For the benefit of those Deputies who were not in the Dáil when I moved this amendment last night, I recapitulate my argument briefly. This amendment is intended to provide that whenever the Civil Service Commissioners shall issue a certificate of qualification there shall be published in the Iris Oifigiúil within twenty-one days of the issue of such certificate the name of the person to whom it is granted and a brief statement of the grounds on which such certificate is issued. The Minister, no doubt, will remind me that there is a provision—Section 11—of the principal Act for the publication of such notices in the Gazette in connection with these appointments. But that provision falls short of what I desire. I desire not merely that the certificate issued should be published, but the reason of its issue. I want what was referred to earlier in the debate as the safeguard of publicity, and I want that safeguard most of all in the interest of the Minister and of the Commissioners, because slanderous tongues will wag less freely if there is a definite official statement by an impartial body like the Civil Service Commissioners as to why such and such an individual was appointed to such and such a post. We are all agreed that there are certain posts to which appointments can be made better by selection than by competitive examination, but they are limited in number, and to adopt such a procedure should be exceptional and abnormal. This amendment of mine tends to make it exceptional and abnormal, and to give an official reason. Of course, we often find that when a person is appointed to a post the Press becomes possessed of certain qualifications of his, and sometimes what certain people regard as a sort of disqualification, and these are circulated broadcast. That is not what I desire; I do not want irresponsible statements in the Press, but I want responsible statements by a responsible authority which has weighed up the qualifications of the candidate and is satisfied that he or she possesses those qualifications. The amendment is a moderate one, it is only an amplification of the provision already inserted in the principal Act, and, therefore, I hope the Minister will accept it.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1925—THIRD STAGE.
I do not think it is an amplification of the provision already inserted. It is in fact a repetition and would just give the same results, I think, as the existing section. If this were adopted, the Civil Service Commissioners would just say, in respect of the certificate issued under Sub-section (2), that the Executive Council considers that in the public interest that person should be appointed, that they found the person fully qualified in respect of character, age and ability, and no further information would be given than is required under the existing section. I see that the section in the existing Act does require some slight amendment. It should be amended to show under what sub-section of Section 6 the certificate is issued. If it is issued under Sub-section (2) of Section 6, that would enable anybody who saw Iris Oifigiúil to know whether the Certificate was issued under sub-section (1), whether it was a case of professional knowledge or special experience under sub-section (2) of Section 6, whether it was a case of public interest, or whether under sub-section (3) if it was promotion out of the customary course. I think no more evidence could be given than that. For instance, dealing with the Sub-section (2) on which Deputy Cooper and the Dáil concentrated most, the relations that would exist between the Civil Service Commission and the Executive Council have been gone into in preparing the draft of this particular section and it is not felt that the Civil Service Commissioners are a proper body to question the Executive Council as to why they consider it would be in the public interest, or that they could go behind the decision intimated to them by the Executive Council. The duty of the Civil Service Commissioners really would be in respect to the method in which they would satisfy themselves that the person proposed to them was fully qualified in the respects set out to discharge the duties of the situation. Now, if there is a slight amendment in the existing Section 11 of the Bill, it will enable anybody to know under what sub-section and on what ground a person was certificated, and they can then proceed in the Dáil to ask the Executive Council for its reasons for the decision that it would be in the public interest that certain persons should be appointed to certain positions.
The more we see of this Bill the more I, for one, begin to distrust it. Hitherto we were told that the Civil Service Commission was a safeguard. Now we are told that the Civil Service Commission is not to question the decision of the Executive Council beyond satisfying themselves on certain elementary facts of character, age and ability. Really, my amendment is very moderate and ought to be tightened up more, and if my amendment is accepted it can be tightened up on the Report stage if necessary. The Minister has presented an entirely new aspect of this question. It is the Executive Council now we are told that have to satisfy themselves and to present the candidate, and all the Civil Service Commissioners have to do is to act as a registering authority and to satisfy themselves that the candidate is a suitable one in respect to such matters as age and ability.
