Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 16 May 1923

Vol. 3 No. 14


Each member of the Oireachtas shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be entitled to receive and be paid out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas the allowance and travelling facilities specified in this Act.
Motion made and question put: "That Section 1 stand part of the Bill." (President.)
(1) The allowance to be paid to each member of the Oireachtas under this Act shall be an allowance at the rate of £30 a month.
(2) The salary for the time being payable to a member of the Oireachtas by virtue of his holding any of the offices following, that is to say—
(a) Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Eireann,
(b) Leas-Cheann Comhairle of Dáil Eireann,
(c) Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann,
(d) Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann,
(e) President of the Executive Council,
(f) Minister, whether a member or not a member of the Executive Council.
shall be deemed to include the allowance payable to such member under this Act and accordingly no member of the Oireachtas shall, while he is in receipt of salary in respect of any of the offices aforesaid, be entitled to any further allowance under this Act.

I move Section 2.

Amendment by Mr. R. Wilson:—

In Sub-section (1) to add after the word "month," line 38, the words: "payable at the expiration of every calendar month to each member who during that period has either attended the Oireachtas, on at least one half of the occasions at which the House to which he belongs has held a sitting, or has for good cause been excused from attending on one half of such occasions, in such manner as may be prescribed by Standing Orders."

I was hopeful that the Ministry would have accepted this amendment without any further question. It is clearly a matter that should be settled once for all where men put the country to the expense of an election and they are so much wanting in a sense of duty that when the Chief Council of the Nation sits they neglect to come here but at the same time, under the heading of expenses, they draw a salary of £30 a month. The amendment asks that at least half the attendances be made, but if there is a genuine case of sickness or otherwise it could be very easily arranged to grant exemptions, even up to half. We have a precedent for this. In Canada no Member of Parliament is paid his expenses except he turns up and has incurred expense, so that, therefore, I do not think it would be a grievance at all to refuse to pay expenses when none were incurred. Take the case of the next election, after which the Dáil will sit for four years. What is to prevent a Deputy from coming to qualify as a Member and drawing £1,400 or £1,500 of the nation's money without attending, becoming a pensioner and receiving money under false pretences? I think the law is wrong and it might be made right. If the amendment is accepted we will be doing what is just and fair. I beg to move the amendment.

On this matter, and speaking without any consultation with the Minister for Finance, I would like just to put this view that it is undesirable to introduce even a suggestion of compulsion in a matter of this kind, beyond the compulsion that the responsible heads of parties may be relied on to bring to bear upon the members of their parties. You do not want a situation arising where a Deputy will simply come in one door and go out another to register his attendance, something like medical students do at lectures. What is an attendance? After all, is it that a Deputy would be here to answer the roll, though there is not a roll call as a matter of fact? The question arises what attendance there should be—simply to be present in the Dáil, on the days that it is sitting, for five or ten minutes or a quarter of an hour? I think that probably while we would all approve of the sentiments Deputy Wilson has expressed and approve of the objects he aims at by his amendment, most of us are likely to take the view that that is a matter that should be left to Party Whips, and, incidentally should be left to the constituencies which elected the representatives.

The Minister for Home Affairs has never, I think, taken part in any of the local bodies through the country. If he did he would find that there is a great want of sense of duty on the part of men who will stand up for elections and get themselves elected to a Board of Guardians or other body. When the day of meeting comes, perhaps one man will come 20 miles and another man 10 miles, while a man in the immediate vicinity will absent himself, and the whole meeting will fall through for want of a quorum, except, of course, there would be an election of some man to an office, and, in that case, you would have a full attendance. This is a case where you have several precedents. Why should we be so thin-skinned in this country? In Canada no one is paid who is absent, and in South Africa they are not paid. If you do not turn up there you are not paid for attendance. Why should you get money for what you do not do, when you are neglecting the duty which the electors of your own constituency expect of you, and which you undertook by putting yourself up for the election in your own constituency. The Minister says it is a matter for the electors in the constituencies? I would point out that no man who comes here at the next election can be removed from his position if he takes the oath, as long as the Parliament holds he can draw his pay, and the electors can go and whistle. You cannot get rid of him. Therefore, I think it would be wrong to allow anybody to take £1,400 or £1,500, and, at the same time, do nothing for it. I think the Minister should accept the amendment.

This amendment prescribes a date for the payment of allowances which is at the end of the month. That is scarcely necessary. It also makes a certain number of attendances to be essential for payment. Now, payment is at the end of the month, and if the payment is made at any other time except at the end of the month, it is a question for the member, and for the Minister for Finance, if he authorises it, because he would be exceeding his duty, and he will have to pay up the difference, and the Deputy, I suppose, would appreciate the joy of some people in the country if the members were paid before the date of payment.

