Statute Law Revision Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am delighted to bring the Statute Law Revision Bill 2016 to the House. The purpose of the legislation is to repeal spent and obsolete public general Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950. As the first comprehensive review of Acts enacted by the Oireachtas, this Bill will result in a significant reduction in the size of the Statute Book for this period. In total, 301 Acts, accounting for 43% of the 707 in force Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950, are proposed for repeal.

This Bill is the sixth statute law revision Bill in a programme aimed at ensuring Ireland has a modem and accessible Statute Book. Previous Acts in this regard have dealt with legislation enacted pre-Independence. The Bill was introduced in the Seanad where it received cross-party support. It has been the case that all previous such Bills have received broad support from both Houses.

Statute law revision involves repealing statutes that are no longer of practical utility. When Ireland gained Independence in 1922, it passed an Act to inherit all laws that had previously applied to the jurisdiction. This means that we have been left with a complex stock of legislation, with enactments from the Parliaments of Ireland, England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom as well as our own Oireachtas.

The purpose of statute law revision, therefore, is to modernise and simplify the Statute Book, thereby reducing its size and thus saving the time of lawyers and others who use it. This in turn helps to avoid unnecessary costs. It also stops people being misled by obsolete laws that masquerade as live law. If a law features still in the Statute Book and is referred to in textbooks, people reasonably assume that it must mean something.

Statute law revision, therefore, serves to cut red tape and lighten the compliance burden on businesses and citizens. This in turn should have a direct effect on our national competitiveness due to cutting the associated costs involved to businesses and industry in establishing their legal rights and obligations. Likewise, it should greatly assist individual members of the public in establishing the exact nature of their rights and obligations, which may be currently either unknown or unclear.

The statute law revision programme was initiated in 2003. It formerly operated within the auspices of the Office of the Attorney General and is now contained within the Government reform unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The programme is already responsible for five distinct but complementary Statute Law Revision Acts between 2005 and 2015, which have successfully repealed all obsolete primary legislation enacted prior to Independence and, in addition, has revoked all obsolete secondary legislation made up to 1 January 1821. To date, more than 60,000 pieces of legislation have been either expressly or implicitly repealed under the programme. This Bill, when enacted, together with the five previous Statute Law Revision Acts, will collectively be the most extensive set of repealing measures in the history of the State and the most extensive set of statute law revision measures ever enacted anywhere in the world.

The importance of simplifying this complex stock was noted with approval by the OECD Review of Better Regulation in Ireland 2010 which reported that initiatives such as the Statute Law Revision Acts were impressive efforts to address the challenge and improve accessibility.

In addition, the programme is a specific element of the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 and feeds into broader public governance initiatives, such as Ireland's participation in the global Open Government Partnership.

As I stated in my opening remarks, the Bill repeals 301 public general Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950 which have been determined to be spent and obsolete. The list of Acts for repeal gives a fascinating historical insight into the early years of Irish Independence. It provides us with an opportunity to recognise the efforts of the politicians and civil servants of the time in ensuring that the new State progressed and developed and emerged as a fully independent nation onto the world stage. The period covered was a time of war and uncertainty, both at home and abroad, and this is reflected is some of the Acts proposed for repeal.

The obsolete Acts listed for repeal include the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Act 1923, enacted following the outbreak of the Civil War, which granted far-reaching powers and created additional offences aimed at ensuring public safety, including the imposition of the death penalty or penal servitude for anyone found guilty of an armed revolt against the Government of the Irish Free State or certain associated offences; a number of Acts which amended the now defunct 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State, including the Constitution (Removal of Oath) Act 1933, which removed the requirement for members of the Oireachtas to take an oath of allegiance to his Majesty King George V and his heirs and successors; the League of Nations (Guarantee) Act 1923, which provided for Ireland to join the League of Nations; the Eucharistic Congress (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1932, which provided for the hosting of the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin that year; the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act 1937, which carried into execution the international obligations of the Free State in relation to the civil war waged in Spain and prohibited citizens of the Free State from participating in that war; and the Emergency Powers Act 1939, which granted wide-ranging powers at the outbreak of the Second World War, including the power to suspend the operation of any law.

