Illegitimate Children (Affiliation Orders) Bill, 1929—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be read a Second Time."

The object of this Bill is to make the father of an illegitimate child responsible for the maintenance of that child. As the law exists at present the father of an illegitimate child can be made liable in two forms of action. One is what is called an action for seduction. That does not lie at the suit of the mother herself; it lies at the suit of her parents if she resides with them-or with her employer if she is working. If she is not residing with her parents or if she is not in the service of an employer no action lies. At the same time, unless she was living with her parents at the time of the seduction and at the time of the birth of the child, equally no action lies, and if in addition she is in employment only nominal damage can be recovered from the father at the suit of the employer. The Seanad will see, therefore, that the action for seduction is not one of universal application. There is another form of action which is also limited in its scope, that is to say, when an illegitimate child is being maintained at the expense of the rates the body maintaining it can maintain an action against the father for the maintenance of such child in the workhouse. In that case, the evidence of the mother has to be given and that evidence has to be corroborated. But the Seanad will see in that case likewise, that the remedy has not a wide application, being confined only to cases where the child is in the workhouse.

This Bill proposes to make, as far as possible, in every instance where it can be fairly done, the father of the illegitimate child responsible for its maintenance. The procedure is that the mother goes before a magistrate, makes an information against whoever she charges as the father of the child, whereupon a summons is issued and the case heard. If her story be believed, and the defendant be found to be the father by the Court, he becomes, if the child is dead, liable for burial expenses; if the child be not dead he is liable for maintenance under the provisions of this Bill at a rate not exceeding £1 a week, up to the time the child reaches the age of 16. If the child dies in the meantime he is also liable for the burial expenses. If the child is mentally or bodily deficient after reaching the age of 16 the liability for maintenance still continues. There is also provision by which the Court can order that the father of the child should pay an apprenticeship fee not exceeding £50 in order to have the child apprenticed to some trade.

Of course, the sums which I have mentioned are maximum sums, and it does not follow that in every case a court would award a maximum sum. It would depend very largely on the financial circumstances of the putative father. There are also provisions by which this annual payment may be commuted into a lump sum at the discretion of the District Justice. Payments are made in the discretion of the District Justice either to the mother, or, where relief is given, to the body giving the relief; it may be made to the person in whose custody the child actually is, or it may be made if the Justice thinks it wise—and in a great number of cases, no doubt, he will think it wise—to the Clerk of the District Court in which he resides, or, if it would be more useful, in his judgment, it may be made payable to the clerk of some other District Court. A voluntary agreement may be entered into between the father and the mother for the support of the child, but this voluntary arrangement must receive the sanction of the court. If the putative father changes his address he must give notice of the change to the person to whom the sum for the maintenance of the child is payable. There is another provision that, if he does not pay, his income or pension, if he enjoys a pension, may be attached by the court, and in that manner he may be compelled to discharge his liability. The Bill does not take away the liability of the mother to support her child. If she is in a position to support the child her existing obligations to the child are not destroyed. If the father has no means of paying, the liability of the mother still continues. These are briefly the provisions of the Bill. I submit to the House, as a wise provision, that which provides that the evidence of the mother must receive corroboration. That is the existing law, as far as actions brought by public bodies giving relief in such cases are concerned, and I think it is a wise provision. Of course, there is great danger that a Bill of this nature might be used for the purposes of blackmail. That is a very real danger which we must safeguard the community against. There is another provision to which I would like to draw the attention of the Seanad. That is contained in Section 3 (5), which reads:—

All applications to the District Court and all cases under this Act shall be heard in camera and publication of such cases shall be limited to the statement of the fact that an affliation order has been granted in a particular court against a person whose name and address shall be included.

