Private Business. - Courts (Supplemental Provisions) (Amendment) Bill, 1968 (Certified Money Bill): Second Stage.

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

The main purpose of this Bill is to provide salary increases for the various branches of the judiciary. The Bill proposes to increase, with effect from 1st April this year, the salary of the Chief Justice from £6,360 to £8,000; that of Judges of the Supreme Court from £4,950 to £7,000; that of Judges of the High Court from £4,400 to £6,000; that of Judges of the Circuit Court from £3,640 to £5,000; that of the President of the District Court from £3,190 to £4,500; and that of Metropolitan and provincial District Justices from £2,690 and £2,520, respectively, to a new flat rate of £3,750.

Before deciding on the new salaries to be provided for in this measure, the Government gave long and careful consideration to the general level of judicial remuneration. The nature of the duties entrusted to judges, and a number of other factors, make it impossible, or at least very difficult, to equate them in the matter of pay with any other group in the public service, and the Government accepted the need for a broad approach to the question and for a fundamental re-assessment. I am satisfied that the salaries now proposed are fair and reasonable and are necessary to reflect adequately, in current circumstances, the status which our judges should have in the community.

It is generally accepted that the capacity and suitability of our judges is of vital importance in the administration of justice. It follows that the level of judicial salaries should be such as will ensure that the widest possible field of selection is open to the Government. Experience over recent years shows that the present salaries, which were last revised over four years ago, are decidedly unattractive to potential appointees, and that in itself would be sufficient justification for the salaries proposed in the Bill.

I should, perhaps, mention one point in relation to the salaries now proposed for Circuit Judges and Justices of the District Court. The Government will shortly consider proposals to raise the level of jurisdiction of these two courts, and I expect that the necessary legislative proposals will be introduced fairly soon. As judicial salaries are increased infrequently, the Government have taken the impending increases in jurisdiction into account in deciding on the new salaries for Circuit Judges and District Justices.

The proposals in this Bill also involve the abolition of the differentiation which has existed up to now between the salaries of Dublin MetroPolitan District Justices and the Cork City Justice, on the one hand, and all the other district justices on the other hand. This discrimination is more or less a survival from an earlier era when what was called "provincial differentiation" operated in other services.It has no merit in the eyes of the Government, and I am personally gratified to be associated with the abolition of it so far as the district court is concerned. The proposal for a common pay rate for all district justices no matter where they serve, has the support of the District Justices' Association, which is representative of all the justices. Common pay will make for greater mobility by facilitating transfers, and will thus contribute to greater efficiency.

While on the subject of the efficiency in the district court, I may also mention that, with Government approval, arrangements will be made for a general close-down of sittings during the month of August next year and thereafter. Adequate provision will, of course, be made, by way of "vacation" sittings in each district, to cater for criminal cases and especially custody cases.

The closing-down of the district court for a month during the vacation period will facilitate the public generally and also improve the efficiency of that court. August, especially the first two or three weeks, is a holiday period, and it suits neither litigants, nor defendants in summary cases, nor their legal representatives, that their holiday plans should be interfered with by the necessity to attend court during August. This is proved by large-scale requests for adjournments. The professional bodies concerned are in favour of the August close-down, which will also facilitate the taking of annual leave by district justices, and at the same time ensure the holding of scheduled sittings throughout the year.

The Bill also contains a provision that any future increase in judicial salaries may be granted by Government order, instead of by Act of the Oireachtas as heretofore. It will, however, be necessary for the Government to lay before the Dáil a draft of any such order, and if the Dáil disapproves of the draft order within twenty-one sitting days, the order shall not be made. In this way, reasonable provision is being made for parliamentary control.

I have no doubt but that this change is highly desirable. It will avoid the various formalities and delays which go with the preparation of a Bill. By substituting a Dáil debate on a motion, should a motion be tabled, for the various stages which a Bill has to go through, the proposal will make the time of Parliament available for more fundamental and more complex issues. There is no reason why judicial salaries should not be dealt with by Government order, subject to Dáil control as I have indicated, and I am satisfied that the new arrangement represents a business-like approach.

I commend the Bill to the House.

Before proceeding with the Bill, I should like to welcome the Minister for Justice to the House on the first occasion on which he has come here of his own volition. I should like to take the opportunity of welcoming him to the Seanad and to express the hope that his period as Minister for Justice will be a fruitful and successful one. The Minister has great experience in the pursuit of law and I hope the bringing to bear of this rich experience will be of great benefit to the country, to the courts and to all associated with the administration of justice.

I want to say that we in Fine Gael support this Bill to increase the salaries of the judiciary. Judges are not in a position where they can themselves advocate increases in their salaries or improvements in their conditions of service. In determining the salaries of judges, we should err on the side of generosity rather than of meanness. There are many things from which the members of the judiciary suffer and very often have to suffer in silence. I am particularly glad to see that the increases which are being given to the district court are going to be of such a nature as will raise the salaries of all district justices and give the same salary to all no matter where they may be employed.

There has been some criticism of the increases to the judiciary but it is well to point out some of the factors involved.The members of the judiciary are precluded by the Constitution from holding any other office or position of emolument. They cannot, unlike many other citizens, be a director of a company or do any of those other things to increase their income which nearly every other member of the community can do. It is right that at all stages we should err on the side of generosity rather than of meanness in seeing to it that in the discharge of their duties they do not want and also to see to it that all members of the judiciary are above temptation.

Sometimes people think that judges are not all that they should be—that they are not fair. The plain truth of the matter is—and all of us who practise in the courts of justice every day know this—that half of us must all the time lose the cases we are engaged in but the view of all of us is, and it is widely accepted by all, that our judges are what judges should be in every respect, impartial and independent and concerned only with the administration of justice according to the law. Very often the law seems unjust. Judges often have to remark that they wished the decision could be different but that they are bound by the law. That happens not infrequently and judges oftentimes make that remark but it sometimes leads to the impression that judges are not being fair. We can thank God that we have a judiciary which is in every respect what everybody would want it to be.

It is also right to point out that the judges are frequently available and made use of for the purpose of discharging important public business. In this country we have not got a wealthy aristocracy but we have an intellectual aristocracy. Only recently we have been discussing the Report of the Commission on Higher Education, a most excellent document. The chairman of that Committee was the Chief Justice and the amount of time he must have spent on that work outside his ordinary working hours must have been very substantial. The amount of day to day work that had to be done in between sittings of the Commission was exacting and time-consuming. One can think also of the Landlord and Tenant Commission which is almost in constant session and which is presided over by Judge Conroy—he has almost made this subject his own; and the Mental Health Commission, which was also presided over by a High Court Judge; and the Itinerants Commission, which was presided over by a Judge of the Supreme Court. The Commission whose Report laid the basis for the establishment of a television service in this country was also headed by an eminent High Court Judge. The Bankruptcy Committee is also headed by a judge. And there are many others.

Because we have not in this country an élite class or an aristocracy with inherited wealth we have to find people who will command the respect and confidence of the public to do these important jobs. When we pay our judiciary the salaries we do we ought to bear in mind that they are all rendering and ready to render public service outside the scope of their judicial duties.

In addition, it is well to remember that judges are not completely bound by rules and regulations where they can avoid them. In recent times, in the last ten years or, perhaps, more but especially in the last five to six years the work of reform in the courts has been progressing at all levels and the amount of time which is now saved, and which is not lost because of this reform, is very considerable. It is quite true to say that the number of actions being disposed of by the High Court now as compared with ten years ago is vastly increased and that is because of a new arrangement made with regard to jury actions. Equally so, it is true to say that the number of actions on the non-jury list and on the Chancery side now being heard has also changed because of arrangements made by the President of the High Court to assign judges on the jury side to deal with non-jury lists and Chancery lists.

In relation to the actual rules of court, the rules which have been recently revised have contributed a great deal to the speeding up of procedures and the elimination of wasteful processes. A great deal of work still requires to be done in that field and it will fall into the domain of the members of the judiciary to spearhead the work of reform in that area together with the members of the two branches of the legal profession and other interests such as the Minister for Justice.

In relation to the district court justices who are now getting a fairer deal under this Bill, it is right and proper to have regard to the great body of law which they are called upon to administer. They are, as always, subject to the supervisory regulation of the High Court by way of cases stated on appeal from their various decisions, certiorari to certiorari and so on. Because of that supervisory power which is exercisable by the High Court, district justices who administer justice in a summary manner have a great responsibility and the number of cases which fall to be taken on appeal to the Circuit Court or to the High Court is very small relative to the very large number of cases that come before the district court.

One of the most valuable reforms that has occurred in recent times in the district court has been the appointment of a President of the District Court. As a result of his appointment the work of the Dublin Metropolitan District Court has improved considerably and instead of having every case listed for 10.30 in the morning a new procedure has been introduced by having cases listed for different hours—10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock so that people are not wasting time waiting around for a case to be called. Other district justices might well consider adopting— and be exhorted by the appropriate authorities to adopt—that kind of facility for the public and litigants who attend the courts.

I gather that in the district court at the present time, and I rather think it comes about through the work and energy of the President of the District Court who was appointed for this and many other purposes, that new and revised regulations and rules relating to the District Court together with an appendix of forms used in the District Court will be issued shortly. It will I understand be a substantial volume when completed but it will undoubtedly assist in the speedy and more effective administration of the work of the District Court and will be of the greatest benefit to everyone associated with that Court.

I want to advocate one thing on behalf of our district courts and circuit courts. It is something the Minister for Justice will be well aware of. We have a Factories Act dealing with the conditions of employment, the physical conditions of employment of our factory workers, introduced in 1955. There was, of course, earlier law which this Act replaced. We have an Office Premises Act of 1958 or 1959 to deal with office premises for office workers but there is no law requiring any standard of hygiene, of cleanliness, of heating or of lighting for district and circuit courts in this country. Every Member of the Seanad will know well what I am talking about. The places where District Justices and Circuit Court Judges have to sit and where citizens are obliged to come on witnesses' summons are nothing short of a disgrace. Nobody can justify the condition of these premises for an instant and it all arises because of the old now long-forgotten procedure whereby the old Grand Jury were required to provide courthouses for the Grand Jury and they had such things as Grand Jury cess and a whole lot of terms now obsolete and which we do not understand to raise the money for the building, equipment and maintenance of these buildings. That system taken over by our county councils is completely out of date and the district and circuit courts around the country are in a shocking and disgraceful condition, not alone for the judges but for members of the public as well. It is correct to say that there are many of them which have no kind of sanitary convenience for the justices or for members of the public.

