The discussion upon this Bill has been a prolonged and in some aspects at any rate an extraordinary one. We have had members of this House talking about a Bill, and sometimes talking not about a Bill, talking at the Bill and around the Bill, and in such a way as to make it clear that most of them had not taken the trouble to read the Bill. Then we had other members assuming extraordinary roles. I remember a stock joke in some of the comic papers, depicting a gentleman generally with a black eye and a red nose trotted on to the stage at temperance meetings as a horrible example of intemperance. We had Deputy J. Wolfe holding himself up as a horrible example of corruption on public bodies. We had Deputy Gorey confessing in some way, whether he was directly or indirectly I do not know, that he had such knowledge as would make him an accessory before or after the fact of instances of corruption widespread and rampant and very serious on the part of public bodies. As against that Deputy Bennett got up, repudiated the allegations of Deputy Gorey and defended the public bodies in the same way as every man who believes that the Irish people are normally honest people, that Irish public men are as honourable as any public men in any quarter of the globe, should defend those who are the elected representatives of the people whether elected to local authorities or this Dáil does not matter. As I was saying many extraordinary things happened during the course of this debate, and I think the most extraordinary one was the change of front manifested by the Government. The Minister for Local Government who opened the attack on this Bill criticised it on the grounds of bad draftsmanship. It was a bad Bill incompetently drafted. We had the extraordinary spectacle of the Minister for Education getting up on Wednesday last, turning round and telling his colleagues sitting in the same bench that after all the Bill was bad, but not bad because it had been badly drafted.
PRIVATE DEPUTIES' BUSINESS. - LOCAL AUTHORITIES (OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES) BILL, 1928—SECOND STAGE (RESUMED).
"Merely" because it was badly drafted.
Oh "merely." Possibly the Minister may have used the qualification merely, but I say if he did that he spoke in a voice that was very small and in a tentative fashion at any rate. He did not emphasise the incompetence of those who drafted this Bill. He did not use his usual ponderous, elephantine method of emphasising a point. He glided from that gently and said: "I do not want to let my colleague down on that ground." He said: "Our principal ground of attack is not on the score of bad draftsmanship." That I take it is the Minister's point. Then he proceeded, and I do not see in the whole of his speech anything that would show me that he read this Bill at all, and compared it with the original Act. I think in justice to the Bill we ought to say in what way the principles and provisions of this Bill conflict with or are antagonistic to the original Act. We have first of all the principle in Section 6 of the Bill. It states this:—
Provided that in the case of a vacancy for an executive office under a local authority the person appointed to such vacant office is a person who held a pensionable office for not less than five years on the clerical staff of the said or any local authority or any two or more local authorities and that such person shall have passed a qualifying examination conducted according to regulations made by the Commissioners.
That is the principle the Deputy says.
What does Section 5 of the principal Act say?—
That any person who held a pensionable office under the said or any other local authority or any two or more local authorities the duties of which related to matters the same as or similar to which the duties of the vacant office relate may be appointed by a local authority.
In does not matter in what circumstances the person who held that office was compelled to retire on pension or to resign. He may have been compelled to retire on the ground of incompetency, but there is no provision in Section 5 of the principal Act which would prevent a public body from appointing a person who did retire ostensibly on pension because, say, he had reached the age limit or for some other reason, but who really was compelled, caused or urged by the local authority that formerly employed him to retire because he was really incompetent. Any of us who has had any experience of public life knows that there is a general tendency on the part of public bodies to let their officials down lightly. You very seldom hear of a public official being dismissed for incompetency. They are generally allowed to retire on pension. Yet the officer who is let down easily in that way and permitted to retire on pension under the principal Act, which in the eyes of many of the Deputies is the acme of perfection, can be appointed by the public authority, but under the Bill such a person cannot be appointed by a public authority because he would have passed a qualifying examination at least five years previously.
It is a lame excuse. Remember Section 7 contains the principle of the Bill.
