I am not very much concerned with this Bill, but I would like to say that I think it is a very objectionable Bill and a very improper Bill. The Constitution has given certain rights and liberties to women which they had not before, but the Ministers step in, and for reasons which I do not understand—except simply that they like to make appointments themselves and to cut out other people, and so, on—they want power, and they ask for power to pass this Bill, limiting the rights of people to whom the Constitution has given those rights. Speaking generally on that principle, I strongly object to this Bill.
CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1925—SECOND STAGE.
As I understand it, the Leas-Chathaoirleach has already put the question. Is it in order after the question has been put, and the Senators have answered "tá" and "níl," that speeches should be permitted?
It has been customary to allow a short period for discussion. I am following the precedent that has been set here.
I would just like to quote from the Constitution Article III., which says:—
"Every person, without distinction of sex, domiciled in the area of the jurisdiction of Saorstát Eireann, ... is a citizen of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann), and shall, within the limits of the jurisdiction, ... enjoy the privileges and be subject to the obligations of such citizenship."
Of course, I am aware that the Constitution can be altered or changed if the alteration or change does not infringe the terms of the Treaty. But, I think, the bringing in of this Bill by the Government is unjust, that it is morally wrong, and I think it is monstrously unfair. The women are still to be subject to the obligation of citizenship, but their privileges are to be curtailed and restricted. I think the qualifications for the various posts in the Civil Service are quite sufficient already. These are the qualifications as to age, health, character and ability, and I do not think any other qualifications are needed. I admit that it is to a certain extent the fault of the women themselves that such a thing as this should be allowed. They had very high privileges conferred on them, but they have not lived up to these privileges. This has been shown during the recent Seanad elections and at other elections as well. I do hope that if actions such as the present one in bringing in this Bill are continued, that the women will very soon wake up. The explanation is that they have not realised their power as yet. That does not apply to Ireland only. It applies to England and other countries in the same way. I really do not understand why this Bill has been brought in. Does it mean that there has been such a rush of women for the various posts that the Government finds it necessary to bring in this Bill? I have not heard anything about such a rush. I believe the Ministers maintain that for some posts women are unsuitable. I rather think the word that should be used is "unwanted." They are synonymous terms in the mind of the Minister. It is on the general principle that I object, and I shall vote against the Bill. I see that in England posts, too numerous to mention, are open to women, and very highly paid posts too. I fail to see why restrictions should be put upon them here.
I would like to say that there has arisen a great deal of misapprehension in regard to this Bill, and there has been a great deal of misrepresentation too. We are asked why this Bill has been brought in. It was brought in because we discovered, as a result of taking legal advice, that certain powers which we thought the Civil Service Commissioners had were powers which they actually had not got. The question of the Constitution, of course, does not really come into it, or, if it does come into it, there is a way of dealing with the matter and it can be tested.
There is no doubt but in certain situations in the Civil Service you must discriminate with regard to sex. I have mentioned special cases before. I have mentioned a most outstanding sort of case. Take the Preventive Officers of Customs who are really a sort of Customs Police but who are Civil Servants. A certain number of women normally may be employed as Preventive Officers, but you would have to have a certain number of men as Preventive Officers. You cannot employ men and women indiscriminately. You cannot, as I have said before, send women as a night patrol along the Border for the purpose of preventing smuggling. Now under our Civil Service Regulation Act, as it stands, you can only get your Preventive Officers by competitive examination. It may well happen that there are as many women Preventive Officers as can be properly employed in the service and as are required, and 12 more men may be wanted. Now if you have no power to discriminate with regard to sex in the matter of the holding of the examinations what may happen is that when you want 12 more men you may have to take in ten women, in addition, because when candidates are required they must be taken in order from the Civil Service list—in the order in which they are placed. Consequently the Government may find themselves in the position of having to employ a certain number of women for whom there would be no work, in order to get the proper number of men.
Again, take the case of the sorters in the Post Office. It has been the custom that only men sorters are employed on night work. But in order that only the men in the service would be doing night work, a certain proportion between the sexes had to be maintained. You would require a certain number of men for the night work. You would not, unless you had the power that we seek for under this Bill, have a sufficient number of men to do the night work. That means that from time to time in an examination you may take men and women, and at another time you may take women only, and at another time men only. It is possible in other cases that you would want women, and, if you have not this power, men may sit for the examination. Cases will arise from time to time, and you will have to discriminate in your recruitment between the sexes. We have a class of typists and writing assistants. These at present are women only. It is desired that men should not be recruited for these positions.