This is a shocking state of affairs. We would not allow a dance hall without sanitary convenience. We would not allow a marquee for dancing without having proper sanitary accommodation.One reads from time to time of district justices sitting in out of the way places administering justice in badly heated, badly lighted and badly ventilated courthouses, and there will be perhaps a paragraph about it in theEvening Herald or the Evening Press. The Minister will probably say that there is a section in his Department which are planning to deal with this state of affairs. Unless and until the provision of courthouses, however they will be provided, by way of letting rooms in some hotel or decent hall, becomes the responsibility of the State and not of the local authority we will not have appropriate places in which to request particularly justices of the district court to sit and members of the public to attend to have their affairs discharged or dealt with.

I would hope that the Minister, knowing full well as he does the kind of courthouse there is in Achill or Belmullet and other places like these will take energetic steps to rectify that position beginning, perhaps, with County Mayo.

Apart from these observations I have only this final matter to say about the Bill. While it is a good thing that the Constitution provides that salaries of judges of all courts shall be a charge on the Central Fund and that they cannot be open to reduction during the term of office of any particular judge, I do not like the provisions of this Bill—I am sure Members of the House will share my dislike—which provides that in the future the salaries of judges will be adjusted by order of the Government. Down to that point I do not mind it, but the order of the Government will be laid in draft only before Dáil Éireann; and Seanad Éireann will no longer come into the picture. I consider that to be a regrettable departure from what has been done up to the present time and I hope that the Minister should consider accepting a recommendation to enable this draft order, like others, to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.

I cannot see, at any time, any difficulties arising from laying such orders before Seanad Éireann. It is right and proper that the Seanad should be given, periodically, the limited opportunity it has of commenting on the administration of justice and the manner in which we treat our judges and, perhaps, the manner in which our judges treat us. After the passing of this Bill, if it is passed in its present form, the Seanad will have said goodbye to everything pertaining to judicial offices for all time. I am sure the Seanad will not be happy if that is to be the position and I hope the Minister will find it possible to accept a recommendation to this Bill, in due course, to enable these orders to be laid in draft not only before the Dáil but before this House as well.

We can welcome the principles contained in the Bill because we appreciate the necessity for an independent judiciary and the important part it plays in every independent State. We can welcome also the fact that the differential has been abolished between Dublin and country district justices. These are all progressive steps. The salaries proposed, though they look high in our context, are only in line with what good-class men can earn in the legal profession otherwise.

However, the timing of the Bill is unfortunate. It comes at a time when there is talk of increasing the power and the scope of the work of the circuit and district courts. It is a pity this legislation did not precede this Bill so that we could have seen what the new powers will be. Many of us have rather strong views on this. We consider there is a great need for increasing the power of these courts so that as many cases as possible should be kept at the lowest level possible. That is all very well but the country would be happier voting these new salaries if the people had seen the scheme for the fuller utilisation of the lower courts.

The country would be much happier also in the present circumstances, in which an effort is being made to give equality of opportunity to all. That is really what marks the present decade, the feeling of equality of opportunity. It is wrong, then, that in the middle of this feeling of equality that we have the most worthwhile, most influential and most respected positions in the State—the various ranks of the judiciary—still remaining under political patronage. That is to be deplored and if this is the last time this House will have an opportunity of speaking on judicial salaries it is well that a call should go out from this House, as a matter of urgency, for the creation of an impartial appointments commission to be responsible for judicial appointments.

It is wrong in respect of these highest offices in the land, whose occupants are expected to be well above Party politics, to think that the only avenue into these posts is through political patronage. On behalf of the graduates of the university which I represent, I say that we should feel lacking in our duty if we did not voice our condemnation of the present system of judicial appointment and call for the setting up of an impartial independent commission to make such appointments. Other important appointments in the community, like those of county and city managers, county engineers——

Perhaps the Senator would confine his remarks to the subject matter of the Bill.

This is very relevant because I should feel happier if we could show the public that there is a new period coming in which no longer will the public, when an appointment becomes imminent, sadly shake their heads and say: "He was in the right political Party". No longer would we have the spectacle of lawyers already on their marks like athletes waiting for their Party to get to power in order to get their turn at the spoils. That is not proper and I call on behalf of the graduates of my university—I am sure those of Trinity College will endorse the call—to put an end to this system of political patronage and to appoint a proper impartial commission to appoint our judges.

In doing so, I must pay the tribute to the present judiciary that, despite coming up from the Party platform, as it were, they at all times have done their utmost to administer impartial justice. That is as it should be and we welcome it. It is an asset we should prize, an asset we cannot take for granted unless we improve our system of appointment. Our judiciary members sit at the apex in a trinity. On the left should be a good Civil Service—I do not know whether Senator Sheehy Skeffington will agree with the position —in the centre a live and virile Parliament with an adequate committee system appropriate to the 20th century and not based on a 19th century model, and at the right an active and informed system of vocational organisations in which each recognises its part; and then, over and above these, should be an independent judiciary to ensure that justice is done to all.

What has happened to the Government?

The Government are surely part of the Parliamentary system.

I wish they were.

I join with Senator O'Quigley in questioning why, in making this sensible provision for future salary adjustments, the draft orders will be laid before Dáil Éireann only. It is the first order I can remember that has been treated in this way and during the Committee Stage the Seanad will fight hard to ensure this is amended. Indeed, on every previous Bill increasing judicial salaries we in the Seanad called for some alternative provision to enact. Here we welcome the Bill but it is one which we hope to have amended. At the same time, one wonders why the Bill has been introduced at the beginning of a round of wage increases for all groups. Why has the Bill been introduced at the beginning of a wage round rather than the end?

Would the Senator support the appointment of an independent commission to select professors in the universities?

Most certainly I should and I stand over the appointments we have made in the Senate of the National University.

Would you support selection to university appointments by an independent commission?

Politics have not been entering into this.

There were a few items which I wanted to raise. I felt that they would, perhaps, be out of order but, in fact, they have already been raised. I welcome the fact that there is an element of productivity in these increases but the Minister did not fully explain it. He has talked about lifting the jurisdiction of the circuit judges and the district justices in the near future. I do not know what is meant exactly by this, but if it is simply lifting the jurisdiction by way of the money involved, in other words, taking account of the change in the value of money, this does not seem to be of very great importance. Let me confess right away, and the Minister appreciates this already, that I am not an expert in anything about the legal profession and my approach must be by way of that of a layman.

This brings me to the second criticism, and this is the apparent slowness of the courts. I have again and again met instances in my own trade union work where getting involved in a court action meant that you were probably tied up for two or three years before the matter was finally disposed of. Senator O'Quigley has said that better arrangments have been made recently. I have no experience of them but I hope that this is the case, because I have often felt that it brings the law into some disrepute when you find that you cannot have a matter disposed of. People generally get fed up with the whole legal process. I hope that this has been changed and that when the law has to take its course it will be at least reasonably quick. I do not know whether the extent of the vacations in the legal profession may to some extent affect these delays. In the little experience I had I have found sometimes that, well, it was not on the list for this term and it may be on the list in six months time, and there is probably six weeks or a month or so holiday in between— and we are not talking about the August holiday in this respect.

It may be said, of course, that the Houses of the Oireachtas have pretty long holidays as well, but I do not think anybody would imagine that when a Deputy particularly finishes in the Dáil, say at the end of July, he is free then from any responsibility or work in the political field until the following October. We know that this is not the case. I do not know whether the judges are swotting up in between times when they have their vacation, but it seems to me that we have inherited this sort of system when the law was slow and possibly we did not have litigation to the same extent. We have not in the main made real efforts to improve productivity—a terrible word to use in regard to the law—I am afraid, and in regard to our legal processes.

I wanted to mention also the question of the appointment of judges. The Labour Party is not happy about this situation. I do not think that the public generally are happy about the same situation. In the United States of which both Senators Quinlan and Ó Maoláin are admirers, in agreement on something, when there is a change of Presidency I believe that they change from judges down to the postmen.

Oh no; that is not so.

Is that wrong? I think that that was the situation, and it seems to me a pretty hopeless sort of situation. There should be an all-Party agreement on evolving a better and more satisfactory system that would be more acceptable to the general public, and I think to the profession itself, than the present arrangement. We have all met the situation in by-elections where you have people from the legal profession, and, with respect to my colleagues here, you feel that some of them have made a choice of which Party is likely to be in office in five or six years time when they would like to have a judgeship and their political convictions then go to that Party and you will find them making speeches, when the real aim is the eventual appointment.

Do the Labour Party get many of them?

Not very many I think. We want to change the system when we get into power and we will change it. You will appreciate that we have people of conviction, legal people of conviction, and, perhaps, of a different sort of conviction, of course, in the Labour Party.

I want to say, as has already been mentioned, that I am not happy, nor are many people happy, about the situation. I accept the Minister's point that the salaries may be at such a level at the moment that they are not attractive for the best qualified people with the most learning in the legal profession. I have met such instances, of people who are obviously very successful as barristers and senior counsel, and you often wonder why they do not change to the High Court or whatever it should be, and the answer, of course, is that economically It would not pay them. It seems to me with due respect to everybody concerned that it must then follow that you do not get people of the highest level—in other words, you do not have the best qualified people to take these jobs. That is not a good situation.

The courts around the country have been mentioned. The only experience I have had of this—some of my colleagues have had the same experience—is that these places also tend to be the establishments where the county councils meet, and we sometimes knock into one another during an election campaign, and to me they are horrible places. In these years when we are building such sumptuous office buildings in the city of Dublin surely as civilised people we should do something about our courts. They bring the whole judicial process into disrespect and the judges, I know, have been complaining. There is something here of an association for them. If this is a properly constituted trade union I would not be surprised if we had a strike some time because of the deplorable working conditions they have.

It probably is not relevant to this Bill but as it has already been mentioned may I add my plea to that of other Senators to the Minister that something should be done urgently for some general programme in regard to improvements of the courts throughout the country?

