Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 8 Nov 1928

Vol. 26 No. 14


I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £16,420 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íochta an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníochta i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1929, chun pé cuid de Thuarastail agus de Chostaisí na Cúirte Dúithche nách muirear ar an bPrímh-Chiste (Uimh. 10 de 1924, Ailt 70 agus 76; Uimh. 27 de 1926, Ailt 49 agus 50).

That a sum not exceeding £16,420 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1929, for such of the Salaries and Expenses of the District Court as are not charged on the Central Fund (No. 10 of 1924, Sections 70 and 76; No. 27 of 1926, Sections 49 and 50).

Am I to understand that it is desired to take Votes 34, 35 and 37 together—because it would make for convenience to do so? I take it this is agreed to. Votes 35 and 37 can be moved subsequently.

The Dáil agreed.

I suggest that Vote 36, Land Registry and Registry of Deeds, should be discussed with Votes 34, 35 and 37.

Very well. I may take it that is agreed to also.

The District Court Vote for the year is £49,000. That is to pay the salaries and expenses of the District Court Clerks and the expenses of the Headquarters Office which controls these clerks, travelling and subsistence expenses to the District Justices and the expenses of the Deputy Justice. In short, this Vote is intended to cover the whole costs of the District Court, both judicial and clerical, except the salaries of the regular Justices. These salaries are charged upon the Central Fund.

Deputies will notice that the amount asked for last year under this Vote was only £15,000, so that there is an apparent increase from £15,000 to £49,000. In fact, however, there is not any real increase. What happened was this:— The Salaries and expenses of the Headquarters staff of the District Court Clerks outside the Dublin Metropolitan Area are now being provided for, for the first time, out of voted moneys. These salaries and expenses were formerly paid out of a separate fund, known as the Petty Sessions Clerks Fund, and later as the District Court Clerks Fund. This Fund was made up of three separate items: (1) Fines, (2) Court Fees, and (3) the produce of the sale of licences for keeping dogs. The dog duty is now collected as an ordinary tax, the proceeds being paid directly into the Exchequer. It was provided by Section 49 of the Court Officers Act, 1926, that after a date to be appointed the whole fund should be wound up and transferred to the Exchequer and thereafter these salaries which were formerly charged on the Fund should be defrayed out of moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas. The appointed day was the 31st March last. The Fund has, accordingly, been wound up. Provision has been made in this Estimate for the salaries of the Headquarters staff and of the clerks who were formerly paid out of the Fund.

It is noteworthy that although the jurisdiction of the District Courts is far greater than the jurisdiction of the old Petty Sessions Courts, and the office business consequently much heavier, the cost of running the system has been reduced rather than increased, apart from the fall in the bonus. It will be observed that the total salaries of the District Court Clerks outside of the Dublin Metropolitan Area amount at present to £30,269. This covers 158 District Court Clerks, with an average salary of about £4 a week. This is an inclusive figure, there being no separate cost of living bonus in these cases. The actual salaries of the individual clerks vary, of course, very much. There are one or two who have a net salary of £7 to £8 a week after paying expenses. These are whole-time clerks serving half-a-dozen Courts or serving a very important town, say Limerick City. At the other end of the scale there are Clerks at £1 a week serving small courts in remote country places but who need not devote more than one day a week, or perhaps less than one day a week, to the performance of their duties. Under Section 62 of the Court Officers' Act, 1926, there is power to establish as pensionable Civil Servants such of these Clerks as are whole-time officers. But up to the present this has been done in only one case. Such other Clerks as are whole-time and are giving satisfaction will be established in due course.

There is another item to which I would like to draw attention. That is, a sum of £3,735 which is provided for Deputy Justices. This figure may be sub-divided into £2,735 for Vacation Justices and £1,000 for Deputy Justices in cases of illness. Each ordinary Justice gets six weeks' holidays each year and the Deputy Justice gets paid two guineas a day. The amount required for covering cases of illness cannot be accurately forecasted, but it has worked out up to the present at £1,000 per year.