Now, payment as it stands is a flat rate of £30 per month, and should not I think, be looked upon in the nature of a salary, but as a contribution towards expenses of the members. There are cases in which it is not fair to certain members, and it is very favourable to other members. If I were, for example, not in the Ministry, this £30 a month would be equivalent to a salary to me, because I am living in the City of Dublin, whereas a Deputy, like Deputy Wilson, who has to leave his business and absent himself from his work, in coming here and in getting back would lose a considerably larger amount of time than I would in the same circumstances. I take it that the Committee in considering the case of expenses of members averaged the whole, because otherwise there certainly would be greater consideration for a man who was to come from Kerry or Donegal, compared with a man living in Dublin. We took the average cost for average attendance. Let us suppose for a moment three or four sports came into this Dáil, and that they spent the time in the Members' Room playing Bridge, or something like that, and that they just came in to vote and cleared out again, they would fulfil all the conditions that the Deputy has in mind. They would be no use whatever to the legislature; they would be perfectly entitled to be paid. Take another case in which there was a party, and that it is necessary to send a member of that party to a distant part of the country to get information on a particular subject, and he was absent for a month, or possibly two months. He would certainly give the Dáil the benefit of whatever information he was able to acquire in his pilgrimage, and would come here to be a benefit to his party and the legislature, and he would be disentitled by reason of the fact that he was not here to draw the expenses he was rightfully entitled to. The Committee set up to consider this matter evidently had that in mind when they were making the recommendation of a flat rate of £30 a month.

Personally I do not think that £30 covers all the expenses of some of the members. It covers the expenses of more, no doubt, but the average was intended, and the average is what is down here. To measure the payment by the actual days of attendance, while it might be just, would prove to be unsatisfactory in practice. I was a member of a local authority, like Deputy Wilson, and I recollect that at the end of the year, when the list of attendances was published, certain representatives had a large number of attendances to their credit. If one were to examine the division lists he would not find the names of some of those members in those lists as often as their number of attendances would indicate. There were men with far less attendances, as far as the daily number is concerned, whose names appear on practically every division list.

They had the knack of getting up and walking out.

Yes, or just coming in, bowing to the gentleman recording the names, and going out again. As a matter of fact, there was at one time a little social function in connection with that particular institution, and there was a very good attendance. If a Deputy does not give the number of attendances here that in all justice he ought to give, it certainly is a question for his constituency; not so much for his party as his constituency. There are Deputies who, I presume, by reason of remarkable intellectual gifts, or of certain business proclivities, or certain other adornments that some members of the human race are heir to, may be acceptable to their constituents even though they give short attendances here. We ought not to exclude that particular type. It is a brilliant and rare specimen and it would be a pity to abolish it. As the amendment stands, it is not merely open to the objection in principle, but to the criticism in detail, that a Deputy might attend all meetings of the Dáil for 6 months in succession, and in the seventh month, if he absents himself for private or public reasons, he would lose his claim to be paid his expenses. When one starts out to consider this question, it is not the weekly, monthly, or two-monthly loss that a Deputy will entail by reason of his absence that should be taken into account, but the fact that his business must suffer by his absence, however haphazard his attendance may be. There is no case for the acceptance of the amendment. My own experience is against the acceptance of the amendment. I think the Committee which reported upon the amount they considered fair was also against this course. I do not think the adoption of it would be conducive to a better attendance. Taking the attendances all round, and having regard to the circumstances of the time, there is nothing we can complain of. There are Deputies who might attend oftener, but even their occasional visits, something like angels' visits, are welcome, and we ought to be satisfied in the circumstances.

We all agree with the underlying principle that Deputy Wilson has in mind, but we can see the sense of the objection referred to by the Minister for Home Affairs and the President, that in practice the proposal of Deputy Wilson would not be workable. Of course, we all agree that any person elected to this Assembly, the most important in the land, ought to take his duties seriously and give a better attendance. In practice any device that might be adopted would be very difficult to enforce. Some of the objections made to the amendment are obvious. As regards the one mentioned by the President, anybody who has sat in other assemblies will recognise it to be a valid one. Certain members may secure an attendance by merely turning up, while others might be 3 or 4 hours at a meeting. In other employments various steps are taken for recording attendances. There are timekeepers or foremen appointed, and they "clock in" or "clock out" the employees. When we are discussing housing and building, and the question of output, and the question of how many bricks a bricklayer will lay in the day, in my opinion it is hardly applicable to an institution such as this. I think we will have to rely on the pressure of public opinion, and if certain Deputies do not give a fair attendance we may reasonably expect that in due course they will be dealt with by their constituents, and beyond that we will not be able to go.

I was glad to hear the suggestion of the Minister for Finance that Deputies living around Dublin and residing in their own homes are in receipt of an income of £360 a year. I wonder would he put that suggestion in practice and only pay those who have to live away from home and who are put to considerable expense which this £360 scarcely covers? The Minister should make an effort to put his suggestion into practice and not give anything to those who reside in or near the city and to whom this money is purely an income. Either that, or I think the Treasury officials should take note of the fact that this is real income to men who can live in their own homes. I know there are many people outside the Dáil who are very anxious to become members by reason of the fact that their homes are in or near Dublin, and they want the £360 a year as a clear income. If the Minister for Finance puts this suggestion in practice I will support him.

I think it is right to say that I may have conveyed more than I intended to convey by that. There is no doubt about it, the attendance of the Dublin members leaves nothing to be desired. It is very good.

I did not speak about the attendance. I did not touch on that at all.

It should be understood that they have been withdrawn from certain spheres of activity which were remunerative. That should be borne in mind. While the Deputy may have to supervise his farm or his extensive possessions in the country, he should recollect that they had to draw upon their intellect, and the members for Dublin ought be considered in relation to this question.

