Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 19 Dec 1962

Vol. 55 No. 19

Message from Dáil. - Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) Bill, 1962—Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

We all know that members of either House who have to stay overnight have been obliged to carry a heavier burden than those within easy reach of their work. That has been the case for many years and I might be asked why we are dealing with it now. I came to the conclusion that we would have to deal with it sometime, because there is no doubt that the expenses under this heading have been increasing rather substantially in recent years. Whereas it may have been a fairly easy burden 15 or 20 years ago, it has become very much more onerous now.

The members of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges in the Dáil recommended that this question should be dealt with and that there should be some recoupment of expenses for any member of either House who has to stay overnight, either before or after a meeting of either House. This Bill provides for the payment of these expenses.

The Bill also provides for regulations to be laid upon the Table of the House. These regulations will lay down, first of all, a definition for Dublin, where a Deputy or Senator can stay; secondly, the distance beyond which a Deputy or Senator will be eligible for this allowance; and thirdly, the amount. These will all appear in the regulations.

The next matter dealt with is postage. For many years, the question of free postage for a Deputy writing to his constituents has been under discussion. In fact, it has been going on for as long as I can remember. Nobody ever objected to the proposition in principle but some objection was always raised to the method by which it could be implemented. There was always a feeling that, on one side, we were too restrictive and it became rather offensive to Deputies or, on the other side, that there was too much room for abuse of the privilege. I believe that we have now struck on a method which is not too onerous on the Deputy and which is also free from the danger of abuse. The idea is that Deputies will hand their letters into the office here and they will be franked. Of course, these letters will be letters written on constituency business which will be franked in the office here and sent out.

The next matter dealt with is telephones. Originally, the telephone was free for a Dublin call, but not free for a trunk call. For some time back, we have been considering the feasibility of putting dial telephones into the House. They would be much more convenient for Deputies who could dial numbers directly and who otherwise might be held up if there were a big rush of calls. They would also save a good deal of time and trouble for the staff of the exchange here.

The difficulty arose that we did not like giving free trunk calls and we had to try to make a compromise on that question. The dial telephones will be installed probably during the coming holidays and will be in operation early in the new year. A Deputy or Senator will be quite free to use the dial telephone for calls to any place he can contact by dialling. As Senators are aware, the area for dialling has been extended. If he has to ask the exchange to intervene, however, he is then liable for payment.

Those are all the points with which I wish to deal. I am not in a position at the moment to give an estimate of what the cost will be to the State, because it is very difficult to know how many Deputies or Senators will avail of the facility of remaining overnight and claiming expenses. I do not know yet how many letters may be presented by each Deputy for free postage to his constituents. It will be necessary, however, to bring in a Supplementary Estimate before the end of March to cover that quarter which is the last quarter of the financial year and a fairly close estimate will have to be made at that time. Then we will have a fairly good idea of what the concession will cost.

Every time we have to give extra remuneration to a Deputy, Senator or Minister, it must be done by legislation so that every person in the country knows what we get. Those who criticise us have the great advantage of being able to criticise our remuneration without telling us what they have themselves. We are in the position that we can regulate our conditions of employment by legislation, that we can vote ourselves whatever we think right and just. Even though we have that power, it is remarkable that, since 1923, Minister's salaries have been increased only twice and the salaries of Deputies and Senators three times so we certainly did not abuse that power.

I support this Bill but the Minister did not really deal with the things that are behind the Bill. I would like to deal with them, if I may, in an objective way. The matters concerned in the Bill came within my purview when I was Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil and my sympathies always lay with Deputies who had enormous correspondence but we failed to find any remedy for the situation. The Minister has found a scheme which is really only a matter of trial and error.

The thing the public should know about this is that the expenses of the members of the Dáil arise from a complete change in the nature of the functions which now fall to the lot of a parliamentary representative. If a member of the Oireachtas had only to attend and legislate, it would be a very desirable thing but, in fact, members of the Oireachtas have an entirely different and much more onerous and less useful function. My purpose is to ask the Minister whether, in consultation with members of other Parties, he could not find some method of remedying that situation. The power of the State has increased steadily since its foundation and the social services have extended enormously. The result is that members of the Dáil are treated rather as intermediaries or messengers between their constituents and the State itself, the Civil Service and the various State bodies.