In common with the previous speakers I welcome the Bill and its provisions. However, I might make a somewhat different distinction of the arms of State, so to speak, from that outlined by Senator Quinlan. I think there is a clear constitutional division which operates both in this and other States between the Executive, and here I think Senator FitzGerald will be happy that they are really included, the Legislature, which is Parliament, and, of course, the judiciary. Those are the organs of the State as such—Parliament which, in fact, passes the legislation, the Government which puts it into effect and the judiciary who apply and interpret the laws made by Parliament.

Each of those three have a constitutional position, a vital constitutional position to fulfil and I think any discussion with regard to the judiciary and their functions here should be in the light of their established constitutional position. They are all protected in their office from removal except by a joint resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas so it is vitally important that those men who are appointed should be of the highest calibre and should implement the responsibility which is given to them under the Constitution. I should like to say immediately, as a member of the profession who practises before those judges, that I think, as Senator O'Quigley has indicated, that we are utterly fortunate to have a judiciary of such high and independent ability and calibre.

Is it by luck that has happened?

More about that in a moment. Senator Quinlan may be a little misinformed on the political background of some recent judicial appointments. I do not want to go into any recent case. Anybody who has had any experience in recent times particularly of testing what I might call constitutional cases before the court will say that the Constitution and the law have been upheld without any regard whatsoever to anything but the absolute legal position, that the judges who interpret those laws do not under any circumstances consider whether or not their decisions would be favourable or unfavourable to that Government which appointed them.

Nobody said that.

There is a suggestion that those men are appointed on the basis of political patronage. If the basis of their appointment is wrong then surely the method of operation might also be wrong. I am merely indicating in the first instance that from the point of view of the independence and the high standards applied what Senator Quinlan says is certainly not true. Somebody, of course, must accept responsibility for appointing judges. Unless and until lawyers are precluded in their profession from taking any activity in our political life—I think history is against Senator Quinlan or anyone else who proposes this—inevitably lawyers will have an active political interest and even have active political affiliation——

What about engineers?

It is regrettable they do not have.

It is regrettable that they and other similar professions do not evince the political interest they should.

If they were appointed by patronage they would.

The responsibility for making these important appointments cannot be really delegated to any commission or other body but a sanctioned body of the Constitution. There is no other suitable body than the Government to do this job. This is a matter which has been considered many times. I should like to say on this point that I have personal views on the method of appointment as well. This matter was considered by a former Taoiseach, Deputy J. A. Costello, who is a very eminent member of the legal profession. The same suggestions were made in his time and I understand the Government at that time, and on this I am not quoting him, considered some such appointments bureau as Senator Quinlan indicated. As soon as they did they had representations through every single channel who would have consideration given in favour of A, B or C, as the case might be, so, irrespective of the appointments made, you will always have the suggestion that it was done for the wrong reasons.

If Senator Quinlan looks over recent appointments to the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court, in respect of which he says that the only avenue through which appointments were made was on the basis of political patronage I would have to tell him (a) he does not know the actual case or (b) that it was patronage of the wrong Party because some of the very highest standing are not known to be supporters of the Government Party. While there will always be doubt, because of human nature, it is wrong that we should engage in this same kind of speculation here. I would like to put that on record and Senator Quinlan can have an opportunity of correcting me if I am wrong.

I should like to ask the Government to continue in this tradition of appointing people who are by far the best suited for this high authority. After having said that much I want to say it is very important, and I am glad the House has taken the view so far, that this is very desirable. Senator Murphy seems to be under the impression that it is necessary to pay those increased salaries to get the very best men. There may be a certain element of truth in this but I do not think people should go away with the impression that barristers are earning salaries greater than in line with their appointments.

Not all of them.

The boy is young.

I was not referring to a young slip of a lad like myself or my colleague Senator O'Quigley but at any level in the legal profession few would be earning that money. If they do they have gone through a long number of years with very poor earnings and a very small income which cannot be compared with other professions at all. The main reason why those salaries should be applied is so that the judges will be allowed to remain as independent as they have always been, and as I am sure they would be even if such increases were never allowed. It is important that the public should be aware of the fact that the judiciary have a right to be financially independent and that no effort of any sort will be made under any circumstances to influence them in any particular issue. I think, generally speaking, the public are fully aware of that and so that the judges will be allowed to continue in that position this Bill is desirable because other countries have seen many attempts to interfere with the independence of the judiciary and, human nature being what it is, I suppose financial inducement is one of the first ones that would be offered. I feel, in fairness to our judges, that we should ensure that any such inducement would not even be considered by the public.

The Minister has indicated that he intends to increase the jurisdiction of the district courts and the circuit courts and we will have an opportunity of discussing this matter later on. I only wish to say that such a change is very desirable and will serve two very valuable purposes. It will serve to decentralise the law so that it will be more readily available to all parts of the community. Cases that up to now could only be dealt with in the High Court will be available to be dealt with in the circuit court and the district court will be available to deal with others which are now dealt with by the circuit court. This will mean a substantial saving in costs and expenses and will have a desirable effect all round.

I am glad to join with the Senators who have expressed concern at the conditions of our courtrooms. If we had the necessary respect for our public buildings we would so arrange that they would be properly maintained. Apart altogether from our respect for public buildings, if we had respect for the health of litigants, witnesses or the court itself we would have long ago pulled down many of them and constructed more modern and serviceable buildings. I have heard hardy farmers, who think that lawyers are a soft race of men, complaining of standing around for an hour or so in the cold. I have heard them complain of the waiting and discomfort of attendance at many of these courts. If these hardiest of our citizens find an hour or an hour and a half in these courtrooms an intolerable burden we should surely consider the men on the bench who have to sit there from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. three, four or five days a week. The general feeling in the House in this matter should encourage the Minister to take early steps to remedy the situation.

I will join with Senator O'Quigley in suggesting to the Minister that he should give the House an opportunity of considering the matter when orders are made and laid before us in relation to the salaries of the judiciary in future years. It is proposed in the Bill, whether by omission or deliberately, to confine the laying of these orders before the Dáil but I think that both Houses should have an opportunity of considering them. It would give us the opportunity, at least once every decade, of reviewing the system of appointments and I hope that on such future occasions Senator Quinlan will be satisfied that they have been properly made.

In discussing appointments and judges' salaries at this high level there is always the danger that egalitarianism of a certain kind will raise its head and that criticism will be levelled at these appointments and salaries because they are at a high level. This has not been the case in this debate up to the present and I hope that it will not be the case when the debate continues. The quality of our judiciary at every level is of the greatest importance both to the litigants and those who present their cases but when wide national issues of a constitutional character are at stake it is important that we should have the best legal brains in the country both to present the case and to adjudicate upon it.

Mention has been made of the defects of the present system of appointment and this is a matter that concerns all of us. It has been stated that previous methods to obtain a better or alternative system have failed but I am convinced that it is a problem that can be overcome. The fact that other efforts to find a solution to it have collapsed should not deter the Government from continuing the effort to find an alternative method. Such a method would be the setting up of a group of people to recommend an appointment consisting of the Chief Justice, some representative of the Bar and some representative of the public interest. These could recommend to the Government. The appointment must be made by the Government and it would be open to them to reject a recommendation as long as this was done publicly and not privately.

It is important that this problem should be got over because it is bad that at this high level political patronage should be seen to operate. Political patronage has been removed from many aspects of Irish life. That was done by the first Government when it set up the Civil Service Commission and the Local Appointments Commission.The instances in which it still applies are relatively few and mostly at the lower level but it still applies at this most important level. If it is seen to operate at this high level it leads the public to believe that in these important appointments political considerations are all that matter. The fact is that while many appointments to the courts have been first class there have been some that are not.

I suggest that the Senator does not criticise the judiciary.

I am referring to the system of appointment. The method of appointment is one which has not been based on the high qualifications but it has also been the case that those who have been appointed have shown themselves able to rise above political considerations. In this country we have not had cases of political judges making political decisions.However that may be, I think the case that has been made for a change in the method of appointment is a valid one and one that should be faced up to. Senator O'Kennedy sought to counteract this offence by stating that appointments had been made contrary to political affiliations. In one notable instance recently this has been the case but I am not aware that it has been the case in more than one appointment.

Senator O'Kennedy does not admit that there has been an offence.

It does appear so to some people. Senator O'Kennedy mentioned cases where political boundaries had been crossed. I am only aware of this happening in one particular instance at the highest level. It may have happened at the lower levels but I think that to get a solution of this problem it is necessary to get away from the traditional method of appointment.

In regard to the salaries, the Minister might have pointed out more clearly the extent to which judicial salaries have fallen behind salaries of other groups. I will not suggest that all salaries go up hand in hand over the years regardless of the nature of the work done and of the nature of the salaries in question. Certainly there must be a narrowing of differentials at every level of our society and, therefore, the fact that some salaries at a higher level have risen less rapidly than salaries at a lower level is not something which isprima facie objectionable.It is fair to comment in this instance that the rate at which these salaries have risen does not bear any reasonable relationship with the increases now proposed and does not bear any reasonable relationship with the comparable increases for other people, whether they be civil servants or politicians. It is my information, and the Minister can correct me if I am wrong, that a Supreme Court Judge's salary before the war was £3,000. It is now £4,950 and it is proposed to make it £7,000. When this legislation is put through, the salary of a Supreme Court Judge will be two and one-third times that which it was before the war. The cost of living has increased three and a half times during this period. Therefore, the purchasing power of the Supreme Court Judge's salary which before tax is today less than half of what it was before the war will, through this generous legislation, be raised to the point where its purchasing power before tax will be only one-third less than it was before the war. If one allows for tax —which I do not think we should do but people make that comparison— even after this legislation his purchasing power, after tax will be little more than one-half of what it was before the war. This contrasts markedly with what has happened in other areas. It contrasts with the Civil Service where the remuneration of the higher posts has increased more than pro rata with the cost of living over this period, so that the people concerned are better off. The civil servants on whose advice the Minister is acting in regard to this legislation have clearly made recommendations in respect of their own positions which are substantially more generous than those in respect of the judiciary.

The Minister's salary which before the war was £1,500 will follow on and legislation currently being put speedily through the Houses of the Oireachtas will give him a salary of more than four times that which it was before the war thereby giving Ministers some small purchasing power increase on their salaries before tax, though they may be worse after tax. The contrast is marked. Before the war a Supreme Court Judge had twice as much as a Minister had. He will now have one-sixth more than a Minister. I should like to hear the Minister's defence on this different treatment of different groups. I should like to hear how the case was put to him, so convincingly apparently, that the judiciary should be singled out for treatment different from people at the same, or approximately the same, levels.

