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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 31 Jul 1941

Vol. 25 No. 22

Local Government Bill, 1940—Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:—

To add a new sub-section as follows:—

Every regulation made by the Minister under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and if a resolution annulling such regulation is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which such House has sat after such regulation is laid before it, such regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

The amendment seeks to ensure that all the regulations made by the Minister under this Bill will conform with the ordinary procedure. The Bill gives the Minister power to make regulations which may have a very grave effect on the status of many officers. I think it is only proper that such regulations as the Minister will have power to make should be open to review by the Oireachtas. I do not know why the usual form has not been adopted. The Minister's regulations should, at any rate, be investigated by the Oireachtas as the members think fit, in order to make sure that those who have been responsible for the regulations have looked at the subject matter from several points of view. That is particularly important where the interests of a very large number of officers are concerned.

When dealing with this amendment, one has to take into consideration the various types of regulations that have to be made. Certain regulations have to be made with regard to hours of duty and there are others concerned with remuneration and appointments. Those are not connected with what would be considered duties delegated by the Oireachtas. They are in the same category as the different matters that have to be dealt with by Ministers from day to day. Orders are made by Ministers every day and regulations are issued and it would be absolutely impossible to proceed with the ordinary business of government if these regulations had to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. We have to consider the difference between Departmental or purely administrative regulations and regulations that would be regarded as a delegation of the authority of the Oireachtas.

If the Senator will consider Section 19 (2) he will see that it is provided that every regulation made thereunder shall have the force of law. There would be a certain inconsistency if power were given by the Oireachtas and if the regulations were to be held up for 21 days. In Section 54 (3) provision is made for the issue of orders adapting enactments and these are laid before the Oireachtas. It is quite right to lay them before each House of the Oireachtas because they would be legislative proposals. We have to differentiate between what is Departmental or administrative and what is regarded as a legislative proposal. One concerns the Departmental side and the other the legislative side. When we provide for the legislative side we have to distinguish from the purely administrative aspect. It is quite reasonable that, so far as the legislative proposals are concerned, they should be laid before the Oireachtas and provision is made accordingly; but in what is purely a Departmental matter that could not be done and it would be inconsistent with the enactment itself. This is not different from any other piece of legislation. It was never proposed that regulations dealing with purely Departmental matters should be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

While I recognise the distinction the Minister is making, I cannot say that he has helped me to understand why the regulations made under this Bill are to be regarded as purely administrative and not legislative. There may be regulations interfering very gravely with the rights of certain officers, altering a right which exists either by law or custom. While I appreciate the distinction the Minister lays down, I am not at all convinced that the regulations the Minister will have power to make are necessarily and purely of an administrative character.

I think I know what the Senator has in mind. I think that he is more or less concerned with the age limit.

Very largely.

I could not concede that, and I think that is the essence of the whole thing. That is purely an administrative matter. In the making of appointments the age limits are prescribed. Those things are not brought before the Oireachtas; they are not laid on the Table of each House and never have been. One might as well say that regulations with regard to the remuneration or the conditions applying to a particular office should be laid on each Table. That is not done because it is purely a departmental matter.

The Minister is apparently making the age limit one of his reasons for deciding to oppose this amendment. His pressing of that point makes me more convinced of the need for some such protection as this amendment might give.

Is there any type of regulation which will be made under this Bill subject to this kind of provision?

Yes. Section 54 (3) covers that point—that is, where you are adapting enactments.

That is the usual form?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 4 to 19, inclusive, put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 20 stand part of the Bill."

Might I ask the Minister whether in the matter of the fixing of examinations he will have any say as to the subjects to be stipulated? Is there any control by his Department in that regard?

We prescribe the regulations and the commissioners approve of them. The position which existed is now being reversed.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 21 and 22 agreed to.

The object of amendment No. 2 was to bring Section 23 under regulations and thereby bring them under the control of the Oireachtas, but, in view of the withdrawal of the previous amendment, I do not propose to move amendment No. 2.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

I move amendment No. 3:—

At the end of the section to add a new sub-section (5) as follows:—

(5) Notwithstanding anything provided in this section, the section shall not apply to any holder of a part-time office in whose terms of appointment there was no condition providing for compulsory retirement at a stated age.

I regard this as of very great importance. The Minister spoke of it a moment ago as if it were merely a matter of giving him power to make an administrative decision, but it is an administrative decision which, presumably, will interfere with long-standing existing rights of many officers of local authorities. The officers of local authorities, in most cases, at present hold their offices so long as they are able to do their duty, unless they misconduct themselves. So long as they are not incapacitated by infirmity of mind or body, they are allowed to hold their offices, unless they are found to have misconducted themselves. Any person who has taken one of these posts on such conditions as those has, naturally and properly, regarded it as an appointment for as long as he was fit to carry on his duty. It was such in fact and has been in practice for many years, and, naturally, in accepting these appointments, and bearing in mind the salary offered and paid for each appointment, a candidate had regard to the fact that it was not an appointment limited by a small number of years but one which he could carry on so long as he was fit to work.

It is proposed now to give the Minister power, by the stroke of a pen, not open to any review, consideration or criticism by the Oireachtas, to alter that existing right. The Minister may say that there is no right, that it is a custom, but it is a custom which is an essential part of an officer's contract, in so far as he has a contract—the Minister may tell me that he has not, which may be true from the legal point of view—or an essential part of his bargain with the local authority which employs him and the Minister who sanctioned his appointment. It is now proposed to give the Minister power by an administrative act to remove that right on which these people depend. What I have said applies to nearly all the officers of local authorities, but my amendment is in regard to part-time officers. There is a very large number, particularly of people in the different professions, who hold part-time appointments under different local authorities, and it has been recognised under a statute passed as long ago as 1919 that these people may be entitled to superannuation allowances on certain conditions.

That applies to any local officer, but the argument with which I am concerned is that which has relation to part-time officers. If they have held office for ten years, they are entitled to certain superannuation allowances. If they have held office for longer than 20 years, they are entitled to retire with the permission of the Minister and such permission entitles them to receive superannuation allowances. If they retire because of infirmity of body or mind after 20 years, they are entitled to superannuation, and the only case in which they are barred from getting it is in the case of retirement on account of misconduct. We have through the country a very large number of part-time officers holding their offices under the terms of that Act. Perhaps I have stretched it in saying that they are entitled to superannuation allowance. I should say that the Minister may allow them to get superannuation allowance, but I do not think the Minister could point to a single case of refusal to sanction superannuation allowance, when these conditions had been fulfilled. The superannuation allowance was two-thirds of the salary and emoluments accruing to the officer at the time of his retirement, and, although there was a technical need for the Minister's permission, I do not think it has ever been refused in over 20 years.

Many of these people took these offices on the understanding that if they were fit and if their health remained to them, if they behaved properly and did their work satisfactorily they could carry on. That has been the custom long-established and it is proposed now to give the Minister power to fix a retiring age. I do not know what the retiring age he has in mind for different offices is, but he will be entitled to fix a different age for different offices, that is, one for one class of office and another for another class, but many of us have in mind the improper attempt made by the Department some four or five years ago to impose a retiring age on these officers. It will be remembered that a circular letter was sent to the different local authorities telling them that a retiring age of 65 should be fixed for all officers acting under them. The circular was phrased in almost dictatorial terms and it was read by many of the local authorities as if it were mandatory. A few of the local authorities intimidated or persuaded some of their officers to retire as a consequence of the circular. It may be, perhaps, that some of them did not need much stimulus to retire, but a very small number did retire under the pressure exerted as a result of that circular. Others refused to recognise that the circular letter had any legal force, and it was admitted afterwards by the Minister's predecessor that it was merely intended as advisory, and no further attempt was made to press it.

It was clear to those who know the ways of the Department that the Department, having made such a grave blunder in suggesting to the local authorities that they had power to do what the Department should have known they had not power to do, were not likely to rest, but were likely to look for this power at the earliest convenient opportunity. An attempt is now being made to try and slip the power into a section of this Bill. It is proposed to give the Minister authority to declare a compulsory retiring age for the different classes of local officers and, if he thinks fit, to fix a different date for each class of officer.

Now, some of those officers are in a very special position, and I would like Senators to be good enough to give some thought to this. These part-time officers are not dependent on their salaries as officers of a local authority for their livelihood. In very few cases are the salaries such as would give any man a livelihood. In many cases, particularly in the larger classes— namely, dispensary doctors—the salary is little more than a fee to induce a man to settle in a particular part of the country where his professional services will be available to the people. He has certain duties to perform for the local authority, exacting duties, and these have first claim on his time. But it would be idle to suppose that he could live on the remuneration he gets from the local authority. I do not know if there is any local authority paying a higher salary than £350 a year to its dispensary doctors. I may be wrong in that. The salary may have risen to £375 in some few instances, but, in the great majority of cases, the minimum salary of dispensary doctors is between £250 and £300 a year. In a few cases, where a man may have given long service, he may be receiving £350 a year.

What is the position of such a man going to be when he has reached the retiring age? I do not know, of course, what retiring age the Minister may think fit to declare for such an office, but a few years ago his Department attempted to impose a retiring age of 65 for these part-time officers as well as for whole-time officers. Take the case of a man like that. He has a certain private practice in his district —otherwise there would not be a livelihood for him there at all—and he is to be compelled to retire from his position as dispensary medical officer. The local authority would be bound to appoint a new dispensary doctor for that district. Except in very rare cases there is not a livelihood for more than one doctor in a dispensary district of this country. You would have, therefore, in that district a new dispensary doctor and another man retired on a pension that he could not possibly live on unless he could obtain some other post, which is not likely at his retiring age, or else increase his private practice. So far from increasing his private practice he will have a new man in competition with him, so that there will not be a livelihood for either of them. What will happen as regards these future appointments is that they will become less attractive than they are at present. No young medical man is attracted to a dispensary district in order to get the salary that is offered. He is attracted to it in the hope of working up a private practice among those people in the neighbourhood who are able to pay medical fees. In some districts that may give a reasonable livelihood. In other districts it may be very poor. From the point of view of the public interest, the result will be that the position of dispensary doctor in that district will become less attractive than it had been, and that it will not attract as suitable or useful a candidate for the post. You will have two men trying to make a livelihood in a district where there is really only a livelihood for one. You will impoverish one man who, perhaps, has given good service in the district over a long period of years.

If you want to attract competent men into the service in the future, I would warn those who are concerned with local authorities, and the Minister, that the salaries that are being offered for these posts will have to be greatly increased. No man of ambition or ability is likely to be attracted by a salary of even £350 a year. What will attract him is the possibility of being able to add to his income from his private practice in a district. I am not able to speak with the same intimacy of the conditions in other professions, but probably the same is true in regard to the engineering and the legal professions. I do not wish to express any positive opinion on that because I am not familiar enough with their conditions. I do wish to say in regard to these dispensary doctors, that an injustice is going to be done to them, and that it is quite likely that a number of them will be thrown into a state of poverty. It has happened before, that medical men who retire from the position of dispensary doctors were obliged to retire to the local workhouse, and died there within a year or two. We do not want things of that kind to happen again. The proposal in this Bill, if persisted in, will do an injustice to the existing officers, who deserve well of the country. It will make the office unattractive in the future, thereby lowering the level of those who hold it. I do not like the proposal in the Bill to fix an age limit. There is another amendment on the Order Paper in the names of Senator Magennis and myself proposing to delete the section altogether. I would ask the Minister, if he has not already done so, to give very serious consideration to this matter, and not to insist on the making of the declaration referred to in regard to these part-time officers.

I desire to join with Senator Rowlette in asking the House to give careful consideration to the amendment, and to suggest to the Minister that he should accept it. On the Second Reading of the Bill, I referred to a number of officials of local authorities who hold part-time non-pensionable posts. I mentioned veterinary surgeons, for example. The Minister on that occasion said that the same age of retirement might not be suitable for every class of office and so it was proposed to allow a retiring age to be fixed by grades and classes as well as for particular offices. It may be all very well for us to accept that, but if the position is going to be that the declaration referred to need not be laid before the House, I think we should take steps to ensure that not only the Minister but the Department will be prohibited from fixing an age limit of, say, 65 for officials who are not pensionable. They are, of course, permanent but not pensionable. I have no objection whatever to a retiring age being fixed for permanent officials who are pensionable in the same way that civil servants are. If they are obliged to retire at 65 they can do so and get their pensions. In the case, however, of an official who has served a local authority for a long number of years and is quite capable of continuing in the service there should not, in my opinion, be any retiring age fixed, since on retirement he will not be entitled to any kind of pension or superannuation. On the Second Reading of the Bill I referred to veterinary surgeons employed by local authorities. They are really engaged in a dual capacity. Some of their duties relate to the Department of Local Government and others to the Department of Agriculture. Several attempts have been made to put these officers on a pensionable basis but since they are, so to speak, serving between two stools, nothing has ever been done for them. We also have a number of women employed in a professional capacity by local authorities who are in permanent but non-pensionable positions. I agree, of course, that if a person has reached the age of 65, and, through some infirmity, is incapable of carrying out his duties, there could be no objection if he were obliged to retire. When you have a permanent official who is quite capable of giving further service, I do not think that it is fair to fix a retiring age of 65.

I should like to make an appeal on behalf of another section of employees of public bodies. A number of men come into the employment of the Dublin Municipal Council who will not be entitled to a pension. These are unskilled men and, when they come into the employment of the corporation after a certain age, they are not entitled to a pension. In my opinion, it would be a terrible hardship on some of these men who are physically fit to be compulsorily retired at 65. They would have to wait until 70 to receive the old age pension. That would be a great hardship on men who might have up to 30 years' service.

This provision does not apply to those men at all. It applies only to officers.

Then I am satisfied.

It seems to me that we are rather in the dark in discussing this section and amendment because we have not a clear idea of what age the Minister has in mind as retiring age. I hope it will not be as low as 65 because I am getting near that age myself. As things are now, persons of 65 are young. We know how to manage our bodies better than we used to, and 65 is quite out of the question as a retiring age. I hope the Minister is not thinking of that age. In the case of doctors and others, experience counts for a great deal, and one has to come to a certain age before one acquires the necessary experience. It would be a great loss if the retiring age were fixed so low that we could not obtain the full advantage of this experience, particularly in cases where the officer is so physically fit as to be able to give full value for the money he receives from the community.

I agree with Senator Mrs. Concannon that we are, to a certain extent, in the dark in discussing this amendment, because we do not know exactly what is at the back of the Minister's mind. We are, however, going to employ certain provisions in an Act which will continue to be operated when the Minister and his successor are out of office and when many of the Minister's staff of to-day will have passed away. These considerations must be present to our minds in passing this section. As regards the retiring age for those in whole-time employment, I might or might not agree with Senator Mrs. Concannon. It is, I think, true that, as we get older, we become convinced that we are more physically and intellectually fit than we were years before. Senator Johnston and I travelled in the train with a man of 80 years of age and I frankly confess that he seemed to me to be as alert as he was 20 years ago.

Was he a farmer?

Of course, he was. He had his roots in the land. Senator Rowlette advanced an argument which appealed to me. His argument was supported by Senator O'Donovan. Under this provision, you will precipitate a rather peculiar economic position in the rural districts for both the old medical officer and the new man. Most of our poor rural districts can keep only one medical man. They are not too badly off if they have one and the man himself is not too badly off, on the whole. If we have two medical officers in these districts, unless we are all going to lose our health and, in the losing of it, become much richer, so that we shall be able to pay higher medical fees, I do not see how a living can be provided for two medical men. That will create a rather unhappy atmosphere in these rural districts. You will have, on one side, the old man with his home in the district and with, perhaps, some of his family residing with him. On the other side, you will have the doctor sent down by the Local Appointments Commissioners, whose coming will not be welcomed. A doctor is a very bad doctor if he has not made many friends in the course of his practice, extending over 30 or 40 years, in a rural district. If the old man is to be made poorer, if he is to lose his post and lose his prestige, by the coming of this new doctor, the atmosphere in the district will not be very pleasant. It is not very pleasant even amongst a number of medical men who are doing quite well in some districts. That is a consideration which ought to weigh with the Minister.

Whatever might happen, we would not be left without a doctor. But take the position with regard to the veterinary service. Many of our districts have practically no veterinary service. The truth is that farmers have not been able to provide a living for the number of veterinary men necessary for proper attention to their stock. It is necessary for these men to have some appointment from local authorities in addition to the patronage which they receive from farmers. My own county is very badly served from the veterinary point of view and I am satisfied that a similar position exists elsewhere. To pass out a veterinary officer who is part-time and non-pensionable without making any provision for him is rather inhuman and I do not know what justification there is for it.

There are other persons who, I think, would be regarded as officers and who would be affected by this provision. They work on the clerical side. I take it that certain clerical officers in the employment of local authorities are non-pensionable and, if they have to go out at a certain age, which the Minister will decide, an injustice will be done. Perhaps, I am unduly critical but I do not like this measure at all and I do not like the measure that preceded it. I am against the centralising of this authority in the hands of Ministerial staffs in the City of Dublin. I do not think that they should tell men down the country what they are competent to do at 64 years of age, 64½, 64¾ and 65. Who is to advise them on that? Are the people who will give the advice competent to do so? I doubt the wisdom of the Minister taking these powers at all in relation to part-time officials. I would rather not give the Minister such powers at all for any purpose, and certainly I think that, with regard to medical men and veterinary officers, it would be unwise that the Minister should have such powers and be in a position to exercise them.

Ministers do strange things at times. Sometimes, they are pressed to do these things, and very frequently they are wrongly advised. It has happened in the past that predecessors of the Minister, not alone in this Government but in previous Governments, have been advised on lines that were not sound, and there is always the possibility that pressure will be exercised, in that way, on a Minister to do things which, really, are not in accordance with sound public policy. It seems to me that this section will be pointed to as the Minister's authority to act in such a way. It is my opinion that Senator Rowlette's amendment should be accepted and that officials up here in Dublin should not be put in the position of being able to say that people down in the country, who are holders of part-time jobs, are not efficient enough to do their jobs. It seems to me that some people are forever young. There are many considerations to be taken into account in this matter of determining whether older people should make way for younger people, and I am afraid that the Minister may determine that certain very efficient people should make way for other and younger people who may not be so efficient. I think that Senator Rowlette's advice should be accepted in this regard and that his amendment should be agreed to.