That has increased enormously the duties of Deputies and it is, to my mind, creating an onerous and extremely expensive situation, not only for Deputies themselves but also for the State. Many people first try a Fianna Fáil Deputy to get something for them if a Fianna Fáil Government are in office and, if not successful, they try a Fine Gael Deputy and, if there is an odd Labour Deputy knocking around, they try him. There is a certain amount of competition between the Parties in this matter and there is also competition between members of the same Party in the same constituency. The constituent who fails to get something from AB will then go to CD in the hope of getting something on the promise of a No. 1 vote at the next election.

I cannot see why, if Patrick Murphy is entitled to certain benefits from the State, he cannot get them in his own right and in a reasonable time, without requiring a Deputy or Senator to speak for him. I would like to see that situation brought about and I am sure the Minister would be glad to bring it about. It would save a great deal of money to the State and of labour to the members of the Dáil in particular. It would improve immeasurably the work done by both Dáil and Seanad by way of legislation.

There is a fixed notion that cannot be got out of people's heads that Deputies can get you something that you cannot get from anybody else, Deputies whose Party are in office say that the Minister is precluded from doing so and so by the statute and they get a letter from the Minister to that effect. When these Deputies are in Opposition, they say they cannot get the Minister to do what is needed. They say: "We have tried the Minister but this Minister, Ryan, above all, will not do it". That is the position and everybody here knows it. It goes even further than that. Deputies are not above saying that a man in their own Party will not do it but that they themselves will try.

The point of view held by the public about this is quite wrong. Most Deputies will tell you that they rarely get a letter which contains all the truth. The correspondent will tell only the part that suits himself and will leave out anything against him. Even as a Senator, I have had some experience of that. People put things from their own point of view and do not mention anything which is likely to take from their chances. The more experienced a public representative is, the less he is inclined to help. When a man comes to me and tells me that his daughter is up for an examination for writing assistants, as Chairman of the Civil Service Commissioners for ten years, I know that I cannot do anything for him, that the Civil Service Commissioners will deal with the matter; but there are people who will get a letter from a Department and will send it on to the constituent who will say to himself: "This fellow is doing his best for me".

I know of a Minister who went to open a golf club in his constituency on a Sunday afternoon. On the steps of the club, he met a constituent who began to tell him a long story. The Minister listened as politely as he could and then the constituent asked him: "Have you not got a piece of paper and a pencil to take down the particulars?" He wanted the Minister to take down the particulars of his case on a Sunday afternoon on the steps of a golf club. I suggest that all this procedure is wasteful and expensive and that is one of the reasons why Deputies find the burden so great that they want postage and telephone facilities.

A Deputy has to write to his constituents and then to the Department concerned on behalf of his constituents. The Department writes back to him and, as most of us are aware, most of the Departments send out their replies with carbon copies. The Deputy sends the carbon copy to the constituent and very often the constituent starts off again with another representative, thereby repeating the whole process. I wonder whether it would be possible for the Minister, in consultation with his officials or with members of other Parties, to devise some means of restricting the number of letters and interviews, thereby lightening the burden which is being placed on members of the Dáil and Seanad.

People often comment that the seats in the Dáil are empty. Of course they are. The people who should be in them and who should be dealing with legislation are going about persecuting civil servants, telling them things the civil servants already know themselves. Some of the things are not quite true, a fact which the Deputy finds out only when he is told by the civil servants. Deputies, instead of being in the Dáil, are in the Library writing piles of letters to their constituents. I have some knowledge of this but I have an objective view of it because I have been privileged never to have had this burden imposed on me. The Minister would help the economy of the State by devising some method which would reduce the number of letters and interviews Deputies have to deal with. The system is open to abuse. It is alleged at the present moment that a particular Parliamentary Secretary is using his position entirely for the benefit of his own Party. I do not know and, in a way, I do not care, but from the point of view that such a thing could be done, it is a very bad system.

There have been suggestions of ombudsmen such as they have in the Scandinavian countries. There are a small number of genuine cases where perhaps people do not understand Acts of Parliament, but my experience is that when a man is entitled to a benefit, he understands all about it. He is better than most senior counsel about what he is entitled to. Everyone would welcome a step which would make for more attention to legislation. It would make for better Parliament and for less expense on the taxpayer, and perhaps fewer Bills of this nature.