I do not suggest for a moment that their salaries should be raisedpro rata with those of industrial workers, or clerical workers, but I am not clear as to why different treatment should be meted out to them different from people at similar levels in the public service and people in political life. Perhaps the Minister could explain the reasons. There may be reasons but when such discriminatory arrangements are proposed we are at least entitled to know the reasons for them.

I should also like to know why this legislation has been so drastically proposed to narrow the gap between the Chief Justice and that of other judges of the Supreme Court. There is a difference at present of £1,410 between these two. If they are increasedpro rata it will become a difference of £2,000. The Chief Justice should have £2,000 more than a judge of the Supreme Court. Instead it is being cut to £1,000. The Chief Justice's increase is much less than that of any other judge. We ought to be told the reason for selecting the Chief Justice's office and treating it differently.

In other cases the increases range from 36 to 49 per cent; that is, in the case of provincial district justices. For the Chief Justice, however, the increase is 26 per cent, notably less than in the other cases, very much less than those proposed for judges of the Supreme Court. The Minister might tell us on what basis this discriminatory treatment is proposed. There may be good grounds but one wonders what they are. Could it have anything to do with the question of the salary of the Taoiseach?Could it be that whereas the Chief Justice at present is remunerated higher than the Taoiseach somebody decided that nobody is to be remunerated higher than the Taoiseach in future? Is that the reason? If not, perhaps we could be told what the reason is.

There is no proposal here for retrospection, whereas when the Civil Service claims were put forward and handled the retrospection paid ranged up to two years in some cases. In this instance when the increase is very belated there is no question of retrospection.I would here correct what Senator Quinlan said when he deplored the fact that this increase is being given at the start of a wage round. I think it is being given some years after the wage round to which it relates. It is extraordinarily belated. I do not think that there was any tenth round increase for judges. I am not even sure that when they got the ninth round it was not related to the seventh or eighth round. It is, in fact, belatedly occurring several years after a round, and several years after the matter was first raised and after the most prolonged discussions. I should like to know on what basis the principle of retrospection, which the Civil Service accords itself, is not recommended similarly by the civil servants in relation to the judicial salaries. What is the basis for this distinction?

It seems to me that as Senator Murphy said, if the judges had been affiliated to the ICTU they would not be treated in the way they have been. I should like the Minister to get information on the remuneration of court officers. On an inspection of the Book of Estimates, which may have been unduly cursory, I got the impression that court officers' remuneration is not voted by the Houses of the Oireachtas directly; they are settled separately.

The matter does not arise.

What I was trying to ask was that it you have a system under which you have judicial salaries changed in this way and a proposal made that that be done by order of the Government in future is this perhaps assimilated by the Minister in the method of settlement of court officers' salaries. Is this at present done by court order, and is it the case that the Government are proposing to employ a method already used for court officers' salaries for judges? This is a fair question.

There are officers whose position seems to be intermediate between that of civil servants on the one hand and judges on the other, who are semi-judicial officers such as county registrars.What is the position about their remuneration? I mention this matter because it is something about which there is some dissatisfaction. There is a feeling among these judicial officers that there is an attempt by civil servants to whittle away their positions and treat them in a discriminatory manner. As they are judicial officers of a sort, how, in fact, is their remuneration, and conditions, determined? Is any change proposed in this matter in the future? Could they be brought within the framework proposed in the system here, if they are not within it at present? I should like some information on that in view of the fact that there is clear dissatisfaction in this group of officers as to the manner in which they have been treated.

On the question of the role of the Seanad, I understand that the purpose of Senator O'Quigley's remarks was that the Seanad should have power to annul—effective provisionally—an order made under this Bill and that such annulment would be sent to the Dáil to be affirmed or otherwise. It was never suggested that the Seanad should have absolute power of annulment, only that it should have the power provisionally to annul an order which would be referred to the Dáil which would be required to consider it and decide on it. It is only reasonable that the Seanad should have an equivalent power under this Bill and that this type of power should be incorporated in the legislation. This had the support of Senator O'Kennedy on the other side and I trust that the Minister, before Committee Stage, will reconsider the point.

There is the point about increasing the jurisdiction of the courts and I should like to know if this is something on which the Minister will be coming to the House with legislation. Will he be bringing legislation to the Houses of the Oireachtas or is this point something that can be settled without legislation?I suggest it is something which should come before the Oireachtas for consideration and the Minister might tell us something about his intentions when he is replying.

I rise to strike a discordant note. To me this Bill is not welcome. With all due respect to the judiciary, this is a matter that should go first before the Labour Court. I should like to hear what the Labour Court would think of a body of workers, however senior, who expect increases of 25 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent and 48 per cent. I should like to hear also the views of representatives of the Federation of Employers. I should like to know whether they feel this level of increase, at this crucial moment in the development of the economy, at a time when it is necessary to go very carefully in relation to the Civil Service pensioners and widows, is wise; whether it might be setting a bad example, and whether, if the matter were referred to the Labour Court, they would consider it justified now to set this example to trade unionists, among other, who might now consider they can go forward and ask for 40 per cent or 50 per cent increases in wages, in view of the Government granting these large-scale increases to the judges of our various courts.

It is the amounts of the increases that I am objecting to. In each case I consider them too high. The other day in the Seanad we agreed that any parent who was to benefit from a grant under the education grants scheme, any parent who had more than £1,800 a year, was quite wealthy enough to put 10 or more children through the university at his own expense.That was the view of the Seanad last week. Yet now the view of Senators seems to be that £1,800 a year is a paltry sum. This may be due to some extent to the legal training of some of my colleagues who feel this is a good place to pay tribute, and also to add financial support to that tribute, to our judges.

That is unworthy of Senator Sheehy Skeffington.

It is a mean remark.

Both Senators misunderstand my meaning. That is my fault, no doubt, but it is partly the fault of the minds of the two Senators.

Our minds are all right. It is yours that is queer.

What I am suggesting is that they feel they ought to pay public tribute to our judges because of the fact that lawyers, at any rate, may perhaps at some future date aspire to such a position. That is all I am suggesting.

That, too, is unworthy.

It would not be regarded as an unworthy ambition by some of our colleagues.

The aspersion is unworthy.

I do not think the aspersion is unworthy, the feeling that this post should be such as to be well above the rate for the ordinary job among the legal profession.We have been told by one lawyer that barristers do not earn anything like this, that this is consequently to be regarded as a plum.

Most barristers.

Most barristers do or do not?

Do not. Our judges are not allowed to hold any other office.

I cannot help finding it entertaining to see the lawyers springing up all over the place, on both sides of the House, all in agreement about how impoverished they are.

Are you including Senator Ó Maoláin in this?

I am not including him because he has an independent mind in this matter, I am sure.

He looks prosperous enough.

I am looking forward to his speaking in my support afterwards. I notice, however, that this same society of ours, this House and the Oireachtas as a whole, says to a widow who is wondering whether she can get a non-contributory pension: "You have more than £169 a year. So you get nothing. If you have one child and £195 a year you get nothing. If you have five children and £260 a year, you get nothing".

That is the kind of rate which is regarded as a reasonable living rate for a widow by the same society. An old age pensioner must have less than £169 a year from other sources, if he is to get pension benefit. The same applies to a blind pensioner except that the first £65 of his earned income from other sources will be disregarded. This is the measure of the generosity of our society towards widows, old age pensioners and blind pensioners. In the matter of unemployment assistance, if a man has £214 a year from some other source, he is regarded as having plenty to live on.

We should not necessarily forget these figures when we are being asked to vote increases of very considerable proportions to judges who are now getting £4,900 a year, £6,300 a year, £3,600 a year and £2,500 a year. These figures are relevant. In the case of the Chief Justice, whose salary is £6,360, we are being asked to increase his salary to £8,000. Senator O'Quigley made the point that this is a less increase, proportionately, than the others. It is true it is only 25 per cent, but that is quite a big percentage if we think in terms of old age pensioners or trade union wage applications before the Labour Court.

A Supreme Court judge is to be given 40 per cent more, an increase from £4,950 to £7,000. In the High Court the percentage is rather smaller, about 30 per cent, the increase being from £3,640 to £5,000. The district court, the lowest grade, is to have an increase of nearly 50 per cent—something like 47 per cent or 48 per cent— the salaries there being increased from £2,520 to £3,750.

My point is that these increases are too much. There is a sort of mystique about the judiciary—they must remain above us all, so lofty in status that we can hardly meet them. They must be isolated from us, and the distressing thing for me is that the generally accepted view is that the only way to do this, the only way to increase their status, is to increase the amount of money paid to them.

I think I am correct in saying that judicial salaries went up in 1964 though I am open to correction on this. Senator FitzGerald seems to feel that this increase now is four years too late, if I understand him correctly, but if they got an increase in 1964 I suppose he is contending that that was already four years too late. I think that they are doing pretty well. I have great respect for them, and I know many of them, and I entirely share in the view of their integrity and their honesty and their judgment, and I share the view of those Senators who say that it always happens that even a judge who may owe his promotion to political patronage seems to have his judgment greatly improved once he sits on the bench. If I am right that they got their last increase in 1964, we had a devaluation since then reducing the value of money by about 14 per cent, but the increases compensate for a good deal more than that.

I was rather surprised to find the Minister in his opening speech saying, and I quote: "I am satisfied that the salaries now proposed are fair and reasonable and are necessary to reflect adequately in current circumstances the status which our judges should have in the community." Status, as if the only way to give a man status in the Irish community was through money. The Order of Mammon is the order that we really respect. When King Gustav of Sweden used to go around on a bicycle in the streets of Stockholm he had all the status necessary. He was a great man, a fine man, and he was respected for his personality, not by reason of the money he drew or the vehicle he propelled. I do not believe that it is a simple matter of money, and I do not believe that the independence and the honesty, which are certainly attributes of our judiciary, would be impaired unless salaries were brought up by astronomical proportions.

I am old enough to remember the Republican Courts in this country. They were underground courts. It is true that many of the judges were not lawyers, but the fact is that the judges in the Republican Courts were not paid. They sat regularly and brought in sentences which were respected by the litigants, and I think that they have an honourable place in the history of our judiciary. I do not think anybody talks about them now, or remembers that they were entirely unpaid, and their status depended not on the cash brought in by the post, but on the integrity of the people who filled the post.