I have listened very carefully to the arguments that have been put forward in connection with this amendment, and I am afraid that we are contemplating something that may never happen. I cannot visualise a Minister asking a man, who is in sound health, in mind and body, to retire at the age of 65, unless there are very good and sufficient reasons for that man's retirement. I have had quite a number of years' experience in my own county, and I do not think I could find any parallel to the case of a man being retired so that a younger man might take his place, and both of them being in the same area, unless there was some such reason. Such a case, so far as I am aware, in my own district, has never occurred. The only cases I can call to mind would be a matter of death or voluntary retirement, and in the case of voluntary retirement, the person concerned did not practice again.

In connection with the County Management Act, I was satisfied that an age limit should be fixed there, because I thought that in a case like that it would be better to have a young and virile man in such a position, but in the case of medical officers, very often they are at their best at the age of 65, provided that they are of sound constitution and, generally, physically and mentally fit. I would be satisfied to leave the matter in the hands of the Minister, and if I were a medical officer, doing my duty well and properly, I think there would be very little to fear in leaving the matter in the hands of the Minister. If it were the case that, in general, there should be retirement at a certain age, I would be quite satisfied to leave the matter in the hands of the Minister.

I think that Senator Honan was not listening to what Senator Rowlette said. Actually, a circular letter was sent around to the different local bodies throughout the country, asking people to retire, and some of the local authorities, and some of the people employed by them, acted on that. They thought it was mandatory on them. That actually did happen. Now, I want to add to what Senator Rowlette said. It seems to me, as Senator Rowlette has pointed out, that it involves wastage to think of retiring people, especially dispensary doctors, at the age of 65. Such a man has had about 40 years of very valuable experience behind him; he knows at least three generations of people, and, by retiring him at the age of 65, you are simply throwing away very valuable experience. Another point to be considered in connection with that matter is that, after his retirement, that doctor continues to live in the area, and the new doctor may not be able to get a decent living. I think, therefore, that the Minister would be well advised to withdraw that portion of the Bill.

There is another point which I should like to make. If an employee of a local authority is incapable or inefficient, you always have inspectors, and they can decide whether a doctor, a veterinary surgeon or a lawyer, who is employed by a local authority, is incapable or not. Therefore, there is a way out always in these cases, and I think it is absurd to bring these things down to an age level of, say 65. I think the Minister would be well advised to withdraw that particular portion of the Bill.

Senator Rowlette's amendment is directed to one specific end, and that is to shut the door against the possibility of downright injustice being done, under the name of a reform. The holder of a part-time office, if this amendment is not accepted, may have his contract varied, and varied essentially, by the ukase of the Minister, notwithstanding what may be the views of the local authority which employs the officer concerned. I do not think that any Minister—even if he were as bad as Senator Baxter regards all Ministers as being—would willingly do an injustice of that sort, and therefore I look upon this matter of the retirement of a part-time officer, of the type to which Senator Rowlette has referred, as an oversight on the part of the Minister. There is, however, a very important consideration in connection with such matters as this, and that is the matter of the whole national outlook. There are very few people who have given consideration to the difference between the national Government and the local government. I think if my colleague, Senator Honan, had given even a half hour's serious thought to this matter, he would not be content to leave it to a hard-worked and hard-pressed Minister to make decisions in regard to matters which, in theory at any rate, are to be disposed of by the local authority—by the men on the spot, the men who are elected to serve the interests in question. Now, I think that this Government set out with a very noble purpose—that of creating a more perfect system of local government—and, as I said on the Second Reading Stage of this Bill, this is probably the last Local Government Bill that the oldest of us are ever likely to see, and it is a pity that it should be imperfect in regard to such things as this.

Now, I shall have a lot to say in this connection on the next amendment, which is to delete the section, but I am now confining myself exclusively to this matter. It is not right—and I am at one with Senator Baxter in this —that it should rest with the central Government to decide matters that amount to life and death with regard to a local officer. There is nothing to show that, before issuing the edict that an official has to go—that is to say, that all officials shall go—on attaining a certain age, such action will make for better work in connection with local government administration. It seems to me that this is arbitrary and irrational and, what is more, as Senator Baxter said, tends to a centralisation of power. I have assented already to passing the section that gives power to the Minister to declare the terms upon which these offices are to be filled and held and the qualifications that are necessary. That is all right, but when it comes to the actual living man, who fills a post and who is appointed in accordance with these qualifications to a particular office, the suggestion is that he should not regard those who appoint him as his employers, but that he should recognise that he is in the hands of the central Government. He is serving or attempting to serve what we have Biblical authority for saying cannot be done. No man can serve two masters. I think that the less burden of responsibility that is cast on the central Government the better. We have local government for that purpose.

A point that should be remembered is that a part-time official is in a wholly different position from a whole-time official. The whole-time official has superannuation rights and it is generally accepted that the part-time official has not. The part-time official may have a grant made to him in recognition of his service but it is purely voluntary and he is not entitled to expect it. An official, though part-time, may be one of those zealous creatures that we occasionally see in this country who puts his whole heart and soul into the work and who spends himself on it. It may be, if this section passes, that when he is in the very maturity of his power and has acquired experience, the axe falls and he is put out of office. That is not good for him and it is not good for the community.

I agree that the Minister, whoever he may be, who is approaching this matter for the purpose of laying down any rules or regulations about age, will have to proceed with circumspection. The Minister will have to rely upon the experience that has been gained in the Department in regard to retiring officials at various ages. There is no use in mentioning the age of 65. I have not mentioned 65 and if I had any inclination in the matter it would be to extend, so far as it was in keeping with the public interest, the age of retirement, to some extent at any rate. The experience of the Department and the experience of public men throughout the country, however, show that there is a general reluctance on the part of local bodies to ask their doctors or other officials to retire no matter how old these officials may be. When we made inquiries, we found officials of extraordinary age throughout the service.

We had, for instance, a rate collector over the age of 84 who has two persons employed. Then we had a town clerk over 90 and many doctors over 75. If powers are asked for in this Bill to deal with matters of that kind, it is only for the purpose of securing the interests of the public as well as securing the interests of officials themselves. If there are difficulties as to people who are not pensionable, that is a matter that can be dealt with in another way. Is an officer, merely because he is not pensionable, going to be left for the whole of his life in a position, whether or not he is efficient? When one mentions a particular case there is always the danger, although one may not mention the name of the person concerned, that some other person may recognise that person and that would be invidious. However, I may say that I know a doctor of over 83 who holds a responsible position. I wonder is that fair to the people of that district?

Is there not a way out of that? Has the Minister not another means of dealing with it?

The Minister is in possession and may not be interrupted.

The position we have always to face is that the local people will say "He is efficient". We cannot move unless the initiative is taken by the local body and generally we cannot get local bodies to move. It is because there are a certain number of people throughout the country in that position that it is necessary for the Department to have this power. Sometimes other people are being paid to do the work of these officials. That is why we must have power to make regulations in regard to individuals or to classes as a whole though I would prefer to make regulations in regard to individuals than in regard to classes.

Can that be done?

It can be done. We can make them apply either to individuals or to classes. We can make regulations prescribing those matters. This matter was raised with my predecessor by Senator Rowlette when he was a Deputy in the other House. His attitude was that it was only in the public interest that we should move in these matters. The question arose at the time in regard to the circular that was sent out to local bodies.

That did not appear on the face of the circular. That was a universal circular.

It appeared in the circular that it was issued as a result of representations that were made to the Minister and he wanted to call attention to the position. I do not think that anybody could fix 65 as the age of retirement.

I think it was established at the time that the Minister was acting illegally in trying to do so.

I have only one interest in this matter. I want to be fair to the officials but, above and beyond everything else, I want to secure that the public will be properly looked after.

A very important consideration.

That is the whole consideration in this matter, and I do not see any other way of approaching the matter except in this way.

I have been gratified that several members have seen the justice of the case I tried to make in moving the amendment. Senator Mrs. Concannon and others drew attention to the fact that we were in a difficulty in not knowing what age the Minister may probably have turned over in his mind which he would declare as the retiring age for certain classes if it should fall to him to decide that question. I was careful not to mention any age when I was speaking because I did not want to assume that the Minister would choose the age of 65 but it was quite natural that that age should occur to Senators because that was the age which his predecessor fixed and at which he sought to make it mandatory for local officials to retire. I am glad to hear an admission from the Minister that that was an action which nobody could have undertaken. His predecessor admitted, at the end of that unfortunate controversy of a few years ago that it was due to a blunder in the Custom House. I agree with the Minister that we should not focus our minds on the age mentioned of 65, because, like Senator Honan, I have sufficient faith that the Minister would, so far as it is possible for him in imposing a general rule, consider the question fully and deal so far as he could justly and fairly. I do not think he can deal entirely justly and fairly with any fixed age, whether it is the age of 70 or 75.

The Minister drew attention to certain local officers over 80 years of age. The Minister knows well many local officers, medical officers and others, over 80 years of age who are performing their duties admirably and perfectly. I do not want to mention names any more than he did, but he can call to mind one of the most respected medical men in Ireland who has been living and working in his own county for over 50 years and who is over 80 and only retired recently to the universal regret, on the grounds of loss of admirable services, of all the people in his neighbourhood and indeed of his county. I need not mention the name to the Minister as he is familiar with it. I know of many other cases in other areas in the country where men up to 80 years of age are performing their duties better than nine-tenths of the young men of 30 or 35 owing to the experience gained during those years and individual character. It is not likely that a man who is not able to do his work will attempt to hold on to an advanced age. There are instances no doubt, but, speaking generally, it is not a great abuse.

The Minister stated, and I agree with him, that when an attempt was made a few years ago to force retirement on elderly officers, there was a general reluctance on the part of local bodies. Why? It is not all friendship or corruption; it is knowledge of how the work is being done. I think local bodies must be given the credit of paying attention to the way the work is being done and that they are not likely as a body to show general reluctance or opposition to the retirement of an elderly official, unless his work is being done adequately and to their satisfaction. I agree that the Minister must consider mainly the interest of the public, but I do not think the interest of the public is served by putting into force such a declaration as the Minister may make in regard to the people we are talking about as part-time officers. I think the interest of the public is best served by the present men. The Minister said complaints are made. I have no doubt complaints are made and that complaints will be made whatever the system is. However perfect the Minister or the local bodies may make it, complaints will be made. But it is not necessary, in order to meet a complaint or to improve the method, that gross injustice should be done to people who have relied on the good faith of the State and of the public.

The Minister, in replying to my remarks, has not I think stated anything which would convince one that there is need for this change. At present, if a local officer is inefficient, the Minister has him in the hollow of his hand. He has his inspectors and he has reports about such a person, and he has complete authority, I think, to dismiss him from office. I may not be technically exact in that, but I think it is a fact that he has complete authority over those officers; that he has means at his command to discover how the work is being done, and that it is possible for him to close the term of office of a particular officer who is not performing his duties perfectly. What is asked now is not that he should deal individually with individual officers because of inefficiency. If a man is incapacitated by infirmity of mind or body, he can be retired. But what is asked now is that the Minister should make a declaration, not covering Dick, John or Harry, but covering a body of persons of a certain class of office at a certain age. That seems to me to be a very wide and very dangerous power to give the Minister, not because of any fear of individual injustice on the part of the Minister— I put forward no such suggestion as that; it is a suggestion I would be very slow to put forward in this House—but, to use a common expression if you like, because it seems to me a matter of throwing out the baby along with the bath water.

Will the Minister not have sufficient power to protect the public interest under the next section—Section 24:—

"Where the appropriate Minister is satisfied that the holder of an office does not possess a qualification which has been declared (whether before or after the appointment of such holder of such office) under this part of this Act to be a qualification for this office...the appropriate Minister may require the holder of such office to resign within a specified period and, if such holder refuses to resign from such office or fails to resign from such office within the said period, may by order remove such holder from such office?"

Physical fitness and mental fitness, I think, would be qualifications under that.

The Minister did not give us any indication as to whether he would accept the recommendations made by the other speakers, and I wish to point out to him that there will be an injustice done if this section is passed as it stands. We are legislating now for the future. The difficulty is that you are cutting across the conditions of employment of a great number of employees of the local authorities, call them officials or what you wish. I speak specially for those who are not pensionable. If you are legislating for the future, and if a person enters the public service knowing that when he retires at a certain age he is pensionable, there is no great victimisation when the cold-blooded axe falls on his neck at the age of 65. But now you are instituting a new departure under which the Minister may define a certain retiring age for certain classes. Those for whom the earliest retiring age will be fixed would probably be the fire-fighting men. The Minister may then grade them up at any ages which he or his advisers may think fit. Different Ministers may think that different ages should be laid down, so that we are more or less making a decision in the dark.

My special appeal is with regard to those people whose appointments at present are non-pensionable. They, at any rate, should be allowed to continue in their office as long as they are physically fit and capable. Surely the Minister, who has inspectors, has the right to interfere with the authorities which he controls. If a local authority says, more or less untruthfully, that such-and-such a person is quite capable of carrying on, surely there is sufficient inspection and supervision by the central Department—and I agree with supervision by the central Department—to say, "That official is not fit to carry out his duties, and he should go". But we are giving into the hands of the Minister power to specify such-and-such an age limit for such-and-such a class and a different age limit for another class. Once that is done it has the force of law. It does not provide that it should be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas— it has the force of law.

I appeal especially for people who are holding part-time temporary appointments or even whole-time appointments, but who are not pensionable. If a person enters the public service in future he knows he has to retire at a specified age. That is different from what may happen as a result of the passing of this Bill. Even if the Minister is as careful as possible, you may still have an injustice done. If you fix the age limit too high, you may be keeping people on who are not fit to perform their duties. I certainly think that fixing any arbitrary age limit that will apply to non-pensionable as well as pensionable officers would not be fair. There should be a differentiation between the two classes.

I find myself in a difficulty as to how to vote on this question because I have not made a very careful study of it. I have listened to the arguments and there is a good deal to be said on both sides. I served on local authorities and I agree that a few employees were inefficient, but were retained out of sentiment and local interest. On the other hand, I know certain employees of local authorities who, in spite of the Minister's powers, are inefficient and who should in the opinion of those who are honest be got rid of, but who are retained because they have long families or for sentimental reasons of that kind. Could not the Minister see his way to compromise by taking power to deal with individual cases? I am in full sympathy with the Minister in respect of the cases he mentioned of people up to 80 and 90 years of age. I do not care how efficient a person may be in theory or even in practice, I cannot feel that a doctor, who has to move about the country and do active work at a dispensary, can give satisfactory service at 80 years of age. On the other hand, I feel that a local authority would hesitate to say that an old friend was inefficient.

Has the Minister not got power under Section 18 to remove anyone from office? After reading the section it seems to me that the Minister cannot make regulations relating to an individual, but can make them relating to a specified class.

I should have said "office" and not "individual."

Maidir leis an mhír seo, bhí mé ag obair i Seirbhís airithe a raibh trí fichid bliain mar aoisteorainn ag gabháil léi. Mar sin féin, táim i bhfabhar an Bhille seo. Is dóigh liom gur riachtanach an rud aoisteorainn deimhnithe do bheith ann. Tá a fhios againn cad a thuitfeas amach má tabharfar cead do dhuine leanúint le n-a chuid oibre go dtí go mbeidh sé san aois leanbaidhea arís. B'fhéidir go mbeadh cleasaidheacht ann agus go mbeadh an duine sin in oifig go dtí go mbeadh daoine ag rá nach raibh aon mhaitheas ann. Níl aon tuairim agam ar an cheist á bhí á phlé ag an Seanádóir O Donnabhain ach isé mo thuairim gur ceart aoisteorainn do bheith ann le haghaidh daoine a bhfuil postái seasta acu.

The Minister assures us that he has no other object in this than the public advantage. Surely that is an unnecessary declaration. We all accept that. We do not think it was necessary to say that, but having announced his virtue he argued that our case is that because a man is a part-time official he is to have some special consideration. That is not our case. None of us who spoke on behalf of the amendment said anything so foolish. What we said is that a man with whom a contract has been made, appointing him to a part-time office, should not have the terms of his engagement altered at the decree of a Minister. I will read the amendment for the House because some of those who have spoken have forgotten the terms of it. (Amendment No. 3 read). It is contrary to natural justice, when a man has entered into an engagement with a local authority to do a particular type of work, that then the central authority, by a stroke of the pen, can in essential respects vary the contract and, in fact, dismiss that man. That is what we contend. The Minister argues the other way.

Some Senators spoke of the kindheartedness and soft-heartedness with which an official who is beyond his usefulness may be dealt with. Admittedly, there are soft hearts, particularly with regard to men who are permitted to overhold. That is an abuse. None of us spoke for those who overhold officials. The sooner we see the education of our people set right, so that there should be public spirit, the better, but there should be people to act on behalf of their fellow-man, to realise what the fiduciary relation to others is, and what is expected of them. We are not content to leave it in the power of a local authority to be jolly good fellows when dealing with officials who show incapacity or incompetence. We are simply asking that there shall not be an arbitrary ukase issued from the central authority dispensing with an official. We want justice done to them. The fuller and the finer question of the interests of the community was not dealt with in the criticism of the amendment. Speaking on my own behalf I am not asking for a favour. In a country like this, which is trying to live at a high level, a country that is trying to be a fully civilised country, and to provide for the major part, if not the whole of the people, a certain type of life which we think they are worthy of, I contend that in providing legislation for them we should have regard to what in our value is the proper thing.

It is not necessary to say this is what has been done or such-and-such a thing was done. The circumstances now are different. We are a new State. We are setting up our own institutions. Those we took over we are trying to better and, therefore, in the special circumstances it is not a complete answer to say: "Oh, this is the system." It is because it is the system that some are attacking it in the interests of something better. As a matter of fact, much of the best service rendered this country is being given by part-time men, by reason of their special kind of qualifications or professional experience. These men are unwilling to abandon their entire practice or the expectation of it. They are not given, as whole-time men are given, the promise of payment later on—that is to say, of receiving a salary now and a portion withheld to a later age. Whatever remuneration they get, they get in full all the time. To dismiss a man all at once who is a part-time official is to deprive the community of an efficient officer, to throw on the community the burden of a new appointment so that when the other is getting into his stride—or, as they say on a ship, "learning to know the ropes"— the public is paying accordingly. I am opposed to what is arbitrary and commend what is rational. It is the rule of right reason that we should be interested in. The fact that men in country places will let their hearts rule their heads or their sense of public duty is admitted, but that can be corrected, surely, without the correction taking the form of doing injustice.