While I concur in much of what Senator Hayes has said, I do not agree with him entirely. There are many cases in which Deputies and Senators can bring new facts to light which, when examined, could possibly serve the case of an applicant. I have come across hundreds of such cases. Of course, Deputies are fair game for everyone. That is the system. A man goes around the country asking for votes and he promises to do his best. When a person is refused something by a Department, he writes in and says: "Do your best now."

That is right.

That is the system at the moment and until we get some other system, I do not see how we can overcome that. Speaking as one who was a country Deputy for many years, with some experience of all this letter writing, I think this concession is long overdue to country Deputies. I might as well admit that we were often very jealous of the Dublin Deputies who could come in here after breakfast, go home to lunch, again to tea and home to bed, safe and secure, while we had to go to some other place and may be dodge temptation on the way.

As I say, this concession is only just. It is long overdue to Deputies who have to travel so far, remain overnight and pay for food and drink. The concession in regard to the post is certainly long overdue. I think every Deputy had to have a telephone installed in his home when he became a Deputy, and assistance in that regard is long overdue. After all, even though Deputies are only messengers, they are hard-worked messengers.

I agree entirely.

They should be treated fairly. This Bill should be approved of and, when we consider the years that have been lost, I hope the allowance will be sensible, and that it will compensate for food and lodging. I am not asking anything for the drinks.

We all welcome this Bill. It can be especially welcomed in the Seanad because the Seanad is not very much affected by it. It is really a measure to remedy the grave hardships that have been suffered by country Deputies who have to spend three or four nights a week in Dublin. Deputies also have far heavier mail to cope with than Senators. From that point of view, we can do a service in that we can get over some of the reticence and false modesty of Ministers and some Deputies in regard to their own salaries. We can speak bluntly here.

In his statement commending the Bill, the Minister said that the Dáil and Seanad have power to increase their own salaries and that they had not abused that power because it had been used only twice. My contention is that the Dáil and Seanad have flagrantly abused that power because they did not use it to ensure a proper level of remuneration for Deputies. I do not refer to the Seanad because, with the small amount of work we are doing, our remuneration is away beyond that paid to Dáil Deputies. Ours is definitely very much only a minor part-time occupation, whereas Deputies have a full-time occupation, and it should be a wholetime occupation.

The Minister said that Ministers' salaries were raised only twice since 1922. I say more shame to the Governments who have allowed that to happen, who have allowed a situation to develop where a Minister is paid less than the third rung of authority in his own Department. Ministers have not shirked increasing the salaries of civil servants to keep them in line with the increased cost of living. Why then is it right and proper to give the proper salaries to civil servants and not to keep Ministers' salaries at their proper level? No one will concede that a Minister's salary of £2,000 per year, which is less than is paid to some civil servants in his Department, is adequate.

The Minister should face up to it and ensure that Ministers who are at the heads of Departments are also at the heads of Departments financially. They should at least have parity or, in fact, be a step above a secretary of a Department. The Government may regard some African Governments with ridicule, but they might learn from the Government in Leopoldville. One of the first acts of the Adoula Government was to increase the number of Ministers—I am not advocating that—and to give an allowance of 10,000 dollars, or £3,500, in a country where the national income per head is about £10 or £15 per week.

I am not saying that that extreme is right or proper, but it shows that we are erring on the other side. When we have Deputies with personal salaries of £500 per annum, who will contend today that any salaried worker could accept such a position? Are we then saying that we here have so abused our powers that we have so restricted the salary of the ordinary Deputy as to confine membership of Dáil Éireann to certain classes, classes who have some other occupation such as farming or a business, something from which they can get away to serve in Dáil Éireann? That means that the salaried classes are completely excluded. To pay members £500 is just as effective in keeping them out as passing a law to declare that no salaried people shall be members of Dáil Éireann. Now that we are facing the Common Market, facing the new Europe, we should establish the position that no one in any walk of life suffers a loss by going into the public service. We are not advocating that the public service should be entered for the sake of gain, but at least standards should be maintained.