I have dealt with Section 6 of the Bill. I have compared it with Section 5, and I submit, on the face of it, Section 6 is a better Section. Section 6 does not protect the ratepayers against an incompetent person being appointed.
It would not be hard for it to be better than Section 7. Anything could be better.
Section 6 gives the Commissioners power to recommend two or more persons. The amending Bill stipulates that the Commissioners shall submit a panel of persons qualified. Already it is admitted by the Act that there may be circumstances in which it would be advantageous to submit more than one name. Section 7 of the Bill states that in practically every case it would be advantageous to the local authority to have more than one name submitted to them. What is the great objection to that? The Minister for Education admitted that the recommendations of selection boards in certain matters may be disturbed by three considerations. First, he said, a slight preference is given— he emphasised the slight preference— for a knowledge of Irish. A preference may also be given for local knowledge.
I think the Deputy is slightly misrepresenting me. I said a slight preference is given for local knowledge, and that a preference is given for a knowledge of Irish. I suggest that if the Deputy is reading my speech he should read it correctly.
I have not the record before me. I recollect the Minister using the word "slight." I thought it referred to Irish. I am prepared to accept the Minister's disclaimer.
The Minister stated that a preference was given for a knowledge of Irish, and that a slight preference was given for local knowledge, and that health, general moral character, age, and so on, also carried their weight with the Commissioners. Consider the case of any appointment, say, to a dispensary or to any important position under a public board— the position, say, of an engineer. As a general rule, you get about twenty applications, and as a general rule every one of them possesses the required technical qualifications. Some of them, perhaps, have more experience than others. Will anyone tell me that there is such a difference between the first three candidates out of these twenty applicants that any serious injustice would be done if any one of the three of them was appointed by the local body. Take any appointment for a dispensary doctor. an assistant surveyor. a borough surveyor, in which the qualifications were prescribed by the Commissioners. Would any serious injustice be done to the ratepayers if, instead of one name being sent down, the names of the three candidates who were best qualified and had the required practical experience were sent down to the local board to select from?
Would the Deputy indicate what he would consider a big difference?
If that is admitted.
It is not.
Who is better qualified to judge the candidates on the score of local knowledge, health, general moral character, age, and so on, than the local people who are about to make the appointment? Then, when these three names are sent down these additional qualifications are canvassed by every member of that body. Some of the people are more intimately known to the members of that board than they ever could be known to the members of the Selection Board, whilst to the Local Appointments Commissioners they are comparative strangers. When it comes to weighing up these secondary but very important qualifications, I suggest that the members of the local authorities, who have got to make the choice in the full light of day and not behind closed doors, like the Local Appointments Commissioners, are going to make a better choice than the Local Appointments Commissioners. They have got to make the appointment in the light of day, knowing that their appointment is going to be the subject of criticism. I say on these grounds of health, local knowledge, moral character, age, and so on, which have got to be taken into consideration, that Section 7 of the Bill, which stipulates that the three best candidates out of 20 applicants shall be submitted to the local authorities, is very much superior to Section 6 of the Act, which allows the local Commissioners to send down the name of one person as their choice to the local authorities and compels them to appoint him to the position.
Section 7 of the Principal Act states that the Commissioners "shall, with the consent of the Minister, prescribe the qualifications as to age, health, character, education, training experience," and so on. I think it is very important that the Bill so far does not propose to repeal any single section of the Principal Act, that in fact it proposes to extend it in some cases and remove the disadvantages and defects which every person who has had any practical experience of this Act knows, and it secures that everything that is done will be done in the full light of day, and give to the local authorities who, after all, have the responsibility for the local administration, the right of selecting, within certain circumscribed limits, the officials to whom they will entrust that administration for which they will themselves have to accept responsibility before the people who elected them. Section 7 of the Act gives the Commissioners power to prescribe qualifications, and Section 8 of the Bill requires that the qualifications prescribed by the Commissioners for every position will be laid before this House, will be submitted to this House. It proposes that "the Commissioners shall present copies of the qualifications prescribed under this section in respect of all offices comprised in any particular description, class or grade of offices to which this Act applies before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after the qualifications are so prescribed." What is the defect there? What is the disadvantage? What evil consequences will ensue from that? I would like the President to answer me. I would like him to deal specifically with that, and show what harm is there in it.