I wonder would he have it in mind that what the Dublin man gets at present should be taken away and distributed amongst the others?

This is the kind of discussion that would be very fully reported, because it will excite a good deal of public interest, on the charge that members of the Dáil are voting to themselves salaries. The statement made by Deputy Gorey suggests the necessity for putting the other side of the case. After all, a Deputy resident in Dublin, who attends to his business here as he ought to do, cannot attend to any other business satisfactorily. If Deputy Gorey has in mind the members of the Dáil who may live in Dublin, or live anywhere, and who simply consider themselves as entitled to put T.D. after their name, and say no more or do no more, then his criticism may apply; and there would be justification for some procedure such as Deputy Wilson has in mind, if such could be devised, to ensure that a Deputy, having been elected, will pay attention to his duties. I do not want it to go out, and it is not fair that it should go out from here, that Deputies who live in Dublin, and are receiving an allowance of £30 a month, are thereby the richer to that extent. Any man that had any duties at all before, cannot continue those duties and must arrange for somebody else to carry them out, if he is doing his work here properly. The outcome of such a discussion as this ought be to ensure that Deputies will attend to their duties. Whether you can throw that upon the constituencies effectively, without devising other ways and means than have yet been devised, I do not know. As Deputy Wilson has pointed out, a Deputy may be elected, take his seat, and then take no more interest in his work. Another Deputy may be elected and have very little to say in the Dáil, but may be very active on behalf of his constituents. I am sure the Ministers will be able to bear testimony to that. So that it is not always what appears on the surface that is the whole truth. I have a greater sympathy with the desire of Deputy Wilson, in trying to ensure some kind of pressure that Deputies will be obliged to undertake their duties faithfully, or to resign. I think that the pressure ought to come from their constituents, and there should be some way of reporting to the Constituency that Deputies are not carrying on their duties; and some system of recall might very well be devised in the case of a Deputy who is not doing his duty. I am not now speaking of where a man may, for a time, have to go against the temporary wishes of his constituents. The recall in that case may not be satisfactory. But in the case of a member who has resolutely declined to attend to the duties that he has taken upon himself, there ought be some way of relieving the State of the burden of his expenses, and giving an opportunity to the Constituency to find a substitute. There is at this moment a great deal of dissatisfaction, in many parts of the country, over the defection of Deputies and their non-attendance here. The Constituencies have no remedy, and so far as we can see the Dáil has no remedy. No vacancies can be declared by virtue of non-attendance. If this Bill passes in its present form, without amendment, and it continues to be the law through the next Parliament, you may have Deputies elected, as Deputy Wilson suggests, who come and take their seats and then go shooting, sporting, coursing, racing, cricketing or hockeying. They may go shooting in several ways. It is worthy of consideration whether some means might not be devised to ensure the attendance or resignation of Deputies who have been elected to do the work of the Oireachtas.

Deputy Johnson drew attention to a matter that was well put forward. I would like to remind the Dáil that the business of Deputies here is not always confined to what begins at 3 o'clock in the afternoons. There are a good many Deputies of this Dáil, and a good many I see over opposite me, who have been in very steady attendance here, even on days when the Dáil was not sitting at all. From a comparatively early hour in the morning they have been here, and have remained until 1.30 or 2 o'clock in attendance at Committees, presided over by you or your Deputy, and doing good work for this Dáil and for the country. That will be increased, I hope. I have very little doubt it will. It must increase in future sessions when we get working upon such matters as private legislation. Private Bills and other Bills will be referred to Committees who must sit when the Dáil as a whole is not sitting. These Committees will have to do their work in the morning and the members will have to be here in the afternoon to take part in the regular business of legislation. I rather fancy that the burden of Committee work will fall pretty heavily upon those members who live in the neighbourhood of the Dáil, because they can always be got on the telephone or somewhere else, and they will be put on Committees. That will be even more the case when there will be Committees of the Dáil dealing with private legislation, as members will be withdrawn to a greater extent than in the past from their ordinary daily avocations. As a person living in Dublin and doing work in the ordinary way, I can add my testimony to that of Deputy Johnson that attendance, not alone here, but in Committees, is a very serious interference with one's daily employment. That will become greater in the future when we have a full Dáil here and when we have settled down to the ordinary commercial legislation of the country, apart from getting things into order, as we have been doing up to the present.

