resignations from the Force on grounds of age. The increase in pensions granted in October last to State pensioners generally has also contributed to the increase in this subhead.

There is an increase of about £50,000 in subhead A, but were it not for the fact that it was necessary to provide for payment of 53 weeks' pay, instead of 52, to weekly-paid men— that is about one-third of the Force— expenditure under this subhead would be about the same as last year.

The clothing subhead also shows an increase. This is because it was necessary to provide for an issue of great coats this year. Also it is necessary to replenish clothing stocks, which have run rather low, and provision has been made for this. Price increases have also had an effect.

The increase in subhead B reflects increases in a number of allowances, such as subsistence allowance and locomotion allowance, that have been granted to the Force following recommendations from the Garda Conciliation Council under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme. Provision is also made in this subhead for the purchase of some new equipment, such as photographic and other technical equipment, and also for additional wireless equipment. This is in line with the general policy of providing for the police whatever technical aids they need and of keeping their equipment as up-to-date as possible.

I am glad to report that there has been substantial continued progress in Garda building. During the year under review 19 new stations with 27 married quarters have been provided by the Office of Public Works, and 155 houses have been provided by the National Building Agency. This is an increase of some 80 houses on the figures for the previous year. At present, work is in progress on 16 new stations and 188 houses and married quarters.

The new Training Centre at Templemore, which was opened a year ago, is now functioning smoothly. The accommodation there caters for 320 recruits which is about twice as many as it was possible to house in the old Depot; in addition, there is accommodation for resident unmarried training staff and for members taking more advanced courses. At a period when large numbers of Gardaí are retiring on grounds of age, we can count ourselves fortunate that steps have been taken to provide the new accommodation in time to meet the increased requirements.

The transfer of the Training Centre to Templemore coincided with the introduction of a change in the system of recruit training. The former system, which had been in operation for some years, provided an initial period of 22 weeks' instruction in the training school, followed, after about 12 months' practical work at a Garda station, by a final period of 4 weeks' fulltime instruction in the training school. It was felt that better results would be achieved and a greater degree of efficiency brought about by deferring, until the recruit had gained some practical experience, the study of the heavier subjects in the criminal code. Accordingly, the period of initial training has been shortened from 22 weeks to 18 weeks, and the final period of instruction, which, as before, is given after one year's "on-the-job" training, has been lengthened correspondingly from 4 weeks to 8 weeks. On the conclusion of the final period of instruction the recruit will be tested by an examination which will cover the entire period of training from attestation up to the date of the examination. The new scheme provides that the recruit will study the more involved aspects of his work after he has gained some practical experience and I am confident that the result will be that on completion of his training a recruit will be much better qualified than before to undertake the full range of his duties.

The strength of the Force and its distribution throughout the country continues to be kept under active review. A study of the position in Dublin led to the implementation in June last of a major reorganisation of the arrangements for policing the city and its environs. In carrying out this reorganisation, three major factors were borne in mind: firstly, the need for unified police control of the city, the outer suburbs and nearby towns; secondly, the desirability of reducing the size of the former districts, that is, the geographical units in direct charge of Superintendents; and thirdly, the desirability of allocating more officers to specialised duties of criminal investigation and traffic control.

The factors I have mentioned arose directly from the great increase in population, not only in the city proper but also in the outer suburbs, and from the increase not only in the volume but also in the complexity of urban crime and traffic. Although one-half of all crime in the State is committed in the metropolis, only about one-tenth of the total strength of Chief Superintendents and Superintendents was assigned to it.

In June last the new Dublin Metropolitan Area was set up and the reorganisation brought Dublin City and its environs, from Howth to Bray, under unified control. The enlarged area has a population of slightly more than one-fourth of the total population of the State, and has a serving police strength of 2,026, which is 260 more than the strength of the former Metropolitan Division.

The new area is in charge of an Assistant Commissioner, and provision is made for him to have the assistance at area headquarters of a Chief Superintendent and four Superintendents for specialised duties related to crime supervision, criminal investigation, crime prevention, traffic control and administration. The new area is divided into two Divisions, each in charge of a Chief Superintendent. At each Divisional Headquarters there will be, in addition to the Chief Superintendent, a Superintendent for criminal investigation. There will also be a Superintendent for traffic control.

The new area has a total of 13 districts, each in charge of a superintendent. Seven of these districts are attached to the Southern Metropolitan Division, and six to the Northern Metropolitan Division. The Garda authorities are fully satisfied that this new scheme of control around Dublin has already achieved better police results in dealing with crime and other police matters.

The increased requirements of the Dublin area, particularly in the matter of officers, is fortunately only part of the picture. While it has been necessary to provide, as I have outlined, additional officers for Dublin, a review of police distribution throughout the country showed that these officers could be made available, without increasing the overall strength, by re-organising some country Divisions where the officer strength had proved to be capable of some reduction. This reorganisation has already taken place in Kilkenny, Meath and Donegal and in that way it has been found possible to transfer three Superintendents to the new Dublin area. Police arrangements in some other Divisions are at present under review. The simple fact is that, outside of Dublin and one or two other large centres of population, organised crime is practically non-existent.

I should like to assure the House, however, in regard to these transfers, and also in regard to the closing or reduction of stations, that changes are made only after it has been clearly established that the efficiency of police supervision of the areas concerned will not suffer as a result. In every case, alternative arrangements are made to ensure that the area concerned is adequately policed. It is, in my opinion, a good thing that the operation of the system permits of the reallocation of manpower from place to place where the services of Gardaí can be most effectively used at particular times. I am sure that there will be general agreement that, when additional Gardaí are required for any police purposes, they should, as far as possible, be provided from within the Force. There is no question, of withdrawing officers or men from any place where they are needed. I am satisfied that we have a very fine police machine in this country which is functioning smoothly and efficiently. The pay is good, the conditions of service are good and we are getting plenty of recruits of the right calibre.

I am glad to report that the Garda authorities are pressing ahead with the campaign to encourage members to participate actively in all branches of outdoor and indoor sport. Each Garda Division now has an active sports committee, and the Executive Committee, which is under the chairmanship of a Deputy Commissioner, includes representatives of the various games and sports. During recruit training, members are encouraged in every possible way to take part in sports. Playing fields, handball alleys, and a basketball court have already been provided at the Training Centre in Templemore, and organised games play an important part in the training course. When the new swimming pool at Templemore is completed, as I hope it will be shortly, there will be a fresh emphasis on swimming and life-saving. Gardaí in Dublin continue to have access to the swimming pool of Messrs. Arthur Guinness & Co., and this generous gesture on the part of the firm makes a very valuable contribution to the promotion of skill in swimming and life-saving techniques.

I am sorry to have to say that the upward trend of recent years in the number of crimes being committed has continued. The toal number of indictable crimes in the year ended 30th September, 1964, was 17,700 as against 16,203 in 1963 and 15,307 in 1962. Larcenies showed the biggest increase —from 10,203 in 1963 to 11,972 in 1964, and housebreaking and similar offences increased from 4,006 in 1963 to 4,282 in 1964.

More than 10,000 of these indictable offences were committed in the new Dublin Metropolitan police area which embraces Dublin city, most of County Dublin and small portions of some of the adjoining counties. It is apparent, therefore, that the incidence of crime outside the Dublin area is comparatively small.

I can assure the House that no efforts are being spared in the war on crime but, as Deputies are aware, there appears to be a world-wide increase in crime. It is some consolation, perhaps, for us to know that the incidence of indictable crime per 100,000 of the population is far lower here than in neighbouring countries and that our police detection rates are far higher both as regards our cities and rural areas when compared with corresponding entities abroad. For instance, as compared with the latest available figures (1963) for England and Wales the number of indictable crimes per 100,000 of the population is very low: 632 in this country as against 2,100 there; furthermore, the detection rate here was 64 per cent as against 43 per cent there. Strict comparisons are not justifiable, of course, but the overall picture does seem to show that the crime wave which has flooded most countries in recent years has touched us comparatively lightly. That is not to suggest that we are complacent about the problem. All possible steps have been taken to equip the Gardaí with technical equipment and expert knowledge to deal with the situation. We have had a number of Superintendents, Inspectors and Sergeants trained in the most modern police methods at British and USA police schools. We have provided radio police networks around Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford and, gradually, the whole country is being covered by a radio police network which allows information to be flashed instantly to police stations over wide areas. We have also had a pilot two-way walkie-talkie scheme put into operation recently for the man-on-the-beat in Dublin. We are not concerned at all with the cost but with results, with getting the best system that suits our particular police needs. When this pilot scheme—or some other one— has proved itself the equipment will be supplied generally in Dublin and, later, in other centres. Deputies may have noticed that we have availed of the services of Telefís Éireann to broadcast topical weekly police messages. In general, the picture is of a good police machine functioning smoothly.

The total number of persons prosecuted for summary offences rose from 101,467 in 1963 to 120,715 in 1964, the biggest increase being in road traffic offences, for which nearly 95,000 persons were prosecuted as compared with less than 75,000 in the previous year.

The Vote for Prisons at £402,950 is £75,110 more than last year's. The greater part of the increase is accounted for by pay increases. The prisons staffs benefited from the ninth round pay increases as did other workers: in addition, a number of the grade claims submitted on behalf of the different prison officer ranks have been settled under the conciliation and arbitration process, involving increases in the pay of the grades concerned who comprise numerically more than 90 per cent of prison staffs. Also, the creation of ten additional temporary posts of Prison Officer has been necessary to cope with the larger numbers of persons in custody and more frequent escort duty, and to reduce overtime working.

An increase in the daily average numbers of persons in custody in the prisons and in St. Patrick's Institution —from 553 in 1963 to 573 in 1964— continued the upward population movement which has been a feature of the past few years. The steepest increase over these years has occurred in the average numbers undergoing detention in St. Patrick's—from 116 in 1961 to 154 in 1964—and reflects an increasing use by the courts of their powers under the Criminal Justice Act, 1960, of committal to that institution of male offenders between 16 and 21 years of age. The overall figures, however, seem to reflect, in part, a slight stiffening of the attitude of the courts in the matter of sentences, and, in part, that increase in crime, particularly among the younger age-groups, which is shown by the Garda Annual Crime Reports. As I mentioned earlier, the crime trend is one which gives cause for concern, though not for alarm. I am satisfied that our prison system, like our police system, should be—and is being—modernised to deal with new situations and that the Department of Justice are conversant with the steps that are being taken in a great many countries to-day to make prisons places of rehabilitation as far as possible. I shall say more about this later.

The total increase of £80,236 under Subhead A, and smaller increases under other subheads, are offset to the extent of £14,054 by a reduction in the provision for maintenance of prison buildings and equipment arising from completion of the major part of the work involved in the installation of the new boilers in Portlaoise Prison. In these old prison buildings, works of improvement and modernisation form an extensive programme which is taken in stages year by year: during the past year, apart from the completion of a hostel for corrective trainees in Mountjoy Prison, to which I shall refer again, new quarters for prison officers were completed in Limerick Prison, extensions were carried out in St. Patrick's and a number of cottages for married prison staff in Portlaoise were equipped with bathrooms. Modernisation work provided for in the coming year includes a major renovation of the kitchen in Limerick Prison; considerable renewals and extensions of electrical and plumbing services, particularly in Mountjoy Prison and in the officers' quarters in Portlaoise Prison; reconstruction of Portlaoise Prison laundry, and the installation of bathrooms in a further number of cottages in Portlaoise.

The increases provided for under the other subheads are, in the main, due to increases in the cost of some foods and materials and also to an increase in the number of prisoners to be provided for, although increases under these heads are estimated to be offset by an increase of nearly £3,000 in Appropriations-in-Aid, arising from anticipated increases in sales of prison products and in the rates of payment therefor.

The daily average number undergoing detention in St. Patrick's during 1964, at 154.6, was only fractionally greater than in 1963: nevertheless, the point has been reached when a further expansion of accommodation is hardly possible within the present buildings. There is already too little reserve accommodation for any unusual influx of persons on remand or on committal, and this brings to a head the question of the extent and location of the Institution.

Progress in the field of penal reform, since the last report on this subject was made to the House, has mainly been a matter of consolidating, improving upon and carrying further into effect the changes initiated as a result of the work of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders. Once again, however, some interesting new developments deserve mention.

Within the prison system itself, the most notable event has been the opening of a hostel in Mountjoy Prison for those prisoners who are at an advanced stage of corrective training and who are being prepared for their final release. The system of corrective training adopted, which appears to be justifying the hopes placed in it, is a co-ordinated effort involving the individual selection of prisoners for training, education and trades training in the prison school, the awakening and encouragement of both individual responsibility and the sense of individual achievement on the part of trainees, followed, in suitable cases, by the procurement for them of outside employment and a corresponding grant of day-to-day releases within the period of the sentence. The aim is to have the prisoner already established in society at the time of his final release.

In practice, before this, it was observed that further progress of those prisoners in outside employment was being retarded by their abrupt return to full prison conditions at the end of each ordinary working day. For that reason we have established a hostel, where such prisoners have their meals and spend their free time after their day's work. The hostel is also most useful in assisting in the segregation of corrective trainees from ordinary prisoners —a matter that has been found essential to the proper working of the training system. Prisoners not yet in outside employment but who have qualified in the preliminary stage of corrective training are also allowed a limited use of the hostel facilities.

In other directions, also, the corrective training system and other programmes of prison rehabilitation have been strengthened and improved. In-service training for recruit prison officers is now an established practice, and includes special courses for officers concerned with the corrective training unit. Advanced courses have been planned for the prisons supervisory staff. Two welfare officers have been appointed, and one of them is occupied whole-time in Mountjoy: the other looks after the welfare needs of the inmates in St. Patrick's and of the prisoners in Portlaoise and Limerick Prisons.

A scheme has been introduced for the assessment and grading of prisoners on reception so as to determine the most suitable mode of treatment for each prisoner. There is a reception board for preliminary screening, an induction centre, where the incoming prisoner is under observation for about three weeks, and finally an allocation board which decides the trade or work at which each prisoner is to be employed and the prisoner's fitness for corrective training. The latter Board sits from time to time to review its decision in each case. The prison personnel involved in the scheme comprise the Governor and his senior officers, the medical officer, and the welfare officer. In order that we may keep abreast of developments in other countries, the Governor and Deputy Governor of Mountjoy and the Governor of St. Patricks have attended courses in British prisons under a fellowship scheme of the Council of Europe, and senior administrators in my Department have taken part in penal reform seminars abroad. A great deal of thought is being given in international organisations to questions of penal reform and we hope to benefit from their conclusions.

In St. Patrick's Institution, the continuing increase in the number of committals, reflecting an even greater use by the courts of their powers of committal to that Institution as an alternative to imprisonment or to other forms of correction has made the problem of accommodation a pressing one. This pressure on accommodation has made the quest for a new location a matter of some urgency. After a careful investigation of the possibilities, and bearing in mind the essential needs for a progressive and effective system of treatment, we are now almost at the stage when a decision can be taken, and I hope, later in the year, to be in a position to indicate the Government's intentions. In the meantime, pressure on space has restricted to a considerable degree that expansion of the educational and training facilities which the Inter-Departmental Committee has recommended in relation to the Institution, as well as a proper system of segregation, but a solution of the problems of accommodation and location will enable us to move forward on these fronts.

It is necessary again to stress that these reforms of the prisons system are essentially long-range in their effects, and it would be imprudent to look for any far-reaching results at this stage. Nevertheless, such results as have been observed so far are very encouraging, and indicate that we are working along the right lines. Through the prison selection and training procedures, and through exercise of the powers to grant temporary working release under the Criminal Justice Act, 1960, a total of 68 prisoners and 28 inmates of St. Patrick's have since April, 1963, been placed in employment prior to the date of their final release.

Apart from the prisons and St. Patrick's, I am happy to report that advances have been made in a number of related fields. A probation administration officer has been appointed to head the probation service and, following on a course of study in England, has undertaken a review of probation work so as to increase its effectiveness and to establish a closer liaison between the professional service and voluntary societies working in the probation field. Proposals so far approved and put into effect provide that in every case where a juvenile appears in court for the first time charged with an indictable offence, a social inquiry report, prepared beforehand, will be available for the guidance of the court. Regular meetings to discuss common problems and to pool information have been arranged between the probation staff, the Garda juvenile liaison officers and other professional and voluntary social workers, while the professional probation staff has been re-deployed so as to make the most effective use of each probation officer's services.

