Before we proceed to Section 9 there is one matter—I do not know whether it is strictly a point of order, but it is a point affecting the procedure of this Dáil—which I want to raise in regard to this Bill. On a certain day—I have not the dates handy here—we began to hear amendments on Section 8. A number of amendments had been tabled, and the first two had been considered. It was then proposed from the Government Benches that the Bill should not be further proceeded with until after the Christmas vacation, and that other business should be taken on the following day, which was the last day before the adjournment. Some of us, not being very much interested in the automatic business for the following day, were not present on that day. I was one of those, and had desired to speak to certain of the amendments that were to have been taken. In spite of the fact that a Government pledge had been given on the preceding night that no further Sections of this Bill would be taken, the Government did the following day proceed to conclude the remaining amendments to that Section. I think it is very regrettable that the Government should give a pledge on one night and then depart from it the following day. I leave that at that. The only point I now wish to put to you is, where do members stand who acted upon the security of that pledge in regard to certain questions that they wished to raise on the amendments that had been tabled which were not to have been considered on the day on which they were taken?
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - MINISTERS AND SECRETARIES BILL, 1923—(THIRD STAGE RESUMED).
It is obvious that we cannot go back and undo what we have done. Section 8 has been passed by the Dáil and we cannot go back upon it. The Deputy has a remedy in moving amendments on the Report Stage.
No doubt, the Deputy, before making a statement of that kind, has taken the trouble to look up the reports of the Dáil and can give the relevant references.
Yes, I have done so. The statement was made here on that night in my hearing. I have not got the exact quotations here. If the Minister wants me to provide them from the Debates of the Dáil, I will provide them.
Yes, I want the references to the page and column of the Official Reports.
We cannot deal with this now. We cannot discuss Section 8, which has already been passed. The Deputy has his remedy. If he has a grievance he can put down a motion of censure on the Government and have the whole matter discussed.
(1) It shall be lawful for the Executive Council
(a) by an Order of the Executive Council, to dissolve any Board of Commissioners or statutory body to which this section applies; and
(b) by the same Order to transfer to, or confer or impose on, the Minister or Ministers who is or are head or heads of the appropriate Department or Departments of State concerned with the public services of any Board of Commissioners or statutory body dissolved under this section, all or any of the jurisdictions, powers, duties, and functions of such dissolved Board of Commissioners or statutory body; and
(c) by the same or any subsequent Order to vest in the Minister or respective Ministers who is or are the head or heads of such appropriate Department or Departments of State as aforesaid, all or any part of the lands, hereditaments, tenements and premises situate in Saorstát Eireann which were on the 6th day of December, 1921, or shall at the time of making any such order under this sub-section be vested, whether by statute, deed, contract, or otherwise, in or held in trust for any Board of Commissioners or statutory body dissolved by an Order under this sub-section, so that the same shall under and by virtue of such Order without the necessity for any other conveyance or assignment whatsoever become and be vested in such Minister or respective Ministers for all the estate, term, and interest, or respective estates, terms, and interests for which the same were immediately before the making of such order vested in or held by such dissolved Board of Commissioners or statutory body, but subject to such (if any) trusts and equities as shall affect the said lands, hereditaments, tenements, and premises respectively at the time of making such Order and shall be then legally subsisting and capable of being performed; and
(d) by the same or any subsequent Order to determine and declare which is or are the appropriate Department or Departments of State for the purposes of this sub-section to or on whose Minister or respective Ministers the jurisdictions, powers, duties, and functions of any such dissolved Board of Commissioners or statutory body shall be transferred, conferred, or imposed as aforesaid; and
(e) by the same or any subsequent Order to make such adaptations and modifications as the Executive Council may consider necessary of or in any British Statute relating to any Board of Commissioners or other statutory body dissolved under this section.