In regard to the matter raised by Senator Baxter, I made a mistake at the time and I am sorry. I was thinking of another provision where it did apply to an individual as well as to specified classes. What is meant there is that the end of the section relates to what has gone before and "one or more specified offices" means an office, not an individual. I am sorry if I misled the Senator in any way.

Let us get back again to the effect of this amendment. It means there will be no age limit—let us be quite clear about that. I do not think that is a principle which should be admitted, or a matter that should be left to local authorities. We have had experience of people not asking certain persons to retire at any age. Are we going to legislate for the next generation or for this generation? If this amendment goes through, it means that, while we may be able to impose conditions on people coming into office, the conditions will not be operative for 40 years, until 1980. It has been the experience for the last ten or 15 years, since the Appointments Commission was established, that medical men and others are being appointed at a very much earlier age than used to be the case years ago. Any Senator will know that is true, seeing the young doctors all over the country. If we want to leave out the age limit now except in regard to people who will be appointed in future, it is a question of its being operative 40 years hence, and we may have left the Department, at any rate, without any power to provide for the retirement of existing officers.

Senator Magennis talks about contracts. I do not want to be repeating that matter here. The tenure of local officers is not a contract; they hold "at pleasure". I have said before that it is not a principle that anyone wants to stand on. It is the same position in the Civil Service, and, technically, that is the position here. However, breaches of terms of appointment have not been the practice. There is another question about what it will cost this country to pension off people who have a lot of years to serve, or who could serve if they were left there. If a person goes out and gets a pension and another is appointed to replace him, the second man may get what was the minimum or commencing salary of his predecessor. With people dying, and so on, there has not been what anyone might call losses. If there are losses, I say that the compensation for them is efficiency. If we have to pay for that in that way I think the country can see that it is getting good compensation by greater efficiency being given.

But the test is not efficiency: it is age.

I do not know why people object so much to age. We all must realise that age is a determining factor in many employments, at any rate, and must be the determining factor. I do not wish to mention definite positions, but on the last day I mentioned fire brigade men, mental hospital attendants, and people like that. Nobody would regard them, at a certain age, as being suitable people for certain duties. Age is a determining factor in a good many things.

Mention has also been made about the way in which people may be thrown out. There is no question of that, and nothing has been decided. It will take a considerable time, and all the experience gained through the country and through county managers will be taken into account before one can determine what age will be suitable for any particular office. The experience they have in the Department and the experience they can glean from local authorities must be taken into account in making regulations. It is not the intention that the axe should fall immediately this Bill goes through, and it is not the intention to fix an age like 65 or anything of that sort; but rather to see what is the most suitable age for a particular position. I am not in a position at the moment to say what that particular age should be.

Another question I wish to deal with would have been more appropriate on the other amendment—the question of throwing people out. We know the rules that are there in the Civil Service already, but in 1936, when that circular went out, the Local Government Officials' Union met and approved of the 65 rule. Of course they asked for certain guarantees in regard to superannuation, but the people affected asked that they should be retired at 65, with those guarantees.

I do not think that would apply to part-time men. So far the Minister has spoken as if we wanted age limits abolished. The amendment deals with part-time officials and even the Local Government Officials' Union spoke of the whole-time staff.

I mentioned that this was more appropriate on the other amendment. Some Senators have brought in this matter of whole-time staff. I do not know the particular type of work which Senator O'Donovan has in mind, but consideration must be given to the particular type of work that is being done. We know there may be veterinary surgeons or people who would be doing indoor work all the time. I am not going to say what the consideration should be, but all these factors must be taken into account, in the light of the experience, in fixing any age limits. I can see, in any department or in any body, possibly more sympathy for a person who was not going to receive a pension. Efficiency is a matter which has to be borne in mind.

I hope it will not be necessary for me to detain the House for more than a minute or two, but I wish to call particular attention to some points mentioned by the Minister. Senator O'Donovan has just corrected the impression which might be caused by the Minister's reference to a resolution by an association of local government officials. The Minister overlooks the fact that in this amendment we are dealing with part-time officials.

I thought I made myself clear. I mentioned that what I was going to say now would have been more appropriate on the next amendment, but that some Senators had referred to the succeeding amendment, and I said that, with regard to whole-time officials, that resolution was passed.

I did not exactly understand that. I want to emphasise what the Minister himself has emphasised, that that has no relation whatever to the amendment at present before the House. The Minister began his last remarks by stating that he thought the principle should not be admitted. He did not define what principle he was thinking of. The principle that I am asking should be admitted is the sanctity of contracts, whether it is a contract in the legal sense or merely a bargain which has been relied on and accepted for all honourable purposes as a contract through the course of years. I know the Minister's point is the legal point that holding office like this is not holding a contract in the legal sense, but there is a bargain there; there is an appointment on certain conditions, and there is in this section of the Bill an attempt by the Oireachtas to break the conditions on which the men held their appointments for 20 odd years. He relied again on efficiency, but it is a criticism—he is in a position to know whether it is just or not—of the local authorities that he cannot get efficiency by relying on the local authorities to observe how their officers do their work. I pointed out already that the Minister has his own machinery for judging efficiency. If he cannot trust the local authorities, he has his own officers to judge the efficiency of the officers of the local authorities, so that whatever criticism he is making of the local authorities holds also for his own Department. I do not agree that he cannot get good judgment on either of those sides, but, if he judges one as being incompetent to give him that knowledge of the facts, he also judges the other as not doing their job in giving him knowledge of the fact that there are incompetent officers holding office in the country to the detriment of the public interest.

Might I ask the Minister whether he would consider amending this section as it stands in order to make it possible to relate this to the individual rather than to classes? It strikes me that it is practically impossible to do justice under a regulation which is to apply to a class as a whole. I think that amongst medical men, veterinary men, or any other group of men, legislators or anything else, there would be found some men who are quite efficient despite their age. It strikes me very definitely that a grave injustice will be done if a particular age is applied to a particular class without any reference whatever to the capacity of the individual to give efficient service. I should be glad if the Minister would deal with that point.

I discussed the possibility of that at one time, and I felt that I would have to keep away from it, because I think it is too arbitary altogether to go down through the country and pick out certain individuals in that way. I am afraid it cannot be done; it would have the appearance of some sort of unfair method. If the Minister had power to pick out a certain individual and say that that individual, although he was a certain age, was efficient and in good health, you would have a controversy about every single individual. That was the consideration which forced me away from it at the time.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided. Tá: 18; Níl: 25.

  • Baxter, Patrick F.
  • Butler, John.
  • Campbell, Seán P.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Counihan, John J.
  • Crosbie, James.
  • Cummins, William.
  • Doyle, Patrick.
  • Foran, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • Healy, Denis D.
  • Hogan, Patrick.
  • Johnston, Joseph.
  • Lynch, Eamonn.
  • Madden, David J.
  • Magennis, William.
  • O'Donovan, Seán.
  • Rowlette, Robert J.


  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Byrne, Christopher M.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Goulding, Seán.
  • Hawkins, Frederick.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Honan, Thomas V.
  • Johnston, James.
  • Keane, Sir John.
  • Kelly, Peter T.
  • Kennedy, Margaret L.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • MacFhionnlaoich, Peadar
  • (Cú Uladh).
  • O Buachalla, Liam.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • O'Dwyer, Martin.
  • O'Neill, Laurence.
  • Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
  • Quirke, William.
  • Robinson, David L.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Stafford, Matthew.
  • Tierney, Michael.
  • Tunney, James.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Doyle and Rowlette; Níl: Senators Goulding and Hawkins.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4:—

To delete the section.

The amendment will be discussed on the question: "That the section stand part of the Bill." The Senator is quite in order, and may proceed.

It was stated in the course of the debate on the last section that where A B accepts an office, one of the terms of the holding of which is compulsory retirement at the age of 65, when he is in point of fact retired having attained the age of 65, A B can have no grievance. That, of course, is transparently obvious. It is not that that I have attempted to attack on the Second Reading. I attempt now to utilise the facilities of this House to draw public attention to a wrong system. The system of superannuation merely by age is what I hold and submit, with all respect, is irrational, considering that the Minister himself declared to the House that the sole consideration, or the main consideration, or the consideration—I will not bind myself to giving the exact words—was efficiency. Efficiency is the central requirement, but efficiency at a price. Everyone who talks about superannuation of public officers proceeds to discuss the question as if there was nothing more than personalities. A B holds an office; he has held it for so many years. C D is a promising subordinate. Why should not the senior make way for him? What about the interests of the taxpayer that I have tried to stress? Is the taxpayer to bear the burden of superannuation for A B and also pay the salary to C D? I think that is the chief thing, for the moment at any rate.

The Minister told me, on the occasion of the Second Reading, that, after all, if you calculate how much it costs, it is not so much. I must confess I do not like to hear the Minister, even though he is not the Minister for Finance, talking contemptuously about surpluses and excesses of expenditure, because we are getting very near to breaking point with regard to the burden of taxation and, as our Scottish friends would say, "Every mickle makes a muckle". These little things of which Ministers dispose add up to huge amounts.

With regard to the question of superannuation, I would be satisfied to spare the House and the Minister if he would promise, or even promise a promise, that at some date, not too far distant, the Government would go into this whole question, because it is a very important question, with regard to the filling of offices, either with regard to the national Civil Service or to local services. What I, meanwhile, protest against is evasion of the real question by telling us what we know, that every human institution, every work of man, has incident to it drawbacks, short-comings, defects. We know all that and we know that it defies the wit of man to frame a system against which an acute critic can urge no objection. But apparently what we cannot do is to exercise foresight, to try to make the opportunities for deficiencies as few as possible.

Taking my own occupation, I may say that so far as the reform of education is concerned, the chief difficulty in this country is the lack of serious interest in education. The Minister put his finger on that evil incidentally. Until we have got a conscience into those who appear before the public and ask for their votes to occupy positions of responibility and authority in public administration, until we have also got a conscience into those who seek and obtain office, such as under a local authority or under a national authority —until we have done that, we have not really created a proper State, and all these reforms are still in the offing. What we have to consider is, are we by legislation consciously and deliberately to continue what we must know in our hearts or, at any rate, on reflection, is a vicious system, to continue it and to make bad worse by giving to the central authority an arbitrary power to do the things that are set out in Section 23:—

"The appropriate Minister may declare any specified age to be the age limit for all the offices in relation to which he is the appropriate Minister or for such of those offices as belong to a specified class, description, or grade...."

It is putting too much upon the Minister. There should be some division of labour and the division between the central authority and the Local Government Department and the various local authorities was intended, in theory that is, to have efficiency among those on the spot dealing with what they were familiar with, were in actual touch with. But the encroachment of the central power on the local authorities is an abuse. I do not care what Minister or what Government is in office; it is one of the risks we have to take and to guard against.

I am not asking that there should not be an age limit in the sense of asking you to disregard it. Everyone knows that as men grow older they are physically feebler. It does not follow, however, if mind is the chief agent in the discharge of their peculiar work, that their minds have grown feebler. I have seen men, and recall the fact with regret, suffering from paralysis agitans, so that while in point of body they were practically dead, their intellects were absolutely keen, bright and flexible. There are such cases, but the Minister can, and probably will, cite as against that men who, at a comparatively early age, are unfit. I would retort to that contention that there are men who are unfit from the very beginning and who should never have been appointed at all. There are those variations in individual cases, but can you make a class rule that will even approximate to justice?

The actuaries of insurance companies are able to estimate, not altogether as a gamble, what the expectation of life is, say, with regard to a healthy man of 30 years of age. As well as I remember, they calculate 35 years of life at any rate and on that average they compute what annual premium he shall pay, with that expectation of life, for the purposes of endowment insurance. That is done mathematically, but it is in regard to a wholly different set of circumstances that these other calculations are made. We might like an actuary to compute what are the chances of a man at the age of 65 being competent to do the work which he was appointed to do at 40, but no sane actuary would undertake that task. He could not calculate the mathematics of probability, although he can fairly estimate the expectation of life and a company takes the risks of his calculation being accurate.

There must be some rule, the Minister will tell me. I admit there must be and I suggest he has provided us with a statement of the rule. In the sections we have passed the qualifications are laid down. It is not beyond the capacity of the central authority to discover, from reports they receive from the locality in which the official is engaged, or through inspectors from the central office, whether the efficiency is preserved. Surely it is better to avoid, no matter how difficult may be the task of avoiding it, doing what is wrong to the taxpayer? Let me take the case of a man who has filled an office continuously for a certain number of years without serious complaint being made against him on the ground of inefficiency, negligence or irresponsibility. Presumably, he is highly competent. Why should he be called upon, when competent on 30th July, to go out of office on 31st July, merely because it is 31st July and the significance of that date is that he has reached the age for superannuation? It is absolutely foolish. It imposes a burden on the taxpayer, and then it ceases to be merely foolish and becomes criminal.

I submit that it is easy enough in the case of certain officers, if you consider merely the public advantage, to decide whether or not a man's term of usefulness is at an end. There are different occupations, as the Minister has told us, which would require different retiring ages. A few years ago, as a member of the Committee of Inquiry into the Civil Service, I heard two representatives of the Post Office engineers giving evidence on this very point. One of the witnesses demanded a retiring age of 55. They were opposed to the 65 years' rule, and, in answer to questions by members of the Committee of Inquiry, the reason given for demanding the earlier retiring age was that they wanted to make room for other men who had become tired of waiting for advancement. There was not one thought for the public or for what the public would have to pay. Later, under cross-examination, the same witness who contended for the age of 55 was heard to raise a growl against the retiring age of 65, so that he was contending, at one sitting, both for an age limit of 55 when his mind was concentrated upon the promotion of officials lower down and for no age limit when his mind was directed to the other side of the question.

I can very well understand that members of the public who are fathers of families, who have growing sons and daughters looking for posts, will be all heartily convinced that men must be old fogeys at 65 and should go, because they want the vacancies to occur. Naturally, a man at 65 objects to being regarded as an old fogey, because, if he is pronounced an old fogey and goes out compulsorily, to what is he to turn, having been publicly branded as inefficient? I have no doubt that the Minister will say that that is a coinage of my brain and that there is no ground for the suggestion that he is inefficient on account of his years, but Section 23 (4) sets out:—

Any person who ceases under the immediately preceding sub-section of this section to hold an office shall, where necessary for the purposes of sub-section (1) of Section 44 of the Act of 1925 or of any other enactment relating to the superannuation of officers of local authorities, be deemed to have become incapable of discharging the duties of such office with efficiency by reason of old age ...

I ask the Minister's special attention to the following words:—

...shall be deemed to have become incapable of discharging the duties of such office with efficiency by reason of old age.

The two Houses of the Oireachtas are to inform the world that when a Minister declares that A.B. has to quit his office by reason of his age, that makes him inefficient. Surely that could not be defended? As a matter of fact, if we had time—I know that we have not—we should suspend this whole Bill—and I contended for that before—and think it out more fully, because, with all respect and making all due allowance for the conditions of the time, there are features in this Bill which point to hasty workmanship, which are ill-digested, but this, to my mind, is the worst example of it. The whole question of superannuation and the method of dealing with it is, I frankly confess, too big to be dealt with on an amendment to one section, and I repeat what I said in the beginning that, if the Minister would undertake that the Government would deal with it as a special problem, my purpose in moving the amendment would be served.

I associate myself with what Senator Magennis has said, and very largely with what he said on the same subject during the Second Reading debate a week or two ago. I cannot think it is a healthy thing for the public service that men, regardless of their competence, on the question of age, should be prevented from continuing their public service and receiving whatever reward that public service may bring. Everybody knows that a man's competence does not depend on his years. One Senator to-day in stating that there were a number of incompetent men in a particular public service, drew attention to one person, without mentioning his name or indicating to me whom he had in mind, and said: "That fellow was incompetent all his life. He should never have been in the service and he is 20 years short of 65 yet".

In the case of some people, if the Minister could classify them—I admit it would be difficult, even for his Department—there would be perhaps a largish class of the public officials who could be declared incapable of work on account of old age at 45 or 50, or, like Senator Magennis's witnesses, at 55 years of age. I think it is utterly impossible to lay down a rule and I do not think the Government, in this matter, should be guided by the gambling calculations of certain actuaries, who may be very useful to insurance companies but who are scarcely to be relied on by a Government. It is an impossibility to decide, in the bulk, by the flock, at what age public officials may become inefficient by reason of old age. That is the main reason why I think the section should not find its place in the Bill, and the Minister, before the Bill comes up on Report, might perhaps be willing to accept that position, and to draft some section instead which might meet the case in a more efficient way. As it is, I think the effect of this section, in its effect, will be even more dangerous to the country than is the alleged inefficiency of the old men of 65.

I feel that there is singular appropriateness in the fact that the Seanad should spend a large part of one of its days in discussing the question of superannuation. That is what a Seanad is for.

For discussing questions of seniority.

I thought the Senator meant for discussing questions of superannuation.

My reason for rising to speak on this amendment is that I do not propose to vote for the amendment and I think I ought to give my reasons. It seems to me that most of the arguments put forward by the supporters of the amendment are specious. This point about 31st July, and so on, is applicable to almost everything in life, and the point that a man is stigmatised as incompetent when he reaches a certain age is equally specious. There is no stigma intended on any individual by the rule about superannuation. All you want is some general rule which will apply to large classes of functionaries and which will be applied with fair regularity.

I would have a good deal of sympathy with Senator Magennis's point, that this section tends to give the Minister too great power over local authorities, if it were not for the fact that the whole framework of this legislation, in my opinion, gives the Minister too great power. Until some alternative system of local government is provided, I do not see that there is any use in attacking one small and unimportant aspect of this whole question of Ministerial power. In any case, I think that local government is one department of our lives in which a rule like this would be of value and that we should have a recognised retiring age applicable to large categories of people. In the first place, the ordinary local authority is apt to be too small, and the general tendency of Irish public bodies, of every description, is apt to be of a kind, I think, to make it unlikely that you will have rules of this kind applied with regularity or with severity, as they should be applied, by the local authorities themselves. It is better, I think, that there should be a law coming from above. The only means by which you can get a law like that is to give the Minister power to lay down rules and to assign various people to various categories. I think the point made about the interference of the Minister with local authorities has very little bearing on this case as a whole.