That is a provision which was not contained in the original Bill as I introduced it in the Dáil and it is a provision which I personally do not like. I do not like this idea of hearing cases in camera. I think it is thoroughly unsound. It is liable to a great number of abuses and I might say for the information of the Seanad that an order was made in England some time ago that all charges of incest should be heard in camera. After a few years' experience that was changed and these cases are now heard like other cases in open court. My own view is that it would be well that cases under this Bill should be heard in open court. I know that the suggestion has been put forward that girls might not go into court if their cases were heard in public. That is a view I cannot share. I do not believe that one girl would be kept out of court if such cases were heard, at any rate, in the presence of representatives of the Press. While I say I am opposed to the principle of hearing cases in camera I am still more opposed to this particular section which seems to me to be grossly unfair to the man charged. It says that the fact that an affiliation order has been granted against him may be published, but it is very particular to state that if an innocent man is charged, and if he proves his innocence before the Court and leaves the Court completely free from stain, then the newspapers cannot publish the fact that his reputation has been cleared. That appears to me to be grossly unjust. A charge is brought against an individual; he fights it out and establishes his innocence. I think he has a right to have his innocence known to his neighbours. The fact that he has re-established his reputation is a thing that his neighbours ought to know, and therefore I think that certainly Press representatives should be present at these cases, and be able, of course within the limits of the Censorship of Publications Act, to report them in the interests of justice and in the interests of fair play. That however is more of a Committee point than a Second Reading point. I think I have briefly put before the Seanad the main provisions of this Bill and I commend it to the House.

I think this Bill is the most welcome one that has been received in this House and that the Minister will receive congratulations on having introduced it. The Bill was long delayed and has been under consideration practically since this Government came into office. It is five years since the organisations which undertook this matter brought it before the Government, but of course, other things were pressing in the meantime. The time has now arrived to deal with it, and we have this Bill before us. The Bill is practically the result of the agitation that was carried on by organised societies of men and women and by the clergy of all the Churches, who believed that the hardships that girls suffer are most unjust. The law, as the Minister so lucidly explained, left girls in the position that they would not get maintenance for their children unless they made an imputation against the father before the birth of the children. That, of course, made it absolutely hopeless——

No; not before the birth.

How many months after?

She could sue any time within six years after the birth.

If I made a mistake, I apologise.

Of course, in fact she would not succeed.

As a poor law guardian, I know that we urged girls to make accusations before the birth of the children. It was on that I based my statement. The Minister suggested that the Bill might be amended in one or two respects. I am in full agreement that cases should be heard in camera and that just the name of the man against whom the affiliation order is made should be published. But if it is a case of blackmail and the man is proved innocent it should be published. The Minister mentioned that he is completely against hearing these cases in camera. The Dáil was not against that and so decided on open vote.

The evidence of the different people who handle these cases went to show that girls do not wish to go into court, owing to the publicity. The different homes that look after these girls intimated through Father Devane that there would be no fear that these girls would go into court for purposes of blackmail. After all the case that the Minister referred to happened in England and it is agreed that Ireland is not England. I know from experience and from social workers that it is extremely difficult to get girls to go into court at all to make a claim. I hope that the provision for hearing the cases in camera will be left in the Bill. If there are cases of blackmail and if there is nothing against a man who has been charged, I am in agreement with the Minister that the decision should be published. That is justice, and justice only. I think the Bill could be improved in one small way. I was a member of a Commission that went carefully into this and other questions and we had the great advantage of having as Chairman Mr. Charles O'Conor, who was connected with the Local Government Board as an inspector and who knew all about these cases. It is only in the unions these cases will be met in any number. That Commission unanimously made the following recommendation: "All cases of this character (affiliation orders) should, we think, if possible, be tried in a special court by the District Justice without the presence of the Press or public." When the mother is young and friendless the district justice should have power to arrange for a suitable woman to accompany her to court and remain with her while she gives evidence. I hope if an amendment to that effect is put down it will receive recognition. I congratulate the Minister on having introduced this Bill.

I think those social workers have had a very good result from their five or six years' work in the bringing forward of a measure of this description. The Minister for Justice did not overstate the case when he said that these unhappy girls who are mothers of illegitimate children have indeed a very poor and miserable lot. There was no redress in practice so far as affiliation orders were concerned. I do not remember in all my experience any girl having succeeded through the old machinery of the boards of guardians. The only other way there was of making the person responsible for the child amenable at all was by a fiction of law. The fiction of law was this, that the father of the girl was held to be entitled to sue the father of the illegitimate child, not for the injury to the daughter, but for the loss of her time and services. It was a fiction of law invented by the courts in their desire to see that some measure of justice was given to the girl. This Bill puts an end to public hypocrisy, and public hypocrisy was at the bottom of the ill-treatment of these girls in times past.