(2) It shall be lawful for the Executive Council
(a) by an Order of the Executive Council to transfer to and confer or impose on any Minister any of the jurisdictions, powers, duties, and functions of any Board of Commissioners or statutory body to which this section applies, and to declare that the public services and officers concerned with the jurisdictions, powers, duties and functions transferred, conferred, or imposed by such Order as aforesaid are comprised and included in the public services and officers of the Department of State administered by or under such Minister as head thereof; and
(b) by the same or any subsequent Order to vest in the Minister or respective Ministers who is or are the head or heads of such appropriate Department or Departments of State as aforesaid all or any part of the lands, hereditaments, tenements, and premises situate in Saorstát Eireann which were on the 6th day of December, 1921, or shall at the time of making any such Order under this sub-section be vested, whether by statute, deed, contract or otherwise, in or held in trust for any such Board of Commissioners or statutory body and which were connected with the exercise or performance of any of the jurisdictions, powers, duties or functions transferred, conferred, or imposed by an Order under this sub-section so that the same shall under and by virtue of such Order without the necessity for any other conveyance or assignment whatsoever become and be vested in such Minister or respective Ministers for all the estate, term and interest, or respective estates, terms and interests for which the same were immediately before the making of such Order vested in or held by such Board of Commissioners or statutory body, but subject to such (if any) trusts and equities as shall affect the said lands, hereditaments, tenements and premises respectively at the time of making such Order and shall be then legally subsisting and capable of being performed; and
(c) by the same or any subsequent Order to determine and declare which is or are the appropriate Department or Departments of State for the purposes of this sub-section to or on whose Minister or respective Ministers the jurisdictions, powers, duties and functions of any Board of Commissioners or statutory body shall be transferred, conferred, or imposed as aforesaid; and
(d) by the same or any subsequent Order to make such adaptations and modifications as the Executive Council may consider necessary of or in any British Statute relating to any Board of Commissioners or statutory body whose or any of whose jurisdictions, powers, duties and functions are transferred, conferred, or imposed by an Order under this sub-section.
(3) So long as any Board of Commissioners or statutory body to which this section applies shall continue to exist, and until the same shall be dissolved under this section, the jurisdictions, powers, duties and functions of such Board of Commissioners or statutory body, or such of those jurisdictions, powers, duties or functions as shall not have been divested or transferred from such Board of Commissioners or statutory body or by any Order under this section, and the exercise and performance thereof shall be and remain subject to the direction and control of the Minister who is head of the appropriate Department of State concerned with the public services of such Board of Commissioners or statutory body, and such Minister shall be responsible for the administration of the services of such Board of Commissioners or statutory body, and if any question shall arise as to which is the Minister or appropriate Department of State concerned with any public service for the purposes of this sub-section, such question shall be determined by the President of the Executive Council, whose decision shall be final.
(4) The Board of Commissioners and statutory bodies to which this section applies are all statutory Boards of Commissioners and other statutory boards and bodies exercising any function of government or discharging any public duties in relation to public administration in Saorstát Eireann, and also any Board of Commissioners established by Order of the Executive Council under Section 7 of the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2 of 1922).
(5) In this section the expression "British Statute" has the same meaning as in the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2 of 1922).
I beg to move:—
In sub-section (1) (c) to insert immediately after the word "Eireann" in line 58, page 7, the words "and all other property and assets (including choses-in-action)," and to insert immediately after the word "whatsoever" in line 1, page 8, the words "but subject where necessary to transfer in the books of any bank, company, or corporation," and to insert immediately after the word "premises" in line 9, page 8, the words "property and assets."
Section 9 deals with the dissolution of statutory bodies, and provides for the suitable disposition of their property when dissolved. The amendment proposes to add to the only property that, unfortunately, was dealt with in the original drafting, namely, land, other property, chattel property, moneys and property of a similar character. The Articles of Association of a Company will, of course, require the actual formal transfer in their books where the property is stocks or shares.
I beg to move:—
In sub-section (2) (b) to insert immediately after the word "Eireann" in line 42, on page 8, the words "and all other property and assets (including choses-in-action)," and to insert immediately after the word "whatsoever" in line 52 on page 8 the words "but subject where necessary to transfer in the books of any bank, company, or corporation," and to insert immediately after the word "premises" in line 59 on page 8 the words "property and assets."