I think anyone with any experience of public life at all must agree that it is absolutely essential there should be some recognised retiring age for public employees of every description. If you had not such a retiring age it would mean that a number of public officials would go on until they were 90, and that quite a number of younger men would be precluded from getting a public appointment at all. That would be a very serious matter for our young doctors. We have our universities turning out doctors by the score every year, and at the same time if you go down the country you will find that the average age of the doctors in the employment of the local authorities is likely to be in the neighbourhood of 70 years. The young medical men that we are turning out in such great numbers from the universities cannot get employment, to some extent at any rate, because we do not apply these rules about retirement and superannuation with sufficient regularity or rigour. All these things are matters of less or more. There is no such thing as perfection. You cannot fix any age which is the ideal age for retirement. No matter what age you fix, it is possible to put up an argument that you should have done something else in this regard. At the same time it would be a great mistake to be carried away by all these pleas about making charges of inefficiency and so on, or to allow ourselves to be thrown back into the position where people could continue in office as long as they care to stay or a complacent authority will allow them to stay. In any case, those who complain about the severity of the rules like these should remember that the older people are far better off in modern times than they were in ancient times. It is related in the works of a Greek author that the ancient Irish thought it only right to eat their grandfathers, so that if to-day there is a retiring age, with a pension, at 65, they are treating them a great deal better than they did in ancient times.

On the previous amendment I said I was not in favour of fixing a retiring age. I think, however, that in the case of local officers who have fixity of tenure and a superannuation, it is quite equitable that they should retire at a certain age. It is far better to have a rule of that kind than that the Minister, or the local authority, should be obliged to hold an examination periodically to ascertain whether a person was efficiently carrying out his duties or not. I do not know how any Government Department could retire officials unless there was a definite retiring age. The alternative would be to keep them in office until they die. It would be impossible to have the supervision that would enable those responsible to say if people in office were efficiently discharging their duties. In the case of the Civil Service, we all know that when a civil servant reaches a certain age the axe falls and he has to get out. One redeeming feature about what is proposed in this Bill is that the Minister can prescribe different retiring ages for different sections or classes. We do not know what is going to happen.

Since I spoke so strongly in favour of the last amendment, I want to explain why I am not in favour of this amendment. In the last case we were dealing with men who had no fixity of tenure and no pension rights. In their case I thought it was only reasonable that they should be allowed to continue in office as long as they were capable of discharging their duties. It has struck me as being rather peculiar, judging from what was said here this evening, that the Minister should have such little control over local authorities. It was said that he could not compel a local authority to superannuate, or get rid of, an official due to its softheartedness. I was under the impression that the Minister could compel a local authority, no matter what it might think, to get rid of an official: that if the Minister said he was to go the local authority would have to obey his order. If what I heard here to-day is correct, it would seem that is not the case. It would seem to cut the ground from under some of the arguments put forward by Senators in reference to control by the central authority. It now appears that the central control is lenient, but that is beside the point. I agree with Senator Magennis that the retiring age should be a fixed one. That is the rule in the Civil Service, and I do not think there is anything unfair in making it the rule in the case of appointments under a local authority so long as the officials have fixity of tenure and pensionable rights.

I want to say that I am in complete agreement with the views expressed by Senator O'Donovan. May I say that he put the case for the provision in the section as well as it could be put. Under the section, the Minister is given liberty to declare different retiring ages for different kinds of posts under local authorities. If this question were put to a division now, I think that I would vote for the section, although I did vote earlier for an amendment in the name of Senator Rowlette because it seemed to me to be a hardship that part-time non-pensionable people should have to retire at an arbitrary age. There was a case for that, although, mind you, it is rather a border line case. But I can see no case at all for preventing the Minister from fixing an age at which officials of local authorities should retire. From the practical point of view, as Senator O'Donovan has said, it has everything in its favour. I rise for the purpose of making a point for the Minister's consideration. Recently I discovered, quite by accident, that there was this peculiar anomaly in the superannuation schemes dealing with local officials and civil servants. There is a certain interchange between the Local Government Department and local bodies. A man may go out of the Local Government Department on a new service under a local body and come back again. As a matter of fact, I think it would be no harm if there were more interchanges of that character between the central authority and the local body. I was, however, astonished to find that a person going, for example, out of the service of a local body into the Civil Service to fill some technical post, does not carry with him any pension rights and vice versa. I think that in the case of a Government Department such as that of Local Government, one that is so interlocked with the work of local bodies, a system of superannuation should be arranged so that where posts are interchanged they would carry pension rights with them.

I do not know if the Minister has given any consideration to that matter. I think that it is well worth considering. So far as the merits of the section are concerned, apart from the matter on which we have already divided, it seems to me, from the practical point of view, that you cannot argue in favour of a system under which every individual case would have to be examined on its merits to ascertain whether or not the person was still capable of carrying out his work. We cannot get a perfect system but a system which prescribed an age limit for outdoor work and another age limit for indoor work would seem to me to be practicable. There may be cases in which the local authority will suffer by losing the services of an officer owing to the age limit but it seems to me that the powers given in the section are necessary and that they afford the only way of settling what is a real difficulty.

We have been considering the point raised by Senator Hayes and we have put it up to the Department of Finance for consideration in connection with the Superannuation Acts. We think that it is a reasonable proposition.

The Local Government Department is in favour of it.

Yes. Senator Magennis referred to this retirement as being a sort of slur on the officials concerned. The reason the provision is put in its present form is because, in order to qualify for a pension under the 1925 Act, an officer must have a certain period of service or must retire through incapacity. The phraseology in the section is used in order to ensure that those who reach 65 and retire after at least ten years' service will receive a pension. Senators have been discussing age limits but there is nothing in this Bill to compel the Minister to fix an age limit in particular cases. With regard to certain classes, I am sure that an age limit will be fixed. Senator Magennis talked about expense and said that Ministers paid little attention to expense. I have pointed out that, when a man goes out on pension, his successor is, as a rule, appointed on the minimum scale of salary and has to work his way up. Sometimes the people who go out on pension do not live very long but others do. The expense involved is not very great and, if it results in increased efficiency, then I think the taxpayer is compensated.

Senators spoke of certain people being efficient at an advanced age. I know that that is so. There are exceptions to every rule. As a general rule, people do deteriorate at a certain age. That must be accepted by everybody. There are exceptions to that rule and we can only try and hit some sort of medium which will apply at the point where the usefulness of the people concerned is impaired. In many cases you might find a doctor whose mental capacity would not be affected by his years, but he might not have the necessary activity to get around his area. Take the position of nurse. That is a hard and difficult job and a lady who had reached the age of 70 years might not be the best person to look after patients, having regard to the onerous duties which have to be performed.

It is suggested that we should leave the decision to the local people. Our experience has been that the local people do not move in these matters. It is up to us to try to give guidance to people in these positions, or to people who may be appointed in the future to them, as regards the retiring age. Some people may disagree with the Civil Service superannuation code. I think that it has worked satisfactorily over a number of years. I have never heard civil servants themselves complain about it. On this section, I should like to remind the House of a fact to which I was not entitled to refer fully in the discussion on the last amendment—that when there was a meeting, in 1936, of the Local Government Officials' Union, they favoured an age limit of 65, with certain safeguards regarding superannuation. I do not say that 65 will be fixed as the age limit. In some cases, a higher limit may be fixed. That will depend on the experience we have been able to gain and on any further investigations we carry out. We shall endeavour to fix a suitable limit and we shall bear in mind the age up to which we can get efficiency, as a general rule.

Senator Tierney exhibited the mentality of which I complained. I had not expected it from him. He talks about making way for the younger men. He talks as did the witnesses on behalf of the Post Office engineers. Why should place be made for the younger men or why should the older men, because they excite sympathy amongst their friends, be prolonged in an office for which they are no longer capable? Both of these things are radically wrong. Professor Tierney thinks that the whole idea of creating public offices is to provide employment for this, that and the other individual. He has the university mentality. He is thinking always of rewarding ability, as displayed in examination tests, with a studentship of £300 or a junior fellowship of £500. Surely, when a county council advertise for a secretary or a surveyor, they are not bent upon rewarding merit. They are looking for a man to do a determinate type of work for them—to give service. This whole approach to the subject, which one finds almost universal, is radically wrong. You are not, I maintain, creating offices to reward men who get university distinctions in their subjects.

I shall be guilty of the egotism of quoting my own case. I was called to the Bar and I have lived a long life as a professor. When a man is qualified for a particular line in life and finds it overcrowded, is it not obvious horse-sense, as the Americans would style it, to turn to something else while there is yet time? This ordinary, commonsense approach to questions has somehow ceased to be a feature of Irish life, especially in the fundamental things. I quite admit that the civilisations with which Professor Tierney's studies bring him into constant contact were civilisations in which the duty of a son to his father—pietas, as it was called— took the form of burying the old man when he became incapable. That is the Fiji Islanders' religion —that the old man, being no longer able to go about or to act in a normal, human way, is therefore taken out into the wilderness and left behind, when the procession turns homewards, or else a grave is made for him where the sunbeams rest. That, again, is the idea here. It means applying one set of relations to the circumstances of another set of relations. The Minister, again, has repeated my doctrine: that the sole thing to be considered in such matters is your efficiency, and not the length of your beard. It all amounts to a matter of how far you can see through a telescope. I am not blind to the fact that advancing years—counting your birthdays in larger and larger numbers —do indicate certain physical disabilities, and if a man has sense he will not be unaware of the warnings, but I cannot see, in all this legislation, where there is a provision for officeholders to retire voluntarily and have superannuation benefits. If a man resigns, he resigns, and he is out of office, but here the Minister is enabled to fix an arbitrary date on which a man must retire, whether he is efficient or not, and it amounts to saying that that man is inefficient. Surely, that is irrational.

I say that the time has come to consider a lot of things that are now passing in the public mind as truths. Senator O'Donovan may state that a rule is so-and-so, but I am contending against the fact that things should be done because the rule is so-and-so. I think the Senator is begging the whole question. I want to see that the Minister may prescribe, as one of the terms of office, that when a man has reached certain years when, according to the experience of averages, he may be liable to become inefficient, a report should be made as to his efficiency or inefficiency.

That is the rule in the National University with regard to professors who may be advancing in years. They are subject to report, and I think that that shows that professors of universities are more reasonable in regard to the transaction of their affairs than the rest of the nation, although the erroneous idea is that professors are not capable of dealing with such transactions. Now, there is nothing to prevent a Local Government Bill, or any other Bill, stating that the Minister may set out certain regulations defining the term of office, or making certain references to the notorious fact of the disabilities arising from anno domini. Of course, none of us escapes from the disabilities of anno domini, except those of us who are happy enough to die young, but I think that this is a matter that could be subject to discretion, instead of having this arbitrary business of saying to a man: “You are quite capable; we admit that you are the most competent man that it is possible to have, and it is not possible to replace you”—as is said in so many testimonials—“but, because of your age, you must go.” Should there not be a discretion allowed in cases of the highest offices, such as exists in the case of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court in England, as I pointed out on Second Reading? In England, these officers of the State hold office as long as they are able to do their work properly. On the other hand, there are lots of officials who were never competent at all, and I say that, no matter what age such officials might be, fitness should be the only consideration, and some of these people are not fit. I would point out to the public—of course, I cannot reach the public except through being a member of this House—that in the national Civil Service of this country we have the biggest business enterprise in the nation, and that what we look for there is the best brains that we can get, and we are willing to pay the highest salaries for such service. I hold that that is the fundamental thing, and I believe that in the local government service we should look for the best brains also. I believe that we have them—and, thank God, we have them, and will be able to keep them—but this legislation says, as far as I can see, that it does not matter how efficient a person may be, all that matters is the hour-glass and the altitude of the sun in the heavens— that an official must go out of office once he has reached a certain age, no matter how efficient he may be. If that is not Fiji islandism, I do not not know what it is. I think it is obvious that there could be something more elastic in this Bill than the rigid provisions that now exist in it.

I should like to say one or two words in connection with this matter.

Might I suggest, Sir, that if we are going to adjourn for tea, this would not be a bad time to do so?

Perhaps it would be better to get this section finished first.

It was very illuminating to hear the academicians contradicting one another in connection with this matter. It was beautiful—it was enlightening. Well, I hope to throw a little rural sidelight on the discussion—a point that has not been touched upon this evening. When I was speaking last evening, in connection with another matter, I indicated that, so far as turf was concerned, there was one section of the community to whom very scant consideration was given, and that was the poor. On this discussion, I rise on their behalf. I think that the time is perfectly opportune and ripe for Government intervention and for legislation to regulate and, if you like, give powers to the Minister to determine a specific age for retirement for one set of public officials in this country, and I allude to the doctors. I have known quite a number of cases in which men of 70, 75 years of age, and even older, continued to serve, and I could not agree that their service was efficient. Surely, when doctors of 70 or 75 years of age are being called out, during a period of sickness, six or seven times during the night, or during the week, to give service to the poor in the area in which they serve, they have not that physical energy that is essential for the proper discharge of their duties.

One case occurs to my mind where a man was completely "crocked" by rheumatism but because of his domestic circumstances, because his father and his grandfather in the years before him served the public and were held in high esteem in the whole area, there was that local sympathy with him which prevented the local authority asserting itself and calling on this man to retire or reporting the circumstances to the Local Government Department. Take any rural town in which you have a doctor. There is not a day when I am at home that I do not write half a dozen red tickets. Other people who are also local representatives would write a similar number so that in the average town you would have 20, 30 or 40 of these tickets in the course of a couple of days. I saw that doctor being taken into Cork and being taken out of bed to go upstairs. What kind of service could he render to that very poor section of the people who are not in a position to get another doctor? People in better circumstances are not affected by the physical incapacity of this man as they can afford to get other doctors but the poorer section of the people have to suffer by reason of the fact that the man to whom these red tickets are issued is unable to do his duty.

That is not an isolated case. There was cited in this House the case of a man of 84 with the supposed energy of a man of 30 who could go about a rural area on his bicycle. Does anybody think that a man of 84 could get out of bed in the middle of the night and give efficient service to the community? It may be that he has the whole technique of his profession perfectly at his command, but he is physically incapable of carrying out his duties. I think no Senator who has a due sense of responsibility to the people would stand for retaining officers of that kind in the service.

Senator Professor Magennis pointed out that there is not alone an administrative responsibility, but that there is also a moral obligation on the people elected to public bodies to do the right thing for every section of the community, particularly for that one section who suffer most as a result of the fact that you have these old crocks of 65, 70 or 75 who cannot render proper service to them. I think the time is ripe and the moment opportune to give the Government power to decide that such people should be called upon to retire. I have risen merely to tell the House of my experience. The power which the Minister seeks should, I think, be very beneficial and will enable him to render a humanitarian service to those poor people who cannot afford to employ another doctor. I have some cases before my mind in which this power could be exercised very beneficially for the poor, and I think the Minister is deserving of praise for seeking these powers.

May I ask Senator Madden a question? I gathered from listening to his many interesting speeches in this House that he is one of our local rulers, exercising very important functions. Does he welcome this Bill because it throws the onus on the Minister in Dublin to do what it is his duty—I do not mean to be personal—and the duty of others such as he to do? Would he answer that question? Surely when he describes a man of 84 who is so affected with rheumatism as to be incapable of movement, he is describing a local doctor who is inefficient. Who has contended for the prolongation in office of persons who are inefficient? That is not the case Senator Rowlette or I put up to the House. We want to get rid of inefficiency. We want the highest and the best services for the people who are paying for them. One would imagine that we were standing here to advocate "the good fellow" and "the poor fellow" formulae, that are the bane of the countryside. There are such men in office and Senator Madden knows it very well. He would, I am sure, denounce in his vigorous fashion the very idea of appointing a person to public office on the ground that the applicant was a poor widow with many children depending upon her or that he was a man who had a long family, without the slightest consideration as to whether he was the man best qualified for the job.

I am arguing for a new spirit in the country, that people who occupy public offices and who profess to discharge the duties of public offices, shall know what these duties are and shall perform them. I dislike all this arrangement of legislation by which all the responsibility for doing the unkind thing is put on the central office. Then when the right thing is done by the central office, the rest of us are invited to blame the Civil Service mind and to complain of the unfair influence exercised by the Civil Service authorities on a Minister who has to rely upon their advice as he is only a temporary occupant of his position. It is time to end all that kind of thing. If it is proclaimed, as apparently it is, that local representatives are not to be men of courage, or men with a sense of public responsibility, and that centralisation is to be the remedy for that lack of public spirit, I do not know what we wanted freedom for.

I understood that there was an age limit for professors in the National University.

There is, but it is subject to the qualification I have mentioned. A man may be continued in office from year to year, provided always that he is reported as competent as ever.

Only until he is 70.

There is an absolute retiring age eventually, of course. If a man does not go himself, he should be got rid of if his years mark him out as incompetent, but to assume, as a principle, that the age of 65 denotes imbecility and incompetence is another matter. I protest against that doctrine and it is involved in the section I am impugning.

In the few remarks the Minister made some moments ago with regard to the request for superannuation coming from certain officials, he made no reference to a retiring age at 65 but he added, I think in response to an interruption, that there were certain rights of superrannuation——

Certain safeguards.

Certain safeguards. The debate so far on this section has centred around the question of retiring age and so far I think the Minister has made no reference to the question of superannuation. Clearly the two things must go together. I am sure that men entering the service in quite recent times would like to look forward to a fixed retiring age and safeguards, as the Minister said, for superannuation, but it is quite a different question when he is dealing with hundreds of officials who have no safeguards as regards superannuation. I take it that there are three classes of persons holding office. Some are people already holding office with a retiring age fixed in their terms of appointment—a very small class. Then you have a very large number without a retiring age fixed but holding their appointments on the understanding that they will get superannuation. Whether that is a legal contract or not there is an understanding upon which they have relied that when they do retire either because of age or of physical infirmity, they will get superannuation. Apparently there is a third class of people like those for whom Senator O'Donovan spoke who have no right to superannuation and apparently very little hope of getting it. If the Minister would convince us that he should have the right to fix a retiring age, I think he should also assure us that safeguards, to use his own word, as regards superannuation allowances will be provided. It is not possible to go into detail as to what these safeguards should be. We shall have to accept the Minister's view as to what would be reasonable safeguards. The actual sums will have to be fought out in another way later. But that seems to be the essence of the question we are discussing to which so far, and perhaps I am partly to blame for it, we have not paid any attention.