In this regard, we can learn a great deal from Holland. The allowance for Deputies there—three years ago—was £1,500, paid as a flat personal rate. Free postage and telephones were accepted as a natural concomitant to the office of Deputy. These are allowed and were always allowed, but £1,500 was always the personal allowance. As well as that, if a Deputy came from a salaried position in either the public or private service, he had to get leave of absence as a Deputy's work is a full-time post. His employer was expected to make up the difference between £1,500 and what he was earning in the company, if he had been earning more. In short, he did not lose by it. He did not gain either, but the essential fact was established that he should not lose.

Having started, the Minister should take his courage into his hands and ensure that Dáil Éireann will be representative in future of all classes in the community. I am not advocating that one class should have a monopoly because all classes have a big contribution to make to public life. Up to this, the salaried classes have been conspicuous by their absence, largely due to the fact that such people were unable to attend unless they had private incomes, which many had not got.

The questions raised by Senator Hayes are very important and perhaps with the advent of television throughout the country as a whole a great deal could be done by means of educational programmes by Departments to acquaint the ordinary people with the work of Departments and disabuse them of the idea that, through intercession, they can get something they are not entitled to get. In other words, the ordinary people could be encouraged to communicate direct with Departments and to have confidence in that channel of communication. If something further than that is needed, a public relations officer could be appointed in every large area, in each constituency or in an area represented by six or eight Deputies. He could be approached by people and could advise them on how to fill forms, on grants to which they were entitled and on other phases of the work which at the moment is unloaded on Deputies. This could be done with advantage to the State, the Civil Service and the Deputies concerned.

If the Minister does take his courage in his hands and ensures that members of Dáil Éireann and Ministers are paid proper rates and given adequate salaries, he might seek to develop in the Houses a proper and effective committee system so as to ensure the maximum benefit from mixing the talents of various groups in the community. To anybody who has read anything of parliamentary procedure in more advanced countries, this is the greatest lack here, the greatest cause of frustration: that the only thing we can do is talk from the floor of the House. We cannot make a contribution to the committee on education which is nonexistent, to the committee on agriculture which was never heard of or to the committee on the political implications of the Common Market which was never established. These committees should be functioning. If they were, we in Seanad Éireann could play a very important part. We would have fewer pangs of conscience about not discharging a worthwhile purpose.

At the moment we are a pale replica of the Dáil, one that could be dispensed with. I do feel it would be wrong to dispense with the replica rather than make it into something unique and distinctive which could make a positive contribution, through earnest committee work, to solving the problems that lie ahead. We could meet civil servants there, not as we meet them here, behind the Minister; we would meet them in a committee where we could have a frank exchange of views and pool our ideas for the welfare and development of the country.

I welcome this because, like other speakers, I think it is long overdue. A measure of this kind should have been brought in years ago. One has to be a member of Dáil Éireann to realise the many functions a member has to carry out. Some were referred to here but there is one that has not been referred to: a member of Dáil Éireann or even a member of Seanad Éireann is looked upon as a kind of adviser in his own part of the country. People come to him for advice, especially for advice in connection with legislation that passes through the Oireachtas. Ordinary people in the country are not in a position to understand the provisions of an Act that has passed through the Oireachtas and it is one of the duties of a TD or Senator to try to explain it.

The advice the TD is expected to give to his constituents or the Senator to the people among whom he lives is not confined to matters connected with legislation. He has to meet people in every walk of life and discuss their problems with them. He is looked upon as a man apart and as somebody who should be approached for advice. Taking into account the many duties of a public representative, it is not too much to expect that a measure such as this should be passed through the Oireachtas for the benefit of members.

We all of course subscribe to the idea of the Utopian situation that should be occupied by members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann as presented to us by Senator Hayes.

That is a most insulting remark.

If members could walk into the Houses of the Oireachtas, take part in debates and listen to debates and then go away, forgetting everything else——

That is not a fair representation of what I said.

But, as Senator O'Sullivan pointed out, there are many things members can do and although civil servants are educated people, trained people, people of experience, they are sometimes not au fait with happenings in the country.

In Kerry, for example.

They do not understand the circumstances down the country.

There are no civil servants from Kerry.

A hardworking TD is harder pressed than a high-ranking civil servant.

I agree entirely —doing the wrong type of work.

Civil servants over the years got many increases. How many increases were given to members of Dáil Éireann? As the Minister pointed out, there have been only three.

