TRADE BOARDS SPECIAL ORDERS. - RAILWAYS (EXISTING OFFICERS AND SERVANTS) BILL, 1926—SECOND STAGE (RESUMED).

I did not intend to intervene in this debate at all, but the position is so striking that I do not think I can let it pass without making a pronouncement on it. I do not want to refer to the position that has been created whereby railway companies have been made to bear all the overhead charges they have been made to bear. I do not want to refer to the position whereby pistols were put to the head of the railway companies by their staffs, and whereby they were forced into a position with regard to wages and hours and the consequent raising of freights which was responsible for driving traffic away from the railways and creating a new system of transport that has since absorbed most of the railway traffic and is likely to retain it.

I do not know that any useful purpose would be served by referring to the numbers of employees of the company that, in the opinion of the railway company and of the ordinary people, are not wanted. If one goes into any railway station in the country he will see plenty of clerks there with no work, or very little work, to do. I do not want to refer, except in passing, to an organisation which, as Deputy Davin has told us, has a reserve of four or five million pounds at its back. It is the strongest organisation in the world.

How much have the farmers got?

I suppose five pence would cover all the money that they have. They have other resources though, and if the Deputy wants to challenge these resources we are ready. Now there is another matter that I would like to put to the Government. It is a matter of common knowledge, whether it is right or wrong, that this Government prevented the railway companies from putting their house in order according to their ideas during the civil crisis that we went through here. I do not blame the Government for intervening at that particular time, but if they did that, the railway companies are, perhaps, not altogether to blame for the position they are in at the moment.

I do not think that this Bill, or the Act that it proposes to amend, reflects any credit on the Government, on the railway company, or on their advisers. The Minister admits that this Bill, as before us here, contains a considerable number of errors in drafting and nobody will doubt now that the original Act contained important errors inasmuch as it is necesasry now to have a Bill to amend it. But that cannot be put down to the fault of the employees of the railway companies. It was the fault of the Government and the fault of the railway companies themselves and not the fault of their staffs.

There is one thing, I think, that we must take our stand on. We cannot enter lightly on a policy of retrospective legislation. It must be the most weighty national reasons, to my mind, that would justify us in a policy of that description. Before we start to establish a precedent in that direction, we should give very serious thought to what is likely to eventuate. Whether it is the fault of the Government or the fault of the railway people in having the Act such as it was, I think it is their duty, whichever is at fault—and perhaps both are at fault—to bear the burden.

I would have no hesitation at all in giving my own personal view, were it not for the issues involved. Were it not that the national morality was involved, I should have voted for this Bill as it is, retrospective and all. But when questions of national morality and public policy are concerned, I certainly will not agree with it. For that reason I think the Minister would be well advised not to insist on the retrospective section or sections. If an assurance is given by the Minister that he is not insisting on this section, I and the Deputies on these benches will support the Second Reading.

Did the Deputy hear my speech on the Second Reading?

I was not in the House at the time.

I said that as far as that section was concerned, Section 6, it was to be left to the free and unfettered judgment of the House.

When did the Minister say that?

In my opening statement distinctly I said it.

I was sitting here and I did not hear that.

I had not the privilege of listening to the Minister's speech.

I do not think the Minister said it. I did not hear it either.

The Second Reading of the Bill involves the acceptance of that principle.

Did I not say that I would leave something to the free and unfettered judgment of the House, referring to that clause? I can only wait until the Official Report comes out.

Something? We could not make out what was in the Minister's mind.

Will the Minister make it clear now, so that there will not be any doubt about it?

I am making it distinctly clear now, but I am certain that I said it.

That, I suppose, satisfies me, or am I to take it as satisfactory?

No; the principle is in the Bill.

On a point of order, on the Second Reading the principle of the Bill is discussed. Surely this Section 6 is an integral element of the principle of the Bill. The Bill without it is incomplete. A statement by the Minister does not alter the principle.

The principle is qualified by the statement of the Minister. It is qualified by that statement which does not certainly make it an elemental principle in the Bill, as the Deputy well knows.

Is it a Bill or is it not?

Will the President agree to reprint the Bill and let the Deputies know what is before the Dáil? As this butchery has taken place, would it not be better to withdraw this butchered Bill and reprint it?

You have the Bill there with my statement, and you can go on with it.

May I put this to you? I do not know whether it is a matter that you can decide. It is whether, having accepted the principle of the Bill, it would be possible to introduce amendments to take out the Bill's backbone.

Withdraw it in decency.

The answer is, having accepted the principle of the Bill, it would not be possible to move an amendment which, in the judgment of the Chair, was against the principle of the Bill. The question as to what the principle of the Bill is will be a matter for the decision of the Chair in that eventuality.

Am I to understand that we are discussing the Bill without Section 6 being included in it?

No, it stands for the free and unfettered judgment of the House.

In Committee.

Would it not be well to get a declaration from the Minister as to what the principle of the Bill is?

We must have it.

I listened to every word of the Minister's speech, and I did not gather that. When he talked about the desirability of Section 6 he did not emphasise the fact that it was to be left to a free vote. I suggest that this section is repugnant to every part of the House, including the Deputies of the Minister's own party, and I suggest to the Minister that he should now give us an undertaking that he will drop it.

I suggest that the Minister should withdraw that section now, and, if he likes, on the Committee Stage he can bring it forward as a personal amendment. That, I think, would be a reasonable way. I am very glad of the assurance of the Minister that he is leaving it to a free vote.