On the other hand, what advantage is there in withholding from the House the qualifications prescribed for any position? What advantage is in that? Is it the fact that it makes it easier for the Local Appointments Commissioners to perpetrate a job when it is in the interests of the authority to do so? If this House has official knowledge of those qualifications, then it would be easier for the people in this House to criticise the Local Appointments Commissioners when they make appointments which we think are not justified.
Section 8 of the Principal Act states: "Subject to such exceptions... the Commissioners shall select every person to be recommended by them to a local authority under this Act solely by means of competitive examination conducted according to regulations made by the Commissioners." Is the criticism against the Bill that it proposes to make that pious aspiration contained in the Act a practical reality? We heard a good deal from the Minister for Local Government about stern morality. His whole speech was a eulogy of the stern morality of the Public Appointments Commissioners. We wish to make certain, at any rate, that since the Government have accepted the principle of competitive examination—and I know there is a great deal to be said against it, and Deputy Sir James Craig advanced very cogent reasons why it should not be made a determining factor—but since they have accepted the principle we want to see this: that the person who sits for that competitive examination and comes first will have his name sent down to the local body for appointment. We wish to make the Government stand on that principle that they have embodied in their own Act. What is the objection, what is the fatal defect? What grounds are there for corruption? All the attacks on this Bill were largely based on the grounds that it would incite, encourage or promote corruption in the local authorities.
Oh, no; that is not the case.
I will ask the President to read some of the speeches delivered against the Bill.
May I ask you this—did you read my speech on the Bill— I have not done it myself?
If the President is afraid to read his own speech I do not see why he should condemn me to do it.
I do not read any speeches—I hear quite enough.
I ask you to remember the speeches and arguments advanced by Deputy Gorey and Deputy J.T. Wolfe against the Bill. The latter has come back and sits here as a horrible example of public corruption in Ireland. I ask you to remember the speeches he made and read Section 9 of this Bill. In what way would a provision in the Act making it compulsory upon the Local Appointments Commissioners to submit to the local authorities the person or the candidate who is placed first in the competitive examination, promote or encourage public corruption in Ireland? Section 9 of the Act states that whenever a local authority or the Minister requests the Commissioners to recommend a person for appointment to an office to which this Act applies and the Commissioners with the concurrence of the Minister are of opinion that having regard to the nature of the duties of that office, the knowledge and experience necessary for the efficient performance of those duties, and the qualifications prescribed under this Act for that office, the person or persons to be recommended for appointment to that office cannot be satisfactorily selected by competitive examination, the Commissioners may dispense with the competitive examination required by this Act. That is the principle contained in the Principal Act, that where a situation arises in which the Minister thinks that the candidate most favoured by the local branch of their political organisation has no chance at all, if there is a competitive examination to be held, then the Commissioners, with the concurrence of the Minister, may decide to dispense with the competitive examination. That is the principle in the Act.
The Deputy ought to treat this matter seriously.
I am treating it seriously and criticising this Act. The attack now is not on the Bill. It is on the Act. I am criticising this Act in the light of the instances of improper administration of the Act if you like, and improper enforcement of the Act and improper interpretation of the Act, which we gave in this House.
That is not so.
I am criticising this Act particularly in the light of the evidence that was given in a certain trial in Waterford where it was elicited that there was in existence some form of a black list. Now I do not know what black lists may have contained.
Would the Deputy like to know?
Well I will tell you one form in which the black list exists. If a person were dismissed by a local authority for inefficiency, character or any other reason, that person is placed on the black list if that be the term. I did not know that that was the term used. It is a question of the character of the person who would normally not be employed by a responsible, respectable outside person. The Deputy I am sure would not object to that.
I accept that. That is a very sound ground, that a person was tried in another position and was found incompetent. But admittedly that is not the only ground.