The Courts of Justice Act, 1928, the provisions of which, I am sure, are familiar to all Deputies in this House, provides for the appointment of four permanent Assistant Justices at a salary of £800 per year each to do the work at present done by temporary Vacation Justices, and it also provides that the salary of the new Justices shall be charged on the Central Fund. The bulk of this item will therfore disappear from future Votes. It will not altogether disappear, because it will be always necessary to provide deputies in case of illness. It would obviously be impossible to attempt to provide for cases of illness by making a permanent appointment. As to the value of permanent appointments, I expressed my views already before the House and the House agreed. The new appointments will be made early in the year 1929. It is too late this year to make the arrangements contemplated in the case of the four permanent assistants, because in order that those assistants should be working whole-time it is necessary that the other District Justices should arrange the times of their vacations. I have nothing further to add to what I have already said in regard to that estimate.

The next estimate is the estimate of the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justice. This estimate shows the sum of £58,432 as the total sum required for the payment of salaries, including the cost of living bonus, of all the officers of the courts at present functioning in the Castle and in the District Probate Registry. The sum of £6,000 may be appropriated to the officers attached to the Chief Lunacy Department, a sum slightly less than £2,000 being appropriated to the officers of the Supreme Court, the great bulk of the estimate being appropriated to the officers of the High Court who are divided in this estimate into groups corresponding to the several offices set up by the Court Officers Act, 1926. Deputies will notice there is provision made for three taxing masters in this estimate. As a matter of fact, there are only two at the present moment. One of the taxing masters died some time ago, and it is not intended to fill up the vacancy. It is felt that two taxing masters will be able to do the entire work. In some instances it may be noticed that the salaries are rather higher than the salaries which the office properly carries with it. The reason is that these were existing officers who had existing salaries, and it was found cheaper to carry them on at their present existing salaries than to pay them pensions and appoint successors at a lower rate of salary.

This estimate shows a very considerable decrease as compared with the case of the Supreme Court staff under the old régime. We are asking £60,000 now. The cost in 1921 was £140,000. Of this relatively enormous decrease a large amount is due to the fall in the cost of living bonus; but even taking basic salaries and ignoring bonuses altogether the cost in 1921 was £76,000, and the cost now is less than £40,000. This latter cost includes £3,000 or £4,000, the cost of the Lunacy Office, which did not appear in the 1921 estimate, and which now appears as part of the cost of the office of the Registrar to the Chief Justice. The 1921 estimate was an estimate for all Ireland, but setting up the High Court in Belfast did not, in point of fact, reduce the cost of the Dublin courts to anything like the extent that one might anticipate. It is a fallacy to say that if the former courts cost £76,000 the present courts, considering the present territory, should cost one-third less, or £50,000, and therefore the reduction to something under £40,000 does not seem very striking. I think, however, Deputies will agree that an argument like that would be very fallacious, because it is much cheaper to run one High Court for an entire country than to run two High Courts.

And one Government also.

Nothing like a proportionate part of the reduction in this case has come directly from the fact of the Six Counties being taken out of the jurisdiction. The reduction has been effected by a continuous campaign of economy which has been none the less effective because it has not been advertised in the newspapers or on the hoardings. Officers who were past their work were invited to retire; officers of ability who could be spared were transferred to other departments, where their services have been highly appreciated. An unsatisfactory system of copying by hand has been discarded in favour of typewriting, and in the unromantic region of cleaners, sweepers, porters, and housekeepers very surprising savings have been effected. In the same way great care was exercised as regards the appointment of new officers. The former practice of importing patronage nominees into the high positions has absolutely ceased. Appointments have been made only when absolutely necessary, and then only by promotion, and in the case of every such promotion the scale of salary formerly paid for the higher post has been revised. For example, when the post of accountant became vacant it was filled by promotion, but the salary was reduced from £1,000 a year to a scale of from £700 to £800 a vear. This process will continue according as the existing officers die or retire. When this process has been entirely completed numbers of salaries of £1,000—recently, in 1925, the number was fifteen and the number now is ten—will be further reduced to something less than half a dozen. Except for this gradual reduction, I think there is very little, if any, further economy to be looked for now. In fact, one or two of the offices, particularly the Examiner's Office staff, will probably have to be strengthened if the work is to be done as quickly and as satisfactorily as is desired.