Points are frequently submitted to me which are not points of order. Deputy Alton's suggestion involves two points of order. First, the Bill as we have it is the Bill we must discuss. Neither the Minister nor anybody else could take a section out of the Bill as it stands at present, and it is very debatable whether, if this Section 6 were not in the Bill, it could be introduced in Committee. I do not decide that, but I say it is very debatable.

It seems perfectly obvious that the proper thing for the Minister to do is to withdraw the Bill or to get it reprinted in the form in which he wants to have it presented to us.

Now I am going to hear Deputy Gorey's speech.

The reason I raised this point is that I want to make it quite clear—we want to have it perfectly clear in black and white—before any decision is taken, what the position is in regard to that particular section. If it is very doubtful whether it can be introduced later by way of amendment if it is now omitted; it is equally doubtful if an amendment can be introduced to eliminate it if it is accepted now.

Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle will give the Dáil a ruling on that point?

In Committee on this Bill, as in Committee on every other Bill, a motion will have to be moved with regard to every section to the effect that the section stand part of the Bill. That motion is always open to defeat.

It may be defeated.

When a motion is made in Committee that any section stand part of the Bill, it is obvious that the Committee can decide for or against that motion. Therefore, you can decide for or against Section 6 when the Dáil is in Committee on this Bill.

My point of order is that if we vote now on the Second Reading of this Bill we will be accepting or rejecting the principle of the Bill. I contended, in the short speech that I made, that Section 6 is an integral element of the Bill; it is essential to the Bill. Now, will the Minister or will the President tell the Dáil what they consider—what the Executive considers—is the principle upon which we are asked to vote? If they will not tell us that, what is the use of promising that, at a subsequent stage—when the Dáil is in Committee, —the Government Party will be free to vote for or against the Section? The really essential thing is to know where we stand now.

That is not a point of order. That is simply another method of keeping Deputy Gorey from continuing his speech.

It is one of the Deputy's political aspirations.

It is a point of order.

A point of order is a point which I can decide. Clearly, as it is not a question of order, I cannot decide the point put to me by the Deputy.

I am sorry you take that view——

I want to make this matter clear. I will take it on myself to decide any and every point of order raised by any Deputy. I shall not decide any other point. I have consistently refused to decide any point which, in my judgment, was not a point of order properly put to me. Deputy Magennis began by saying: "My point of order is...." As a definite ruling I state that the point raised by Deputy Magennis is not a point of order. The Deputy may ask the President any question he pleases at the proper time. The point he has put to me is not a point of order; it is not a point for me.

When I spoke first, was not that on a point of order? The Minister had interrupted Deputy Gorey. He had countered a statement of Deputy Gorey's by alleging that, in the course of his speech, he had announced that this obnoxious Section 6 would be left to the free vote of the House. I submitted to the Chair as a point of order that a statement by the Minister to that effect did not alter the principle of the Bill, although it might be a guidance for us if we were voting now. The undertaking by the Minister on the Second Reading with regard to one section of the Bill did not, I said, materially alter the situation as regards the passing or the rejection of the Bill itself.

The position is quite clear. The passing of the Second Stage of a Bill under the Standing Orders means the approval of the principle of the Bill. It is open to the Minister who moves the Second Reading of a Bill, or to a Deputy who moves the Second Reading of a Bill, to describe the principle of that Bill in any way he pleases. It is then open to the critics of the Bill to give their description of the principles. Subsequently, in Committee, a legitimate point of order may arise as to whether a particular amendment is out of order because it is against the principle of the Bill that has already been decided. That question would be for decision by the Chair, and the Chair would have to decide that in accordance with the judgment of the Chair, not necessarily guided by the statement of the Minister or by the statement of anybody else as to what the principle of the Bill was.

On a further point of order, the principle of the Bill, where there is no Preamble, is usually embodied in the Title. The Title of this Bill was.

An Act to make better provision for the compensation of officers and servants of railway companies who lose their employment or suffer other loss or hardship solely in consequence of the amalgamation and absorption of railway companies...

It has been admitted by the Minister that the purport of Section 6 is to review certain cases, and not to make better provision, but worse provision, for the officers and servants. Is not the Bill, therefore, outside the scope of the Title altogether?

I think, as soon as I have settled this point, I will let Deputy Gorey proceed and I will not hear any more points of order. This is the Bill we are asked to consider.

It is not a Bill now.

From my point of view it is the Bill we are asked to consider. If and when we have accepted it, and in Committee we find the Title needs amendment, it can be amended. Deputy Gorey will now resume his speech.

I think we may proceed on the assumption—otherwise let us have a definite statement on the matter—that the Government or the Minister does not regard Section 6 as a vital principle of the Bill.

No, I do not.

Very well; that settles that. I would like to go further than the Minister has gone. I would like not alone that he would not make this a party question and leave it an open question for the House, but from the moral aspect of the thing, that he would make a definite statement that he will abandon the section. That would be better still. I am prepared to accept the position that he does not regard it as a vital principle of the Bill, but I think it would be better if he made the definite statement that he will abandon the principle contained in Section 6. Were it not for the national policy—the question of national honour —that is involved, I would have voted for the Bill even if it contained this section.

The Minister described the situation as absurd and ridiculous. I admit it is. The position that has been created by a man who was in receipt of £700 and who; under the terms of the Act, was drawing £900, is absurd and ridiculous. Having got that assurance from the Minister, and having considerable confidence in Deputies' sense of national honour when it comes to the Committee Stage, we are prepared to vote for the Second Reading.