I am entirely convinced of the integrity of all our judges at every level, and I say that entirely sincerely and with some experience of various courts. I couple with that statement a declaration of my view that I do not think that this springs at all from the amount of money which they draw. We get people of quality, we have people of quality, and I do not agree with the Minister when he says, and I quote again: "Experience over recent years shows that the present salaries, which were last increased over four years ago, are decidedly unattractive to potential appointees and that this would be sufficient justification for the salaries proposed in the Bill." The Minister is asking us to believe that the salaries that I have quoted are "decidedly unattractive" to the impoverished lawyers about whom we have heard from Senators O'Quigley and Yeats. I do not see how this adds up. I do not believe at all that the question of impoverishment or wealth makes a post attractive to a person of integrity coupled with ambition.

These posts are not usually offered to the more impoverished lawyers.

That is quite true, but I am suggesting that we already have people with very big salaries who might be prepared to make a sacrifice in order to serve the country, just as many lawyers make sacrifices to serve in this House, or the other House, or in the Cabinet. The better the society, the more people would be prepared to make such sacrifices, but the more Mammonised our society the fewer such people we shall have. I do not believe that more money is the answer to the problem. I do not believe you will get more integrity by paying out more money.

You can get less by paying less.

I do not accept that. I do not believe that you add to the quality of our judiciary according to the amount of money paid to them. We are told, of course, that a judge cannot be a director of a company and so on. This is very true, but we recognise that a judge can be an unpaid director of some voluntary organisation, and that almost without exception all the judges of our judiciary serve very actively in a wide variety of capacities unpaid, and I would say that their service in such circumstances—I do not want to be too specific here for obvious reasons —is every bit as much of as great integrity and quality as their service on the bench, for which they are paid. I do not think, in other words, that the money factor is the prime factor or the sole factor in relation to the quality of the work done.

I feel that in asking for such very big increases in judicial salaries we have got our priorities wrong. I do not think that our Civil Service pensioners are paid enough. I believe that the time has long since passed when parity of Civil Service pensions should be granted to those men and women who have retired from the Service, parity with present salaries. We do not even give any pension to widows of civil servants; and yet we are bringing in, with a lot of talk about what is necessary for the status of these men, proposals for increases in salary as much as 48 per cent for people earning £2,000, £3,000, £4,000 and £5,000 a year.

I feel, therefore, that we have got our priorities wrong, and that when the Minister says, and I quote: "The nature of the duties entrusted to judges, and a number of other factors, make it impossible, or at least very difficult, to equate them in the matter of pay with any other group in the public service, and the Government accepted the need for a broad approach to the question and for a fundamental reassessment."When the Minister says that, I am disappointed to find that this "broad approach" to the question means simply more money. I feel that a more objective approach would be an approach that depends upon the quality of the people involved. I am in sympathy with the principle to which Senator FitzGerald paid tribute of the necessity for "narrowing the differentials", as he said, but having paid tribute to it he spoke against it in this particular case. Until we can treat our old age pensioners, our widows and blind pensioners, our unemployed, the Civil Service pensioners and the widows of Civil Service pensioners better, I feel that we should respectfully ask the judiciary: "Would you mind waiting, or would you accept something more in accordance with the sort of increases which the Labour Court and the Federated Union of Employers would regard as reasonable in relation to demands by organised trade unionists?"

I had not intended to speak on this Bill because it seemed to me to be a straightforward Bill that would meet with general support and on which there would not be a great deal to be said. But I am driven to say a few words by the mealy mouthed approach we have just heard from Senator Sheehy Skeffington. His views on this seem to me to express the sort of viewpoint I thought had receded into the past and which we do not really hear so much nowadays as perhaps we would have had ten, 20 or 30 years ago.

In republican days?

Senator Sheehy Skeffington's mealy mouthed approach really belongs to a former age when people thought of our country as being a sort of potato patch not able to afford to give very much to anybody. I think the views expressed on this Bill are not such as ought to commend themselves to many people in this House or outside it. That is not a question, as he puts it, of the Mammon approach of assessing everything in terms of money. We must remember with regard to the judiciary, from the district justice to the Chief Justice, as Senator FitzGerald has rightly pointed out that even under this Bill they would be considerably worse off than they were before the war.

With regard to the social welfare classes upon whom he expanded at such length, while nobody would suggest they are doing as well as we would like them to do, if you compare their conditions to their rates and allowances before the war they are very much better off. We are, in fact, improving ourselves in this country to a much greater extent than the salaries suggested in this Bill. It seems to me that the greatest safeguard not merely in regard to the independent integrity of our judiciary but in relation to the standard of people you will get as judges is to ensure that people are not asked to assume office at undue sacrifice. At the same time, Senator Sheehy Skeffington appears to think the ideal situation would be where people who are qualified to become judges would make sacrifices and would live at more or less subsistence level to show how patriotic they were. I do not feel it is right that we should call on people to serve in positions of honour and importance at a sacrifice of this kind to them.

I do not see any point to this at all. While you would get some people willing to do it you would get others who are not able to and it seems a disastrous situation would come about. If at some time in the future an individual is asked to take office as a district justice or Chief Justice and having regard to his family and other commitments he has to refuse the offer it would be a disastrous situation. We should be able to get the best people for those offices and ensure that they will accept office when it is given to them, that they will not feel because of their commitments they are unable to take it on.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington spoke of the high range of salaries of the Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court and so on but he might also have regard to the rural district justices who are getting lower salaries. There must be hundreds of civil servants not in very important positions throughout the country who are making more per year than district justices yet the district justice, because of his profession, holds a very important position and holds very great power over a large number of people with regard to the decisions he makes, yet he has been asked until now to serve at a ludicrous salary. It is a great tribute to those people that the standard of district justices at those ludicrous salaries has been as high as it is.

The increases in this Bill are no more than absolutely essential. Again, at the higher levels, while it is obvious, as Senator O'Kennedy has said, that the vast majority of barristers make nothing like those salaries, at the same time people who are qualified in recent times earn in certain cases very considerable salaries. Perhaps Senator Sheehy Skeffington would say that the law should be arranged in such a way that they should not be able to earn those salaries.

I am not as satisfied as Senator O'Quigley that the legal system as it stands at this moment is efficiently run but the fact remains that that is the way it is. Eminent barristers can earn great salaries and so long as it continues we should not tolerate that a barrister who is qualified, after many years, if he was offered a high position, would have to refuse because of the salary offered. This is quite a ridiculous situation and belongs to the past. I am sorry Senator Sheehy Skeffington has brought in this viewpoint which has no relevance at all to the present situation.

I did not hear any objection at all from any Senator who spoke to paying the judiciary for the work they do and paying them well but I think there is an onus on the House to see that if the judiciary are well paid they work for it. That is a most important thing. If we even asked the judiciary at the present time to work three days instead of three half days a week it would be an improvement.The criticism levelled outside this House at the moment with regard to the judiciary is quite justified and that will mount considerably when the public see the very big increases in salaries that have been given without any apparent increase in the amount of work to be done. A Senator made passing reference to the fact that there was some question of built up productivity involved. Where is it? We have nothing concrete but the fact that the Minister is bringing in legislation to increase the functions of the lower sections but that so far is in the air. The only concrete thing about it is that the Minister referred to the fact that the legislation is in the course of preparation. Is that the only means the Minister has at his disposal to increase the amount of work that should be done? I am aware and I think other Members of the House are aware that there are many in the judiciary who sit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and no further. Some of them would contemplate with horror the idea of an afternoon sitting to perform their duties.

There are some district justices who sit in one place up to 1 o'clock and in another place from 2 o'clock on.

I want to make this point. In Dublin you have a number of judges who sit much longer than the average sitting. The average sitting throughout the country in my opinion is not more than three hours on any day. Some of the individuals involved might sit longer but the average involved is only three hours and we must make mention of that.

Is the Senator in possession of supporting statistics for that statement? That is only an expression of opinion.

I am expressing an opinion and if the Minister wishes to refute it I would be very interested to hear him and also what Senator O'Quigley has to say. The fact is that many in the judiciary refuse to sit on Mondays and Fridays. Have they got the right to decide this? This is supposed to be a democracy. We mouth about democracy and equality for our people but at the same time we suggest special treatment for those who administer the law as if they were above the rest of the community. They should be seen by example to carry out their work the same as anybody else. I do not believe at all in this idea of elevating people in our minds into some mysterious position where they cannot be criticised and we cannot say anything about them.

In the Mother of Parliaments across the water, and I hope nobody is going to criticise me for using that expression seeing that a prominent member of the Government made certain wishful remarks in that connection in recent weeks, there is quite free criticism of the judiciary. In the last two years the British press have been free to criticise where necessary the actions of members of the judiciary. It would be wrong for us to allow ourselves to be silenced by people who suggest that members of the judiciary are above criticism. There is nobody above criticism in the world today and the young people who are growing up to criticism will not be told that anybody is or can be above criticism. If we believe the religions that are in the world today we are told that everybody is born with an equal soul.

Apart from the Minister's suggestions contained in his speech in the Dáil and in his comments here that he has more work on hands for the district courts and the circuit courts, I would like to hear from him some further suggestions as to how he is going to increase the amount of work that these particular people are doing at present. He must either increase the number of people who are there to carry out the law or he must make those who are there work harder or give better service. If I suggest to the Minister that in certain courts there is a delay not of one or two years, but of four, five and six years before cases come to hearing what is his answer to that? I do not suggest that the fault lies completely with the judges but they must take part of the blame.

When we come to the Minister's suggestion that August should be kept completely free of all court cases I would ask him whether that idea has been fully thought out. In other walks of life we have what are known as staggered holidays and there is no reason in the world why itinerant judges or justices should not carry on during the month of August. If it is so in every other profession and walk of life there is no reason why it should not be so in the legal profession and in the law courts. The Minister says that he hopes as a result of the changes being made that the position will be eased with regard to the transfer of judges and justices. If that is going to happen there is no reason why you cannot have the courts sitting during the full 12 months of the year.

I welcome the end to the differentiation in salaries as between the district justices in Dublin and outside. I was amused at the statement that the Government considers this a relic of the past, that it is old hat and that it is gone everywhere else. It has not gone in the Civil Service. There are important civil servants working in the country who are paid a lower salary than those working in Dublin and some of them do much more important work than their opposite numbers in Dublin. I hope I will be in a position to make certain people eat those words as far as civil servants in other parts of the country are concerned.