I should draw attention to a small item on page 130, sub-head M. That is a new item appearing on the estimate. We are asking for a sum of £452 to cover certain specified expenses. The explanation is that these expenses were formerly defrayed out of certain fees or percentages collected by the Chief Justice from the estates of the persons under his charge. It is now thought more conformable with modern practice to vote these moneys in the same way as the travelling expenses of public officials generally, and the corresponding fees are now paid directly into the Exchequer.

The next item is the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds. There are two offices here and they are under the same chief officer—the Registrar of Titles. The estimates for both offices were, until recently, included in the estimate for the High Courts of Justice, to which they were nominally attached, an arrangement which made it necessary for an inquirer to go to a great deal of trouble, and to do a good deal of addition, subtraction and division, before he could see how much the Supreme Court itself costs and how much was to be attributed to the other two offices. Now we show the two figures separately. It will be observed that there is a decrease of about £2,000 in the total cost—about £52,000 last year and about £50,000 this year. This has been caused largely by a reduction in the cost of staff of the Registry of Deeds, into which, as vacancies occur, a more economical type of staff has been introduced.

Perhaps I might say a few words upon these two particular offices. The Registry of Deeds is much an older office than the other. It is a very old office, dating back to the year 1708, and it was maintained out of its own fee fund up to the year 1864. The object of this Registry is described in one of the Statutes to be a well-indexed record of all deeds, conveyances, and wills which shall be made of any honours, manors, lands, tenements or hereditaments. The scale of fees charged is laid down by two Acts, II. and III. William IV., and the XI. and XII. Victoria, but some of these were increased in 1916 by Treasury order. About 20,000 deeds are registered every year, and it is estimated that the fees charged will reach about £14,000, that is to say, about 75 per cent. of the total cost of the office. In addition to fees, it should be borne in mind that this registry does certain work for public departments without charging any fee; for instance, searches ordered by the Land Commission and the registration of deeds of charge under the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, when it is certified by the Board of Works that the registration of these charges is necessary for the public service.

The other office is the Land Registry, and this is the central office for the registration of titles to lands under the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891. There is also a local office in each county, but the cost of these local offices appears in another Vote, as part of the Circuit Court organisation, as they are, except in three cases, under the care of the Circuit Court officer of the county, that is the County Registrar. I fancy that most Deputies know something about the working of this office. It is to maintain a well-ordered, well-indexed and well-managed record of the ownership of lands. It is compulsory in the case of lands bought out under the Land Acts, subject to a Land Commission annuity, and it is voluntary in other cases. It is gradually superseding the older Registry of Deeds. More and more land is being bought out under the Land Purchase Acts; consequently, more and more deeds that used to be registered in the Registry of Deeds are now registered in the local Registration of Title Office. The main object of the Registry is to produce in one simple folio a complete and authentic record of the title to each farm in the country, of the exact extent and boundaries of each farm, illustrated by a map. So that in selling or mortgaging a farm the labour in connection with proof of title and proof of freedom from charge or incumbrance is reduced to the very smallest possible extent. Fees are charged for the registration of such transactions and for the supplying of folios but fees are not charged for the compulsory first registration of land bought under the Land Acts. The first registration is done automatically. When the landlord is bought out, the Land Commission passes the papers on to the Land Registry for that purpose. The fees for the present financial year are estimated to produce £16,600—less than 50 per cent. of the cost. If it were thought desirable that the fees should cover a greater proportion of the cost, that end would probably be best achieved by charging a fee on the first registration, and that is a matter to which we are giving consideration, turning the matter over in our own minds.