The Deputy seems to be very confused in regard to the section. There are two or three different cases to be dealt with.
I am dealing with sub-section (2).
Under sub-section (2) there is no mystery at all. The thing is absolutely clear that it is a case of public interest and the Executive Council are the persons to decide public interest. The safeguard that exists is that the Civil Service Commissioners, provided there is no examination, shall satisfy themselves that the candidate is suitable in his qualifications to fill the position.
The Minister said it was undesirable that the Civil Service Commissioners should question the decision of the Executive Council.
On a matter of public interest.
The governing words in the section are "the Commissioners, if they think fit, may issue their certificate, but the Commissioners ought to have full power to question the fitness of the candidates."
The fitness of the candidates certainly.
Very well, I want the Commissioners to say why they think the candidate fit and what are the special grounds of fitness.
Perhaps I should not interrupt the Deputy so often, but it is not a question of special ground of fitness there at all; it is one of ability to discharge the duties of the position.
Then I venture to suggest to the Minister that that makes all the stronger the argument not only for my amendment but against the section as a whole. The Commissioners have to satisfy themselves that the candidate is fit, but the selection lies not with the Commissioners or with any selection board appointed by them but with the Executive Council. That is a power that must be questioned I think and that must be challenged, because we should never get on an issue of this kind where the Executive were responsible, an unbiassed vote in the Dáil. The Minister says this can be challenged in the Dáil, but it would be challenged as an act of the Executive Council, and whatever their misgivings, everyone who supports the Executive Council in this Dáil and elsewhere, would support it in a matter of that kind. My amendment may be inadequate and may require to be strengthened on report, but it is a step in the right direction, and I will have to ask the Dáil to vote upon it.
Will the Minister tell us what he means by the words "if they think fit"? I am really seeking for information.
The Deputy has asked me a hard one. I do not want to say exactly what powers they give, but I think they would enable the Civil Service Commissioners, at any rate, if they felt too much of this was being done, to question it. Of course they might be applied in another sense.
The Civil Service Commission, in order to test the fitness of a candidate, might say that an examination would have to be held, but ordinarily you may take it that the effect of this sub-section is that if the Executive Council puts up a candidate in the public interest to the Civil Service Commission the Civil Service Commission will be concerned only with the ability of that person to discharge the duties of the position to which he is proposed to be appointed, and if they find him so qualified to discharge the duties they will issue a certificate.
I challenged this last evening. The Minister has made it much clearer than I was able to do that the effect of all this is to make the provision with respect to the Civil Service a nullity. The Executive Council in their wisdom are to decide that A.B. is the particular person who, in their conception of the public interest, ought to fill such and such a position. And now the Civil Service Commission, two of whose members are subordinate officials, one, at least, of the Minister for Finance, are to be the watchdog as to whether or not this chosen person is capable of discharging his duty. There was a case in Canada some years ago where a very important public position was created, and it seemed essential that the holder of it should, if he were not a lawyer, at least have some knowledge of law, and a committee was appointed to enquire into the selected man's knowledge of law. When he appeared before the committee the chairman said to him: "Tell us briefly what you know of law," and he said: "Candidly I know nothing at all of law." The committee thereupon reported to the Government: "We have pleasure in reporting that we examined so-and-so as to his knowledge of law and found his answering thoroughly satisfactory." That is, "if they think fit." Is it fair that one body of men are to decide that the public interest requires a certain appointment, and their subordinates are to check the wisdom of that choice, while the Dáil, the representatives of the people, are to be precluded from saying anything about it until it is too late, because they will not know about it, they will not know why this man was selected, or why the Commissioners granted their fiat to him as one fit?
It seems to me that the force of the words, "if they think fit," is simply this, that without that it might be argued that "may" was compulsorily, and that they would have no choice, but the words "if they think fit" gives them a discretion, which they can exercise as they please. I would like the Minister to say if that is or is not the real meaning of the words.