The Bill has some good points, but it has very serious defects. In the second section there is provision that the girl must, as a condition precedent to making a claim, lodge an information identifying the father, and later on there is provision that the father against whom an affiliation order is made must serve notice of change of address. The whole thing savours of a criminal proceeding. This is a civil proceeding, and it is just as well that people should realise what the law was. It was not a crime in a man to be the father of an illegitimate child. It was not even a libel to write of him or a slander to speak of him as having had relations with girls. The old law was straightforward. There was very little hypocrisy about it, and I think when we come now to legislate in cases of this description we should put aside all hypocrisy and treat them as these cases, as they are—civil claims by girls in respect of the paternity of children—and a defence as in a civil cause by the father. Therefore I am very much against that provision whereby the girl is obliged to swear an information identifying the father. It will have very serious results in the hardest of cases. The intention of this Bill is to make provision for the child. Take the case which very frequently occurs of the poor girl dying and the child surviving. How then could the information be made by the mother who is dead, and what remedy has the child—an illegitimate child and orphan as well? I think that is a matter which did not receive sufficient consideration in the other House but which, I am sure, will receive consideration now.

There is another provision that no order shall be made against the man unless upon the evidence of the girl, and that that evidence must be corroborated in some material fact. Take the case of a girl who dies in confinement or after confinement, whose evidence will not be available. I have known many cases in which the strongest circumstantial evidence was available as to the paternity of the child, apart altogether from the evidence of the girl herself. These are cases of undoubted hardship. That is a loophole in the Bill. The very person who is most helpless, the orphaned illegitimate child, will get no relief and no redress under this Bill.

This is in many ways a very serious measure. The Minister has stated that the highest award that can be made is a pound a week. I am sure that in the working out of this Bill perhaps the average award that will be made will be five shillings, or six shillings or ten shillings a week. But even an award of that description, lasting in all cases for sixteen years and in many cases for the life of the child, is a very serious thing, and I for one would suggest that it is a very serious matter to leave to the absolute judgement of any one man, and this is left to the judgment of one man—the District Justice—without appeal.

Where did the Senator get that?

I got it in the Bill.

I will not pursue it, if the Minister says that this order is subject to appeal. If it is, I suggest that the appeals should be free appeals, that in case the girl succeeds the man should not be entitled to drag her into court again unless he deposits a certain sum by way of security for her costs, and that a girl who is defeated in her case should not be allowed to pursue it further unless she also, or those who represent her, gives security for costs. There is another matter on which I was glad to hear the Minister speak with so much vigour, namely, the hearing in camera. I was glad to hear the Minister speak in that way, because on an occasion not so long ago I spoke as strongly as I could against the hearing in camera of any cases. I now find that the Minister has the same sentiments——

Well, he has expressed them on this occasion. I was very glad to hear him express them so eloquently and freely, and I wish he had expressed them when another measure was before the House.

There was no measure before the House for having hearings in camera.

I do not intend to hark back over little battles that we have had in this Assembly; I only congratulate the Minister on being so deeply impressed with the idea that justice should be open and that justice should be fair, that trials should be free and open. I think in the main that all trials should be free and open. It is the greatest protection to the public that the courts of justice on all occasions should be open to the public. But there are some exceptions, and I would suggest that a case of an affiliation application is an exception, because those whose business brings them into courts of justice know that a great many people are lured there by their curiosity to hear prurient details of cases, that idle people congregate there, anxious to hear details of cases of this description. They do not come in for the public good; they do not come in for their own edification; they do not come in for their own information; they come in to gloat over the details of cases of this kind where the misfortunes of poor girls are laid bare in the light of day. Therefore, I think it is a wise provision that the proceedings should be in camera.

When the order is made it should be published as made against the man, and if the man escapes, if there is no order made against him, I think that that also should be published. If a man is falsely charged it will become known all through the country, whether the case is heard in public or in camera, that he has been charged, and if he has proved that he is not liable—I will not say not guilty, because, as I said before, there is a tremendous amount of humbug about cases of this description—then I think that for his own benefit and for the benefit of the public the fact should be published also.

