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Seanad Éireann debate -
Friday, 19 Dec 1947

Vol. 34 No. 21

Garda Síochána (Acquisition of Sites and Retention of Premises) Bill, 1947—Second Stage.

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

The purpose of this Bill is to acquire sites for Garda stations. The position is that throughout the country there are many Garda stations that are quite unsuitable for the purpose and which are inconveniently located. It will be necessary to get new barracks. Every effort will be made to get them by agreement but if agreement cannot be reached this Bill proposes to give compulsory powers. All sorts of things arise. Sometimes there are delays about establishing title. The main thing is to give to the Commissioners of Public Works, where they cannot get agreement, compulsory powers and if the owner is not satisfied with the price or the terms offered the matter can be referred to arbitration. The arbitrator will be a person appointed by the Chief Justice, the President of the High Court and the President of the Surveyors' Institute. I understand that is the way an arbitrator is appointed in the case of local authorities acquiring sites in the same manner.

Another thing that is hampering the administration of the Garda Síochána is the fact that when a married guard is transferred, the landlord of the house in which he has been living is very often unwilling to let the house; he wants to sell it; and the result is that Guards are being kept longer in these houses than would otherwise be the case. There is nothing in this Bill interfering with any rights the landlord possesses under the Rent Restrictions Act. Of course, the landlord, while the Guard is in the house cannot get possession, any more than he could get it from any other citizen. What happens very often is that where a Guard is transferred, the owner of the house in which he has been living is not prepared to let the house to another Guard, with the result that Guards are kept longer in the same place than the Commissioner would wish them to remain.

The only remedy for that is to acquire sites to build houses—not to take possession of a house that a Guard is occupying. That provision applies only in the case of barracks.

Will not there be power to do it all the same?

Not in the Bill—not a house that a Guard is occupying. It is only sites for houses. The provision applies to premises for Garda stations, not to houses that Guards are occupying. There is a very big difference. There is a very immediate problem as far as that is concerned. There is one particular case in Bundoran. The lease is running out and there is no possibility of getting a Garda station in that particular place unless we are able to retain possession of the present premises. I think Senators will agree that it would be most undesirable in a place like Bundoran, which is a big holiday centre, if there were not a Garda barracks. It would be an impossible situation. In this case the Bill authorises the Commissioner to retain possession of stations after the lease has run out. It is hoped that the landlords and the Commissioner will be able to agree but, if not, there is provision made, on the same lines as local authorities have, for arbitration.

I should like to refer to an article that appeared in one of the daily papers on this matter. The writer apparently was under the impression that we intend to take houses occupied by Guards. He must not have read the Bill rightly if he thinks that because that is not the intention. I am pointing out that, for a number of years past, the Commissioner has been most anxious to make certain changes. That may be due to some reason or another. He simply cannot do it. Until we build new houses, no progress can be made. For the last four years, at least, when my Estimate is in the Dáil I am pressed on every side to get houses built as quickly as possible for Guards, apart altogether from the convenience of the Commissioner in administering the affairs of the Garda Síochána, for the convenience of the members of the Garda Síochána. Very definite steps are now being taken. Everything is ready to proceed with building houses, now that materials have become available, and it is most desirable that we should not be held up for want of a site.

I would point out again that there is nothing unusual in this. The same principle applies in the case of the acquisition of sites for local authorities' housing, and there is, of course, the Rent Restrictions Act, which certainly does impose hardships on owners of houses. We are not interfering with that. I would stress that. As far as the owners of houses which are occupied by Guards are concerned, as long as the Guard stays there, as everyone knows, the Guard as an ordinary tenant has his rights under the Rent Restrictions Act. But, if he leaves, the landlord need not let it to the incoming Guard. He very often wants to sell it. I just want to clear up that point. I think the arbitrator ought to be a fair person. He is not, as was suggested in another article that I saw, I think, in the Leader, a bureaucrat. He is not a civil servant. He is a person appointed by two judges and the President of the Surveyors' Institute.

Is that the procedure under the Acquisition of Land Act?

Under the Finance Acts 1909 and 1910, I think.

In the Acquisition of Land Act and the Finance Act, there is the same procedure. There is no departure from that.