I think that that is the meaning of the words, but I want to make perfectly clear what the general effect of this section is. Deputy Cooper seems to be very confused about the effect of the whole section, and I do not know whether I will be able to make it clear to him or not, but I would like to do so, if possible. There are classes of appointments for which a knowledge that is professional, or otherwise peculiar, or experience, is required. I will mention appointments in respect of which selection boards have sat—Certain agricultural inspectors, State chemists—not only the State chemist himself but assistant chemists, an instructor in cow-testing, a Keeper of Irish Antiquities, a trade inspector in Gt. Britain, under either the Department of External Affairs or the Department of Agriculture, a mining inspector, an agent for discharged prisoners, a railway rates clerk, furniture officers, certain printers and binders in the Board of Works, and a flax instructor. A number of other appointments of that nature have been made, and in these cases a written competitive examination was not regarded as the suitable way to make the selection. A selection board was set up in each case by the Civil Service Commission, and on their report the appointment was made by the Minister. These are the kinds of cases that will come under sub-section (1) of Section 6.
When Deputy Cooper says that there are very few cases in which appointments should be made without what he calls a competitive examination, I think that he has not examined the question fully. There are very many cases where you cannot make your selection by competitive examination. Supposing you are about to appoint doctors; you want men of some experience and you do not ask them to sit for an examination. You appoint an impartial board which investigates the experience and qualifications of the candidates. I believe that was done in Dublin with very considerable success in the appointment of dispensary doctors. It has been done in the appointment of a doctor to deal with cases under the Blind Pensions Act, in connection with the Department of Local Government. You have your selection board; the appointment is made on the recommendation of the selection board, and there are a considerable number of cases where that is the proper way of doing it. Then you come to other cases where the selection board may not be suitable. The State chemist is a case in point. There are persons who will not answer an advertisement issued for a particular post. There are a certain number of posts where you will have to find a man, come to terms with him, and take him into the State employment, cases where there is really no other way of getting a satisfactory result. I mention again the case of a manager of the Shannon hydro-electric works as another case in point. We certainly could not deal with that situation by publishing an advertisement saying that somebody was wanted at £1,000 a year, or whatever it might be, to undertake these duties. We would have to go after the best person available, come to terms with him, and appoint him. You cannot do that through a selection board. There can be no pretence of competitive selection there in the ordinary way, as you would have under sub-section (1). In that case the public interest is the method.
Then there are the other cases, such as I mentioned, where it is not a technical qualification or special knowledge that is wanted, where you might want a man for a special public service, and you might want to certify somebody who might be too old for the examination. The Executive Council decides that his appointment is in the public interest, and puts his name to the Civil Service Commissioners. There might be the case, say, of the reinstatement of a civil servant whose certificate had been cancelled, or the reinstatement of a widow, who had resigned the service on marriage and who was in such circumstances that it was felt she might be taken back to her old post. There are these cases that I mentioned of people who were in State employment but not in the Civil Service, like Congested Districts Board employees. The Congested Districts Board was handed over to the Land Commission. Employees who had been many years there were graded when they were too old for examination. This sub-section enables them to become certified civil servants.
