The main objects of this Bill are to implement Section 11 of Article 12 of the Constitution which provides that "The President shall have an official residence in or near the City of Dublin; that he shall receive such emoluments and allowances as may be determined by law and that the emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be diminished during his term of office." In addition to fulfilling what I might describe as the Constitutional requirements, the Bill is intended to make provision for the maintenance of an official residence, the expenses of the Office of the Secretary to the President and certain incidental services arising therefrom and to make provision for the granting of a pension to persons who have held the office of President. Section 1 provides for the emoluments and allowances receivable by the President. It has been drafted to show separately the amount represented in personal remuneration to the President. In determining the amount of the emoluments and allowances to be paid, the Government have been guided by the recommendations of the majority of the Committee of Inquiry into Ministerial and other salaries which sat last year. The following are the relevant extracts from that report:—
"We are aware, however, that the holder will be the first citizen of the land, that high and responsible functions are vested in him under the Constitution, and that he will be debarred from holding any other office of profit or emolument. Consequently the remuneration for the office should be such as to place him in a position of complete independence financially, and to enable him to maintain with dignity the high position of head of the State."
The report then goes on to say:—
"Under the terms of the Constitution the Uachtarán will have an official residence in or near the City of Dublin. We have assumed that the expenditure involved in the provision of the residence, of furniture and equipment and of the maintenance and upkeep of the house and any grounds attached thereto, including wages of labouring and gardening staff will be defrayed directly by the State. Such arrangements, however, though to some extent they may be regarded as part of the emoluments or perquisites attaching to the office of Uachtarán, and should therefore, not be left out of consideration in assessing the total provision that might properly be made for that office, also impose upon the holder an obligation to maintain himself and his private establishment upon a commensurate scale. Due note must be taken of this factor in determining the personal salary of the Uachtarán. ... We have also assumed that the Uachtarán will from the remuneration or allowances provided for him, be obliged to defray the cost of the domestic staff necessary for his residence and of all other charges involved in the maintenance of his private establishment on a considerable scale ... We are of opinion that the emoluments and allowances of the Uachtarán might properly be divided into three parts; personal remuneration; allowances the cost of his official establishment; and the provision and maintenance of his official residence ... bearing in mind that the expenditure by the State on the office of Uachtarán should neither be altogether disproportionate to the provision which we have recommended might suitably be made for Ministerial salaries, nor be too great a burden on the public purse, we think that it would be proper for us to recommend that the total cost to the State of providing for the residence, establishment and expenses of the office of Uachtarán na hEireann, should not exceed £15,000 a year, approximately, of which £5,000 a year would be payable to the holder of the post as personal salary fully subject to taxation. Some of our number, however, were inclined to the view that, on the basis mentioned, the limit of total annual cost might be £20,000 and the salary £7,500."
We have been guided by the fact that the majority of the committee were of opinion that approximately £15,000 a year might represent in the circumstances the reasonable cost of the Presidential establishment including, of course, the personal remuneration of the President. It is upon that basis that the Bill has been drafted.
With regard to the amount to be allowed as allowances, expenses and maintenance of the household, it has been decided in view of the constitutional bar against reduction during the individual term of the post that at the outset the amount should not be higher than the minimum which the committee felt would permit the Presidential establishment to be maintained and the functions of the President to be fulfilled unostentatiously but nevertheless as befits that high office. The conclusion has been arrived at that it would not be reasonable to allow less than £5,000 a year for this purpose and that figure has accordingly been inserted in the Bill.
Section 2 of the Bill is designed to give the necessary authority to provide for the expenses of the Office of the Secretary to the President; for the equipment and maintenance of the official residence and for such incidentals as travelling, postage, telegrams, telephones and stationery, all used, of course, for official business. These expenses, however, will fluctuate from time to time and for this reason apart from other considerations their inclusion in the irreducible amount of the emoluments and allowances is not practicable. I remind the House that the Oireachtas has already made the necessary Appropriation to meet the expenses authorised under Section 2 of the Bill.
The pension provisions for the President are incorporated in Section 3 of the Bill. In this connection the following is an extract from the report received from the Committee of Inquiry:—
"We feel, however, that it is imperative on the State to provide against the contingency that a person on relinquishing office as Uachtarán might be obliged to live in circumstances which would be undesirable in the case of one who had previously occupied a position of such distinction in the community. In the consideration of this matter we have assumed that a person who has held the office of Uachtarán will, in the normal course, be precluded from returning to business or professional pursuits, and that it is most unlikely that he will take an active part in politics, with the consequent possibility of Ministerial or other Parliamentary office. It will probably be found that, even in his retirement, the former Uachtarán will be obliged by circumstances over which he has no control to maintain his domestic establishment on a fairly considerable scale. If these assumptions are correct, it seems clear that there is an obligation on the State to provide a pension of reasonable amount. For the reasons indicated in the course of our remarks on the question of remuneration for the office, our recommendation in regard to pension is tentative and will, no doubt, be subject to review in the light of practical experience under the new Constitution. Experience will also determine the conditions which might properly be attached to the award of such a pension ... Finally, the majority of the Committee agreed to recommend that, after holding office for seven years, the Uachtarán should be eligible to receive a pension of £1,200 a year."
These recommendations as to the amount of the pension have been accepted but it has been held that it would be unwise and inequitable to restrict the grant to persons who have served seven years or over in the office. If that restriction were inserted it would not be possible to grant a pension to persons who might have relinquished the office of President otherwise than under Article 12 of the Constitution. Neither could a pension be granted to a President who having served for less than seven years found himself obliged to resign and was not re-elected at the ensuing election.