The methodology adopted by the programme is based on the procedures used in previous Statute Law Revision Acts and involves the identification and analysis of all legislation within the scope of each Bill. Each piece of legislation is individually analysed and then assessed as to suitability for repeal or revocation.

The assessment has been accompanied by a process of consultation and the inviting of submissions from the public and stakeholders. This included the publication of draft lists of Acts to be repealed on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. All Departments and relevant local authorities have been consulted and advised on Acts of relevance to that Department and relevant bodies and organisations are made aware of the legislation being assessed for revocation.

The statute law revision programme has proceeded on a phased basis to review legislation chronologically. It is necessary to review in chronological order for a number of reasons. In particular, reviewing out of sequence creates difficulty in the context of assessment of Acts that amend earlier Acts and instruments made under previous Acts. It would not be possible to assess the later amending Act or instrument unless the original Act or enabling legislation had been assessed first.

Turning to the main provisions of the Bill, section 1 is the central feature of the Bill and provides for the repeal of the 301 Acts listed in the Schedule. It includes a small number of Acts which were listed for repeal in previous enactments but the repeal, for a variety of reasons, was never commenced. Following consultation with officials in the relevant Departments, it was confirmed that these Acts were suitable for repeal and will now be repealed in this Bill. When the Bill was published in January, 297 Acts were listed in the Schedule. In the intervening time, an additional four Acts have been confirmed as in order for repeal and these were added to the Schedule on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

The approach taken with this section differs from that of previous Statute Law Revision Acts. With the previous Acts, it was the practice to deem all statutes of a particular category to be repealed with the exception of those statutes listed in the Schedule. This was because these Acts repealed several thousand statutes, leaving only a handful in force. It was reasonable, therefore, to list only the legislation that was being retained on the Statute Book. In this case, it is more reasonable to list the spent and obsolete Acts in the Schedule and provide for their repeal in the Bill, and that is what has been done in this section.

Section 2 provides a number of savings clauses. Section 2(3) provides that the inclusion of an Act in the Schedule shall not be construed as meaning that the Act, or any provision of it, was of full force and effect immediately before the passing of this Act.

Section 3 was inserted in the Act during Committee Stage in the Seanad. It provides for an amendment to the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 to reinstate a public Act dating to 1800 and entitled An Act for Incorporating the Association for Discountenancing Vice and Promoting the Knowledge and Practice of the Christian Religion. This association was formed as a voluntary society in 1792. The 1800 Act was passed by the old Irish Parliament and provided for the incorporation of this association. This Act was repealed in its entirety by the Statute Law Revision Act 2007.

It has recently come to our attention that this association is still in existence and continues to function. It supports the publication and distribution of religious educational material and provides religious educational support for the Church of Ireland. The association is registered as a charity under the name of the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge. It appears that the association has used both names interchangeably throughout the years. However, the association's name was not officially changed. This may explain why its continued existence was not uncovered during the process of researching the statutes proposed for repeal in the 2007 Act by the Attorney General's office or during the public consultation on same.

The effect of the repeal of the 1800 Act has been to abolish the association's existence leaving no body or persons who can deal with its affairs or property. The individual members of the association still exist but do not have the power to organise its affairs. The legal limbo that the repeal has left the association in is an unfair interference in its rights. The association is entitled to remain in being according to its 1800 form and in the circumstances should be reinstated by statute, as is being provided for in this section of the Bill. If the continued existence of the association had been known about in 2007, the 1800 Act would never have been proposed for repeal.

This section of the Bill therefore makes provision to put the association back in the position it was prior to the enactment of the 2007 Act by repealing the repeal effected by the 2007 Act and deeming it never to have taken effect. This will ensure there was no interruption in the life of the association and things done by it between the enactment of the 2007 Act and the new legislation would thus have been validly done. The Attorney General is satisfied that such a retroactive provision would not be constitutionally objectionable.

Section 4 provides for a Short Title for this Bill when enacted and collective citation for all the Statute Law Revision Acts to date.

This Bill is rather technical legislation but important and necessary. It represents another step in the journey we are on to tidy up and simplify the Irish Statute Book. Its enactment will clear away the redundant and obsolete Acts clogging up our Statute Book and deliver benefits in creating a modern and streamlined Statute Book, which is more accessible to citizens and businesses as they go about their business in their daily lives.

