I beg to propose the following amendment:—
"To add to Section 8 the following sub-section:—
Provided that every Order made by such Council of Defence shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas within four days after the next sitting of that House, and if either House shall within fifteen days pass a resolution annulling such Order, such Order shall be annulled, but such annulment shall not prejudice or invalidate any matter or thing previously done under such Order."
The wording of the amendment is the ordinary manner of wording adopted in amendments of this kind, and has been adopted in a large number of Bills. I urge that this is the place where it is especially necessary. When speaking to an amendment to this Section when the Bill was in Committee, it was argued against me by Deputy Milroy, I think, that the effect of deleting the entire section would mean that the Army would cease to function. That, of course, was an absurd argument, and I refer to it now in order to mention that I stated that it was entirely within the power of the Minister for Defence to create any such Council of Defence at any moment he desired, and that it required no statutory power to enable him to do so. In reply to that, an argument was put forward from the Ministerial side that statutory powers were required in order that a Council of Defence should be constituted, and that the purpose of having the Section in the Bill was to allow such Council of Defence to be created, there being a need for such a Council. I had not at that time in my hand what I have had since, that is, the Defence Order No. 38, which is dated the 1st of December. The date is important, because it is prior to the consideration of Section 8 by the Dáil at all. It is dated before the consideration of this Section, by which statutory powers were sought for the creation of this Council of Defence. Yet this Order, No. 38, signed by the Minister for Defence, creates and constitutes the Council of Defence, saying who shall form it, allocating to each of the persons the functions he has to serve, and saying further that this action has been taken pursuant, not to this piece of legislation, but to an Order of the Executive Council. This Order states that the command of the National Forces is vested in the Executive Council, and exercised through the Minister for Defence, and it then quotes from the provisions of the Defence Forces Temporary Provisions Act.
Paragraph 2 states:—
"A Council of Defence has been created for the purpose of assisting the Minister for Defence in accordance with the following paragraph 2 of Executive Council Order No. 11 of 1923. There shall be and there is hereby constituted a Council of Defence to assist the Minister for Defence in the administration of the business of Defence, but without derogating from the responsibility of the Minister for Defence to the Executive Council and to the Oireachtas respectively, for all the administration of the Department of Defence and for the exercise and performance of all the powers, duties, and functions connected therewith."
Now, we have not had an opportunity of having that before the Dáil, and I frankly confess that I learned for the first time there were such things as Executive Orders in this form. This is numbered No. 11 of 1923. I do not know exactly how late or early in the year No. 11 appeared, but I would assume that it argued a very early date in last year, and it certainly was prior to the introduction of this Bill into the Dáil. It empowers the Minister for Defence to do a certain thing and he proceeds to do it under another Order, which is Defence Order No. 38. It treats the matter, not as though there were to be some Council of Defence in the future, but as if the matter had already been dealt with, irrespective of sanction being required. We get, in this case, two procedures. It is proved by this Order No. 38 that legislative sanction certainly was not required, because here is in existence before, a legislative instrument. The Minister proceeded to issue his Order. There is no other Council of Defence in this Bill, according to this Order, but it is clear that Orders like this are to be issued, dispensing with legislative sanction. A clear case is set up for all Orders hereafter to be issued to be laid before the legislature, in order that it may be privy to all that the Council of Defence does in its name. The Minister for Defence is Chairman of the Council of Defence, and is responsible to the Dáil. Everything that he does will have to be answered for by him here, he having sat as Chairman of the Council. It is necessary that the Dáil should know what Orders are being issued, and if a point were needed to press the case to a conclusion, it is furnished by the very Order of the Minister for Defence in which he cites an Order of the Executive Council, both of which were not within the knowledge of the Dáil and were not placed before it, when considering this Section of the Bill, though they were material to it.