Get that promise in writing.

I want to say that I do not think the House should be gulled by the Minister's statement that he is prepared to leave Section 6 to a free vote of the House on the Committee Stage. I contend that if the Second Reading of this Bill is carried, then the House will be committed to it on the Committee Stage.

You cannot with the assurance that you have got.

It is better to take no risks.

If the Minister is honest on this question, why does he not withdraw the Bill and bring it in in a week's time, as he says he intended doing? I believe that were it not for the pressure put on the Minister from all sides of the House he would not give in one inch, and that he would insist on the Bill going through as it stands at the moment. The Minister did not expect that Deputies in the House would insist on fair treatment for the workers on this question. It seems to me that this Bill might be described as a Bill to defraud the railwaymen of certain rights. I will go further and say that the Bill is just another example of the Minister's evident desire, so far as he is concerned, to take every opportunity of worsening the conditions of the working classes in this country. It is not the first occasion on which it has been done. As Deputy Johnson mentioned a few moments ago, there are three motions on the Order Paper to-day, all tending to worsen the conditions of the workers in this country. Speaking outside on the lobby a few moments ago to a member of the House about this Bill, he put a conundrum to me. He asked me, what is the difference between the famous highwayman, Brennan on the Moor, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce? I said I could not answer the question. The member who put it to me said that Brennan on the Moor robbed the rich and gave to the poor. It seems to me that that hits off the situation to a nicety. There is no question but that the Minister is bringing in this Bill at the request of the railway companies. I understand that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is a member of the legal profession. He is a barrister, and I was wondering this evening when he was speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill, whether he was speaking as the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or as the legal representative of the railway companies. You would imagine from the way in which the Minister spoke that he was speaking as the legal representative of the railway companies. I am not suggesting, of course, that the Minister was briefed by the railway companies, but if he had been he could not have tried to make a better case for them.

This whole Bill is bad, but the worst principle contained in it is the retrospective clause 6. The Railways Bill of 1924 was before this House and the Seanad for nearly four months. When it was going through there were Deputies in this House speaking on behalf of the railway companies, and it is well known that when the Bill went to the Seanad there was half a dozen railway directors, some of them managers, there who spoke on the measure. Attention has already been called to that. Therefore, if there was any very objectionable principle contained in the Bill of 1924, which afterwards became an Act, surely these representatives of the railway companies should have seen it at the time. Does the Minister or anyone in the House suggest that a matter like this could, during the various stages of this Bill through this House and the Seanad, have escaped the observation of men who have given their lifetime in the service of the railway companies and who were there in the interests of the railway companies and against the interests of the men?

After all the speeches that have been delivered from the different parts of the House, there is very little left for me to add. The Minister, I think, should take into consideration how repugnant this Bill is to every section of the House, including members of his own Party. These Deputies must feel that the Minister and the Government are not treating them fairly in asking them to vote for a Bill with a section such as Section 6, which says:—"The decision of the arbitrator or board of arbitrators on a re-hearing under the foregoing sub-section shall operate as a revocation of the previous decision of the arbitrator or board of arbitrators in the case and shall have effect as on and from the date on and from which such previous decision had effect." That means that the Government is trying to put on the Statute Book an Act of Parliament to reverse the decisions of a tribunal that has been acting since the year 1924. I think that Deputy Gorey in accepting the Minister's very plausible statement, is acting rather unwisely when the Minister will not say to the House that Section 6 is going to be dropped here and now. When the Minister gets Deputy Gorey's Party or his own Party to carry the Bill as it stands to-day then they will not get any amendments to delete the section carried on the Committee Stage. Therefore I think Deputy Gorey ought to reconsider his decision.

Deputy Gorey will take his own decisions without any instructions from the Deputy.

Deputy Gorey made a very able statement on how objectionable retrospective legislation is to himself and his Party, but if he votes for this Bill to-night while Section 6 remains in it, he will not be acting up to his previous speech. I think the Minister ought to tell the House that this amending proposal to get an Act of Parliament to reverse the decisions of another tribunal is going to be dropped by him. It is objectionable to every member of the House and unfair because you led men to believe that they were getting certain rights under the Railways Act of 1924. They acted under that Act and went before a tribunal to get their rights. They went to a great deal of expense to have their cases fought and heard. This Bill means that the cases of these men are to be reviewed at additional expense to the men themselves and their organisation, and that any decisions come to are to be retrospective from the year 1924. This reminds me of a Bill that was introduced in the House a few months ago concerning the Privy Council. That Bill was brought in to prevent a man getting certain rights that he had under an Act of Parliament. The House on that occasion allowed the Minister to get his Bill through, because, though a certain amount of principle was involved, it was a case between two countries.

A national emergency.

The situation that arose was called a national emergency. If the Government is to attempt now to reverse by means of an Act of Parliament decisions already given by a tribunal, it will be both unwise and unfair, and will certainly be repugnant to me.

There is one point which I would like to have cleared up. I would like to know if Section 6 is left to a free vote of the House whether the Minister will unduly press the section in Committee. I think that is a fair question. This is a matter that is disturbing the minds of many of us. We have got our constituents and our own people to think about. We wish, if possible, to give every assistance to the Government, but it must be understood that the Minister will not unduly press us, and that it will really amount to a free vote of the House, feeling empowered to vote as we would wish. We like the gentle pressure which the Minister always uses, but we do not want undue pressure, and that every member's feelings may be expressed by his own vote independent of any Party feeling. I think that puts the whole matter in a nutshell.