The amendment is to the same effect as the last amendment in relation to Sub-section (2) of the Section.
The effect of this Section is that power is given to the Executive Council to distribute its services among certain Minister. All the Ministers that are created by this Dáil may have the Departments distributed to them which the Executive Council decides should be allocated to them. I am putting it to you, sir, that no such provision can be allowed by you, because it is contrary to the Constitution. Under the provisions of the Constitution Ministers who are described as non-Executive Ministers and have sometimes been described as Extern Ministers, are directly responsible to the Dáil, not at all to the Executive Council. Yet, this Section provides that the Executive Council, intervening between them and the Dáil, may distribute Departments to them. I suggest that that is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, and that Section 11 isultra vires under the Constitution. I think it is a matter of some importance.
I gather the Deputy is raising this as a point of order. He did not quote any specific provision in the Constitution under which this is out of order. In any event, I take it, it is inherent that the powers granted to the Dáil by the Constitution can be delegated by the Dáil; that the Dáil can transfer those powers to any person or persons whom they think fit—the Executive Council or anybody else, if they think fit to do so—by the act of passing this Bill. I do not think there is any provision in the Constitution which precludes the Dáil from doing that. I, therefore, rule that the Section is in order.
Very well. In that case it is only necessary to draw attention to what the real effect of this Section is. The purport of this Section will be that every Minister who, under the Constitution, commended to this Dáil by the Ministry, holds a position that it was claimed would be independent of the Executive Council, would be under the direct responsibility of the Dáil, would not be governed by the party and political considerations that the Executive Council have got to accept, will really have interposed between himself and the Dáil the Executive Council, because the Executive Council will have the apportionment to such Minister of the various Departments. The Executive Council may remove Departments from him, may add Departments to him. It will be recollected by the Attorney-General that I was not exactly what might be described as an enthusiastic supporter of these peculiar provisions. I believed that the result of these provisions under the Constitution would be that the Ministers who were then described as Extern Ministers and who now in legislation are described as non-Executive Ministers, would become subordinate Ministers, subordinate not to the Legislature directly, but subordinate to the Executive Council; that they would be digits on the Executive Council's hand. That is exactly what is now happening, and the Ministry who recommended those very provisions are the very Ministry who are now bringing in this Bill with the intention of undoing the very arguments that they advanced then with such massive cogency and with such powerful learning. That is a very remarkable result to have achieved. In other words, either through munificence or through some other cause I cannot follow, they have gone out of their way to prove that every one of the arguments I then raised were correct arguments. They have fulfilled every one of my melancholy prognostications.
May I point out, in the first place, that this Section, which deals purely with organisation, proposes that the Executive Council may effect certain re-organisations by Order, and that so far from withdrawing such re-organisation from the control of the Dáil, a later Section provides that such Order shall be laid on the table of the Dáil, and may be rendered null and void by a resolution of the Dáil. Moreover, it will be observed that at the end of Sub-section (1) of section 11, there is a proviso which should relieve the anxiety of the Deputy. "Provided, however, that in the case of any Department of State, the Minister in charge of which is not, for the time being, a member of the Executive Council, no such Order shall be made without the concurrence of such Minister first obtained."
When the Deputy says that this is phrased with the intention of undoing the Constitution, I hope he does not use his words recklessly in attributing intentions.
What I did say was that this result will be achieved. Let me read Article 56 of the Constitution, and it is really a matter of some moment, because it does affect the real independence of non-Executive Ministers, whether they are to be directly responsible to the Dáil or not; whether they are to be, as originally intended, really independent or not. Article 56 reads, "Every Minister who is not a member of the Executive Council shall be the responsible head of the Department or Departments under his charge, and shall be individually responsible to Dáil Eireann alone for the administration of the Department or Departments of which he is the head." Now this Bill comes along. If the Executive Council thinks that one of the Departments is not being properly administered, or is not being administered to its liking, by the Minister in charge, and supposing that Department is not being administered to the liking of the Dáil, it may, by Order, remove that Department from his control, and pass it to the control of an Executive Minister. All that is required, under the provision to which the Attorney-General draws my attention, and which does not at all effect what he says it does effect, with all deference to him, is not the consent of the Dáil, which has to go through a very formal procedure in order to effect it in agreement with the Seanad.