I commend the Bill to the House.

I call Deputy Dara Calleary who, I understand, is sharing time with Deputy O'Callaghan.

Fianna Fáil will support the Bill. This legislation is part of an ongoing process, which began in 2005, to create a modern and streamlined Irish Statute Book and, in turn, make that Statute Book more accessible to the citizen and to the business community. This Bill continues a process of clearing away the dead wood of thousands of redundant and obsolete Acts which were clogging up the Statute Book. Many of these laws were brought in long before Ireland's independence.

The Statute Law Revision (Pre-1922) Act 2005 and the Statute Law Revision Acts 2007, 2009 and 2012 repealed many Acts enacted between 1751 and 1922. This Bill focuses on Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950. I understand that all 1,124 public general Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950 were reviewed and 297 Acts have been selected for repeal as part of this Bill.

As the Minister of State has said, the amendment to the Bill passed by the Seanad reverses the repeal of Statute 40 Geo. 3 c. 66 on the association for discountenancing vice. This Act was repealed in the Statute Law Revision Bill 2007. Indeed, the confusion surrounding that particular provision shows that, while much effort may go into a public consultation process, things do fall between the cracks. It is something we all need to be aware of and attuned to in considering both statute law revision and the repeal of Acts.

The process of condensing the Irish Statute Book to make it more relevant and accessible was begun in 2005 under the Fianna Fáil-led Government. As I said, previous Acts in this respect dealt with Acts enacted pre-1922 or pre-Independence and are part of a process of making the Irish Statute Book more accessible and relevant. The importance of that particular aim is that the Statute Book, which outlines laws and legislation, should be accessible and needless, and dead wood legislation makes it less accessible to the citizens who may seek protection or defence from those Acts within it.

When Ireland gained Independence in 1922, it passed an act to inherit all laws that had previously applied to the jurisdiction, meaning many ancient laws, including those passed in Westminster while Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, still apply today unless they have been repealed in some way. The continued presence of redundant legislation is misleading for the user who may believe by virtue of it simply remaining on the Statute Book that it is still relevant and in force. The user of the Statute Book may have to undertake the time-consuming task of carefully analysing a statute only to come to the conclusion that it no longer applies. As was noted in previous debates on the subject, it is not appropriate that laws from the pre-Independence era remain in force here indefinitely.

The volume of old legislation is so great that the only way to approach the question of statute law revision is to proceed in stages and this process must continue following the enactment of the Bill. The Statute Law Revision Act 2012 repealed all statutes enacted before Irish Independence on 6 December 1922, with the exception of statutes specified in Schedule 1 to the Act and those specified in the Statute Law Revision Acts of 2007 and 2009.

Previous phases of the statute law revision project reviewed public general Acts - the 2007 Act - and local and personal Acts up to 1850 and private Acts up to 1750 - the 2009 Act. This Bill complements that process by repealing all local and personal Acts enacted after 1850 and before 6 December 1922 and all private Acts enacted after 1750 and before 6 December 1922, with the exception of a white list of Acts that are specifically preserved.

The Bill repeals an estimated 2,900 obsolete Acts enacted between 1751 and Irish Independence in 1922. The list of Bills covered is fascinating and represents a slice of Irish history in a very different pre-lndependence era. Examples of the type of old laws that are repealed are private divorce Acts, designed to dissolve marriages in the days when there was no judicial divorce jurisdiction in Ireland. The Bill also repeals obsolete statutes relating to the conferring of citizenship on non-nationals, again dating back to a period when Ministers had no power to confer naturalisation and it had to be done by Parliament. In addition, it repeals such Acts as the Earl of Ranelagh Schools Act 1759, vesting the several estates granted by Richard, late Earl of Ranelagh, for erecting and supporting two charity schools at the town of Athlone and two charity schools in the town of Roscommon, in the incorporated society, and for other purposes.

The Bill specifies 790 old legislative measures which are still relevant and are being specifically kept in force. One of those Acts is the Saint Stephen’s Green (Dublin) Act 1877, which formally opened the green to regulated public use and which gives the Chief Secretary or Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, now the Minister for Finance, the authority to issue by-laws relating to its use. Other Acts being retained are the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act, passed in the same year, which formally established the entities now known as the National Museum and National Library. It shows that while many of the Acts may be old, they were far-seeing.