The establishment in the Dublin area of a team of juvenile liaison officers is an innovation which has met with considerable success. These specially selected Gardaí have the informal care of those young offenders to whom a police "warning" has been given, in lieu of prosecution, and of other youngsters who, though they have not committed offences, are known to be in need of care and guidance. Since August, 1963, when the team was formed they have dealt with over 760 juveniles, less than seven per cent of whom have subsequently come under unfavourable notice. The initial reorganisation of the probation service, to which I referred a moment ago, has had the effect of bringing about a large measure of integration between the work of the juvenile liaison officers and that of the probation service and, on the record of their success to date, I think I can say that the juvenile liaison officers will become a permanent part of the Garda Síochána. Encouraged by the good results in Dublin, the scheme is now being extended to Cork and, later, it will be extended elsewhere.

The work of the Gardaí in promoting the boys' club movement is another matter to which I would like to refer in this connection. I do not wish to imply that this means the introduction into youth clubs by the Gardaí of a strong delinquent element, as some people seem to fear: on the contrary, the Gardaí are well aware of the dangers of such an attempt, and their work here is rather a preventive measure designed to assist in directing youthful energies into healthy and satisfying channels. Throughout the country they are co-operating with local interests in the establishment of new clubs and the promotion of existing clubs, and they are taking an active part in the management and running of almost 200 boys' clubs out of a national total of over 350. This total reflects an increase of almost 150 in the number of clubs during the past two years, an increase to which the efforts of the Gardaí have made a very substantial contribution. The figures represent a notable achievement, and I am glad to pay tribute to this work of the Gardaí which is important not only in the field of preventive justice but also as an indication of their constructive participation in the life of the local communities whom they serve.

At every level of activity here—in preventive work, in the treatment of offenders and in the rehabilitation of prisoners—it will bear saying, over and over again, that every facet of society is and ought to be involved. We are dealing with human beings who cannot be considered and treated in isolation from their environment, and society as a whole is vitally concerned in the effort to harmonise the relationship of each individual to the society in which he lives. For that reason, I am very happy to acknowledge the help given to the professional staffs concerned by the many voluntary social workers who assist the efforts of the police, the probation officers and the prison staffs. I refer, in particular to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul—especially the Guild of St. Philip—to the Salvation Army, to the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society and the St. Patrick's Welfare Association, the Legion of Mary and lastly but not least the Visiting Committees of the Prisons and St. Patrick's Institution.

Finally, I should like to say a special word of thanks to those employers through whose co-operation so many prisoners on their temporary or final release have been placed in remunerative employment and thus have been enabled to start a new life on level terms. The goodwill of these employers and the confidence they have shown in the recommendations of the prison authorities are a most heartening support and are deserving of our gratitude. More than any other single factor, the procurement of constant, gainful employment, immediately on discharge from prison, helps to place a man on his feet and to assist him in his rehabilitation in society. I would earnestly appeal to the employers, the trade unions and their respective organisations to facilitate the employment of such individuals as are brought to their notice.

The next Estimate, No. 26, is that for the Courts of Justice. At £502,730, it shows an increase of £80,830 over the previous year. The additional provision is required in the main to meet increases in remuneration of court officers and a small increase in the number of posts in the Circuit and District Court offices.

As was mentioned here last year, the number of permanent judges of the Circuit Court, including the President, was restored to ten under the Courts Act, 1964. This enabled a permanent appointment to be made to replace a judge who had retired on age grounds. The restoration of the number of Judges to ten, coupled with a limited reorganisation of the Circuit Court Circuits, also effected under the 1964 Act, is resulting in a more expeditious dispatch of the business of the Circuit Court.

On the District Court side, I should lik to mention that the District Court Rules Committee are actively engaged at the moment on the revision and consolidation of the present District Court Rules. The task they have set themselves is not an easy one and I would like to pay tribute to the zeal shown by the Committee and, in particular, the Chairman who is President of the District Court in taking up this work. The removal of outmoded procedures and the publication of new Rules in a single volume cannot but lead to greater efficiency in this important court.

The Superior Courts Rules Committee have also been actively engaged during the past year on a limited revision of the Rules of the Superior Courts rendered necessary by the enactment of the new Companies Act. The revised Rules have been published separately. As interested Deputies will be aware, the main Rules of the Superior Courts were published in 1962 without an Index, the preparation of which would have delayed unduly the coming into operation of the new Rules. I am pleased to say that this hiatus is now being made good by the publication in a separate volume of the Index. The preparation of the Index was undertaken by the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting. Arrangements are being made for the publication at a later date of a new volume of the Rules incorporating the Index.

The Public Record Office received for safe keeping during the year the usual batch of documents transferred from the offices of the various courts, including testamentary documents from the Principal and District Probate Registries and from County Registrars. All documents of this kind which were received have been arranged in proper form.

Presentations from solicitors and others have added 419 testamentary and 1,223 other documents already listed and numbered, and a large quantity of papers not yet listed but estimated to contain at least as much more. The most interesting acquisition of the year was that of the Blake papers of Martin J. Blake, MP for Galway for a long period in the early 19th century, and which may therefore be expected to throw much light on local history for this period.

The 59th Report of the Deputy Keeper was published during the year, and the Short Guide to the Public Record Office was reprinted, supplies having been exhausted. The Irish Manuscripts Commission has undertaken the publication of the Calendar to the Council Book of 1581-86, the Calendar to Departmental Correspondence, 1683-1740, and the list of political prisoners forming the first section of the Kilmainham Jail register of 1789-1814, and comprising those arrested in connection with the risings of 1798 and 1803. The Books of Survey and Distribution for County Clare have been reproduced photographically in preparation for publication by the Manuscripts Commission.

Estimate No. 27 is that for the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds. This year's figure of £225,270 represents an increase of £59,180 over the previous year. The additional provision is necessary to meet increases in remuneration and the cost of additional staff to cope with the growing volume of work coming into both Registries. Some provision is also being made for extra assistance that will be necessary to discharge the new duties arising for the Land Registry on the coming into operation of The Registration of Title Act, 1964.

The progressive increase in the business being transacted in both Registries, during recent years, continues. In the Land Registry the number of dealings received for registration rose from 31,910 in 1962, to 33,062 in 1963 and to 35,321 last year; applications for discharge of equities rose from 1,916 to 2,132 and 2,282 for the same years. Applications for Land Certificates increased by approximately 1,000 over the same period.

In the case of the Registry of Deeds, the number of registrations rose from 24,689 in 1962, to 27,563 in 1963 and 29,508 last year. Applications for searches increased from 6,249 to 6,709 over the same period.

The provision of adequate accommodation to meet the growing needs of the Land Registry continues to receive the attention of my Department. The recent completion of a one-storey extension to the present building has relieved to some extent the overcrowding in the existing accommodation. However, this represents only a fraction of the additional accommodation that will be required to meet the needs of the Registry in the years immediately ahead. Plans are well advanced for the provision of additional accommodation in the form of a two-storey extension over the Public Record Office. There is every hope that the new accommodation will be made available by the end of next year.

Before leaving this particular Estimate, I should, I feel, refer to the prospects of bringing the Registration of Title Act, 1964, into operation. The delay to date in giving effect to the important new provisions of the Act is due principally to difficulties being encountered in recruiting qualified legal staff. These difficulties are, however, having the close attention of my Department and I hope that a solution will be found to enable the Act to be brought into operation before the end of the present year.

The final Vote makes provision for the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests. The Estimate for 1965/ 66 is £11,580, that is £800 higher than the total provided for this service in 1964/65. This increase arises from the grant of normal increments and also from some salary increases fixed under the Conciliation and Arbitration scheme.

The useful and valuable work of the Commissioners continued during the year. Stocks to the value of £26,605 were transferred to the Commissioners during the year, and on 31st December last the nominal value of investments standing in their name was £1,975,100.

It remains for me to express my sincere thanks to the members of the various voluntary Boards and Commissions which are associated with my Department for their valuable services during the year. Since my appointment as Minister for Justice, I have been deeply impressed by the extent of this unpaid public service and by the zeal and devotion which animates the persons concerned.

The Minister as the person in charge of the Department of Justice is, of course, concerned with a very important and very vital matter for all sections of the people, that is, the question of the administration of justice in the State, and the question of ensuring that justice is administered on an even scale to all sections of the people, regardless of political or religious beliefs, or any other division that may exist between our people.

I say that because I intend to refer very briefly—merely for the sake of noting it—to the fact that recently there was a departure from precedent and tradition. If that departure was, as I believe it was, due to the fact that there is now a general recognition that the work of the early Governments in setting up this State, in establishing the Garda force, and the various institutions of the State, was work that was well done, work which has meant that no section of the people, whether they be temporarily in a majority or a minority, whether they differ in political or religious beliefs, has anything to fear from the administration of justice, and particularly the working of the courts.

I believe there is a recognition of that now. It was the tradition in appointing judges to the Supreme Court to appoint some person from what is regarded as the minority. That is the tradition and the precedent which was broken by an eve of the poll appointment by the Government, or their predecessors. I am merely noting that fact because I think it should be noted. I do not want to develop it, or to be misunderstood. Certainly no criticism whatever is intended by me of the person who was appointed, a person for whose integrity, ability and legal knowledge I have nothing but the highest respect. Perhaps it is surprising that there was not any comment on that departure from tradition up to now. I do not want to do anything more than say it should be noted, and if the reasons for that departure from tradition were the reasons I have given, that is all to the good.

In the course of a very exhaustive review of the matters with which he is concerned in his Department, the Minister referred to the crime figures. I think I described the crime figures given by the Minister this time last year as startling. If I did, I can only describe the figures given by the Minister to-day as staggering. We find that indictable crimes increased from 15,307 in 1962, to 16,203 in the year ending 30th September, 1963, and further increased for the year ended 30th September, 1964 to 17,700. Larcenies have increased from 10,000 in 1963 to practically 12,000 in 1964. Housebreaking and similar offences did not show such a substantial increase, but a fairly substantial one, from 4,006 in 1963 to 4,282 in 1964.

This is a very sorry picture. The Minister mentioned — and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of his information or indeed the conclusions he draws from it—the fact that as compared with some other countries, we do not show up in a bad light at all. I accept that, but remember that in this country we have a comparatively small population and comparisons of that sort are not likely to be very accurate. Is the Minister trying to tell me the detection rate is very good?

By percentage comparisons.

Even so, I think the Minister will agree that where you have a big population, particularly a mixed type of population as you have in other countries, you cannot get accurate comparisons. But that is beside the point. The fact of the matter is there is an appallingly high rate of crime in this country and the crime figures are still mounting. They are mounting each year.

The Minister has referred to various technical aids and technical equipment which have been supplied to the Garda in an effort to combat crime. That is all to the good, and I do not want to be taken as objecting to that or to that type of expenditure at all. I feel we are getting away from fundamentals on this question. I have expressed the view before, as have other speakers from these benches, that we took a wrong decision when we decided, as apparently we have, to get away from the man on the beat and to replace him by the squad car or by technical or mechanised equipment of one type or another.

The village policeman here is simply a memory to many of us now. I want to put the point of view to the Minister, and I put it very seriously, that the best way of combating crime and offences—remember the primary duty of the Garda is not detection of offences but their prevention — is by having a man on the beat and by encouraging the type of village policemen we knew in this country before and whom we are fast forgetting. We are forgetting because it has become a policy here to close down garda stations, to replace the man on the beat by the patrol cars and to replace garda stations by a squad car covering a vast area.

I think that is a fundamental mistake. I know the Minister may reply, and indeed he indicated in the course of his remarks, that the weight of the crime increase is in the city and county of Dublin. I think he stated there was a comparatively small increase outside the Dublin area. On page 17, paragraph 46, he said, "It is apparent therefore the incidence of crime outside the Dublin area is comparatively small". I do not accept that. The total for indictable crimes was 17,700, of which, according to the Minister's figures, 10,000 were committed in the new Dublin metropolitan police area covering the city and county of Dublin. That still leaves just 8,000 committed throughout the country. Again, when you compare the population figures in the county and city of Dublin with the population figures elsewhere in the country, it seems to me there is certainly no room for complacency in the figure of 8,000 indictable offences committed throughout the country and 10,000 committed in the city and county of Dublin.

I do not know whether the Minister, in so many words, made the case. I think he implied it, but, in any event, I have heard it made by his predecessor in the office of the Ministry of Justice. The case was made that the absence of crime is given as a justification for closing down garda stations. It seems to me that when that case is made, we may be overlooking the fact that the very absence of crime, on account of which the garda stations have been closed, may be due, and probably is due, to the presence of the garda station in the area.

Where you have a garda station, there is a sergeant and one or two gardaí. I think it is undoubtedly true that there is built up an atmosphere of trust and confidence and understanding between the police force, on the one hand, and the people in the area, on the other. That kind of relationship of trust and confidence cannot be established by two men going around in an impersonal squad car. Surely the whole aim of our policy in relation to the prevention of crime should be the establishment of that kind of relationship rather than to end it.

On this question, I was interested to see quite recently an editorial in the Garda Review. I have not the Garda Review here but I have a cutting from the Irish Times of 4th March, 1965, in which the editorial is quoted. According to this editorial dealing with the question of liaison between the public and the Garda:

The members of the public generally do not appreciate the prime factor in criminal investigation: namely, the information given to it by members of the public . . . .

It goes on:

Without such information, it would not merely be powerless, but it would not even be aware of the commission of a crime, for the most part. Even when material evidence is present, such as a weapon, it can only be of value when linked up with a crime by information.

Later on it says:

On the other hand, we do know that the fault for unsolved crime almost inevitably lies with the members of the public, who have failed to co-operate with the force in its work and have withheld the information so vital to the solution of the crime.

The point I want to make, and I think it is confirmed in the view expressed in the editorial in the Garda Review, is that you only establish that kind of necessary relationship of trust and confidence if you have a man on the beat, on the one hand, and as many as possible garda stations situated throughout the country, on the other. A garda, whether on the beat or whether a sergeant stationed in a garda station, will get to know the people he is serving. He will get to be known and respected by them. He will have their confidence and they will have his confidence. It is time the Minister and the Government had another look at this question and, if necessary, reversed completely the present trend which, as I say, is to get away from the man on the beat and the Garda station. Certainly the crime figures referred to in the Minister's statement seem to indicate that something more than the provision of technical or walkie-talkie equipment is necessary. I feel that a number of the old time traditions in this country were not bad at all and that in relation to the prevention of crime, the Minister might look at that situation again.

I notice the Minister, at page 18 of the statement, refers to the general practice of the Garda being one of a good police machine functioning smoothly. I accept that. I am quite sure the police force in this country is as good as will be found anywhere in the world. I believe I am correct in saying that in recent years the police force in this country have had the compliment paid to them of observers coming from outside to see how things were done here and to see what kind of administration we have in this country. They were impressed with it. It is a good police machine. I have no doubt that it is functioning smoothly but the Minister must be concerned with the question of whether or not we are using that police machine as it should be used.

The Minister referred to the question of ground rents. I hope we are coming nearer to the time when we will not have to ask questions in this House about ground rents. It is a long time now since this question was first raised here. The Government have accepted in principle the report of the Ground Rents Commission and the Minister tells us legislation is now being drafted. I hope that legislation is introduced as quickly as possible.

The Minister also referred to the necessity for having a practical law reform programme. I am glad he did so because it is one of the things I am keen on. It is not enough merely to go in for a law reform programme of consolidating or amalgamating existing legislation, or even weeding out many of the old, obsolete provisions in our law. It does not matter, by and large, whether they are in or not because they are obsolete, but it is necessary for the Minister and the Government to undertake a practical law reform programme. I am glad the Minister is making some examination in that direction.

I want to suggest that one major, practical law reform that could be introduced without any great delay is in connection with the payment of jurors for jury service. Jurymen in this country play an important part in the administration of justice. I know there is a view that the jury service has outlived its usefulness. I do not subscribe to that view but I feel that as a man called on to serve on a jury plays a very important role in the administration of justice, he should be properly compensated for his time and trouble. If the Government undertook to look into that question with a view to doing something practical about it, the Minister would find that many of the objections to the jury system would probably disappear.

I should like to ask the Minister to examine reasonably urgently the question of compensating those who suffer loss or injury while going to the aid of a garda in the performance of his duty. The position obtaining at the moment is ridiculous in which a person can, in fact, go to the aid of a garda only at his own peril or risk. If he is injured or suffers loss of property or any other loss of that description, there is no statutory provision for compensating him. I know there may be a theoretical argument that it is everybody's duty to assist the Garda and that nobody should be paid for it. That is not good enough and the lack of co-operation, which was mentioned in the article I quoted from the Garda Review, might possibly be due in part to the absence of any scheme of compensation in these circumstances. The Minister should look into that matter also.