The lowest paid grade.
There is the system of organisation which makes it easier to carry on with one sex. It has been found in the past that women were more suitable for typing work or work of that character than men. Work of that character is work that is better done by young people. You have a great wastage in the female staff through marriage, and you will not have so many typists of the age of 50, 55 or 60 years as long as it is recruited from the female grade. If it is recruited from the male grade you will have quite considerable numbers up to 50 and 55. You will ultimately, because of this wastage of the female staff through marriage, have perhaps half your typing staff consisting of men. You will have men of from 50 to 65 years of age as typists. The men will come on, no matter what the rate of pay, and then the rates of pay will have to be put up and the cost of administration will go up, and as the result of these costs you will have a less satisfactory staff than you have at present. It has been represented outside that the object of this Bill was to exclude women from the higher posts in the Civil Service. That is a representation that is entirely baseless. As a matter of fact, an advertisement has been issued by the Civil Service Commissioners stating that for several years ahead, I think in the months of July to October, there will be examinations for the Executive Grade, which is the Intermediate Grade in the Civil Service, and the Junior Administrative Grade which will be open to men and women. The grade of junior administrative officer is the highest in the Civil Service.
What of the higher executive officers?
They are not recruited by means of examination but by promotion from the lower executive grades. The executive grade is the main grade in the Service. It is the grade that the administrative officers and the ordinary lower clerical grades aspire to. The examination that has been announced by advertisement will be held annually for several years ahead and will be open to both sexes. The highest grade in the Service recruited by examination is the junior administrative grade, the grade by which University graduates come into the Service. It has been announced by advertisement that for several years ahead an examination will be held annually for the junior administrative grade and that examination will be open to both sexes.
In Great Britain those examinations are also open to both sexes. Women have sat at those examinations and have been successful, yet by a clause which was put into the Sex Disqualification Removal Act in Great Britain, there is power given to the Civil Service Commissioners to confine an examination to one or other of the sexes as the exigencies of the Service may require. We here thought we had that power because it existed in England; we thought we had the power in the original Act. but we found that the clause which gives the power in England does not apply here. Consequently we are now asking for that power.
As a matter of fact, several examinations held by the Civil Service Commissioners were confined to one sex. The Commissioners were labouring under the impression that they had the power. They held examinations for typists, shorthand typists and Customs officers, and they were certainly confined to one sex. Examinations were held, and a number of people were appointed. Then a question was raised and a legal opinion was sought. It was found that as we stand we have not the power that is in operation in England.
I say it is a power that is necessary; it is a power absolutely necessary in the particular cases that I have mentioned. It is necessary in the public interest that we should discriminate between the sexes, and we can only discriminate between them by having this power in the holding of an examination. When you have a competitive examination you must select the people you need from the list of successful candidates; you must take them in order, and you might easily—as you might have to—take people of a particular sex for whom there was no work, in order to get at the persons that you require. That is likely to happen if you have not the power that is here sought.
I am sorry that I must oppose the passing of this Bill. I think the Minister is asking for powers too wide and too indefinite. If there are certain posts that could not be held by women, it would be much better that they should be stated in the schedule. I think as far as possible all grades of the Civil Service should be open to women.
If the Minister will give an undertaking to the effect that women would not be in any way penalised on account of their sex, it might facilitate matters. In the meantime I must oppose the measure.
I have been considering this matter very carefully. I do not wish to cross swords with the Minister for Finance. I am prepared to accept an assurance from him that if he is equipped with the powers he seeks under this Bill, in so far as the regulations permit of the indiscriminate sitting of boys and girls for various examinations, there will be no sex bar raised, there will be a perfectly fair field open to candidates and no favour will be shown. If the girls render a good account of themselves and, as has very frequently occurred, secure a higher place than the majority of the boys, I would like to have the Minister's assurance that in recruiting the staffs for the various offices the girls as well as the boys will be drawn in the ordinary rotation in which they pass the examination. Otherwise I am afraid we will have to interfere when it comes to a question of granting the powers now sought by the Minister.