I am afraid Deputy Beamish has let the cat out of the bag.

It is only a kitten.

Whether it is a kitten or a cat, the fact is that we now know what a free vote of the House means. It is to be a free vote according to the Minister. Deputy Beamish must have had a sad experience of Ministers going to him and saying: "This is a free vote, but it is the intention of the Government to compel you to vote whatever way they think right." Without that experience he would not have made the statement he did. If Section 6 is deleted on the Committee Stage, what is the necessity for the Bill, and what would the Bill be like without it? Was it really intended by the Minister for Industry and Commerce when he brought on the Second Reading to-day to have this section deleted on the Committee Stage? I asked the House to-day to agree to have this Bill postponed for six months. If I had succeeded in that I believe I would have done a very good turn to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, for in six months time he would return with a Bill that he could present to the House, and one that would not have to be placed on the butcher's block, as Deputy Davin mentioned, to be hacked to pieces. Deputy Gorey said that his party are going to vote in favour of this Bill. I hope they are not like the Government Party, and that they will use their own discretion. I think members of Deputy Johnson's party can use their own discretion, and they are not under the iron heel like the members of the Government Party. I hope Deputy Gorey's Party will vote according to their own free will, and that they will not mind the words of the Deputy when he said that he agreed with the statement of the Minister. This Bill was introduced, as Deputy Morrissey had said, to deprive the worker of his wages. There is only one sin that cries out to Heaven for vengeance, and that is the sin of those who would deprive the worker of his honest wages. It is one of the greatest sins that can be committed.

On £900 a year.

If the Minister is serious with regard to these three men who are in receipt of £900 a year while employed received £700 a year, why would he not introduce a Bill for the purpose of dealing with them instead of introducing a Bill which would be instrumental if it ever becomes an Act in depriving employees, such as drivers, guards and foremen at stations, of whatever compensation they have received and throwing out of employment thousands of workers? The Minister knows well that that is the intention of the Bill. If Section 6 is deleted in Committee Stage, I guarantee here that the men will never force the remainder of the Bill, because the Bill will be scrapped and will not achieve what is desired. Although it will be a free vote on Section 6, it will be, as Deputy Beamish has said, that each Deputy on the Government Benches will be privately spoken to to support the Minister for Industry and Commerce and vote for the Bill.

I did not say that.

I ask the House to support the Labour Party in this question. On behalf of the workers of the Saorstát I appeal to every Deputy to see that justice is done, and not to be influenced by the sweet words of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I really think before the Minister entered the House he dipped his tongue in sugar in order that his words might be sweet enough.

Some time ago the Dáil was engaged for three months in discussing the provisions of the Railway Bill which became the Act of 1924. Every interest canvassed the various provisions of that measure. The railway companies were ably represented in this House, and they canvassed the provisions of the Bill. Unlike other Deputies in this House, they were not short of legal advice. They brought their legal advisers with them to advise them, to prepare amendments, and make suggestions. When the Bill went to the Seanad there were some six railway directors and managers there to canvass its provisions, but though this Bill was for three months under consideration by the Oireachtas not one amendment was put forward either here or in the Seanad which would have the effect that is intended by the Bill now brought forward by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That is a peculiar state of affairs, that after fifteen months it can be seen by the Minister that the things he wants now he could not see then, and that his draftsman or the representatives of the railway company either here or in the Seanad could not see them. Since then the railway companies concerned have used every means in their power to inconvenience those who have been seeking compensation. The men seeking compensation have been dismissed and while they were receiving no wages they had to bear expense of bringing their cases before the Railway Tribunal. Inconveniences were also put in the way of people who were kept on. I have in mind one case which typifies what the company are doing in the way of inconveniencing employees who are fighting their cases and some of whom they are trying to get rid of. That is a case where a man was employed for 25 years at one point as a foreman. He was sent to a neighbouring town, and became an ordinary workman. He had to travel 24 miles to his work, and when he asked that at the week-ends he might be allowed to travel on Monday by an early train into town he was refused that concession. although he was prepared to sacrifice an hour's pay, As a consequence he and another man had to pay 10/- for a motor to travel from one town to another in order that he might keep his job. That is the way the railway companies are inconveniencing these men. making things disagreeable, and wanting to force them to leave their positions so that they will not get any compensation.

As regards appeal, it is just as well to say that the railway company put every stumbling block in the way of the men. When one case was tried, and it might be taken as identical with other cases, the railway company said: "You cannot measure other cases by that one. You have got compensation. Each case has to be tried. You are disemployed. You have no wages, but you have to come here at your own expense. Your case cannot be taken as a standard case. You have to bear the brunt of the expenses." The railway company's counsel pleaded a losing case on most occasions before the arbitrator. Why? So that the Minister might have an excuse for bringing forward this Bill. The railway company succeeded because it is as a result of their company's appeal to the Minister that the Bill is brought forward.