I was very entertained by one remark which the Minister made—that he had not heard any complaints among civil servants about superannuation. I can assure the Minister that there are many civil servants, most of them professional men who entered the service rather late in life, who are thoroughly discontented with the bad treatment they get from the point of view of superannuation. I am sure the Minister knows some of those cases. We all know of cases of civil servants who went into the service when they were 30 or 40 years of age and had to retire on a very small number of years' service with a miserable superannuation. To say that people like that, some of whom have died in poverty in the last few years after occupying high offices in the Civil Service, are content is certainly not intended seriously. I do not think the Minister had given his mind to the question when he made that somewhat complacent remark. I think he will find that there is grave discontent amongst other classes also, but certainly amongst the class of civil servants who entered the service late in life and whose years of service are treated the same as if they had entered as boys and had to learn their business instead of having learned their profession first. The same point was drawn attention to earlier to-day by Senator Hayes with regard to officers of public authorities entering the Civil Service later; that not for them either is there any superannuation allowance paid for the years of service already given to the public in another capacity.

For the sake of clarification and supplementary to my previous remarks, I want to ask the Minister if there is anything in the section which would indicate that the retiring age is to be 65.

There was a circular issued by his predecessor some years ago.

Section put and declared carried.
Sitting suspended at 6.25 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.
Section 24 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 25 stand part of the Bill."

I wish to draw the Minister's attention to sub-section (3), which states:—

Where the appropriate Minister is of opinion that any of the statutory grounds for removal from office exists as regards the holder of an office, the appropriate Minister may send by post to such holder at the principal office of the local authority under which such holder holds such office a notice in writing stating the said opinion, and if the appropriate Minister, after the expiration of seven days from the sending of such notice and after consideration of the representations (if any) made to him by such holder, remains of the said opinion, he may by order remove such holder from such office.

Seven days seems to me to be very short notice, even in normal times. If the Minister sends out a notice to a local authority in West Cork it might be three days before it would reach an official, and a reply could not possibly be back within seven days. A letter might go astray for seven days, but the sub-section states the representations, if any, must be back within that period, and then the Minister "may, by order, remove such holder from such office". The period should be, at least, 14 days, seeing that the section deals with removal from office. If an official happened to be out of a district for a day the period mentioned would very quickly expire. At least, 14 days should be given to permit officials to have a chance of making representations.

As a rule these people will be in their offices and, in any event, representations have always been considered. It was suggested in the Dáil that seven days should be inserted. The address of these people is at their office and representations from them are always considered.

I do not like to see it stated in black and white that representations must be made within seven days, and that that is to be taken as the statutory limit, even though the Minister says that any representations after that period will be considered. The officials might say that as representations did not come in within the recognised statutory period they were ultra vires. I believe that the period of seven days is too short especially at present, having regard to transport and postal difficulties. I suggest to the Minister that he should consider extending the period to 14 days.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 26 to 35, inclusive, agreed to.
(1) Where at an election of members of the council established by law in respect of any county borough, no poll is taken in any particular borough electoral area the number of aldermen of such county borough elected from such borough electoral area shall be the same number as if such poll had been taken and such council shall determine which of the members elected from such borough electoral area shall be such aldermen.
(2) Where no poll is taken at an election of members of the council of a borough (not being a county borough or the Borough of Dun Laoghaire), the number of aldermen of such borough shall be the same as if such poll had been taken and such council shall determine which of the members elected at such election shall be such aldermen.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In sub-section (1), page 16, to delete in line 52 the word "borough" and substitute the words "or other borough (not being the Borough of Dun Laoghaire)"; to delete in line 54 the word "county", and to delete sub-section (2).

This is a drafting amendment. On the Report Stage in the Dáil an amendment was made that enabled the Minister to divide a county borough into two or more electoral areas. Provision was made that, where the borough was divided into two or more electoral areas, the first two men elected should be aldermen. It is provided that, if in one of these areas there is not a contested election, the council can select two men to be aldermen, but they must be from that borough area.

Would the Minister say how the aldermen are chosen?

The first two elected, where there is an election. If there is not an election, the council can select the two aldermen, but must select them from that borough area.

But, in Section 35 is it provided that the first two elected are to become the aldermen? I know that was the rule, but it does not seem to be in Section 35.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 36, as amended, put and agreed to.
Sections 37 to 42, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

To add a new sub-section as follows:—

"The provisions of the foregoing sub-section shall not, however, be applicable to the election of the Lord Mayor of the County Borough of Dublin."

In dealing with the question of the mayoralty of our capital city on the Second Reading, I had the temerity to suggest to the Minister to let well enough alone, inasmuch as a scheme of election for the Lord Mayor of the city has worked very well—at least, so it is reported—and no one has raised any complaint in regard to it. I pointed out that a man of public spirit who gives public service as a citizen in the municipality and aspires to be Lord Mayor, has no chance to satisfy that legitimate ambition if he belongs to any other Party than one of the two major Parties—unless, of course, some sort of agreement is entered into. The Minister will remember, I have no doubt, that his reply to me was that, in the case of Waterford, the difficulty had not arisen or that it had been surmounted, and that there was nothing inherent in the scheme here to react unfavourably on men of the type I contemplated.

I was rather surprised about that, and, having the habit of consulting authorities, I went to the Waterford City Management Act of 1939 and found that Section 9 deals with the election and tenure of office of Mayor in Waterford and that there is nothing whatever—of course, if the fault is mine I am sure the Minister will enlighten me—about the new scheme of election in Waterford. What I do find and what I now learn is that Waterford, whose case was to be a precedent for dealing with the capital city of the country—here I hope no one representing Waterford in this House will take offence—is a place so small that it has only one electoral area. Section 6, sub-section (1) of that Act says:—

Unless and until an order under this section comes into force, the following provisions shall apply and have effect in respect of city elections, that is to say:—

(a) there shall be one electoral area consisting of the area of the city...

Surely there is no comparison at all, for this purpose, between a city with one electoral area and a city like Dublin where the corporation is made up, not merely of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives, but of Labour and other groups?

According to the scheme set out here, if it were operative in the case of Dublin, from the very first, if a Labour representative were nominated he would have no chance at all as against representatives of one or other of the two larger Parties. Of course, with enlightened chivalry, they might combine and say: "This is a much better man and we will not oppose him," but unfortunately, we know that those ideas do not reign at present. As one who is opposed to the introduction of national Party politics in municipal administration, I cannot speak at large on this as I should like to do; but, taking facts as they are and accepting human nature as it is, it seems to me that, when a scheme of election has been found to work and when no one complains of it, it has justified itself and has earned the right to be let alone. Therefore, if we have excepted the city before from the general application of local government legislation, there should be no difficulty in this case.

It is true that Waterford has only one electoral area, but Cork has only one also. I do not think it will have any effect in getting the result. This alteration has been made with a view to overcoming deadlocks that have been arising. Let us take the position in Dublin in the second last election, in 1939. I do not wish to mention names and will refer to the candidates as A, B, C and D. A motion to elect candidate A was put. Then there was an amendment to elect candidate B. The amendment was carried by 17 votes to 14. The amendment then was put as a substantive motion, and an amendment proposing candidate C was put forward. The new amendment was lost. The motion was put again and another amendment was put forward to elect candidate D. This amendment was carried, but before it was put as a substantive motion the council adjourned. The following day, when the substantive motion was about to be put, the candidate withdrew and the proceedings had to begin over again. The first motion of the preceding day, that candidate A be elected, was put again. Again, an amendment was proposed in favour of candidate B, and carried by a majority of 3, but when this same amendment was put as a substantive motion there was a tie. This tie was resolved by the casting vote.

That is not a satisfactory procedure. The other day, at a council meeting down the country, you had a man who wanted to get elected suddenly leaving the council chamber and going into the public gallery. It was the only way he could be elected. It is very unsatisfactory to have that sort of deadlock arising. The only way this thing can be resolved is by electing the person who gets the majority. If nobody gets a majority, then the candidate getting the least number of votes can be eliminated, and there can be a final vote taken between the two highest, but they must be proposed at the outset; then you will have no deadlock. We have at present a very antiquated system of election. It was introduced in the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. It was applied to this country in a similar Act of 1840, which was amended in England in 1882, but has continued here since 1840. It is an antiquated system, the difficulties of which were overlooked, I think, by the draftsman at the time, and it has resulted in deadlocks all over the country. It does not help the prestige of the councils if one sees those deadlocks arising in the way that they do arise.

Of course the word "poll" in Section 43, means an open vote?

I shall not press the amendment, Sir. I admit that what the Minister has read out is the story of a very tortuous procedure, but in even higher spheres of activity tortuous procedure is not unknown, and, to the practical man, the real test is: was there a result achieved with which too many people were not dissatisfied? I am not so sure that the adoption of the method in the Bill will make the tortuous procedure go out of existence, it may only mean that it will take place before the election instead of during the election. However, everything is worth a trial, and I do not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 7:—

To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(2) A candidate for election as a lord mayor or mayor of a county or other borough or as the chairman of any local authority shall not be deemed to have a pecuniary interest in such election by reason of the fact that a salary attaches to the office of such lord mayor, mayor, or chairman, and accordingly such candidate may vote and take part in the proceedings at such election.

A candidate might be nominated not for the purpose of being elected but for the purpose of preventing him from voting. The amendment is to remedy that.

Would you not want the candidate's consent?

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 43, as amended, put and agreed to.
Sections 44 to 58, inclusive, put and agreed to.
(3) Where a person to whom a notice has been given under the immediately preceding sub-section of this section does not pay the sum for rates to which such notice relates within 14 days from the giving of such notice the rate collector concerned may, without any further or other authority than the warrant authorising him to collect such sum, levy such sum, together with the costs either by distress and sale of any goods, animals, or other chattels (whether of such person or of another person) found upon the hereditament in respect of which such sum is due or by distress and sale of any goods, animals, or other chattels of such person wheresoever found.

I move amendment No. 8:—

In sub-section (3), line 35, to delete the words in brackets and substitute therefor the words "belonging to the debtor".

Under sub-section (3) as it stands the rate collector is authorised to seize any property found on the holding on which the rates are due. It authorises him not only to seize the property of the debtor but to seize the property of other persons who may not know anything about the debt to the local authority. It is a most extraordinary provision, and is totally opposed to all principles of justice. I cannot see how it could possibly be defended. It is the principle of punishing an innocent man for another person's crime, or seizing the property of any member of the community for the debt of another. It is just the same as if I owed the Minister £5, but when he came over here and found nothing in my pockets he took Senator Magennis's watch and chain. That is what it amounts to. This law has been in operation for a long time. It quite frequently happens that cattle which have strayed on to a neighbour's land are seized by the rate collector. I know one case where a man who was working with his horse and cart on a neighbouring farm had his horse seized for that farmer's rates.

Frequently, even visitors have their horse or car seized. I heard of one case where the sheriff came down to one farm to make a seizure for a debt due to the Land Commission, and he found nothing on the land, but the rate collector immediately came along and seized the sheriff's car. It is all very ridiculous, but those things do happen, and this law will allow those things to happen. They may be very ridiculous but they are also very unjust.

There is also the case of the man who takes grazing or meadowing from a farmer who owes rates. Many people hold that the rate collector is quite justified in taking that man's cattle because he did not find out beforehand whether there was a debt on the land. We must remember that the defaulting ratepayer owned the land, and was quite legally entitled to set the land to the grazier. Even if the grazier were in a position to find out whether or not rates were due on the land, he was legally entitled to take the land. Therefore, the fact that the grazier has cattle on that land should not entitle anybody to seize his cattle for the other man's debt. Of course, it is a matter of expediency; it is a very handy way for the local authority to collect the rates, but there are other means by which that problem of unpaid rates could be dealt with.

First of all the local authority could proceed against the defaulter himself. They could put him into jail or have his farm taken up or even have a notice published that such a farm was distrained so that people would not put their cattle there. The use of this power of seizure tends to leave land derelict in the country. I have seen as many as four farms all quite derelict because rates were due on them and nobody would take grazing for fear of seizure. It has that very bad effect. A principle is laid down in this Bill which is against all justice—the seizure of a person's property for another person's debt. I would ask the Minister to look into it to see whether that portion of the section which is in brackets could not be removed. I think it was included in a previous Act, about 1923 or 1924. That was the first time it was embodied in an Act. It lays down a principle which is altogether unjust and I would therefore ask the Minister to delete that provision.

It is much older than that. It goes back to 1843. It is difficult enough to collect rates. but if you are going to make it more difficult for the rate collector then I do not know what will happen. It is going to give excuses to have no distraining of people. If you are going to put the rate collector in the position that every time he goes in to seize he must prove it is the debtor's stock or the debtor's goods, you will not have any rate collector distraining. The man will say they are his wife's property and the rate collector will be put to all this trouble about it. If anybody is anxious to take grazing or land it is very easy for them to come to some arrangement either with the rate collector or with the man from whom they are taking the grazing that a certain amount can be paid to the rate collector in lieu of rates. I have known many arrangements of that sort. We know those farms where seizures are made. They are farms where the people have made no attempt to pay rates and there is very often collusion between somebody else and themselves to put their cattle on it. When they know the law—as I suppose they know it now—much of that is avoided, but it is up to the person who is putting his cattle in to see that some arrangement is made to pay the rates. It is not true that there is considerable distraint for goods or stock.

Anybody who looks up the returns of rates and the number of distraints will see there has been very little distraint by rate collectors in the country. In fact, our complaint is that there is not more, that rate collectors are very slack in some parts of the country in collecting the rates. While you may have sympathy for the man whose stock is seized when he puts them on another man's land, there must be sympathy for the other ratepayers of the district who are stuck through the other man not paying his rates. That provision has been there all the time. A few cases may be mentioned, but they are isolated cases.

While I have every sympathy with Senator O'Dwyer, what the Minister stated is quite correct. As the Minister has pointed out, the rate collector or anybody else would not have any power, if Senator O'Dwyer's amendment was carried, to seize anything. As far as the county council is concerned, in our county—and I suppose elsewhere—what really happens is that an agreement can be arrived at that the man will pay a certain amount off the rates. Supposing he owes an amount of rates it can be arranged that he will pay a fair instalment off it and he will get something for himself. I think the Land Commission works in the same way. He can get something for himself and also pay the county council or the Land Commission. In practice, I think the thing works out, and I think in the circumstances it is fair enough.

I am very sorry to disagree with my very estimable friend, Senator O'Dwyer, but I am sure, if he had consulted the secretary or any member of the county council, he would have discovered the fallacy of his argument. I think portion of that particular section has been most helpful in the collection of rates. Before its operation there was a kind of vicious circle. Mr. A., the owner of the land, sets his grass, got a fairly remunerative price, disappeared for a holiday and enjoyed it, with no intention of paying his rates. Before the operation of this section, we went and collected the other man's cattle and, of course, when due notice was given that they were not the property of the man against whom we issued a summons they had to be driven back. The operation of that particular section has been extremely helpful and people who are disposed to set their grazing now ensure that they will first pay their commitments to the county council. They can then set their grass and enjoy any profits thereafter. I am surprised that such a very careful and astute agriculturist and general co-operator as my friend Senator Martin O'Dwyer should introduce a motion such as that. The present provision has been most helpful to public bodies, most helpful to the council of which I am a member, and I would be very sorry to see it mitigated or removed in any way.

I have some experience of the operation of this provision and my view is contrary to the view expressed by Senator Madden. In part of my county there is a practice which is called winterage. Certain farmers set their land for grazing in the winter time. During the economic war, or depression period, whatever you like to call it, they got into arrears with land annuities or rates but as soon as their friends, who would be likely to take their grass for the winter, knew that they were in debt for rates or annuities they would not put their cattle into the place at all, with the result that the farmer lost revenue a good portion of which would go towards the reduction of the annuities or rates. It is all right to say that he could go and pay his rates or annuities and that he could then set his land. But what was he to do if he had not any means to pay the rates or the annuities and had to wait until he was paid for the grass? If he could not set the grass by reason of the fact that the intended customer knew he was in arrears, how was he going to pay his rates at all?

Let the auctioneer give an undertaking, as is being done every other day. Where there is a will there is a way. I would be very sorry to have that provision removed.

The Minister corrected Senator Martin O'Dwyer and said that the law had been in existence in the 'forties. But the Minister is himself a lawyer and he will recall that when a sheriff made a seizure he did it, under the old law, at his peril. He was liable to be sued for what ensued. It was under the administration of the present Deputy Cosgrave that the Sub-Sheriff Act was passed which, at the time, I remember, I nicknamed the Sub-Sheriffs' Omnipotence Act. A portion of the Sub-Sheriffs Act is repeated in the present Bill. By that Act, the sub-sheriff was entitled to seize goods but he had no liability in regard to them. There was no duty on him to inquire as to the actual owner. He was authorised to do what had been unheard of previously: to take the seizure to wheresoever he pleased; to retain it wheresoever he pleased, whether or not the place was a pound within the meaning of the previous Acts; and he could sell them by auction without disclosing that they were seized chattels. He was under no liability to answer for his conduct. Not only is that enormity repeated here, but you have also this absurdity, that the balance, if any, of the proceeds of such sale, shall be paid over to the person who is liable for the debt.

So, X.Y's motor car has been seized, to take an illustration that the Senator moving the amendment gave us, and the balance remaining over after the sale of it is to be paid to the defaulter, the man who refused to pay his rates. I think there is an oversight there. It is bad enough that we repeat this inequity of enabling the sub-sheriff in rural areas by distress to take the cattle or other chattels to another place and sell them. It is not enough to say in defence of anything that that is what was done under English law, that that is done elsewhere. We have our own ideals and our own standards of justice and fair play. It boils down to this, that a rate collector cannot collect rates unless he breaks into a man's house. We used to be told that an Englishman's house was his castle, but the house of the citizen of Éire is not his castle. The sub-sheriff may break into it in broad daylight and seize whatever he finds there. He is authorised to do that and other things. I suggest that we are not entitled to go out through the country, mount platforms and talk to the people about our noble traditions and ideals and then come here and legislate in that way.