That is the only ground—the question of character.
It would not be a person's political character?
That is never considered. I have said that before.
Well, at any rate there is the suspicion.
Some of the Deputy's own friends can tell him that.
There is a very wide suspicion in the public mind, at any rate, that political considerations enter into these appointments. That suspicion, whether well founded or false, is not a thing, at any rate, that is good for the country, and is not good for the public life of this country. It is important that that suspicion should be dissipated once and for all by securing that the public appointments should be made in the light of day in such a way that it will be made clear and manifest that a person is not sent down simply because he happens to have certain political opinions.
It has not been done in any place.
I know. I am going to say this, that though the President emphasises that point he overemphasises it so far as to make us think that there must be some grounds for that suspicion. We think, in short, that he does protest too much about it.
The Deputy is welcome to his heresies if he wishes to have them.
That is the opinion obtaining amongst the people that we represent, that the Government protest too much about these appointments being made on non-political grounds.
Let me say that we only protest when the charge is made that the opposite is the case.
Perhaps the President would allow the Deputy to proceed.
The Government put up non-party candidates in the recent local government election. At least we were told that they were not to be elected on party lines. Yet we know that these people have been standing as anything in fact except as Cumann na nGaedheal candidates. It is a poor tribute to the Government.
Anything but Cumann na nGaedheal, that hated and detested label. I do not want to take up the time of the House unnecessarily. I was pointing out that Section 9 of the Act gives the Commissioners power to dispense with competitive examination, with the concurrence of the Minister.
I think you will agree that Section 10 of the Bill does give an additional safeguard to the local authority. It will give them some protection against political patronage, which they rightly or wrongly at the present moment believe to exist. I am not going to argue that it is of undue importance in all public appointments. Section 10 of the Bill states:—"Whenever a local authority or the Minister requests the Commissioners to recommend to them the names of a person or persons qualified, for appointment to an office to which this Act applies, and the local authority, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Minister is of opinion that having regard to the knowledge and experience necessary for the efficient performance of the duties and qualifications prescribed under this Act for that office, the person or persons to be recommended as qualified for appointment in that office cannot be satisfactorily selected by competitive examination, the Commissioners with the sanction of the Minister may dispense with the competitive examination required by this Act." I ask you to examine that. The Minister may dispense with competitive examination. The Bill makes this stipulation that it is only upon the initiative of the local authority that that competitive examination can be dispensed with. That is, that the people who have got to pay the piper should be entitled to call the tune and, if the people who are to make the appointment, it is only when they make up their minds and desire that competitive examination should be dispensed with, that competitive examination, with the consent of the Minister, may be dispensed with. What is the grave defect in that? Will the President criticise that section of the Bill proposed from those benches?
I did so already.
It is a great pity that the Government, now that their case against the Bill has been torn to tatters and, their Act having been analysed in this House, that case has been found to be weakening, have not a spokesman left in the House to defend their case. The President is tongue-tied. He has already spoken in this debate. Surely there are other Ministers who have not spoken. We have not heard the Minister for Finance, we have not heard the Minister for Justice, and we have not heard the Minister for Fisheries. Now surely if there is anything in the case they made against the Bill from the beginning they ought to be able to get up now and justify their case against the Bill. I ask them in particular to make clear to this House the defects and disadvantages under which Section 10 of the Bill labours as opposed to Section 9 of the Act.
In one case, as I said before, the Commissioners, with the consent of the Minister, can dispense with competitive examination. That is the principle involved in Section 9 of the Act. But, on the other hand, competitive examination cannot be dispensed with unless the local authority who are making the appointment on their own initiative request the Commissioners to dispense with that competitive examination; competitive examination cannot be dispensed with unless the Minister sanctions that dispensation.
There are the two provisions. Which of them better safeguards the ratepayers of the country against jobbery? Is it the one which allows the Commissioners, who are in immediate contact with the Minister and who are appointed by the Minister, to dispense with the competitive examination that is going to give the ratepayers of the country protection against an undue exercise of political patronage? Against that you have the Bill that leaves the question of dispensing with competitive examinations to the initiative of a local authority.