Advertising to what Senator Hayes said, there is no doubt that a TD has to spend too much of his time making representations to Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Departments. If some remedy could be found for that, it would not be a bad thing.

I remember going into a certain Department in my early years before I had much experience. A certain hardened civil servant spoke to me. "Are you a member of Parliament?" he asked. I said: "Yes.""Oh, my goodness," he replied, "in my time in the British Service, if a member of parliament came into a place like this, the table would be set in front of him; he would be provided with a chair and a bottle of whiskey put on the table. There is nothing thought of you people."

As regards catering for the people up and down the country and having regard to their votes, I remember a certain thing that happened. An old lady came along to a friend of a TD. She told him that she wanted him to look after an old age application which had been sent in on her behalf. "Remember," she said, "he would have a good right to do it for me. I gave him my No. 2 vote." The friend of the member replied that, if it went according to votes, she would have a long wait considering that 10,000 people had given him their No. 1 vote. These are the things that happen up and down the country and, human nature being as it is, it is very difficult to control them.

Section 2 deals with telephone and postal facilities and I am in a bit of doubt as to how the dial telephone facilities will work out. Am I to take it that this will operate as against the long distance travelling TD's and Senators? In other words, will it be confined to a certain area? If it is, then the person living within a distance of 50 miles of the Houses of the Oireachtas will have an advantage over the person who lives 100, 150 or 200 miles away.

You can dial to Cork.

Perhaps there are some snags that I do not see but I think the matter should be reconsidered.

More Deputies from Dublin is the obvious answer.

I think this measure is justified having regard to the existing system of representation and the amount of work expected from members of the Oireachtas. If we had the state of affairs envisaged by Senator Hayes, we could dispense with the measure, but even if we had that state of affairs, Senators and Deputies would still have a lot of useful work to do. I do not think the Senator meant to convey that people should come in here, listen to the debates and then walk out and go home. It is obvious that they would have to put a lot of work into the consideration of the measures coming before Parliament, to brief themselves and put themselves in a position to discuss these measures intelligently. We all agree that if that situation could be brought about, it would, indeed, be very desirable.

Be that as it may, I believe that members of the Oireachtas should be remunerated and have their expenses paid on a basis which would encourage the right type of person to enter public life. It is popular sometimes to decry, belittle and even ridicule members of Parliament. I think that is a dangerous practice, a practice which could eventually damage, if not destroy, democracy. I think, therefore, that anything that can be done should be done to encourage the right type of person into public life and ensure that that person is respected.

It is true, as the Minister said, that any increase, whether in remuneration or expenses, given to a member of the Oireachtas must be given to him in the open and by Parliament. The Minister stated that that right had not been abused since 1922, that only on two occasions for Ministers and three for Deputies were salaries increased. The Minister would have been entitled to go one further and say that on one occasion Ministers' salaries were even reduced by one of his colleagues-admittedly only for a very short time, but that is the position.

I should like to deal with a matter touched upon by Senator Ó Ciosáin. Earlier today I, on another Bill, made an appeal for the undeveloped areas and the backward parts of this country. I always thought that these backward places do not get a fair crack of the whip from the Government. Let me carry that a step further. Even the backward parts of counties do not get a fair crack of the whip from county councils. This Bill demonstrates that that policy is being pursued on a national level.

In his speech, the Minister informed us that members of the Oireachtas will be able to communicate by telephone with their constituencies from Leinster House, provided they can do so over the automatic exchange and provided they have not to enlist the services of the telephonist to put them through. That means that Deputies from the cities and larger towns serviced by an automatic exchange will be entitled to communicate by telephone free, gratis and for nothing, whereas members from Cavan town, Carrick-on-Shannon, Monaghan, Letterkenny and other towns throughout the country will have to pay 3/3d. for their telephone calls. On the other hand, their colleagues from Dundalk, Limerick, Waterford, Mullingar and Cork will be able to get through for nothing. That is not fair. It is quite unnecessary because in order to have universal communication by telephone, free, gratis and for nothing, it is required only to provide one telephonist here in Leinster House and a small office to which a member whose home area does not enjoy an automatic exchange could go, book a call and file a docket. It is as simple as that and for the sake of uniformity, on which we had a long lesson earlier this year, I suggest very seriously that that should be done.

