Supplies and Services (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1946—Second Stage.

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

This Bill is necessary because, though the emergency which gave rise to the Emergency Powers Act of 1939, may have passed, the conditions created by the emergency and affecting the life of the community in many respects still persist to a very large extent. Many commodities in everyday use are still scarce and in the interests of consumers their distribution must be controlled by the continuance of the rationing schemes applied to them while the worst phase of the emergency conditions were with us. Moreover, the scarcity of commodities essential in the everyday life of the community requires that the specific powers taken for the control of prices should be continued, and it will be within the knowledge of Senators that in numerous other directions restrictions are necessary in the general interests, such as, for instance, those applied to dealings in foreign exchange.

The Government are anxious to retain only those powers which will enable effective control to be exercised in the directions where that control is still required and the Orders which, in fulfilment of this object, are regarded as necessary to continue in operation, have been set out in an explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill. Already a number of powers taken under the Emergency Powers Act have been relinquished and, as soon as it is safe to do so, other powers will be relinquished. In the appendix on page 7 of the explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill will be found a list of the articles of the Emergency Powers (No. 1) Order, 1939, which it is proposed to continue. Only nine articles are to be so continued out of the 91 included in the Order as first made. The appendix to the explanatory memorandum lists in numerical order the Governmental Orders made under the Emergency Powers Act of 1939 and the Emergency Powers Order of 1939, which are to be continued. Orders now in existence and continued under the Bill can be amended up to the appointed day, but after the appointed day Orders can only be made by the Government under Section 2 of the Bill in relation to the specific matters set out in Section 2. Any of the existing Orders which relates to a matter not specifically covered under Section 2 of the Bill will not be capable of amendment after the appointed day, which will be the 2nd September. Such an Order can only be revoked.

The matters which can be covered by Government Orders to be made under the powers conferred by this Bill are detailed in Section 2. Briefly, they cover rationing, control of exports and imports, currency restrictions, the compulsory tillage of land, the production of turf, the facilitation of the financing of purchases of essential goods by the special purchasing companies set up for that purpose and, finally, the reduction or suspension of customs duties on certain articles. It is well to repeat that after the 2nd September the Government will have no power to make Orders save in relation to the matters which I have mentioned.

The preceding remarks relate almost entirely to Orders made by the Government. In addition, as Senators are aware, numerous subsidiary Orders were made by Ministers under powers conferred by Government Orders. These subsidiary Orders continue in force either until they are specifically revoked or until the main Government Orders under which they were made have been revoked. A large number of these subsidiary Orders has limited application and, for this reason as well as the fact that many of them are of short duration, they have not been listed in the explanatory memorandum. These Orders deal, among other things, with the details of rationing, the control of prices, and such like matters covering conditions arising out of the emergency. A list of all these Orders of more than passing interest as well as of Government Orders in force at the 31st December, 1945, was published early this year as an index to the Emergency Powers Order. It is proposed within a short period after the 2nd September next to reissue this index with brief particulars of all the Government and subsidiary Orders which will be in force at the 2nd September. The same policy will apply to subsidiary Orders as that which I have mentioned applies to Government Orders, namely, that they will be revoked immediately the need for them has passed. That need is being constantly reviewed in all Departments.

Under the Emergency Powers Act and the Emergency Powers Order it was provided that Orders made by the Government should be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, and there was power to annul. The Bill now before the House not only makes similar provision in relation to Government Orders but extends the provision to cover Ministerial or subsidiary Orders. Similar provisions to those in Section 8 of the Emergency Powers Act with regard to the charging of fees are contained in the Bill. Fees have been charged on the issue of licences, permits and certificates and, in accordance with the undertaking given at the time the Emergency Powers Act was under consideration, these fees have been fixed at such amounts as to cover only the costs of administration of the schemes in respect of which the licences, permits and certificates were issued. Any fees at present payable will continue at the amounts heretofore fixed.

The provisions in Section 6 of the Bill dealing with offences, prosecutions and punishments merely re-enact existing provisions in respect of these matters. I should refer at this stage to the provision in sub-section (9) of Section 6 which exempts summary proceedings for an offence under Section 6 from the limitations imposed by sub-section (4) of Section 10 of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851. Under Section 10 (4) of the 1851 Act, summary proceedings must be initiated within six months after the date of the offence. It was found that this limitation militated against the enforcement of many of the powers taken to cope with emergency conditions affecting the life of the community. In particular it was found that the enforcement of the compulsory tillage regulations could not be operated with this six months' limit because inspection of holdings to see if the statutory requirements were fulfilled could not be undertaken until after a fixed date (18th July each year) and that was the date by reference to which the commission of the offence was determined. In the debate in Dáil Eireann it was represented that it was inequitable to the defendants to defer the taking of summary proceedings for an undue period after the date on which the offence was alleged to have been committed. It is recognised that these representations had much force behind them, and it is proposed on Committee Stage in the Seanad to introduce an amendment, the effect of which will be to extend the period of six months, as fixed by the Act of 1851, to 12 months but not further.

Though the shortages in supplies of very essential goods still exist, there are signs of improvement in the supply position in certain directions. For instance, it was possible to increase the tea ration and to relax the provisions of the clothes rationing Orders. It is hoped that the improvement will continue and that before many months the stage will have been reached when rationing may be abandoned. That stage has not yet been reached and consequently I feel confident that the Seanad will recognise the need for this Bill, as one of its main purposes is to secure fair distribution of goods in short supply. The Bill will be in operation only until the 1st September, 1947, and will not be continued beyond that date unless the circumstances which have necessitated its introduction still persist. In such an event, legislation will have to be introduced.