This discussion has taken a turn which I never intended it should take. I do not want to interfere with the privileges of Dublin members. As the matter has been fully discussed, and as the object I have in view is to focus public gaze on the fact that there are some delinquents who do not attend, I will leave it to the Ministry to devise means by which they can get at them. I, therefore, withdraw the amendment by leave.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I do not think that we can undertake to bring up any clause or amendment to deal with the matter which Deputy Wilson has in mind. Personally I do not think that we have any serious cause of complaint of the non-attendance of members in this session. There are possibly a few members who do not attend as they ought. That is nothing unusual in assemblies of this kind. It ought not to be for us to make regulations regarding what future Parliaments may do. We know nothing about their personnel or their ideas regarding what their business should be. It should be left to them to devise means. They will have perfectly normal circumstances to deal with, unlike the circumstances of the present. I hope I have not left the public or members under any misapprehension. I had in my own mind my own case, which is an unusual one. I know members from Dublin who come here and whose remarks do not occupy much space in the reports, but who entail very serious personal losses by not carrying on their ordinary profession or occupation. It is not always the fact that those men, although they do not attend here, are not at a loss. They are, and the amount specified would not compensate them for that loss. I know other members who do work very much outside the ordinary hours of attendance here, and this remuneration is insufficient, but the Ministry is not entering into that. A Committee reported on that and we accepted the recommendations, which were modest ones. It is a fair remuneration for the work done, but that is not for us, as we have accepted the recommendations. I do not think that any reasonably-minded person outside can find fault with the amounts set down. I believe from my experience of the attendance here that it will compare favourably with that in any other assembly in normal times, although that attendance has been given here in an abnormal session. If it be intended in future to secure attendance or limit the cost of the Dáil, I think that that should be left to the new Parliament when it comes into its own. We are not in a position now to estimate what the ordinary attendance ought to be. It is not, I expect, until after the first twelve months of the new Parliament that one could give an estimate, and the new Dáil may alter, either by reducing or increasing, this amount. So far as we are concerned, I think we are dealing fairly with the matter, and I do not think that any restrictions ought to be placed in a Bill of this kind. The Dáil should accept in good faith normal attendance from each member. If in the future it is found that members do not do their duty, it will be time enough to rectify it.

I had no intention of reflecting on Dublin Deputies. My remarks were scarcely meant at all, but I wished to point out that the position of the country Deputy who has to come here and leave his home is on a different plane from that of the Deputy who lives here.

That point is very well taken, and it is important for the public to understand that there is no money-making for the country delegate who has to leave his family and home, and live here during the time the Dáil is in Session. He is not going to save much out of his allowance that will enable him to keep his family as well as himself. I am suggesting with regard to the general question that perhaps the Committee on Privileges should call itself the Committee on Privileges and Responsibilities. It may devise a way by which continued non-attendance might be brought before that body, and the possible effect of continued non-attendance might be reported to the Dáil. Then the public could take whatever steps it might desire to deal with the ineffective member.

I think the debate on the amendment which has been just withdrawn reveals the fact that there is a feeling that the point desired to be raised by Deputy Wilson could be dealt with, and that there is room for amendment in this Section for dealing with it, and the words used by the Minister for Finance himself, in speaking just now, more or less suggested, and I do suggest, that the words here do require some kind of an amendment, because if the new Parliament or subsequent Parliaments or Dála are at liberty to deal with this matter, it should suggest methods by which non-attendance shall be controlled. Then I do think we are debating here on this section a form of words unnecessarily delimiting that very matter for the future. I suggest to the Minister for Finance that he will achieve the intention he has in mind, and possibly achieve it better if he would permit the insertion of a phrase in this Section. The phrase is "as between the allowance to be paid to each member of the Oireachtas." Between the words "shall" and "be" put this in parentheses, "subject to such standing orders as may from time to time be adopted by either the Dáil or the Seanad." If that were to be adopted, and the New Dáil were to be elected and were to set up a Committee of Privileges and Responsibilities on the lines of Deputy Johnson's suggestion, and wished to deal with certain members who were lax in their attendance to the duties of this Dáil, it could suggest the adoption of standing orders to deal with those specific cases, and be able to deal with them while still requiring no amendment of this Act. I think it would achieve the intention the Minister for Finance has in mind, and still leave a certain amount of freedom, and check what might easily become an abuse.

I would like to ask the Minister in charge, in Clause II. does the enumeration of the various offices set forth there, exclude any subsequent office that might be created, such, for example, as that of Assistant Minister? What would be included in the category A to F? Would it not be better to have some general phrase covering such appointments instead of defining each individual position?

It would cover the Assistant Minister or an extern member of the Ministry, but it would include the Assistant Minister, if there were one prescribed.

The point is whether it would include an Assistant Minister, and whether it might not happen that another office would be created or that the Dáil would appoint another officer, the name of whose office does not occur here.

I will consider that point.

Supposing there is a second Deputy Ceann Comhairle appointed?

And in receipt of salary?

I take it that this question will arise on the Ministries' Bill when it deals with the relationship between paid officers of the Dáil and the Treasury, bearing in mind their allowance as members. The point that was raised by Deputy O'Brien is an important one, because one can imagine that there would be Secretaries to Ministers who would be receiving salaries as such, and who would be appointed with the general consent of the Dáil and under some legislation. A Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister, for instance, would be entitled presumably to salary as a Secretary. It may be intended that the Ministries' Bill will make some provision for such payment, but that rather bears out the argument of Deputy O'Brien that there should be a general phrase covering all members of the Dáil who are in receipt of salaries as Ministers or Officers of State.

I think that in the case of any new office that would be set up in the Dáil the matter would be dealt with in the legislation providing for that office. I think in the other matter the electoral law will rule out any such cases as have been mentioned by the Deputy—that a person in receipt of remuneration from the State shall be ineligible for election to the Dáil.

I am thinking of members who, having been elected to the Dáil, are then appointed to paid offices in the State.