I should like to say a few words on the general question of juvenile delinquency and the question of setting up, on some kind of national basis, a programme for the youth of the country. The Minister has indicated the excellent work which is being done by juvenile liaison officers as, I think, they are called. He has indicated that some of the work being done today will become a permanent feature of the Garda force in this country. That is an excellent thing. The work being done by these people is also excellent. I am glad the Minister referred to it and referred to the amount of work these people were able to do. The assistance they have been able to give pinpoints in a very dramatic way the scope for development in work of this sort.

The Minister is, I am quite sure, aware that when a child offender comes before the court, he can be dealt with in any one of four ways. He can be sent to a detention home; he can be sent to a reformatory or industrial school; he can possibly be ordered to pay a fine or pay damages— he is very rarely asked to pay a fine— or the Probation Act can be applied to him, which is possibly the method most often used. That can operate in either of two ways. The charge can be dismissed and the benefit of the Probation Act given or the youthful offender can be put on probation in the care of a probation officer.

The Minister referred to the reorganisation of the probation service in this country. I think I am correct in saying that there has been some increase in the number of probation officers. I am not sure that the numbers are anything like adequate. I think I am correct in saying that there are vast areas in the country where the courts have not got the services of any probation officer at all. The Minister did not give the figure—he can correct me if I am wrong—but my opinion is that, in March of last year, just about 12 months ago, the number of children in industrial schools in this country was practically 3,500: I think 3,405 was the actual figure. Very few of those would have been what might be regarded as criminal offenders. A number of them would have been there because their parents were dead or destitute or possibly because they had not been attending school.

I certainly do not want to be a party to any criticism whatever of the excellent work done by the Orders which operate the industrial schools in this country but I think we are giving them what, to them, must appear to be very nearly an impossible task to do. They are given a grant of a very small sum—I think £2 15s. a week—to cover the medical expenses, food and clothing of the children committed to their care. I do not think that is fair. I do not think it is giving them a chance to do the kind of work they would like to do for those children.

I think the Minister will agree with me, also, that whatever about actual detention—call it that—in the industrial schools, there is very little after-care or follow-up service in this country today for those young people. I think that even the institutions themselves require to be moved to new and to smaller buildings that will have more of a home atmosphere about them.

As a matter of urgency, the Minister should look at the question of increasing to some reasonable amount the grant payable in respect of children in industrial schools. Furthermore, I think that something might well be done as regards the question of an after-care or follow-up service.

There are a lot of things which I should like to say—I think it would take me too long—on the question generally of a programme for youth and on how, by the application of a proper programme, the problem of juvenile delinquency might be dealt with. I hope to take another opportunity of doing that.

I want to ask the Minister what if anything, he intends doing regarding the proposals which were put to him by the National Vintners' Federation in relation to the question of reduction of licences in this country. I am not sure now, let me be fair to the Minister, whether these proposals were put to him or to his predecessor but I know that very comprehensive proposals were put either to the Minister or to his predecessor. The Minister should tell the House whether or not he does in fact intend to introduce the legislation which was proposed or what review was carried out or will be carried out by him in connection with the question.

There is one other small point which I should like to raise with the Minister—I raised it with him last year. I refer to the question of the batons used by the Gardaí on traffic duty in this city. I will concede to the Minister that they probably look well. They probably have a prestige value. Tourists coming here from continental countries possibly feel more at home when they see a Garda on point duty with a baton in his hand. However, I am convinced, and I am becoming more confirmed in my conviction, that they are likely to lead to confusion in the giving of traffic signals. When the matter was raised in this House some years ago, I had a very open mind on it. Certainly, I had not strong views one way or the other. However, I did make it my business to check, as best I could, on the argument put up here by a Deputy a few years ago. On many occasions I have deliberately observed the signals given by some of the Gardaí on duty. I am not criticising the Gardaí on duty: they are doing their best. However, I think that the addition of the baton to their equipment when they are on traffic duty is likely to lead to confusion and to their signals being misinterpreted by both motorists and pedestrians. The Minister might look at that question again and, if he has not done so already, obtain the views of the Gardaí themselves who are required to use these batons.

The Minister has given a full review here of the activities of his Department. He mentioned the question of the slight, I think he said—or was it modest—expenditure of the Land Registry. Am I right in taking it that full account has not been taken of the proposed expansion in Land Registry work and that there is no question of requiring the present members of the staff and personnel there to deal with any greater volume of work which might result from the coming into operation of the Registration of Titles Act? I think the Minister, as a practical lawyer, will appreciate that it would be quite impossible to expect either the present staff or even the present Land Registry buildings to cater for any greater increase in the volume of work.

When the Minister was dealing with the question of having a practical law reform programme, it occurred to me that a very great contribution can in many cases be made by the State to eliminate delays in dealing not only with the courts but in many of the conveyancing transactions that require to be dealt with by the legal profession. By an adequate increase in staff in a number of places such as, for example, the courts or the Stamping Office in Dublin Castle or the Adjudication Office in Dublin Castle, the Minister may find himself able to speed up the legal machinery in this country to quite a substantial extent.

I know the volume of work done in many of these offices. I know there is no question at all of the officials falling down on the job. They work overtime in order to deal with the work that comes before them, but they are only human and we cannot expect them to be superhuman in the work they are required to do. I should like to leave the thought with the Minister that he might take a look at some of these offices to see whether the delays occasioned from time to time can be eliminated by increased staff in a number of these offices.

I agree with what Deputy O'Higgins has said, that the crime figures are indeed staggering. It is clearly indicated that there is a serious upward trend in this connection. The only consoling feature of the Minister's statement in this respect is that we compare favourably with other countries. I do not wish in any way to quarrel with the Minister's statement because I am satisfied it is a rather good brief and that the Department are taking the necessary steps to deal with this aspect of their activities.

I do not wish to deal with many of the matters the Minister has spoken about but I should like to refer to an incident of a few months ago which occurred in my constituency and which many people there believed might sour the minds of the public. I know it is something the people of that constituency would like me to raise on this Estimate so that the Minister will have an opportunity of referring to it when he comes to reply.

I refer to the most undesirable situation which was allowed to arise as a result of the action of a few youths a few months ago when they indicated, by throwing a tree on the road near the de Vesci Estate, their resentment at a royal visit there. I am not saying they did the right thing. Neither am I saying it was terribly wrong, but it was made to look wrong by the incidents that followed. No matter what may have been said, history does not allow us to love the Royal Family and it was in that context the action of those youths was motivated.

This having occurred, it looked to me to have been a rather trivial offence and we had hoped it would be disposed of at the first sitting of the district court dealing with it in Waterford. We thought it was rather foolish of the Department and of the court not to have disposed of it then or on the second day, without the necessity to have the youths dragged from there to Portarlington, Mountmellick and Portlaoise. Everybody should have known, the situation was not likely to improve. There was a display in Waterford.

I was present at Mountmellick and it is because I was there that I now ask the Minister a question. I have never thought that in my lifetime I would see such a display of brutality and force. I never thought I would see actions by one human being against another such as those committed that day. I say, having witnessed it, that the situation did not justify certain actions taken by the Garda. I thought the amount of force used was completely unnecessary—that what had happened could have been controlled without resort to the terriffic bloodshed. It will weigh heavily in the minds of the hundreds of youths looking on and will, I submit, forever sour them against authority and the police.

The people in that area will want to know whether the Garda took this type of action on themselves or whether they had any specific instruction, as it were, to start this row. The thing could have been got over in a simple way, but the baton was used indiscriminately. I ask the Minister to let us know if he condoned this action, if he advised, encouraged or specified that that type of action should be taken.

There are a few matters I wish to deal with. The first is in connection with the general position of ground rents. I am glad to see we have at last some guarantee that legislation will be introduced in this respect. At the moment the position is that some bunch—some people call them financiers and others, Jewmen—can come in, buy up a whole town and then start to drive up the rents. It is a matter of urgency. It was a matter of urgency 30 years ago when I brought it to the notice of the then Minister for Justice. At that time in Cobh we had to take the law into our own hands. The result in Cobh was a reduction of 33? per cent in the rents of the entire town.

We do not want a continuing situation where this type of action is open to anyone. We have a Dáil here to see that legislation is introduced to curb any thief who seeks to increase an ordinary ground rent, when the lease falls in, from £20 to £150. I urge the Minister to speed up that legislation as quickly as possible because I do not wish to witness any more scenes in any town in my constituency.

The next matter I wish to refer to has been raised already and I was glad to hear Deputy O'Higgins allude to it. It is the question of juries and jurors. I have seen unfortunate farmers who have no help at home dragged in for two, three or four days to ordinary courts in Cork under threat of fine. I suggest to the Minister that it is time, when everybody else is being paid, the juror who comes in and gives his service under threat of fine, should be paid for that service. It is time that matter was dealt with.

I wonder is there any means by which the particular process, under which we have picked for us every judge from a Supreme Court judge down, can be removed from the taint of political favouritism. I hold that the people are not getting a fair deal with regard to justice. I do not wish to cast any aspersions on those appointed, or on the courts, but look at it this way. If a son of mine takes his degrees in the university and becomes a doctor, then before he is appointed to any post, even to an ordinary dispensary, he has to go before an Appointments Commission and have his qualifications examined and decided on. If he becomes an engineer, the self-same thing happens. Why single out this profession for appointment in this manner? I am reliably informed that on the day they qualify, a big hat is taken and the names of the different political Parties are put into it and if you——

Of course, the Deputy understands that the Minister has no responsibility for the appointment of judges?

He has no responsibility?

Who has?

That is another matter. The Minister has no authority whatever in the appointment of judges and therefore it is quite irrelevant to raise this matter on this Estimate.

Very well, Sir. Another question which I wish to raise is in regard to State briefs and fees. These are paid by the taxpayers and, as taxpayers, we are entitled to the best legal advice we can get and we cannot have that while that legal advice is given out in political circles.

I am sorry to intervene again, but I do not think the Minister has any responsibility for the issue of briefs.

I just wish to give him some final advice. If there is some reason or other why some legal gentleman must get £1,000 a year, or, as I understand, it is a couple of thousand pounds now, for fining Mary Moloney 10/- for not having shoes on her donkey, for heaven's sake do not have that gentleman proving his political faith by inflicting him on my constituents, as a political candidate, but get some other means of finding out his affiliations.

Mr. Barrett

It is rarely that I find myself in agreement with Deputy Corry but I should like to add my voice to what Deputy Corry and Deputy O'Higgins said in aid of jurors. I would go a bit further than Deputy Corry who said that they should be paid for their services. The situation, as the Minister knows, is that jurors have to travel, whether they serve or not. That is particularly so in the area from which I come, that is, Cork city and county. You will find that jurors may have to travel 100 miles from Castletownbere to Cork city day after day for criminal or civil sittings. Even though they may not be selected for a jury, the fact that they have to come should entitle them to payment. At the moment not alone is their firm or shop, or whatever avocation they follow, denied their services but they have the expense of travelling by car, bus or otherwise. In many cases they have to stay overnight in the city because they are called upon to do jury service.

It amazes me that over the years the equities have not operated in favour of jurors called for jury service and not merely for jurors who serve. I would ask the Minister to advert to this the next time he comes before us with an Estimate for his Department because I do not think there would be any objection from any of the benches in this House in regard to it. In many ways jurors are a persecuted class, especially where you have criminal sessions which may last for a fortnight in places like Cork, and they have to come up day after day to answer their names.

We all welcome the measures in regard to penal reform which the Minister mentioned in the course of his introductory speech. We are glad to see the manner in which temporary releases are used to give some ease to prisoners. On the other hand, there is, in my opinion, a system in operation which is certainly open to abuse, if it is not abused, and it is a bad thing that we should have a system which is open to abuse or which can be criticised by the man or woman in the street on the ground that it is open to abuse. I refer to the power given to the Minister to commute or remit sentences. It was originally given to the Government in the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, but I have not been able to trace when the Minister got the power.

The situation is that the Minister, although he may pay tribute to the work done by various prison chaplains and people like that, has in fact absolute power to remit or commute a sentence or make an order for a temporary release. The Minister can direct the prison governor to do this or to do that. That is a bad thing, and it is particularly bad when the public can be left under the impression that prisoners will have their sentences remitted or commuted, or will be given temporary releases because of representations to the Minister. I am not saying whether or not that is the system that operates but it can be said of the system that it could and does operate and it is very difficult to deny it.

In my own constituency cases have been known of people who committed grave crimes whose sentences were remitted or communted or who were given temporary release and these cases became a source of scandal in the community. Young men and women say: "If X, Y, or Z can get either a temporary release or have the sentences remitted for a grave crime, why should we not commit it?" In other words, we are getting away from the punitive element in dealing with crime. It is all very well to talk about reform and I am all in favour of it where it is envisaged, but we must not depart from the realisation that in these days particularly, as already pointed out by Deputy O'Higgins and by the Minister, when crime is on the increase in every country, including this country, there must be implanted firmly in the mind of every young man and woman that if you transgress the law, there is punishment in the offing.

It is absolutely necessary that in cases of remission or commuting of sentences this House should be made aware of the circumstances under which such remission or commuting was made. In the old days, under the old Road Traffic Act, if a disqualification for driving was removed it had to be published in Iris Oifigiúil. Even that formality need not be fulfilled by the Minister now if he wishes to commute the sentence on a man who has been tried even by judge and jury. Absolutely in camera, what a judge and jury do can be completely reversed overnight, I think, without advice and on the Minister's initiative if he so wishes. That is a bad system which should be condemned and which I now condemn. I cannot understand why it still survives because in the last Road Traffic Act the Minister took pains to remove from himself the power to remit disqualification orders and gave it back to the courts. The principle is exactly the same, even more striking in my opinion, in the case of a man who is sentenced for a serious criminal offence, having been tried either before a judge and jury or in some other way.

Has that prerogative not always been there?

Mr. Barrett

Actually, it has not. It has not been there since the Criminal Justice Act of 1951 in this particular case. In the old days, there was a parole board, about 20 years ago——

Does it not come under the Adaptation of Enactments Act? It was always there.

Mr. Barrett

Whether that is so or not, I suggest the proper way to approach the problem is by some system of parole board investigating each individual case so that not alone will justice be done but will be seen to be done. I regret that even on this aspect of penal reform, we are centralising in the Minister all this power, the power to completely reverse what a judge and jury have already done.

I regret that the amount provided in the Estimates this year for textbooks has been reduced from £3,500 to £1,500. I realise the reason for it: it would appear from the current Report of the Committee of Public Accounts that last year none of that money was used for textbooks because nobody suggested a textbook. I suggest it would be a very great advance in our legal set-up if more publicity were given to the fact that this money is available for textbooks produced here. We must be the most backward country in the world in regard to the provision of legal textbooks for the very important reason that there is a very restricted market for them and the man who produces one is likely to suffer grave loss. Still, the textbooks that have been produced have been very useful. We find that in England we have organisations like Butterworths and Steevens and Sweet and Maxwell producing them on a commercial scale and making money from them. In my opinion it is impossible for anybody in this country to make money out of legal textbooks if they produce them themselves but it is very important to have up-to-date legal libraries. If the Minister were to make it better known that this money is available next year he might be able to go back to the position of providing at least £3,500 for the encouragement of writing of legal textbooks and finding that it would be used. It would be money very well spent.

I am quite sure that Deputy de Valera and anybody with any knowledge of the legal system will agree that something should be done to make the public aware—perhaps, I should not suggest legislation on the Estimate—that commercial firms producing motor cars and various other highly technical pieces of apparatus such as television sets, give customers, under the guise of a warranty or guarantee, something which denies the customer some of the rights which they already have under the Sale of Goods Act, and leaves them literally without any rights. That is wrong and I think the Minister should realise the time has come for legislation which would nullify the effect of any such guarantee or warrant. If the Minister does not intend to introduce legislation to that effect, at least it should be made known in some way to the public that in accepting these warranties or guarantees they are denuding themselves of much better rights and much greater protection given them by the Sale of Goods Act. It horrifies me to find that people coming from places where they purchase motor cars or some items of that kind are rejoicing in the fact that they have a guarantee or warranty and are unaware that they have considerably reduced their own rights.

