In this Act—
the expression " the Minister " means the Minister for Industry and Commerce;
the expression " civil service " means the civil service of Saorstát Eireann and includes the Gárda Síochána;
the word " statistics " includes information not expressible numerically but which is necessary for the collection, compilation, or interpretation of numbers relating to any matter in respect of which statistics can be collected under this Act;
the expression " officer of statistics " means and includes every officer in the civil service and every other person who is for the time being employed in or about the collection, abstraction, compilation, or publication of statistics under this Act;
the word " lawfully " when used in relation to an officer of statistics means under and in accordance with this Act and in the proper course and for the purpose of his duties and within his authority as such officer.
The amendment standing in my name reads:—
Section 1, line 15. To delete the words " and includes the Gárda Síochána."
This amendment was intended to prevent the employment of the Civic Guard in practically anything but the delivery and collection of forms, the addressing of circulars and requisitions, and things like that. I have been thinking over this whole question of the employment of the Civic Guards since we met on Wednesday and I think my amendment would go too far—that is, that it would prevent the Civic Guard being employed in a good deal of work that they might very properly and legitimately do. I have, therefore, been considering how you could limit the kind of work they could do at all reasonably, and I think the only way you could do it would be to exclude their employment from certain of the subjects in Section 2. What I propose to do, with the permission of the Committee, instead of moving my amendment to Section 1, is to withdraw it and, in a subsequent part of the Bill, to move an amendment of this kind:—
That no member of the Gárda Síochána shall be employed in the collection of statistics relating to any of the following matters:
Banking, insurance, and finance;
Railways, tramways, shipping and other forms of transport.
I have put down four but there may be a fifth. These are the ones that are contained in (h) (i) (j) and (k) in Section 2. I think if they were excluded from employment in collecting statistics in those four matters that their employment in practically all the others would be all right, except perhaps " employment and unemployment." I do not exactly know what kind of statistics that refers to.
It would be more convenient, I think, if we were to take this particular amendment to Section 1 as though it dealt with the whole matter and to allow a discussion on the whole question of the employment of the Gárda Síochána and any amendment that may be agreed to or suggested can be taken in its place later on. We will, therefore, take this amendment as being moved by Senator Brown, without formally withdrawing it.
I should like it to be understood that I fear my amendment goes too far and that it would be much better to have an amendment of the kind I now suggest, excluding them only from collecting statistics in certain circumstances—matters that it is obvious they could not be properly employed in.
I saw in the papers to-day some reference to the possibility of a member of the Gárda Síochána going into a bank—that there had been cases of persons being dressed in the uniform who were not members of the force. It was stated that the mere wearing of uniforms was not sufficient identification. What I am going to suggest as an amendment is, in Section 11 (6), line 60, to delete the words " purports to act " and substitute the words " produce a certificate in writing signed by a Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána that he is acting." With a large number of men, a warrant under the signature of a Minister or an officer would raise a difficulty. You might possibly have 2,000 or 3,000 men operating, and 2,000 or 3,000 signatures would take up a good deal of time, and even when these signatures are given someone else has to transfer them to the individual officers concerned. A local superintendent has under his control something like 50 or 60 men and not more than half of these would be engaged in doing this work. There would be closer supervision in the case of a local superintendent giving authority to act to a member of the Gárda Síochána. I think no avoidable difficulty would arise, and that it would secure practically all that Senator Brown has in mind, and at the same time leave it possible to employ members of the Gárda Síochána in matters of the kind with greater confidence.
I quite agree that if they had that written authority it would get over a great deal of the difficulty, but I still feel that there are those three or four matters that I do not think you ought to employ the Civic Guard at—matters of business and commerce, banking, etc.
It might be desirable or necessary to get them to bring the documents in question. The document might be prepared and a member of the Gárda Síochána might be selected to carry it to the officer in question. It is unlikely, I think, in connection with the delicate intricacies of banking, insurance, or anything of that sort, that the Gárda Síochána would be selected as the officers to get whatever information will be necessary other than in the way I have suggested.
I am perfectly certain it would not. This is what we were at the other day. The fear that the Civic Guard may come in is worse than the reality. Of course if you put in the necessity of written authority from this superintendent you give very substantial protection, I admit.
The closest possible protection, as it means one man in charge of 35. At most it might mean one man in charge of 50 men. That would not occur often as the whole of the men would not have been engaged at the one time on duty of this sort.
Do you think that would be better protection than written authority from one of your higher statistical officers?
It would in this sense: that it would mean that the officer would have to present it personally to the individual man. In an organisation such as the Civic Guard it is better to keep discipline from within.
I do not want in any way to prevent them doing that kind of manual work in any of these cases. I think that is quite right. That is why one of the amendments to Section 8 made it possible for a Civic Guard in uniform to deliver the requisition even though he was not a statistical officer. I rcognise that, However, we are not very far apart in this and, unless any other member of the Committee thinks different, I am inclined to accept what the President says.
As between a superintendent and an officer of the Department I should say that the whole swerve is in the direction of the superintendent. You would require, I suppose, 20 officers.
The man that is requisitioned will have more chance of recognising the local officer's signature and it is less likely to be forged.
That seems to be a good reason for accepting it. He is an easy person to identify.
And the chance of forgery is less. Unless any member of the Committee wishes to press the matter, I am willing to accept what the President proposes.
The amendment is to delete the words " purports to act " and to substitute " producing a certificate in writing signed by a superintendent of the Gárda Síochána that he is acting."
If that is accepted the Committee ought to understand that Amendment No. 1 goes and that all the other consequential amendments go out.
We will take them one by one. We will take it that the amendment is accepted. If any member has a verbal suggestion to make, it would come up when we reach Section 11.
Amendment No. 1, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—" That Section 1 stand part of the Bill "—put and agreed to.
The Minister may collect, compile, abstract, and (subject to the provisions of this Act) publish statistics relating to any matter affecting the general economic and other activities and conditions in Saorstát Eireann and in particular all or any of the following matters, that is to say:—
(b) vital, social, and educational matters;
(c) local government;
(d) employment and unemployment;
(e) emigration and immigration;
(g) sea and inland fisheries;
(j) banking, insurance, and finance;
(k) railways, tramways, shipping and other forms of transport.
The following amendment stands in my name:—
Section 2, line 28. After the word " Minister " to insert the words " on submitting a scheme and regulations as hereinafter provided and obtaining the approval of the Oireachtas to the same."
I ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw it. I think the discussion was useful because it went into certain other aspects of the question. I do not think the amendment is practicable. I think it would cause too much delay. In view of what we have heard from the President I shall withdraw the amendment.
In the event of the Houses not sitting it would practically hold it up altogether.
I am very much influenced in asking for leave to withdraw the amendment by what the President has offered. In my opinion it is the most crucial part of the subject.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—" That Section 2 stand part of the Bill "—put and agreed to.
Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.