The main purpose of the Bill, of course, as the Minister has said, is to continue for a period certain limited Emergency Powers Orders. It is perhaps a little unfortunate that the method of drafting the Bill is such that the Emergency Powers Orders continued in operation are merely referred to in an appendix by way of a White Paper and not in the Bill itself. One must assume, however, that the White Paper as such is correct. So far as the main provisions of the Bill are concerned, I propose merely to direct the attention of the House to the powers that are being continued in operation as detailed in that appendix. One can understand of course that it is absolutely necessary to continue in operation for a further year powers in regard to rationing. That is self-evident to everybody. I was extremely glad to hear the Minister say that the extension of the limit of six months provided in the Petty Sessions Act was going to be confined to 12 months because I think there were serious causes of complaint in the fact that a person was called upon to make up a defence so long after the event which formed the basis of the prosecution. I take it that the extension beyond the period of six months is not merely in regard to compulsory tillage Orders but in regard to every Order which is retained in force under the provisions of the Bill. If that is correct, I would suggest that, while it can be understood perhaps in regard to compulsory tillage, the Minister should explain what are the things other than compulsory tillage offences, for which it is desirable to prosecute at a time beyond the normal period of six months provided for under the Act of 1851. The matter is governed by sub-section (9) of Section 6 of this Bill which appears to me to be a general provision and not merely a provision applying to the compulsory tillage Orders.

I regret also that the Minister has seen fit to provide under the Bill that the Orders, as such, are on the same level as statutes in regard to judicial notice. There has been considerable difficulty in dealing with the details of Orders in the courts. It was a sound practice that the Order under which the offence was being prosecuted should be handed into the justice so that the justice, particularly in cases where the defendant was not professionally represented, could have the exact terms of the Order completely before him and not merely have to depend on the judicial notice which affects any statute even though the justice may not actually have it physically on his bench at the time he is considering the matter. These, however, are matters more for the Committee Stage than for the Second Reading.

I also think it is unnecessary at this stage to retain under the emergency powers as set out in the appendix, powers to take possession of land. As I understood it, land was to be taken under an Emergency Powers Order to provide sites for defensive purposes, sites perhaps for turf camps, turbary rights and so forth. I understand the situation now is that Bord na Móna, and the Turf Development Board previously, have taken all the land that is required, and in that respect it should not be necessary to continue that power. I think it undesirable that acquisition now should take place under an Emergency Powers Order rather than by ordinary proceedings under the existing statute law.

I also fail to understand why the power to search premises and vehicles is required to be left in the wide sense in which it is. One could understand that power of that sort would be necessary where black marketing activities were suspected. The power originally granted was granted to deal with very much more than that. In my opinion it is desirable that the power to stop and search should be limited to cases where a Gárda officer had reason to suspect that a vessel, craft or vehicle was likely to be used for black marketing activities, but that, apart from that, the power could not be used for any other purpose. With regard to the ordinary power given to the Department of Local Government to stop vehicles, one can say, having regard to the long period during which vehicles were laid up, that it was desirable such a power should be there to see whether those vehicles were serviceable or not. In view of the fact that vehicles have now been on the road for a period of six months, one wonders whether it is necessary to continue that power in operation.

One of the Orders which is continued under this Bill deals with a great many nominal companies. I had my crack at the Minister already on that, and it is not my intention to pursue the subject to-day. I do, however, want to refer to one matter that arises specifically out of the Orders that we are continuing. On page 10 of the White Paper the first Order mentioned is the one which enables the Minister for Finance to take up shares in Irish Shipping, Ltd. That, I presume, is the parent Order under which the control of Irish Shipping Ltd., should properly be discussed. I do not propose to go into any details in regard to Irish Shipping Ltd., but I do want to protest most emphatically against the action of that company in utilising its capital for a purpose that was not indicated or anticipated at the time when the Order setting it up was made. I happen myself to be a shareholder in the Insurance Corporation of Ireland. So far as my position as a shareholder in that company is concerned the intervention of Irish Shipping, Ltd., with that company was good for me because it resulted in appreciating the shares in the Insurance Corporation of Ireland.

The fact that the shares of that company were enhanced thereby resulted in a certain material advantage to me, but notwithstanding that, as a public representative I must enter a most emphatic protest against this Irish shipping company, which was granted moneys by the Oireachtas for a certain specific purpose—to bring goods here and insure against war risks—taking up shares in an ordinary private industrial company like the Insurance Corporation of Ireland without having the sanction of the Oireachtas to do so.

That appears to me to suggest possibilities which I sincerely hope will not be followed in regard to other State-owned companies. I could quite understand the directors of Irish Shipping Ltd. wishing to leave, on one side, their insurance arm after the termination of hostilities and negotiating with some existing commercial company an arrangement by virtue of which they would hand over their insurance arm to it for certain considerations. I could quite understand an agreement of that sort being negotiated with a commercial company with the sanction of its shareholders. It appears to me to be vital, in the interests of Parliamentary control, that the Government should also have come to the Oireachtas, as the directors of the commercial interest would have gone to their shareholders, and put before it proposals that Irish Shipping Ltd. should do this and seek Parliamentary sanction for it. If that had been done there would not be any objection to the procedure adopted. As I have already said, from the point of view of my personal interest, what has happened has undoubtedly enhanced the value of my shares in the commercial company. I do want to say, however, that for a Government-sponsored, controlled and owned company to go out of its way to engage in what is quite frankly a speculation— though I believe it is a sound speculation—and take up shares in an ordinary commercial concern operating in normal peace times—to do that under powers given for the emergency— appears to border very closely on sharp practice.