I should like to add my voice to that of Deputy O'Higgins in regard to the reduction in number of local Garda stations. The Minister said he wanted to assure the House that such closings or reductions were made only after it was established that the efficiency of police supervision in the area concerned would not suffer as a result. On paper, on technical advice, that might be true but those who live on the outskirts of cities and towns can assure the Minister, who probably knows it from personal experience, that there is nothing like the local sergeant or garda who knows what everybody in the area has for breakfast, dinner and tea and who knows when a hen is stolen four or five miles away, who has stolen it. It is an excellent thing to have Garda cars to deal immediately with what one might call crimes of violence but for the criminal who is growing up on petty crime there is nothing more likely to check him and bring him to his senses than the local sergeant who knows exactly how every young man and woman in the area is developing. So long as we continue this decentralisation so long will the Minister have to come here year after year and tell us that petty crime has increased. We cannot forget that it is the petty criminal who quite often develops into the full-blown criminal.

I am glad to hear there is a high rate of detection in this country. I believe it could be much higher if we got away from this decentralisation and went back to what evidently the Minister and his advisers regard as the old-fashioned system of the old-fashioned sergeant and Garda or two.

I want to refer to the setting up of public relations between Gardaí and the public. I welcome the Telefís Éireann programme to which the Minister refers. I think it is excellent: the more we bring the Gardaí into contact with the general public the better but the Minister is missing an immense opportunity of establishing this relationship at the stage at which the public is most open to suggestion. I refer to the children leaving schools. At present in Dublin it is mainly wardens who look after the children as they leave schools to see that they cross the road properly and do not get into danger. In Cork and a number of places the Gardaí carry out that duty. They carry it out well and in the most benign fashion. In that way you build up a bond between the child in its most formative years and the forces of law and order. You build up in the mind of the child the belief that the Garda is not a person in uniform who is there to check him but is somebody there to protect, assist and to look after him. If more Gardaí were given more of these duties, it would pay rich dividends eventually and would assist public relations between the Garda force and future generations.

In regard to traffic offences the Minister referred to the fact that there has been an increase from 75,000 to 95,000 in the number of those prosecuted for road traffic offences. That can be viewed in two ways. It is, of course, very important that the roads should be kept safe for the public but I would be afraid that there might be a swing away from the rule of law because of the urgency of the problem and the necessity for ensuring that the roads should be safe and that way we might come to the stage where people were being prosecuted for being drunk in charge of a car, not convicted maybe, but merely prosecuted, with the attendant stigma, simply because the Garda might become too anxious to ensure that there would be no drunken drivers on the road.

I would show no leniency towards drunken drivers. I would show no leniency towards dangerous drivers but there is a danger that possibly the Gardaí might be too diligent in their duties in this regard and that the man who is stopped by a Garda, and simply because he had had one or two small whiskeys, might very easily find himself in a Garda station on a charge of drunken driving because the Garda might become too diligent. There is that danger and there might grow up in the minds of the Garda authorities that it is more important that one guilty man should be found guilty than that five innocent men should not be prosecuted. There is a danger of it and it should be looked into.

I welcome the introduction of the liaison officers for juveniles and I am glad to hear they are coming to Cork. I do not think they are there yet. The sooner they are there, the better.

The publication of an index to the new Rules of the Superior Courts was mentioned by the Minister. It is an urgent matter. It is overdue. It goes back to what I was saying about the paucity of legal textbooks in this country and the neglect of matters such as the provision of adequate ammunition, one might say, for legal practitioners. The Minister knows himself from his own practice at the Bar how difficult it is sometimes to find the proper legal approach to a case simply because it is difficult in this country to follow the course of legal decisions. In that regard the Minister's Estimate refers to the decennial publication of an index to legal decisions. If that index were published every five years it would greatly assist the legal practitioners in this country. I do not mean that it would make life easier for them but it would make for better law-making in the country in so far as law is made by judges, district justices and those who appear before them.

The same could be said of the index to the Statutes, which is an excellent thing but, speaking from memory, that is published only once every ten years also. The Minister might seriously consider whether that index to the Statutes should be published every five years. I know that annually there is a publication by which the practitioner can keep himself up to date but it makes the following of Statute law in this country more difficult and I would ask the Minister to consider seriously the publication of that index to the Statutes every five years instead of every ten years.

I do not know why Deputy Barrett was after the Minister about this question of remission of punishment. The plain fact, of course, is that in so far as the Minister has that power, it is simply the prerogative of the State. It was formerly the prerogative of the Crown. It is nothing more or less than that which has been taken over. I do not know what kind of suggestion the Deputy was making or whether he was making any suggestion that this prerogative was being improperly used. He has not said enough for me to accuse him of suggesting that it has been improperly used. Therefore, he cannot complain if I say that I assume he is not making any complaint of improper use; he is merely criticising the existence of the prerogative at all.

There is another side to that case. Legal process, juries and judges, whereas they function very well, are not altogether infallible. For very good reason, there are legal rules and legal procedures that prevent sometimes a criminal case being opened on merits and there are interminable delays in the formal proceedings. There may be other circumstances affecting the State, affecting the individual and a multitude of circumstances that may call for the exercise of the prerogative. It would be a very serious thing, indeed, offhand to suggest that the prerogative of mercy, as it has been called, should be abolished and that we should make it inexorable that the individual in particular, especially in those days when the individual was all too often the victim of the working of a machine would have no opportunity of escaping the machine, irrespective of whether the machine was running well or was running out of order.

As I say, I do not quite know what Deputy Barrett was at in regard to this prerogative but if he was suggesting that this was something that was arranged for the benefit of the Minister, this Minister for Justice or any other Minister for Justice or any other Department of State, if that suggestion is there, that suggestion does not hold water. It is a time-honoured prerogative that has been carried on, sometimes confirmed by legislation.

The Deputy mentioned one case where for good public reason there has been an exception, I think, made to it or, rather, a confining of its exercise. Overall, it is only fair to say for this Minister and for previous Ministers that they and the Department have been only too alive to the dangers of the representations to which the Deputy referred.

Again, I do not like this suggestion that representations achieve something that justice does not achieve in public because any such suggestion would be an utter distortion of the facts. So much for that.

If there was any question of abolishing the prerogative I for one would like to ask some serious questions in that regard. It seems a peculiar approach on the part of people who, very often, are all too critical when effort is made to enforce the law uniformly for the benefit of the community. There is a certain lack of logic there.

That brings me, logically, to a point which has a bearing on aspects of the debate on the Estimate for Justice in this year and other years. We hear about crime being on the increase and that there are complaints about that. We hear an awful lot about penal reform and I have no objection to it. In fact, I should like to support in every way every constructive effort that will win human beings to order and from criminal ways and will improve their lot and the lot of the community.

When listening to people who talk about these things and, at the same time, complain about the increase in crime, I often wonder whether they have analysed the problem and looked at it from the practical point of view, particularly from the point of view of the orderly citizens of the community. People who commit crimes are enemies of the community and enemies of law-abiding citizens. I sometimes wonder whether, in those circumstances, this modern trend of making prisons a home from home and abolishing punishment is altogether in proportion.

I should not like to be the one to introduce an element of new severity into dealing with crime or to suggest that an element of charity should not come into it. However, I do say this, that the officers of the law, those who are trying to preserve the community from the results of disorder, from crime, should be fully supported, and that when it comes to protection, it is certainly a distortion to be considering the criminal in very sympathetic terms and to be callous about either the law-abiding citizens who, after all, form the majority of the community and are, in fact, the community, or the officers of the law, whether they be prison warders, police officers, administrators or others who are trying to serve the best interests of the community in maintaining public order as tactfully and as efficiently as they can.

Some years ago I had occasion in this House to ask the then Minister to use his influence with the police authorities to have the Gardaí doubled, particularly at night time in certain areas of this city. I am glad to say that, to some extent anyway, that plea was listened to. Nevertheless, I am still perturbed to know that all too often Gardaí are put in a position of personal danger without adequate support. There is the question of numbers. This is not a matter on which to blame the Gardaí. They can only do what they can with their numbers, with the equipment available to them, and so on. However, I would again draw attention to the necessity for protecting Gardaí in the course of their duty.

On the question of balance where the criminal is concerned, prison warders and police officers have a difficult time in modern life. There has been an increase in crime, and I regret to say that I fear we must anticipate further increases and further problems in this regard according as communications bring us in contact with the bigger cities of the world in proximity to us, and in contact with the cosmopolitan life about us where crime is an activity that has flourished, flourished much more than it did in our orderly community when we were a small, more or less isolated community.

Here again—as an aside from the main stream of my speech—I want to say I have a certain sympathy with what Deputy Barrett said about the local garda stations, particularly in rural areas. I do realise, however, there are questions of money, of the numbers of Gardaí available, and of the family and personal lives of the police officers. These are all problems to be looked at, but from the point of view of making contact, as Deputy Barrett said, and in the context of fighting crime, I have sympathy with his approach.

The support of the officers of the law in combating crime depends on several factors. First and foremost public co-operation and sympathy with the police force is necessary. That presupposes contact with the community and understanding on the part of the police themselves. It also presupposes an understanding and an appreciation by the public and by the representatives of the public in this House of the task of the Gardaí, of the difficulties and, indeed, the dangers of that task. A vital factor in securing that confidence and co-operation is the confidence of the officer of the law that the community will support him. Let strict standards of justice and discipline be demanded from him. He must be prepared to be disciplined, whether he be a warder or a garda, but he must have the confidence that the community and the authorities who represent the community will fully support him in his work.

If there is any breakdown of that confidence, one of two things is liable to happen. One possibility is that discipline breaks down and the law is taken into the hands of the people who have to maintain law. It is demoralising for any force to be driven to that extremity and it is devastating from the point of view of the community because it destroys all co-operation and confidence as between the public and the police force. The other possibility is even worse: the blind eye is turned to duty and there is inefficiency stemming from lack of morale. The first requisite for maintaining order and waging an efficient battle against crime depends on both partners in this, the public and the Garda.

That confidence depends on a second factor. It depends on the support of the officers of the law not only by the executive authorities from the Minister and the Commissioner down but also by the courts and by all who have to do with the disposal of a case. There we need to have a sense of values in relation to crime. The community must never be cynical about crime. All must appreciate the gravity of crime and be prepared to treat crime with the gravity and, if necessary, the severity the crime merits. It is, therefore, a question of public conscience, in the first instance, from the point of view of the seriousness of the crime and the relative importance of order. After that, it is a matter for the courts, from the lowest to the highest, to determine the issue as between the individual criminal and the community. That is the function of the courts in criminal cases.

I find myself in a somewhat distasteful position now. I have been a lawyer and I have pleaded before the courts. I have never done a prosecution but I have defended many criminals. The position I find myself in now is one in which I believe somebody should stress that over-emphasis on human feeling, charity and so on, can produce a certain distortion in relationships. There is another side to the picture. There is the supporting of the garda or warder trying to do his job for the community. There is, too, the support of the law-abiding citizen. The question is whether there has not been, on occasion, a tendency to show too much mercy to the criminal at the expense of the morale of the police force, whose duty it is to maintain order, and not only at the expense of the morale but at the expense of the very ability of that police force to maintain order.

Remember, the effectiveness of a police force depends in the last analysis on how much support the police officer gets in the courts and elsewhere and the morale of the citizen depends on the protection he gets. I was somewhat shocked by an incident which occurred not very far from this Chamber. A certain Bill was being passed here abolishing certain punishment. A woman came to me and complained: "This is all very well, but I cannot move down a certain district in this city without the threat, to say the least of it, of molestation. You are all busy protecting these people, but what are you doing to protect me?" Now that is a point of view, and an important point of view. It is unpleasant for me to have to repeat that, but I feel it is something that must be said here if only to restore balance.

Again, it has to be remembered that there are physical dangers facing both the Garda and the prison warder. If they are seriously threatened or, worse still, injured in the course of their duties, then it is the duty of the community fully to support them. I am not preaching any doctrine of revenge. I am prepared to listen to the argument that there is no such thing as a deterrent; but, if there is no such thing as a deterrent, there is such a thing as indirect encouragement and where there is violence against any officer of the law in the prosecution of his duty, then, in my view, the penalty should be severe.

It is hard to excuse violence. If there is undue severity on the part of the courts, then we can very easily look after that. The prerogative of mercy the Deputy derided some few moments ago can come in quite useful. In the forensic history of this State over the past 40 years, I have known judges who properly announced sentence and who subsequently lent their representations to a mitigation of that sentence. In other cases they have recommended firmly that the law should take its course. I mention these processes to show that there is nothing in the machine that must inevitably grind on. There is nothing that cannot be modified by a proper human relationship. I have said enough. Perhaps I have said some things that may be open to misrepresentation, but I feel these things should be said if only for the purpose of restoring the balance.

With regard to the Garda, I must pay tribute to the officers and men of that force. I had occasion to see them operating during the recent election. We were all of us very impressed by their tact, courtesy and efficiency. Most of the men were young. The sergeants and inspectors were moving amongst them, helping them. The friendly atmosphere was very heartening. I congratulate them on that. I should also like to congratulate the Commissioner. I had the privilege of having close contact with him during the war years. I congratulate him on his appointment and the Garda, too.

With regard to the batons mentioned by Deputy O'Higgins, they are, after all, an item of equipment. No one knows better than the men who carry the baton whether or not it is a useful weapon. I do not think it is intended to be a weapon. I believe it is immaterial whether it is used or whether it is not. The garda will be most efficient with whatever he likes to use best and most naturally. It may be his hand or it may be a baton. It is a detail that should be left correctly to the Garda themselves to decide.

Deputy Corry mentioned rent racketeers. I hope the Minister will bring forward legislation as soon as possible in regard to rents. I do not want to appear to be against everybody today but Deputy Corry might recollect the position of people who own property and are getting rents from it. With times changing as they are today, are they not entitled to keep pace with the times? That is the only question I ask Deputy Corry as a result of his rather sweeping remarks here. In a Parliament like this, we should keep a sense of proportion. It is not right to be constantly taking sectional views and setting section against section. Many people who have revenues from that source acquired them through circumstances perfectly legitimate at the time. When, for instance, on the falling in of a lease property owners seek to exercise their rights, there are already a large number of controls. Whereas I admit that the whole matter should be looked at—and I understand it will be looked at—sweeping assertions of the kind made by Deputy Corry are, to say the least of them, hardly helpful.

I come now to the question of jury service. I do not know why we keep civil juries at all. A very decisive breach was made when we introduced the system of appeal to the High Court on circuit. This meant, as far as the Circuit Court was concerned, that a jury case was reheard by a judge. I feel that took away the whole raison d'être of civil juries altogether. I do not know what use a civil jury is in modern circumstances. Even in the High Court a civil jury is an antiquated procedure. A short cut to the whole problem of juries is to abolish juries in all civil cases. That will save a great deal of inconvenience to a large number of people. It will bring more uniformity and certainty into the law and it will avoid expense to the State. I subscribe to the representations made by Deputy Barrett and others. It is most unfair in modern circumstances to take a business man or farmer and have him attend court for some days, at the end of which he is either not called or is called and kept there. He is doing all that for nothing. I know in some courts the winning party pays a nominal sum, which would not buy cigarettes nowadays. However, the fact is that this is a free, impressed service, and I think it is time something was done about it.

The case is not quite so clear when we come to criminal juries. There is a strong case for keeping the jury in serious criminal cases of a certain type, but it might be opportune to decide in what type of case you want a jury and in what type you do not. The old distinctions which determine such matters are probably in need of revision. I commend that to the Minister. In so far as juries are being kept, I should like to reinforce the plea that some compensation should be made. Jury service falls rather heavily on a relatively small group of people. Too many are automatically exempt. Certain professional people and people who have official posts are exempt. By the time you work through all the exemptions, you find the burden is falling very heavily on a limited class.

Reverting to the question of crime, pessimistically, I foresee the tendency will be for an increase in crime and for, possibly, imported crime, because of a tendency towards cosmopolitanism and larger groups in modern circumstances. To combat that, the forces of the law must get every support. I have pleaded for support in the moral sense, that is, practical support in penalties and so forth. There is another type of support which will also be wanted. That support is numbers. The profession of the policeman must now be regarded as a highly important and honourable profession in the community. It is not merely an ancillary service. It is a most necessary service to the functioning of any modern civilised community. It requires high training and high skills. Therefore, we must face the fact it is going to require a certain expenditure on the part of the community, quite apart from the provision of the equipment which it will also need in this technological age. Naturally, we all plead for these things but we may not all be so realistic when it comes to providing them. We should all regard the police force as a highly skilled professional body that needs to be provided for in an imaginative way.