There has always been a considerable amount of doubt and discussion as to the extent to which the work of local registration should be done—as to how far it should be done in the central registry that is the subject of this Vote, or how far it should be done in the local registry. Neither practising solicitors nor experienced officials have been able to agree upon this question. The actual practice is that the local registry does very little except duplicate folios and the really serious legal work is done in the central office.

Now, persons whose opinion is supposed to count in legal matters have held that it was not the intention of the Act of 1891 that the central office should assume the powers and be developed to the size and importance that it has now reached, and that the local registries should have sunk down to be of very little importance. On the other hand, people whose opinion is justifiably valued have come to the opposite conclusion, and think the existing practice is the correct practice, and they maintain that it is the only practical practice if the records are to be kept in proper order and the work to be done fully and efficiently. I think if it is tolerably clear that at the present moment there is a certain amount of overlapping between the central registry and the local registry owing to this and the confusion caused by the disappearance of the judicial head of the office, because the land judge used to be the judicial head of the Local Registration of Titles Office, it is clear that the position of the Land Registry will some time or other have to be cleared up by legislation. I do not think there are any further remarks that could be usefully made to the House upon that particular subject.

The next head I want to deal with is the Circuit Court. Here we are asking for a gross sum of £76,000, less £16,000, Appropriation-in-Aid; that is a net sum of £60,000 to cover all the expenses of carrying on the office business of the Circuit Courts and certain other expenses, such as the judges' travelling expenses, which will be found on page 136, item B 1. These are really connected with the judges rather than with the office, but they are not charged upon the Central Fund, and that is the reason why they must be provided for here. I want to point out that under the Court Officers Act, 1926, the old office of Clerk of Crown and Peace was abolished and a new office of the County Registrar was substituted therefor. The difference between these two offices is that the County Registrar is a civil servant and must retire on reaching the age of seventy. He is paid a fixed salary, and he surrenders to the Exchequer the fees received by him, whereas the Clerk of the Crown and Peace held office for life; he received in addition to salary certain fees, principally in connection with electoral work. The former Clerks of the Crown and Peace, all but six or seven, have voluntarily declined re-employment as County Registrars, so that the great majority of the County Registrars are new appointees, and their salaries are considerably lower than the salaries paid to their predecessors. I do not know any class of men in the public service who really have given more satisfaction than the new County Registrars.

After the salaries of the County Registrars the next most important item is the salary of their staffs. Deputies will find this as item A 12, page 136. Prior to the Court Officers Act, 1926, these staffs were the private employees of the Clerk of the Crown and Peace. They made their own bargain with their own clerks, increased or decreased the staff, or their salaries, and engaged them or dismissed them as they wished. The State paid the Clerks of the Crown and Peace clerical allowance towards the cost of the staffs but this allowance was not intended to, and did not in fact, cover the entire costs of the staff, nor was the State interested in seeing how the clerical allowance was distributed amongst the staff, but since the Court Officers Act came into operation in September, 1926, the State assumed direct liability for the salaries of these staffs, the salaries paid by the State being the same as formerly paid. That is to say, the State ascertained the actual salary formerly paid to each man whether it came from clerical allowance or fees or out of the Clerk of the Crown and Peace's own pocket, but as a matter of fact the fees the Clerks of the Crown and Peace received over and above salary were always more than sufficient to make up the difference between the sums they paid their own staffs and the amount of clerical allowance. The total amount was fixed—the sum a man was getting was provisionally fixed as being his proper salary. Here and there we came upon cases of hardship where the salaries formerly paid were really impossible salaries, where a clerk was giving full time service for a figure something like £40 a year and therefore special concessions were occasionally made. The result is that the cost to the State of these clerks has risen considerably, firstly, because the clerical allowance formerly paid by the State was not sufficient to pay the salaries actually paid by the Clerks of the Crown and Peace and, secondly, because the salaries were so inadequate that even the Minister for Finance thought it necessary to increase them.