It will generally be acknowledged by the House that controls must be maintained so long as supplies are short, and so long as there is a difficulty in satisfying the public demand in many respects. Therefore, the case of the Bill is established in that first sentence. We cannot quarrel with the Minister's proposition to extend the period during which certain Orders made under the Emergency Powers Act will be continued for a limited period. On that point, I would like to refer to the discussion which took place here last year when the Emergency Powers Act was being continued for an additional year. One of the things that we were insistent upon was that the Bill should be introduced at a time in which there would be ample opportunity to consider its implications. I think I suggested that it might be introduced early in the session, say, in February, so that there would be no rush, as there was last year on the eve of the Recess when we were asked to give all stages of the Bill in the one day and hope for the best. We have improved on that this year to some extent, but why in the name of all that is good and merciful does the Minister fix the expiring date as the 2nd September, 1947? Is there any reason why this Bill should not run for an additional three months and expire on the 31st December, 1947? That would give us ample time in the autumn session, if we live and happen to be here, to discuss the situation which would arise if it is necessary next year to continue this Act. I would urge that on the Minister. It may seem a very small point, but it is at least significant to the extent that it would enable us to have plenty of time in the autumn session to discuss the Bill. I would urge him to extend the date for the additional three months until the 31st December, 1947.

There are only two points that I want to refer to in relation to this Bill. I feel that it would be much more satisfactory if the schedule to the White Paper had been inserted as a schedule to the Bill. That would be a far better way to deal with this problem, because as it is we are very largely taking a shot in the dark. We are giving power to the Government, and we are going to extend the life of certain Orders, but, strictly, we do not know what Orders are being prolonged under this Bill.

We have the statement that nothing will be continued under the Bill except the Orders mentioned in the White Paper but that is not mandatory. If the Minister finds in his pigeon-hole an Order which he had forgotten to tabulate but which he thinks ought to be continued, there is nothing to prevent his continuing it under the Bill. That is a very unsatisfactory way to pass legislation. A big improvement is being made in the manner in which Orders will be dealt with in future, inasmuch as these Orders, irrespective of their category, will be tabled and both Houses will have an opportunity of annulling them if there is a case for their annulment. That is a big improvement on what has been done for the past six years, when only a particular type of Order—a Government Order—was tabled. Ministerial Orders were not tabled, nor were they even brought to public notice. Parties have appeared in court in connection with prosecutions and it was found that nobody had a copy of the Order under which the proceedings were being taken—not even the district justice.

The second point to which I want to refer arises out of this question of prosecutions. I want to urge on the Minister what I urged on his colleague when we were enacting legislation to abolish the Department of Supplies— that, unless in exceptional circumstances, the machinery of the Special Criminal Court should not be utilised for prosecutions under this Act. If we have established a system for the administration of our laws under the Constitution and if we have set up a judiciary and made it independent of Parliament and of the Government in order that it might impartially administer the law and maintain the balance fairly between the citizen and the State, I think we ought to be very slow, save in exceptional circumstances, to permit any departure from the practice which requires that the machinery of the courts be utilised for prosecutions. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, when presenting to us the Bill for the abolition of the Department of Supplies, dealt with this matter to some extent. He said that, when he was winding-up the business of the Department, he would make a memorandum for the guidance of his successor in the next world-crisis, pointing out that there should be some special procedure for dealing with emergency powers regulations, apart from the ordinary District Court. I do not think he went further than that. I do not think that he said that the court should be a Special Criminal Court composed entirely of military officers.

He did suggest, for a variety of reasons, the District Court was not the best instrument for enforcing these regulations. What has been happening? A number of these cases have been dealt with in the District Court and, so far as one can gather, dealt with very effectively. Indeed, the Minister for Industry and Commerce has claimed that we are more free from black market offences than any other country in Europe. It was not the Special Criminal Court which achieved that result because, in the Dáil a few weeks ago, the Minister for Industry and Commerce said that less than 1 per cent. of the prosecutions were brought before the Special Criminal Court. What was achieved by bringing these cases before the Special Criminal Court? Extremely heavy penalties were imposed and, in most cases, it was worth while to appeal against the conviction. Appeals were taken and invariably resulted in the High Court or Supreme Court setting aside the conviction and rendering the State liable for its own costs, for the defendant's costs and the costs of a new prosecution. I do not think that that will improve popular regard for the law. The average poor man sees the matter in this way: I happen to be poor and I am prosecuted for having overcharged for butter, bacon or tea. I am taken before the Special Criminal Court and I am fined £500 or given 12 months' imprisonment as an alternative. Because I am a poor man, I have to serve the sentence. In another case, a fine of £5,000 is imposed or three months' imprisonment. If the person concerned has made, in these transactions, a profit of £30,000, he can afford to brief Senator Ryan or Senator Kingsmill Moore to bring the conviction up to the Supreme Court, where it is quashed. I suggest that, in the enforcement of Orders under this Act, resort should be had to the ordinary courts established under the Constitution. I do not want to be told that the Special Criminal Court is provided for under the Constitution. I know it is but it is regarded by everybody in the country as extra-Constitutional. I urge that these prosecutions be brought in the ordinary courts and that advantage should not be taken of their place in the category of crime to send them to special courts, which, in the long run, with all respect to them, have no capacity for the weighing of evidence or for giving effect to the type of consideration which a lawyer is trained to understand.