As part of the current programme of statute law revision initiated in 2003, a total of almost 5,000 old Acts have already been eliminated. One similar previous law, passed in 2005, removed the 700-year obligation for every citizen of Ireland to own a bow and arrow and to practise archery, but also withdrew the law which abolished pillory, the act of locking someone into stocks so that they could be pelted with tomatoes. Other obsolete laws that have previously been struck from the Statute Book included the Adulteration of Coffee Act, which imposed a £20 fine on "evil disposed persons who have at the time or soon after the roasting of coffee made use of water, grease, butter or such like materials, whereby the same is rendered unwholesome and greatly increased in weight". When one considers the quality of coffee in some places in this city, it might be no harm to bring that back into force. When this Bill is enacted, the total repealed legislation will rise to almost 8,000 Acts which are deemed inapplicable and are implicitly repealed by legislation.

While it is interesting from a historical perspective to pick out some elements of legislation, it must not become a historical process. The process of constantly reviewing the Statute Book must continue. We must ensure it is kept up to date and accessible, and that it does not intimidate those who wish to use it for their defence or to protect their rights as citizens of the Republic. It is important that the Minister states that this process will continue. Perhaps, in the spirit of this Bill, there should be legislation to provide for this process to occur every five years to ensure we keep our Statute Book as relevant, practical and, importantly, accessible as possible.

I welcome the introduction of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2016 and I am glad that, as Deputy Calleary said, Fianna Fáil is supporting its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas. The purpose of the Bill is to remove from the Statute Book a series of laws that are unnecessary, archaic and obsolete. For example, some of the laws this Bill seeks to repeal are Acts introduced by the Free State Oireachtas in 1932 and 1933, when the founder of our party was unwinding the provisions of the Irish Free State Constitution. They remain on the Statute Book but obviously that is unnecessary. They are only of historical interest. There is also legislation on the Statute Book at present which deals with the allowances that Members of the Oireachtas were entitled to receive. The Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) (Amendment) Act 1947 provides that Members of the Oireachtas are entitled to have travel on first-class trains to and from the Dáil. We have moved on from that in recent years.

In many ways a statute law revision project can be compared to a spring cleaning of a very large old house. Prior to 2003, there were laws on the Statute Book that dated back to the 13th century. Most of those laws are obsolete, although some of them still remain in operation. However, the reason for this project is not that it is of historical interest to have people going through ancient laws but that it is important for the purpose of a modern republic and society that citizens and other individuals know the laws of this country. One cannot understand definitively or assess accurately the laws of the country if the Statute Book contains a series of other ancient laws that are obsolete. Prior to 2003, a person trying to identify what laws still remained in force in Ireland would have been astonished to learn that our Statute Book was still full of these ancient laws that were not in operation.

There have been a number of projects in Ireland to clean up the Statute Book and remove archaic laws from it. These laws did not just commence with the establishment of the State or during the life of this State. The first Statute Law Revision Act was enacted in 1856. It was described as an Act to repeal certain statutes which are not in use. There was then a series of other Statute Law Revision Acts between 1861 and 1908. After Independence, there were two major statute revision initiatives, the Statute Law Revision (Pre-Union Irish Statutes) Act 1962 and the Statute Law Revision Act 1983. In fact, it is instructive to note that the 1983 Act led to the repeal of the Act of Union passed by the British Parliament in 1800, which was still on the Statute Book.

Nothing further was done about cleaning up and removing obsolete laws after 1983 until, in early 2003, the then Attorney General, the late Mr. Rory Brady, senior counsel, commenced a new process of reviewing pre-Independence legislation which had not been comprehensively re-examined for the previous 20 years. The then Attorney General was encouraged to do this on foot of proposals made to him by Mr. Justice Richard Humphreys, who at that time had a particular interest in cleaning up our Statute Book. It is important to consider what has been done to date. As was mentioned by the Minister, five laws have been enacted to date since the project first commenced in 2003. They are the Act of 2005, which repealed a selection of pre-1922 statutes, the 2007 Act, which was a comprehensive revision of pre-1922 public general Acts, the 2009 Act, which revised all private Acts up to and including 1750 and all local and personal Acts up to and including 1850, the 2012 Act, which revised all private Acts from 1750 to 1922 and all local and personal Acts from 1850 to 1922, and the Statute Law Revision Act 2015, which revoked secondary instruments made before 1 January 1821.

