May I say first with regard to the point raised regarding Sub-section 6, where it is stated that the Council of Defence shall be collectively responsible, the purpose is, and it can be amended, that they shall be collectively responsible to the Minister for Defence for all matters entrusted to them. From the point of view of his position in the Executive Council, and his responsibility to it, and through the Council to the Dáil, the Minister for Defence does not stand in any different position to any other Minister. With regard to the Army and its position, and what people who have never touched the Army want to make of it in this country, there is nothing in that but troubled imaginings. Deputy Figgis speaks of the old days, when you had an army that more or less met and asked whether they were going to be subject to the civil power or not. One of the outstanding points with regard to that trouble was that there was a time when the elected representatives of the people did not think it advisable to accept responsibility for the Army or for the Army's doings. In spite of that political position here there was maintained a perfect understanding and a perfect trust as between the Army of that time and the Dáil. And when the political situation was such that the Dáil could see its way to take responsibility for the Army and its doings, it was the Dáil acted, and it was not the Army. With regard to the Ministry of Defence, there is no proposal to put the Minister under this scheme in a different category to any other Minister, as is suggested. But the Ministry of Defence, in that it provides and keeps in readiness the military arm of the State, is in a very different position from any other Minister. There is no other Department of the State that may find itself called on in the same manner as the Ministry of Defence in a time of national emergency. When we realise that the State provides a Ministry of Defence in order to be able to organise its forces and to be able to defend the interests of the State, that does not mean to say that as a people or as a State we are out looking for war. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that we have been the victims of war in this country, and that the people who lie on every side of us have been the victims of war, and that war in one country has reacted willy-nilly on the peoples of other countries. It is to be prepared for national emergencies, when your defence forces are called into action, that you have a Ministry of Defence.
I have pointed out on the Second Reading that the holders of particular Army positions who, it is suggested, shall form members of this Council of Defence, are heads of administrative Departments. As far as the Military members of the proposed Defence Council are concerned, they administer Departments that run peculiarly into one another. As I have suggested, these heads of Departments would, in time of national emergency, become the Staff of the Executive Commander-in-Chief in the field. In envisaging the problems that would face this country in time of war, personally, I think it would be inadvisable for the Dáil to accept a position by which the Executive Council would simply nominate the Minister for Defence, and would not give any idea as to how that Minister ought to look for the highest possible counsel in preparing the policy, plans, and supervising in a matter of policy the technical plans that must be prepared if you are going to be in a state of preparedness in any national emergency.
It has been suggested that this is giving to the Army a particular position outside and away from the authority of this Dáil. It is, on the contrary, indicating that the Minister will have about him a Council of Defence consisting of persons who have administrative duties of a particular type, but who, for those particular duties, are from time to time the selection of the Executive Council. They have selected for these positions, on the advice of the Minister for Defence, the particular officers who hold those positions, and, therefore, they are much more closely in touch and control the direction from which the Minister for Defence gets his counsel, advice and assistance. It is necessary in the settling of the policy of defence that a number of minds connected with the technical side shall get their proper base, or at any rate shall get their proper arena for the exchange and formulating of views, and it is most advisable that they will be brought together in a statutory rather than in a non-statutory way. It is absurd to say that this Council of Defence suggested is a military tribunal not responsible to the Dáil, and it is absurd to say that this is dragging into what is a civil matter a military body. The functions of the Defence Department are more technical in a way than the functions of the other Departments of the State can be regarded.
As regards the point raised by Deputy Johnson, the Defence Forces, under Paragraph 22, have not yet been called into being by the Proclamation that is contemplated there, for the simple reason that in the reorganisation and settling of our army machinery, we are not in the position that we would like to be in before we call the Defence Forces into being. We are at present working under the latter section of the Defence Forces Act. With regard to the title of Commander-in-Chief, I have already stated that is vesting, in what is considered the most suitable member of the Executive Council, the title which corresponds to the fact that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army is vested in the Executive Council.