The next business is the consideration of the Report of the Committee on Articles 21 and 23 of the Constitution, and on suggested appointments and remuneration of officers of the Seanad. This Report I could not possibly allow to come up for discussion in its present form, because the Committee—perhaps the matter was somewhat rushed upon them, and it was left a little vague—seem to have completely misconceived the subject matter of the reference, which was not a reference to appoint officers, as the Committee themselves say it was. I find in their Report that they say:—"The Appointments Committee selected by the Seanad to consider the scale of remunerations of officers and members of the Seanad, and to appoint a Clerk and Deputy Clerk, etc." There was no such reference. They were asked to make a Report as to the number of officials that would be required and as to what their duties would be. The Seanad never delegated to them the appointment of named officials, and to that extent the Report is ultra vires and beyond the terms of reference. Now, what I would suggest to the Seanad is this. It is quite obvious that the Committee omitted to consider a great number of matters essential to this official staff. They have to consider and report what their duties should be, what their qualifications should be, what accommodation would be required in the shape of offices, and a variety of matters of that kind, which they entirely omitted to consider. There is another point I want to impress on the Seanad. When we get regularly down to our work and begin to introduce legislation members will find that they will want to have at their elbow some official with qualification and training who will be able to frame amendments and explain various provisions and assist them by his advice in drafting amendments and bills. That is an official who is absolutely essential. We would not be able to get on without him. The Committee have not considered that. Therefore I think it would be wise for the Seanad to refer, as in the case of the other Committee, this matter back to the Committee, with a definite reference specifying the subject matters upon which we expect them to report to this House, and to give them the interval between this and the expiration of the Christmas recess to consider and complete the Report, because at present it is practically of no use. All it does is to appoint two named officials, a matter that was not left to them in the reference.
THE SEANAD STAFF.
Might I refer you to your remarks at the time? You said:—"It is not desirable to have this Committee too large. I should say at the outset that five or six would be enough. Probably Senator Moore would be satisfied if the Committee he wishes to set up with regard to officers is embodied in this Committee, which could then deal with the duties of Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the remuneration of members and travelling expenses, and the appointment of officers."
Yes, on the way they are to be appointed and their qualifications, but not the actual appointments. Here is the reference in the official Report, page 45. It states "that a Committee be appointed to consider and report to this Seanad upon the matters contained in Article 21 and Article 23 of the Constitution, and also to report on similar matters in connection with the official staff of the Seanad." There was never any reference or delegation to appoint officers. There was a delegation to make a recommendation as to what appointment should be made, what the staff should consist of, what their duties should be, and matters of that kind, but it was certainly never contemplated that the Senate would delegate to this Committee the right to appoint officers.
I think they only recommended their appointment.
If you look at the Orders of the Day you will see the way it is put:—"The Appointment Committee selected by the Seanad to consider the scale of remuneration of officers and members of the Seanad and to appoint a Clerk and Deputy Clerk to the Seanad." We never gave them any such delegation.
No member of the Committee, I am sure, had the slightest idea of appointing them.
As the person who proposed the motion I am quite willing to accept your ruling on the matter. When I proposed it I confess that my view of the matter was that we were to recommend certain people to act as Clerk and Assistant Clerk. All the members of the Committee, I think, were under that impression at the time. At the initial stage there was no question raised. If we were wrong, as apparently we were, I think it would be very much better, as you suggest, to refer the matter back to the Committee. We were very hurried at the time.
I think the Seanad appreciates that fact. You were rushed in the matter.
We were rushed even to interview the people we recommended, and we were very much divided on the matter. It was rather a Majority Report than a universal Report. I think it would be very much better, and I am very pleased it can be arranged in some way so that more deliberation and more care can be given, and we can get a list of candidates and go into the whole question.
Of course the Seanad will understand I am not in the least bit attempting to disparage the names of any persons put forward. Nothing of that kind is present in my mind, but the matter is one that requires great care, thought and consideration not merely with regard to any one individual, but the entire official staff, as to their qualifications and duties, so I think it is obvious that it will require much greater consideration than it has been able to get.