I addressed most of my remarks yesterday evening to sub-section (2). I say that the power given by it is a necessary power, and the people who are making the fuss about it are people who are not seeing things in their proper perspective. It is necessary to give the Executive reasonable powers to get the State business done in a proper way. The Executive presented this section to the Dáil, and this section is a modification, and a reduction, to some extent, of the existing powers. The Executive has no desire to keep patronage and power in its hands at all, but it does not think that we should so tie ourselves up that the business of the State cannot be done in a proper way. I referred yesterday evening to the case of an employee of a firm who rendered services that resulted in that firm being saved many thousands of pounds, a situation somewhat parallel to what happened in the case of a temporary clerk. The firm would certainly reward that man in some way. It is reasonable in the case of the State that in such an instance the man should be certified to a grade of which he would be able to perform the duties. The Civil Service Commission would come in to this extent, that if we proposed to appoint him to an Executive grade and the Commission were satisfied that he would only do the duties of the clerical grade, they would say: "We will only issue a certificate for the clerical grade." There will be unforeseen cases and circumstances, and there must be this reserve of power in sub-section 2 to deal with it. That power is less than the power held in Great Britain and less than what the Ministers hold here at the present time. This proposes an actual modification in the way of a reduction of the power of the Minister. If there is to be any sort of decent administration in the country in the future any Executive Council that may be in office can be trusted in the same way to use that power properly. They can be challenged in the Dáil as to what the public interest may be if Deputies desire it, and whether, as Deputy Cooper says, their supporters will support them officially whether they think it wrong or not, there is the whole safeguard of cross-questioning in the House and of asking the Minister what the public interest is and how he will justify it. I believe the people who oppose this power do not see things in the proper perspective, but they think that the question of giving jobs and trying to have jobs given and preventing jobs being given is the main issue. That is not so. The real issue is the satisfactory doing of the business of the State.
Would the Minister state what reason there is for refusing to make public the grounds on which the Executive Council selects a man? Surely if we are called upon as we are repeatedly called upon, by the Minister for Finance to trust in the Executive Council—trust in the Executive Council is all and all with him—would it not be easier to preclude the necessity for discussion in the Dáil over an appointment by stating the good and sufficient reason which weighed with the Executive Council for the selection. The public will be satisfied. The air will be clear and no one can allege jobs or jobbing. It will be obvious to the meanest intelligence that this was necessary in the public interest, that this particular duty must be performed by a man of that special type. There is no more criticism and there is that unsuspecting confidence in the Executive Council maintained through publicity.
I am always grateful for the Minister's attempts to enlighten me. I admit when I am confronted with a sub-section in which there are twenty lines with only three commas, and then a few commas come in at the end, I may sometimes misread it. That may be good draftsmanship, but it is certainly bad English. The Minister's speech was addressed to the section and not to my amendment. He gave no reason for avoiding publicity in this case. If all those cases were observed why should he not say it? If a temporary clerk saved the country several thousands of pounds and that statement was issued in Iris Oifigiúil it would be a very desirable thing to give the clerk the credit that was his due and at the same time it would satisfy the public mind that merit was being rewarded. There can be no reason for refusing publicity in this matter if all the Minister says is correct, and I think it is. It is simply the hide-bound nature of Government departments that do not want to get out of the rut. It is the feeling that the public have nothing to do with us and we have no business to try to satisfy the public which I have sometimes observed in civil servants in other countries as well as the Saorstát. It is the Civil Service mind. It is a common phenomenon which is consistent with the most devoted public service of these men, but it shrinks from and resents criticism and does not want to justify itself to the people as a whole. I believe that is a mistake. The Minister says when putting forward this amendment I lack perspective. I venture to say the Minister equally lacks perspective. If I look through a telescope at one end and see things too big the Minister is looking through the reverse end and sees things too small. There is no reason for refusing publicity if this is all we wish it to be, and I believe it is. Therefore, I shall carry on with my amendment.
I am reminded of the discussions that used to take place when honours lists appeared and a person would be granted a certificate and the reasons for the certificate being granted were in the public Press "for eminent public services,""for his great charity," and so on. Of course the public saw the name and they came to a conclusion as to what the eminent public services were. They knew the public services were hidden and usually associated with contributions to party funds. Agitations took place and general criticism was levelled.
Is the Deputy speaking of the nominations recently?
I am not quite sure what the Deputy's point is.
Nominations were given recently to persons claiming to have discharged public services. I was wondering was that the point the Deputy had in his mind.