There is one other point to which I should like to allude. Power is taken in Section 2 to continue to make new regulations, if necessary, regarding transactions relating to currency. I have been utterly bewildered in the past by the manner in which corresponding regulations in the Emergency Powers Act have been operated. Under these regulations, a case of considerable importance was brought, in the first instance, before the Special Criminal Court. There was an appeal to the Supreme Court and the decision of the Special Criminal Court was set aside. This was a case in which certain persons were prosecuted for transactions relating to watches. I do not propose to discuss the case or to say anything regarding it beyond this —that I have been completely unable to understand the interest of this State in preventing citizens importing watches from Switzerland during the war.

In exporting them to the Six Counties.

That is where all the humbug and tosh comes in. Orders were made under the Emergency Powers Act prohibiting the importation under licence of watches into Ireland. Certain people applied to the Department of Finance for permission to import watches and pay for them in sterling, but the Department refused I made some inquiries to ascertain the grounds on which the Department refused permission to Irish citizens to import Swiss watches and the reason given to me was that we were expending sterling on the importation of watches, and, therefore, were losing some of our sterling assets, that those watches were brought into the country and sold to English and Six County visitors—and that seemed a heinous crime. The answer I made was: "Suppose we are giving away sterling, in exchange for Swiss watches, we have the satisfaction that when the war is over, and if everything goes to the worst, instead of having paper money we will have gold watches, an asset of some value; we will have watches and clocks and other commodities which people will require." In regard to the suggestion that they were being imported for the purpose of being sold to visitors and so exported, I pointed out that, if that was so, we were getting back the sterling, plus some profit, and also that it was giving employment and wages to the people engaged here in those transactions

I have never been able to understand how any purely Irish interest was being promoted by the regulations under which our citizens were forbidden to import Swiss watches, unless it be in the interest of keeping good terms with the Bank of England and the British Treasury in its control over the use of sterling. If the Minister said it was to keep on good terms with Great Britain that we should make this regulation, I am prepared to accept the statement; but on no other grounds can action taken under an Emergency Powers Order in relation to the importation of these foreign goods be justified in this House or anywhere else.

I hope that under this Bill, when it becomes an Act, we are going to get away from the practice which was in vogue during the emergency in relation, in particular, to the importation of foreign commodities which involve a payment of sterling outside the sterling area.

Like Senator Sweetman, I was uneasy when I saw the limitation of six months abolished, but am glad to hear the Minister say he is going to make a limitation of 12 months, and that is satisfactory to me. With regard to the Emergency Powers Order authorising the acquisition of land, Senator Sweetman said that an Act we have passed empowers Bord na Móna to acquire land. That is so, but county councils have also acquired land and spent large sums of money on different bogs and it is necessary that they should continue to be able to acquire land and hold it for certain purposes. I think that is the reason why particular emergency power is continued in this Bill.

In regard to what Senator Sweetman said about Irish Shipping, Limited, taking shares in an Irish insurance company, I do not think there can be any grievance about that, as long as they invest it in an Irish company. It is a very good act, and ought to be encouraged. They must have had the right to do it under their articles of association or they would not have done it. That would be more a matter to raise at a meeting of shareholders than in the Seanad. In regard to Senator Duffy's point, I do not think there was ever an Emergency Powers Order preventing the importation of watches.

I have seen people refused permission to import them.

There was a contention that watches came within a certain Order, on the ground that they were machinery or implements of a certain nature. I do not know if that was the reason for the prohibition.

I want to assure the Senator that I am aware of people who had watches in the Post Office in Dublin, and who were refused permission to accept delivery.

The Minister may be able to deal with that and say what the power was, but I do not think there was any power at all. I was rather perturbed about Section 9, that an Order shall be judicially noticed. I did not object to that part of it, but I do not like the words "and always shall be deemed to have been". I hope that is not put in for the purpose of relating to some case in which an appeal is pending, as I would not like to have any ground of appeal taken away by an Act subsequently passed. I suggest to the Minister to put in a clause saying that this would not apply to any case partly heard or now pending. I would not like to see a defect cured in such a way, but would like to see every man, no matter what his offence, given a fair run for his money and, if he has a point, I would not like to have it swept away by the Oireachtas.

An talt deireannach den Bille, alt 16, fo-alt (4) fógrann sé go mbeidh deireadh leis mar dhlí i gceann bliana nó b'fhéidir roimhe sin. Feicthear dhom go bhfuil an tAire an-dóchasach ar fad má mheasann sé go mbeidh deireadh leis an éigeandáil nó an phráinn taobh istigh de bhliain. Is maith liom, áfach, go bhfuil an Bille ann ach ag an am céanna is dóigh liom go mba cheart dúinn ár n-aigne a dhéanamh suas nach é seo an uair dheiridh a fheicimíd an Bille. Ar nós gach duine eile ba mhaith liom an lá bheith ann go mbeimid réidh le scéal seo na nOrduithe ach ní fheicim go dtiocfaidh sin chomh luath is atá daoine a cheapadh.