The total number of Acts involved in this process is enormous. Great credit must be given to the individuals who went through these thousands of Acts with the purpose of assessing them and determining whether they should be recommended to be repealed by the Oireachtas. For example, the 2007 Act examined a total of 26,191 Acts. The 2009 and 2012 Acts between them reviewed over 33,000 Acts and repealed thousands of them. In terms of total repeals, the 2012 Act repealed 21,936 Acts at a stroke. The 2015 Act reviewed secondary legislation such as proclamations, orders in council and similar instruments. In total, 12,841 measures were reviewed for that purpose and 5,782 measures were revoked in the Act.

In total, as a result of all the five Acts to date, a review has been carried out by individuals hired by, or working in, the State of an extraordinary 72,849 laws, each of which had to be individually assessed. It is important we acknowledge the important and great work that has been carried out by those individuals who have gone through all those Acts for the purpose of assessing whether they need to be retained or repealed.

This project has been supported by Attorneys General since 2003 and it has now been sponsored by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It is a wonderful project that is improving the condition of the laws in this country and making it easier for our citizens to know what laws are in place. How can a person say they are part of a democracy when they want to look at the laws and on doing so cannot figure out which are the operative ones and which are the obsolete ones?

The reason I wanted to speak on this Bill, and I thank Deputy Calleary for permitting me to do so, is that I tabled a question to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the statute law revision project because I had a concern that, as we had gone so far with this project, we should complete it. There is still work to be done. Legislation from 1950 onwards and secondary legislation from 1820 onwards need to be reviewed. I was concerned there might be an absence of desire on the part of the Minister to continue with this project. Unfortunately, I have been proven correct. In the question I tabled, I asked the Minister whether he was committed to continuing with this project to the end and he indicated in his reply that he proposed, in view of the progress made, to pause the statute law revision programme at this time in order that his Department could progress other priorities. That is an extremely short-sighted response by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. In light of the enormous work that has been done on this project and the fact that we have finished 80% of it, the logical thing to do is to complete the project, but it appears that is not what will happen.

There are other reasons that this is necessary. The Minister of State spoke about how this project cuts through red tape and improves competition, which it does. It also provides certainty for individuals. It allows companies that want to invest in Ireland to know what are the laws of this land in a clear and concise way. We must also recognise that we are now in a situation where we could be the only common law country left in the European Union, common law meaning our laws were built up over the years. The difficulty is that we will find ourselves in a situation where the statute law revision project, which involves the cleaning up of all our Acts, is now being stalled. That puts a huge question mark over the integrity of the statutes we have on our Statute Book. There is still spring cleaning to be done. We should not be stopping it now; rather we should be proceeding with it.

This project, when we think of the work that is being done, has been very cost efficient. I do not know how much it would cost to finish this project. I suspect it would probably cost the salary of two or three researchers working for a year or so - perhaps in the region of €100,000. I appeal, therefore, to the Minister of State to take on board that we need to continue with this statute law revision project. It is pointless for us now to make a decision to stop it just when all the good work has been done. A small amount of work remains to be done and I urge the Government to continue with it.

We also know that the Law Reform Commission has been examining the consolidation, codification and simplification of legislation since 2014 and is due to publish a paper on that project shortly. That cannot be done in any effective way unless we have gone through all our legislation to make sure all the obsolete and unnecessary laws have been reduced. I ask the Minister of State and the Government to reverse the decision that appears to have been made. It is pointless now to stop this great project when we are near the end of it. We should continue with the project so that we can have it fully completed, and, as Deputy Calleary said, it is necessary that we keep doing this on an ongoing basis.

The next speaker is Deputy Cullinane who I understand is sharing his time with Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

Yes. I take it we will have ten minutes each-----

The Deputies have a time slot of 20 minutes.

-----but we may not take the full time.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Statute Law Revision Bill 2016, the principal purpose of which is to repeal spent and obsolete Acts that were enacted between 1922 and 1950. Sinn Féin will support this Bill's progression through the Houses of the Oireachtas and we acknowledge the work that has gone into making the Irish Statute Book a more relevant and accessible exercise of work.