I would like to ask the Minister is it impossible, until this measure is passed, for any of the Departments to state the vacancies which they desire to have filled and how many of each sex they require? Take, for instance, the Post Office sorting department. Are they unable to advertise the fact that they will take on four males and three or five females? From what the Minister has told us, it would look as if the Departments are completely at the mercy of the successful candidates in an examination. It looks as if any mixed department wishing to recruit employees according to the vacancies at the disposal of that department will be open to the taking in of people of a sex they may not be in a position to give a post to. In con nection with some departments the thing is perfectly obvious. Take, as an instance, the Civic Guards. I think we might trust to the good sense of the women in the Saorstát not to apply for such a disagreeable and onerous position.
But there are policewomen.
I am quite aware of that. Apart from what I was saying about the unsuitability of the post for women, I was hoping that the extra delicacy of Irishwomen would be a deterrent. Then one could look at the matter from the point of view of the æsthetic consideration of their feet preventing them taking up the post. It is necessary to clear up the difficulties of the Ministry. There have been statements made that must amount to misrepresentation, inasmuch as it is said the object is to exclude women from the higher branches of the Service.
I have half a dozen letters on the subject. Statements have been made that the intention is to exclude women from the higher posts and leave them only the posts of typists and shorthand writers. Possibly the Ministry might be satisfied if the powers were limited to the lifetime of the Government, to be repeated as each Government comes into office, or else they might make a list of the offices open to mixed candidates, and the proportion approximately necessary. In Guinness's it is not possible for women to compete for the higher positions. Those are held exclusively by men. Take, as an instance, the position of brewer. It is not a hardship on women. The Constitution apparently leaves the service open to an inundation of candidates without any discrimination. I think there is a good deal to be said for the Minister's point of view. I would like it, however, to be made clear that the hardship could be ameliorated by giving powers to Departments to state how many vacancies exist.
I think Edmund Burke said at one time that the price of freedom was continual vigilance. I am very much afraid that the freedom of a good many of the people who are our constituents and whom we are sent here to guard and look after might be interfered with under the provisions of this Bill. I have very little doubt that while the present Ministry are in office and while the present Minister for Finance is arranging and administering these things, everything will be done fairly; but neither the Ministers nor the people have got a lease of their lives, and we do not know who will be in power in future.
I wonder would the Minister be prepared to accept an amendment which I would like to move after the last section of the Bill? It is as follows:—
"That the operation of this Bill should be limited to the life of the present Parliament."
If that is done it seems to me we would have a great many advantages. In the first place we do not know how this is going to work. We do not know that it may not be desirable to amend it. If the period of the Bill is limited to a certain time people are much more likely to perform the duties of administration with discretion and in the interests of the country at large. I shall be glad if the Minister will give us some indication as to whether he will be prepared to accept that amendment.
Can the Minister say if, under Section 2 (3), the House has power to annual an order made under this section?
I thought that was the case. To my mind that is the reason why I am prepared to support this Reading. I am not prepared to state that there are no cases and no circumstances in which it would be wise to say: " We will appoint two men and three women, or a certain number of each sex." I do think that regulations made ought to be subject to a certain amount of public approval, so that, should you at any time get Ministers or a Ministry who were likely to abuse them and, in fact, to close any large section of the Service to either sex— which every person would be totally opposed to—you would have two Houses with full powers to annual any such order.
As to what Senator Barrington stated with regard to the rights of our constituents and the danger of some other Ministry getting into power, I think it is much wiser not to place any undue confidence in any Ministry, this or any other. Under this Bill the two Houses have full power to annual any order made which makes for sex discrimination. Unless one is prepared to say that under no circumstances or at any time should a distinction be made, then I think one is right in supporting this Bill. Most of the employees in one of the businesses with which I am concerned are of the one sex. But the fact is that when one comes to the highest positions one nearly always appoints men, even though a woman might in many respects be better, and the reason is simply that the present social custom is that as soon as a woman gets married she almost invariably leaves her employment. That means that to place a woman in the highest position, in a position of full responsibility, a position that is only gained after having long experience, is a considerable risk for a company to take when they know that she will be almost certain to leave when she gets married. I think there has been a good deal of misrepresentation, and a good deal of pressure has been brought to bear on us, and to support it is somewhat difficult for some of us who have advocated, as I have, the present provision in the Constitution. One of my lady friends said that she would not speak to me again because, before I read the Bill, I would not promise to vote against it. I explained that it was not my habit to read Bills until they left the Dáil, because they were frequently amended in the Dáil. She assured me that under the Bill only the very worst, the small-salaried appointments, could be open to women if this Bill were passed, and that therefore it must be rejected. If I believed that that was the case I should unhesitatingly vote against the Bill, and I do not think it is a matter of getting pledges from Ministers. I have come to the conclusion that I will have to support the Bill. At the same time, if it were not within the power of the two Houses to annual an order, I should be unable to support it.