I think the Deputy's reading of the Act he has referred to is quite mistaken. It says: "who has done honour to the nation by giving service to the State." The man who cleans the streets and does it well gives service, and therefore is entitled to all the honours the public is prepared to bestow on that person. It is a different thing from the patronage I referred to. Deputy Good is acquainted with many persons who have had their names in the public Press as having been granted honours by reason of their eminent public services, and he knows well that those services have either been contributions to party funds or official electioneering services or party services. The simple term that the Minister suggests would be used to describe the reasons to which Deputy Cooper referred, and which would partake of the character of the eminent public services of those who were made Knights or K.C.M.G.'s or whatever the title might be. There has been a change, I understand, and some brief description of the services, not merely a general reference to eminent public services, has been employed. That at least helps the public to arrive at a better conclusion as to the legitimacy of these marks of honour. Usually the mark took place before the honour was earned.
I think that Deputy Cooper is justified in asking for a brief statement of the reason why a departure from normal has taken place. That reason would add to the credit of the Ministry and also to the credit of the person concerned, and it would enable the public to realise that there was something due to this man for these special qualifications or the special services, he had rendered; or, on the other hand, they would be able to see whether there had been special qualifications or special reasons. I think it would add something to the public confidence that a departure from the normal was not being made because of political services, or in the exercise of patronage for other than public reasons. On these grounds I support the amendment, reserving a discretion as to whether some further amendment, more carefully defining the intentions, should not be inserted at a later stage.
I think the real reason against that is that you can have only a very partial description in anything you gazette, and that if there is going to be any discussion of the matter, as there will be a discussion, it should be a full discussion and statement such as would follow in the Dáil. In the particular case that Deputy Johnson refers to, it would have been held in their Parliament that it was not fit matter for discussion. I am not sure about that, but I think it would have been held that the question of anything that fell from the fount of honour could not be fully discussed in the Parliament, and there may have been reasons for adopting a new procedure. There is no reason why the whole case should not be fully discussed here. It must be fully discussed if any Deputy insists on it. Nothing could be gained by the putting in of some brief words such as could be put in the Gazette. I am not thinking of Deputy Cooper's amendment when I say that the whole of this necessary power to the Executive is being viewed in a very wrong perspective.
I gather from what the Minister says that he meant this and no more: if the Commissioners think that such appointments cannot be made satisfactorily by examination or by ordinary methods. Is not that so?
What more is in these four words?
If the Deputy feels that way about it, he may regard them as not being there.
- Earnán Altún.
- Pádraig Baxter.
- Richard H. Beamish.
- Seán Buitléir.
- John J. Cole.
- John Conlan.
- Bryan R. Cooper.
- Sir James Craig.
- Séamus Eabhróid.
- John Good.
- David Hall.
- Connor Hogan.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Patrick J. Mulvany.
- James Sproule Myles.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Ailfrid O Broin.
- Tomás O Conaill.
- Liam O Daimhín.
- Eamon O Dubhghaill.
- Seán O Duinnín.
- Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
- Domhnall O Mocháin.
- Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
- Tadhg O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
- William A. Redmond.
- Liam Thrift.
- Nicholas Wall.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Thomas Bolger.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Seoirse de Bhulbh.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Séamus de Burca.
- Louis J. D'Alton.
- Máighréad Ní Choileain Bean
- Uí Dhrisceóil.
- Patrick J. Egan.
- Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
- Desmond Fitzgerald.
- Thomas Hennessy.
- John Hennigan.
- Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
- Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
- Eoin Mac Néill.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
- Martin M. Nally.
- Nolan, John T.
- Peadar O hAodha.
- Micheál O hAonghusa.
- Criostóir O Broin.
- Seán O Bruadair.
- Risteárd O Conaill.
- Conchubhar O Conghaile.
- Máirtín O Conalláin.
- Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
- Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
- Séamus O Dólain.
- Peadar O Dubhghaill.
- Séamus O Leadáin.
- Risteárd O Maolchatha.
- Séamus O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
- Seán O Raghallaigh.
- Máirtín O Rodaigh.
- Seán O Súilleabháin.
- Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
- Caoimhghín O hUigin.
- Patrick W. Shaw.
