I have just a few other points to make. I had developed the necessity of paying proper attention to provision for depreciation in loans made by the Agricultural Credit Corporation. This provision for depreciation is even more important where the loans have been given for buildings or for land improvement. In such cases the provision should be made on the basis of a co-operative society charged with the job of the deductions being made by that society on a yearly basis, because this would enable the maintenance work to be carried out efficiently and promptly at certain stated periods in the year and the owner could do the work and pay back the deductions and the conservation would be attended to while the State would have the satisfaction of knowing that the assets were conserved. That is the fundamental point and it has been missing from our approach to agricultural credit in the past. Much of the good work of the various grants and loans has been lost due to a failure to attend to that provision.
Finally, I was very heartened here tonight at this the first meeting of the new Seanad to find two new Members, Senators Garret FitzGerald and Browne, both coming in to attack the odious provision under which those nominated for the Dáil and Seanad have immediately to relinquish any membership or directorship such as in the case of the Agricultural Credit Corporation under section 10. That is an odious clause leading more and more to bureaucratic dictatorship in this country. It is one we must resist, and resist to the bitter end. We have resisted it here in the past.
This all began back in 1951 with an innocuous provision in some Bill which was put through the House, and ever since then, as each opportunity presented itself, this odious clause has been inserted into legislation. It was in at least four Bills that came before us in the past five years. We tried to resist it, but we were simply brushed aside, and the process has now become almost automatic. I hope that on Committee Stage of this Bill we will again attack it, and we can attack it knowing that a fine case was made against it here tonight by Senator Browne from the Government benches. I hope we will be a united Seanad against it, because there should be no slur on anyone who lets his name go forward for public life, which is the highest service to which we can be called. If it is all right for members. of private bodies, all right for members of universities, all right for private citizens, whether they are farmers or publicans, to seek membership of these Houses and still continue in their avocation, the same should apply to local authorities and State and semi-State bodies.
We might look at the position in a highly successful country like Holland where civil servants can seek election to Parliament, and if they are successful, they merely get leave of absence for a period, and not leave of absence on the niggardly and unrealistic basis which we see in section 10 in relation to the Agricultural Credit Corporation —leave of absence with no salary increment or salary adjustment. Is it realistic to expect anyone to give up a full-time position for the allowance given in the Seanad? In Holland, the procedure is that if a public official, a civil servant or a member employed by a corporation or any such body, is elected to Parliament, he is given leave of absence and if there is any salary differential between his salary and the allowance given to a member of Parliament, he is given that differential by the body which gives him the leave of absence. That means he does not lose by serving his country. He does not gain, but it is important that he does not lose. Many public employees in Holland have availed of that, and the general pattern has been that once they get into public life, they do not go back, and they make a marked contribution to public life. This means they have recruitment to public life which we are denied in this country.
I appeal to the Minister and the Government to start this new session with a different approach to membership of both Houses. Let us remove the slur which section 10 implies in regard to the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and remove it from other bodies also. Membership of the Agricultural Credit Corporation is certainly no more important than membership of Bord Bainne and yet on Bord Bainne we have two freely elected Members of the Seanad, Senator Prendergast and Senator Ryan. That is to the benefit of Bord Bainne and this House. They serve both and we can expect them to enlighten this House on the problems that beset the sales of our dairy products. In the same way I am a member of the Council of the Institute for Higher Studies and I do not think that in any way takes from my being a Member of this House. I appeal to the Minister to use his influence to remove section 10 from the Bill. We cannot afford to have apartheid in this country on the scale it contemplates. It narrows down the eligibility of members. We already have to run the gauntlet of the press and of our appalling system of election which is hazardous enough, without bringing in the restriction in section 10.