There is another differential with which I disagree and that is the mummery that goes on in certain of our provincial towns. A judge in Dublin gets off his bus like any other citizen and goes into his court or he may drive up to his court in his own car but when such a judge goes down the country no fewer than 12 or 16 ablebodied gardaí are lined up in the morning with their buttons polished as a guard of honour. They have to hang around the town hall all day to provide a guard of honour when he goes to lunch and when he finishes for the day.

That is not true. It is correct that a guard of honour is provided in the morning but there is no guard of honour in the evening.

In all seriousness I think it is high time that we got rid of that. Apart from the fact that it means nothing as far as respect for the law is concerned because there is no one who has more respect for the law than the people of this country, there is very heavy cost involved and we have never got the cost of the man hours lost by the Garda Síochána in this servile kind of duty. If we are getting rid of the differential as far as pay is concerned there is no reason to keep up this differential as far as provincial Ireland is concerned. I hope it is going to disappear.

Mention has been made of the system of appointment and I am amused at this. I do subscribe to the views expressed on both sides of the House that, on the whole, the members of our judiciary are excellent men. Somebody said : "Thanks be to God that they are". I am afraid that it is God we have to thank or somebody else outside the system. Why leave this very important matter to Providence? If we have been lucky up to the present in securing the services of good men, surely we are tempting Providence in keeping to that system. It has been said by Senator Sheehy Skeffington that in spite of the fact that the majority of these men are political appointees, when they are appointed they do rise above their former views. That is perfectly true.

However, what I want to put to the House is that as far as the public mind is concerned that is not sufficient. When it comes to the appointment of a rate collector we all know what happens. Such an appointment is subject to political influence and the people associate such influences with appointments to the courts. They believe that the same thing goes on. There is the old saying that justice should be tempered with mercy but it would be better to say that justice should not be tempered with politics. That is what we want to achieve in the future. As Senator FitzGerald said, the time is now ripe when the Government should have another look at the system of appointment.

I have spoken on this matterad nauseam in the other House but there does not seem to be any change in the attitude of the Government in the matter. Having listened to Senator O'Kennedy and others on both sides of the House I feel this House should set an example by speaking out strongly on this to the Minister. If we want to keep up the high standard which has obtained here we should now proceed to improve the system of selection. I do not suggest that the method I have in mind would be the best one but I would agree with the idea proposed by Senator FitzGerald and I suggest that that should meet with the approval of the Government.

The final point I wish to make— in fact, as far as I am concerned it is probably the most important one— is in regard to the timing of the Bill. The Government timed it well because of the fact that Members of both Houses are themselves about to get an increase. Whenever the question of an increase for the judiciary came up there was a long discussion, and a rightly prolonged discussion, especially in the other House. That discussion did not take place this time. This was the shortest discussion that ever took place on the question of increases for the judiciary and I can only suspect that the other Bill on the Order Paper, namely, increases to Oireachtas Members, had some effect on the shortening of the discussion of the judges' salaries.

One of the reasons put forward by the Government to eliminate—and I deliberately use the word "eliminate"—such discussion as has taken place here today and which took place in the other House is that the necessary legislation to give increases to the judiciary takes too long to prepare. It is too awkward. In fact, the increases should be bigger when the increase is dealt with. I do not accept that and I do not think either House should accept it. If the Government are serious about giving fair play to the judges a simple Bill could be brought in at any time to the Dáil and dealt with. We know that. Having some knowledge of procedure in that House, I know that it will take a long agonising period before an increase for the judiciary can come before the House.

I am satisfied that by adopting this new system the Government of the future could put its thumb on the judiciary. That is the danger I see in the new approach. Somebody said that the Seanad will now be precluded from discussing such a measure. It is true; the Dáil will also. The Dáil can have an opportunity of examining an order made by the Minister. We all know what happens with ministerial orders. They appear on the Order Paper and nine times out of ten they slip through the House and become legislation. At that stage it is up to a Deputy who has his eye on the Order Paper to cop on what is being slipped through and if that eye on the Order Paper may not be keen at times still the onus is now being put on an individual Deputy to pick out on the Order Paper a motion which purports to give an increase to the judiciary. It is up to the Deputy to move that that increase should not be given. It may not be the intention at all to give the increase but in the public mind he is branded as against the increase, whereas when a Bill is being discussed the various views of Members of the House can be expressed before the increase is given.

I would settle for this. If the Government were prepared to set up a commission, to deal with the appointment of the judiciary and take it out of the hands of the politicians where it lies at present there would be a case for taking out of the cockpit of politics the question of pay, but so long as we have the system as it is I believe both Houses should have the opportunity of discussing the proposed increases, not an opportunity of discussing them when the increases are made.

The Minister as a further excuse in the Dáil said that if somebody was dissatisfied with the increase he could always raise it on the Estimate. Members in this House know well that raising a matter of this importance on the Minister's Estimate is of little use. It is a minor matter and it is smothered in the volume of words spoken by other Deputies. I would appeal to the Minister, who is in many ways a democratic man, not to fritter away the rights of Members and to restore to the Members the right to speak on this and the right to express healthy criticism of the judiciary. If this measure goes through it is goodbye to criticism. If this goes respect goes and that position would be worse.

I conclude by appealing to the Minister before this measure is finally passed to safeguard the right of both Houses to discuss this matter in future, not through means of an order in the Dáil but through the normal channels which have worked, that is, through legislation or a Bill.

There is more truth than ever as far as I can see in the old axiom that eternal vigilance is the basis of liberty. Listening to the speeches of Senators Quinlan, Sheehy Skeffington and now Senator McQuillan and, indeed, some of the views propounded by Senator FitzGerald, makes me realise how dangerous the mentality which those people possess is for the interests of this country, and makes me realise how dangerous is the example which they are giving to the young people of the present generation. It also puts a thought into my head. The thought is that fascists, communists and anarchists have some things in common. They seek in pursuit of their aims to first undermine the authority of the police. Then they seek to undermine the authority of the judiciary and then to bring the existing Government and institutions into contempt and ridicule. If that is not what those who have spoken on this subject here are trying to do, then I do not understand the meaning of the English language.

This continued béal bocht is creating the impression that there is something wrong, that there is something crooked in the public life of the country, something at which the Dáil and Seanad are conniving and of which they should be ashamed; and when Senator McQuillan, for instance, takes as one of the products of this Bill that it will enable the Government to put their hands on the throat of the judiciary in the future because the judiciary can never be discussed again in the Seanad, that this is an indication to the young people, whose minds are not as mature as some of the Senators, there is something radically wrong that permits a situation like that to develop.

I urge very strongly on these Senators, who are people of education and ability, that they should stop this dangerous trend in their speeches and at least try to set a good example to the young people. When Senator McQuillan makes a declaration that young people today will not listen to anybody, will not listen to this sort of stuff or anything like that, he, too, is conniving at the sort of mentality which has created riots and trouble from one end of Europe to the other.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington compared the judges of the IRA courts with the situation which exists today but he forgot to mention that in those days during the War of Independence the IRA courts were set up as part of the struggle to destroy British power in Ireland and that they functioned as part of the war effort. They were manned, in the majority of our judgeships and offices, by men of the Volunteer Army. As I have said, they were part of the war effort.

It is a different situation altogether today when three-quarters of this nation is free with the rule of the Irish people running without question over three-quarters of the national territory. Surely, after all these years, as Senator Yeats has said, we should stop this béal bocht preaching and stand on our own feet, being proud to be an independent nation with the possibility of showing that we comprehend what independence means and what the dignity of our public officials means and how they should be treated in the state of freedom we have achieved.

I personally believe that there are certain classes in the public service to whom we should pay the highest possible amount of money the community can afford. One such class is the judiciary because without an independent judiciary to interpret the law, support the Constitution and see that justice is done to the poorest person in the country, there is no integrity in the way of life and no preservation of the weak against the strong. I believe also we should pay to the Garda Síochána, our police force, the highest amount of money we can afford because without a proper police force, an incorruptible police force, there can be no genuine protection for the people, no interpretation and no preservation of law and order.

We should also pay to the Army, our guardians in times of emergency and stress, the highest possible we can afford; and we should pay to the public servants, who will guarantee the rights of the people by the efficient discharge of their duties, the best possible salaries the economy can afford. Therefore, it is time we got rid of the béal bocht which we hear so often expressed. It is time we stood on our own feet as a free people and acted up to a standard which will show an example of dignity and appreciation.

Senators Quinlan, FitzGerald and others spoke of the system of appointment of judges and this reminds me very much of criticisms which are made here from time to time in respect of many proposals brought in by the Government, suggestions that this and that could be done better, but there is never any detailed plan submitted to show how it could be done better. It is quite easy for the hurlers on the ditch to talk about patronage being a bad thing. It is easy to say that a commission should be appointed and it is simple to suggest there are other ways, but none of these geniuses can come forward with a concrete proposition which would give us a better system than that in existence which has given us, from the lowest court to the highest, the finest judiciary any country could wish to have.

I do not think any Senator here will accuse any of the judges who were appointed by any of the Governments which have served here during the last 42 or 43 years of being partial or of abusing the high offices to which they have been appointed in the interests of any past political opinions they may have had. Until somebody shows me where there is a system of appointment which will exclude from the appointing board people who have opinions on the way things go in the country and on the way of life of the people, I will stick to the present system. It is not that easy to get a commission which will not be open to some criticism, because any man worth his salt, in any country, has political opinions. If he has not he is no damn good, and, therefore, those who constitute a commission would be open to criticism that any appointment recommended to the Government was made because of political beliefs of one kind or another.

As I have said, it is time we stopped that nonsense. I agree with Senator O'Kennedy in his hope that the trend which has been shown by the present Government in the appointment of men to the Bench, irrespective of their political beliefs—men appointed on merit and ability alone—will be continued.It is refreshing and healthy, in spite of the doubts of Senator FitzGerald, who did not appear to know of recent appointments, to see that this——

I knew of the recent appointment.