My party colleagues have pointed out previously that this exercise should have begun years ago, although luckily we have moved past the point at which we are still discussing the repeal of Acts that were passed in the 1600s. It would be useful, however, as my colleague, an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, has called for previously, if there was an archive of repealed laws available in this State. Many of the Acts that are being discarded to the dustbin of history make for fascinating reading and will be of interest to historians now and into the future.

Within the Bill before us a number of laws are being repealed and we will not, nor do we have the need to, go through them all here. There are other curiosities which speak to issues of today. At first glance the League of Nations (Obligations of Membership) Act 1935 might seem archaic and out of date, when we take into account that the League of Nations no longer exists, but the Act relates to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and calls on countries not to help Italy in any form or fashion in its aggression against Ethiopia. The sentiment in the Act is one that states that one does not take the side of the aggressor and that illegal wars should, and must, be opposed.

Last week in this House, Sinn Féin proposed a Bill that would have put to the Irish people a constitutional amendment that would have enshrined the policy of neutrality in the Constitution. It was, of course, defeated with the help of the Fianna Fáil Party and some Independents who are propping up the Government. This Government, like its predecessors, seems hell-bent on adopting policies that compromise and undermine our neutral status. By so doing, it is at odds with the majority of Irish people who value and support our neutrality.

In a document by the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance, PANA, which I presume all Deputies were given, I saw a reference to the only poll I know of that was carried out to ascertain the public’s view on neutrality. It was a RED C poll that was carried out in 2013 and it found that 78% of the public supported in full Irish neutrality. The most obvious example of how successive Governments have discredited Irish neutrality is the continued use of Shannon Airport as a military stopover for US armed forces. Since the illegal invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, more than 2.5 million US troops have travelled through Shannon in transit to and from conflict zones in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan, countries where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, maimed or left displaced and destitute. There is evidence that indicates Shannon Airport is a stopover for CIA rendition flights, involving a blatant and perverse contravention of our neutrality. The sentiment in the League of Nations (Obligations of Membership) Act 1935 should not be so easily forgotten even as it is removed from the Statute Book.

Similarly, the Poor Relief (Dublin) Act 1936 is being repealed at a time when we have more than 1,000 families homeless in the capital and people dying of hypothermia. The Poor Relief (Dublin) Act relates to the clearing of the workhouses.

In October 1924, six months after the Government of the day had passed the Housing Act, which gave tax subsidies upper middle-class households, the Minister for Industry, Agriculture and Commerce told the Dáil in a debate on unemployment and welfare assistance that "there are certain limited funds at our disposal. People may have to die in this country and may have to die through starvation." This was in response to evidence of accounts of starvation which were coming in from around the country. In January 1925, Dr. Brian B. Crichton, who had a long association with the Coombe and Rotunda hospitals, told the Rotary Club that "a child’s chances of life in the City of Dublin are worse than were the chances of a soldier in the trenches during the Great War". He said that women often came to him to the clinic but "instead of medicine, he often gave a note to some... [charity] organisation to enable them to get food". The same month, the Clare Health Board was informed of a man and his wife who lived near Kilmikil who had died of starvation and neglect. The relieving officer had found the woman "lying in a corner of a filthy... room, covered only by a dirty rag. The man was also in a deplorable condition, weak and hungry." In another case, a doctor visited a house in "New Hall, near Ennis, and found two old people living in a terrible condition of filth. They had been eating portions of the carcase of a calf, which was lying in the kitchen". In Longford, two married women were charged with stealing potatoes from the mental asylum garden. One of the women was quoted as saying, "I took the potatoes for my children, who are starving at home."

It was increasingly clear that Cumann na nGaedheal, the forerunner of Fine Gael, used its time in government protecting the financial self-interests of the class it represented, while the rest of the nation could, quite literally, starve.

In a memo sent by William Cosgrave in 1921 while he was Minister for Local Government in the underground Dáil Éireann, he laid out clearly what was to become the social policy of the Free State in respect of its treatment of poor and vulnerable children and adults. He said:

As you are aware, people reared in workhouses are no great acquisition to human society. As a rule, their highest aim is to live at the expense of the ratepayers. As a consequence, it would be a decided advantage if they all took into their heads to emigrate. When abroad, they are thrown onto their own responsibilities and have to work whether they like it or not.