Another point to which I wish to refer is this: Provision is made that payment of the amount of the affiliation order shall be made by a person to be designated by the Chairman of the district court, and there are also provisions in regard to the apprenticing of these boys when they come to the age of sixteen years. The person designated to receive the affiliation money is also a person to make an application in respect of the apprenticeship of the child. I think that something further is necessary in the interests of the child, and I think that all through these sections the child should have the right to apply personally. When I say personally I mean to apply by a next friend, together with or independent of the officer appointed by the court. That right is the right of the child, and the child should have the right to come forward, quite independently of the person who is receiving the affiliation money, by another next friend if necessary, and make such application to the court as the child may desire, both in regard to the affiliation money and in regard to the apprenticeship.

I think that by passing this measure you will accomplish great good for poor girls all over the country who, as long as I can remember, have been victims not of one wrong but of untold wrongs. It is a tardy measure of justice, and it is for that reason that I think the mind of the Seanad ought to be directed to the provisions of the Bill and that it should make it as complete and as perfect as it is possible for human wisdom to make it under the circumstances.

I think that we all must agree with regret that there is an urgent necessity for a Bill of this nature. At the same time, though we are in favour of justice being done to the mothers of illegitimate children, we must be fair all round. I think that Senator Comyn made a mistake when he said that it would be impossible under certain circumstances for the father of an illegitimate child to be made responsible if the mother died at birth. I think he overlooked the fact that under Section 2 the mother can make an affidavit before birth. I think that Senator Comyn should be fair and should face this problem in a fair and human way. He suggested that it would be unfair to expect a girl who is about to become a mother, or who has just become a mother, to make an affidavit. What other means would he suggest could be adopted that would meet the situation? Surely he would not allow a girl, simply by making a statement, to have some man brought to court? That would not be fair. Surely if a man is to be brought to court and is to be charged with being the father of a child the girl should be made to make an affidavit declaring upon her oath that that man is the father of the child that is to be born or the child that has been born. It would be necessary in law that that should be done, and I think that that provision must be retained.

There is one other point to which I want to refer, and that is the question that the Minister has raised in regard to hearing these cases in camera. I am in favour of having these cases heard in camera, because if not I am afraid that the poor girls will not go to court. We must be fair to the girls; we must give them fair play and see that justice is done. I am satisfied, from my knowledge of these social questions, that the type of girl we have in mind would not go to the court if it were an open court, with everybody there looking at her and gloating over her misfortune. For that reason I am in favour of these cases being heard in camera. But I want to put a point to the Minister, and I ask him to consider it between this and the Committee Stage. My attention has been called to the fact that in view of Article 64 of the Constitution it would probably not be within the terms of the Constitution to hear these cases in camera. Article 64 says: "The judicial power of the Irish Free State shall be exercised and justice administered in the public courts." I raise that point for the purpose of having it clarified. My attention has been called to it by people who have taken a deep interest in this question and who are afraid, if the Bill is passed in its present form, if the question is not cleared up and if cases are brought to court people may evade the provisions of the Bill by means of this Article in the Constitution. I hope the Minister will look into the question and will have it definitely settled before the Bill is passed. Of course, it might be a public court if the public were not there, but if representatives of the Press were present, but I want the Minister to pay particular attention to this matter. I am not raising the point for the purpose of defeating the section, but I want the position to be such that nobody can evade his responsibility afterwards on a mere technicality.

On the question of publication, the Bill refers to "a person whose name and address shall be published." I am not in favour of that. I am in favour of hearing the case in camera, but I am not in favour of having it compulsory that the name and address of the father shall be published when an order has been made; not that I am in favour of people escaping their responsibilities, but I have in mind certain types of people who, if their names were published in the Press, would be put in such a position that they would not be able to make the payments that would be ordered. I have in mind certain kinds of people in a small way of business who would be put out of business if their names were published in the Press. In that way you would be doing a great injury to these poor girls.

I put that point because I consider it an important one. If it is published that an order has been made against a man for the support of his illegitimate child that may ruin him in his business, and then he would not be in a position to pay for the support of the child. But if it is compulsory that the name of a man against whom an order has been made is to be published, I think when a charge is brought against a man and he proves his innocence his name should be published also. We must be fair all round, and I think that the women who have been working so hard at this question for so many years to get justice done to these poor girls will also be just to the men concerned, and will not have any objection to the men getting fair play.