I am quite certain that the Committee in this matter acted somewhat under a misapprehension. We did not really bear the exact words of the original motion in mind, and we acted under a certain misconception, but of this I am perfectly certain—I had the honour of attending two meetings of the Committee, but I was not there the whole time—no member of the Committee had the least idea of imposing anything upon the Seanad. We were only to make certain suggestions, and leave it, of course, to the good sense of the Seanad to make its own decisions. As a way out of the difficulty, and to make the matter perfectly plain, I beg to move this:—"That the Report of the Committee be referred back to the Committee to report upon the number, qualifications, duties and remuneration of the official staff of the Seanad and the accommodation required." Now that we have reached this stage in our operations I would like very much to urge the enlargement of the Committee. It may be remembered that when this matter was first discussed I suggested your name, Sir, and the name of our Deputy Chairman as members of this Committee, and I think we might revert to that original proposition. Therefore, I would add to the end of my resolution:—"That Lord Glenavy and the Deputy Chairman be added to this Committee."
I beg to second that.
Before you put that motion I should like to draw attention to two points you spoke of. You spoke of an official who was to help us with amendments when legislation was introduced into this Seanad, and also to help in drafting Bills. That is a most important official, and the words "definite reference" must, I think, with all due respect to you, Sir, be framed on that definite reference to the Committee. You have referred it—Senator Sir T. Esmonde's motion is to refer it—back to the Committee, but they have not a definite reference. And I should like to have that definite reference, especially with regard to that particular official. That is a most important item.
You see, Lord Mayo, this motion of Sir Thomas Esmonde's purposely leaves that open. The proposal includes it in the reference because it is a reference to the Committee to report de novo as to the whole staff, not merely as to this official or that official, but as to the whole staff that they will think requisite, and, of course, one of the matters, I take it, that the Committee will discuss will be whether they may not consider it essential that one of the members of the staff should be a trained expert in the matter of drafting Bills, and report accordingly. I do not think you want to hamper the Committee more than you have done in this reference, because the reference is as follows:—“To report on the number, qualifications, duties and remuneration of the official staff and the accommodation it will require.” I think that covers the entire ground.
That explanation is quite sufficient.
Before you put the motion I wish to say I support it, and I think it would be to the credit of this Assembly if we did send back this Report, because it would not be very creditable, I think, to the common sense or business ability of this Assembly if we were to accept it, for in my opinion, it has been rushed. It has not got the attention that it deserved. My name appears as having signed the Report and having been present at the meetings. I was not present at the meetings, nor did I sign the Report. I was elected on the Committee, but unfortunately the Commission on Prices was meeting that day, and I, as a member of that Committee was there, and was not able to be present at this meeting. I want to call attention to the fact that my name was signed to the Report, and I am given as attending the meeting. That is not correct. I hope the Seanad will unanimously send back this Report to the Committee, so that it will get the attention it deserves, and that we will start to do our business on a business basis, and that we will not be rushing matters.
I wish to impress upon the members of the Committee the importance of giving attendance. It is one of the most important things you have to deal with, because the qualifications and skill and extent of your staff will largely control the success of our deliberations; and I hope that the Senators who are nominated upon this Committee will kindly give as much attendance to it as they possibly can. We will probably meet on three or four occasions between this and the expiration of the Christmas recess, and the members will get timely notice. I will try to consult their convenience both as to the dates and the hours.
You spoke of the selection of a Clerk who would be competent to draft Bills. Will it not be possible to have the Government draftsman?
Well, you see, Sir, that is a matter on which I think there is a little confusion. The Seanad has nothing to do with the Government; we cannot call upon the services of officials of the Government. This Seanad has nothing to do with the Government in that sense; it is independent of and outside it; it is a House of its own. Under the Constitution it has got to appoint its own staff. The Government, of course, have got expert officials at their elbow, legal and others, in all of these matters to advise them, but we have no right to call upon them to advise the members of our House, and this is a matter that the Committee will have fully to consider.
The reason I put the question is this, that it may be very difficult to get the services of a competent Clerk who will be conversant with the drafting of Parliamentary Bills. Such a person may be found; I do not know whether it is possible in Dublin to find anyone, but I think it will be difficult to do so.
I think you will find that gentlemen are available.
I will be very glad if there are.
I am quite sure of that. We ought to have some opportunity for securing the services of such gentlemen of that sort as the Government thinks fit.
It might be the means of crushing out an otherwise very suitable person if the Government draftsman was available for this Seanad. I do not see why we should make it a test question with regard to the appointment of a Clerk.
You cannot have the Government draftsman here during your discussions, because he will be in the other House. We will want a draftsman who will be present when we are discussing Bills which are sent up to us or Bills which we originate in our own House. It is not due to want of respect for the members of the Senate when I say that the majority of them have not any technical training in matters of this kind, and when they come to draft Bills and amendments they will find it essential to have at their command some gentleman of experience and training who can guide them in the matter. But all that will be considered by the Committee.
I would like, at all events, to have a direction from the Government before we go into the next Committee meeting.