I move the following amendment:—

To delete all words after the word "That" and insert instead the words:—"the Seanad declines to give a Second Reading to the Garda Síochána (Acquisition of Sites and Retention of Premises) Bill, 1947, until the two Houses of the Oireachtas re-assemble after the forthcoming general election."

The reason I put down the amendment is that it seemed to me that this Bill contained a new principle. Whether it is a new principle or not, I am still of the opinion, in spite of what the Minister says, that it is an extremely bad principle. He says it is to be found in other Acts. I do not think he is right about the Rent Restrictions Act. I am not sure about certain Local Government Acts but the principle is to be found in Section 2. In Section 2 there are compulsory powers to seize land. If I understood the Minister correctly, the intention is to seize land either for the building of barracks or of other accommodation for Guards. Now, I have no objection on principle to the right to seize land if it cannot otherwise be obtained for stated purposes. I certainly have no objection to it for the purpose of maintaining an adequate service for the Guards.

The new principle in this Bill is that there is no statutory provision for the payment of compensation. There is a provision that the Commissioners of the Board of Works may make an order, and that order may include any of the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act. The Bill does not say that they "shall". It says that they "may" include such modifications as the commissioners think proper of any of the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act and of the Lands Clauses Act. That gives the commissioners, in relation to the compulsory acquisition of land, power to decide in their order what will be the basis of any compensation that may be paid. As far as I can read the sub-section the word "may" cannot possibly be held to be "shall", because the sub-section says "may incorporate" any of the provisions of the two Acts set out. You would not say "shall" incorporate. The sub-section says may incorporate and "with such modifications as the commissioners think proper". Therefore, I hold that in their order the commissioners will have complete power, without reference to Parliament, to decide what compensation there is to be. I have no doubt it is intended that compensation should be paid, but this seems to me to be a vicious and a wrong principle. I am astounded when the Minister assures me that it is not a new principle to give such power to the Commissioners of Public Works—the power to make an order acquiring land, and the power to state in their order how much, if any, of the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act and of the Lands Clauses Acts will be included in that order. I think that is wrong.

The reason why I put down this motion was because I believed that to be an extremely wrong principle, and one to which the attention of the public and of this House should be drawn. I have not anything like the same objection to the other sections of the Bill, though in regard to Section 5, I am not quite sure that even there the Minister is not going a bit too far. It may be necessary, for a short time, to prolong a letting, but it seems to me that the individual who lets a house for a fixed term of years should, as against the State, be in practically the same position as he would be under the Rent Restrictions Act.

I have not got that Act at my finger-ends, but I believe that, where a man requires a house for a member of his own family and satisfies the court on that point, he can get possession under the Rent Restrictions Act. He certainly can get possession before it is handed over to another tenant. I could see a case where, in abnormal circumstances a house is occupied by a Guard, the owner would have to wait a year before he could get it for his family, but the provision in this Bill is that the house can be held as against the owner under a yearly tenancy until such time as the commissioners see fit to end it. The owner has no redress in that case. I think that is going too far. I do not say there is any new principle involved in that because there is the element of compensation, and if there is not compensation there is arbitration as to what the rent should be.

I have heard of some cases where men wanted houses for the use of their own families. They may want them for some legitimate purpose, but under this Bill they cannot get possession. They must let them to the commissioners, and the tenancy will not be terminated until such time as the comsioners give three months' notice. I think that is going too far. I would be prepared to recognise special circumstances. If the position is so bad that the State cannot get accommodation for Guards then it should requisition property and pay an agreed figure for it. To leave a man without compensation, or without the use of a house which he requires for himself and his family is, I think, exercising the powers of the State as against the individual to an extent which, I think, is unjustified.

I know that some wild statements have been made about this Bill. I am not speaking on behalf of anybody. Before I read anything about the Bill I was of opinion that Section 2 conferred powers on the commissioners that are altogether too wide. I realised later, from a letter that was sent to a friend of mine, that there are other parts of the Bill that also go too far. We must be extremely careful to see that, as between the State and the individual, there is scrupulous, fair play. I do not like the idea that the State can come in, when a present tenancy is up, and continue it as a yearly tenancy.

Not for more than five years.