I for one would like the Minister to give us some more detailed reasons as to why he objects, as the result of experience elsewhere, to having these cases heard in camera. I am not quite clear why they should not be so heard. I can picture a District Court where a good many of the town loafers would go, and a girl who had been ruined would go into that court with the greatest diffidence, and would find the greatest difficulty in giving her evidence. But there is another point of view. So far, I think, the Seanad has dealt only with the young woman who has been wronged by some man. I think at the same time that if we are going to make this Bill a real thing we should provide for the number of young women—possibly a small number—who have suffered, perhaps through their own fault, from having relations with more than one man. I think we all know that there have been cases where the man who has been selected to be made the putative father is generally a man who is most likely to be able to pay the largest affiliation amount. I think we ought also to protect him, and the hearing in camera, it seems to me, in the case of an innocent man who the District Court says is not the putative father of the child, would certainly help him. If he is cleared of the charge the fact could be published; if he is found guilty he obeys the affiliation order, and it is a question for the House to decide whether the names should be published or not.

There is one other point which strikes me and on which I would like a little more information from the Minister, and that is the question of having the evidence as to whether a person is the putative father of the child or not corroborated in some material particular. That will be extremely difficult to get, and it appears to me that the paragraph might be tightened up to make it a little clearer what the District Justice has to do.

I address myself mostly to those Senators who do not know the condition of affairs in the country as well as they do the condition of affairs in towns. The position of these girls in the country is ever so much worse than can be imagined by people who are not acquainted with the matter. In Dublin people can go here and there and cover up these things, but I know of cases in the country where girls who made one mistake were absolutely boycotted, turned out practically like lepers, driven out of their parents' houses and obliged to live in such places as a little mud house on the side of a bog all their lives in the most terrible way. I think anything that can be done to ameliorate that state of affairs ought to be done, and I look forward with hope to this Bill to help their cases to some extent.

I am afraid that the conditions which Senator Moore spoke of might have applied thirty or forty years ago; they certainly do not apply now. However, I agree from my experience in an absolutely rural district, that the vast majority of these unfortunate girls are comparatively innocent of the crime they commit. They are trapped into this unfortunate state, and from the cases that have come under my notice, I am absolutely certain that not one in a thousand would go into a public court, though they might go into a court where the evidence would be heard in camera. Of course, there are hardened sinners who certainly might try to blackmail a man. That might apply in a city, but not in the country, except in very few cases. The vast majority of these girls are young and comparatively innocent, and they certainly would not go into a public court. I think they would die rather than face a public court, where they would be held up to the contempt of all the loafers and idlers who would go to the court to gloat over their misery. I support the provision for the hearing of cases in camera.

I think that the Bill would be useless without the hearing of cases in camera, first of all, on account of public opinion, and then on account of the reluctance of the girls to appear in a public court. There is an appalling condition of affairs in this country, and that is infanticide. Anything that will give the mother a chance and will encourage her to preserve the life of the child and not to strangle it, deserves our consideration. It is as important for us to keep these innocent children alive as to prevent contraceptive practices.

I cannot too strongly support the in camera clause. With regard to the blackmailing aspect, as one Senator said that is a device that, in country places in particular, is pretty well recognised. If one takes a survey of prostitution over the world, it will be found that the cities are more or less sterile as regards illegitimacy. If a measure like this is to be a success, particularly in rural districts, it is essential that this in camera clause should stand.