On this motion, I desire to say that I intend to vote against the adoption of the section. The Minister alluded to one matter to which I should like to refer. He alluded to the manner in which a selection board has been able to select candidates for medical appointments. I admit at once that the selection board acted very fairly and that it was a considerable improvement on the conditions that existed previously. But I entirely disagree with any proposals that tend to do away with competitive examinations when these examinations can be held. The very case the Minister has alluded to is a case in point. There is no earthly reason why a competitive examination should not be held, for which the rules and regulations would prescribe special marks for special qualifications. For instance, a candidate who has been a house surgeon is a better candidate than a man who has never been a house surgeon. Certain marks should be set aside for qualifications of that kind. The chief point I want to make is that, as far as possible, there should be competitive examinations in every instance. It does away with any talk or any question of jobbery.
The Minister alluded to the fact that if they were offering a salary of £1,000 they would have to go and look for a candidate. If I know anything of the present condition of affairs, there would be a great many applicants for any job carrying with it £1,000 a year. I do not think it would be necessary to seek candidates for a post of that kind. It may be occasionally necessary to make appointments without competitive examination, but the occasions are so few that they do not detract from the importance of the proposition that competitive examinations should be held in all classes and grades in which appointments are being made. The present system is throwing a great deal too much on the Civil Service Commissioners. They have to choose the selection board. The onus is put upon them of getting men upon whom no suspicion can be cast. That would be obviated if the examinations were conducted, as they would be conducted, in a proper way. We should stick to the principle of competitive examinations, as far as possible. For those reasons I cannot support the section as it stands.
The Minister told us in his speeches on my amendment that we completely lacked perspective. It may be that I do not realise the considerations, born of experience of office, that weigh in the Minister's mind. Naturally, those of us who have no experience of office cannot do so. But I do not think he realises in the least the disquietude that is sometimes aroused by appointments made under the existing Act, which disquietude, I believe, will be intensified if this section becomes law.
I have been very reluctant to use the case which I am now going to use. I do it, not for the purpose of muckraking, but because it has honestly caused the gravest disquietude in my mind. I am glad to see the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in his place. An appointment was recently necessary as announcer at the State Broadcasting Station. That is a post which, I think, we would agree, could not be filled by competitive examination. It should be filled by a Selection Board. The selected candidate would require to possess certain qualifications. He should have a good voice, he should have wide culture, he should, if possible, possess a University degree, he should have a certain knowledge of the art, music and literature, not only of our country but of Europe. That is a fair case for selection by a selection board, and I am going to state that I believe the gentleman appointed was the best of the candidates applying for the post. I have reason to know that a strong selection board was set up, but at the same time the fact is that the gentleman appointed is chiefly known to-day as the secretary of a political organisation— I hope he is no longer—while he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Dáil.
No, no. I beg your pardon, you are wrong.
If Deputy O'Doherty wishes to interrupt I will give him facilities for doing so in a few minutes. I am not accusing the Government of having made a job, and I believe that probably the best candidate was appointed; but, because of the facts I have stated, the public mind is disquieted. It is not a big appointment. It is a half-time job. It is not a full-time job or a highly-paid job; it is a half-time job, so that the gentleman can—I hope he will not—carry on his political activities at the same time that he is a responsible official in a State broadcasting station. I am not trying to make a party point, and I think the Minister knows that. It does seem to me to be a dangerous thing. unless you have more effective machinery for publicity than you have, and more effective machinery for making it clear that competitive tests have been applied and answered to. It is for that reason that I have raised it.
I hope I have said nothing unfair. I want again to say that I do think that this gentleman is qualified for the post. He has satisfied a strong board that he was the best candidate. I do, however, say that the Government are entirely ignoring public opinion if they make an appointment of that sort without giving a full and sufficient statement as to the qualifications of the candidate appointed. This section would make it possible for a number of similar appointments to be made, and I therefore urge the Dáil to consider whether it is wise to adopt machinery of that kind.