It has been stated that this Bill has been brought forward in the interests of men with less than five years' service. Who asked the Minister to bring forward the Bill in the interests of these men? Did the request come from the men themselves to have this provision introduced? Has it been made easier for the men to go before the arbitrator? Under the 1924 Act the company had to prove that a man was disemployed because of misconduct or inefficiency. Now the railway porter must show by graphs, diagrams, statistics and percentages that he is not disemployed or dismissed because of economic conditions. Is it seriously contended that a railway porter can prove by statistics, diagrams and percentages that he is not disemployed for economic reasons? All this information is available to the company and can be put up by the company. They have all the facts at their finger ends. They have the books to bring forward. What refutation can a railway porter make against them? Under the 1924 Act he had a definite rate of compensation. Does the Minister propose to continue that under the provisions of this Bill? He does not. He proposes to discontinue it and to say: "You have got any compensation the company likes to give you." Further: "After seven years of amalgamation has passed, unless you are disemployed within that seven years, you will get no compensation." These are some of the benefits given to the employees by the Minister's Bill. The Minister has agreed that the Bill of 1924 was badly drafted. He has continued the sin. He told us that there are amendments which might reasonably be introduced and that, as a matter of fact, are absolutely necessary. What I fail to find in the Bill is anything that should not be redrafted.

I would like to stress one point which has not been raised so far, and that is that the Government seems to have a very short memory. There was a time when the railwaymen in this country, guards and engine drivers, gave the greatest example of the power of passive resistance that was ever given by any men in any country. We remember that the guards refused to give the signal to the engine drivers, or that the engine drivers refused to take the signal from the guards, when English troops were on the train, or when munitions were being carried. That was the greatest example of passive resistance ever given in any country, and it was given here by the railwaymen. That is all forgotten now. People who sit in high places in the railways, the directors and people in high managerial positions, who were not in sympathy with that movement, are not brought before the tribunal, while men who gave evidence of their patriotism and the power of passive resistance are bundled about in any fashion that the Minister likes. The railwaymen are now getting, as a return for their encouragement and patriotism, a taste of some of the fruits of national liberty.

Touching on the point that Deputy Hogan has just mentioned, at that time the railwaymen were called upon to do certain work on behalf of the nation, and they did it bravely. That is recognised and accepted. I suggest to Deputy Hogan that if the railwaymen at a certain period in the history of this country did brave things they should be compensated for them and it is the duty of the State to pay the compensation.

Not the shareholders.

I do not think that can be argued, and if Deputy Hogan gives the matter a little consideration——

No claim was ever put forward for compensation for such services.

Mr. HOGAN

I did not suggest compensation, but I suggest that citizens who had given service to their country deserved fair play from a National Government that they helped to establish.

Fair play. The Deputy is not stressing that point, so I can go on. I think our Party feel that they are in this position: that while we have an expression of opinion of the Labour and railwaymen's point of view in the Bill, we have from the Minister, shall we say, the point of view of the amalgamated company. I am not going to say that the point of view of the railway users should not also be taken into account. I may say that we are in the exclusive position of being concerned more particularly about the railway users than the interests of the shareholders, the amalgamated company or official Labour. We recognise that our industry has been handicapped and hampered by high freights on the railways. We have to consider this Bill from that aspect. We would be unjust to ourselves and to the industry we represent if we did not look at it from that point of view.

Did you not consider the original Bill before it became an Act?

In considering the Bill, we are going as far as we can to do what we consider just. We would try, as far as possible, to be fair, but by that we mean being fair to the people who hold railway stock, fair to the users of the railways, fair to those outside, and to the men who are working on the railways. It may be difficult to do that, and we recognise that some people will be dissatisfied. This Bill comes under two main heads. There are two main objections to it. One was that in the beginning railwaymen going before the tribunal would be in a very difficult position, inasmuch as the onus would rest on them to prove their case: that their services were being dispensed with as a result of the amalgamation. The Minister has intimated that he intends to make a change which will put the onus on the amalgamated company of proving that they are dispensing with the services of railwaymen for that reason. I think that is going a very long way to meet the difficulty from that point of view. We think it is fair to give a man a chance to make a case in his defence and that the onus and the responsibility are on the amalgamated company.

Will all the facts and the books of the company be made available to the men?

They will be made available to the arbitrator.

What about the costs to the man who wins?

We concede that, but even with that, objections could be made. Even Deputy Davin could make a good case, no matter how hopeless the case might be, and we recognise that the railwaymen will have difficulties in making their case as satisfactorily as they would like. We are judging this matter as fairly as we can, and we believe that it will be difficult to get anything, taking it all round, that will be fairer than that.

Would the Deputy go so far as to insist that the man who wins his case should get his costs?

I admit that there seems to be a very strong claim that a man who is able to substantiate his case should be given his costs.

Would you make that apply both ways?

Yes. On the other hand, a man who fails must bear his loss, as you cannot have one set of conditions for one man and another set for another.

You will have to alter the whole Bill.