I quite agree with what has been said by other Senators with regard to the expediency of this. The Minister says it will be difficult to collect the rates without putting these provisions into operation. I suggest there is nothing to justify the Government or the rate collector seizing the property of any person other than the debtor. Unfortunately, cases of seizure have been very frequent in this country and the main trouble is that in many cases the person whose cattle are seized has no responsibility whatever for the debt. The seizure of animals or goods in those circumstances cannot, I suggest, be justified on any grounds. In the case of a private creditor the sheriff can seize only the cattle or goods belonging to the debtor.

In the case of the Land Commission they are very reasonable and it is easy enough to make arrangements for the payment of the debt. It is much more difficult to deal with these cases relating to rates to councils because they are bound by red tape. The local councils will not accept any reasonable sums by way of instalments on rates, with the result that large areas of land are left derelict. The collection of rates in this fashion is manifestly unjust. It is simply a negation of all the principles of justice to seize another person's property for a defaulter's debt.

Under the 1843 Act the rate collector had the right to go in on property and anything found on the premises could be seized. If the house is vacant and you think there are goods there, you get a Guard and you have the right to break in. Of course there is a remedy. While you pay the man to whom the debt is due, as you are bound to do, the man who is at a loss over the transaction, the man whose cattle or other goods may be seized, has the right of action against the defaulter for whatever loss he may have sustained.

And, of course, that costs nothing!

It costs something, I admit, but, if the defaulter has a holding, the other man is a fool if he does not go after it. He knows very well that he can follow him up.

Every day county councils are making arrangements of the kind already mentioned here. A man can agree to pay a certain amount of the debt that he owes the council by way of instalment. The Land Commission does the same. If a man does that, a guarantee will be given that the stock on the land will not be seized and then there will be nothing to prevent him setting the land.

Will the Minister deal with the point raised by Senator Magennis, that, if the rate collector seized a car belonging to a doctor on the premises of a defaulting ratepayer, sold the car and found there was more money available than the defaulter owed, under the law the whole price of the car would be paid to the defaulting ratepayer?

That is true, but then the doctor has the right of action against the defaulting ratepayer for any loss he has sustained.

That is not very much consolation for him.

Why should not the doctor have the right to apply to the rate collector for a refund? It is easier for him to establish his property rights in the matter in that way than to sue a man who has already been a defaulter and on account of whose default his car was seized and sold.

The rate collector cannot be a judge. It may be all right when we keep thinking of doctors and people of that type, but when a man's wife comes along and says it is her property, is he going to give it back to her? I should like the Senator to consider that point.

That is an old story. We all know there are all sorts of devices used. It is not for us to stereotype this thing by way of legislation. I am standing out for a procedure that we can applaud and admire. I submit that to authorise a levy by distress in this fashion is not the Irish way of doing things. It is not a thing to be proud of and we ought not to endorse it by legislation. Surely there could be a much better procedure devised. I remember cases of breaking into houses under the law and there was armed resistance. I remember in one case there was a three days' battle. That does not contribute much to civilisation.

I know of cases where three different people claimed that the cattle seized were their property. I do not know how the Senator would deal with a situation of that sort. I know I could not if they did not go to court to prove their claims.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 59 and 60 put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:—

Before sub-section (3), page 29, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Where a hereditament in respect of which sub-section (1) or (2) of this section is applicable includes agricultural land, the power of apportionment under the said sub-section shall include a power to apportion the valuation of such agricultural land, and the said sub-section shall have effect accordingly.

This is a drafting amendment. The purpose of it is to make it clear that agricultural land can be divided in a hereditament.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 61, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 62 to 71, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:—

Before Section 72, in Part VIII, to insert a new section as follows:—

72. (1) The council of any county may, if so petitioned in manner provided in sub-section (2) next following, recognise a special division totally comprised within the council's own area as a civil parish in order to facilitate the better administration of local government therein in respect of poor law and cognate services and generally for meeting the peculiar social and economic needs of the parish community.

(2) Where a considerable body of the inhabitants of a locality desire to have their district recognised as a civil parish (in the meaning of the preceding sub-section) and, pursuant to such recognition to establish a local authority to be styled and known as the parish council of the civil parish in question, a formal petition to that effect shall be addressed to the county council concerned, setting out the determinate area to be comprised in the intended parish, together with such other particulars as may be required.

(3) When a county council, in response to a petition as aforementioned, has authorised the creation of a civil parish, the parish council therefor shall be set up; and accordingly for this purpose the county council shall thereupon cause a register to be prepared of the heads of families or households in the civil parish, and only those whose names are so registered shall be entitled to vote in the election of the parish council as local authority.

(4) The power to authorise the creation of a civil parish and parish council under this section shall be a reserved function for the purposes of the County Management Act, 1940.

Senator Magennis and I realise the difficulty of providing for the establishment of the proper system of parish councils which we had in mind within the limits of an amendment, but, even so, we think the amendment lays down a basis for such a system, which could be improved on at a later stage. Section 72, which is rather vague, provides for the delegation of certain powers and duties to approved local councils, but it makes no provision for the method of establishment of these local bodies, nor does it define the area which the local body may control, the idea probably being that the county council will see to these matters. This clause leaves the way open for very grave abuses, because, under the section, it would be quite possible for a number of people in a parish or a locality to come together and declare themselves to be the parish council for that area, or for a party caucus to appoint certain people, and, if they had sufficient influence with the county council, to get them recognised as the local body. It is quite open to those abuses.

If it is desirable that parish councils should be established in every district —and it seems to be the general belief that it is most desirable—there is a very ready and simple way of getting these bodies established, that is, by having them elected by the votes of the people of the locality concerned. There is no difficulty in that procedure, and I cannot understand why there is such a prejudice in general against electing these parish councils. There seems to be a very great prejudice in that respect. Some people hold that if the members of a parish council are self-constituted, if they are selected in the back rooms of a public-house, or anywhere else, such a body is quite all right, is non-political, incorruptible and everything that is good, but if a parish council is elected by the people concerned, it immediately becomes corrupt and politically-minded. I cannot understand why that view should prevail in a democratic country.

There is another objection to the acceptance of the bodies defined in this Bill as the local bodies to be given administrative powers by the county councils. These councils, in general, consist of a small number of people. Generally, a few public-spirited people come together, set themselves up as a parish council and work as best they can, but, in nearly all cases, they are unrepresentative of the people of the locality. If a county council gives administrative powers to such an unrepresentative body, it means that in the long run there is bound to be resentment on the part of the outside people against it. It is only natural to expect that. It might carry on for a while, especially where there are public-spirited men amongst its members, who may do their best to administer the powers they receive, but, in the long run, it is bound to create resentment in the outside mass of the people, which must lead to the undoing of that parish council and to its elimination.

There is also an idea that, by having these bodies elected, you are going to introduce Party politics and corruption, but that argument would apply equally to any voluntary body set up in any other fashion. The people are the same, whether they are elected or nominated, and those dangers would apply equally all round. There is no more danger of an elected parish council becoming political than there is of a self-constituted or selected parish council becoming political. What this amendment proposes to do is to set out a method by which the locality or area of the parish council's jurisdiction will be clearly defined, in accordance with the wishes of the people. Under the section, the area fixed might be too large and this amendment would allow the people of a small locality, a half parish or so, to apply for recognition of that area as the parish council area. That recognition having been granted to that district, provision would be made for the taking of a register of the families of the parish, if the family vote were decided on—and I think it should —and these families would then elect their council of whatever number and for whatever period might be provided.

In that way, you would have a permanent body created in each case, with the sanction of the people by whom it was created and with an assurance of stability and continuity. In no other way is it possible to get a proper and effective parish council system working. The bodies which have been set up during the present emergency are all very good and are doing very good work, as we all see, but we must remember that they are more or less the fruit of the emergency. They have been got together hastily and cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be expected to last or to continue. In any case, the mass of the people take no part in their activities, but remain outside. Under a proper parish council system, with an elected executive, you would have the entire people of a parish taking part in the activities of the council. The parish council we have in mind is a rural parish council. These conditions do not obtain in urban areas, or in the vicinity of towns, and it is only the small rural parish that we have in mind. We must, however, remember that it is in those rural districts that the agricultural development and the general development of the country must take place. These districts represent the cradle of the country's development.

As to the family vote in respect to these councils, there may be objections to it as being undemocratic, but we must remember that we have the adult vote for county council elections and Dáil elections, and that would represent quite a sufficient gesture to democracy. In the very small sphere occupied by the parish council, we can afford to go back a step and provide for a more conservative vote. There is a further reason for doing so, because while in the Constitution the family occupies an exalted position, in public life, however, the family as, a unit has no place. It does not vote as a unit for Dáil or county council elections, but, in respect of the parish council, we can very safely go back to the family vote, because the council we contemplate is one which might be described as a super-family.

I appeal to the Minister to appreciate the advantage of acceptance of the amendment. It means more than the mere establishment of a proper parish council system, because we who live in the country know that there are no means by which the general development of the country can better be brought about. For many years back, we have seen the continuous decay of rural Ireland. Down to our own day, we have seen that decay continue. We have seen the break up of old traditions and the falling off of that love of the land which kept our people, even under starvation conditions in the old days, on the land. The result is the flight from the land into the towns and the breaking up of the rural tradition.

For a number of years I have been of the opinion that the only system by which we can arrest the decay that has taken place in rural Ireland is by the establishment of parish councils. In that way we can restore the village community, establish cohesion between its members and get all to work together for the common good. The example of the co-operative societies in the south shows clearly the wonderful force for material development that they are, and that parish councils could be. We can all realise what a great force for the moral and national development of the country parish councils could be should they become an established feature of our rural life. They will only be representative of the entire parish when they are elected by the families in it. In my opinion, our local government system follows too closely the English model, and I urge on the Minister that there is a need to bridge the gap that exists between the administrative machine of local government and the individual families forming the masses of the people. In my opinion, the only way in which that gap can be bridged is by the establishment of the parish councils as part of our system for the government of the country.

I desire to support the amendment put forward by Senator O'Dwyer. In recent years many Bills have been brought forward by the Department of Local Government with the idea of improving local government administration. In my opinion they have not all been quite a success. Even the Minister's Department, I am sure, will agree that to a certain extent they have more or less failed. The setting up of boards of health was tried as an experiment, and now they are to go. They failed. I suppose the same opinion was held with regard to the old district councils—that they were a failure. There are many in public life to-day who wish that the old district councils had never been abolished. I agree with Senator O'Dwyer that, next to the family, the parish is the most important unit in the State. The setting up of parish councils would, in my opinion, lead to better co-operation than exists at present between the people living in our rural community.

I could never understand the mentality of those who say that if the people elect a parish council it is bound to be a failure. It is extraordinary that such a view should be held in a democratic State where the people who would normally elect the parish council are held to be quite capable of electing a Government. I find it impossible to reconcile the two points of view. After all, if the people are held to be competent to elect a Government, they surely ought to be able to elect a parish council. Parish councils, as at present constituted, may be able to do a certain amount of good, but as long as they function under present conditions it will always be open to some people to ask: "What right have they to speak for the parish and who elected them?" If, instead of the present method, the parish council was given the power suggested in the motion you would have quite a different position, because then every voter in the parish would have a say in the election. That would encourage the younger elements in a parish to shoulder some responsibility. It would put them more in touch with parish affairs. For some years past I have felt that it was a pity the younger elements were not taking a greater interest in parish affairs. That position has, happily, changed because now they are active in all phases of national effort. It was said by some Senator this evening that this is probably the last Local Government Bill to be introduced in the lifetime of many of us. In view of that, I would appeal to the Minister, before it is passed, to take the necessary steps to have this question of parish councils fully gone into. If he were to do that I believe he would be doing a good day's work for the rural parish areas and for the nation. I would earnestly appeal to him to accept the amendment.

I am really in a bit of a fog. I have listened with very great interest to the speeches made by Senator O'Dwyer and Senator Tunney. Their object, I take it, is to get the Minister to introduce legislation for the setting up, with a statutory power, of parish councils. Neither of them, however, said that parish councils ought to be given legislative powers. That is a very important point to be considered in connection with this motion. I have always been a believer in decentralisation.

I am not quite certain how the two Senators who have spoken voted when a very grave decision had to be taken in this House some time ago on the question of limiting the powers of the present county councils. I do not think they voted in favour of decentralisation. I say that subject to correction. The whole spirit of our legislation, since this country got its freedom, has been against decentralisation. I have been a member of public bodies for over 30 years. The last Government attacked the old system of local government that had given good, faithful and efficient service to the country. We then had decentralisation and a perfect local government machine. The people had the opportunity of going to the polling booths and of selecting responsible local men to run a number of these parish councils in the interests of the community. They operated over a limited area and were called district councils. The previous Government decided—in the interest, we were told, of both efficiency and economy—to change the system and, as by the touch of a magic wand, the whole system that gave good and faithful service was torn asunder. Has a higher standard of efficiency been attained, has better service been rendered to the poor or has greater relief been given to the agricultural and general ratepayers under the new system? I say "certainly not," and I hope to prove my argument.

In my county, we had fine institutions. You could call them workhouses, if you liked, but even in the workhouses—foreign or British institutions—there were many good things and they were much improved in later years. We had five of these institutions working in a limited area. They were looked after internally by what were called the Blue Nuns, and we had 52 district councillors who were also guardians. If the area were more limited, you could call the council a parish council. It included a number of parishes. The councillors knew everybody in the area and they knew of their pangs and pains. When a poor person required removal to hospital, it was done immediately. The area was circumscribed, so that if a patient's father or mother or brother or sister desired to visit him, they could take out their pony and trap, or their bicycle, and do so. That system gave economic service, and the people were thoroughly satisfied. There was no clamour by the people for the revolutionary changes which the Government effected.

What happened afterwards. To-day, with science advancing and with facilities of every kind increasing, you have one hospital in the centre of our rural county where, before, you had five or six hospitals. Now, if a person is suddenly taken with appendicitis, he has often to wait two days until an ambulance is available. Then he has to be jogged along for 40 or 50 miles, oftentimes over a mountain or rough road, to hospital. Do Senators think that that is conducive to preparation for an operation or to medicinal treatment afterwards? I do not think so. Consider, then, the inconvenience caused to poor people who have to travel 40 miles, with aching hearts, the following morning to see the patient who, under the district council system, would have been accommodated close at hand.

In the days of the Irish Parliamentary Party we were called Hotten-tots and, for some unknown racial defect, we were regarded as unequal to the responsibility of national or local government. Our representatives gave disinterested and good service under the district council system. Senators and Deputies can bear testimony to the fact that, for the past 20 years, thousands upon thousands of the ratepayers' money have been expended in trying to modernise one institution to meet the demands of the people of our particular county while the crows and jackdaws were in possession of other institutions which, because they were British institutions, were not availed of. The system which replaced the former system was supposed to achieve efficiency and economy but, to my mind, it achieved neither. We had a discussion some months ago and, again, a few days ago about taking further powers from the people. I am amazed at the Government doing this, considering that they regarded the Treaty as something about which to wage a war. Again, they are going to reduce the powers of the people and destroy the spirit generated by decentralisation. They are going to destroy, as Senator O'Dwyer said, that spirit of democracy which is government of the people by the people and for the people and centralise the authoritative part of it in one individual who, to all intents and purposes, will be an official of the Local Government Department. In the face of these revolutionary changes by one Government and another, against the wishes of the people, we have this further proposal.

These district councils gave faithful service and, even if mistakes were made here and there, it may be said that, generally speaking, those elected responded nobly to the demands made upon them by the people and gave splendid, unpaid service in the interest of democracy. Notwithstanding that, Senator O'Dwyer comes along and seriously asks the Minister and this House to create a new machine with legislative power. We had five district councils in our county and, if we give legislative power to every parish council there, we shall have 53 legislative councils.

There is not one word in the amendment about legislative councils.

I asked Senator O'Dwyer and Senator Tunney if they wanted to give parish councils legislative power and, if I had got an answer to that question, it would have saved all this argument.

My name is appended, with that of Senator O'Dwyer, to this amendment and it is a revelation to me that legislative power is claimed for the parish council which we contemplate. Not only is Senator Madden living in the past but he is creating an imaginary land to which to retire from this disagreeable place.


The Senator used the word "legislative" in a rather wide sense.

I shall refer to them as administrative powers. What administrative powers can we give the parish councils that will be of any use except they have the power of legislation? They have every power they want to-day. We have parish councils under Muintir na Tire and others not under that organisation. What can they do when they have no legislative powers behind them? What are many of them doing to-day, six or eight months after their creation? Have they not broken up into different camps? Senator O'Dwyer was trying to visualise bodies in which there would be no politics. But parish councils have been created on a political basis. Some parish councils consist of so many Fianna Fáil, so many Fine Gael and so many Labour members.

There is no parish council such as this amendment contemplates in existence.

I never interrupt anybody.


Senator Madden might be allowed to continue.

On a point of order, the Senator complained a moment ago that we should have been spared a great deal of his speech if only we had answered his questions. Now, when we politely respond, he calls our answer an interruption.

It is perfectly obvious that I am not making the position very happy for the Senator who last spoke. He should exercise the good manners of which he ought to be an exemplar, seeing that he is training and teaching the youth. He should have had the patience to wait until I would have finished my speech. Many of the parish councils created within the past six or 12 months have disappeared. What could these parish councils do if they were given administrative powers? A parish council of Division A, consisting of 12 members, could decide to strike a rate and to collect money and, when they went outside the door, their decision would not be worth a flick of the fingers. I am against giving statutory powers to these parish councils. That is the very negation of what this and the previous Government did. This is not an opportune moment, when Party politics are gradually and inevitably disappearing, to bring into our discussions a bitter atmosphere. I am afraid—and Senator O'Dwyer knows it as well as I do—that the same thing would occur and we would be like the Kilkenny cats, fighting among ourselves. I am against it. I am against the giving of statutory powers to these bodies, and their administrative powers, if given, would not be worth the paper they are written on. I think that if the county councils had been left as they were, and if, during the last six or seven years, or even during the period before that, there had been more regular elections to the county councils, you would have had a tightening up in these matters and a better service all round. I believe that these councils serve the community very well, and consequently I cannot support the contention with regard to the creation of parish councils on these lines: first, because, without legislative powers, they are useless and can do nothing, and, secondly, because if you give them legislative powers you will be creating a trouble that will be very hard to exterminate.