I think that Deputy Cooper, on consideration, will regret the remarks he has made. The speech he has made is, perhaps, less worthy of Deputy Cooper than any statement I have heard him make in the Dáil. He admits the candidate was qualified, that he was the most qualified of the candidates that came forward. He knows that it has been the practice of the Government to refuse to allow any Civil Servant to be an active member of any political organisation, or even to take an active part as secretary of a Cumann na nGaedheal club. He seems to suggest that because a man was secretary of a political organisation, or because he was a candidate for the Dáil, he should thereafter be disqualified for any public appointment.
I am not suggesting that. This is not a Civil Service appointment. It is an appointment for one year and is non-pensionable.
It is a Civil Service appointment.
Will all the rules of the Civil Service be applied?
I am glad I gave the Minister an opportunity of making that clear.
Yes, but nevertheless it gives the impression to certain Deputies on this side that the opportunity has been availed of to get the suggestion abroad that, because Mr. Hughes happened to have been selected for this particular appointment, it must necessarily have been by some unfair method. Now, that interpretation of mine may or may not be right, but one must be pardoned for coming to that interpretation. Mr. Hughes has been selected, as the Minister for Finance has stated, through the ordinary channels of selection. I have seen the report of the Selection Board in which it was clearly pointed out that the successful candidate was easily the most efficient candidate. Seeing that he was the most efficient candidate, I presume you will agree that the Selection Board had no other alternative but to make the selection it made, and that in fact it would be a most extraordinary thing if it failed to make this selection. I anticipated some such question as this in regard to Mr. Hughes's appointment would arise here, and the remarks of more than one speaker on the previous sub-section tended in this particular direction.
The Deputy can come to his own conclusions.
Sir, I claim your protection. The Deputies who have spoken on that sub-section are very limited in number—only three or four. It is not right that the Minister, or any particular Deputy, should make an imputation of that sort and be unwilling to specify the name to which he alludes.
Does the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs mean the discussion on Deputy Cooper's amendment—No. 7—that has been decided?
What is the statement made by the Minister that the Deputy objects to?
He said that the remarks made by some of the speakers on the previous sub-clause tended in that direction. The previous sentence was that he had anticipated some such objection as this, namely, an imputation upon the fairness, or something in that sense, of the selection made. Now, I had not that in my mind. I declared last evening that I was willing to discuss the section with regard to the year 3000 so as to keep away from the suspicion of making any imputation upon a particular body of men, and that I discussed the question in general. Therefore, I do not think it is at all fair that a charge of that kind should be made here, unless the Minister is willing to say which of the previous speakers he had in mind.
I shall be glad if at least one of the previous speakers, Deputy Good, will disabuse my mind of the fact that there was no intention on his part to suggest that the appointment of Mr. Hughes was anything but above board. I must confess that I did come to the conclusion that his speech bore that meaning.
I am not aware that I spoke on the amendment at all.
The Deputy did make certain remarks.
The Deputy did not speak to-day. He may have yesterday, when I was not in the Chair.
I think the Deputy made some remarks.
Deputy Good interrupted Deputy Johnson.
For myself I must say that whatever remarks Deputy Good made, or whatever the interruption was, it escaped me. I had an idea that it meant some candidate for the Seanad election. Is that correct?
Quite so. That was the question I asked when Deputy Johnson was referring to it. Nothing was more foreign to my mind than what the Minister suggests.
I am very glad to hear it. I must confess that quite a number of Deputies in this part of the House came to rather different conclusions. I am glad to know that Deputy Good had no such intention.
That cases your conscience.
I want to say clearly that it would be an extraordinary position for us to take up to differentiate against men like Mr. Seamus Hughes, simply because they happened to be connected with a political organisation. We have had to answer to a considerable section of the people in the country for our action in entirely excluding the possibility of relieving men who made sacrifices for their country in recent years. It has been pointed out to us from more than one quarter that we were not entirely justified in taking that action. It has been put to us that a great number of men sacrificed their posts in order to establish this Parliament and that a duty did devolve upon us to see, at least, that they were not left to starve as long as we had an opportunity of providing for them. We, of our own free will, cut off that opportunity.