If the Deputy is prepared to bring in an amendment to that effect I am prepared to support it. There is the other section of the Bill against which the strongest argument has been urged, and I will say straight out that I am not satisfied, and I feel that a good many other Deputies are not satisfied, with the Minister's attitude on Clause 6. Let us suppose for argument's sake that it goes through to-night, and that it is retained on Committee Stage. We have men who have defended their cases successfully, who have been given awards, and who have had to pay their costs. All that will be thrown into the past, and they will have to come along again and make their case again. Will they have again to be responsible for presenting their case, and, if they win, get no costs? That is a consideration which we must weigh, and I think the Minister, more than any Deputy, should give that matter more careful thought. Is it to be written down that it is the policy of the Government that when a measure which has passed the Dáil proves not to be all that it should be, that the same Government will be responsible for asking the Dáil to mend its hand, and to alter the law which it has already passed and sanctioned? If a Government were to pursue a policy such as that, and if they themselves are to hold two different views on the same Act of Parliament, what stability can there be in the State? What can the hope of stability in the State be in the future with a change of Government? If men come in with views different to those held by the people who preceded them, will it not be accepted, by having this precedent which I feel we are asked to establish to-night, that all that any party in this State has got to do, if it wants to change the law, is to wait until it gets into power, and then with this established precedent it can immediately set about revising the law as it stands. That, of course, is done every day, but not retrospectively as the Minister proposes to do in this measure. We concede that there may be some loss even to the amalgamated company because the draftsman, or somebody in the Ministry, when conceiving this measure was not able to foresee certain things, but even if the amalgamated company are suffering some loss it would be a safer policy to make the Exchequer responsible in part for the loss of the company than that we should come along and do what the Minister asks. From what the Minister has said so far he has not withdrawn the section. His attitude is that he is allowing the section to stand now, and when the Committee Stage comes on he will leave it to a free vote of the House to decide. From my point of view that is not acceptable, and I am not going to support that attitude, and I think others on these benches hold the same opinion. We will support the Bill if the Minister does what we regard to be the manly thing. He has intimated that at a later stage he will leave it to a free vote. The Minister can understand, from the various points of view expressed on all sides, that it is possible that a free vote will eliminate that clause.

I told Deputy Beamish this morning at twelve o'clock that I had no possible thought of that section getting through.

If the Minister's mind is made up so definitely as that, is not the one courageous thing to do to withdraw it altogether now?

Did the Deputy hear the Ceann Comhairle say that a section cannot be withdrawn on Second Reading?

It cannot be withdrawn, but the Minister can give an undertaking that he will not press it to a division.

That is getting nearer to clarity. I can give that undertaking.

Then, if the Minister is prepared to say that, we know now where we stand. We are not going to have any division on this clause on the Committee Stage and I now tell Deputy Johnson that we are not going to put ourselves into a water-tight compartment.

With my colleagues I am opposing this Bill as a most reactionary measure. It is very clear from the statements that have been made on all sides of the House that this Bill has got a very bad reception, and it is fairly evident that the Minister has been disappointed with the reception which the Bill has received, and, to a great extent, that accounts, in my opinion, for his attitude throughout the course of this debate. It will be within the recollection of Deputies that some time ago, when the need for some solution of the railway problem was making itself apparent to everybody, a Bill was introduced by Deputy Johnson, as Chairman of the Labour Party, entitled a "Transport and Communications Bill." That Bill, when it was introduced to the House, had a very good reception all round. It received, I think, the blessings of Deputies of every party. I hope I do not misrepresent Deputy Cooper —a very old Parliamentary hand— when I quote him as saying of the Bill that it was an exceedingly valuable contribution to legislation. That measure was rejected by the majority of the Dáil, and the Railways Act, 1924, as it subsequently became, was substituted. To-day we have learned from the Minister that that Bill was full of mistakes. I suggest to members of the Government, and to the majority of the Deputies of this House who rejected the Transport and Communications Bill after it had received all this praise from the different sections of the House, that the fact that a very poor substitute for it found its place on the Statute Book does not reflect very much credit on the Government or on the majority of the Deputies of this House. We have had, within a very short space of time, amending legislation in regard to two measures. We had, some time ago, a Bill to amend the Shops Act, passed a short time before, and now we have this Bill to amend the Railways Act, passed likewise a short time ago. I suggest to the Minister and to the Government that if that practice is continued they will be bringing the Dáil down to the level of a board of guardians, where resolutions are passed at one meeting and rescinded at the next. I put it to the Minister that it does not make for the dignity of the Dáil and does not make for the prestige of the Government responsible that this line of action should be pursued.

We had a good deal of condemnation —very just condemnation—of retrospective legislation this evening. It will be remembered that some time ago a Bill was introduced by the Minister for Finance to deal with the pensions of public officials who came into conflict with the Dáil in pre-Truce days. That Bill, I submit, was very much on the same lines as the Bill we are discussing to-night. It sought to filch from certain ex-public servants pensions already granted them. There was such a volume of criticism directed at that measure here that the Minister found it wise to withdraw it. I suggest to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he should take the same course as his colleague in regard to this Bill.

I gathered from the Minister's speech to-day that this Bill was introduced to rectify some mistakes in the original Act in regard to the amount of compensation and pensions that certain officials got. I was rather surprised to hear the revelations that Deputy Davin made afterwards in regard to the salaries of certain officials. If it is a fact—and it was not contradicted, I think—that since the railway amalgamation scheme came into force a large number of highly-paid officials of the Great Southern Railway Company received salaries representing an increase of 100 per cent. over their former salaries, does it not appear clear to the Minister that it is cruel and entirely unjust to attack the position of the inferior servants of the company— those who are, at all events, inferior as regards wages? Because a few comparatively poorly-paid officials benefited by the mistakes the Government made in their legislation, it is sought to rush a Bill here to worsen the position of the men. I suggest to the Minister that that is not a reasonable line to take. If mistakes were made in a few cases. they are the responsibility of the Government, and the Dáil should not be asked to pass legislation to worsen the position of these men on the plea that the Railway Company is losing at present and has lost heavily during the past twelve months. The Minister did not say that the Company could not pay, but he mentioned that there was serious loss on the Great Southern Railways during the year. I inferred that that was an argument to us to pass this Bill—that the finances of the Railway Company were in a precarious condition.