To my mind the principal merit of the Bill is that it extends protection to child-life. I think it has more value in that respect than in the protection it extends, actual or sentimental, to the mothers of these children. We have heard mentioned here to-day the expression "poor girl," and so on. From what one has heard one would imagine that all those mothers of illegitimate children are saints or martyrs of some kind, and that the only charge that can be laid is against the other side. As a matter of fact, more often the charge, if it is a charge, could be laid against the mother. In my opinion sub-section (5) of Section 3 is a piece of blackmail. That sub-section provides that "all applications to the District Court and all cases under this Act shall be heard in camera and publication of such cases shall be limited to the statement of the fact that an affiliation order has been granted against a person whose name and address shall be included." If the cases are to be heard in camera, then why not have them heard altogether in camera? The second part of the sub-section suggests that there may be publication, presumably, in the Press. As far as I can understand it, this sub-section does not provide for the publication of the name of the mother at all, but it does provide for the publication of the fact that an affiliation order has been made against the person "whose name and address shall be included"—not "may be" included. I ask, is not the effect of that a piece of blackmail? We are dealing in this Bill with a terrible social problem, and dealing with it on a hard commercial basis. We proceed under the Bill to make the father pay for the maintenance of his natural illegitimate child. In addition, we try, as Senator Farren has said, to blackmail him. It is proposed to publish his name to all and sundry, and that in a country where, it is well known, a man against whom such an order has been made, will find it impossible in many cases to be able to carry on.

If, under this Bill, we are going to go on the commercial basis, then let us keep to that basis. Let us not have in the sub-section the words "a person whose name and address shall be included." Let us not have any publication at all. I think the sub-section should end at the words "in camera." There is no necessity for the second part of the sub-section at all. I hope that, on the Committee Stage of this Bill, the second portion of the sub-section —that is to say all the words following the words "in camera"— will be deleted. I think that would make the sub-section more effective than it otherwise will be. I do not see why there should be publication of details in one direction only. I am afraid the fact that there is such publication may make it impossible for the person against whom an affiliation order is made to comply with that order.

The main discussion on this Bill has centred around the question of hearing cases in camera. I have been asked by Senator The McGillycuddy and other Senators what is the advantage of not having cases heard in camera. It has been argued that girls may be kept from going into court if their evidence may be listened to in public court. That, to my mind, is just a bit of a priori reasoning. I do not think anyone can bring forward one single instance in support of that argument. I met a deputation that came to see me on this. The deputation, headed by a very well-known priest was composed of other well-known persons. I asked the deputation if they could give me one concrete example, one single case in which, to their knowledge, a girl had been kept from going into court by the fear of publicity. They could not give me one. For very many years I practised myself in the old county courts. I appeared for the plaintiff and the defendant in a great number of actions for seduction. The real plaintiffs in these cases were the fathers and mothers of the girls, but for the purpose of my argument here I will call the girls the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs in these cases were precisely the same class of country or town girls as this Bill will apply to. I never heard of a single one of these girls being deterred from going into court because of the fact that she had to give her evidence in public. These girls did, in fact, go into the public court and brought their actions there.

It was my experience, and I venture to say it was also the experience of anyone who has had practical experience of the working of the courts and of how these cases are conducted, that not a single girl has ever been kept out of court through fear of having to give her evidence in public. If there ever has been such a case I would like to hear of it. One specific instance of such a case having occurred would be a great deal more useful than any amount of a priori reasoning. What is the argument against having these cases heard in public? Is it that these girls are shy, or that they fear that they will lose their reputation? No. The girl's reputation is gone. If an illegitimate child is born to her all her friends and neighbours will know about that. All the friends in her own circle will know about it. That is the only kind of public opinion which appeals to her. As far as her reputation is concerned, whether she goes into court or does not go into court, it is just as much damaged.

It has been said that these girls would go into court but for the thought that there would be corner boys and other people there listening to the evidence they had to give, and that such a thing would be very trying to these girls. It is sometimes very trying indeed for a girl to have to go into court and give evidence where, say, the charge is one of indecent assault or rape in which unpleasant details have to be gone into. It must be very trying indeed for a girl to have to give evidence in a case of that sort. In cases of the nature contemplated by this Bill the position will be altogether different. The plaintiff will be asked one leading question, and one leading question only. No details are gone into either on examination or on cross-examination.

Senator Comyn said that young persons collect in court not for their own edification or for the public good. Let us be clear about this. "In camera" means that everybody will be excluded from the court. Who ever went into a criminal court so that he might be edified by listening to stories of crime? Who ever went into a court because the hearing of stories of crime was for the public good? Senator Comyn has charged me with inconsistency. As a matter of fact, it is the Senator who has been inconsistent. I introduced a Bill some time ago under which power was asked that in certain circumstances it was not desirable that certain undesirable persons should be allowed to frequent the courts. It was not proposed to exclude the Press. Senator Comyn opposed that very strongly. He now makes a complete volte face. He says that in regard to these cases which he has said are not criminal cases at all, as they are not, that the Press should be excluded. That reflects an absolute change on the Senator's part. My attitude remains unaltered.