Now you are letting the cat out of the bag.
We cut off that opportunity without any public pressure. We entirely excluded the possibility of making an appointment of any kind except through the medium of the Civil Service Commission. What do we find? Has this action been appreciated by either the Dáil or the public? On the contrary, we have been told from various quarters that jobbery is rampant. We have not had any instances put to us of this rampant jobbery. Nobody has come here and said "You have jobbed on such and such an occasion." We have had those innuendoes and those indirect hints at jobbery and, except we were vigorously to call for proof here, it is quite possible that the innuendoes would take more concrete form outside. We hear that the Parliament is, in fact, a Parliament of jobbery. It cannot be denied, and there is not, as far as I know, any Parliament in Europe wherein either jobbery in fact or the possibility of jobbery itself is more remote.
Or less extensive.
Yes, or less extensive. There is no jobbery here. It is rather unfortunate that the last speaker should have referred to this appointment of announcer. The best man was selected for the announcership, easily the best man. The mere fact that he had made sacrifices for his country, very serious sacrifices, and that he happened to have been connected with a political party in the interval, should not rule him out. Like every other appointment made through the Civil Service Commission, he has been accepted simply because he was placed first on the list. If he had not been placed first, he would not have been selected.
I would like to point out that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs voted against the last proposal which would allow of the fact that the selected candidate had been placed first on the list because he was far and away above anybody else on the list selected by the Selection Board.
If the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs had supported that proposal made by Deputy Cooper, that fact would have been stated in a public announcement in the "Iris Oifigiúil." Consequently, the risks of misunderstanding, the risks of suspicion of jobbery, would have been, to that extent, diminished. But now the Minister has voted against the proposal for the diminution of those risks, and he has, of course, added to the possibilities of a perpetuation of those suspicions.
I do not think so.
I would like to say it is not my custom to bring forward personal cases, and I only did so in this case because my mind was disturbed and I wished to have it set at case. To a great extent, it has been set at ease. I agree with the Minister that the fact that a man has been a candidate for the Dáil, or was actively associated with any political party, should not debar him from taking up a post in the Civil Service. Having regard, however, to the immense possibilities of propaganda by means of wireless broadcasting, it would be better, I think, not to have persons closely associated with politics in connection with that work. I can imagine that it would be a very difficult position for a man to hold in the course of a general election, with his heart with one party.
I am personally satisfied the appointment was a satisfactory one, and I am sure the light and air that have been let in now will satisfy the public. Had I not some knowledge of the composition of the Selection Board, I should have had my doubts. I am aware the Selection Board is perfectly strong, and I am quite satisfied with the selection that it made in this case. No doubt the public has taken notice of the innuendoes that have begun to appear with reference to this appointment in the public Press. However, all that does not do away with my objection to this section in the Bill. These things will constantly arise under this section if we give power to the Executive Council to dispense with an examination in the case of individuals.
There is not power given to the Executive Council. The Deputy is evidently looking at the wrong section. Apparently the Deputy is still unable to understand the Bill. I would commend him to spend his week-end reading and studying it.
I may say I spent last week-end reading and studying the Bill and, if I do not understand it, I attribute that to the bad draftsmanship. I can generally tackle anything up to Herbert Spencer. "The Executive Council may, on a recommendation made to them by the Minister in charge of a Government department"——
That has no connection with this case. I do not know whether the Deputy has passed away from the case of Mr. Hughes.
I have. I have stated my case. I am now stating my case on the Bill in general.
I was not aware of that.
I stated that I was quite satisfied with that transaction. Apparently he was appointed under the old Act and this Bill has nothing to do with him. Under sub-section (2) the Executive Council, if they consider it would be in the public interest to have a particular person appointed to a certain position, may refer the matter to the Civil Service Commissioners, and they may issue an exemption in regard to examination. I hope the amendment is wider than the interpretation put upon it by the Minister. I think this section is a dangerous provision, and if anybody divides the House I shall go into the division lobbies.