This Bill of ours is perfectly justified. It does not propose to repeal any particular section in the Principal Act. The only thing it does is to make the pious aspirations contained in the Act a reality by compelling Ministers to practise what they preach. The Bill provides in the case of a competitive examination that the three candidates who come first on the list will be sent down to the local people, and those people are going to be the final judges in the matter of qualifications; they are the people who will make the final appointments. There will be, say, 20 of them sitting as a jury, and they will be representing the townspeople who have elected them and who hold them responsible. That public authority will be sitting as a jury upon those three candidates. Those candidates will be accepted as fully qualified and fit for the post by the Local Appointments Commissioners, and their qualifications, other than the professional and technical ones, will be read by the jury in the light of day, a jury responsible to the townspeople who elected them, and they will decide which of the three candidates is best qualified upon moral grounds and as having local knowledge. I submit that this Bill is a distinct improvement upon the original Act.
In the absence of the Ministers specified, I am afraid my junior colleague in the representation of Co. Dublin will have to put up with me.
You always come to the rescue.
I regret I have not a larger audience, and I also regret that Deputy O'Kelly is not here, because there were some matters that I desired to mention in his presence. The salient features of this Bill appear to be, firstly, the suggestion that a selection board must put forward three names, and not one name. It would have been very interesting if Deputy MacEntee had told us a little more on that point. I have heard—I may be wrong; my information comes through the public Press, which is sometimes misinformed——
I have heard of a local authority in the Co. Kerry which did not recognise the Selection Board set up under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, and they appointed a selection board of their own in order to find an electrician competent to have charge of an electric plant. I understand the Selection Board consisted of two persons—one a person who had local knowledge and who knew the needs of the district, and the other Deputy MacEntee. After carefully and scrupulously examining the credentials of all the applicants, the Selection Board recommended two people. Of course, the Bill had not then been drafted, and the Selection Board made the mistake of recommending only two instead of three people to the local authority.
There were only two qualified.
Then the local authority, only two people having been recommended by this impartial Selection Board, appointed somebody else altogether.
May I interrupt the Deputy for a moment?
I am ready to be corrected.
What happened then? Is it not a fact that that appointment having been made in the light of day, every organ of public opinion in County Kerry denounced it?
Was the job done?
No. They had the disadvantage of not being able to carry it through. They did not face the criticism of the people who elected them and the thing was allowed to drop.
I do not quite know what the Deputy means by "light of day." I do not suppose his selection board held public meetings. Certainly the result is announced, I think, under the Act which it is now sought to amend. I wish to give the Deputy all credit for having made an honest recommendation which the local authority did not accept. If Deputy MacEntee had put forward three names, including one of a person whom the local authority wished to appoint, then we should have had the result intended to be arrived at under this Bill. Deputies on this side of the House stigmatised the old system of appointment as corrupt. It is nonsense to say that all local bodies were, or are, corrupt; also that local considerations and family considerations did not enter into certain appointments in the old days. I think that almost every Deputy knows that a local man is generally preferred. We have it asserted on one side that under the old system there was nepotism. Deputy O'Kelly stated that there was more nepotism under the new system, that the selection boards under the new system were guilty of nepotism. What the Fianna Fáil Party propose is a compromise which includes the evils both of the old and the new systems. They propose to retain the Selection Board in Dublin on which, according to Deputy O'Kelly, there is nepotism and in regard to which influence can be used to put forward not only one name but three names, and when the three names go before the local authority you then get canvassing and then the local pull begins to operate.