Ba mhaith liom beagainín a rá faoi Alt 2. Is maith liom go bhfuil sé ar intinn ag an an Rialtas an cumhacht a choinneáil le dáiliú earraí áirithe a shrianadh. Duine ar bith a bhfuil spéis aige ins na scéimeanna líon-mhara atá beartaithe le haghaidh cúrsaí géilleagair na tíre agus le haghaidh cúrsaí sóisialta, ní fhéadfadh sé gan imní a bheith air ar eagla go mbogfaí den tsrianadh atá i bhfeidhm go dtí seo. Níl fhios agam cé mhéid airgid is fiú na scéimeanna atá cláraithe cheana féin, mar shompla, scéimeanna a mbeidh earraí ar nós adhmaid, iarnearraí agus a leithidí sin, riachtanach ina gcóir Caithfidh gur fiú na milliúin punt airgid iad. Dá mbogtaí den tsrianadh atá ar dháiliú agus ciondáil na riachtanaisí le haghaidh scéimeanna den tsort sin, is furusta a thuisgint an chaoi a dtiocfadh "chaos" ins an tionnscail atá i gceist. Tá srianadh riachtanach agus beidh sé riachtanach go gceann tamaill mhaith, i riocht nach dtiocfaidh éileamh an-tobann ar a bhfuil ann de na h-earraí sin, agus i riocht nach dtosnófar ag an am chéana ar mór-chuid de na scéimeanna. Dá ndeantaí sin, is furust a thuisgint an chaoi a cuirfear as don obair ar fad ceal saothair de shaghasanna áirithe bh'féidir. Is furust a thuisgint fresin an chaoi a bhféadfadh daoine áirithe deisiúla teacht isteach ar an margadh agus a bhfuil de na riachtanais ann a cheannach, agus daoine eile a fhágáil gann orthu. Mura mbeadh tada eile ann ach an méid sin, is maith liom go mór an socrú atá beartaithe sa mBille faoi Alt 2, go mór mór faoi fho-alt (a) ann.

Tá spéis faoi leith agam i bhfo-alt (c). Is maith liom go bhfuil sé ann comh maith, mar tá sé riachtanach. Sílim nar mhiste dá mbaineadh an tAire feidhm as an ócáid seo le beagán eolais a thabhairt dúinn mar gheall ar phoinntí áirithe a bhaineas leis an bhfo-alt seo. Bhíos i láthair tamall ó shoin ag cruinniú áirithe agus le linn an chruinnithe sin labhair duine údarásach oirdheare ann agus chuir sé in iúl a mhíshásta a bhí sé nach féidir beagáinín fhéin airgead a chur go dtí abair, an Fhrainnc, agus a éasca atá sé, más mian le daoine é, mór-chuid airgid a aistriú ón tír seo go Sasana. Chuir sé iongnadh orm nár thuig an cainteoir uasal atá i gceist an fáth atá leis an srianadh ar aistriú airgid agus caithfidh mé a rá gur chuir sé iongnadh níos mó orm a mhéid ba léir nar thuig lucht an cruinnithe an scéal leis. D'fhéadfainn an rud a fhreagart ar mo bhealach fhéin ach ní móide go dtúibharfaí aon áird orm. Is fearr a thíocfadh an miniú ón Aire. Níl cursaí trádála idir Eire agus tíortha eile mar a bhídís roimh an gcogadh agus is dóigh liom gur fada go mbeidh siad ar ais ar a gcóir féin. Faoi láthair, le tamall roimhe seo agus le tamall eile le teacht, beidh airgead coigríoch gann sa tír agus an fhaid a bheas sin amhlaidh ní foláir don Rialtais féachaint chuige gur acu sin a bheas srian ar chaitheamh pe ar bith méid den airgead sin a bhéas le fáil i riocht go mbeidhfear ábalta é a chaitheamh ar na nithe is riachtanaighe le haghaidh gnóthaí na tíre. Is aisteach a laghad a tuigtear é sin. Is iongantach a réidhe atá daoine i ndon dearmhad a dhéanamh ar an deacracht atá ann airgead coigríocht a fháil agus a riachtanaighe atá sé an tsrian a bheith ag an Rialtais air. Cinnte, ní tabharfaí aon áird ar na rudaí a deirim faoi, agus ar an abhar sin tá súil agam, ar mhaithe leis an bpobal, go mbainfidh an tAire fein feidhm as an ócáid seo mar a dúirt mé chun a mhiniú an fáth a bhfuil sé ag iarraidh an cumhacht atá i gceist sa bhfo-alt seo. Ba mhaith liom an méid seo a rá freisin nach gcuirfidh sé iongnadh orm má bhíonn ar an Rialtais leanúint den bheartas chéanna go ceann tamaill mhaith thar éis don éigeandál bheith thárt.

Maidir leis an méid a dúirt Senator Sweetman faoi an gcomhlucht loing-seoireachta, nuair a léigh mé fhéin an díospóireacht a bhí ann faoi bheartas an árachacais mhuiridhe fuair mé sásamh ann mar fachthas dom go raibh an comhlucht ag déanamh athrú ar bhealach ionmholta. Fachthas dom go raibh gnó an chomluchta seo á stiúradh mar a stiúrófaí aon chomhlacht phríobhaídeach ina leithéid céanna de chás; ar an mbealach a béifeachtaíghe agus ba torthúla don chomhlucht féin. Sílim go bhfuil cuid againn ró-imníoch mar gheall ar na neithe a dhéanann na comhluchtaí seo a cuirtear ar bun faoin stát. Is maith liom go bpléitear an ceisteanna seo. Bhí uair ann agus níor thaighnigh liom rudaí áirithe a bheith á bplé—le linn an chogaidh—mar bhí faithchíos orm go ndéanfaidís dochar. Sílim go bhfuil sé an-tairbheach agus úsáideach an méid díospóireachta atá déanta againn i dtaobh na gcomhluchtaí stáit seo, go bhfuil tuisgint agus léargús maith ag an bpobal anois ina dtaobh agus nach bhfuil aon imní nó aon fhaithchios ar an bpobal mar gheall ar modh a stiúrtha nó i dtaobh a gcuspóirí nó feidhmeanna.

Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Deaghadha, anois beag, caithfidh go bhfuil an comhlucht taobh istigh dena cumhachta a leagadh síos dó, caithfidh nár sháruigh an comhlucht an dlí. Dá ndéanadh, is cinnte go gcloisfí faoi.

Na daoine atá ina choinnibh.

Nach bhfuil sé sin ráite anois?

Níl sé ráite go bhfuil sé i gcoinne an dlí. Tá sé ráidhte gur chuaidh siad thar na comhachta a leagadh amach dó nuair a bhí an comhlucht á chur ar bun. Tá meamram cumannachta ag an gcomlucht agus faoin meamram sin tá an comhacht acu ar an rud a rinne siad.

Proinnsias Mac Aodhgháin


Tá agus, ar nós gnáth comhlucht, dhein siad rud áirithe ar mhaithe le deagh-stiúrú agus leasa an chomhluchta. Ar sháruigh an comhlucht an dlí? Más rud é gur sháruigh, agus gur imthigh siad ar bhealach mí-cheart, ba chóir an méid sin do rádh go cruinn. Ní pléidhtear na neithe seo go h-iomlán. An té a léighfeadh an méid atá ráidthe i gcoinne an chomhluchta bhéadh sé in aimhreas nach bhfuil rud éigin ar bun nach bhfuil ceart, nach bhfuil go fírineach agus go h-iomlán do réir an dlí. Deirtear rudaí áirithe agus fágtar ar an aer iad, ní ceart sin, dar liomsa go h-áirithe. Sílim go bhfuil anmholadh tuillte ag an chomhlucht ar an rud sin atá déanta i dtaobh an árachais, agus tá mé sásta dá réir sin gur dream meabhrach tuisgionach atá in a bhun. Ní chreidim go ndéanfaidís aon rud as bealach, aon rud in aghaidh an dlí, go dtí go bhfeichidh mé cruthuighthe é.

Is maith an rud é go bhfuil an tAire chomh dóchasach agus atá sé, agus a cheapadh go mbeidh sé rúidh leis na deacrachtaí seo i gcionn bliana nó roimhe sin. Tá súil agam go bhfuil an ceart aige.

My approach to this Bill is that I regard it as so much a regrettable necessity. While I could not endorse Senator Duffy's suggestion that its life should be extended another three months longer than the period mentioned in the Bill, I would hope that circumstances would accelerate its demise much earlier than the year envisaged. The various clauses of the Bill could never be popular with the public but the powers which they confer had to be endured because we were passing through terribly abnormal and unnatural times. No one would wish that these conditions should continue. The various Orders were obnoxious to trade interests in general but, as I say, in most cases despite heart-burnings, of industry particularly, they had to be endured. The Government had no other course open to it but to frame such regulations and again, despite the heart-burnings which these Orders caused, I think the Government have done remarkably well. I could easily make a speech on Order 83 alone but at this stage I do not think it would be fair to the House. It certainly would not be fair to the Minister who has got a difficult job to do.

I just want to go on record as saying on behalf of the very considerable trading interest that I represent, that we do hope that the Minister will find himself within the year envisaged in the Bill able to provide for a decreasing amount of control. Industry is restless, and industry cannot expand naturally as long as the regulations which in normal times did not hamper it are continued. In saying all this I want to pay an unqualified tribute to the Department for the way in which these matters have been handled. We could easily have been much worse off. The Government have had to take powers during the emergency which were new to them and to deal with conditions which were certainly very strange to them. On the whole, the wonder is, not that we have so much to complain but that we have had so little to complain about. I think it is only fitting that in giving expression to these few remarks I should pay tribute to the very efficient manner in which the Minister and his staff dealt with the powers which were entrusted to them.

I should like to deal with one point in the Bill. The Bill is a temporary measure and I am rather inclined to agree with Senator Summerfield that the sooner we can get rid of many of these Bills the better. At the same time, I think from the Parliamentary point of view I have to sympathise very much with Senator Duffy in his desire that we should not be confronted in the month of July with legislation and regulations which must be passed before the 1st September. It would be much better if the date could be amended to the 1st January so that we could deal with these matters in November rather than in July. I think Senator Summerfield and myself would then be in much better form to discuss these measures.

There is one particular Emergency Powers Order which is being continued, Emergency Powers Order No. 30, 1940, from the Department of Finance, which deals with civil servants (transferred officers). I think nobody who knows the higher Civil Service and the circumstances under which the Order was made should neglect to raise his voice against that Order. As a matter of fact, what is being done in this Order nobody but the Department of Finance would ever think of doing. Senator Summerfield is sometimes criticised in this House as an employers' representative, but no employer in the world would ever think of doing what is being done in this measure. After the Treaty was passed and accepted, a number of civil servants were transferred from the British Government to the Irish Government under certain conditions, on an agreement between the two Governments that, if they so wished, these civil servants had the right to retire. A certain number of them did take advantage of these terms and retired. With these people, certainly while I was a member of the Government, I never had and never could have any sympathy, but the great majority stayed on to serve the Irish Government. Not only did they serve the Irish Government in the sense of giving value for their money, but they served it with great zeal, competence and fidelity. In 1932, when another Government came along, they continued to serve that Government with equal competence, zeal and fidelity.