The UCD historian, Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, has made the argument that Cosgrave's memo highlights the class bias of the post-1922 Free State where "Ireland’s vulnerable children were an inconvenience to the conduct of the campaign of independence". Although many of those who were able emigrated from Ireland to other countries, those who could not go abroad because of age, disadvantage or disability were forced into a form of internal emigration.

This was a place The Irish Times described as "a dark hinterland of the State, a parallel country whose existence we have long known but never fully acknowledged. It is a land of pain and shame, of savage cruelty and callous indifference". This place was in the Irish Free State, but not of it - an unfree state. Today, people are still dying on the streets and we still experience massive levels of poverty and inequality. Some of the sentiments expressed by Cosgrave, while not perhaps as stark as his, would still be expressed by those who hold power in the Government. A class bias is evident still in many of the policies pursued by the Government parties. While it is interesting to revise the Statute Book and reflect on laws passed many years ago, there are still parallels between the thinking of politicians of different ideologies at that time and the ideologies of politicians today.

There is a need for an archive and this important point has been made by Teachta Ó Snodaigh previously. I am sure he will elaborate on this because we cannot consign these Acts to the dustbin of history. There must be an archive that historians and parliamentarians can study and use.

I have contributed to the debate on at least three statute law revision Bills and on every occasion I have welcomed the legislation because we were getting rid of legislation that was on the Statute Book that was superfluous or had been superseded. That is good in many ways because it means that for parliamentarians and those who are trying to ascertain what laws are still valid in the State, it is easier to figure out what is useful, binding and can have an impact on our economic and political future.

This legislation relates to a different period from previous revision Acts. I had no problem repealing the legislation in the previous Bills because they were British laws. This Bill represents the first move to repeal Acts of the Free State and of the new State to which Eamon de Valera changed it. It is a little more difficult to look at these laws because there are connections with today. For example, one of the Acts that is being repealed is the Garda Síochána (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923. When that was introduced, the Title referred to the Civic Guard, not An Garda Síochána. The amendment to change the Title was tabled towards the end of the debate by Cathal O'Shannon. That was a declaration by the State that the RIC and the DMP were at an end and a new police force was being set up. We need to consider the context, which in a number of these Acts in the first page of the Schedule relates to the Civil War and the outworkings of the war.

The Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Act 1923 is being quietly repealed. That legislation allowed for 77 official State executions during the Civil War. It is good that it is being repealed. I have no problem with that but it is being repealed without a proper discussion or information pack to explain what was its effect. This ties in with the need for everything we are repealing to be documented in a single place, as Deputy Cullinane said, in order that people are aware that they were part of the legislation framework of the time and that there is a single source for them, which is searchable at a moment's notice.

The Deputy also referred to other legislation which related to the poverty of the time. Arthur Griffith's family needed to be looked after by the State. He died soon after the Free State was founded and he must not have had a pension or anything else. He had given huge service to the Republic in all the years he was publishing, working towards the Republic and founding Sinn Féin. The legislation in this regard is out of sync with the comments quoted by Deputy Cullinane. A sum of £500 was paid annually to his wife with £200 paid both to his son and daughter and £100 paid to his sister. That seems like buttons in today's money but there were large sums for the time. His son and daughter were also young. I do not say they should not have received this money.

The Schedule also includes the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Act 1936. They were included in the pension records published online in recent years relating to the period between 1916 and the Civil War. These people had given their all. Some were arrested and killed and they were an afterthought. They were not captured by the Military Service Pensions Acts of 1924 and 1934. If the Connaught Rangers had to be covered by two Acts, somebody must have missed out.

Legislation relating to the Spanish Civil War has also been mentioned, including the Spanish Civil War (Non-Intervention) Act 1937. It is probably proper that the State did not take a decision if it was to be avowedly neutral. During the Second World War, any Allied soldier who landed in Ireland was allowed to cross the Border, but German soldiers were arrested and held in Wicklow. In this case, the State had already allowed-----

I am obliged to request Deputy Ó Snodaigh to propose the adjournment.

I propose the adjournment.

Debate adjourned.