In reply to what Senator Douglas has said, might I be permitted to point out that the scope of this Bill is very much wider than one would be inclined to infer from his statement. It is not entirely limited to the question of how many women and how many men are going to be appointed. We all know that if a woman marries she expects her husband to support her—why should she work herself? But the Bill goes further than that.
Would the Minister tell us precisely why the British Act did not apply to this country, and also would he state the objections which he has to stating in the schedule the occupations in which he wishes to discriminate?
I am opposed to this Bill on account of two underlying principles in it. The first is because it confers on the Minister too much irresponsible power, and the second is that it recognises the principle of sex discrimination. The Bill confers too much power on the Minister. I agree with Senator Barrington, that no fault can be found with the present Minister, and that he will always act in a very honourable and straightforward manner. But he will not always be there. Human nature is human nature. I think that in his own interests the Minister should not claim this power, because it will lead to a great deal of trouble for him in the form of canvassing, and probably jobbery. Human nature is human nature, and we have the authority of a great political economist, who tells us that any man or body of men who have irresponsible authority, either in Church or State, will abuse it.
I would not give this irresponsible authority to the Minister. It would probably create a great deal of trouble, turmoil, and anxiety amongst the higher civil servants. The Civil Service is the business arm of the Government. On the efficiency of the Civil Service will depend entirely the successful running of the State, and if unrest comes into the Civil Service, its efficiency will be destroyed. Unrest is detrimental to all progress; unrest is detrimental to all business, and the unrest in this country for the past few years has been directly responsible for the terrible state of trade at present. I do not think that the Minister has given us any sufficient reason for this sex discrimination. It would always be in the power of those who are in authority to allocate to various posts the people who are best suited for these posts. If there is a duty that can only be performed by a man. I say that the people who are in authority can make these allocations, and no disturbance can be raised by anybody. Because of these two underlying principles I have mentioned, I intend to vote against the Bill.
I object to the principle of the Bill. I object to it so strongly that I intend to vote against it, because I have learned from reading the debates in the other House that if you do not vote against the principle of the Bill to-day practically no amendment can be made in it afterwards. I consider that the Bill is unconstitutional. That has been dealt with, and I will not touch upon it. When introducing the Bill the Minister was sufficiently candid to state that its main object is to confine examinations to persons of one sex. The Minister was pressed, he was not only asked, but he was pressed in the Dáil, to schedule the posts that he considered unsuitable for women. I think that that was a very reasonable request. If that request had been complied with a satisfactory arrangement might have been come to and there would be no opposition to the principle of the Bill to-day. The Minister has refused to do that, and he tells us that women are physically unfit for certain posts. Yes, that is so. But Deputy Sir James Craig answered that in the Dáil, I think, very completely. He said, "Physical fitness will regulate the desire for one post or another." I think that is so. I do not think that women want to do things that they are physically unfit for, and I think men would have the same view. After all, nurses are nurses the world over, and you do not find men rushing in for employment as nurses. The Minister spoke about the Army, the police, and patrols on the Border. I think that neither the Army nor the police are civil servants in any sense. They are run by different Ministers. We have women police here working beside the ordinary police, and they have been a great success. The reason why I consider there are so few women police is because of the prejudice against their sex. This Bill is maintaining that prejudice. The Minister emphasises the fact that women are not fit to be in the Army or in the police, and I say, with all respect to the present Executive Council, that many of them were not suitable either for the police or the Army, but they aspired to administrative power, and they have more or less justified themselves in that. But there is no use in saying to women: "You are not fit for the Army and the police," while they themselves may not be either. I think it fits both ways.