In this case a Resolution of either House can annual the action of the Executive Council.
Very well, I accept the correction. But in any case what I was coming to, is that all that is required is that they require the consent of the Minister in question; but the fact, nevertheless, is that somewhere outside of the Dáil the Executive Council have interposed, by this Section, between the responsibility of the Minister to the Dáil and the Dáil, to which he is supposed to be directly responsible, just as though, according to the Constitution, no such thing as an Executive Council existed. These are the arguments that were brought forward in the first instance. I wish to draw attention to the fact that the very parts that aroused such contention at the time, and which were advocated by the Minister at the time, are now being turned aside from, because they have proved unworkable. I am not alone in these views. There are certain members of the Minister's own Party who are equally agitated about it, who also believe that this matter is contrary to the real meaning of the Constitution, and who were advocates of these provisions at the time. I do not notice them in the Dáil at present, but that, of course, cannot be helped. The fact, nevertheless, is that this Section does vitally affect the real independence of non-Executive Ministers, and it does vitally affect the intention of the Constitution, that they should be individually and severally responsible to the Dáil, quite apart from the existence and functioning of the Executive Council.
To insert immediately before Section 13 a new Section as follows:— If and whenever any question or doubt shall arise as to the appointment of any lands, moneys, funds, or other property which shall become transferable to or liable to be vested in any two or more Ministers under or by virtue of this Act or any order made thereunder, every such question or doubt shall be determined by the Minister for Finance, whose decision shall be final and conclusive.
This is an amendment to meet a case where there may be a division of function involving a division of assets of some existing complex corporation, for instance, the case of the Department of Agriculture of which portion of the functions are transferred to different Departments. It is necessary to have some authority to decide finally any question of doubt as to the apportionment of the property.
To insert immediately before Section 16 a new Section as follows:
Wherever any statutory board of commissioners or other statutory or public board or body or public authority is by any existing law required to present any annual or other report to the Lord Lieutenant or to Parliament or to any Parliamentary head of any Department of State, every such report shall after the passing of this Act be presented in the first instance to the Minister who is head of the Department of State for the time being concerned with the services or functions of such board, body, or authority, and if such Minister be for the time being an Executive Minister he shall present the report to the Executive Council, which shall cause the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, but if such Minister be not for the time being an Executive Minister he shall himself cause the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
It may be remembered that some short time ago Deputy Johnson called attention to the matter of the presentation of a report by one of the non-Executive Ministers, and the question was raised then as to the position where reports are required by Statute to be presented, whether they should be presented to the Executive Council or direct to the Dáil. Difficulties had arisen, as there are a great number of Statutes under which various Departments and officials are required to present reports. In some cases under old Statutes they are required to present them to the Lord Lieutenant and in others to Parliament. This proposed new Section is to fix the procedure for the future.
On a point of order, I beg to call your attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present.
This is a Committee.
I had anticipated that my attention might be called to this. The Standing Order says:—"For the transaction of business in the Dáil the presence of at least twenty Teachta shall be necessary"; and, "If, at any stage in the sitting of the Dáil, any Teachta calls the attention of the Ceann Comhairle to the fact that there are less than twenty Teachta present, inclusive of the Ceann Comhairle, the Ceann Comhairle, should he be satisfied, on a count, that there is not a quorum, shall adjourn the Dáil until a later hour, to be named by him, or until the next ordinary sitting." There are eighteen Deputies present.
Does not that include the Ceann Comhairle?
I, therefore, declare the Dáil adjourned——
Before you do so may I ask if that applies to a Committee?
It states in the Standing Order, "any stage in the sitting of the Dáil." I, therefore, declare the sitting suspended until 5.45 p.m.
The sitting was suspended at 5.35 p.m., and was resumed at 5.45 p.m.