I think that a period of five years would be far too long in the circumstances that I have mentioned. If a man is pernickety and is trying to take advantage of the State by getting an abnormal rent, I would have no objection in such a case to the rent being fixed by a tribunal, but if, on the other hand, he is doing what he is entitled to do under the Rent Restrictions Act and wants the house for his family and can satisfy a court on that point, then I think he should be entitled to get the house within a reasonable time. If the State says "no" to that, it should buy the house from him so that he will have his money.

I find it very difficult to understand the phraseology of this Bill. I endorse very strongly the objection made to it by Senator Douglas and especially to the principle incorporated in sub-section (3) of Section 2. If a local authority decides to acquire land compulsorily for housing or any other purpose it has to follow the procedure which is laid down in the two Acts referred to in sub-section (3). Under that procedure, the person whose land is being acquired has the right to make certain representations to the inspector holding the inquiry on behalf of the Minister. If I have read this Bill correctly, a person whose land is being acquired will have no right whatever to plead that his land should not be taken.

Under this Bill, the commissioners can make an order stating: "We want to take your field. We are going to apply the provisions of the 1919 Act in respect of compensation to that field, but we are not going to apply it at all in respect of the provisions by virtue of which you would have a chance of making your case before an inquiry as to whether that field should or should not be taken." That can, and, I have no doubt whatever, will happen under this Bill, because we all know that when a little power is given, more power than is perhaps necessary, it is always the extended power which is used. I say that that can and will happen, but I say further that under the Bill the commissioners could make an order saying: "We are going to take that field and we are not going to give you a penny piece of compensation for it, because we are not going to apply any of the provisions of the 1919 Act, except the provision by which, when we make an order, ipso facto from that date, we take over possession.” I am not trying to make political capital out of it. I think the Minister will admit that it is very bad indeed to vest that power in the Commissioners of Public Works. That is the situation with regard to land as a site for a Garda barracks or as a house for a member of the Garda.

I agree with the Minister, of course, that it is and must be entirely desirable for the public good that there should be a provision by virtue of which sites for barracks and houses for the Garda can be acquired. We are all agreed on that, but I want some chance of the individual getting an opportunity to point out at an inquiry that the acquisition of site A will inflict tremendous hardship on him and that site B, the acquisition of which would inflict no hardship on anybody, is available. That provision is not in the Bill.

As I said already, there is an additional power, a power which should never be given, in the words included in lines 38 and 39 to acquire land without compensation. That is the effect of the words "with such modifications as the commissioners may think proper". I am not charging the Minister with intending to do that, but, whether he intends to do it or not, the power is there and it is a power which should never be given.

I come now to Section 3. I do not understand to what premises Section 3 is intended to refer. In section 2, the premises referred to are a Garda Síochána station or a house for a member of the Garda Síochána, but in Section 3 we have a new definition— premises to be used for the accommodation of members of the Garda Síochána. Is that intended to be a Garda station? If so, why is the same wording not used as is used in Section 2? Is it intended to refer to houses for members of the Garda? If so, why is the same wording not used? As I understand the situation, the only purpose for which a house could be wanted for the Garda is either as a Garda station or for the members of the force. If that is so, why is different wording used in Sections 2 and 3? It does not appear to make the matter as clear as possible and I should like the matter to be made clear before we come to discuss Section 3 on another occasion.

There is also a provision at the end of paragraph (b) sub-section (2) of Section 3 which has perhaps been overlooked. It not merely takes the position as it is to-day, but the position as it was back as far as 1st October, 1946. As I read the Bill, if a notice has been given, a valid notice in the then existing state of the law, by which premises were to be given up prior to to-day, as a result of this Bill, that notice is thrown on one side and is no longer valid and any arrangement the owner may have made arising out of that notice is completely and absolutely upset. I suggest that is not fair and that where a person complied with the law as it existed and made certain arrangements on the basis of his conception, his correct conception, of the law at the time, the law should not be altered to upset his plans in that way.

I also suggest that the point made by Senator Douglas in one respect is unanswerable, namely, that if premises have to be kept on by the commissioners in pursuance of the provisions in Section 3, to whatever premises they refer—and I do not know yet—the person who owns the house should be given the option of saying: "Very good: you are going to keep on my house. We will have the rent fixed, if we cannot agree, by the referee," or "I ask the State to purchase the house so that with the value of the premises I can obtain alternative accommodation and utilise it for the purposes for which I would have used these premises if they had been given to me." There should be an alternative and it should be at the option of the individual rather than of the State.