The Minister forgets that the measure to which he refers was only a temporary one.

Senator Comyn made another extraordinary statement. He said that to write of a man that he was the father of an illegitimate child was not a libel. I always thought that to hold a man up to hatred, contempt or ridicule was a libel. He also said it was not a slander but it might be a slander. That was not the law I learned.

There had to be proof of special damage, or there was no libel or slander under the old law.

As Senator O'Farrell has pointed out, some Senators seem to be of the opinion that all girls are virtuous girls, and that men are always responsible when girls fall. That, of course, is not the fact at all. It has to be recognised that there are a considerable number of immoral women in the world. It is quite possible that a woman, through her own fault, may apply for a fourth, fifth, or even sixth affiliation order against different men. That is quite possible under this Bill. Is she not to be known? Is her name never to be published? Such a woman is a danger to the community really. Is it not really better that her name should be known? It seems to me that it is. Let us take an example of one of the commonest forms of blackmail that you can come across. Suppose a girl is a servant and is in the employment of a respectable, well-to-do business man. She meets someone outside and is seduced. He is probably a penniless person. Public opinion would condemn her less if they thought that she was seduced by the man in whose employment she was, than if she had been seduced by somebody outside. There is big temptation to her to bring the charge against her employer. That is one case of blackmail that you will have to consider. In a country place, especially, it is a very likely form of blackmail.

Senators should remember also that all mothers are not completely virtuous women. If a girl is in the family way and there is the possibility of the real father of the child being a pauper, and if there is somebody of substantial means against whom the charge could be made, though he is innocent—supposing, for instance, that such a person is the girl's employer or has been seen speaking to her once or twice—there will be a tremendous temptation in the case of a great number of mothers to urge their daughters to make a charge against that innocent person. I do not say that would happen in the case of a respectable woman whose daughter fell by accident. There are, however, certain classes of people and illegitimacy seems to be almost hereditary with them. The mothers are illegitimate. In my opinion an illegitimate mother who has got an illegitimate daughter, would be just the very type of person who would urge that daughter to bring a charge of that kind. Senator Mrs. Wyse-Power spoke in favour of the hearing of cases in camera, but afterwards she seemed to want to make an exception, to this extent, that if the girl was alone that the District Justice would be bound to appoint a respectable woman to come into court with her.

That is very different from having the case heard in public court.

It is breaking away from the principle of having these cases heard in camera. Hearing "in camera" means that nobody can be in the court except the plaintiff and her witness and the defendant and his witnesses. Take a case of a respectable girl. She may be 17 or 18 years of age, quite an innocent young girl who has been deceived. She is the plaintiff in a bad, flagrant case. She is a well-conducted, quiet, shy girl. If her mother is not a necessary witness in the hearing of the case, then her mother cannot be present in court. That is the meaning of "in camera." To my mind a hearing in camera is bad. That, however, is a matter we can discuss on another day on the Committee Stage of the Bill.

On a point of explanation, I just wish to say a word arising out of the reference the Minister made to the deputation he met. He said that he asked the deputation to give him one single instance of a girl who, to their knowledge, had been deterred from going into court by the fear of having to give her evidence in public. I was a member of one deputation that went to the Minister, and I have no recollection of any such instance being asked for by the Minister. I have also spoken about the matter to the clergyman who accompanied us. His recollection is the same as mine on that. I would have written to the Minister about the matter but for the fact that when he made this statement in the Dáil I thought he might have been referring to the second deputation that had waited upon him. In the Dáil the Minister spoke very strongly against the proposal to have these cases heard in camera. A majority of the Dáil decided against the Minister. It is probable that members of the Dáil and members of this House have had more experience outside the courts in dealing with the people who will come under this Bill than the Minister has had. The Minister's experience of them is confined to the courts. People in organisations outside, as well as members of the Dáil and the Seanad, hold different views to those expressed by the Minister on the matter of having these cases heard in camera. I hope that the Seanad will not alter the decision of the Dáil on this question.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, the 26th March.