That is admitted generally. There is no other fact about which Ministers and ex-Ministers are on such completely common ground. Now the Minister for Finance says to these civil servants: "Because you stayed in the Irish service, because you were competent, because you were faithful, according to your bond to the Government elected by the people, whether in 1922, 1932 or 1942, because you worked so hard, we will not give you what we think you are worth because we know what you are worth." I think that position is extraordinary. Because these people are good, because they are essential to the State, because, in the words of the Order, "the time has not yet arrived in which the premature retirement of experienced staff could be permitted without a loss of efficiency in the Civil Service", the promises of the Government, in the name of the State and in the name of every one of us when these officers were transferred from their former service, have not been carried out. Because they have proved indispensable to the Irish Government, they cannot be permitted to retire as they were perfectly entitled to do. These people—they must be a small number— never availed of the opportunities which were given to them to retire on special conditions. They remained to bear the great burden of the work which was placed on the shoulders of higher civil servants, particularly during the emergency. Senator Summerfield rightly paid many compliments to the Minister for his work during the emergency, but credit for the success of that work is principally due to the civil servants, and particularly the higher civil servants. I know that Senator Summerfield would willingly pay them that compliment.

I did so when I was speaking.

I am not taking from what Senator Summerfield said about the Minister. I am merely pointing out that it was largely as a result of the magnificent work of these higher civil servants that the Department was able successfully to cope with the various problems which confronted them during the emergency. Now, we are actually passing legislation to deprive these civil servants of what they were promised. Of course, they have no defence of any kind. Certainly it illustrates—and I have seen it illustrated in many smaller ways on other occasions—that the Department of Finance can do what no private employer would think of doing or what any employer would be ashamed to do.

I do not intend to widen, although I would be in order in doing so, the scope of this debate, but I feel that I must in one or two sentences refer to what Senator Summerfield has said. He talked about controls in industry and the heart-burnings in industry. I think the figures show that there must be a good deal of pocket-burning, too, arising out of the excess profits that we know have fallen in certain quarters. We cannot know all about that until certain returns are made available by the Revenue Commissioners. I cannot quite accept the position that, if these controls were removed, industry would function naturally. Naturally, industry is being carried on under very sheltered conditions at present. I think that in the public interest it might be considerably less sheltered with benefit to consumers.

I strongly support the plea of Senator Duffy that the ordinary courts should be allowed to function in increasing measure for the trial of offences under the Emergency Powers Act. I cannot find the section in the Bill under which trials before the Special Criminal Courts are to be continued. I am told the provision is in Section 3 but I cannot find it. At any rate, trials by the Special Criminal Court are to be continued. I feel that, so long as that is so, it is a great reflection on our political stature. It also shows a want of trust in our courts to try those offences. As long as that is the position, I do not think we can claim to have reached anything approaching political maturity. I think that the ordinary courts could, with the utmost confidence, be trusted to deal with black market offenders, and that they would inflict on them the heavy penalties which they deserve. It would be much more satisfactory if the ordinary courts were allowed to do so.

I also support very strongly the observations that fell from Senator Sweetman with regard to extending the use of Government money outside of Parliamentary control. I dealt with that on another occasion recently and do not wish to labour it now. I do feel that after the Recess it would be necessary to have a full-dress debate on that whole subject, with a view to pressing the Government to have an inquiry. The thing is reaching dangerous proportions, and to that extent I feel that after the Recess the matter should be seriously examined by Parliament.

Finally, I want to ask the Minister if he can say what is the policy in regard to the standstill Orders? It has been announced that there will be a relaxation of the standstill Order in regard to wages, but that it will remain in force with regard to dividends and directors' fees. I see a danger in removing standstill Orders at all during the present emergency and scarcity. What is ever present on my mind is the danger of inflation, and the increasing burdens that are being placed on people of fixed incomes. I do suggest that the matter must be handled with justice. In my opinion, it would be unjust to remove the standstill Order in the case of wage earners and not allow a similar relaxation in the case of dividends and directors' fees.

Senator Sweetman raised the question as to whether the extension of time to bring prosecutions before the lower courts—to extend it from six to 12 months—was necessary in regard to cases other than compulsory tillage cases. The experience of the Department of Supplies has been that it is necessary where the rationing regulations have been broken, and where offences of one kind or another against rationing have been committed. It is true that offences of this kind do occur, and it is, therefore, necessary to take some action against the offenders. If it were not possible to bring them before the District Court they would then have to be charged on indictment and brought before a higher court. I think it is reasonable enough to give this power up to a period of 12 months. I do not think that either lawyers or their clients will forget the circumstances under which an offence was committed inside of 12 months.

Senator Sweetman also raised a question as to whether it was necessary to continue the powers to enter upon land and take possession of land. That provision is being kept on in order to facilitate county councils in doing the work that has been given to them, namely, to provide turf. All Senators will agree that it is necessary to have rationing, to continue rationing and to keep a careful control over supplies. We must, at the same time, provide that there are supplies available for rationing, and if the county councils or Bord na Móna were held up in regard to the provision of fuel, then there will be no fuel to ration. It is, therefore, necessary to continue for another 12 months this provision of being able to enter on land.