The Minister assures us that the typist grade will be maintained for women. That is the lowest grade in the service. Men are not chosen for that grade. I believe that men passed for that grade at the last examination, and that according to the law they had to be taken. What is the objection to taking boy typists? Is there any objection to a boy being a typist? In the old days boys entered the Civil Service as Boy Clerks at a very small wage, got into the clerical grades by passing their examination, and passed along. I know one boy who entered as a Boy Clerk and became an Abstract Clerk after passing an examination. He then became a Clerical Officer, and he holds one of the best posts in the Civil Service to-day, although he entered as a Boy Clerk at 16 years of age. What the objection to boy typists is, I do not know. The Minister states that they will remain typists, and that they will then demand more wages, but if it were put before them that after reaching a certain age they could not remain as typists but must proceed further after examination, I see no objection to boy typists, and I cannot see that any body of women would object to it. Senator Fanning will take the word of the Minister if he promises that no injustice will be done to the sex. Well, we are very short-lived. This Ministry may go out to-morrow or it may go on for two years, to the end of its period, and then we may not have in power any of those who will not do an injustice to women. I think it is most unwise to suggest such a thing, considering that we are now legislating for the future.
I said I would accept the Minister's word if the suggestion I put forward was embodied in the Bill.
Senator Douglas considers that so long as an annulment order can be made with regard to any appointment it will be all right. If you are to charge a future Oireachtas with the duty of contesting every appointment that they may think is not right what would they do? Would they not be wasting time? Is not this the time to settle this? Is not this the time to schedule the posts that women are not suitable for? If this sex discrimination is to be made by a male Executive Council and by practically a male Dáil I think it very unjust. No consultation of any kind took place with any representative women on the subject. Last autumn the Executive issued an advertisement which excluded women from sitting at an examination, and they were then of the opinion that they had power to do so. One organisation of women looked into the matter, got counsel's opinion. and told the Minister that they would go to court if he persisted in that course. The Attorney-General was consulted, and he agreed with the opinion of counsel. The frame of mind that thinks of these things is what we object to. There are four women in Junior Executive posts, that is the highest post that a woman can enter by examination. There are 451 men and only four women, and two of these women gained entry through the action of the Irish Women's Association, after sitting for the examination. But for that there would have been only two women as against 451 men, and this is the grade that is more or less constituted for university graduates.
The Senator is making a mistake about that. This is not the grade about which counsel's opinion was sought, and this is not the grade that is suitable for university graduates. That is the administrative grade.
Well how many women are in the administrative grade?
There is none.
I would like to get from the Minister what are staff posts—32 men and 7 women.
Perhaps the Minister will answer all these questions when he is replying.
I think the Minister will agree that through the action of this Association a couple of women got in.
They believe that, at all events, and they are in. If this thing were to be done, I hold that this is not the Government that should do it. No men in a fight for freedom ever had such loyal co-operation from their women as the men who compose the present Executive Council. When they wanted messengers to go into dangerous places they did not call on members of their own sex. When they wanted auditors to go out when the old Local Government Board broke down it was women they sent. It was women inspectors that went round through all the Unions and did all the work for them in that terrible time when the whole British organisation practically ceased to operate, and these are the people who tell us that we are physically unfit. I regret that this has come from the men who were associated in the fight with women who played the part at a time when sex and money were not considerations.
There is another side to this Bill that I do not intend to discuss, but I am surprised it has not been taken up, and that is the appointment of Civil Servants without examination. It is a matter that I did not study, as I thought other people would have done so. It is a very big question. I believe that the only thing to do is to reject the Bill, and I will vote against it, because I believe that if it is passed no amendment to it will be accepted, that if you accept the Bill to-day you accept its principle and amendments will not matter very much.
I think perhaps it would assist us if the Minister, before the discussion goes any further, would tell us if there is any objection to scheduling the posts for which women are not eligible to stand. I think it is essential that a Government in the position of our Government should not only be in the right, but should be obviously in the right, particularly as we are after a very anarchic period, and as we have an old legacy of suspicion. The Minister said one of the objections to appointing women to certain posts is that they may get married. I wonder if that is so? My only experience of the matter has been gained in the theatre, and I have not noticed that when an actress gets married she retires from the stage. No doubt the Minister may in many cases be right, but there is the danger of making it difficult for women to marry and discouraging marriage if there is any undue discrimination against women on the ground that they will withdraw from the Service on marriage.