The local people then discover that so-and-so's aunt was married to a man in the county, and that he is therefore more of a county man than the others. In my view it would be better to go back to the old system and make the councils face their responsibility, and make them, at any rate, take the odium for a bad appointment when they make a bad appointment, rather than to take the middle of the road system by which a council can put the responsibility on the Appointments Commissioners, and by which the Appointments Commissioners can say: "It does not matter what three names we send down, because the local authority is bound to appoint a bad one." I have heard of people trying to make the best of both worlds, but this is the first occasion on which I have heard of people, as is proposed in this Bill, making the worst of both worlds. The advantage of the present system which the Bill proposes to destroy is that it sets up, possibly somewhat vaguely and roughly, a definite standard, but if you send three names to each council there is no definite standard at all.
I remember hearing some years ago of an appointment of a dispensary doctor in County Roscommon. The Local Appointments Commissioners sent to the County Board of Health the name of a doctor whom they recommended. The County Board of Health became indignant because the name was that of a doctor who was also a lady. They said that no lady could possibly undertake the hard work of a dispensary doctor in that area, and that no lady could realise how difficult the task of a dispensary doctor was. It did not, apparently, matter to them that that particular lady had extremely high technical qualifications, and that she was the daughter of a dispensary doctor in an adjoining county. It did not matter to them apparently that she helped her father for more than a year in his practice, and did a good deal of the hard work required of a dispensary doctor. She was out of it. They wanted somebody else. They did not want her, and they protested against her selection by the Local Appointments Commissioners. Almost simultaneously in County Westmeath, not fifty miles from Roscommon, another Board of Health were protesting that they must have a lady doctor, as only a lady doctor could do the work properly. I suggest that we want a definite standard and we want people in the medical profession to know where they are and what chance they have of getting an appointment. If it is the considered opinion of the people in this country that no lady doctor should get an appointment as a dispensary doctor, let it be known, and lady doctors will know where to seek for appointments, but if it is to be left to the caprice of a local authority to go through three names, two of which may be those of ladies, and if they decide that they must give the appointment to a man, you then get a state of uncertainty and discouragement which is not going to be to the benefit either of the medical profession or of the patients whom these doctors have to attend.
I think there is a good deal too much local feeling in all this talk about appointments. Deputy O'Kelly said quite frankly that whenever he had a chance he would try to get a Dublin appointment for boys and, I daresay, for girls who won scholarships in Dublin, and he would give them preference. I think we ought to get out of this way of thinking of ourselves as Dublinmen, Sligomen, Corkmen and Galwaymen, and that we should think of ourselves as Irishmen and Irishwomen and give a fair chance to anyone who belongs to the State and who has the necessary qualifications. Deputy Doctor Hennessy spoke about a doctor who, I think, is in the area in which I reside, and who was condemned because he was a Kerryman. That doctor came as a stranger to the district, and I admit that I should have preferred a local man. I was a member of the local authority at the time, and we had to make a temporary appointment. We appointed a local man whom the people believed to be a good man, and who certainly had many things in his favour. So far as I was concerned, he had served in the British Army, and I was possibly prejudiced in his favour. The Local Appointments Commissioners however, brought in a stranger, and I have not heard from people whom he attended anything but praise. He is a good doctor. The people like him and he treats them well.
Now we come to the argument in regard to moral grounds. Deputy MacEntee spoke of morality. Deputy Dr. Ward spoke at great length about moral grounds. The local authorities are to be the judges of morals. Urban district councils, county councils, county boards of health, and so forth, are to be the arbiters of morals. Now I know why some people get on local authorities. It must be because they are judges of morals, as they have no other qualification whatever. I think it would be better if we deprived the local authority of this moral judgment and put on efficient men, without regard to their capacity of judging the morals of others and deciding whether a man is or is not a Pharisee. I do not believe that they are any better judges of morals than this Dáil. Deputy Matthew O'Reilly, who always speaks with sincerity, impressed me with his sincere plea. We often heard of the proverb, "The devil you know is better than the devil you do not know." His plea, however, was, "The devil you know is better than the angel you do not know," that you should appoint a doctor you know, even though you know his faults, in preference to a man whom the Local Appointments Commissioners send down, though he may be a better man in every way. I do not believe that local authorities have any more power than we have to judge on moral grounds. I do not believe that this House is qualified to judge on morals. I do not believe that we are qualified to fill appointments. It is being suggested that it is an inherent right in democracy that county councils and boards of health should be able to choose their own officers, even though they are technical officers, and though the local body have no particular powers of judging technical qualifications. We have not that power, yet we have power to rule the State. I should be sorry to see the day when every Civil Service appointment had to be tabled in the House, and when a motion to the effect that Timothy Kelly should be appointed junior clerk in the Ministry of Local Government and an amendment from a Cork Deputy——
The instance which the Deputy is citing shows that he has not read the Bill. There is no proposal in it that appointments should be made by this House; but there is a proposal that the qualifications prescribed by the Commissioners should be set forth.
