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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 26 Apr 1945

Vol. 29 No. 27

Racing Board and Racecourses Bill, 1945—Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 3, Section 2, lines 35 and 36, to delete the words "either or both of the Governing Bodies" and substitute therefor the words "a Governing Body".

This amendment arises out of a discussion during the Committee Stage regarding the definition given to the expression "a governing body". It will be observed that on page 4 "governing body" means any body being (a) the Irish Turf Club or (b) the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. Strange as it may appear when we come to deal with other aspects of the measure in which specific definitions are given, we find that instead of using the title "governing body" which has been defined to mean either one of two bodies, the expression defined on page 3 is "governing bodies". In relation to racecourses the expression "authorised racecourse" means a racecourse at which race meetings are held with the sanction of either or both of the governing bodies. That appears to me to be completely inconsistent with the subsequent provision dealing with the definition of "a governing body". The matter arises again, as I pointed out yesterday, in a later section. There are two courses before the Minister, either to continue to use the expression "governing body" to which he has given a meaning or not to define it at all. The only two occasions on which, as far as I can remember, the expression is used, is in the definition section and another section. That it should be used in that manner surprises me. I think it is wrong. I suggest to the Minister that the definition is wrong and that the one I am suggesting here is reasonable. I am suggesting that the definition should be read like this: "The expression authorised racecourse means a racecourse at which race meetings are held with the sanction of the governing body". As a matter of fact the present phrasing seems to me, apart from every other objection, to be meaningless. What is meant by "either or both of the governing bodies"? What is implied is that in order that a racecourse may be authorised, the sanction of the governing body that controls the events over that course is wanted. I believe that if the Minister reads the section as I propose to amend it he will agree that it is less obscure than the phrasing of the Bill and gives him the definition that he requires.

I have not any strong or decided views on the subject of the amendment, but I did take the opportunity of having a long consultation and discussion with the Parliamentary draftsman. Having gone into the matter now, I think, for the third time, he is definitely clear that what is in the Bill is the correct expression, and should not be altered. I have to abide by his view. I think that is the wise thing to do.

I am not going to press the amendment now, but I will have something to say on it later on.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendments Nos. 2 and 3:
In Section 2, page 3, line 44, to delete the figures "25" and substitute instead the figures "24".
In Section 2, page 4, line 7, to delete the figures "26" and substitute instead the figures "27".

It is the custom that when there are changes, as there were changes in this Bill, on Report the consequential changes, figures and so on, are put in by the officials in the Bills Office. They omitted to do it this time. I do not know how it escaped their notice. I called their attention to the matter, and I hope the person responsible will be reprimanded for it.

I hope not.

I am sorry the Senator had the trouble of examining through it so carefully, and that he was the first to discover the errors. That applies to amendments Nos. 2 and 3, and also to amendment No. 5, where the plural was used instead of the singular. These matters are examined after every stage by officials of the Bills Office. I think it is very rarely that a mistake of this kind occurs, but it did occur on this occasion, and we have formally to move these amendments so as to put the matter in order.

I would not like that that view should prevail. I suggest that there was no authority to cover my amendment No. 5. In the first draft of the Bill the word "are" is used, not "is". I think it would be an impertinence on the part of any official in this or in the other House to interfere with that.

They might have called the Minister's or the officials' attention to the error.

Who is going to say it is an error? The Minister would not admit it was an error yesterday.

I was not certain. I had not examined it.

I am not going to go further with it except that I want it to be clear that their should be no impression created that officials of the Parliament, when they find out an error, have a right to make any changes.

I think that they should. Their duty and responsibility whenever they thought they discovered an error should be to call the attention of the Minister or his staff to it.

Who is going to say it was an error?

I say, if they thought it was an error.

Amendments agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 7, Section 14, sub-section (1), in line 21, immediately after the word "bodies" to insert the words: "and after notice to the executive of any existing authorised racecourse which in the opinion of the board may be affected".

I went into this at some length with the Minister yesterday and I have made it even milder. I will not now reiterate my views on the amendment but I urge the Minister to accept it.

I will accept the amendment but the draftsman suggests the addition of one word, the word "giving". It will read then: "and after giving notice to the executive of any existing authorised racecourse which in the opinion of the board may be affected". Will the Senator accept that?


Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 14, Section 40, line 33, to delete the word "are" and insert instead the word "is".

I understand the Minister has agreed to accept this.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 14, Section 40, line 37, to delete the words "stewards of the governing bodies" and substitute instead the words "appropriate governing body"; and in line 38 to delete the word "stewards" and substitute therefor the words "governing body".

This amendment arises out of a matter which was raised on the first amendment. Again, I am perfectly satisfied that the phrasing here is incorrect. I consulted a member of this House last evening, who happens to be a very active practising lawyer, and he confirmed my view that this draft is incorrect, and that it is necessary and proper to make the amendment I suggest. I agree that the Minister, like myself, is at a disadvantage. He takes the views of his officials. On this point I want to make one emphatic protest. It has been my experience that in many Departments officials cling to something which they know to be wrong, just because they did not do it in the first instance. I discussed with an official of a Department some years ago certain amendments which were proposed to a particular Bill. He told me that in his opinion the amendments should be accepted, but that it was not proper for officials to point out to a Minister that an amendment suggested by others should be accepted, because the Minister or Ministers usually asked why, if those people could see it, the officials could not see it. And so an error is allowed to remain. I had the experience of asking a member of this House to move an amendment to a Bill some years ago, and the Minister pointed out that he could not accept the amendment, and gave his reasons. But within six months the same Minister came to the House with an amending Bill to give effect to the proposals which he was so emphatic in resisting. I urge on the Minister to use his own judgment, and to ask himself a straight question—whether this looks better than the original draft and not to take the view of the drafts men or officials who have drafted it, whether it was right or wrong. Of course, the Minister will have been translated to another sphere, and someone else, perhaps, will come into the House asking for a new Bill, and saying that it was due to an oversight when the measure was originally before the Oireachtas. It is pathetic that this should happen, and I am perfectly convinced that it has happened, because the people responsible for the drafting of a Bill refused to admit they made a mistake.

It may, I think, happen that both the draftsman and the Senator may be wrong. It could happen because in this particular case it appears that the people responsible are not really the governing body, but the stewards who are appointed by the governing body. Rule 17 of the Rules of Racing sets out the powers of the Stewards. It reads as follows:—

"The Stewards of the Turf Club have full power to sanction or prohibit any meeting to which these rules apply: to grant and to withdraw licences of officials, trainers, jockeys, and racecourses, to grant and to withdraw permission to ride to gentlemen riders, to approve of the dates on which all meetings shall be held; to make inquiry into and deal with any matter relating to racing, and to warn any person off the Turf Club lands of the Curragh".

Considering this rule and the powers given there it is quite possible that it is the stewards should be there and not the governing body. But the draftsman insists that he is right. He is not exactly of the type that Senator Duffy suggests. The Senator may, of course, be correct in his references to some officials who are afraid to admit mistakes. I am not afraid to admit a mistake. I committed many of them in my time, both as a Minister and an ordinary individual and I suppose I will go on committing them.

Oh, no, no.

I am prepared to take a chance and to accept Senator Duffy's amendment. I hope it will work out satisfactorily, even though I may have to come back here again, or some other Minister, as the Senator suggests, and move an amendment pointing out that Senator Duffy was, for once, wrong.

So long as you do not make me pay for the error I do not mind.

Amendment agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration and do now pass"—put and agreed to.
Ordered: "That the Bill as amended be returned to the Dáil."