A couple of Senators raised the question whether it was right for Irish Shipping, Ltd., to invest some of their reserves in an Irish insurance company. As Senator Ó Buachalla properly pointed out, they must have had legal authority when they did that. They had authority under their articles of association. Not only had they legal authority for doing so but it was essential that a company set up to provide the Irish people with a shipping service should set up a company to do insurance, whereby the ships and their cargoes could be insured.

They did not do so.

They did insurance, as they were entitled to do under their articles of association. By doing their own insurance, they saved our people a very large sum of money. Senator Duffy has objected on a number of occasions to our building up our external assets. I do not see why we should devote our external assets to getting a job done which we ourselves could do very much better. Irish Shipping, through their insurance scheme, saved our people millions of money. When the war ended, they had a surplus, built up from profits on insurance premiums which were lower than would otherwise have been the case. They made use of those reserves to obtain a controlling interest in an Irish insurance company, so that the good work, which was found to be absolutely essential to the life of our people during the war, should continue. I think that they have made a good investment.

I never queried that part of it.

From the point of view of directors with moneys to invest, I think that they did an excellent job of work in adding to the capital of a company which can now undertake insurance of a kind that no other Irish company is prepared to undertake or could undertake. Not only can they deal with shipping but they can also deal with air insurance and, to some extent, with re-insurance forwarded to them from other countries. If anybody desires to debate the matter in detail, there are ways of arranging for that.

Since the matter was raised by Senator Sweetman, there is no use, as Senator Ó Buachalla said, in leaving the matter in the air. What Irish Shipping did in the way of investing their moneys in the Insurance Corporation of Ireland was perfectly legal, perfectly justifiable and was good policy so far as the building up of the country is concerned.

I do not want to be misrepresented. My objection was that Parliamentary sanction had not been obtained. I never queried the soundness of the investment.

If there were not Parliamentary sanction, it would not be legal. The matter cannot be contested on the ground of legality or Parliamentary sanction, because that can be traced from the powers given by the Act. A Senator may object to what was done on the ground of policy but not on the ground of legality. Senator Duffy and other Senators referred to the trial of offences before the Special Criminal Court rather than before the District Courts. If Senators examine the list, particularly in recent months, they will find that the cases in which offences were prosecuted before the Special Criminal Court in connection with rationing regulations had very wide ramifications. It was only such cases which were brought before that court. Senator Ó Buachalla hopes for the day when we shall have finished with Orders. We must all join in that hope but I agree with him that we should be very optimistic if we thought we should be finished with emergency Orders before the end of 12 months. I agree with him that we have done very well during the war, that as a people we have come through a very difficult period, if not unscathed, without very deep wounds in our national economy.

Certain Orders have to be retained. Senator Ó Buachalla asked why we were retaining the Order restricting transaction in foreign currencies and, generally, operating exchange control. He really answered that question himself. It has been necessary to control exchange during the war so that we could divert all the foreign currency which we could obtain, other than British, to the purchase of materials that were essential rather than spending the money on imports of services of secondary importance. I am afraid that exchange control will last longer than 12 months. Nobody would be more delighted to get rid of it than I.

One of the reasons I have objected to the proposition which Senator Duffy has put forward every time I have been here is that, instead of getting rid of the exchange control which exists, his proposition would involve the institution of exchange control between ourselves and Britain, which would be very much more difficult to operate than exchange control with the Continent or with the American continent. We have headaches enough at the moment deciding who should get money for various purposes. It would be very difficult and add greatly to the number of civil servants if we had to decide whether people who buy goods in England should get British currency, as we should have to do if we had not free exchange. We should also have to decide for what purpose people should get such money and in what priority they should get it. I forget the details of the watch question which has been referred to but it would have been ridiculous if, when the British Treasury had prohibited their citizens from buying watches, they were enabled to break the regulations simply by buying them here or by buying them from Irish people who had bought them in Switzerland with Swiss francs which were issued, in the first instance, through the British Treasury. That case could not be sustained. We got all the watches we wanted for our own citizens. We got the Swiss francs necessary to purchase them and I do not think that we should at any time facilitate British citizens in breaking their own law.

The only other question raised was that raised by Senator Hayes in regard to the transferred officers. We must all agree that the Civil Service has worked very well, that it has loyally obeyed this Government and the Government that preceded it. However, it was found necessary during the war to bring in an Order which prevented a civil servant—perhaps someone with a temporary grievance—using a grievance in order to get out of the Civil Service with an enhanced pension. As the emergency is not yet over, it is necessary to continue that provision.

I agree with Senator Hayes that such a provision is not necessary in order to retain the services of the vast majority of the transferred officers. Only very few of them took advantage of their rights under the 1929 Act and went to the tribunal to get a release and get an enhanced pension. If we released them from control to-morrow and allowed them to go before the tribunal again, I think there would be very few cases indeed. Still, if one man who had some little personal grievance or, perhaps, even a falling out with his higher officers, did go to the court and succeeded, there would be a general complaint from those who did not go. I think it is necessary to retain this power for the next year. It is not going to have any great effect as, if the power were abolished, very few would go to the tribunal.

Is it worth keeping them in the Service?

Yes; if even one went, it would create difficulty.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 17th July.