The amendment I propose is: "Any judgment or decision given or made, sentence or penalty imposed, or other act, matter, or thing done before the passing of this Act, but after the 28th day of October, 1922, by any of the following persons—namely, Joseph Mary Flood, Edward J. Little, Barrister-at-Law; Thomas A. Finlay, Barrister-at-Law; William George Price, Barrister-at-Law; Charles Alphonsus Flattery, solicitor; Cyril Beatty, Barrister-at-Law; Bartholomew John Goff, solicitor; John H. Molloy, solicitor; Matthew Joseph Hannon, barrister; William David Coyle, solicitor; Richd. Daniel Fitzgibbon Johnson, solicitor; John H. Gallagher, barrister; Patrick Philip O'Donoghue, barrister; James F. Crotty, solicitor; Louis J. Walsh, solicitor; John S. Troy, solicitor; John O'Hanraghan, solicitor; Kenneth S. Reddin, solicitor; John M. Flood, solicitor; George Patrick Cussen, solicitor; Dermit Florence Gleeson—in purported exercise of any jurisdiction, power, or authority appertaining to a Magistrate lawfully appointed to be such Magistrate under or by virtue of the British Statute, 6 and 7 William IV., Chapter 13, and the British Statutes amending the same, shall be deemed to be lawful and valid to the extent to which the same would have been lawful and valid if such persons had been lawfully appointed under the said British Statutes."
ADAPTATION OF BRITISH ENACTMENTS BILL. - POWERS OF JUSTICES OF THE PEACE AND RESIDENT MAGISTRATES TO BE EXERCISED BY STIPENDIARY MAGISTRATES.
I am loath to raise difficulties unnecessarily, but I would like to have my mind satisfied as to whether or not the proposed new Clause comes within the scope of the amended title, because this, I submit, is not a Clause whose function is to interpret or to adapt to the circumstances of the Saorstát certain Acts of the British Parliament. It certainly is not an interpretation or an adaptation of statutory rules, orders and regulations, and though it might be some legal quibble perhaps be brought under the heading of contract, yet it does not seem to belong to any of the contracts that are specifically mentioned in the body of the Bill. It seems to me that it could be more properly described as a clause to legalise, and give legal authority to, acts of certain Magistrates appointed by the Provisional Government. Surely we might pass a short Act for that purpose by itself. It is really coming to the rescue, if I may use an unhappily chosen term, of the Provisional Government, lest any question might be raised as to the legitimacy or the legality of what they have done as regards the appointments of these Magistrates, or what the Magistrates themselves in turn may have done purporting to act under this authority. I would suggest that we do not include it in the scope of the present measure, and that we leave it over to be a Bill in itself.
I support Deputy Professor Magennis's suggestion, because I think this proposal ought not to come in in this particular Bill. If this thing is necessary it ought to be done by a short Act by itself. Now, yesterday, what I think is considered a fairly reprehensible practice in most legislatures was, I think, done, that is to say, a certain thing was done by tacking it on to the Appropriation Bill. It seems to me you are trying to do the same thing by this adaptation—tacking on another thing and giving this other matter statutory force by putting it in where I do not think it ought to be. I think these things ought to be kept separate and distinct and done in proper order. I think everybody in the Dáil is anxious to facilitate the Government in getting this Adaptation Act through, but I do think there would be a good deal of discussion perhaps if this other thing were brought in as a separate Act. At this stage I think it is altogether out of place. There was no mention of it in the previous stages, not even in Committee. To bring it in now in the fourth stage is not, I think, fair at all to the Dáil, and I would protest against the practice, as it is now becoming a practice, since yesterday, to tack on to one Bill what should properly be a separate Bill.
May I join in the appeal of Deputy Magennis and Deputy Cathal O'Shannon in asking the Government not to press this particular amendment? I think the Government will acquit me of any desire to raise factious opposition to any of their proposals, and I do think it is most desirable that Stipendiary Magistrates or Magistrates of any kind should function throughout the country at the earliest possible moment. I do not think there is any member of this Dáil who would throw any obstacles in their way, but I do submit that an Adaptation of Enactments Act is not the proper place to put in what really amounts to an Act of Indemnity against these ten or fifteen gentlemen for the jurisdiction that they have been exercising for the period since they have been appointed. Look at the very terms of the amendment: "Any judgment or decision given or made, sentence or penalty imposed, or other act, matter or thing done before the passing of this Act since the 28th October"—nearly two months ago—"in purported exercise of any jurisdiction shall be deemed to be lawful and valid to the extent to which the same would have been lawful and valid if such persons had been lawfully appointed under the British Statutes." I do submit with profound respect to the wishes of the Government, and also with a sincere desire to see that legislation here is conducted in all proper form, that they ought not to sandwich this provision into a general statute for enactment. If they like to bring this Indemnity in as a Single Clause Bill or anything like that I could almost undertake to guarantee for the people whose party I do not belong to, but whose action in this Dáil I have watched almost every hour since we first sat—I can almost undertake for almost everybody here that that Bill would go through practically without opposition. But it ought not to go through in the place the Government have inserted it—in the report stage of a Bill that was presented in print to us yesterday afternoon and that went through all its stages, except its final stage, in the space of about one hour. I do appeal to the Government to withdraw this Clause in the form in which it is. As it stood originally, subject to some small alterations, it was not objectionable because the original draft provided that the powers of Justices of the Peace and Resident Magistrates should be exercised in future by Stipendiary Magistrates. All we want is a definition of Stipendiary Magistrates. District Justices have all the powers Resident Magistrates and Justices of the Peace had before. This is an entire innovation, because it is a specific indemnity to name people for acts they have done.
I can confirm, I think, the promise ventured to be given by the Deputy who has just sat down that a separate Bill would not be opposed with anything like virulence, but would probably pass through without any opposition at all. But to relieve the situation I would submit that this amendment is not in order. It is enlarging the scope of the Bill, and therefore it is not in order to bring it forward on the Fourth Stage, and I ask your ruling.
We are advised this is an emergency provision necessitated by the circumstances of the time. We have at present many prisoners awaiting trial.
On a point of order—
I expect that if a case is presented to the Chairman, at least one side ought not be excluded from being heard, even on a point of order, if there be a point of order.
The President is arguing for the Bill, not for the point of order.
Has the President anything to say on the point of order?
Yes; this is an emergency provision necessitated by the circumstances of the time. It is as important as any of the adaptations in the Bill. It affects not only those who have been tried, but those at present in jail. They are entitled to claim to be either released or tried, but they cannot be tried without the machinery for trial, and we are asking for that machinery now.
What about the point of order as to bringing this particular Clause in here?
It is a point of public order.
I am not called upon to decide a point of public order. I did not receive these amendments until 3 o'clock, and I had no opportunity of seeing them until they came before the Dáil. It does seem to me that at this particular stage this particular amendment is an enlargement of the Bill. Of that there can be no doubt whatever.
Even as it stands, and in the form in which it stands, if the President will bring it forward as a separate Bill, I am prepared to support the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable it to be brought forward.
If the suspension of the Standing Orders is carried, I hope a better spirit will be entertained than was shown here yesterday on another Bill.
We will fight that too.
You can fight away as long as you like.
We cannot be expected to pass legislation without some explanation.
One cannot explain to those who do not want to hear the explanation.