We have a very fine police force. It has just emerged from a transitional stage in which the whole future of the force was in balance, namely, the transition that has taken place in recent years from the original Gardaí, all of one age, to the new young men we see so many of around now. Because of historical circumstances there was a rather definite change at one particular point of time, when a large number of more or less the same age group went out and the new men came in. Looking at them, one can feel very proud of them. It is therefore important that they get the support and training to do the job, which is a very pressing one in any modern community and which, I fear, will call for attention here beyond what we might have imagined some years ago. The Minister said the incidence of undetected crime here compares favourably with other places. That is a good thing to hear. However, I believe crime will be a growing problem which must be provided for.

I think that is all I should say on the Estimate. The other things I should like to say pertain to legislation which will come before us later.

I should like in conclusion—and this is not just a formality—to point to the great energy, and the creditable energy, that has been displayed by the Department of Justice during the past few years. A very determined effort has been made to bring the administration of justice into line with modern requirements, both in the introduction of legislation and in the revision of administration. Two Ministers, the Minister and his predecessor, have given a dynamic lead in this regard, and we are, therefore, in the fortunate position in this Dáil of being able to take up a programme of progressive work. I hope that before this Dáil is dissolved, a great deal of progress will have been made in adjusting what have been to a large extent the traditional institutions to the very severe requirements of modern life.

For a number of years I used this Estimate to give voice to my opinion that the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána should be a person selected from the ranks of the Garda, and not an outsider. On any occasion on which I voiced that sentiment, the Minister for Justice made efforts to persuade the Chair to rule me out of order, on the grounds that it was not a matter which was relevant to the debate on the Department of Justice.

May I say that, notwithstanding the efforts of people to silence me, I am glad that in the long run my advice has been taken. A very good day's work for the country, and for the Garda, was done when Commissioner Quinn was appointed. He is a career officer of the Garda. I am not unconscious of the advice which was probably offered to the Minister from some quarters against such a decision. I am aware of the theory which is applied in some countries that it is dangerous to appoint a policeman as head of the police force, lest he might lead his men into revolution, and that it is safer to appoint a civilian from the administration. For the life of me, I cannot see why there is greater security in appointing a civilian rather than a career officer as head of the police, particularly in a country such as ours, which has such a magnificent history so far as the police force is concerned since the foundation of the State. The force was bred in the days of great trouble and strife, and it overcame the animosity of people who were not very ready to accept it. Any police force that outlived the stresses and strains of those days is capable, certainly, in this modern age, of being staffed by career officers.

When I spoke on this matter on previous occasions I pointed out that one obvious consequence of the appointment of the Deputy Commissioner or an Assistant Commissioner to the office of Commissioner would be that it would set off a chain of promotion from the lowest rank in the force to the highest, and that that was bound to have a beneficial effect upon morale. I was delighted to see the Commissioner appointed from the ranks, and I was equally delighted to see in a matter of a few weeks, the inevitable stream of promotion flowing as a consequence of the initial promotion. One can only hope that, in future when a vacancy arises in the office of Commissioner, a career member of the Garda will be appointed to that most important post.

I suppose the number of members of the Garda who will ever achieve that high honour must be extremely few indeed. I suppose that most of them have only an outside chance of ever achieving that office. Nevertheless, the expectation of that ultimate reward, or the knowledge that the office is available to a police officer, is bound to have an improving effect upon the morale of the force. I hope the right thing will be done in future when the occasion arises to appoint a successor to the present Commissioner, who we all hope will have many happy and healthy years in that office.

For some time today the debate dealt with the question of petitions, and the prerogative of the State to exercise mercy towards those who are convicted and punished by our courts. Deputy de Valera said he was not certain whether Deputy Barrett was suggesting that this prerogative was being improperly used. I do not think Deputy Barrett was going so far. I do not think it would be impudent to say that we have a much higher percentage of granted petitions than our neighbouring island has. I am not in a position to give the figures for any other country, and they might be worth studying, but it is true that we have a much higher percentage of granted petitions than Britain has. That may be because Deputies here are so close to the people, and personal ties, or even political ties, may exist between the petitioner or his relatives and the person making representations.

I know well how difficult it is for any Deputy to refuse to make a petition on behalf of a person. People have come to me and asked me to make petitions and, as the Minister is aware, he has received petitions from me on behalf of people, and will again, I suppose, if I am asked to make a petition. There have been cases where I refused to make a petition, although they have been exceptional cases in which because of my knowledge of departmental practice, I was aware that a petition would not be considered at the time. Quite clearly it is not the function of any public representative to set himself up as judge or jury, and in the ordinary course of events, if he is asked to convey a petition, he must so convey it.

We must seriously consider, as Deputy Barrett suggested, whether it is proper that so many remissions should be granted in the privacy and secrecy of the Minister's office, particularly when a judge, and in some cases a jury, will have heard the facts of the case. I understand that when a petition is being considered, the practice in most cases is that the adjudicating judge, or the justice concerned, is consulted and his views taken into account. The officers of the Garda involved are also consulted, and inquiries are made regarding the veracity of the various statements made relating to family circumstances and other facts set out in the petition.

A considerable amount of care is applied to the consideration of these petitions but, allowing for all that, I sincerely believe that we should reflect on whether we should have so many petitions going through. I believe that judges and justices, in applying punishment in some cases, have regard to the expectation that a petition will be made to the Minister, and a remission will be granted. Therefore, a judge may have in mind that six months might be an appropriate period of imprisonment but perhaps he may say: "I will give him 12 months and he will probably petition and will get off with six months."

That is undesirable. Because of the high percentage of petitions granted in whole or in part, I believe that kind of thought must be in the mind of any judge or justice when imposing sentence. I am aware of a case which happened some years ago and which received very full publicity. It was a major cock-fighting tournament in the midlands and very heavy penalties were imposed. I think they were monetary only. A number of people participated in that cock-fighting event and inevitably petitions from Deputies, Senators and councillors came in. In due course, because of the poor circumstances of many of the people involved and many other merciful considerations, the penalties were substantially reduced. Within a short time of the reduction of those penalties, the Minister, who in serious deliberation had made his decision on the merits as he saw them, was informed that the people who had received a reduction in their penalties had made a considerable amount of money because when the penalties were originally imposed, a dance or céili was organised and the profits of the event were distributed amongst the wrongdoers to assist them to pay their fines.

That is the kind of thing that brings the whole process of the law into disrepute. That is the kind of thing which I say gives rise in the minds of judges and justices to the consideration which must be there that perhaps they ought to double or quadruple the penalties because, almost certainly, they will be reduced in any event.

An interesting statistic might be the number of petitions from Dublin city and county and the number of petitions from the rest of Ireland. I think the occasions on which a Dublin Deputy is asked to petition are few. It would be a rare event if a Dublin Deputy had as many as half a dozen petitions in a year. It would be an equally rare event if a rural Deputy did not have half a dozen petitions in a month. Why that should be so is something for study by sociologists. One is led to believe that there is a higher rate of crime in Dublin than in the urban areas. One would expect that there should be more occasion for people convicted in Dublin to petition their Deputies, but perhaps there is not that close personal contact between people who have made good on point duty have not had the same opportunities of in Dublin and their Deputies as in the rest of the country, or perhaps it is that many of the crimes in the country are not looked down upon by the local community, that they are crimes or wrongs which are regarded as forgivable or not terribly deplorable and the people have not got the same sense of guilt in rural Ireland as in Dublin or other urban areas. It is an interesting fact and perhaps the Minister may be able to give these statistics on some occasion if they are sought.

The need to provide proper accommodation for the Garda Síochána is, I think, realised by the Minister and by the Board of Works. There is one particular place in my own constituency which at the moment has a barracks which is in a deplorable condition—I understand the word "station" is the modern nomenclature. It is wholly unsuited for accommodation by members of the Garda Síochána. It is the Rathmines Garda station. I know there were plans to build a new station at a particular location. That location, it is pointed out, was away on the fringe of the Garda district in question and for other reasons also it was decided not to go ahead with that project. I should like to impress on the Minister the urgency of providing a better station for the Gardaí in the Rathmines district.

There is a great need to amend the Garda disciplinary regulations. The previous speaker made reference to what he saw in Bolton Street during the prolonged recount after the general election when there were several members of the Garda Síochána of all ranks around. He said he thought there was a better relationship between the officers and men. That may or may not be, but we still have in existence, as far as I know, antiquated regulations which are attuned more to Victorian military academies than to a modern police force. While many of these regulations may not now be strictly applied, so long as they are there, there is a danger they will be invoked, just as they were invoked and applied during the last threatened embarrassing Garda strike a couple of years ago. It is unsavoury to have regulations of that kind on the book, particularly in a police force because the danger is that some hard-faced disciplinarian will apply them at the wrong time and better than have a temptation there, we should amend the regulations. I hope the Minister will apply himself to this. Two years ago this was being done but we have not got very far with it.

One of the most important members of the Garda Síochána is the man on point duty. He may become an anachronism owing to the increase in traffic lights but he will probably still be needed. I think it is true to say the standards of men on point duty have declined. One can probably single out two or three senior members of the Garda Síochána who are models of what a point duty man should be, a man who appears to be interested in his job and takes pride in it. There are many men who are certainly first-class at it but I am sorry to say there is a considerable proportion who appear to regard it as a complete bore, a drudgery which is foisted upon them, and who give to pedestrians and motorists signals which to say the least of it can be confusing. Those are usually the members who become most irritated if people who are confused by their signals do not do their bidding.

I think a remedy for this sorry state of affairs would be to give extra pay to men on point duty. I can understand that it is a most exacting duty. Their hours of duty are very long but they have to remain alert swinging their arms at major junctions in the city for eight hours of the day. It must be a most difficult task to perform and if we want to recruit men to do the job and do it properly, there should be considerable emoluments attaching to that duty. I should like the Minister to give consideration to this.

There is another reason why these men should be given extra pay. A man on thankless and soul-destroying point duty is not able to apply his mind to problems which might assist him in getting promotion. He is not getting the kind of experience as a member of the Garda Síochána which would assist him in passing police examinations. It is probably true to say that some men study for promotion as, say, a man who is appointed as clerk to a superintendent in the barracks. These problems can be overcome if additional pay is given to men on point duty and if a man were taken off point duty when it became obvious to an inspector that he did not seem to have his heart and soul in the job or had not the necessary disposition for the task.

It is one which calls for a special flair. It is not every man who has that special flair, any more than any one of us in this House has it. No blame would attach to any member of this House or any member of the Garda if he had not got it. We should take pride in these men. We should see they are the best for the job primarily because of the necessity to protect pedestrians and motorists and, secondly, because these people are, to some extent, symbols of our special admiration and the admiration of the tourists who come amongst us.

I made a complaint on the Estimate for the Department of Local Government about the inadequate detour or warning notices on the occasion of traffic accidents or road repairs. I made a suggestion then which I think now is more relevant to the Department of Justice than the Department of Local Government, and it is this. A mobile police-operated van or lorry furnished with detour notices or warning notices to indicate where a traffic accident has occurred, or where other obstacles may exist, should certainly be provided in a large centre like Dublin. These ambulances or emergency squads exist in other countries and they have been of very great assistance in clearing traffic whenever obstacles occur. I am sorry to say many of our local authority engineers are not alert enough to the need to have adequate warning notices. If the Garda were given powers in relation to these warning notices and if they had emergency squads available, then they could control a city or large urban centre. That would obviate many of the difficulties which arise at present under the rather confusing and inadequate system we operate here.

While I am on the question of road traffic, might I put before the Minister a suggestion in relation to the punishment of road traffic offenders? I do not consider a common prison in which there are burglars and people convicted of assault, fraud, rape and all kinds of demeaning anti-social crimes is a proper place to rehabilitate persons guilty of road traffic offences. I do not for one moment accept, and I know society does not accept, that there is the same degree of moral responsibility attached to the case of a man who is committed because of careless or dangerous driving and a man who sets about breaking and entering a premises and steals a large sum of money or a man who arms himself with a lethal or dangerous weapon and commits an assault on his fellowman. We need moderate prisons here for road traffic offences such as there are in Scandinavian countries. We would be able to provide instruction, assistance and advice for people who are confined to prison for road traffic offences, if we had this type of prison. At present a person develops an anti-social complex because he probably has to chop logs, make mats or do some other activity which might be suitable to persons who have been committed for assault, rape, burglary, housebreaking or some offence of the kind.

I should like to see much greater use being made by district justices of a short period of suspension for people convicted of traffic offences. A man driving a train who may be involved in a train accident would be suspended for a period in any case. Why is a motorist not similarly treated? It might not be so good for a man who needed his car to earn his livelihood, but then he drives for longer than average periods and has therefore a greater duty to take care. A man involved in a traffic accident, because of his own negligence, is usually penalised, £5, £10, £15 or £20. The fine in very many cases is less than one week's wages and sometimes may not even amount to more than the cost of running a motor car for a week. As soon as the man is fined, he finds the money and pays the fine. The question of blame is washed out of his mind as soon as he does so. If a man were suspended from driving for seven, 14 or 30 days, it is far more likely that he would be conscious of the need for greater care on the road in future.

We can understand that a long period of suspension of six months is a very serious penalty for a man who needs his car for his work, but it would be much more salutary to suspend a motorist for 14 days, or some longer period, than to fine him. District justices could make more use of suspension than of fines without imposing any great hardship on the wrongdoers, even though the hardship might be less than the imposition of a monetary fine. When a person is not allowed to drive for any length of time because of an offence, it breaks the habit which seems to be in the best of us who drive our cars every day of getting into the state of not paying as much attention as we should. We lose the alertness and freshness which every novice has. It is often said it is not the novice who is the worst driver; it is the man who has been driving for years. We would help to break that habit forming if a short period of suspension from driving were imposed by district justices for driving offences. We should see that our district justices do that more often.

The previous speaker, on the occasion of the last time he spoke on the Estimate for the Department of Justice, criticised a speech I made on that occasion. He said I criticised a member of our judiciary for his bullying and nerve-racking tactics. I did not name a member of the judiciary and I have no wish to name him. I was attacked by Deputy de Valera when he said it was a most unfair thing for me to attack a man who could not reply. The interesting thing was that Deputy de Valera spoke after me and I could not reply to him. The following day the newspaper of which he is managing director, in its leading article, attacked me. When he got a reply from me, he refused to publish it. The attack which he made on me that day and which was made in the newspaper the following day was to the effect that it was wrong for a Deputy to use the privileges of this House to attack any member of the judiciary.

It would have been very wrong for me to name a member of the judiciary, but as a Deputy it was my national duty to warn any member of the judiciary who behaved in an unfair manner. It is only right I should be able to do that in this House because if I dared to do it elsewhere, I would be committed, even though a petition could be made to the Minister for Justice, and I could be released. There is only one way a member of the judiciary can be brought to task for his wrongdoing, that is, by a motion for his removal in this House and the Seanad. That is a drastic thing to do and one does not like to dismiss any member of the judiciary without warning him first. The only way one can warn members of the judiciary about their behaviour is under privilege.

It seems to me that any member of the judiciary who behaves properly has nothing to fear, but if there is any member of the judiciary whose head fits the cap, there is a possibility that he may mend his ways. I am glad to say there was an improvement in the person I had in mind, following the chastisement which he got in this House. I am fearful the improvement has not continued up to the present day.

On the same occasion as I spoke on this matter before, Deputy de Valera said that remedies are available to any member of the legal profession who has a complaint to make. He told me that I ought to have complained to the Incorporated Law Society which would have taken steps in the matter. For the information of the Deputy in question, and of others who are interested, the Incorporated Law Society did make their protest to the man in question. He was informed that members of the solicitors' profession were very displeased with his conduct. It did not have the same beneficial effect as the remarks in this House.

I think it is only right and proper that any Deputy who is aware that any member of the judiciary is acting improperly should air the matter here. It is undesirable, because of the need to preserve the dignity of the judiciary, that any particular man should be named as, quite clearly, any person coming before such a man would not have any confidence in his decision. However, rather than seeking to invoke the tremendous power this House has to dismiss a man, it is better that warnings be issued first. Anyway, there is always the danger that if the Government of the day had appointed a particular man, they would not allow any motion for his removal to be passed by this House, so your second stage could well be worse than your first and the person whom public opinion condemned would be protected by the Party machine which appointed him in the first instance. That is one of the aspects when political appointees are put on the Bench. I would hope that, having raised this matter again and indicated my stand on it— what I consider to be a proper stand for any member of this House—there will be no need to refer to it again in the future.

I had occasion in recent months to remark in this House upon the frequency with which cars assigned to Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries are to be seen parked in streets in Dublin where parking is prohibited. The Minister did not agree with my remarks. However, I think there is a need to speak on this matter. These things have been said to me by people who have more time to perambulate the streets than I have. I have no reason to doubt their word because I have seen these cars parked where they should not be parked. It creates an appalling impression amongst members of the public, particularly the motoring public, who themselves are persecuted and harassed by members of the Garda Síochána when they see State cars parked where they should not be parked.