——trend has resulted in two recent appointments to the highest posts in the judiciary and to many others. I hope this will be continued because thus we shall have a judicial system which will command universal acceptance and approval. This is a good Bill. I welcome it and I think the Minister is to be congratulated on it and I hope the smoke screen which has been attempted by Senator Sheehy Skeffington will not delude anybody. He will probably attempt to throw the same smoke screen around the Oireachtas Allowances Bill forgetting that the people of this country are not fools, that they will not be deceived by this pseudo concern for the people who are not as well off as they should be and who are not getting as much as they should get. We know very well there are such people; we know a lot more has to be done but all cannot be done in a night and the sooner Senator Sheehy Skeffington stops that kind of nonsense, which he thinks is deluding the people, the better for himself and the country.

While I do not go so far as to oppose this Bill outright as some Senators have done, my welcome for it is subject to certain reservations. In certain circumstances, I do not think I would be human—I would be angelic—if I did not entertain these reservations because I cannot help contrasting the generous treatment of this particular segment of the public service with the treatment meted out to another important segment whose interests I represent in this House. Here in the judiciary we have a group of public servants being offered increases ranging almost to 50 per cent, and this without their having to go through the worrying processes of negotiations to which other bodies are subjected in seeking just and adequate salary scales. We have had no evidence by any speaker, by the Minister or anybody else, of any demand on their part for these increases, and, in fact, the system of increases that has eventuated here would lead one to believe that there has been no organised demand for these increases. If we take the percentages as they have been worked out and if my rather rapid calculations are correct, we find that the Chief Justice gets 25.6 per cent increase, Supreme Court Judges 41.4 per cent increase, High Court Judges 27.5 per cent, Circuit Court Judges 37.3 per cent, the President of the District Court 41.1 per cent, Metropolitan District Justices 39.3 per cent and Provincial District Justices 48.8 per cent. Quite obviously there is such a variation in percentages there that no organised group would be unlikely to accept such an award if there were any negotiations about it.

As I say, I cannot help contrasting this position with that of the secondary teachers, at present being invited to accept a reduction in salary, and particularly when the very reasons that the Minister adduces in his introductory statement for granting increases to the judiciary are equally applicable in the secondary teachers' case. In factmutatis mutandis you could read it into the speech all the way through, about the level of salaries, for example, that they should be such as will ensure the widest possible field of selection and being able to attract the best possible people. Of course, this is true of many other segments of the public service as well, and I only mention the particular case of the secondary teachers because they are the only group in present circumstances who are being asked to bear a reduction in salary.

I do not grudge any public servant a reasonable increase in salary, and I accept wholeheartedly all that has been said about the importance of paying adequate salaries to attract the right people, but I do resent the discrimination in treatment between one sector of the public service and another, and it is on this basis that I must qualify my welcome for this Bill.

In spite of what Senator Ó Maoláin has said about the system of appointment, I should also like to support the plea that has been made in this House for taking the appointments of the judiciary out of the realm of political patronage. While no one can point to any grave abuses arising out of the method, surely in theory at least the system of selection by an independent commission such as has been suggested would allay public suspicion and be conducive to a greater measure of public confidence. While Senator Ó Maoláin has pointed to the difficulty about having such a commission I cannot see any grave difficulty about it if such a commission were to send two or three names to the Government for appointment. That would leave a little measure of both principles, both political patronage and also independent selection. I think that that sort of thing could be considered.

This Bill involves two principles. One is an increase to the judiciary on their present salaries, and the other is the alteration of the method by which increases should be given in the future. The increases that are given are those which purport to make the positions attractive to lawyers of the best calibre. I personally feel as a practising lawyer that they are in or about correct on that basis. One Senator has suggested that a man will take his place on the bench irrespective of salary and will consider it an honour to serve his country on a reduced remuneration.One does occasionally meet such people but in the hard economic circumstances of today they must be very few and far between. Heretofore the salary of a district justice was on average about £2,500 a year. I do not think that one would get a lawyer who commands the esteem and respect of his clients, whose knowledge of the law is such as to enable him to build up a satisfactory practice, whose ability in advocacy is such as to enable him to hold that practice, who would not be earning somewhat more than £2,500 a year no matter how much work he might feel like doing within reason as an act of charity and in the interests of justice. Two thousand five hundred pounds is not an enormous income in these days to a man with a family.

One expects people to accept these appointments in or about the age of 40 cr 45 years, a time when a man might have a large family dependent on him. If at the moment a lawyer is earning somewhere between £3,000 and £4,000 a year one cannot expect him to incur for himself and for his family the sacrifices which would be involved in accepting a position as a district justice. We must remember that if respect for our courts goes the whole basis of our institution is undermined. I suppose there are at least 100 citizens in this State who have experience of the district court to five who have experience of the circuit court, to one who would have experience of the High Court. I should point out also that a lawyer in any court, even in the district court, if he be a good lawyer, may be a far less public expence at a larger salary than an inferior lawyer at a smaller salary, because if he gives a wrong decision either of two things happens. Either there is an undermining of respect for law or there is an appeal to the circuit court which occasions a vast amount of expense. Therefore, the actual difference in salary is the smaller part of the public expense to which litigants would be put, because by and large it is the taxpayer of the country who will lose if further expense is put upon the general public by appeals. The same thing as regards appeals applies to the circuit court and to the High Court and, therefore, I do not think it is reasonable to criticise the increase in salaries to district justices. I personally am quite satisfied that you will not get at a lower salary than that now given district justices of standing, men who would have a thorough knowledge of the law, a mind capable of sizing up a situation, getting to the kernel of the facts and ascertaining the truth of matters.

As regards the salaries of judges of the circuit court much the same thing applies. A good practising barrister of the Senior Bar you would normally expect or like to have on the circuit court bench will not be got under a salary of approximately £5,000 a year. I would say, however, in regard to those salaries, and having regard to the fact that a man on the Bench possibly has not to work as hard as what we describe the lawyer on the cab rank it should be possible, having regard to the present value of money, to get the most suitable person for appointment to the Bench in all categories, district court, circuit court and High Court.

I welcome the tendency recently of appointing people to the Bench on merit only. That seems to have been the tendency in the last two, three or four appointments. I hope that that tendency will continue. There are some flaws in the present method of appointment to the district court insofar as district justices are frequently appointed on a temporary basis of six months. There is no solicitor worth his salt or no barrister worth his salt who can afford to give up his practice for six months, go on the district court Bench for six months and then find at the end of that time that he has to take up the threads of his practice again. Unless that system is abolished you will not get the proper type of person for appointment to the district court. It may be that he has strong hopes he will be kept on but strong hopes are not sufficient.

A barrister or a solicitor who gives up his practice for six months for all practical purposes should be assured if he is appointed that he can with safety assume that some time in the future he will hold the position to which he has been appointed and that he will be completely independent in so doing and, therefore, will be independent of the Government, the Executive and everyone else.

I must say I had a certain amount of sympathy for some of the things which Senator McQuillan mentioned. There is no doubt in the world about it that litigation expenses, when totted up, are quite heavy and very often they are completely out of proportion with the amount in dispute. They comprise various items but, as a practising lawyer, I find that the heaviest item is that involving the bringing of such witnesses as engineers, doctors, specialists and others to court day after day. The average court sits for only four hours a day, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. That is the full day. I estimate that whoever loses a High Court action and has to pay finds that the cost involved is £1,000 per day, a good deal of which goes towards bringing witnesses to Dublin, and paying them fees and a retainer. All lawyers are paid by the day.

It would not be too much to expect that our courts would sit for somewhat longer periods. If the judges found they were overworked or anybody else felt so they could work fewer days but the litigation expenses would be very considerably reduced. If instead of sitting for four hours per day the court sat five hours per day they would be reduced by approximately 25 per cent. It is a great pity that the expense of administering justice must be so high. On the other hand, I would say that I have never yet known justice denied to any person because he had no money.

Hear, hear.

That, however, is a luxury because of a principle to which lawyers adhere. They feel that they owe a duty to the principle of justice and they feel justice should not be denied to any person, irrespective of whether he has money or not. The lawyers have to bear that expense ultimately because, as a solicitor, I know in some cases I have had to pay £200 to £300 witnesses' expenses on behalf of a client who had no money, not one shilling of which was refunded to me. Even in relation to lawyers the sittings of our courts should be extended for longer hours than they are at present. That would not impose any undue hardship on anyone. I hope and trust in all sincerity that the appointments to the Bench for the future will continue, as they have been recently, and that the same effort will be made to have men appointed irrespective of their political views, irrespective of their religion, and that the only consideration which will be given is whether they are capable of giving, and are prepared to give good service to the community in the position of responsibility which they hold.

Let me emphasise what I said in my opening statement to the Seanad that the figures proposed represent the result of a broad approach to this question and, indeed, a fundamental re-assessment by the Government of the salaries of the people we are discussing here. The Government looked at all aspects of this matter which they felt relevant but, as I said in the other House, the Judiciary are really in a class by themselves. You cannot equate them with people in business or in the Civil Service. They are in a category by themselves and in taking a broad look at this the Government, of course, had in mind the increases, that they have been given from time to time to the public service which those people did not get.

It is true to say that there were only five increases in the salaries of the judiciary since the foundation of the State. We must always remember that the bringing in of a Bill of this kind is not politically popular. There is never a suitable time for a Bill of this kind. Some Senators said that this was a suitable time but every year for all time is an unsuitable time to bring in legislation giving increases to the judiciary because you will have general comparisons made on the percentage of the increase and the fact that they are highly paid public servants. But let us not forget that they are the most important public servants we have.

It might be well if I pointed out some figures that we should keep in mind and these have regard to what their opposite numbers are paid in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland the Lord Chief Justice has a salary of £9,375, a puisne judge has £8,125 and a county court judge has £4,440, he has not anything like the jurisdiction and the responsibility of the circuit court judge here. The resident magistrate in Belfast gets £4,225, so that we are not going all across the earth for comparisons of this kind. These are the figures paid to the opposite numbers of our judiciary in the North.

The social welfare benefits are higher there.

I can wait for a suitable time to discuss social welfare benefits but at the moment I am discussing the judiciary and the argument has never appealed to me that you should go down to some man cutting turf in a bog and say that because the President is getting so much he should get something similar. The Senator can make the same comparisons between what our widows and orphans are getting and what he is getting in this House. That comparison would be just as relevant.

As far as the appointments are concerned I do not know what system we could have outside the system we have at present. I know that in most countries the judges are appointed by the Government of the day. Certainly that is the position in England where the Lord Chancellor makes the recommendation to the monarch and the Government appoints the judges. Reference has been made to the Appointments Commission but in my experience I have seen some queer fellows emerge from that body and so have many others.

