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Seanad Éireann debate -
Friday, 22 Jul 1938

Vol. 21 No. 10

Presidential Establishment Bill, 1938—Committee.

Is it intended to take all stages of this Bill to-day?

I understand that is the intention.

And of the other Bills on the Order Paper also?

I would like to enter a vehement protest against that procedure.

It was unanimously agreed to yesterday.

Unfortunately I had to attend to business of a rather important nature elsewhere. I certainly would not agree if I had been here. As one who was absent, I wish to express disagreement, if I am in order in doing so now. To take the Second Stage of the Industrial Alcohol (No. 2) Bill to-day is simply making a farce of the procedure of Parliament. This is supposed to be a revisionary body, and the constitution of this House was re-arranged—at least, we were given to understand—in order to secure that it would be more effective in that respect, and less of a political body. This is a Bill, the merits of which, to put it mildly, are open to very considerable doubt, and it provoked very tense debate in the other House. I am not expressing any opinion on it at the present time. We are asked to take all stages of these Bills at one sitting, without having had time even to consider their merits since they were passed by the other House. I say that not only should all stages of the Industrial Alcohol Bill be not taken to-day, but even the Second Stage should not be taken. We should have time to examine that Bill before it is brought up for discussion. It is brought before us now without being given time to examine it.

Badh mhaith liom a fhiafruigh an bhfuil an Seanadóir seo in ordú anois dul ar ais ar obair na Seanaide. Badh mhaith liom go dtabharfadh an Cathaoirleach riaghlú ar an bpoinnte sin.

I presume the Senator is asking if I am in order?

Senator Milroy should understand that it was unanimously agreed by the House yesterday to take all stages of these Bills to-day. He will be in order, as the stages of the Bills are taken up, in raising the point, if he desires to pursue it, but the Committee Stage of this Bill is an Order of the day.

I am discussing procedure, not the Bill, as when I come to discuss the Bills, I may find that I am too late to discuss procedure. I think the procedure is atrocious.

The procedure was agreed to without dissent yesterday. We will now proceed with the Committee Stage of the Presidential Establishment Bill.

Perhaps you would permit me to remark that as far as the Industrial Alcohol Bill is concerned, and apparently it is the one the Senator is referring to, I think the attitude he has adopted is a rather unreasonable one, in view of the fact that that Bill was discussed in the other House, and had two Committee Stages there.

What are we here for but to discuss Bills on their merits?

With all respect, I suggest that that is what we are here for, and if the Senator was so terribly interested in these Bills he would have been here yesterday. When he was not here he should abide by the unanimous decision of the House. I think it is reasonable to assume that the Senator has not learned of these Bills for the first time to-day. If he is as terribly interested in them, as he would have us believe, he should have read them within the last two or three months, because they were discussed by everyone, with the exception of the Senator.

I think the matter has been sufficiently discussed at this point, and we will now proceed with the Committee Stage of the Bill.

Section 1 to 4 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 5 stand part of the Bill."

I just want to ask the Minister a question on sub-section (4). Under that section "It shall be lawful for the Government to declare by order that any particular fund or money shall be deemed to be a public fund for the purposes of the next preceding sub-section of this section." Is that a usual procedure or is the Government there taking powers that they have not exercised in the past? It looks a little peculiar to me to see the Government taking power to declare any particular fund to be a public fund by order. I thought there should be some legally recognised standard as to what was a public fund. I can see irregularities arising in relation to this matter at some later date. If, for instance, there is controversy between the Government and an outgoing President as to the amount of the pension, there is a possibility that the Government may be enabled by this sub-section to settle the matter on their own flat, so to speak, and, perhaps, in some cases unjustly. I would like to know what is exactly intended by that sub-section.

The intention here is to deal with remuneration which might be received from such sources as the Currency Commission or the Industrial Credit Corporation or the Aer Lingus Teoranta or, say, from university funds, most of which are provided out of public moneys; but I feel certain that the power of the Government in a matter of this sort is not likely to be used in the manner the Senator suggests. I am sure that both parties, the outgoing President and the Government of the day, will recognise what is befitting in the matter and will endeavour to agree about it. The power to declare what is a public fund is required to avoid the recital in the Bill of a considerable number of concerns, remuneration drawn from which might be regarded as remuneration out of public moneys.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 6 stand part of the Bill."

On Section 6, with regard to the Secretary, I notice that he is also to be Clerk to the Council of State. He is, therefore, rather more of a type of civil servant than the kind of social secretary that Senator Professor Tierney was talking about. Section 7 says that there may be attached to the office of the Secretary to the President as many officers and persons as the Taoiseach, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, shall think necessary. I presume that does make possible the appointment of a social secretary if it is desired to supplement the secretary himself.

The section is not necessary to enable a social secretary to be appointed. I do not think it is necessary to have actual statutory authority for an appointment of that sort. It would depend upon whether we considered it as part of the personal establishment of the President or whether we considered it as part of the official establishment of the President. If it were part of his personal establishment and if he were to be appointed by him entirely on his own responsibility and upon his own initiative the charge would properly have to be borne by the allowance under Section 1 of the Bill. If, on the other hand, a sort of secretary of the protocol or something of that sort were required, he might possibly be appointed under Section 7 and the post would be regarded possibly as a permanent one in the public service. These are matters which will have to be decided as we find out what is desirable.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 7 to 9 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Ordered: That the remaining stages be taken to-day.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—agreed to.