I have seen State cars parked right against traffic lights, right at zebra crossings and at "No Parking" signs in streets. As I say, I am not abroad and walking the streets as often as other people are. I think the way to cure this is for the Minister, if he has not already done it, to send up a little memo to the Depot in the Phoenix Park to ask the good men who are driving the State cars not to succumb to the temptation to park for their own convenience where they should not park. Furthermore, he should write a memo to his colleagues in the Government or mention it at a Government meeting and to the Parliamentary Secretaries emphasising how undesirable it is that State cars should be seen to do wrong so often. If that were done, I think we would see a considerable improvement.

It puts the driver of one of these cars in an extremely awkward position if he is told by the Minister or other occupant of the car to pull up at a particular place and to remain parked there until the passenger comes back again. It puts that man in an extremely awkward position to disobey the order or not to fulfil the request of the passenger but the driver should not be asked to do these things and they simply should not occur. The remedy is in the Minister's hands. If he finds that other people are not fulfilling his wishes in this respect there are probably various remedies which he can apply one of which might be to abolish the State cars altogether. We understand that, at the moment, they are costing over £3,000 per car per year. I think there are now 19 members of the Government and it costs over £3,000 apiece to provide them with transport.

Mind you, this is done because, here, we are apparently in a position that the powers that be are afraid to come into the House to ask for an adequate salary for Ministers. If the cars were taken from them, there would be a saving of £3,000 per man. If even half that amount were given to a Minister by way of additional remuneration, there would be a saving to the State of £1,500 a year per car—and there are 19 such cars—and we would not have situations such as we now have of cars being used in such a way that they are causing something of a minor scandal or maybe it is a major one.

On the question of jury service, I think one of the most peculiar exemptions is that granted to Peace Commissioners. The Minister, I think, like his predecessors, must be approached from time to time by people who seek appointment as Peace Commissioner for no reason other than that they want to avoid jury service. The reason for exempting a Peace Commissioner is that he is a quasi-judicial figure. I understand that they are not automatically exempt but that they may claim exemption and get it. It seems to me that the remedy for this is to provide that they will not be exempted unless they have performed some function in relation to the particular case in dispute or in relation to the particular matter to be adjudicated.

I am not sure how many Peace Commissioners there are in Dublin city. I suppose the number runs into four figures—and that is probably a modest way of putting it. Indeed, the number, I understand, becomes so numerous from time to time that even the authorities are not aware of who is dead or who is alive. It seems unfair that any man can, with the aid of political friends, get this advantage over his fellows and I should like to see that exemption dispensed with.

Deputy de Valera mentioned the only reward which is at present given to members of the jury. I think he was not quite certain of the amount. Barristers, you see, are very seldom aware of the minor expenses of litigation. Their knowledge of the matter is frequently limited to their own fees. However, the amount paid to a juror, no matter how long or how short or how important or trivial the case, is the magnificent sum of 5/-. One of the duties which lie on a solicitor on either side of a jury case is to bring down a bag of £3 worth of halfcrowns in order to give them to the court crier to distribute to members of the jury at the end of the case. Let this be said in favour of juries in this city that most if not all of them pass on the money to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul or to some other worthy charity.

So long as you do not pay jurors, you run the risk, which I have often heard voiced in court, in an address to the jury, where counsel will express regret that their day has been lost or that their business has been affected by having to deal with such a trivial case. I would point out that while a case may appear trivial to members of the jury, to the public or to anybody other than the parties involved in it, if a person has undertaken the worry and expense of litigation it is not trivial to him or to her. The danger is—and I think possibly this has happened—that juries by refusing to give awards where they ought to do so may take revenge on litigans because they have not been adequately paid. The way to avoid this, I suppose, is either to abolish juries or else to see that they are adequately remunerated. I have no idea yet when the 5/- was laid down: I suppose it is buried in some dusty statute. There is obviously a clear need to do something drastic about payment to jurors.

Another class, incidentally, who should be no longer entitled to exemption is the Civil Service. In theory civil servants are exempt from jury service because the State cannot afford the loss of a civil servant's day. One knows, without going for guidance to the music-hall stage, that it is true to say many civil servants could be absent for a day and nobody would be the wiser. The State can surely afford the loss of a small number of civil servants for a day or so every year. The State can certainly afford it more than the small businessman conducting his own business.

I think it is outrageous that the State demands citizens to serve on juries and at the same time will not suffer the minimum fraction of loss by allowing civil servants of any grade or of any standing to serve on juries. It is an absolutely unreasonable proposition and I think that no matter what may happen in the future in the matter of jury service, civil servants should be liable to serve, certainly for criminal and, perhaps, for civil business. I should like to see both peace commissioners and civil servants playing their part in this respect. If they did, the number of times small businessmen would be called on to leave their businesses for weeks on end would be few and far between.

Another suggestion I put to the Minister deals with the question of having a separate legal adviser for the Garda Síochána. This is not a post that I want for any personal favour or for which I am eligible, so there is no personal ambition such as certain Fianna Fáil backbenchers suggested when I raised the matter last year. We had a situation which was pointed out by the Supreme Court where the Garda Síochána and the Attorney General, both of whom were involved in different capacities, had the same solicitor. Admittedly, they had different counsel but they were briefed by the same solicitor. If we are to have independent advice made available to members of the Garda Síochána, it is important they would have their own solicitor.

Such an office exists in other countries and I am sure they have very good reasons for having it so. This would not mean that the Garda Síochána would lead a revolution. In my view it would assist the Garda greatly if they had their own separate legal adviser and it would separate the different functions of the Attorney General and the Chief State Solicitor's office on the one hand and the Gardaí and their duties on the other. At the present time the legal advisers of the Chief State Solicitor's office have the problem of giving legal advice to the Garda Síochána. My suggestion may only involve the assigning of one or other of the legal advisers in the Chief State Solicitor's office to the Garda Síochána as a separate legal adviser. It is something the Minister should look into.

Another matter he should consider is the question of the delays which appear to be occurring in the accountant's office in the High Court. My information is that it takes from four to six weeks or more to pay money out of court when a layman is given an award or when there is money lodged and he accepts it. He expects to have the money in his hands in a couple of weeks or so. When he does not he is on the solicitor's doorstep day after day and in more cases than one he becomes suspicious of the poor solicitor who himself or whose clerk goes down to the accountant's office looking for money and keeps coming back to the client with the same old story. The people in the accountant's office are most helpful and courteous. Perhaps, it might be a matter of staff or of better relations with the Bank of Ireland. I should be obliged if the Minister would clear it up.

I should like to mention another matter involving delays. I am told there has been a change in the system of accepting documents in the Land Registry. Some solicitors in Dublin act for solicitors down the country: every country solicitor must have a town agent. In recent times, some solicitors have tended to monopolise that business mainly because most solicitors cannot afford the time to do it. It would mean additional staff. It is distracting for most solicitors. The present system leads to a greater efficiency, the work being channelled to a few offices which specialise in it.

If one is a solicitor who has not got a town agent and has to call to the multitudinous State offices and is unfortunate enough to join the queue at the Land Registry after a representative of some 25 to 50 solicitors, he must spend one and a half to two hours there while the papers of the agent in front of him are examined. No member of this House would have the patience to do it and this seems an appropriate time to mention it. Until recently such agents were allowed to leave their bundle of papers and come back later to get receipts for them. This allowed the civil servants inside the counter, if they had a slack period, to start recording these documents and have the receipts ready when the agent came back. Now everybody has to wait until the receipts are issued after a couple of dozen or more documents have been passed through the machine. It is an unreasonable imposition on the legal profession and on their employees. We already have enough exasperating delays in the Stamping Office without imposing them in the Land Registry as well. People who complain about delays on the part of solicitors in handling their affairs do not know the many exasperating and unnecessary delays occurring daily and hourly in many Government offices.

This is a kind of law reform that would be of very great benefit to the public generally, not only to the solicitors' profession in particular. I do not make this as a personal comment on the Minister but one side of the profession untouched by these delays is that of the barristers. They do not engage in running messages which solicitors' offices have to do. Knowing how intemperate and impassioned they can become, I shudder to think of the scenes that would occur if the learned members of the bar had to put up with many of these exasperating delays.

I hope I have not delayed the Minister too long with my remarks on this Estimate. I wish him well in the work he is doing and I would ask him to accept that if I or my colleagues offer what may appear to be needling criticism, it is not intended as such. The suggestions we throw out either on this Estimate or at other times, are ones which we are sure he has the capacity to implement and which we hope he will have the will to implement.

I should like to preface my remarks by congratulating the Minister on his very impressive introductory speech. In my few remarks, I should like to stress the problem of juvenile delinquency and crime among young people. I should also like to refer to the Ban Gardaí in Dublin city and the part they play in combating crime among young people, particularly young girls. As a member of Dublin City Council, I urged successive Governments for many years to establish the Ban-Ghardaí, eventually with success. However, I am often disappointed in regard to the duties assigned to these excellent women. I have seen them, for instance, on point duty, a duty for which, to my mind, they were never intended. In recent years, there has been a change and they are engaging in the more essential work of crime prevention and detection.

Like most other countries in the world, we have a growing crime problem and we do benefit from the experiences of other countries, but I think we are missing out by following the mistakes of other countries, particularly continental countries. Most of these have no poverty and no unemployment and excellent social services, but yet have frightful crime problems. We have to examine why, if a man has a good house, a good job and good social security, he will still break the law. I suppose it is because of a lack of moral force among people which leads them to disregard law and morals. How then are we to benefit from experience and try to prevent crime among young people? I believe there is a hope for us if we marshal the moral forces the Minister mentioned, such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army and the Legion of Mary, of which I am a member. With the help of these organisations and the Ban-Ghardaí, we can prevent young people from becoming criminals. The essential work of these societies is, of course, rehabilitation.

I remember some years ago the case of a young girl who was saved from committing suicide by a docker who telephoned for the Gardaí. Four hefty Gardaí arrived and it was pitiful to see this young girl with these four big men around her. At the time I went to the late Oscar Traynor, who was then Minister for Justice, and asked him if a Ban-Gharda could not have been sent on that case and he said that in future he would endeavour to ensure that Ban-Ghardaí were sent out on such cases. I would appeal to the Minister to increase the numbers in the Ban-Ghardaí, so that, with the co-operation of the societies I have mentioned, they can prevent young people from engaging in crime. I am sure that many habitual criminals started when they were young and that may be a reflection on the person or on our society. I think we can show other countries that we are tackling our problem and that we can contribute something to the world drive against crime. Some years ago in Britain a report on crime was issued and I remember reading the comment of a noted sociologist that they were trying to substitute the police for the priest.

A former speaker criticised the Gardaí for their action some time ago when some men cut down a tree because some person was visiting the country. I thought this criticism was deplorable because, unless we can show that we are fully behind the Garda, there will be no respect for them and, if there is no respect, there will be no co-operation. Last year some African students were beaten up by thugs and the students came to me in the Mansion House to protest. They believed that they had been beaten up because the colour of their skin was different from ours. I explained that that was not the reason, that these thugs would beat up anybody, old or young, no matter what colour his skin was. One of the students who had received the most severe beating said that he was prepared to believe that it was not because of the colour of his skin, but what had hurt him most was to look around and see hundreds of Dublin people standing idly by and giving no co-operation to the Gardaí.

If a Garda is being assaulted it does not mean that the people do not want to help him. It takes courage to go and help and while there is no excuse for an ablebodied man for not helping a Garda, there are some people who could not attempt to enter a brawl. Another point is that any Garda who is injured in a brawl must get full compensation and the Garda must feel that the vast majority of the people are behind them.

I should like to refer also to the rehabilitation work being done by the Legion of Mary. The members of this organisation visit young people in St. Patrick's each week and also visit their homes and interview employers, seeking work for them. I want it to go on record that the House appreciates the work of the Legion of Mary, the Salvation Army and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In regard to jury service, perhaps the Minister would consider revising the whole system. In this day and age, we should not judge a man's qualifications by the valuation of his house. Because of this qualification, jury service is falling on a small number of people and many people spend days in court without any recompense, unless their firms pay them. I know of a man who is completely illiterate and who has been called to act on a jury. I do not know how he is going to serve and I am sure no one will question him about his educational abilities. The Minister might consider increasing the whole scope of jury service, if it is to be retained in all cases. Until such time as the system of trial by jury has been altered, we must enlarge the scope of jurors. I would ask the Minister to look into the few matters that I have raised in connection with the Estimate.

(Cavan): This evening Deputy de Valera made a strong appeal for support for the Garda Síochána in the exercise of their duties. He suggested that they should receive that support from this House, from the country and from the members of the judiciary. With that appeal from Deputy de Valera I am in complete agreement. I should like to avail of this opportunity to express the appreciation of the House and the country to the members of the Garda Síochána who have served this State since its foundation. The Garda Síochána took over the policing of this country in the early days of this State when the police were unpopular and had been unpopular for a great many years before that because they were the police force of a foreign country. It was not very long until the new police force, all young, raw men, established a grand tradition, a tradition of performing their duties fearlessly but impartially and with courtesy. That tradition, I am glad to think, has been handed down through the Garda Force to this very day. Long may it continue.

I am also in agreement with the view expressed by Deputy Ryan when he welcomed the change in attitude of the Government and the Minister to the appointment of the Commissioner of the Garda. I am glad to think that it has now been established as policy that the Commissioner shall be appointed from the serving members of the Force.

However, Deputy de Valera, having made that appeal for support of the Garda Síochána, appeared to me to become a little bit inconsistent because he then went on to appeal for an unfettered exercise of the prerogative of mercy by the Government. This question of the prerogative of mercy is now more important than it has ever been before because in the year 1964 we passed a Bill which abolished capital punishment. Let me say at once that I am in complete agreement with the abolition of capital punishment. My only complaint about that Bill is that it did not go far enough and finish the job and abolish the hangman's rope once and for all in this country. I believe in the abolition of capital punishment but I also consider that murderers should be punished and punished severely, both because crime of that sort should be punished severely and also because it is necessary that the type of punishment that should be meted out to murderers should be severe in order to deter people who contemplate murder.

During the debate in the Seanad on the Bill to abolish capital punishment some startling statistics emerged. I speak now from memory but I think I am correct in saying that it was established then that over a long period the average term served by murderers whose sentence had been commuted to penal servitude for life was six years. The average term, I think, was six years. The longest term served over the same period was eleven years and the shortest term was three years. I hope those figures are correct—I speak from memory—I think they are. In my opinion, that sort of sentence is no deterrent to murder. A young man in his late teens or early twenties who contemplates murder and looks over these statistics may say to himself, "If I am caught and if I am sentenced and if I am unlucky I will have to serve eleven years; if I am very lucky I will get off with three years and if I am just lucky I will do six years."

The Minister and the Government should approach this question of the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, especially in murder cases, very, very seriously. Within the past few years it has come to light that a person convicted of an offence of causing serious personal injuries to a fellow citizen was sentenced by a court in this country and released long before his sentence expired and was back before the courts of this country before he was very long out of prison charged with a brutal murder of which he was convicted.

It is, therefore, opportune on this Estimate, which is the second Estimate for the Office of the Minister for Justice that has been presented since the abolition of capital punishment, to urge on the Minister and the Government the serious responsibility that is theirs in the exercise of this prerogative of mercy in the case of persons convicted of serious crime, particularly the very serious crime of murder.

In introducing the Estimate the Minister dealt with law reform. I presume that he dealt with the policy of law reform which he intended to pursue rather than with any particular branch of law reform. I am all in favour of law reform. There are many Acts which have long outlived their usefulness, which are now out of date, out of keeping with modern living and modern conditions, that should be abolished. However, I think law reform is useful only when it is an improvement on existing law. Law reform for the sake only of change serves no useful purpose. A change which runs counter to the traditions and conditions of the country is worse than useless. It is something to be deplored and discouraged.

I was, therefore, glad to hear the Minister say: "For my own part, I am anxious that immediate emphasis should be placed on practical measures of reform which will benefit the ordinary citizen." I should like to think that in his approach to the question of law reform, he is departing from that of his immediate predecessor but the best evidence we could have of that departure would be the complete withdrawal of the Succession Bill. The fact that the Minister has thought fit to reintroduce the Succession Bill which fell with the dissolution of the 17th Dáil, runs somewhat counter to the quotation I have just given. Probably it would be considered out of order if I dealt in any detail with the Succession Bill, and I do not propose to do so, but in general that Bill could not by any stretch of the imagination be considered as a measure of reform which will benefit ordinary citizens. I shall leave it at that.