I assure Deputy MacEntee that I read the Bill during the duller intervals of his speech. I am not suggesting that there is any such proposal in the Bill, but I am suggesting that it is a similar proposal, that the proposal that it is undemocratic for a county council and a board of health to be deprived of the power of making appointments could be paralleled by the suggestion that it is undemocratic to have appointments made by the Civil Service Commission and not by the Dáil. I am glad that Deputy MacEntee does not approve of the suggestion that we should do that. I am glad at least that there is one Parliamentary heresy which Deputy MacEntee has not adopted, but I am not sure that those on the back benches would agree that they should not have the right to appoint their own man.
It would take a Masonic Lodge to do that.
I was thinking of Deputy Corry. I will leave Deputy Corry to Deputy MacEntee. Deputy MacEntee has repudiated the slander that his party would bring appointments in the Civil Service before the Dáil. Deputy Dr. Ward put forward the proposal that this Bill, which I have read, would satisfy local feeling. Would it? What is going to happen if the Local Appointments Commissioners sent down three names instead of one, and that none of them is a name which is wanted locally? Local feeling will be as annoyed over the three names as over one. It will be equally furious, resentful, and equally capable of passing resolutions denouncing the Government, the Local Appointments Commissioners and the parties which sponsored this Bill. You will never satisfy a particular type of local feeling. I do not believe that it is general or representative. There is a certain type of local feeling that feels that if there is anything going a local man should get it, and that if there is anything going they should have a finger in the pie. They will not be satisfied with the sending down of three names instead of one unless the Local Appointments Commissioners are responsive to that type of local feeling and send down one name that is wanted. This Bill seems to me to mean the revival of canvassing. I do not suppose that there is any Deputy except, perhaps, those representing the universities who does not know what an evil canvassing is. There are people who think that a Deputy has the power of appointment to every post, even to a commercial post outside the Dáil.
Will the Local Appointments Commissioners have the election of the Seanad?
I do not think that that is proposed in the Bill, but I am not sure that it would not be a great improvement over the present method.
It might be no harm.
If they have not the selection of Senators would it not prevent this canvassing of which the Deputy is so much afraid?
I am afraid you cannot prevent it. I remember the formation of the Seanad panel three years ago and we were not exempt from canvassing. In future I am afraid we will be subject to canvassing. If and when this Bill receives a Second Reading Deputy Smith puts down an amendment to the effect that the Appointments Commissioners shall form a panel for the Seanad I would be inclined to support it.
You will be assaulted on the steps when you go out.
Deputy Corry gives forth words of wisdom but I am afraid I do not catch them. The second point in the Bill, with all respect to Deputy MacEntee, is the substitution of the Civil Service Commissioners for the Local Appointments Commissioners. That is almost a change without a difference. Two of the Civil Service Commissioners are Local Appointments Commissioners. With regard to the Local Appointments Commissioners, Deputy O'Kelly said that he would not take their word for anything. Now he proposes in this Bill to take a majority of the gentlemen whose word he would not take for anything and make them a majority of the Civil Service Commissioners. They are already a majority of the Civil Service Commissioners, and the only result of the passing of this Bill would be that the one Civil Service Commissioner who is unwilling to act as a Local Appointments Commissioner would probably retire and the existing Local Appointments Commissioners would become the Civil Service Commissioners, so that you establish the identical body whose word Deputy O'Kelly would not take for anything both as Appointments Commissioners and Civil Service Commissioners. It may be a gain, but I confess I am not subtle enough to understand it.