It appears to me, therefore, that these points raise principles of such importance that it would be highly undesirable that the Bill should be considered in the atmosphere we are in at the moment and highly undesirable that the Bill should be rushed through before the dissolution of the Oireachtas. As between now and next March, or whenever a Bill could be put through, there is nothing to be gained with regard to the building of additional stations and nothing to be gained in regard to the acquisition of sites for houses for the Gárda and everything to be lost by the Bill going through in present circumstances and with the difficulties which I see in it and which must be apparent to anybody who closely construes its provisions.

Senator Sweetman said it was very difficult to distinguish between the premises mentioned in Section 2 and those mentioned in Section 3. The Bill is very clear in that respect. Section 2 deals with the acquisition of a site for a Garda Síochána station or for a house for a member of the Garda Síochána. Sub-section (1) of Section 2 clearly refers to a Garda station or to a house for a member of the Garda Síochána. Then we come to Section 3 which applies to accommodation used by members of the Garda Síochána.

Could that not be a barracks, too?

It would only be a barracks, as I do not think we have any houses. The Guards are accommodated in barracks and the commissioners are not responsible for any houses, though they will build them. It is the premises of the Garda stations that are meant here.

There must have been some reason for the draftsman using "stations" in Section 2 and "accommodation for members" in Section 3.

Section 3 is clear. It says:—

"(2) Sub-section (1) of this section applies to premises which—

(a) are used at the passing of this Act for the accommodation of members of the Garda Síochána, and

(b) were held by the Minister or the commissioners under—

(i) a tenancy for a term of years, or

(ii) a yearly tenancy,

which terminated on or after the 1st day of October, 1946, and before the passing of this Act."

That could be a house or a barracks.

No, it must be a house held for the accommodation of the Gardaí and the tenancy must be with the commissioners. It does not apply to any house which a Garda may hold in his own name. Senator Sweetman is uneasy and says that land can be acquired without compensation. He is also perturbed because the owner will get no excuse for objecting to the acquisition. I am sure he is thinking of the Labourers Acts, where in former days an inquiry had to be held as to whether the land should be acquired or not and the owner was entitled to say why it should not be acquired. Very few reasons were given why it should not be acquired. What purpose did that serve? When was the owner entitled to say: "You are not to acquire that land." It was a perfectly useless protection and had no meaning. The only advantage it had was that compensation was generally fixed about the same time as the inquiry. Senator Sweetman further says there need be no compensation given at all. If you go into the powers given for compulsory acquisition, it will be found that under the Act of 1919, and the Land Clauses Act which was incorporated in it, the person acquiring could not go into possession until he had lodged compensation in the Bank of Ireland.

That can be altered by the commissioners here.

I do not think so. It says that an Order under this section shall incorporate...

"any of the provisions of—

(a) the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919, and

(b) the Lands Clauses Acts so far as they are not inconsistent with the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919."

Where does it say it "shall"?

It is pretty well known that where a power is given to a Minister or an official, the word "may" is always used instead of "shall".

Not where it is governed by the phrase "any of the provisions". It makes all the difference in the world.

I take it that "any of the provisions" means all of the provisions unless they are inconsistent with one or other of the Acts mentioned. I am certain that neither Senator Douglas nor Senator Sweetman feels there is the slightest danger that any Minister will try to acquire land for nothing. I do not believe they could acquire unless they applied the Act of 1919 or the Land Clauses Act and in order to acquire possession of the premises they would have to lodge the compensation in the bank. It is then that the title vests in the person acquiring and not otherwise.

They would not have to lodge, if they cut that out; and they could cut it out.

"Any of the clauses" surely means all of the clauses unless they are inconsistent.

It does not say so. It says "as the commissioners think proper".

What would the commissioners think proper? Would they think it proper to cut out the clause providing for compensation?

Not would they; but could they?

There is no good in arguing, as it seems absurd to make these small points, suggesting that the commissioners or the Minister would not compensate for the property, for some very wrong or dishonest reason. I do not think that should be suggested, or that there is any power to acquire in that way under the Bill.