I should like to endorse what Senator Madden has said: that the public bodies of a few years ago did an enormous amount of good. Considering the circumstances under which they had to work, and the powers which they had, they did excellent work, and the men who manned these bodies ought to be remembered. They did very effective work for the people and for democracy. Senator Madden says that he has had 30 years' experience. I think I have had almost as long an experience, because I was only about 21 years of age when I first went on any of these boards. At the same time, I certainly have not the slightest desire to go back to the old system of district councils and boards of guardians. Undoubtedly, we were glad to have them at the time, and they did good work under the circumstances, but they were brought here originally by a Government, and a then Chief Secretary, who did not know anything about this country. I was rather surprised to hear Senator Madden saying that the old poor law system was quite a success.


I deprecate the introduction of long discussions, particularly as this amendment has nothing to do with the poor law system at all.

I know, Sir, and I am coming to the subject matter of the amendment. Senator Madden, however, has referred to it, and I was just going to say that the poor law system was never accepted by any national leader in this country, from O'Connell down, so far as I know. It was the desire of the people here to do away with that system, and, as a matter of fact, it was not the last Government that did away with it, but the Dáil that was established in 1919, and again established in 1921, and I am very glad that they did away with that system. I think, however, that there is no comparison to be made between conditions now and the conditions that existed then. If you were to go into any county home to-day and compare the conditions that now exist with those that existed even 20 years ago—although I admit that there had been a wonderful improvement—you will realise that there is no comparison.

There was a debate here some months ago on this matter of parish councils, and I gave my views on them on that occasion. I maintained then, and I still maintain, that if we are to have parish councils they will have to have statutory powers. I supported the managerial system, and I have supported it all through—although I am not casting any reflection on the members of county councils who have worked here during the last 20 years, any more than I am reflecting on the members of county councils who worked here during the previous 20 years—but I do say that the present system has broken down, and that something like the managerial system is necessary. If I am not exactly enthusiastic about the managerial system, at least I am willing to give it a chance to work, but I do say, as a man of some experience and one who is anxious to do the best that can be done, that it will be necessary to have something between the people and the managerial system. I always looked upon the county councils and the old district councils and boards of guardians as being too large. I know of one case where there were 72 men, some of whom met once a week, and others met at other times. The whole thing was unwieldy and impossible to work. Some people have advocated voluntary councils, but, as I pointed out on the last occasion, when speaking about this matter, anybody who studies voluntary organisations — whether they are organised for political or national purposes, or for athletic or social purposes, and all the rest of it—will realise that they will not last. Of course, some of these organisations have existed for half a century or more, but you will generally find that you will have a virile and active branch in one county or parish and that, in the next parish, the branch will not be active at all or have faded out. Then, you may find that, in two years hence, the active branch will have faded out, probably. That is the usual result where voluntary bodies are concerned, and if such bodies are to achieve anything—and I believe they could do very useful work—they should be given certain powers. I tried, on the last occasion, to define the type of powers that could be given to them, and I would certainly be in favour of defining their powers and confining them within these powers, but I believe that, within certain very large limitations, such bodies could do a great deal of useful work and would be a help and an asset to the county councils, but unless they have certain statutory powers, and unless they are to be elected by some system of election, no matter what it may be, they would be a failure and, I am afraid, they would be more of a menace than anything else.

That is why I suggested on the last occasion that these parish councils should have certain well-defined powers, and that they should be confined to these powers. If it should be found, later on, that the powers given to them are too wide, then these powers can be diminished, but I am convinced that it would be for the benefit of the working of this Act, when it is passed, if something along that line were done. I think that the time is opportune now to do that. It may not be possible to do it in connection with this Bill, but surely it should be possible to bring in some legislation to give these powers to such bodies, because I believe that a very great deal of useful work could be done by them if they had certain powers. I think it is unfair to suggest that these bodies would do anything that would not be right. I must say that, so far as any parish councils that I am connected with are concerned, they are doing their work very well. They were not selected for political reasons or any other reasons. They were simply selected to do their work, and I must say that they are doing fairly good work. I know quite well, of course that if the emergency were over these councils would probably fade away, but I do think that, unless you are prepared to give them statutory powers, it would be better not to have them there at all.

I should like to be permitted to intervene for a moment. I have indicated, when this matter was under discussion here before, that it was not the desire or the intention to create statutory councils. I agree that this new section does not entail the setting up of statutory councils, but knowing the views of Senator O'Dwyer, I know that that is what he is aiming at. I think he expressed his views on that aspect of the matter here before. There is nothing that I know of in the provisions of the Bill to prevent Senator O'Dwyer or anybody else proceeding on the lines he has indicated here in the amendment if he wants to do so. The section has been left as wide as it possibly could be. While it is not the desire—I am only expressing a personal view, though I know I am also expressing the view of a good many other people who have some contact with parish councils—that they should be constituted as statutory bodies, the framework of the section has been left as loose as possible and there is nothing to prevent anybody doing what Senator O'Dwyer proposes by this amendment.

If we were to accept the Senator's amendment it would take a new Bill to give effect to it. Mention is made in the amendment of heads of families or households. These would have to be defined and very clearly defined. Mention is also made of elections. For that purpose you would have to compile a register, to arrange for statutory meetings, etc. All these details would have to be worked out and it would take a Bill to do that. It could not possibly be provided for in an amendment such as the Senator has put forward. As Sections 72, 73 and 74 are worded, there is nothing to prevent any Senator going ahead to organise a parish council. Personally, I prefer he would not, but there is nothing to prevent his doing so. Some Senators have spoken of the fact that these councils have not certain powers, but provision is made in these sections to permit the county councils to delegate any powers that they may wish to these councils. If the Senator can convince his county council that the parish council is worthy of a delegation of these duties which he believes can be performed by it, there is nothing to prevent his asking the county council to delegate these powers. I think personally that parish councils would do better work without having elections. These councils are only in the very early stages of their development at the moment, and if elections were held they would probably start a rivalry amongst the members for the chair, and in that way would create a spirit of dissension that would not be desirable.

I am in favour of some intermediary body that will come between the individual and the manager of the county council. I do not know whether this body which the Minister envisages in Section 72 would serve that purpose, whether it would be able to come between the poor person, the person who wants home assistance or some other form of relief, and the manager. No matter how nebulous Senator O'Dwyer may seem in his proposal, I think the Minister is equally nebulous in the section. I do not know, for instance, what is meant by the expression in the section "the inhabitants of a locality". What is a locality?

You could have a parish.

You could have three localities in a parish, each of which would be entitled to set up these bodies. I think that, as proposed, the scheme is one that will not be effective or will not operate at all unless it is expressed in some more definite form and you fix a certain delimited area within which that council or body will operate. Unless you do that, you are not likely to have decisions upon which any manager can rely.

Could you not have bodies such as the co-operative societies to which Senator O'Dwyer referred?

The Minister knows, as an administrator, as a man who has experience of Acts of Parliament and how they should be worded, that that section is absolutely useless and impossible of operation. Nobody will know what a locality is or what particular area these councils speak for or whether they are representative of any particular area.

Am I correct in thinking that you ruled, Sir, that we were to take this amendment along with No. 11?


I merely ruled that the two may be debated together.

I agree with a great many things that the Minister has already said in so far as he has replied to this amendment. But, with all respect, I submit that there is a great deal of confused thinking at the present time with regard to proposals such as that of Senator O'Dwyer for parish councils. One reason why this amendment is drafted is that sub-section (1) of Section 72 uses language which admits that there are in existence parish councils. In the unpardonable interruption which I made of Senator Madden, in response to his S.O.S. message for help, I said there are no such parish councils in existence as Senator O'Dwyer has in mind. Yet there are parish councils and we read about them in the newspapers every day, but these are not parish councils in the proper sense of the word. They are parish committees or committees set up in parishes, committees set up for the purpose of dealing with the war emergency. They are set up not exclusively in rural districts. They certainly are not local authorities, properly speaking. They are helpful bodies, no doubt, but unfortunately they are, to use a vulgar phrase, "queering the pitch." Their very existence is "queering the pitch" for the parish council proper.

The word "parish" again calls up to a great many minds, not inaccurately, a unit whose centre is the parochial church. Then you have the parochial clergyman in charge and his parishioners. The amendment before the House provides for what is known, in American law, as a civil parish. If a man has before his mind, in the consideration of this question, the parish councils of an old existing parish, he will in many cases visualise an area that is partly in the jurisdiction of one council and partly in the jurisdiction of another council. That, undoubtedly, would present administrative difficulties that would frustrate the realisation of the Senator's idea. Consequently, it was necessary to define another area, in other words, the civil parish. As the amendment is drafted it amounts to this. Firstly, power is given to a county council to set up, to authorise and to recognise parish councils on the petition of certain inhabitants of the area. It does not mean that any pushful, self-assertive, aggressively inclined individuals in a county can suddenly announce that they are creating a parish council and intimidate or—I find it hard to get a word that is not slang to express the idea—otherwise exercise their influence and work their will on the county council.

If the parish council is to be brought into existence, sub-section (1) of Section 72 leaves the door open for that. That is one of the reasons why, if one contrasts sub-section (1) of the new section with the corresponding one of the old, he will see that what is referred to is the setting-up that is to be—that is not yet. That is purposely intended to shut out any possibility of one of those—if for convenience I might use the word—irregularly set-up parish councils that now exist becoming the parish council in the sense the amendment intends. We do not want to have people—to use a phrase that journalists use very often—who are self-constituted exponents and self-constituted authorities within a district.

You will notice at public meetings that the man who is taking control of things proposes the members of the committee en bloc. He proposes John Smith, Thomas Jones, Bernard McGlone, and so on, and then the rest of the people are afraid to propose anybody else and that bloc is passed unanimously. Those people could claim that in the period of the emergency they did useful public service and have functioned and were recognised as a parish council, whereas, in our consideration, and in our view of them, they are not parish councils, because what we have in view as a parish council is a necessary corrective, a complement to the managerial system. It has to be something that spontaneously grows from the soil and will be racy of the soil; that is to say, it will be a natural healthy expression of the desire of a locality in which there is a family or families who want to give themselves to mutual reciprocal services in a community. They can do what they are in a position to do, namely, give assistance to the poor law and in the making and the repair of roads and the drainage, say, of lands on a small scale by local labour. They will be in a position to do that, because it is their interest where they exist to have it done and to do it themselves. They could not carry out those works systematically or well unless they had the authority of the county council—they would be interlopers.

In sub-section (1) of Section 72, except for the expressions that I have proposed to eliminate, I see a scheme very similar to that which Senator O'Dwyer has in view. There are a great many services of self-help, of Sinn Féin in the best understanding of the words, that the people thus organised by themselves can promote and carry out better than any central machinery can contrive. They could employ local labour spontaneously; they could have the services readily and cheaply rendered. They would know, in the popular phrase, where the shoe pinches, and know what is needed and understand each other's position.

Now I call this a natural healthy corrective of the managerial system and, as I have already inflicted myself on the House on the Second Reading, I will only recall what I said. I was the first advocate, I believe, in Ireland, of the managerial system and had a share in the setting up of it as part of the administration. While I have always advocated the managerial system as the most efficient for democratic government, namely, to have a council that legislates and an official chosen for his efficiency to carry out the administrative work, the business side, yet I recognise, as everybody must—the opponents of it harped again and again on it—that there is a tendency on the part of the manager to become a boss and to exercise his own will unduly.

Now, for the people themselves in a district to undertake a whole lot of poor law services, of road services, and similar cognate services with authority to do it from the county council, would be not only good business, as we say, but it would also help to develop a public spirit. When young people in the Twenty-Six Counties say they are going to do so-and-so, they mean that the Government is going to do so-and-so, that our Government, acting for us, is going to do these things and has our approval. We contemplate a sense of citizenship amongst the people in those areas by enabling them to set up a local authority, and that is all to the good.

On the last occasion that Senator O'Dwyer brought this before the House the Minister objected that the council would have to be elected. Considering that in the Constitution we declare the State a democratic State, that struck me as a very peculiar argument. Senator Madden not only opposes that argument but embroiders it in his own romantically fanciful fashion. He thinks that as bacteria multiply by millions in an hour, that would intensify and develop parish politics. If that is so any elections for a county council on a major scale should be objectionable. In fact, any election would be a violation of the genesis of the parish council we have in view, namely, one which grows from the people's desire to do things for themselves; to give themselves a service that they can best use. It was pure nonsense for Senator Madden to give us the history of poor law and the other administrations that he gave. I have as long a memory, and I venture to claim as strong a memory of the days that he recalled. We all know that we resented the poor law system of the English workhouse that was imposed upon us. It is strange to hear its loss recalled as one of the inequities perpetrated under the Cosgrave administration. Does Senator Madden propose to set up as local self-government what was imposed violently as an act of God by the British Government in an effort to cheat the people into the belief that they were answering the demand for self-government?

We completely changed that in 1898.

Local Government was completely changed but it was in essence a foreign institution forcibly invoked. I remember hearing the Taoiseach admit, and I think the present Minister will agree, that mistakes were made. That is one of the drawbacks incidental to self-government. It is better that we should make mistakes as freemen than that we should be saved by the imposition of foreign institutions. This is an effort to introduce into local self-government something that the people will feel is theirs. There is not legislation here. That is a figment of Senator Madden's imagination. Its function is purely administrative. It would be performing a great many things illegally unless it had something substantial behind it. The Senator referred to the striking of a rate. Apparently he had in mind a rival to county councils. This is a coadjutor to county councils. But for one exception Section 72 (1) is in spirit what we desire. I voted for Section 72, but I prefer to vote for the amendment, because it shuts the door on a possibility that I dislike. Suppose the so-called parish councils of to-day, that are not rural institutions, but that are urban in many cases, prove a failure or become unpopular, or excite odium for themselves in some way in the popular mind, their existence and functions will prejudice the parish council idea. That is why I support the amendment, inasmuch as there is no room left for councils that are not parish councils being perpetuated when the emergency is over. That cessation at the end of the emergency should not take place and there should be room for them to continue under the sub-section. I am sorry for speaking so long, but there is such an amount of confusion of thought that the effort to clarify thought takes time and requires going into detail.

The course of this debate has made it plain that the need has been realised of a link between the county manager and the inhabitants of the smaller local communities, which was visualised when we speak of "parishes". The need has been recognised by the framers of the present Bill, and is embodied in Section 72. I think we must commend the draftsman for the clever way in which he has avoided many pitfalls. The definition of a "parish" is such a pitfall—as is also that of "family", which we use colloquially without a due regard to its legal meaning. If the amendment were accepted it would give rise to a great many difficulties. It seems to me the section goes as far as we could go at present. The Minister pointed out that what Senator O'Dwyer requires is that these local councils should come into existence through election. There is nothing to prevent that being done. It seems to be an admirable arrangement that county councils, the county manager and the county board of assistance can delegate to a local body duties which "in the opinion of such county council would be better regulated or managed by or through such approved local council." That gives these councils the proper work to do, and that fits admirably into the framework and the pattern of local government which we are trying to elaborate.

The amendment points out that where a considerable body of inhabitants of a locality desire to have their district recognised as a civil parish, a petition shall be addressed to the county council concerned. Does that mean that the people living in a locality, or any section of people, could come together and make application for approval as a council and, if approved by the county council, how long would that council be in existence? Is there to be any opportunity given for the introduction of new blood? If 20 people in a locality made application and were approved, would they compose the parish council for that area during their lifetime? The county councils have powers to erect halls and to delegate certain powers to each of these parish councils. Public assistance committees may also delegate powers. They have also the powers to revoke such delegation at any time. We can assume the position arising where the parish council could be approved of by the county council and, in a short time, for some reason or other, the county council may make up its mind that these are not the proper people and all the power previously given to them may be revoked, even though they have gone to expense in erecting a hall, furnishing it and so on. They have power to do that under this Bill.

I am afraid that the whole idea of parish councils was killed, more or less, in this country by the present committees, set up during the emergency. These committees, in many instances, were called parish councils. I believe that has done great damage to the general idea of any progress being made by parish councils under local government in the future. If the idea were to allow parish councils—or committees, as I believe they should be called, properly speaking—to function, or be recognised by county councils as the parish councils, these committees or councils were set up in a most extraordinary way. The parish priest, in a number of cases, received a communication from the secretary of the county council, asking him to get in touch with the local representatives of the county council with a view to setting up an emergency committee. The parish priests—and, mind you, parish priests are not above politics, in a number of cases—sometimes chose from their political supporters. As a matter of fact, I know that in one instance, in the heart of Connemara where you would not believe such a thing would happen, the parish priest selected his council and in a few days some people were not satisfied with the selection made and his reply was: "I put on it everybody in my parish with a stake in the country." If that is the type of parish council we are to set up under this Bill, it would be better to delete the whole section. While at the present time it may be difficult to accept Senator O'Dwyer's proposal, I think it is the only way in which we really can have proper councils, if it is necessary to have them at all.

We heard a lot about what parish councils have done during the emergency. We were to have 72 of them in County Galway; we are supposed to have 72 at present. Recently the commissioner or the secretary sent out a circular in relation to turf and other matters. He got a reply from 40 parish councils. One secretary—I suppose you will always find one honest man—said that the best thing that could be done was to abolish parish councils, as they really had done nothing since they were established. In any area where anything has been done, it was where the chairman—in one instance, the parish priest—and one or two selected had sufficient energy or enthusiasm; but, on the whole, the idea of parish councils has failed as they do not represent the people and have not been selected in the best possible way. Of course, several parish councils have done extraordinarily well, I admit.

A number of inhabitants in a parish can come together and apply to the county council for approval, and the county council can give it. Then, in place of making way for unity in that parish, you create disunity, as probably a number of inhabitants in that parish never heard that such a group was making an application. If the county council approves of the application from one section of the people, the other section will feel very much annoyed. I suppose that the Minister will receive many applications from various areas, telling how special meetings were held of which some inhabitants did not know and how application was made and granted by the county council because the people who made the application were supporters of some member of the county council, or one or the other things happened that can happen in these cases. That will be a matter the Minister must deal with later on. Probably, when all these things drop out, we will decide that the best thing, if such councils are necessary at all, is to have them elected by the people.