As I have been listening to the Minister, I have been reminded of an essay which I read in my youth by Huxley. I think he called it "Black and White." In that essay he pointed out that women did possess certain physical disabilities. They were liable to be withdrawn from service owing to certain things—child-bearing, and so on. He made one point, that it was essential that no Government should, in any way by its laws, increase these disabilities. That should be left to the process of nature. I have great confusion of mind over this Bill, because, like other Senators, I have been so absorbed in the very exciting matters which came before the Seanad in the last few days that I confess this finds some of us in a very ignorant condition, which may compel some Senators to vote against the Bill who, with greater knowledge, might vote for it. I would like that the Minister would give us all information possible on this Bill.
With reference to the matter Senator Gogarty raised, it is not possible at present to take a certain number of one sex and a certain number of another sex as the result of examinations for certain posts. That is, they must be taken in the order on which they come on the paper. So that as Senator Gogarty indicated, if it was desired to have five male sorters, you could not say you would take five men from the examination list. If you only require five altogether, at present you might have to take five women with the five men in order to get the five men you wanted. That applies also to what I said with reference to such posts as Customs preventive officers. Probably as Customs preventive officers you could employ a certain number of women. Women would be ordinarily eligible for the examination, but you would get as many of the sex as you would require. It might happen that you require men only. You might require to have 12 men as Customs preventive officers for patrols, rummaging, and so on. In order to get the number of men you require you might also have to take twenty women.
Would the Minister say why?
Because you would have to take your list of successful candidates in order, and if you have the power of discrimination it would be a competitive examination no longer.
Schedule the posts.
Senator Fanning asked was it the intention to give a fair field for all Civil Service posts for men and women. That is the intention, but there may be cases where it is necessary for the proper discharge of the public business to discriminate, and in these cases we ask power to discriminate. As to scheduling, it is difficult to have a complete schedule, and the schedule in itself would be misleading, because there are, as I say many posts in which you would perhaps want a proportion of each sex and you could not schedule these particular positions as positions which women could not take. Take, for instance, Customs and Excise officers. I believe that although there are no women so far acting as Customs and Excise officers a proportion of women could be appointed.
On the other hand, you would want a considerable proportion of men, because Customs officers do their duty at all sorts of isolated posts, on the quays and so on, and although you might get women to do the work quite satisfactorily in these positions, still some women may be reluctant to go there. You would want to accommodate them with work, and you might have to shove them into work which was not Customs work at all. Then you have Excise officers doing work in distilleries, climbing vats, and so on, and, therefore, you must have always in the Customs and Excise a certain number of men. You cannot take any steps towards maintaining the proportions of the sexes unless there is a power of discrimination in the holding of examinations. Then, as to making a schedule, it would not be right to schedule the position of Customs and Excise officers as a position to which women should not be appointed; but it is, on the other hand, a position for which you must be able to confine an examination to men if the occasion requires it, in order to maintain the necessary proportion of men in that particular branch of the service.
The same thing exists in regard to sorting clerks for the reason that it is the practice—I think a good practice— to confine night work in the Post Office to men. You must always have a certain proportion of men. On the other hand, there was no reason at all against taking large numbers of women. You could not schedule that as a position which had to be confined to men, or from which women are to be excluded. You would want power to confine that examination to one particular sex if the occasion required it. Then a new class may be required from time to time. It is quite possible that a scheme like the Shannon electricity scheme may involve the creation of a new class of workers or civil servants. It is impossible, so far as I can see, to make out a schedule unless you were to overdo the matter of scheduling. I think that would be more objectionable. I do not think it should be confined to the life of the present Parliament. What I do suggest is that there was no danger of an undue use of the power that is sought, with the safeguards in the Bill. The regulations under which an examination will be confined to a particular sex have to be laid before the Oireachtas and they may be annulled by a resolution of the Oireachtas. I think that no Civil Service Commission is going to take the risk—particularly now that the majority of the voters are women—or incur the unpopularity that would arise from confining examinations to one sex unless there are the most cogent reasons available for that.