We all have sympathy with the Minister in his desire to acquire suitable premises or sites. I do not think Senator Douglas or Senator Sweetman has accused either the Minister or the commissioners of the desire to get something for nothing, but there is a great gulf between that and getting something on terms which the commissioners may think proper and the owner may not. If I wished to acquire Senator O'Dea's case which he has in front of him, for what I regarded as suitable compensation and he did not, he would have a distinct grievance if I were the person to fix the compensation. That is what is here.

I have received several letters from people who have Gardaí in occupation of their houses and who believe that this Bill will fasten the Gardaí in their occupation, so that the Gardaí cannot be put out. That clearly is not so. This Bill does not apply to a tenancy held by a Guard as an ordinary citizen. The Minister made that clear and it should be emphasised for the benefit of those who are worried about it. A Guard who has an ordinary tenancy is protected by the Rent Restrictions Act, but not further or otherwise.

There was another Bill dealing with the acquisition of premises for Guards and the continuing of their tenancies.

There was, in 1922 or 1923, a Bill for stations, but not for houses.

Therefore, on this point the non-practising legal person scores over the practising legal person. At any rate, I can hand a bouquet to the Minister. Land may be acquired by the commissioners for a site for a station or for a house, under Section 2. Then in Section 3 what appears to be a station is called "premises for the accommodation of the Garda Síochána." Why, as Senator Sweetman asked, is it "station" in one and "premises" in the other, when in Section 3 we are to assume that it is "station"? It is clear that it is not a house occupied by a Garda that is meant, because it is the commissioners who hold the premises or the Minister who holds the premises, and that excludes a house occupied by a Garda as an ordinary tenant.

What is, to my mind, the objectionable thing in this Bill is that under Section 2 the commissioners may acquire the land and having acquired the land, they are themselves the people who are solely permitted to make the arrangements under which the person from whom the land has been acquired may get compensation. If I am wrong in regard to this I will be delighted, but can we say——

The owner has the right to appeal and there is a referee to decide.

The Act of 1919 provides for compensation.

Let me come to the Act of 1919. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that Section 5 is satisfactory. Let us suppose that the provisions of Section 5 dealing with the acquisition of premises are satisfactory in so far as they provide for an appeal to an arbitrator of a non-Government source. Why does not that apply to the acquisition of sites of houses? For in spite of Senator O'Dea's argument it does not apply. I know that the Commissioners of Public Works are honest people and I am not accusing them of any turpitude, if that is the word. According to Section 2, sub-section (3):—

"An Order under this section may incorporate, with such modifications as the commissioners think proper any of the provisions of—

(a) the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, and

(b) the Land Clauses Act so far as they are not inconsistent with the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919."

Does that mean that the 1919 Act must apply? If so, why not say so? I have heard a good deal of the word "may". The word "may" has been going on steadily since I took the Chair in the Dáil in 1922. It has gone round about and inside out and upside down and I do not understand at all how the word "may" comes into the context "an Order under this section may incorporate with such modifications as the commissioners think proper any of the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919." From that I take it that they need not incorporate any of the provisions of the 1919 Act unless the English language is being used in a very extraordinary manner.

The Commissioners of Public Works can do what they like in fixing the method by which a person deprived of his land shall get compensation. It is quite different in Section 5 where it is stated that any person may appeal to a referee. If the provisions of Section 2, sub-section (3) were made as clear as the provisions of Section 5, then I think there would be very little talk about the matter at all. Why does it not state that?

On a point of correction, it is the same thing. It is exactly the same people who fix the compensation in the one case and in the other.

Senator O'Dea seems to assume that I do not understand this thing at all but I am not so bad as he thinks. It ought to be the same people but it need not be the same people. According to sub-section (3) of Section 2 it is not mandatory on the Commissioners of Public Works at all to apply the Act of 1919. If there is any doubt on the matter, the Minister could easily get a wording to put sub-section (3) of Section 2 on all fours with Section 5 and settle the matter for once and for all.