Yes, I will look into that point.

Is the procedure suggested by the Minister for Finance the best under the circumstances? Would it not be better in this matter, and the matter I mentioned before, if a later Dáil wishes to appoint a new officer, to leave this particular Bill so flexible that it could do it under the provisions of this Bill without making it necessary to have new legislation for every little matter of the kind? If a subsequent Dáil, for example, in the matter I have already spoken of, were to make it obligatory upon every person to put in a certain number of attendances, if this Bill be adopted in its present form without the phrase that I have suggested, entirely new legislation will be necessary, whereas this legislation can be made flexible enough to meet that case perfectly. If any future Dáil desires to appoint some member to a position not definitely certified in this Bill new legislation will be necessary unless this instrument be made sufficiently adaptable to these circumstances. It could easily be done, and it would save a great deal of unnecessary legislation in future if this could be done at the present moment. After all, it is only a matter of wording.

I have taken down the words: "Subject to such Standing Orders as may from time to time be adopted by the Dáil or Seanad." Just observe what that means. At a given moment it is open to either House practically to pass legislation by means of Standing Orders. That certainly does not appear to me to be a good system.

I suggest that the Minister is scarcely correct in his interpretation. It says definitely that there shall be an allowance, but it says that that allowance should be restricted by Standing Orders in future. That would be the effect of the words I have suggested and no more. The allowance still remains a legislative enactment, but whether that allowance is to be received by Deputies or not is a matter that would be subject to Standing Orders.

The two things are interlocked. If what Deputy Johnson mentioned about a person elected as a member of the Dáil to an office under the State were brought in under Standing Orders there would be a likelihood of complication. I will consider the matter, although I must say I am not very seriously impressed with the necessity for it just now. I see the point in what Deputy Johnson says about a person who is a member of the Dáil being elected to an office under the State. I take it that the ordinary regulations we have made practically cover that case. However, I will look into that matter.

I might point out to the Minister that the last statement would apply equally to this.

I shall allow amendments on either of these points on the next stage, because they require consideration in framing.

Motion made and question put: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill," put and agreed to.
(1) The travelling facilities to be received by each member of the Oireachtas under this Act shall be—
(a) in the case of a member of Dáil Eireann, travelling facilities as defined by this Act between Dublin and any place in the constituency for which he is a member, and
(b) in the case of a member of Seanad Eireann, travelling facilities as defined by this Act between Dublin and his usual place of residence for the time being: Provided that such place of residence be in Saorstát Eireann unless in any case in which the Minister for Finance shall be satisfied that special circumstances existing in Saorstát Eireann reasonably deter such member from residence for the time being in Saorstát Eireann and justify the allowance in whole or part of travelling facilities to or from such member's actual place of residence.
(2) The travelling facilities aforesaid shall be provided and paid in such manner as shall from time to time be prescribed by regulations to be made by the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Eireann and the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann.

I beg to move the following amendment:—

In Sub-section (1) (b) to delete the word “unless” in line 16, and substitute “but provided also that until the 30th day of June, 1923,” and to add it the end, “such travelling facilities shall be provided to such member.”

Sub-section (b) gives the Minister power to provide travelling facilities for members of the Seanad who live outside the Saorstát. We can quite appreciate the necessity for a provision of that kind in existing circumstances, but it would seem to be temporary, and there is no reason why it should continue indefinitely. The object of my amendment is to limit this to the 30th June of this year, by which time we may reasonably expect there will be no further necessity for such a provision as that now included in the Bill.

The Deputy, of course, is aware of the people that it is intended to accommodate in this respect —the Senators. A number of residences of Senators have been destroyed in various parts of the Free State. Those Senators have houses elsewhere, but it is not possible, nor will it be possible up to the 30th June, for them again to take up residence here. Having residences elsewhere, it is reasonable that they should go there, for many causes. It is not possible for them to reconstruct the destroyed habitations before the 30th June. It is quite possible they will not be reconstructed for twelve months, possibly not even then, and an opportunity will be afforded in the next financial year, or the one following, for drawing attention to that particular item of expense that will be included in the estimates. I think it would be reasonable to allow at least two years for this. I do not think a claim will be made in respect of this clause after two years, but I think it would be reasonable with the present outlook that at least that amount of time should be allowed. This particular clause was not requested, but we thought, in justice to the persons concerned, it should be included in the Bill. In so far as the Senators are concerned, they have, in proportion to their numbers, lost very much more than members of the Dáil, and I am sure it will not be possible to reconstruct their houses within the next two years, certainly not earlier. I think the Deputy might not press this amendment, having regard to the fact that in April or May, 1925, it is within the right of the Dáil to object to any item in the Estimates for that particular service.

There are two questions involved. It is not only Senators who may be compelled by virtue of the destruction to their houses in Ireland to live in England, but also those whose normal residence is in England, and who would prefer at all times to live there and come over occasionally. Now, the onus is going to be placed on the Minister for Finance to decide whether such travelling expenses as I mention should be paid in any circumstances, and that, I think, does put the Minister in a position that is hardly reasonable for him to take, or to ask him to judge. There are members of the Seanad whose only residences, as a matter of fact, are in England. I am not going to mention names.