The Minister intimated that he was thinking in terms of increasing the jurisdiction of the district and the circuit courts and, speaking for myself, I am in entire agreement. The District Court and Circuit Court mete out justice expeditiously and cheaply and litigants have their cases heard there adequately and without delay. Having regard to the considerable change in the value of money in recent years, an increase in the jurisdiction of these courts is justified.

Mention has been made of criticism of members of the judiciary. I should say that, practically without exception, the judiciary give good service and behave in a manner that does credit to them. It is possible, however, that a member of the judiciary could find himself in a position for which he was temperamentally unsuited. In making appointments to the Bench, the Government have regard to the qualifications of those they appoint to a particular seat on the Bench, shall I say. They consider the type of practice he specialised in when at the Bar and, if they want to fill a certain seat, they look to a section of the Bar that has specialised in that work to find the person to appoint. That is reasonable. It also follows that a man may be temperamentally unsuited to the sort of duties he is called upon to perform but that elsewhere, in a different court, that particular judge might give the utmost satisfaction, as I am sure he would. If a situation like that arises, there should be machinery within the Department and within the judiciary to arrange things so that judges will preside over courts in which they are best suited to serve.

The Minister also dealt with legal aid. I am a little worried about his approach to this question and about the approach of his predecessor. Either legal aid is to be genuine legal aid which will seek to avoid a miscarriage of justice or it is to be a make-believe which will not do any good. The Minister quoted part of the Second Reading speech of his predecessor introducing the Bill which established legal aid and in that speech and today, the Minister said: "For example, free legal aid could not be justified in the case of experienced criminals—and there are quite a few of them—who have deliberately decided to make a living of crime."

I should like to know who will be branded as an experienced or habitual criminal. I cannot see a case where a miscarriage of justice might more likely occur than at a trial of a person with a criminal record. If a crime is committed and the Garda go out in the best of good faith to seek the culprit, naturally the first place they look is among people who have a criminal record. If they get a man with a criminal record to whom certain circumstantial evidence may point as being the guilty person, they will naturally become prejudiced against him, not in any unfair or improper way, but, nevertheless, prejudiced. If that is so, that man starts off at a considerable disadvantage. I cannot see any man in more need of legal aid than such a person, nor any case where a miscarriage of justice could more readily occur than at the trial of such a man.

The question of legal aid should be left entirely to the courts and I hope that will happen. I hope that a rumour I have heard is not correct. I have heard that a circular has been sent out or, in some way, it has been conveyed to members of the judiciary, that they are to interpret the Legal Aid Act and the regulations made thereunder strictly. I hope there is no foundation for that rumour and, if so, I hope the Minister will avail of his reply to this debate to give me an assurance to that effect. If he gives me an assurance, I will accept it. It would be deplorable if the Minister or his Department were to seek to interfere with any branch of the judiciary in the carrying out of their functions.

The Minister dealt with the Registration of Title Act and says he hopes it will come into force before the end of the year. I understand that the Land Registry is most inadequately staffed to give effect to this Act. I made inquiries over a year ago as to when this Act or certain sections of it might come into force, with particular reference to the section which repealed section 52 of the Local Registration of Title Act. I was told then that it would come into force shortly, but reading between the lines, I gathered that with the best will in the world, there was not sufficient staff or sufficient accommodation in the Land Registry to implement it.

The only other point with which I wish to deal very broadly is one that has already been covered, that is, the question of the closing of Garda barracks in country districts. I suppose the argument can be made for and against this but for the purpose of preventing crime, detecting crime and establishing a good civic spirit and proper relations between the citizen and the Garda Síochána, there is a lot to be said for leaving the small Garda station in rural Ireland. Especially now, when the old members of the force are moving out and young men coming in, a lot could be done to cement the friendship and respect which have grown up between the citizen and the Garda.

This Estimate is one on which the legal men in the House, if they will forgive me for saying so, have a field day, and I suppose when somebody like myself, who is not legally trained, comes in it may seem a little bit odd. However, I propose to deal with a number of matters as a layman sees them.

First, may I ask the Minister if he is aware of the number of people in this country who have disappeared without trace? I should be glad if the Minister would give us some figures in that connection. The Minister is aware of one case which I brought to his notice where somebody disappeared in the middle of the day by going off in a car. As far as I am aware, the registration number of the car, a description of it and a description of the driver were supplied to the Garda months ago and that person has not been seen since.

I have been checking around and it seems to be a common thing for people to disappear into thin air if they do not want to meet their commitments, if there is something wrong with them mentally, or for one reason or another. I do not want to put down a question but if the Minister would prefer to deal with it that way, I shall put down a question. In any event, this matter should be treated more seriously. The case to which I have referred is that of a married lady and the Garda do not seem to be greatly worried about the fact that she disappeared and no great effort seems to have been made to trace her. Maybe it is not important to the Minister or the Garda to whom the report was made but it is important to the members of the family. If only two or three people disappear each year, there should be some way of finding out what happened to them and an effort made to trace them.

The Garda, as far as I meet them throughout the country, have the reputation, and rightly so, of being both efficient and courteous. I agree that the police were established at a time when the police force in this country was anything but popular, and the fact that the police force succeeded in doing its job well is all to its credit. I should like to sound a note of warning to the Minister. There are a few people who have joined the ranks in the past few years and who have not learned a lesson from the people who served before them. All too often now we meet young gardaí who cannot be described as being exactly courteous. Maybe they do not realise they are being discourteous, but if they are asked a question, sometimes the answer they give is not the one which they should give. Sometimes at a busy traffic intersection, the Garda on duty gets a signal that the driver of a car wishes to go in a certain direction; he simply ignores the signal and waves the car on, as happened to me on occasions in the past few months. The Garda who does that is doing a disservice to everybody, including the Force. It should be brought home by the responsible authorities that that type of action will not be tolerated.

There is a report from the Minister that crime is increasing and he makes the excuse that the percentage is lower in this country than in the neighbouring country. I do not think that is a good excuse because the standards in this country and in the neighbouring country, luckily, are not the same. It does pose the question as to why more help is not given to the Garda when something happens. I think I can give the answer to the Minister. Very often when those who do attempt to assist the Garda go into court subsequently as witnesses they get scant courtesy from the people administering the law. I have personal experience of attending a court as a witness to prove that my car was broken into. With the assistance of a person who works with me, I found the person who did the damage, and the District Justice treated that girl and myself as if we had broken into the culprit's car. I think that is the reason why people are not very anxious to go into court and to assist the Garda in tracing criminals. It should be brought home to the odd District Justice who adopts that attitude that people who go into court to help the State, to help to maintain law and order and who get no payment for it are not to be treated in this manner.

There is another point in regard to people who commit serious crimes. A man breaks into somebody's house or shop and steals property. He is taken to court and is allowed out on bail. While on bail, he breaks into as many houses or shops as he can and eventually, when he appears in court again, he asks that these other offences be taken into account. The District Justice sentences him to six months' imprisonment on each charge, the sentences to run concurrently. He goes to prison laughing because he knows when he is released, he will be able to make use of the ill-gotten goods which he has stashed away.

When somebody breaks the law, he should be punished for each crime he commits and criminal types should be made to understand that they cannot do this sort of thing and get away with it. Until we do that, there will be a recurrence of law-breaking, particularly housebreaking and larceny which has reached epidemic proportions in the cities and in many of the larger towns. One of the drawbacks from the point of view of punishment is that when one of these malefactors is sent to prison, the taxpayer is punished even more severely than the offender because, as we learned from a reply to a question here, the cost of maintaining a prisoner is something in the neighbourhood of £10 per week. If that is so, then the State is punishing the taxpayer as well as the offender.

Reference was made to free legal aid. Like Deputy Fitzpatrick I am a little perplexed to find there is a proviso that certain types are not to be given free legal aid. If we give discretion to someone to decide who is and who is not an habitual criminal, we are drawing the line very fine and that could cause serious trouble later. The Minister referred to the fact that solicitor and counsel can be assigned. Would the Minister tell us if he consulted the legal profession in relation to this matter of free legal aid? Has he reached agreement with the solicitors' representatives? The Minister nods his head. I hope he will make a statement so that it will be on record that such consultation and agreement have taken place because, as the Minister probably knows, there is some doubt about it.

Reference was made to juries. I have a personal view about jury service. It seems to me ridiculous that people with no legal training of any kind should be taken away from their business and required to serve as jurors, under pain of a very heavy fine if they fail to do so. Human nature being what it is, the tendency must naturally be to try to reach a verdict as quickly as possible so that they can get back to whatever work they were doing before they were called for jury service. Some arrangement for exemption, without a fine, or payment to jurors, or a different system altogether, will have to be introduced because the present system is anything but satisfactory.

The Minister referred to the Succession Bill. I compliment him on his courage in mentioning it. I wonder will it be the one his predecessor introduced, or the one he introduced, or the one he proposes to introduce in the not too distant future? We have all had a good look at the Succession Bill. It caused more controversy than even the last general election. I am sure the Minister will have a long look at the whole matter before he brings in this third Bill, in a period of six months, because, if it has any resemblance whatever to the first Bill, or even a remote resemblance to portion of the second Bill, the Minister will be in for trouble, and well he knows it.

We are now discussing legislation.

The Minister referred to it in his opening statement and I have merely commented briefly on his reference.

There is another matter about which the Minister might do something. I refer to the erection, maintenance and repair of courthouses. They are a charge on local authorities and the Department of Justice instruct local authorities as to what must be done. At the moment there is some kind of row going on in my constituency over the erection of a courthouse in Navan. Courthouses are used about once a month. I have been told that in one town there are two courthouses, a circuit courthouse and a district courthouse. The circuit courthouse is used a few times in the year. The district courthouse is not in bad repair, but the justice will not use it, and the local authority were told the other day that they must repair it at quite considerable cost.

Would it not be more equitable if the Department were responsible for the erection and maintenance of courthouses? Is there any reason why this particular tradition, handed down from another authority, should continue? Should not the Department look after courthouses in the same way as they look after barracks, and so on. There is no reason why courthouses should be a charge on local rates. Incidentally, I am sometimes amused by the statements made by legal gentlemen who object to draughts, to lack of heating, to cold, forgetting apparently that thousands of people all over the country live all their lives in very much worse conditions. These gentlemen are never asked to occupy these buildings for more than a couple of hours every few months. They are entitled to comfort.

It is the contrast.

Maybe it is the contrast. They are entitled to comfort, but refusing to hold a court in a particular courthouse because it does not reach Shelbourne or Gresham Hotel standards is going a little too far.

Or even Liberty Hall standards.

Or even Liberty Hall standards.

Reference was made to the Land Registry and to the amount of money being devoted to improving the situation. I wonder is the Minister aware of the situation which has been building up over the past two years? Because of lack of accommodation and staff, housebuilding in the country has been held up for a considerable period. Before an applicant for a grant and loan can proceed to build a house, he must have registered with the Land Registry and he must have his folio number. If he has not got that, he cannot go ahead with building. Applicants are put in a queue and, unless they can get public representatives to take them out of that queue, thereby penalising others in the queue, housebuilding must be postponed. The Minister might direct his attention to that situation. There is no point in voting extra money unless he can provide extra accommodation and staff. There must be some way in which this work can be expedited.

It has come to my notice—I do not know if any of the legal gentlemen in the House have referred to it—that a number of Acts, including quite recent ones, seem to be out of print. It is almost impossible to buy them through the normal channels. Perhaps the Minister would comment on that. Perhaps he would inquire to see if it is possible to issue reprints, or if there is a supply somewhere which could be made available.

With regard to speed limits, the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Justice are both partially responsible. I see no reason why I should be stopped if I enter a speed limit area and reduce speed to 30 m.p.h., while Northern Ireland cars, travelling at double my rate of speed, are allowed to pass through a speed trap. The comment from the Garda is that there is no point in stopping them because they cannot be followed into Northern Ireland and prosecuted. If there is no method of issuing a summons against motorists from outside the State, who blatantly break our speed limit regulations, then I suggest power should be given to the Garda to take possession of the cars and hold them until an appropriate fine is paid. Nothing induces people to break the speed limit so much as seeing dozens of others getting away with it.

If anybody doubts me, let him drive on the Dublin-Belfast road and he will see it happening every place there is supposed to be a speed limit. There is utter contempt for the speed limit by these people who come in from outside. I raised this matter at least four times here, but to no effect. I would ask the Minister to have another look at it. If somebody from this part of the country crosses the border into Northern Ireland and tries the same game there, it will not be long until he is caught and fined on the spot. If that can be done up there, it should be done here also.

As I said, the Garda are doing an excellent job. The crime detection rate is excellent, particularly in rural districts. Somebody said earlier that the local sergeant knows what everybody in the district had for breakfast, and, particularly if it is stolen chicken, he will not be long finding out about it. The system is an excellent one. I compliment the Force on the job they are doing. I compliment the Minister on the fact that in the past few months particularly arrangements have been made to pay Gardaí at a proper rate and to regulate their pensions. They are only getting that to which they are entitled. However, the Minister should have it pointed out to those few people I spoke of that, whether through ignorance or arrogance, they are spoiling the reputation of the Force.

I wish to draw attention to the dissatisfaction amongst the licensed trade because of the appalling hours they have to work under the present licensing Act. Hours have been fixed which were never asked for by the licensed trade or by their employees. Their unfortunate assistants have to work until the early hours of the morning and then try to get to their homes when all public transport has ceased. Neither do I believe there was any outcry from the general public for these hours.

It has been stated that the reason for fixing these hours was to facilitate the tourists. We all agree the tourist industry is an important one for this country, but surely it should be our first duty to legislate for ourselves rather than for outsiders? Our own, like the poor, are always with us. Even if we do concede the point of legislating for tourists, everybody will agree that the bulk of our tourists come from Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. The hours over there are much shorter than those here, and I believe those people would be satisfied if they had the hours they have in their own country.

Another point is that the licensing hours are not for the tourist season but for six months of the year. Surely we do not expect to have an influx of tourists from March to September? This year we had the ridiculous position that the change in the hours came in the middle of Lent at a time when they were not needed.

I should also like to draw attention to the supervision of off-sale licences. In a certain town recently, youths of 15 and 16 were found drinking in a back street. They had been refused drink in a public house but had gone into an off-licence and got it. There should be some restrictive provision to ensure that the like of that is not allowed to continue.

The number of licences in this country is entirely out of proportion when compared with neighbouring countries. In Ireland there is one licence for every 250 people, while in Northern Ireland, the figure is one for every 600 people, in England, one for every 700 and in Scotland, one for every 800. Licences are granted too readily.

We are also too lenient in granting ordinary public house licences to hotels. Hotels are catering for tourists, but surely they do not want to open as public bars all the year round? It has now become a question more of putting a hotel in a public house than of putting a public bar in a hotel.

The Minister made some reference to censorship. He merely described how he has reformed the Censorship Board. He apparently hopes a new look will be brought to censorship merely because the personnel of the Board has been changed. I do not know what, if any, instruction the Minister has given to this Board. He seems to expect them to be a little more liberal than they have been in the past. That may be a good thing in 1965, but I am sure I am of the same mind as the Minister and the majority of Deputies when I say I still think we should have censorship not alone of films but of books as well. We can depend only on the good sense of the members of the Board to operate a system of censorship which, while not being too liberal, will have regard to the fact they are operating for an Irish population.

When the Minister was appointed, I thought he would deal with a matter about which I have been speaking for many years, that is, the question of the grading of films for children. As there is no mention of it in his brief, I trust he will give us his views on it when replying. We appreciate the difficulties there may be in attempting to grade films, but there is a system of grading, not necessarily for children, in Great Britain. The usual reply from various Ministers has been that the morals of children and the type of films they see are a matter for parents. I do not think it is entirely. I have spoken about this for many years in this House. Attendance at cinemas may not be what it was before the introduction of television, but there is still the situation in which parents, and mothers in particular, in their anxiety to have the children amused, or perhaps to get rid of them for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, give them a few shillings, or whatever it costs to go to the cinema and they cannot be expected to be able to decide whether the films are appropriate for the children.