All this business of acquiring powers for Government Departments proceeds piecemeal. It proceeds slowly and bit by bit. What we are asked to do here is to trust that the commissioners will always behave in a perfectly fair manner. Perhaps they will and perhaps they will not. It seems, therefore, to me, Sir, if the acquisition of sites were clearly placed on the same footing as the retention of premises from the point of view of arbitration, it would settle one particular flaw in the Bill.

One particular point which Senator Douglas made was not dealt with at all. If a man has a premises occupied by Guards, he cannot terminate the tenancy of the premises for a period of five years. Why should Senator O'Dea, if he owns a premises occupied by a Guard, while I own a premises occupied by somebody else, be in a worse position than I am in, simply because of the accident that he has taken in Guards while my premises is occupied by Patrick Murphy and Son and Company, Limited? As Senator O'Dea's premises is occupied by a Guard he has not the same right to dispose of his property as I have.

I recognise the necessity to have accommodation for Guards but if you are going to accommodate Guards you are dealing with the State and the State should not be in a better position than anybody else. The owner should have the option of selling the premises under a proper system of arbitration.

The object of the Bill is to house Guards and I have the greatest sympathy—we all have the greatest sympathy with that, whether it is from the point of view of stations or the point of view of the accommodation of individual Guards and the families who are in a peculiar position because they are moved around. I have personal knowledge of this, not only from the point of view of Guards, but of officers of the Guards as well. The provisions of sub-section (3) Section 2 make it appear that there need be no compensation at all in regard to sites acquired if the section were pushed to extreme limits. The fact that it does not apply to the premises of individual Guards should be made clear as it would allay a considerable amount of anxiety among owners of houses.

Is it clear at present that it does not apply to premises held by individual Guards?

It is. I said so in my opening statement. It is only in the case of building houses for Guards.

I think that individual Guards have security of tenure. I do feel that it is very important and that we have a duty to watch these encroachments by the Government on unusual powers and I support Senator Sweetman most strongly. The Minister should not get greater powers in regard to the acquisition of Guards' premises than public authorities already have in regard to the acquisition of land for labourers' cottages and buildings of a similar character. Would it not be good policy for the Minister to build houses for Guards?

We want to get sites.

Why does he want five years?

It may take that time to build them.

Well, it should not take that time as you can get a reasonable priority for materials.

That is the limit of course.

The point which I originally intended to raise has been covered to some extent, but with regard to the notice in writing in relation to the termination of tenancies I do not know whether the Minister is satisfied that the owner of a house could give notice to the commissioners in accordance with the agreement and that having given that notice about the house it can go back to the owner. Is the Minister satisfied that the commissioners could not claim the benefits of the Rent Restrictions Act?

We have no powers under the Rent Restrictions Act. We would not want this measure if we had them. It does not apply to Government Departments.

There are millions of agreements in existence according to which tenancies may be terminated by either side. In actual fact the tenancy can be terminated by the occupiers, not by the owners. I want no ambiguity about this matter. I would like to know whether it is the policy in future to provide living accommodation for Guards rather than the accommodation provided in the ordinary barracks. I know of a case which occurred thousands of miles away where a certain Guard wanted accommodation for greyhounds. As a result of that desire a certain very important local body was put to untold trouble for almost ten years and that trouble is still existing because of that desire. If this compulsory power is given I am wondering if the attitude of the Gardaí and the commissioners of public works will be still more autocratic. I think the Minister knows the case to which I refer. I mentioned it to him one time but I do not want to say anything now which might give a clue to show where it occurred.

I take it the Minister's policy would be to provide living accommodation for Guards in future and that these buildings which should be State buildings will not be associated with domestic matters in future. I take it the Minister is satisfied that the owner of a premises, if he wishes to terminate the tenancy, can do so under this agreement and that the Rent Restrictions Act will not qualify this in any way. What about the termination of the tenancies in paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 4?

After five years.

Could the Minister give any general indication of what proportion of houses occupied by Gardaí are held by the commissioners and what proportion are held by individual Gardaí?

As far as I understand, no private houses are held by commissioners. They only hold the barracks.

Then Section 3 is useless.

I welcome the Bill. When it functions it will relieve local authorities of the necessity of providing houses for members of the Garda Síochána.