I think the one you have in mind would not require travelling expenses.

If the Minister can give us that kind of assurance I do not suppose there is going to be very much difficulty.

It is only meant to cover cases where the residences have been destroyed. If there be any misinterpretation by members of the Seanad that it is going to cover any other members, then I would like to disabuse their minds.

That is very satisfactory, I think. Would the Minister be prepared to substitute 1925 for 1923?

As I explained, I think that will be the earliest time, but I do say that there is a safeguard for the Dáil, as the Estimates for that particular Service will come before Deputies each year and attention can be drawn to it. Further than that I do not like to go.

Our memories may not be very good, or we may forget all about it.

I would not like to trust to that.

The Minister will be always able to fall back on the powers that the Bill gives him in this matter.

Surely the Section is quite clear. The Minister for Finance must be satisfied that special circumstances existing in Saorstát Eireann reasonably deter the Senator from residing here. It is the duty of the Senator who claims the allowance for travelling to prove to the Minister for Finance that he cannot live here on account of the special circumstances. There is no onus thrown on the Minister to make enquiries. It appears to me that the Senator who asks for the price of his railway ticket from England must go to the Minister and must satisfy him that he is compelled to live in England by circumstances that exist at the present time. These circumstances, we hope, will come to an end before long. If any Senator, in future, claims travelling expenses from England, he has got to show the Minister for Finance that he claims them as a right, by reason of being prevented from living here by something other than his own choice.

I am sure the Deputy will recognise that, apart from the present Parliament, and if you take future Parliaments, it may be that the Minister for Finance would be very anxious to get a vote for a particular Bill in the Seanad.

It will be worth it.

And this does leave it open for the Minister, in effect, to bribe a Senator to come to and vote for that particular Bill.

I am afraid it is impossible, by legislation, to prevent fraud. You can turn out your Minister for Finance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made and question put: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."
The allowance and travelling facilities to be paid to and received by each member of the Oireachtas under this Act shall (subject to the provisions of this Act in relation to members holding certain offices) commence and be payable as from the day on which he took or shall take the oath next after his then last election to the Oireachtas.
Motion made and question put: "That Section 4 stand part of the Bill."
(1) If any member of the Oireachtas who was elected thereto before the passing of this Act was prevented by illness, or by some other cause which, in the opinion of the Minister for Finance, was involuntary and innocent from taking the oath on the first day on which the House to which he was elected sat after his election, and has taken or shall take the oath on the first day on which such House sat or shall sit after such illness or such other cause as aforesaid ceased or shall cease, such member shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to have taken the oath on the first day on which such House sat after he was elected.
(2) If any member of the Oireachtas who shall be elected thereto after the passing of this Act shall be prevented by illness or by some other cause which in the opinion of the Minister for Finance is involuntary and innocent from taking the oath on the first day on which the House to which he shall have been elected shall sit after his election, and shall take the oath on the first day on which such House shall sit after such illness or such other cause as aforesaid shall have ceased, such member shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to have taken the oath on the first day on which such House sat after his election thereto.
(3) If any question or dispute shall arise as to whether, or the extent to which, a member of the Oireachtas is entitled to the benefit of this section such question or dispute shall be determined:
(a) in the case of a member of Dáil Eireann, by the Ceann Comhairle, and
(b) in the case of a member of Seanad Eireann, by the Cathaoirleach,
and in every such case the determination of the Ceann Comhairle or the Cathaoirleach (as the case may be) shall be final.

I move the following amendment:—

In Sub-section 1 to delete the words "the Minister for Finance was involuntary and innocent," lines 36 and 37, and to substitute "the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Eireann of the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann (as the case may require) was reasonable and sufficient."

I hope this amendment is simply a matter of words. In Section 5, Sub-section (1) the Bill reads: "If any member of the Oireachtas who was elected thereto before the passing of this Act was prevented by illness, or by some other cause which, in the opinion of the Minister for Finance was involuntary and innocent from taking the oath." First of all, that puts an authority in the hands of the Minister for Finance over the members of the Dáil, which I do not think is desirable. It is throwing upon him the onus of deciding whether the conduct of a member of the Dáil was satisfactory or not.

I think that that should be a decision of the Dáil itself, or of the Officer of the Dáil, that is to say, the Ceann Comhairle. The second point raised by the amendment is that the term "involuntary and innocent" is not satisfactory, and suggests the setting up of a judge of morality. The proposal is to substitute for these two words, the words "reasonable and sufficient." I think that, on consideration, the term I suggest will be found to be much more satisfactory to a legislative enactment of this kind than the term "involuntary and innocent." After all, it is not easy for the Minister for Finance, or the Ceann Comhairle, to judge of a man's innocence. Is the Minister an authority on innocence, I am asked? I am not able to answer that, but I suggest, as a matter of language, that the amendment is an improvement, and that the authority to decide the reasonableness of the abstention should be the Officer of the Dáil, rather than the Minister who, inevitably, will be a man prominent in the counsels of his party, and that it is rather a political power that had better not be placed in his hands.