As a matter of fact, we are indebted to Deputy O'Kelly. I am sorry to have to make so many references to him while he is unable to be here owing to illness, but his speech really elucidated the Bill more than the speech of anyone else, because he made quite clear what the object of the Bill was and that the Bill had a wrong title. The real object of the Bill is to secure that members of Fianna Fáil get a reasonable share of local appointments. If the Bill had been introduced under that name, I think it might quite conceivably have been accepted. We on these benches do not want to have politics in local government more than we can possibly help.
You have not been in Cork for the last three weeks.
Cork is a law unto itself. Whether it is a good example or a terrible example, it is not for me to say. I leave that to Deputy Anthony. But, in certain areas at any rate, we succeeded in sterilising all politics. We did not bring politics into the contests in a good many counties. We did in some backward places——
What about Mayo?
I was going to say backward places like Mayo and Sligo. But we have tried to do it. I do not know that the other side tried to do it at all. Honestly I have not seen any serious case put up to prove that supporters of Fianna Fáil have been denied appointments when they were the best men. I am not prepared to believe that civil servants, who are aloof from politics, who are not directly concerned in politics, would allow the politics of an applicant to bias them. Therefore, I believe this Bill is a backward step, and that the machinery which has been set up by the Local Appointments Commission—though it may have worked badly in certain instances, and very possibly it may have, because it is new machinery, and all new machinery is liable to make mistakes—is moving in the right direction, away from the local pull and the local influence, in the direction of getting the best man for the job, wherever he comes from, provided his qualifications are right; is moving in the direction of a service similar to the Civil Service, where the man who makes good may count on promotion, where a man need not stay in his own county where he has the local pull, because if he is efficient he will be able to reach to the highest posts. For that reason I oppose the Second Reading.
As a member of the old and very much-abused Guardians, I speak with a little authority. I have nothing to say about my fellow-members of these good old days. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that the proper judges of professional men would be professional men of that particular profession. I would not be a judge of a doctor, although there is one that I believe is the best doctor in the world—the man that cut me open and cured me. You would be rid of me only for him. I happened to be in seven or eight doctors' elections, and I need not say that during these times I was neither dry nor hungry.
Up Cork, every time. A thirty-first cousin of the doctor knew me—a fellow that never spoke to me before. I say this without any reflection upon my old brethren, the old guardians, because I believe they were honourable men, being an honourable man myself. I voted for a cousin at one of these elections, at one time, because he was the best man. His wife told me, anyhow, that he was the best man, and as it so happened, he was the best man and gave great satisfaction; no doubt about it. I remember a few weeks ago listening to my friend Deputy Lemass making the charge against the Local Appointments Commissioners and against the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in general that a Free State Army doctor was bound to get a position. I can flatly contradict that. I know of a case in which two Free State Army doctors went for a position of dispensary doctor in my own district, and the doctor who was not a Free State Army doctor—a decent man—secured it, and the two Free State Army doctors were turned down. So much for the Local Appointments Commission. The Government has nothing to do with the selection. I can be corroborated by another member in this House when I state that a Cumann na nGaedheal doctor—whether Cumann na nGaedheal was an addition to his professional ability or not, I do not know—was appointed by a Cumann na nGaedheal Board, the Local Government Department would not accept him. There were two names sent to the Local Appointments Commission, and they appointed another man who was not Cumann na nGaedheal. I think that ought to nail Deputy Lemass's charge against the Government. If you send down three names to any of the Boards of Health——
Are we dealing with nailers or doctors?
It being now half-past ten, the debate stands adjourned. Deputy Alfred Byrne has given notice to raise a matter on the adjournment, but has agreed to postpone it till to-morrow.
The Dáil rose at 10.30 p.m. and adjourned till to-morrow, Thursday, at 3 p.m.