You did it last autumn.
With regard to last autumn I have already explained that matter in the Dáil and I might as well explain it here. We are holding our first examination for Junior Administrative Officers. That is the university graduate class. It is necessary that they should be trained to be administrators and that they should be given a special type of work from the time they come into the Service. They are the people who will be the future heads of departments. Now there are no women in the grade immediately below that at present. That is owing to historical conditions for which we have no responsibility. The grade below Junior Administrative Officers is Higher Executive Officers. There are no women in it. We believed as a result of the first examination for Junior Administrative Officers we would get four or five women. They would be trained up on wrong lines in the circumstances. Women who might come into that grade would not be given the type of work they should be given and training of future women entrants would be prejudiced.
We have no intention of doing more than making a start in that particular grade in order that we would get a right tradition of training, and in order that we would get these entrants put to the right sort of work. We feared, and I believe quite rightly feared, that if as a result of the examination for junior administrative officers we got four or five women, the training of that class would be prejudiced and be wrong at the start. There was no intention of doing more than making a start in regard to that. In an advertisement it has been announced: "The Civil Service Commissioners announce that they propose to hold annual open competitive examinations at which males and females will be eligible to compete for posts in the grade mentioned below." Then the advertisement mentioned: "Junior administrative officers; age limits 21-24 on 1st November, standard; honours, University degree."
It has been by public advertisement announced that for the future examinations will be held annually for that grade. The existing British provision applies to the "Civil Service of His Majesty." Ours is the "Civil Service of the Government of Saorstát Eireann," and the provisions that apply in the Civil Service in "The Sex Qualification Removal Bill" to the Civil Service of his Majesty do not apply here. Senator McKean, to go back to a point already dealt with, said the departments should allocate men and women according as they are suitable to particular posts, but they cannot allocate men if they have not got men, and you cannot allocate women if you have not got them. The only way you can get them is from the result of the examination. It is not like an employment where a person simply gets a list of applicants and chooses anybody from that list. The departments have no choice. They simply get what comes out of examinations, and it is impossible to appoint women to a post if you have not got women. In the same way it is impossible to appoint men if you have not got them. I think that covers what Senator Mrs. Wyse Power said about the physical fitness of women for the Civil Service.
It does not.
If it does not, I have no more to say. I spoke in the Dáil about the Army and police, not with reference to anything in the Bill, but by way of disposing of the alleged constitutional argument. There was an argument that this Bill is unconstitutional. I said then if it is unconstitutional to discriminate on the ground of sex in the Civil Service it is equally unconstitutional in recruiting for the Army and police. The boy clerks class which existed in the past was abolished, and rightly so, because it led to large numbers entering at 15 or 16 years of age and being thrown out at 20. It was quite a blind alley occupation. If you have boy typists you will have exactly the same result. You will have a boy coming in at 15 or 16 and at 20 or 21 being thrown on the streets. The number of those boys who pass the examination for higher posts would be very small.
With regard to staff posts they are really a higher type of clerical posts. The promotions are generally from the clerical grade to staff posts. Senator Yeats asked about the question of a schedule. It is difficult to make a schedule, especially if you want to avoid coming again and again to the Oireachtas, as it would mean including a great number of positions in the schedule that might prove ultimately to have been unnecessarily included, and I think that that would be bad. Married women are not retained in the Civil Service. It would involve an enormous increase in the sick leave, and a large amount of the Civil Service work, in order to be done efficiently, requires that there should be continuity—that the same person should attend to it.
- J.C. Counihan.
- Countess of Desart.
- J. Dillon.
- J.G. Douglas.
- J.C. Dowdall.
- Sir Nugent Everard.
- T. Linehan.
- J. O'Connor.
- B. O'Rourke.
- W. Barrington.
- Sir E. Bellingham.
- Sir E.C. Bigger.
- Mrs. Costello.
- M. Duffy.
- M. Fanning.
- T. Farren.
- T. Foran.
- J.P. Goodbody.
- Sir J.P. Griffith.
- A. Jackson.
- Sir J. Keane.
- C. Kennedy.
- P.W. Kenny.
- F. MacGuinness.
- J. MacKean.
- Colonel Moore.
- Mrs. Wyse Power.
- T. Total.
- W.B. Yeats.