I should like to support this amendment, or rather the principle that underlies it. Surely it would be fairer to compel a claimant for exemption under this section to go to the guardian of the honour and privileges of this Dáil, one who would treat him, so to speak, as a father confessor, and to rely upon his certificate as justifying him from being absent for a particular period, than to ask him to go to the head of the Ministry, who is also the watchdog of the National Exchequer. The whole tendency of the Minister for Finance ought to be to save every halfpenny that he can for the State. This would put him in a very invidious position indeed. If two or three claimants happened to come up before him, and he, in the honest exercise of his duty, found himself compelled to decide against the man who did not happen to belong to his own party, he could not possibly escape recrimination of every kind. If he did happen to turn down the claimant, a man who is an opponent, while he at the same granted the claim of someone who was one of his own supporters—I do not put it on the ground that he would do so dishonestly, but that he would feel compelled by duty to turn down his opponent and grant the claim of one of his own followers—he would be exposed to a volume of vituperation from people on the other side. I do not think it would be fair to put such a task upon him, and I hope that, so long as we retain in our own hands the power of electing a Chairman of our own body, we will take very good care to elect one in whom all parties, the Ministry, the Opposition, Independents, and everybody else, will have complete confidence, and that the Ministry themselves having that confidence in the Chairman so elected, he will be rather slow to grant such exemptions to people going to claim from him.

I assume that the two amendments are being taken together?

No, this is amendment No. 3.

It rather seems to me that the two amendments deal with the one question.

Amendment No. 3 is at present before the Dáil, and No. 4 is consequential on that. The first part of the amendment proposes to delete the words "involuntary and innocent" and to substitute "reasonable and sufficient," and the other proposes to delete "Minister for Finance" and substitute "Ceann Comhairle" or "Cathaoirleach."

One amendment refers to the members of the present Dáil, and the other to those who shall be elected in the future.

It is sought to make as a criterion for payment "reasonable and sufficient," as against "involuntary and innocent," and, secondly, to make the Ceann Comhairle or An Cathaoirleach the person immediately responsible instead of the present Minister for Finance. While the Dáil was discussing the report of the Committee, I think Deputy Johnson raised the question as to a Deputy who might be prevented through illness from taking his seat in the Dáil. This section, I think, deals with that particular case. The next point is, as to whether the words "involuntary and innocent" meet the case better than the words "reasonable and sufficient" Suppose, for instance, it were possible to find a member of the Dáil, who had not taken his seat, in a place, say, like Mountjoy, at the present moment, he would probably say that there was reasonable cause for his absence, and if a question were raised, he might say it was sufficient cause for his absence. I do not think he would be able to say that if we had the words "involuntary and innocent" in the Section. That particular individual, if there be such, would be entitled to claim that he might have been considering all the time all the Acts of Parliament that we were passing, and following with the closest possible interest every single phase of our Parliamentary procedure, and that he had been receiving numbers of letters from his constituents, and he might table a fair case, that there was a "reasonable and sufficient" cause for his absence from the Dáil. Now, I do not know that the Ceann Comhairle would be able to make a case against that. I certainly would consider it, if I were the Minister for Finance, a very serious encroachment upon the public funds if he were to certify that there was in such a case "reasonable and sufficient" cause for such a member's absence. In the second place, the Minister for Finance is the person responsible for paying money; and he has to take the responsibility of a decision as to whether a Deputy fulfils this condition. If there is dissatisfaction with that decision, then there is an opportunity of appeal to disinterested persons, An Cathaoirleach in the one case, and An Ceann Comhairle in the other, so that the right of the member, or the privileges of a member, by this method of appeal to a judicial decision, if I may say so, is ensured. The operations of the Minister for Finance are executive, and those of An Cathaoirleach or the Ceann Comhairle judicial. If the Deputy thinks that that does not meet the case, I am not particularly anxious to stand in the way of allowing that the Minister for Finance should be excluded, and that the Ceann Comhairle or An Cathaoirleach should be the deciding factors in the case. I think it is better as it stands, and that the description "involuntary and innocent" covers what is "reasonable and sufficient," whereas what is "reasonable and sufficient" is not covered by what is "involuntary and innocent" in the particular case that I have mentioned.

The two words are not of so much moment, but the authority to decide whether a man has abstained for reasonable cause, a cause that is involuntary, ought not to be the head of or a leading member of one of the political parties in the Dáil. He ought not to be the Minister responsible for finance. It may be said in this, as in so many other cases, that he is not a political officer, and that the Minister has his staff, who might decide; that would be putting the position of a Deputy into the hands of civil servants. If the Minister is going to take a personal responsibility for deciding the merits of a claim, then it is asking the head of a political party to give judgment upon the claims of members of an opposing party as well as of his own. He may have to decide between two members of the Dáil, one of whom is a follower of his party and the other an opponent. Supposing he decides in favour of his own follower and refuses the other Deputy, then he is going to find himself in a very difficult position. If, one the other hand, he decides against the member of his own party, his position will be even worse with his own party. It is an undesirable responsibility to thrust upon the Minister for Finance as a political officer. And, while it is not a responsibility that Ceann Comhairle would desire to take, it should be rather placed upon an officer of the Dáil who is the spokesman for, the Dáil as a whole rather than upon a political Minister. After all, it is the intention to safeguard the rights and privileges of the Dáil as a legislature, but that is not the question, and it is the legislature that should be the deciding factor. I think it is the chosen spokesman that should be the person to decide this matter, and it is for that reason that I press that part of my amendment. I am not very anxious about the other words.