To begin with, I would suggest to Senator Madden that one of the functions of a parish council would be to do the things which he related to us early in the day as being those which no public representative in Limerick would do. That would be a very good service for any parish council to take on. Dealing with Section 72 as it is in the Bill, and the amended section as suggested, and the speeches with the different suggestions of names and nomenclature, one would need to do a bit of tongue-twisting to distinguish between parish committee, parish council, approved local council and the new term that has been introduced in the amendment, the civil parish. All these things require careful consideration, in view of what has been put forward now.

The existing Section 72 is entirely too indefinite. We have had references here earlier in the day to indefinite sections in this Bill. I cannot fancy at all from that wording: "where the inhabitants of a locality in a county health district" who the inhabitants are, what number constitutes all the inhabitants and whether it is all the inhabitants or portion of them. What is the locality which must be in a county health district? Who are these people and where are they? The terms of this section say if they have

"either before or after the commencement of this section, established a council, committee or other body, whether corporate or unincorporated, for furthering the general social and economic interests",

etc. All this is terribly vague. When we are passing legislation, we should be more definite and more descriptive as to what we mean. The amendment suggests definite procedure and method of election instead of the indefinite method mentioned in the section as it stands. The word "inhabitants" is so embracing that I fancy the lawyers would have great play-acting with it.

That is the trouble: the lawyers prepared it.

I fancy that lawyers would have great fun in play-acting, but I do not mean that in any offensive way. The definition is so vague that it would take them a long time to decide who are the inhabitants mentioned—whether it would be a majority or a minority. It is all very indefinite. Not necessarily on this stage, but on the Report Stage, we might come to some definite agreement as to what this section means. We have had discussions in which these have been called parish committees. They were defined yesterday by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance as being very good. He did not tell us how many were very good and how many were very bad, but apparently there is no intermediate course for the existing parish councils. I think, in order to avoid having people pointing the finger of scorn at us afterwards, we should be very definite in this matter. The position could be clarified on the Report Stage if the Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment put forward here dealing with elections. This amendment suggests election by heads of families or households. It definitely outlines a means of estimating who the inhabitants are. There is nothing in the Bill to define how the inhabitants are to be estimated. It does not say the "majority of the inhabitants"; apparently it is to include everybody over eight and under 80. I think it is too indefinite.

I think previous speakers have said practically everything I wanted to say, but there are a few points which I should like to mention. Senator O'Donovan has referred to the definition of a locality or the inhabitants of a locality. I want to know from the Minister whether this is a proper interpretation of it, that, where some of the inhabitants of the locality have met and set up something which they describe as a parish council, that is to be recognised for all future time as a parish council? I could give a few instances, which are within my own personal knowledge, of the manner in which certain parish councils were set up. A meeting was called. It was announced in the church that a meeting would be held on a certain day in the following week to set up a branch of Muintir na Tire. A number of the people in that area knew nothing about that organisation or what its object or aims were, and had not even the curiosity to go to the meeting in order to find out. The result was that a few people attended; they were set up as a parish council, and their names were later returned to the commissioner for the county under the Emergency Powers Act. They are now recognised as a parish council. In some of the areas they are doing fairly good work. As Senator O'Donovan has pointed out, they are either very good or very bad. Some of them are very bad, and I want to know whether the very bad ones are to be allowed to function even in an advisory capacity in future. The county commissioner will later on become the county manager. That makes matters still worse, if he has recognised bad parish councils or bad committees and there is no further power to amend or improve them when he becomes county manager. I fully agree with the principle of having parish councils as advisory bodies. I do not mean that we should go back to the boards of guardians or district councils. I had some experience of them for many years, and I do not think it would be advisable to go back to them. They were an improvement on the grand jury system, but were not anything like what is required at the present time. I do put it to the Minister that, as Senator O'Donovan has suggested, some amendments should be brought forward on Report Stage to ensure that parish councils will be elected on some basis which will give full representation to the people of the area.

I would be willing to make my contribution toward the working of this section, but I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister. Why not give the county council the same power of selection as they have in the case of the old age pensions committee or the vocational education committee? If they were given the power of electing or selecting the local committees, there would not be all this danger of some few people starting councils on their own.

I do not see how this is going to work at all. It appears to be the most awfully vague and irregular procedure to be put into an Act of Parliament. I do not want to repeat what Senator O'Donovan has said, but it is going to be an entirely fortuitous sort of arrangement. We have localities undefined, committees undefined, personnel undefined, and then we will have those bodies set up, bodies which, apparently, are to be given by delegation some of the powers of the county council. I cannot believe that the Minister really has his heart in this, and I wonder how it has come about at all. It appears to me the most terrible sort of compromise between the various forces which approached the Government or put pressure on it. If we are to set up a body with statutory powers it must be done in a proper straightforward way, by the usual machinery, or it can be done by absolutely straightforward delegation from a constituted authority like the council. If they want to set up a subordinate body there are straightforward ways of doing it. You can give representatives on the council for the locality certain powers, possibly powers to co-opt, but to start off by recognising a body which has come into being entirely by fortuitous methods, and is probably not acceptable to a considerable section of the local people, and to give that body powers, seems to me to be an astonishing way of doing business. I doubt if there is a precedent in any Act of Parliament for a section of this kind. I would suggest that the Government should withdraw the whole thing, and bring in another Bill making clear the position of those local bodies. They have been useful in an emergency, and no doubt some method of this kind might work in an emergency. But this legislation is not for an emergency; it is legislation for all time.

In any serious legislation, we surely must avoid the possibility of meetings being held without some of the local people knowing they were being held, people finding themselves on councils without being consulted, and all the carious anomalies that must arise under machinery of this kind, and that I know have arisen already. I have heard people saying: "I am on the local council, but the first I heard about it was when someone told me I was on it. I was not at the meeting, but I was put on the council." Such a body might be useful as a voluntary body, but to delegate powers to it, with apparently no means of abolishing it, no means of re-election or no means of dealing with vacancies, appears to me to be perfectly ridiculous, and I am very much surprised that the Government could contemplate putting methods of that kind into an Act of Parliament.

It may seem extraordinary to Senator Sir John Keane. I do not know whether he was a member of this House when we gave similar powers to the county council in the 1925 Act. In various other Acts, practically the same powers—perhaps wider powers in a sense—were voted by this House to the county councils. They could have set up committees to administer any of the various functions they had themselves. They could have members of their own on and they could co-opt any other people they liked. It was left without all these definitions about meetings and descriptions of what they were and what they were about. This section here is deliberately vague. Comment has been made about calling them parish council, parish committee, approved council. That is a matter of drafting. Where you have a local body, it is the idea behind it that matters. It does not matter what you call it if they are people who perform a useful public function. Reference was made here to what can happen. A body can be set up and there is no way of arranging about their election or meetings or anything like that. That, too, is left wide. Let a body come into existence. Let a group of inhabitants of an area form a body. You have the county council there to know whether they think that body is able to perform a useful function or not, and if the county council does not think it is in a position to perform a useful public function then it need not delegate any of its powers to them or need not give any financial assistance to them.

Can the county council delegate powers?

Yes, they can. The county council can delegate powers. The county council has to provide the money. The manager may have the power of delegation. The check the county have on it is this, that they can withdraw that delegation at any time and withdraw any of the powers given to them. If the county council are satisfied that there is a useful group or body of inhabitants in a district that can perform a useful function they can take upon themselves the power to delegate certain functions to them and provide them with a hall or something like that. It is not true to say that this thing has been drawn in such a way that nobody understands what it is about. It has been drawn with a view to leaving it as wide as possible and when it has been working some time we will have a real idea as to its development and future use. I agree that the section is wide but that was done deliberately in order that it might cover any of the functions that a county council might consider they could usefully perform.

I must say that what I have heard from Senator Hawkins has been something in the way of a surprise to me because it is not what I have heard from various parts of the country. I have heard, before ever this section was drafted, that there were groups of people getting together in various parts of the country, trying to cooperate and trying to work, perhaps, something on the lines of the co-operative movement. I am satisfied a good many of those were doing very useful functions in trying to create a spirit of self help and I know that the great majority of these groups did not want anything in the way of statutory recognition. Other groups, I know, did. I have felt that, especially in the emergency, a parish council could be a useful unit. Sometime after this emergency came on us, I called a meeting of the county secretaries throughout the country. I suggested to them at that time—and I think it was agreed to—that a unit of organisation that could help them—most of them as county commissioners, some of them as assistants—would be the unit of the parish.

There may be criticism here and there, but some of those people who are perhaps annoyed at the way they see a parish council developing, are not approaching it in the proper way. Instead of sulking on the fence and criticising, they could do better by getting in with the council and cooperating with them and seeing what could be made out of it, especially in this emergency. I felt that the best way a parish council can work, during the emergency at any rate, is on the loosest possible lines of organisation. In other words, by people trying to sink their political and other differences, getting together without trying to have three of one group and four of another and five of another and creating a sort of feeling of jealousy—if one may use the word—between these various groups. It would be much better if you had some people to organise parish councils on the basis that no matter how many Fianna Fáil supporters or how many Fine Gael supporters there were in the area, to give them all equal representation and to give equal representation to all other interests as well. That would be the best way on which to organise parish councils. That was the best way for the emergency and it would be the best way if some sort of organisation were to arise out of this when the emergency is over. It would be well to have some sort of organisation like that that would enable these groups to work harmoniously together, vying with one another in working for the best interests of the parish.

I disagree with the amendment. Firstly, I think it is premature at the present time, and, secondly, I am afraid it would be unworkable as it is. That is a matter that, if it was urgent, a Bill could be brought in to meet it and to deal with the various things that would have to be done under it, but I think, for the present at any rate, it is much better to let things develop as they are. People are only looking for snags when they say that this thing is ambiguous and that nobody knows where they are and all the rest of it. We all know where we are in the matter. We can see groups growing up to deal with the emergency and to co-operate with one another in providing fuel, etc. Afterwards, it is a matter for the county councils, if they in their wisdom think fit, to delegate any powers to them.

I must say that under the 1925 Act and the other Acts, county councils have availed very little of delegating any powers or setting up any of these committees that they were entitled to set up and whether councils will avail of their powers, I do not know. It will probably depend a lot on what the county councils think of the various committees and parish councils they see operating in their area. I hope that, whatever else is going to creep into the organisation, jealousy will not creep into the organisation of parish councils and as far as possible that politics will be kept out of it also, especially in this emergency. In that way I believe parish councils can fulfil a very useful and necessary function at the present time and that they have great potentialities for the future.

There are two points to which I wish to reply. Senator Madden says that the establishment of parish councils on the lines we suggest would be another step in the process of centralisation. In fact, it would have quite the reverse effect. The setting up of elected parish councils would be the very antithesis of centralisation. At present, the ordinary citizens are completely in the hands of State Departments. With an elected parish council the people, for the first time, would be in a position to stand up to any Government Department. Senator Madden also said the election would result in political Parties running these councils. I see no sign that such is the case. The present emergency councils consist generally of public spirited people who have grouped together to do their best in the present emergency and they deserve credit for it.

The Minister said—I was rather surprised—that there is no reason why I could not elect a parish council if I wished. I was going to ask him—I did not like to interrupt—how he thought I or any other person would elect a parish council. We have as much right or as much chance of electing a parish council as we have of electing a member of the Dáil. It could not possibly be done except by the statutory machinery of the Government. We could only elect a parish council by having a register of the people and carrying out the election in proper legal form, the same as a county council or district council.

It might be better to state once more what we propose. As some Senators have indicated, there seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding parish councils. Some of that confusion may have been brought about by the misapplication of the term "parish council". As an illustration, I should like to take an ordinary parish comprising 200 families. Under the present system a number of these people get together and they constitute themselves into a parish or emergency committee. In other places, they form themselves into an organisation and set up a council somewhat on the same lines. In all these cases they represent the general mass of the people. What we propose is that each of the 200 families will get a vote and they elect an executive council of whatever number they wish and that executive council will continue in office for a number of years. There, at once, you have a properly constituted body within each district which would be in a position to collaborate with the county council or any other council.

A question has been raised as to what administrative powers a parish council should have. The Bill provides that whatever powers they possess will be those delegated to them by the county council. We are not setting up statutory bodies at all. The procedure we have outlined is much simpler than the establishment of parish councils elsewhere visualised. I think the Minister should seriously reconsider this whole matter. He says that it would require a separate Bill and that it may be necessary to bring in a Bill to regularise parish councils after the emergency.

I would like him to bear in mind this danger. Those parish councils which have been constituted in a haphazard manner cannot continue very long. The great majority of them, by their very constitution, are bound to fail. That is inevitable. Some of those councils consist of a few spirited people from each parish and they will continue to function until such time as they get tired of giving service. The failure of the present system of emergency committees is bound to react on the parish council system proper. That is the danger. I do not believe that there is a doubt in the mind of anybody that a proper system of parish councils could fail to do good work. The bodies already in existence have proved their worth in this emergency. They have clearly proved that permanent bodies elected by the people of the different localities are bound to carry on beneficial work in the direction of good local government and in the development of our native land.

I do not propose to press the amendment to a division. I am glad to observe that there seems to be an almost unanimous opinion that the system of election by popular vote is the only practicable way of having those councils properly established. I should like to know from the Minister if, seeing he is not prepared to accept my amendment, he will introduce some other provision which will embody the ideas it contains?

I agree with the mover of the amendment in his decision not to press the amendment. I should like to say, for the information of the Minister, that we agree in the main with what he said in his last reply. We agree thus far, that it is a desirable thing to invest the county council with power to delegate certain authority to bodies of the inhabitants in the different districts or localities or divisions of the county. Thus far we who support the amendment as against Section 72 are in thorough agreement with the Minister. We yield to no one in our approval of the proposal to give to county councils the power to do this thing, to wit, to delegate authority to those members in their bailiwick, so to speak, who are willing to undertake certain local duties and impose upon themselves the-burden of public service in their own particular community.

We approve of that heartily, but there are a lot of things in our amendment which, I frankly admit, are difficult to interpret clearly, because we are trying to do what we admit to each other is an impossible thing, namely, to set out in the form of an amendment to a section what should properly be set out in a Bill. The Minister, I think, is in agreement on that point, from the remarks he made incidentally. The setting up of parish councils, as we understand them and as we desire to have them functioning, as a part of the national healthy participation of all the people in self-help, in the carrying out of administrative services for themselves, is, we think, so complex a matter to set out in a way that will commend itself to everyone who might otherwise, a priori, be opposed to it, that it would require a separate Bill.

While our amendment falls short of being that satisfactory thing. I hold that the same objection can be made to Section 72. I am loath to say anything derogatory of the section more than I have said, because we welcome the effort on the part of the Minister to supplement local government in this way. He promised previously that there would be a further supplementary Act which would cover the whole field of local government, and this is an honest and sincere attempt to carry out the promise. That, I think, we all admit, but what I have already indicated, what we do not quite like in it, one thing being particular and special, is the possibility of the continuance of what was an emergency committee set up to meet a specific need which, I hope sincerely, it will succeed in meeting—the possibility of that being perpetuated as something inside the local government system. What are those local emergency committees? They are not the output of the local spirit and the local feeling. They are, in a large measure, devised by men of public spirit hastily, but they are not the expression, as are the elections of T.D.s and Senators, where they are elected, of the people's will and choice.

We want a local government system in which every authority is of the people's making. That, I think, we should insist upon as an essential. It is not an Irish system of local self-government if there be any local authority inside the four walls of the system which owes its being to some thing other than the deliberate choice and decision of the people. That is the essence of the difference between our amendment and Section 72. I can see very well the good spirit, as I may call it, which animated the Minister in leaving room, as he says, vaguely, for a continuance of these committees. Some of them have functioned and have shown that that public spirit might very happily and fruitfully be continued, but there are others which would be intruders which it would be necessary to exclude.

That is the main difference between us. We want a democratic system of local self-government. We want it to be of the people's making—that, whether it is faulty or not, it is, at any rate, what the people desire. We do not want emergency committees, which no doubt serve a useful purpose, where they function in accordance with the Minister's intention, incorporated in the system of local self-government merely because they happen to exist at the time these local government reforms are being made. I have deliberately repeated that because repetition is emphasis. There is, I think, no difference between the Minister and us on this point of democratic institutions and democratic control. I do not believe there is, but, if I thought there was, I would not have said what I have already said, that I am quite willing to vote for Section 72, even as it is. I think it would be very useful and helpful, however, if the Minister would consider that this is not his last effort in legislation with regard to local government and that he will introduce a Bill—which he could more fruitfully do than the mere amateurs of Bill-making—to set up parish councils in the best and proper sense.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 11 not moved.
Section 72 agreed to.
Sections 73 to 89, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In Part IX, immediately after Section 89, page 40, to insert a new section as follows:—

"(1) As soon as may be after the commencement of this section, the appointment under Section 4 of the County Management Act, 1940 (No. 12 of 1940), of the first county manager for every county (other than the County of Dublin) or each of every two grouped counties shall be proceeded with and completed notwithstanding that that Act has not then come into force, but the day appointed by the Minister under sub-section (2) of the said Section 4 as the day as on and from which any such appointment takes effect shall not be earlier than the day on which the said County Management Act, 1940, comes into operation.

(2) Sub-section (5) of Section 4 of the County Management Act, 1940 (No. 12 of 1940) shall not apply or have effect in relation to a county in respect of which the appointment of the first county manager takes effect on the day on which that Act comes into operation.

(3) As soon as may be after the commencement of this section, the first appointments of persons to fill the several offices to which Section 12 of the County Management Act, 1940 (No. 12 of 1940), applies shall be proceeded with and completed under that Act notwithstanding that the said Act has not then come into operation, but the day appointed by the Minister under paragraph (b) of sub-section (3) of the said Section 12 as the day as on and from which any such appointment takes effect shall not be earlier than the day on which the said County Management Act, 1940, comes into operation."

The intention was to have elections before the County Management Act was put into operation. That Act is postponed to an appointed day, and, until it is put into operation, there is no power to appoint county managers. It is now intended to put the County Management Act into operation, and, while the Minister has power under the provisions of that Act to appoint temporary managers, it is considered that we should proceed now to get the county managers, so that they would be able to start when the Act is ready for putting into operation.

Amendment agreed to.
First, Second and Third Schedules agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.