I hope they were not engineers.

Some of the Senators did not seem to be aware of recent appointments that have been made and Senator O'Kennedy was very reticent about them. Two men whom I know very well professionally, with whom I have worked professionally, but who would cut my throat politically are recent appointments to our Bench. One of them was a former Labour candidate in this city. Let me say that as far as both of them are concerned they were earning far more before they were appointed than the salaries they have been enjoying up to the passing of this Bill. They were tops in their profession and they were accepted as such. Their standing was very high. One is now on the district court Bench and the other is in the Supreme Court.

One swallow. One was appointed at the higher level.

One was appointed to the Supreme Court and one to the district court in very recent times. I have said that this has been a complete re-assessment and the biggest percentage increases here are on the new scale of the district court. I regard the district court as the most important court in our country, the most important to the public in rural Ireland. The situation was utterly unrealistic. Some Senators do not seem to appreciate the fact that to be eligible for appointment as a justice of the district court one must be a solicitor or barrister of at least ten years standing and for appointment to the circuit court one must have at least 12 years standing. There is no question here of appointing some young man still wet behind the ears, legally speaking.

In the last fortnight I have seen newspaper advertisements offering young men who have just qualified £1,500 and £2,000 for positions here in the city and when I say that it will be quite clear how utterly unrealistic it was to expect to get very experienced men of 12 years standing to accept a position of this kind.

I have mentioned that I am bringing in legislation to increase the jurisdiction of the district and circuit courts and some Senators wanted to know if this was a question of making up for the diminished purchasing power of money. It is no such thing. I am completely reassessing the whole issue and I propose to give very substantial increased jurisdiction to the district and circuit courts. This legislation is being drafted at present; it has to come before the House and I hope to have it here before the end of the year.

As some Senators have said, this is another method of decentralisation. Its purpose will be twofold. It will make the administration of justice cheaper in rural Ireland, ease the congestion we have in the High Court in Dublin and it will enable a very large amount of the litigation that now takes place in Dublin to be dealt with in the areas where the people come from. We have anticipated this extra responsibility in assessing what we believe should be a fair salary for these men who will now be called upon to bear much heavier responsibility than formerly.

The question was posed as to whether the district justices could be made to sit longer hours or for extra days. This can be done by me by order but the position appears to be, from my experience, that the men in the country sit as long as there is work for them to do. I believe that they can do a lot more work and they are going to get much more work to do under the increased jurisdiction. There is a method open to me of fixing extra sittings for them and thereby increase the productivity of the district courts. I share the view of Senator Nash and others that it should be possible and that it is certainly desirable to have longer hours or extra days provided for, particularly in the city. The general view is that there should no longer be what I regard as an anachronism, the long vacation and I know many young barristers share this view.

What is known as the long starvation.

I do not see why this should not be cut down and, therefore, make extra time available to deal with the backlog of cases before the courts. Perhaps those concerned with this issue in this House will have another look at the matter. I feel, however, that the new increased jurisdiction of both the circuit and district courts will also have a very healthy effect on what somebody described as the proverbial delays. We will have quicker and speedier trials than we formerly had.

Senator McQuillan is under a misapprehension about closing down in the month of August of the district courts. It is not done in ease of the district justices in the main but in ease of the public. Most of the experience is that there are very many applications for adjournments by members of the public because they are going on holidays, their lawyers are going on holidays, witnesses are going on holidays and, in factual fact, in many areas in the month of August, in the wicked month, no courts are held. The advantage of having this a permanent fixture as far as we are concerned is that we can be assured that the district justices will take their holidays then because they are entitled to a certain period of holidays and if they can take some, or most, of them during the month of August this will lead to more efficiency because if they take them then they will not have to stagger their court sittings during other periods by taking the holidays to which they are entitled under the regulations. There is a demand for this from the legal profession but fundamentally it will, I think, facilitate the public who invariably find themselves in these cases in some difficulty during the month of August.

Senator O'Quigley mentioned the courthouses and, indeed, I have had experience of some of the courthouses, as the Senator knows, and they are not edifices of which we should be proud.

They are edifying.

In case the Senator is under the impression that there is no provision for them let me say that there is a relevant Courthouses Act, 1935, which places on the local authority the duty of doing this job. If they do not like lawyers or judges, or whatever the cause is, they are loth to carry out improvements to courthouses in most cases. In many of these courthouses, particularly old ones, people have to congregate on court days and there are no facilities, certainly no desirable facilities, made available. I agree that this system is unsatisfactory and possibly I will try to have a look at it and see whether it is possible for my Department to get some form of agreement with the local authority. It is my experience that this is not confined to one particular local authority. They seem to be very slow all over in taking responsibility under the Courthouse Act, 1935 to which I have referred.

A Senator raised the question of district court officers. The position is that all salaries up to about £2,000 are determined by an arbitration board which has an independent outside chairman and the salaries of the relatively few civil servants outside the scheme of conciliation and arbitration are adjusted by the Government in a corresponding way with the arbitration board in the case of higher civil servants.So, they are in fact civil servants governed by the complex Civil Service rules dealing with remuneration.

Senator O'Quigley suggested the need for more streamlining of our courts to get down to work in a more efficient manner. When I bring in the new legislation to which I have referred I intend to have a new look at the whole system and to include any necessary measures that might help in attaining the object of undertaking the work more efficiently.

In connection with the section that deals with the provisions for the future as far as the judiciary are concerned, I note this has been criticised by a number of Senators here. The provision which enables judges' pay to be increased by Government order represents the traditional arrangement. All Bills to increase judges' pay have to be Certified Money Bills under the Constitution.The practical effect has been that the power of the Seanad in relation to a Bill about a judge's pay was limited to dealing with it within 21 days. The relevant Article of the Constitution is Article 21 (2). In view of the position that has obtained up to now, though there would be no justification in a provision under the new procedure which would enable the Seanad to reject absolutely or within 21 days a draft Government Order to increase judges' pay, the provision in the Bill now will be to extend it to the Seanad. The Seanad would have power to disprove of a draft order and thus have power to make an order, which was not disapproved by the Dáil. Any such arrangement would give the Seanad control over money matters in contrast with the limited powers it has now.

That is not what was proposed.

A number of Senators have spoken on this. If I have misinterpreted what the Senator had to say I regret it. What I am pointing out is that even under existing law this is a Money Bill and the power of the Seanad of holding it up is limited, as Senators know. Under the new regulation that will be laid before the Dáil, the Dáil will have the opportunity of rejecting it if they so desire. I do not accept what Senator McQuillan said— that these orders are put on the Order Paper and nobody pays any attention to them. Indeed, he was a very good hand at carefully studying the Order Paper when we had him for many years in the Lower House. The Opposition Parties and their Whips will ensure that they know what these orders mean.

So will anybody who has any interest in a particular matter about which an order has been made. Under procedure in this House, if there is some matter like this that appears on the Dáil Order Paper, it is quite open to any Senator to put down a motion expressing a view of approval or disapproval.Therefore, if at any time any Senator felt that the Government were being unduly generous or otherwise to the judiciary he has a way of expressing a view here by way of motion.

I doubt if Senator Sheehy Skeffington will take a note of that.

It might take one and a half years to reach it.

If the Senator cut short his speeches it would not take half that long.

The Seanad has power under its procedure, if the Seanad felt a matter should be discussed, to have it raised. This is done by order, not by legislation, in England. In fact, the more I have thought of the matter the more I have found it difficult to understand how it is that in this country we deemed it necessary to have legislation whenever the judiciary were to be given increases, notwithstanding the fact that we have very highly paid public servants being dealt with in a different way. In their cases we do not have to produce special legislation. It may be that at one stage the big fear was that judges' salaries might be reduced with a possible drop in the cost of living many years ago. Possibly that has something to do with it: judges possibly felt more the danger of a reduction than of an increase 25 or 30 years ago. They are the only class, outside the Comptroller and Auditor General, whose salaries are fixed by legislation.

It is because of the fact that we had to have legislation that we are compelled to reassess these men at this time; it is because we had to have legislation, for which the time is never suitable in a matter of this kind, that they missed a number of the increases other public servants got; and the fact that the matter can be done quickly and by order, which can be laid before the Dáil in the future, should mean that if in this sector increases are to be given to higher civil servants and people in that category, these people can be dealt with efficiently by the Government of the day whenever the matter arises. Senator Nash complained about temporary appointments. I agree it is a very undesirable thing. At the moment I think we have only one temporary district justice.

They all become permanent in time, with one exception, in my experience.

At all events, it is a practice I do not like and I agree that few suitable people in this day and age would be prepared to take a chance of waiting for a vacancy by accepting a temporary appointment. Most Senators seem to accept the desirability of the increases outlined. The Bill took a very short time in the Dáil, not for the reason suggested here but because the House there unanimously accepted the fact that these people were only being brought up to date, having missed the bus, so to speak, during quite a long period, and that the new scales—I prefer to put it that way—are reasonable in their circumstances. It was accepted by all sides of the House in the Dáil. They were realistic about it. A point was made about guards of honour at courts in the country. The cost of such guards of honour is infinitesimal. In my experience most of the gardaí concerned were giving evidence in the circuit court anyway.

Giving evidence as to which jurors have been served and which jurors have not been served.

I believe it is right and proper that respect should be shown to our judges, that they should be respected by the public, and when the gardaí are there in any event it is no harm they should show due respect to the visiting judge. After all, he does not visit the area very often and I do not see anything wrong with it.

I cannot say anything about the other matters raised by Senator Ó Conalláin and others. I am dealing here with judges' salaries and judges' salaries only and I cannot enter into a discussion, nor do I think it relevant, on how any other class is being treated. Let me emphasise that there is no class in the public service comparable to this class because, as many Senators have emphasised, these men should not alone be above suspicion financially but appear to be so to all and sundry. I know of unfortunate cases where some men died in the district court bench, leaving young families in respect of whom private subscriptions had to be made. That is an undesirable state of affairs and I hope that with these scales we shall be able to attract the best men for the most important appointments we have, in the interests of our people, in the interests of democracy and in the interests of justice. I am grateful to Senators for the manner in which they have received the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 27th June, 1968.
Business suspended at 6.10 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.