I think this is a matter of principle, not of words. I do not care what they are, whether they are "reasonable and sufficient" or "innocent and involuntary," but I agree with Deputy Johnson in the principle that the Judge in the particular case ought to be the servant of the Dáil and not of the Ministry. If the Ministry will reconsider this and introduce any word that they think necessary to cut out all improper and unjustifiable claims I would gladly accept it. I do think that the principle of the amendment in putting the decision into the hands of the Ceann Comhairle, and not into the hands of the member of a political party is a true one, and I do not mind if the words "involuntary and innocent" are retained, provided that the other portion of the amendment is accepted. I quite see the point of the Minister for Finance that imprisonment would be a reasonable and sufficient cause for absenting oneself. I think he is quite right. If the word "justifiable" was substituted for "reasonable" then, I think, a man could not succeed in his claim, but I would be quite satisfied to accept the words "involuntary and innocent." I see no reason why a person whose defection is due to his own fault should be enabled to come in upon the pay-roll, but the matter does seem to be serious as to who is to be the judge of his default.

I also agree with Deputy Johnson but I should like, not formally to propose an amendment to the amendment, but if the matter is going to be considered further before the Bill goes through, to throw out a suggestion that possibly the best people to determine the issue would be the Committee on Privileges, with an Appeal to the Ceann Comhairle. The Committee on Privileges will necessarily be one of the best Committees of the Dáil, and I think it would be the proper body to deal with. And as the matter is serious to the Deputy concerned it is well that there should be an appeal. There will be no appeal if you have the Ceann Comhairle to decide, but if you had a decision of the Committee on Privileges you could have an appeal to the Ceann Comhairle, and that might possibly meet the case.

An appeal is provided, in the Section, from the Minister for Finance. There are two distinct points; first, the person with whom the decision is to rest, and next, the question as to whether the words shall be "involuntary and innocent" or "reasonable and sufficient." I think the President is disposed to accept one of these amendments.

If the Committee will give us the words "involuntary and innocent" I will consider the other amendment.

The President wants to retain the words "involuntary and innocent."

I am quite prepared to accept that.

As regards the other which is to substitute the words "the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Eireann, or the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann (as the case may require)" for the Minister for Finance, I take it that that amendment is not being pressed now and that the President will consider it before the next stage.

That is quite right.

Then I am prepared to defer this discussion and withdraw the amendment now, if the Minister will promise to consider it.

Yes, I shall.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Motion made and question put: "That Section 5 stand part of the Bill."
(1) In this Act—
the expression "travelling facilities" means the provision of free first class railway travelling and the repayment of such other travelling expenses as the Minister for Finance shall be satisfied to have been reasonably incurred;
the words "election" and "elected" when used in relation to a member of Seanad Eireann respectively include election and elected by a vote of Seanad Eireann, and when used in relation to a person who became a member of Seanad Eireann before the passing of this Act, also respectively include nomination and nominated;
the expression "the oath" means the oath prescribed by the Constitution of Saorstát Eireann as the oath to be taken by members of the Oireachtas, and the expression "take the oath" and other like expressions mean taking the oath aforesaid in the manner prescribed by the Constitution;
(2) Every member of the present Dáil Eireann who was a member thereof on the 6th day of December, 1922, shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to have been elected thereto on that day.

I move Section 6.

Sub-section (1) says "that the expression travelling facilities means the provision of free first class railway travelling and the repayment of such other travelling expenses as the Minister for Finance shall be satisfied to have been reasonably in curred." A good deal of doubt has been expressed as to the wisdom of the present method, and it has been suggested that there would be much advantage if we had some variation of the present method of issuing vouchers.

I think this present Section really defines the meaning of the words and does not go into questions of detail. I think that arises under Section 3.

I want to emphasise the term "first class" and to discuss the desirability of retaining these words. We are binding ourselves to the future to provide first class railway travelling for Deputies, but there may be first of first under some new railway organisation and we shall not be able to provide first of first under this Act. But it is rather felt by those who do travel that amendment in these facilities could be provided without any increase in cost, or rather, perhaps, with a saving of expenditure if members were provided with third class travelling facilities, or could choose third class as against first. Deputies who do travel can support this contention, but I am just wondering whether we should insert in the Bill this term "first class travelling facilities," or, rather, should we not say "provision of free railway travelling," so that the matter may be open for later consideration.

Would "free railway travelling" mean first or third class?

I think the point is that at present Deputies are compelled to travel first class.

If it is only that, I am quite in agreement.

They must get first class tickets.

The point is that Deputies are at present obliged to get first class tickets because the voucher stipulates that they must be first class tickets, and the question is whether the words "first class" should be retained or whether it would not be possible to get season third class tickets for the cost of first class tickets used on a comparatively few occasions.

If the Bill passes as it stands, we are bound to provide first class railway travelling, apart from any arrangements that may eventually be made between the Companies and the Minister.

Yes. Well, I will promise to look into that for the next Stage. If you leave it in I will consider it.

Questions put: "That Sections 6 and 7 stand part of the Bill."