I do not think we can have any serious objection so far as the general censorship of films for adults is concerned but I think we can have objection so far as the children are concerned. I can remember seeing films on a Friday night which would be shown again on Saturday afternoon. It might be no harm for me, or for adults generally to see them, but I was often appalled at the thought of the same films being shown to children from four years to 16 or 17 years of age on the following afternoon. The Minister could not hope to be, and I am sure does not want to be, the custodian of the morals of the people, but I think he should have films graded for youngsters and teenagers. It may be said that there is no grading of the films that appear on television but, after all, they are shown in the children's homes, and parents have the opportunity of deciding in the first few moments whether the film is appropriate for youngsters or for teenagers.

On BBC television and ITV, warnings are given to parents that a certain film will be shown at 9 o'clock or 9.30 which may not be considered appropriate for other than adults. I am informed there is the same type of censorship in Telefís Éireann although how that group dealing with it are constituted I do not know. Generally speaking, the standard of the films cannot be objected to although I had occasion to complain about one or two films. My plea to the Minister is that he should make some attempt to grade films for the guidance of parents so that they may be able to determine with some degree of accuracy whether films which are shown, particularly on Saturday afternoons, at matinées, are appropriate for their children. I mention this because I got a gleam of hope in this regard from something the Minister said in reply to a Parliamentary Question on the censorship of films in general.

I do not think the Minister is complacent about what he describes as the upward trend in the number of crimes committed in recent years. While these figures give us a picture of the situation, they are not all-revealing. In this and every other country, teenagers have got a particularly bad name in recent years. An impression is abroad that the majority of crimes of larceny and housebreaking are committed by teenagers. If he can, I should like the Minister to give some sort of breakdown of the figures he has given to the House.

I do not think this complaint is peculiar to the Department of Justice but could be made about many other Departments of State: they do not enlist the aid of Telefís Éireann sufficiently. I am one of those fortunate people who have a choice of three stations: Welsh Television, BBC and TE. Running through many of the British programmes are short advertisements lasting one minute, one and a half minutes, or sometimes even less, warning householders of the precautions they should take to avoid having their houses broken into. The Minister mentioned the quarter-hour programme put on by the Garda in which they appeal for help in this and that direction. They talk about such things as stolen bicycles. This is very useful, but I think the Minister might make people be a little more careful and possibly cut down the crime rate if he availed of the type of short film—and spent some money on it—which I have described as coming from the BBC and ITV.

There is one notable omission from the Minister's speech when he talks about crime. I do not know whether any other Deputy mentioned it, but surely we must not forget that there are five, six or seven, or perhaps more, unsolved murders in the country. I do not know how that compares with the number of unsolved murders in Great Britain or any other country and I am not consoled by the fact that there is more crime in Great Britain or the United States of America.

The fact is, as the Minister said, that there is an upward trend in crime. I assume these murder cases are not closed. I assume that active inquiries are still being pursued by the Garda authorities. Some of us can say these crimes happened in Kildare, Kerry, or Wexford, and that we are far from them, but these unsolved murders disturbed the people at the time they were committed, and there is a certain degree of lack of confidence in the Department of Justice and the Garda, which is unjustified. The Minister should give an assurance every time he stands up on this Estimate, that so far as these unsolved murders are concerned, the Garda are still active. I know it is not possible for them to pursue each case of larceny of a camera, a bicycle, or a car, but murder is another matter, and we should have an assurance from the Minister that inquiries are still being pursued to try to detect and subsequently convict the murderer.

I am not conversant with the procedure in the courts of justice, nor am I too well acquainted with them. Fortunately I have never been before a judge or a justice, but I have on occasion been an interested spectator and I do not think that the public are treated properly in our courts. I do not mean those who have to appear as defendants or witnesses. I say this on behalf of those who go into the courts to listen to cases that are being heard in the district court particularly. The public have not a clue as to what is going on. Firstly, and I assume the district justice might be responsible for this, while he may speak up, while he may be clear and distinct and while he may be heard by the general public, the general pattern in the courts amongst the solicitors is that nobody knows what is going on. I have not been to Kildare or to Cavan but I am talking about other places. They all talk in a low voice and in a sort of legal jargon. The public need not hear some of the conversation that goes on between the judge and solicitors or counsel, but it is important that the public in the majority of the cases should be able to hear the whispered discussions. I do not say they will understand all of it but they should at least be able to hear it.

If justice is to be done, the public must also be convinced that it is being done. As it is, cases go through and nobody knows what is happening. Even the unfortunate chap who gets up in the box does not know what is happening until he asks his solicitor afterwards. He is fined £15 but he did not know what went on. There was the case of a man I knew. He had no idea what happened until his case was disposed of. I do not suggest he should know all the legal phraseology but at least it should have been clear to him, when the evidence was submitted to the district justice, when the district justice commented on it and when the opposing counsel or the solicitors he instructed spoke, that he was getting a fair crack of the whip. He was a poor man who had nothing and he was fined £15 for an offence of which, of course, in my opinion, he was guilty. But he had not much of a chance because, when he was in the witness box, he did not know what was going on.

As far as the Garda are concerned, I think we all share the sentiments expressed by Deputy Tully and others as to their courtesy and efficiency. I suppose there are those who are discourteous and those who appear to be inefficient but as far as their training in Templemore is concerned it is thorough. I say that, having spoken to the young recruits who have emerged from Templemore as fully fledged gardaí in recent years.

I think there is no point in making a plea to the Minister to ask the Garda Commissioner to try to ensure that as far as possible all gardaí will be stationed as near as possible to their home town. They have free time and it seems ludicrous that a man whose mother, father and relatives are in Wexford should have to waste a day travelling from Donegal to Wexford, or from Dublin to Kerry, or from Kerry to Dublin in order to avail of the few days leave he may have. I do not suggest he should be stationed in his home town, or for that matter near his home town for various reasons, but an effort should be made to station him within striking distance of his home town, particularly if he has parents and relatives there.

I trust the Minister will continue in his attitude towards the Garda Síochána so far as sports are concerned, as indicated in his speech. I remember many years ago the gardaí were famous as sportsmen, at hurling, football and boxing—particularly these three sports. I do not know whether a direct order was issued by a past Government in this regard but it seems there is a lull and it appears as if sport is discouraged. Not alone for the morale of the Garda Síochána should sport be encouraged but I think their public image is enhanced if they appear good at all these sports. It is good for the public image of the Garda Síochána if those teenagers, whom people, in recent years, say give a lot of trouble, participate particularly in the sports I mentioned, in addition to rugby, soccer, golf, cricket and the various other sports.

Finally, I trust the Minister for Justice will bring in a Succession Bill in accordance with the views expressed in this House. It seemed to me he was very receptive of the various views and I do not think he will be so foolish as to repeat the first Succession Bill that was brought in. In my view, he was obviously embarrassed when he came into this House as Minister for Justice burdened as it were with the Succession Bill which was introduced by his predecessor, the present Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Haughey. If he brings in a Bill in accordance with the views expressed in this House and expressed by his own Party, I do not think he will have much difficulty. I believe he is sensible enough to take that view and bring in a proper Bill.

I wish to compliment the Minister on the businesslike manner in which he has conducted and operated the licensing laws. It seems incongruous to me that those with the gravy of the licensed trade see fit now to pour fire and brimstone on the Minister and on the laws which are, by and large, suitable for most licensed traders in the country. The city traders who generally have had the best of the licensing world for some time back now try to hold the country licensed traders up to ransom to comply with their wishes and whims. When the former Minister for Justice proposed changing the licensing laws, he consulted very fairly and equitably all sections of the community. Indeed, the changes were much desired by all sections of the community. A change was certainly needed and a change for the better was arrived at by consultation with all sections involved directly and indirectly with the trade. I think it is only fair not to shirk the responsibility which each and every section of that community undertook and to present a bouquet to the then Minister and to the present Minister who upheld the decision then made.

Most of the country publicans have no wish to be dictated to by a city clique. I speak for the vast majority of the population of this country. I represent a constituency which is tremendously rural and which, of its very nature, calls for a different code from that which might be required in the city. We have no nine to five gentlemen in our district. We cater for people whose hours of work start early in the morning and finish late in the evening, and that of necessity. Refreshments of ale and liquor must be available to them in their local club, which is the local licensed premises, be it a public house or a hotel, and which is different from those in the city.

We deplore the exploitation, if I may use the word, of prices by city traders. Their prices are exorbitant and I certainly have no hesitation in saying that the idea put forward that licensing hours should be curtailed is completely at variance with the wishes of the vast majority of the licensed traders. Licensing laws can be rather tedious —indeed all work can be tedious— but when it is a question of the wishes and the best interests of the Government, the trade and the people directly concerned, who are availing of the opportunities and the facilities given to them, then we must be willing to make sacrifices in their interests.

It is not my wish to see a new Pale around Dublin city in which the licensed traders will be allowed to dictate to the majority of the population. It would be completely out of context and out of step with everything we want for the country. We want a fair amount of wealth in this country and we do not want to see any section so superior that their wishes would mean the sacrificing of the masses of our people for their own particular gains. The life of the rural community is such that Ministers must ensure that there will be a code of licensing laws which will engender not abuse but respect, as is at present the case. That must be accepted beyond yea or nay as a fact which cannot be refuted here or elsewhere. Heretofore the licensing laws were treated as a big joke in this country. I am glad to see the Minister has upheld what was long desired and I trust he will not be influenced by rantings or ramblings by any minority groups.

We have in this country a type of licensing code which is an attraction to tourists and the foreigners who come here. We should maintain that attraction because we, like every other country in western Europe, want to attract tourists. We must provide a facility which induces them to come to our country. I consider that the tourist at the moment has that facility and we should do our best to retain it.

Deputy Davern is a new Deputy, a young man. He will learn by experience. It is not right to refer to anybody else in this House, particularly during a maiden speech, as ranting or rambling. As it was a maiden speech, I shall leave it.

The Deputy was not referring to anybody.

Deputy Sweetman obviously is not aware of the traders' viewpoint on the licensing laws.

The Deputy has forgotten about the person who puts his hand in his pocket.

There is one particular thing about which I have considerable doubt in relation to this Estimate, that is, the impression the Minister created in his introductory speech in relation to legal reform. We all want legal reform so long as it is genuine legal reform and so long as it is not merely change for the sake of change. I am sorry to say I believe there has been a feeling abroad in certain areas, and in the minds of certain people, that anything that is change is reform. Nothing is further from the fact. There is no use bringing about a change unless it is going to achieve, not merely an improvement, but a substantial improvement, because something that is new from the moment of the change is bound to give rise to a good deal of difficulty and involve a great deal of adjustment. Unless the end product is very much better, then it is not reform. It is merely a change.

The particular thing I want to refer to is in relation to what the Minister said about the Land Registry. The plain fact of the matter is that the situation in the Land Registry at present is utterly chaotic. It is not utterly chaotic because of any fault of the personnel concerned. The personnel in the Land Registry are as courteous a body of public officials as anyone could ever want to meet. Part of the trouble is due to shortage of staff itself and part to accommodation for the staff. The fact is you cannot get a dealing with the Land Registry, without making a special case for expedition, in under six months. I admit at once if you make a special case for expedition, and show the necessity of that case, the matter is dealt with, not merely courteously but expeditiously.

It is utter nonsense to talk about introducing the compulsory portions of the recent Registration of Title Bill until we have got abreast of the present situation in the Land Registry. The Mapping Branch is hopelessly in arrears in relation to obtaining maps on special request. Dealings and transfers are so far behind that solicitors have to explain regularly to their clients, purchasers of land, that it is not their fault. They have to explain that it is due to delays in the Land Registry because documents cannot be obtained within a reasonable time. The plain fact of the matter is that the volume of the work going through the Land Registry at present is far beyond what I may call the Land Registry machine is able to handle. It is utterly unrealistic to talk of putting any further business through the Land Registry in relation to the compulsory registration provisions of the recent Act until the Minister has got a machine together that will, not merely be able to handle the existing volume of work, but clear up all the arrears.

I do not know whether the Minister has made any estimate of the additional volume of work that Act is likely to provide in various areas. I know that when the Bill was going through, I asked his predecessor for an estimate and it was not forthcoming. I believe that its introduction at this stage would mean a very substantial increase in the volume of work and an increase which the machine could not possibly handle at the present time, even though I accept that it will come in stage by stage, area by area and county by county.

I certainly hope, in relation to that Bill, that the Minister will delay for as long as possible and until, the rest of the country has been finished, the introduction of the compulsory provisions in relation to the city of Dublin. In many cases here half a dozen interests are in the same premises and I fear, in relation to that, existing procedure is not suitable for coping with it. It is of much greater importance to clear up and clarify titles throughout the country, first of all. The Land Registry is in arrears at present particularly because of the Land Act. That Act has meant that each individual folio has had to be gone through and references have had to be made on each folio to meet the new provisions of the Land Act.

I believe that it will be impossible for conveyancing legal practitioners to operate Land Registry work unless the Land Registry is so up-to-date that the notices prescribed by the recent Land Bill to come from the Land Commission are there on the folio on the day of issue. Otherwise, you will have, without question, a situation in which people, having bona fide taken all the appropriate steps, will in fact have bought lands to which they will have no title. I know that in certain cases already, as a result of that Act, people are feeling that they have to close purchases and sales in the Land Registry. That, obviously, will mean further clogging of work in the Land Registry as well as for the general public.

The Minister would be well advised to have a discussion with the Minister for Lands on the operation of section 45 of the Land Act because the effect of the manner in which the Minister for Lands is proposing to operate that section will throw a great deal of unnecessary work on the Land Registry. The Minister for Lands, in answering a Question yesterday, suggested that some legal practitioners have not read the section. I am afraid the trouble is that we have read the section. The manner in which the Minister for Lands proposes to deal with that section—I requested, and obtained, a general licence, one of the ten or twelve cases he mentioned—the manner in which that general licence has been issued and its form will undoubtedly mean further trouble for the Land Registry.

It would have been far better and far easier for the Land Registry officials, quite apart from general practitioners, if what had been exempted classes had been brought into section 45 rather than by doing it by general licence which has to be produced individually for each folio in each case of a building on a folio being mortgaged to a building society. What possible benefit is there to anybody to provide that any one of the big building societies—the Irish Permanent, the Educational, the First National— every time they take a mortgage from a person on registered land outside the city area, must bring the general licence down to the Land Registry and have that general licence noted against the individual folio on which they are taking a mortgage? It is bureaucracy gone mad. The Minister would be well advised to ensure that his colleague operates a much more streamlined method of introducing, if necessary, enabling legislation naming bona fide lenders of the sort I mentioned in a statutory regulation so that it would not mean that the individual general licence would have to be examined in each case by the legal assistant or other official in the Land Registry dealing with the transfer of the land in question.

As I say, I am being severe in my strictures of the Land Registry machine —and it is the machine rather than the individual personnel that I criticise. Perhaps I must take my share of the blame. I rather feel that successive Ministers for Finance, over the years, have pared too much on the Land Registry and that the explosion and difficulties we are now getting have arisen because of the habit that grew up over the years of not providing sufficient staff and of not building up not merely adequate personnel but an adequate system of dealing with something that is bound to expand every year. The manner in which it is expanding, arising not merely from the vesting of lands by the Land Commission but from the necessary subdivision of building estates, is bound to increase in the near future.

Speculative building land in the centre of the city is now virtually non-existent. The effect of that is that building has had to move out. In turn, it has moved out into land the title of which was already registered in the Land Registry. Where that land was one folio, covering perhaps a farm of 100 acres, it is now being divided up for speculative building, with perhaps four, five or six houses to the acre, each involving a new transaction though the one parent folio may perhaps be given. As I said at the beginning, when a case is made for expedition, that case is always fairly met but it is wrong that there should have to be those cases. I think the Minister will agree with me that the system has got to be changed and changed satisfactorily and changed quickly before he can put anything more on top of the existing machine.

There have been some discussions in relation to the Intoxicating Liquor Act. The main thing that governs drinking at the present time is what it costs to drink—the fact that drinking is expensive. I gather from what the Taoiseach said the other day that it will be more expensive after next Tuesday. I think the situation has been arrived at now in which it is not the number of hours during which a person can drink that governs total consumption but what a person has in his pocket to meet the very heavy cost that is involved. I do not do what might be described as—the Minister will know what I mean—a court practice: I do not do that type of work. Therefore, I can talk about it quite dispassionately and without any prejudice. I am afraid that part of the natural attempt to find a quicker and therefore cheaper method of litigation is likely to mean a change without reform. There is, nearly always, a good, sound reason available as to why a practice has been built up over the years. Though a new broom may come in and endeavour to sweep it away, very often it is found that the change has brought with it more disadvantages than advantages. We all want a quicker, speedier and therefore cheaper system of litigation but it is one of the things in which, above all, we should hasten slowly.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 6th May, 1965.