The amendment that the Government wish to insert in the Adaptation of Enactments Bill has been drafted and handed to me, and therefore we are in a position to take up this first Bill and dispose of it. If it is the wish of the Seanad to fall in with the suggestion I made, namely, instead of going through the tedious formality of all the stages of a Bill, that we do not intend to discuss or amend, save in so far as one amendment goes, the wisest and best course would be to suspend our Standing Orders and for some Senator to move the amendment first, and then move that the Bill as amended do pass this Seanad.
ADAPTATION OF ENACTMENTS BILL.
I move that the Standing Orders be suspended.
I want to say this. I am conscious in asking the Seanad to take the step they are taking that it is an unusual one, and one that is not to be treated as a precedent, but we are sitting under unusual conditions. We have no staff as yet, we have no offices, and we have nobody to refer to in connection with these Bills. It is impossible for us to discuss them. If they were Bills that could afford to wait I should never think of asking the Seanad to rush them through in this way, but having regard to our peculiar position and that for the next fortnight we will not have the machinery that will enable us to deal with these, and as these two Bills are of pressing emergency, I ask this Seanad to make a departure from precedent, but I think it is not one that deserves repetition.
I beg to move to insert immediately after Section 9 in the green paper and before Section 10 of the Adaptation of Enactments Bill the following new section. This, I presume, would be Section 9a. It would read as follows:—
"Wherever it is provided in any British Statute that any act or thing shall or may be made or done by Order in Council, or by the King (or Queen) in Council, or by Proclamation of the King (or Queen) or of the King (or Queen) in Council, then every such act or thing may be made or done in Saorstát Eireann by an Order of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State upon the advice of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State."
I beg to second that.
Before we vote I think we might have some explanation as to what exactly it means.
We are in the position of difficulty that I pointed out to you. We have not had an opportunity of considering these Bills. I myself only got them about an hour ago. I can tell you what in effect it means, but I am not an authority upon it. I have no right to pledge the Government to what it means. I can only give you my construction of it if you care to have it. Under the laws existing prior to the establishment of the Free State, in many Acts of Parliament provision was made that certain things were to be done by Order of the King in Council, or by Order of the Privy Council, or they named individuals. It is to provide a substitute for that, to meet the altered conditions in this country that the change proposed becomes necessary. The proposed change is this that instead of these things being done as heretofore by an Order of His Majesty in Council or by His Majesty's Council they should be done by Order of the Governor-General with the consent of the Executive Council of the Free State Government. That is the whole thing.
Then the Executive Council is substituted for the Privy Council?
For that purpose, yes.
I beg to move that we agree with this Bill, as amended.
I desire to second the motion.
May I refer you to what I consider is an omission in the Bill, or am I ruled out? There is an omission I consider in this Bill under Clause 18.
You are not out of order, and perhaps your suggestion would be helpful.
I was going to suggest that after the word "Executive" in Clause 18—"Every Order made by the Executive Council under this Act"— that there be an addition relating to any regulation made by the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Finance has power to make regulations that are very important. If it is necessary that those orders are to be left on the Table for 21 days, when they are made by the Executive Council, it appears to me that they should also be laid on the Table for 21 days when they are made by the Minister for Finance. I have no technical knowledge of these Acts of Parliament. Still, I believe that it would be necessary that the regulations made by the Minister for Finance should be left on the Table. We have had this Bill in our hands since Saturday. As to what appears to be an omission from Clause 18, it seems that an order made by the Minister for Finance is just as important as an order made by the Executive Council. I will move an amendment to that effect.
If you will take a suggestion from me, I would recommend you not to move it. In the first place, it might involve delay and difficulty in what is called the recommitting of this Bill. Apart from that, this is not a matter that has been overlooked. The Dáil may have thought there was a real distinction; there is an obvious distinction between an Order of the Executive Council, which is much higher and more serious than the Order made merely by one Minister. They may have thought it necessary that the Orders of the Executive Council should remain on the Table before they are operative, but that that should not apply to the Orders of a single Minister. I am quite sure they had some good reason of their own in making the distinction. I do not think it is an oversight. At the same time the attention of the Dáil will be called to this, and when it goes back to them they can insert the amendment, and the fact that you have drawn attention to it will be present in their minds. If they consider you have put your finger on a blot they will remedy it.
There is a difference between an Order and Regulations. An Order is part of the law made by the Executive Council itself, whereas a Finance Regulation has nothing like the same power and the same importance.
Section 12 is in connection with the orders of the Minister for Finance to make regulations in connection with Customs Duties, and so on. I only received this Act of Parliament, for I may now call it an Act of Parliament, three quarters of an hour ago, and I did not have time to go very closely into it. But I think the Senator is quite safe in accepting your suggestion. Presumably the action of the Minister for Finance, in connection with any Customs Regulation will be made with the authority of the Executive and with the approval of the Executive, and will be discussed and determined beforehand. Therefore, we might be fairly safe in taking it that no Regulation will be made other than Regulations the object of which the Dáil and the Ministry have discussed and debated and agreed upon beforehand. I imagine you are quite safe in leaving it as it stands.
I intended to refer to Clause 13, which says:—"Wherever any British Statute adapted or modified or authorised to be adapted or modified by this Act has been adapted or modified by or under the authority of any subsequent British Statute, this Act shall be construed as referring to such Statute as so adapted or modified." It is quite obvious that an adaptation would be made in England which would be unsuitable to Ireland. I only suggest that it is quite possible that an adaptation or modification made suitable to England might not possibly be suitable to Ireland, and to allow that to be read into the Act would seem to me to be unwise. If you think there is anything in it I am sure you will suggest it to the Government.
It is not a very serious matter. I quite see the force and the effect of what you say. But if in a particular case it was found that modifications so introduced were not suitable to the circumstances of this country, then of course it was quite open to Parliament to have it amended.