It is very remarkable that, during the course of this debate, hardly one voice has been raised in support of the Bill. That is a departure from what we have been accustomed to here for a long time. I think it is a decidedly healthy sign, and it is certainly very encouraging to find that a Bill of this kind has created the feeling, even in this calm atmosphere, that this Bill has created this evening.

Deputy Davin mentioned in the course of his speech that the Railway Companies, before this Bill was introduced, sent to the Minister a copy of a Bill that they wanted introduced. I infer from that that there is a possibility that the Bill we are discussing now is the Bill the Railway Companies wanted introduced, or is modelled on it. That seems to me to be decidedly unfair, in view of the fact that there were two parties to the whole matter, and that one party, which was very deeply interested, was ignored.

I am not satisfied with the attitude the Minister has taken up in regard to the retrospective clauses. I regret the grudging attitude he has adopted in his half-hearted withdrawal of these clauses. I am very suspicious of the Minister so far as working-class people are concerned. He has unfortunately not a high reputation so far as the workers are concerned. I do not think he is going to add to his reputation by pressing this Bill on the people. I suggest to him that he might consider retrieving to some degree, his reputation among the working-class people of this country—who are not, after all, an inconsiderable section—and I suggest to him that the proper and reasonable way to do that is to drop this Bill absolutely to-night.

I rise to a point of order. We have been discussing throughout the day this Bill as it originally stood. The assurance the Minister is giving in regard to certain provisions of the Bill, in my opinion, changes the whole aspect of the measure. Attention to the other clauses of the Bill was sacrificed to concentration on the clause in respect of which the assurance has been given. It would be only fair, therefore, that those Deputies who have already spoken on the Second Reading should have an opportunity of reviewing their position in respect of the Bill, as they find it under the altered circumstances.

We cannot have second speeches on this stage of the Bill.

The Minister acted very wisely in withdrawing what to my mind, is a very serious blot on this Bill, but the Bill, like its predecessor, contains more than one blot. There still remains at least one to which I would like to direct the attention of the Minister. That is sub-section (d) of Section 4. Sub-section (d) seeks to do away with certain rights which certain railway servants enjoyed under sub-section (d) of the original Act. I do not know the particular clause. In both sections they are sub-sections (d). One is to replace the other. These perquisites, if we can call them so, which these officials enjoyed under the original Act, were that if they contributed to any pension scheme, that contribution was not to be affected by any compensation they got by reason of removal from office. This new section (d) seeks, as I pointed out, to do away with that particular advantage.

Let us examine that proposal very briefly to see whether it is an equitable one or otherwise. Under this pensions scheme, known as Pension Scheme B, which has been in existence for some 46 years, a number of employees contributed for a considerable number of years on the understanding that when their services were dispensed with, they would have that in addition to any other compensation that might be coming to them. They contributed on that basis just the same as an ordinary person would in the case of an insurance equivalent to life insurance, where payment is made at a certain age. These are policies that we are all in touch with. To seek to do away with an advantage of that character to my mind is a course that the Dáil ought to consider seriously before it gives its assent to it. Let us consider in detail how it works out. Two railway officials start together in the service. They both get promotion and a crisis, such as has arisen by reason of the amalgamation, brings about circumstances by which the services of the two officials are dispensed with. In the case of one official who is particularly thrifty, he pays into a pension scheme. The other official, not so thrifty, does not pay into any scheme.

Would the Deputy state the amount? The amount of the thrift was only 2½ per cent.

That is a matter I prefer not to deal with, because it depends on the ability of the man to pay. To my mind it does not affect the principle in the least whether a man pays £1 per month or whether he is in such a position that he can pay £5 a month. It does not affect the principle one iota. What is the position of these two men when their services are dispensed with? The compensation awarded to the man who was not thrifty amounts, let us say, to £400. The compensation awarded to the man who paid into the insurance company is the same amount; he does not get anything more. That is the proposal under this Bill as it stands. It was not the proposal under the original Act because whatever compensation he got was not to affect any sum he was entitled to under his insurance. That to my mind is a most iniquitous proposal. I have no hesitation in saying that, and I hope the Minister will look favourably—in fact I would say fairly—on the rights of that particular individual. I have quoted the cases of two men in the service whose services were dispensed with under the amalgamation scheme. The man who has paid into the insurance is paid nothing more than the man who has not paid one penny. It does not alter the principle in the least whether he pays into an insurance company attached to his company or whether he has paid to an outside company. The principle is just the same. If any of us paid into an insurance company and we were told when the period, at which we were entitled to get a certain sum as a result of these payments, arrived, that by reason of some compensation we had got from the company we were engaged in, they did not feel bound to pay anything under the insurance policy, what would we think? In fact I doubt if an insurance company would have the face to make such a proposal but nevertheless that is the proposal put up to us.

The contributory basis is different.

As far as I am concerned this insurance scheme as I understand it—let us be quite candid over this question—is known as the B scheme.

The B scheme is entirely different.

I am only arguing under the B scheme. I understand there are only ten claims under it.

There may be 75.