I am aware, with regard to the acquisition of sites, that the value put on sites by owners when local authorities or anyone else of that kind are looking for sites is very much higher than the real value. I myself spent a considerable time trying to get landowners in County Longford to see reason in that regard. As those of us who are members of public bodies are aware, there is provision for compulsory acquisition and for an arbitrator to fix the price. I am not going to enter into the lawyers' realm but if the Bill provides for compulsory acquisition and if there is provision for the fixing of compensation by an impartial person I am satisfied.

And so are we.

If there is any doubt at all about that it should be cleared.

That is the whole story.

It is not just quite the whole story. We think this Act is giving the commissioners power to modify the Acts of 1918 and 1919 in relation to a particular transaction in that year and we think it is wrong.

On the point as to whether there is provision for compensation in Section 2, I wish to state that when that article appeared in the Press I had it specially examined. The draftsman assures me that it is there.

That it is compulsory?

That the same rates apply to the acquisition of lands as to premises. The commissioners are a public body and public servants. If they do anything of that kind they can be very soon made answerable and we shall all hear about it. Surely the provision of premises for a Garda Síochána station is as essential, and even more so, than the provision of private houses. We all know what would happen if we had no Garda Síochána stations. I am satisfied, on the assurance of the draftsman, that the provisions for compensation apply equally to land and premises.

With regard to the point raised about the 1st October, 1946, it is merely for the purpose of seeing that it continues under the Supplies and Services Order.

With regard to the right of an owner to sell premises I would say that, where a person has tenants, unless he can get them out by legal means we know how difficult it is to sell the house. We all know that it is difficult, but that is how it is. It is the same in regard to owners of Garda stations. The reason why the commissioners will not buy them is that very often the stations are not suitable and the intention is to substitute proper stations for these places as soon as the commissioners can do so. It is very seldom that the old stations they occupy suit them. I still say that there is no new principle in this. I think the whole trouble was that it was taken for granted that this Bill applied to actual dwelling-houses. That was not made clear in the beginning. It went through the Dáil rather quickly and it was not brought out. I am satisfied that the members of the Opposition in the Dáil looked through the measure to make sure that it was on all-fours with other Acts of a similar nature. Otherwise, with all due respect to the vigilance of the members of the Seanad, it would not have gone through so quickly. We have plenty of very keen watch-dogs in the other House, too. We were in a hurry at the time because we all wanted to get down to trying to get back again. Nevertheless, the members of the Dáil did look into it or they would not have let it through.

There would be no case for us if that were so.

It would be a reflection on them if they were to do a thing like that. The members of the Dáil were given every facility to study the matter. As a matter of fact, all sides of the House had been pressing me to provide accommodation for the Guards. Now, the Commissioner says his position is becoming difficult because he wants to change some Gardaí. He cannot do so unless he has a house to give to an incoming Guard. It was moved that this House should not pass this Bill. I suggest that we will be unduly held up if we do not do so. We are in a hurry to get this measure through. I do not want to face the Dáil and I do not want whoever may come after me to have to say that we are still considering this matter. All we are doing is postponing a very desirable piece of work, a few cases of which could be taken at once.

I know it is difficult to put a point of drafting to the Minister but could he explain the purpose in putting in the words in lines 38 and 39, under Section 2, "with such modifications as the commissioners think proper"?

There may be some other provisions which may not suit.

That is one specific question.

I am quite sure that the compensation is not going to be affected. I am certain of that. We would not stand for it.

That is one specific question that must be answered. The second specific question is why is a different definition adopted in Section 2 from Section 3? There must be some reason for it. The draftsman did not just do it for fun.

I have heard the two lawyers in this House and the Minister and, as well as that, I have had the advice of a fairly eminent lawyer myself. He told me that he believes this gives power of modification. I am not at all satisfied that this section is properly worded. If the Minister will look into it I believe he will discover that it does give power to change these particular Acts on each Order and modify them for each particular Order. While that remains in its present form I am strongly opposed to it, and I think an effort should be made in Committee to make some amendment. If the Minister says it need not be there and is not required the reply can be made that it is the same as what has happened in the acquisition of land over a great many years.

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted stand"—put and declared carried. Amendment declared negatived.
Question—"That the Bill be now read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.
Ordered: That next stage be taken on next sitting of the House.