My attention has been called to Standing Order 56, which says that when the Dáil is in Committee, business may not be stopped if less than a quorum is present, save when a vote is to be taken. A vote was to be taken on this occasion. The Standing Order does not say "save when a division is to be taken." The Attorney-General moved an amendment and there was a vote to be taken. I must ask the Dáil to pardon my inexperience. I gather the usual practice is to ring the division bell on these occasions. I shall do so in future. In the meantime, I hope the ten minutes interval has not been very serious.
It has been very fruitful.
Amendment:—Before Section 16, to insert a new section as follows:—"In this Act the expression `Executive Councillor' means a Minister who is a member of the Executive Council" (Eamon O Dubhghaill), not moved.
I beg to move:—
In the Fourth Part, page 12, to delete the words "College of Science" and to insert in the Fifth Part the words "College of Science."
As the Dáil will see, the object of the amendment is that the College of Science should be retained under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Agriculture, and not placed, as indicated in the Bill, under the Minister for Education. It is my opinion, as this country is predominantly agricultural, scientific education should be retained under the control of the Department of Agriculture. We know it has been so in the past, and it is very important that an agricultural bias should be given to all the teaching in the College of Science. I cannot see any good reason why the accepted order of affairs should be changed, and the College of Science transferred to the Minister for Education.
I take it the Deputy's amendment to transfer the College of Science from the Minister for Education to the Minister for Agriculture, is in pursuance of that policy of the Farmers' Party, which we have recently learned, namely, to exclude anything in the nature of intellectualism from the pursuit of agriculture. I am sorry the Minister for Agriculture, who is unfortunately unwell, is not here, nor is the other of the same clan who has voiced that particular policy recently. The College of Science has seemed to the Ministry to fall naturally within the scope both as a college and from the point of view of science, of the Ministry of Education. It is not limited in any sense to agriculture, but in pursuance of what we hope will be the policy in future of the coordination of education with, presumably, that agricultural bias it will derive from the character of the country, I believe that the College would be appropriately placed under the Minister for Education. The amendment cannot be accepted.
I am still not convinced and not satisfied that any good case has been proved why this great change should be made. As I understand, three-quarters, or perhaps a larger proportion of the scientific work of the college, is connected with agriculture. We are constantly hearing it reiterated from day to day by Ministers and others, that agriculture is our predominant industry, and I am not satisfied that under the Ministry of Education, which, we have reason to think, would be largely composed of intellectuals, scientific agriculture would be safe. I am of opinion that under the Ministry for Agriculture, which is not composed of intellectuals, and whose Minister— at least I have read—has openly declared himself to be a materialist, the College of Science would be better placed. I do not know whether it is possible to be a materialist and an intellectualist at the same time. I maintain, however, that the College of Science should be under the materialist Department of Agriculture rather than under the intellectual Ministry of Education.
Amendment put and negatived.
On that point I want to raise one question that I think is of some moment, and that is whether the Schedule should not be amended or whether another Schedule should not be added repealing all the earlier statutes; in other words, whether there should not be a repeal Schedule. I am advised in this matter by those who have brought it to my attention and who are concerned, that there would be complications if there was no repeal Schedule. I bring the matter before the attention of the Attorney-General now. I mentioned it on Second Reading, but I desire to mention it again on this occasion.
The Deputy did mention the matter before, and I have carefully considered it, and I have come to the conclusion that in a Bill of this character a Repeal Section would hardly be feasible. If it were to be complete it would involve a certain amount of research and with considerable modifications here and there. The normal course, in a matter of this kind, is that at some date we will commence the passing of Statute Law Remission Acts. These are Acts in which one collects Statutes that have become obsolete or that have become repealed by implication, and they are considered from that point of view, and I should think that in the course of the present session we shall have to trouble the House with a Revision Bill dealing with these consequential repeals. It seems to me that that would be the better way to deal with it.
I am perfectly well satisfied with that statement of the Attorney-General. The only reason I mentioned the matter is that there are so many points of detail that have to be considered in matters of this kind I thought it might have slipped the Attorney-General's attention.