The Minister may correct me, but at the moment there are only ten claims. That, to my mind does not alter the principle in the least. It is a scheme outside the company. The company may have contributed for its own reasons to this insurance scheme, but it is an outside scheme. Though the company has contributed it is a scheme outside the funds of the company altogether. It has a different set of Directors and a different Board of Management. It is on all fours with an ordinary insurance company and it is in funds. Therefore, I hold whatever rights these men were entitled to under that insurance scheme, should be paid in addition to any compensation they would receive for the loss of their positions. I hope that that particular point will be met by the Minister. It is a point on which we, businessmen, feel strongly. It is put up to us occasionally that when there are benefits accruing to workingmen we try to get out of these liabilities. Let us not try to embody that principle in this Bill. It is not the practice, as I know, of businessmen. If rights accrue for any reason to workingmen, as far as we are concerned we see that they get what they are entitled to. As long as I am in this House if I see a man is going to be unfairly dealt with, I will use every effort I possibly can to see that he gets fair play from any Government in power.

The whole Bill is a blot.

I have been wondering what those who may vote for the second reading of this Bill will be really voting for. In other words, what will be left in the Bill to vote for—how much of the Bill, as you, sir, rightly say, is left? As Deputy Magennis said, Section 6 is an integral part of the principle of the Bill. We have it from the Minister that he is going to leave that section to a free vote of the House.

He says that there is going to be no vote.

Mr. O'CONNELL

He cannot prevent a vote. He may say that as far as he is concerned he is not going to press that section, but he cannot prevent a vote on it. There is another important principle: whether the onus of proof as to whether a man is dismissed for redundancy or for other causes is put on the railway servant in the Bill.

Mr. O'CONNELL

I was not here when the Minister was speaking, but I understand he did say that he proposed to put the onus on the railway company.

Where is it put on the railway servant?

Mr. O'CONNELL

That is the practice at present I understand.

No, it is not. The person in the superior position has the onus of proof in cases of this type.

Mr. O'CONNELL

I say we are now being asked to vote upon this retrospective section. It is not when it comes up as a separate section that the vote will be taken upon it. Suppose a Bill were introduced, one of the main principles of which was in the operative section of the Bill, I cannot conceive that you could take up the position logically that while you might vote for the Second Reading you would be free to vote against the operative section containing the principle of the Bill. For instance, supposing you were setting up a Department of Transport, and the first section of the Bill stated that this Department was to be set up and to operate in a certain way, I could not conceive—although the Dáil would be quite free to do it— how the Dáil could turn round, vote against that section and say that it shall not stand part of the Bill. As I say, I am wondering what those who will vote for the Bill will be really voting for. If they do vote for the Bill, I say that they are voting for the retrospective section as well as every other section in it, because that section is an integral principle of the Bill. Let us look at it in this way: expressions have come from various parts of the Dáil as to retrospective legislation, especially with regard to this particular type of retrospective legislation, where not only is the Bill to operate from a certain time but it actually says that individual cases already adjudicated upon and decided are liable to be reopened. If that kind of principle were approved of, I do not know where we would stand. Persons who bring cases before the courts and get decisions on them, might be liable at any time to have those cases reopened. That is the principle that is involved in this section. If the Second Reading of this Bill is passed, it is not the assurances of Ministers that will be looked to later on when we go back to root up precedents that have been established. The Minister cannot guarantee that the Bill will ever reach a later stage. Anything may happen between the Second Stage and the Third Stage. What will happen if the Second Reading is passed is, that the Dáil will have given approval to a principle that practically every Deputy says is a wrong principle to approve of.

Mr. O'CONNELL

Deputy Gorey is going back on his own statement if he says no to that. He does not approv of the principle of retrospective legislation. He does not approve, therefore, of this section, but by voting for the Second Reading he will, in effect, be giving approval to it.

It is Acts that count, not Bills.

Mr. O'CONNELL

The act of voting for the Second Reading will count rather than anything else. It is not the assurances of the Minister that will count, but the approval of the Dáil of a principle which the Dáil says, in effect, is condemned. I cannot see how Deputy Gorey, or any other Deputy, can get over that. If the Minister is genuine in his promise with regard to this section, he will adopt the suggestion made to him, withdraw the Bill, and print it as he wants it to be passed. If he does not we must take it that he and the Government are standing over Section 6. To leave it to a free vote of the House means that he says in effect: "As far as I am concerned I am prepared to vote for Section 6." He has said that he stands over it. He will continue to stand over it until he withdraws the Bill and prints it in its new form. Are we to take it that that is the attitude of the Government? They are leaving it to a free vote of the House, but so far as they are concerned, if anyone challenges a division they will vote for the whole Bill. Is the Minister and the Government prepared to say that that is the position? I take it that that would be the Minister's position, so long as he refused to withdraw the Bill and issue it again in the form in which he is prepared to have it passed, because I take it that when the Government brings forward a Bill they say, in effect: " That is our Bill. You and the House may change it in any way you think it ought to be changed, but as it stands now it is our Bill." That is what the Minister is saying and asking us to do when he asks us to vote for the Second Reading of the measure as it stands now.

The Bill is brought here, obviously, in the interests of the railways company, and it seems to me a very strange thing for a Government to bring forward a Bill of this nature without making any attempt whatever to obtain the views of the railway workers on it. I cannot imagine that the Government would bring forward a Bill in the interests of the railway workers without making some attempt to ascertain the views of the railways company on it. I put it to the Minister that he should follow the example set by the Minister for Finance, and if he wishes to bring in a different Bill, let him bring it forward and have the judgment of the House on it. But he should certainly not proceed with the Second Reading of this Bill as it stands at present.

Debate adjourned until Thursday, April 29th.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m.