I wish to join with previous speakers in welcoming this measure and would do what no Senator so far has done—congratulate the Minister for having taken his courage in his hands and introduced the facilities which the Bill provides. It is quite obvious that in the past neither Senators nor Deputies could give a really efficient service because of the lack of communication facilities. In the matter of postage, I can appreciate why the Minister had to take certain precautions so that no abuses would creep in. Whatever excuses could be given for abuses by other people, it would be a very dangerous thing if abuses were to occur in this respect. For that reason, I congratulate the Minister on ensuring that nothing of the sort will happen here.

I completely agree with Senator Fitzpatrick that the trunk call facilities should be on an equal basis for all members of both Houses. It is a fact that automatic telephone exchanges do not operate in the more remote areas of the country and because of that definite drawback, I suggest that, pending the introduction of automation throughout the country, interim arrangements should be made somewhat on the lines advocated by the Senator. It should be possible to have a special telephonist assigned for these calls and to furnish members of either House making such calls with requisitions on which to indicate to whom and where the calls were made. After all, it is not because there is any danger of abuses that these calls are denied, because in the case of the automatic exchange calls they can be made on business other than that of the Oireachtas.

For those reasons, I submit that since the Minister has gone so far in this Bill, he should go further and provide facilities for others than those who enjoy the automatic system. A system on the lines suggested by Senator Fitzpatrick could be easily devised. Senator Hayes, we must admit, has made a very important contribution, one which should not go without serious consideration either by the Minister and his advisers or by some competent committee, not necessarily that on Procedure and Privileges. It is a fact that in connection with Oireachtas business quite a lot of unnecessary duplication of correspondence occurs in the case of both Senators and Deputies on matter that would come right, of their own accord, if a little time were given.

Senator Hayes suggested the Minister might be able to devise some means to make it unnecessary for the general public to have to appeal at all times to their representatives in either House. The suggestion I make to remedy that is that civil servants reply to correspondence from the ordinary man in the street more expeditiously, as business people would reply to business communications. At the moment if a person writes a simple letter to some State Department seeking information about a potential application or particulars of some scheme, it is very often several weeks before any reply is forthcoming, whereas if a member of the Oireachtas is brought in, a reply is forthcoming in a very short space of time. The ordinary citizen should be entitled to a reply in the same space of time and I suggest this is an opportunity to remedy this matter.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is completely out of order. Civil servants are not being remunerated from moneys provided by this Bill.

I am merely suggesting that it has some bearing on recoupment of allowances. There was a suggestion that if people were educated to have greater reliance on themselves, we might get somewhere. I think that when television is more widely introduced in country areas, it might be availed of in this connection. At the moment very often three or four Senators or Deputies, or both, might be employed doing the one job and there is a race in progress between them as to which of them will be first to get a reply to the member of the public in question. That is quite unnecessary, but, in present circumstances, it is very hard to avoid it.

There is also the question of involving Senators and Deputies in the matter of influence in connection with public posts in which, in fact, there can be no influence because nearly all appointments to these posts, about 99 per cent. of them, are made through the Local Appointments Commissioners or the Civil Service Commissioners and there is no way in which these bodies can be penetrated. I think most people are now quite aware of that fact but in case there are people who still think otherwise, members of both Houses would do a great service by explaining to the public in general what the position is. The public should be made aware that any citizen complying with certain conditions is eligible to compete for any post and that he will be considered, irrespective of his political background.

On the question of the functions of members, it is quite obvious that Senators and Deputies are dissatisfied with the amount of time they can give to public business. It is a function of a member of either House to study forthcoming legislation and to take counsel from competent organisations or authorities in regard to them. Senator Quinlan made an appeal that Senators, in particular, should be more widely employed on Committee work. I shall conclude by echoing this appeal and saying it is unfortunate that more work of that nature is not entrusted to Senators.

Any of us who have any knowledge of Dáil Éireann must agree that Deputies are overworked and underpaid. We heard this afternoon something about the overwork, and I have no very definite suggestion to offer in this respect, except that perhaps all Parties are to blame. Possibly we have built up a belief among the general public that nobody can get his rights except by influence and some sort of appeal. It is really alarming to see that applications for old age pensions, children's allowances and such matters are sent to Deputies and, in some cases, to Senators. I can quite understand a Deputy coming in to appeal, to support somebody whose application has been turned down and to advance arguments as to why it should be reconsidered, but I cannot understand why an original application should have to be channelled through a Deputy. It is all unnecessary and I do not believe it produces any good results.

I hope I can believe that any private person will get as much attention from any Department or any Minister by writing himself as he would get if he sends his application through a Deputy, be he Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour. Senator Moloney said something which seems to conflict with that, when he suggested that a reply is far more expeditious if the application comes from a Deputy than if it comes straight away from a private individual.

I have referred previously to the difficulties we have experienced in the Labour Party in trying to get suitable candidates simply because of the fact that no ordinary wage or salary earner can afford to become a Deputy. He cannot afford to surrender his job and exist on £1,000 a year, with the greatly increased expenses he will have because of being a Deputy. Dáil Éireann now seems to be composed of farmers, businessmen, solicitors, and a very few ordinary wage earners or salaried workers. The proposal in this Bill to pay an overnight allowance is certainly a great help to those Deputies who reside outside Dublin and have to stay overnight in hotels here. It does not, however, do anything in respect of the problem which must still exist for Dublin Deputies. You still have the problem that the ordinary wage or salary earner will not be able to afford to stand for election to Dáil Éireann. It should be a full-time job. It may be all right for farmers or business people whose business can carry on for a short time in their absence, but a man working for his living cannot afford to become a Deputy. These allowances here do not materially affect the situation for the people who might stand for election in Dublin. Having given that qualified approval to the Bill, I will say that it is generally welcomed and should be approved by the House.

With regard to the speech made by Senator Hayes on the task of those in the other House, there is no doubt that some Deputies get a lot of work to do from their constituencies and others do not. It depends on the constituency. Some constituencies are more exacting than others, and it is not that some Deputies are more obliging than others. I do not know what the cure can be. I come from a constituency where there is very little unnecessary work to be done, but I do know of one county which is very far away from me and I, as Minister in charge of Finance, am convinced that nobody in that county ever pays income tax without asking a TD to ask me to let him off.

The suggestion has been made that as in Britain, an official should be available in every county town to receive people and do what he could for them, but I do not think that that would relieve the situation in the least here, because if the official said: "You have no case", the person would then try the TD, and if he said he had not a good case, probably he would not be satisfied with that, either. In any event, there might be some case for that system in Britain where there are very big towns but it would be a different matter in our county towns. It would be too much, I suppose, to expect local TDs to meet and make a solemn covenant that if a person has not a good case, they will tell him so. That would save a great deal of work. I agree with much of what Senator Quinlan said, but the Government do not take the initiative in these cases and it is perhaps a good thing that they should not.

With regard to the dialing system, we were anxious, first of all, to get over that difficulty. The position is that a Deputy or Senator who can get his call on the dialling system is covered, but if a telephone exchange has to intervene to get a trunk number, then he must pay. That is more or less putting him in the same position as he was in before, or perhaps a little better. We are changing the whole telephone system over to dialing and it will be possible to make any changes we want to make under these regulations in the future. We will change over first and then see what we can do.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill considered in Committee.
Section 1 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to say that it may not be appreciated how restricted the telephone facilities being afforded in this Bill are. No Deputy from outside Dublin can communicate with his constituency properly over the automatic telephone system. Even in the case of Cork, I am sure that you can communicate with Cork city, but if you go out into the county, there are many places where there are no automatic exchanges. In Dundalk there is an automatic exchange but you cannot communicate with outlying villages on the dialling system. This is most unfair, and I would urge the Minister— and I believe I am speaking for the great majority of the members of the House on this—to introduce regulations which will be uniform. I am not referring to the amount of money it will cost me or to any member of the House, but the principle is bad and unsound. It means that the Deputy who wants to communicate with a constituent in a big built-up area can do it, and is being encouraged to do it, but he is being discouraged from communicating with constituents living in more remote and more sparsely populated areas.

When the Senator asked me to make it uniform, has he in mind that each Deputy—we will take the case of Deputies because it is the more difficult one-should have facilities enabling him to telephone to any part of his constituency?

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.
Business suspended at 6.15 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.