But against this increase we have benefited in most counties by a reduction of the salary at the head of the office and by the surrender to the Exchequer of fees formerly retained by the Clerk of the Crown and Peace. The cost to the State under the old régime of the entire office system of the county courts was about £63,000, a figure somewhat in excess of what is now asked for. Deputies must remember in this connection that the present Circuit Courts have taken over a considerable amount of business formerly transacted in the High Court and that there is an item of £3,300 for stenography. That is an entirely new charge not incurred under the former system. I draw attention to the fact that last year that figure was £5,500, so that we have succeeded in saving a sum of £2,200 which has been gained by paying these stenographers a fixed salary instead of piece-work by which they were previously paid.

I think the only other item to which I will call attention is item A 33—Summons Service, page 135. They are paid a retaining fee of £20 a year, but there are a great number of them—500 altogether. In the same item Deputies will observe that of court messengers mentioned. Most of the messengers are private employees of the under-sheriff and draw no salaries from the State, but there are two classes that do receive salaries from the State. First, if a court messenger happens to be also a summons server he is paid an additional retaining fee of £20 a year. There are comparatively few of these— 22 of them altogether—and the arrangement is a continuation of an arrangement which was in operation under the former régime.

In counties where the under-sheriff has died or retired, and where in consequence the County Registrar is now responsible for the execution of court orders under Section 54 of the Court Officers Act, 1926, we are now employing and paying out of State funds whole-time court messengers. The counties in which this applies are Waterford, Wexford and Offaly. The rate of pay is £3 per week without bonus. Deputies will notice that we anticipate an income of £1,000 in this connection. If Deputies look at page 137, item F, they will see that that will about cover our expenses. In the same item F it will be noticed we anticipate an income of £13,000 by the surrender of fees paid to the County Registrars in connection with the preparation and revision of Jurors' Lists and the Register of Votes.

As I explained, the sum of £13,000 under a former rule would have gone into the pockets of the County Registrars. As Deputies know, the County Registrar—I mentioned it on the last Estimate—in addition to his other duties, is the Registrar of Title under the Local Registration of Title Act, 1891. That is not so in three counties. There the registrar is a solicitor specially appointed for that purpose many years ago because the then Lord Chancellor was of opinion that the Clerk of the Crown and Peace was not in a position to do the work. The counties I allude to are Monaghan, Leix and Waterford. In item A 5, page 126, provision is made for the salary of those separate officers. I am not sure it is quite correct to charge the sum of £1,000 against the Vote for the Circuit Court Staff. It might be more properly put on the Land Registry Vote. It is the custom to do so for many years, and it still appears on the County Court Vote. There is no other item to which I wish to draw the attention of the House on this Vote. Shall I take the Public Record Vote?

You can take them both together.

It is rather difficult in dealing with an estimate like this for any person who has not an opportunity of going into those departments and ascertaining whether there has been overlapping or too much of a staff employed in certain departments to state whether the work might be carried on as efficiently and effectively by a smaller staff. With regard to the District Court, travelling and subsistence allowance is the first item where an increase is shown, which would appear to be very high, if I would not say excessive. I have raised the matter, I think, on the discussion on the appointment of District Justices. I have raised the question about appointing temporary justices, and notwithstanding the fact that under an Act power was given to the Minister to appoint those Assistant District Justices, apparently still the Department in the coming year consider it necessary that they should have an allowance made for Temporary Justices during the vacation period. At that time I urged on the Minister as against the appointment of those Assistant Justices —I am not criticising that now, it being a statute, but in support of the question I am raising—that the work that would arise while the District Justices are on holidays could be done by adjoining District Justices. The Minister apparently, when bringing forward that Act, was satisfied that it was not so, and the House decided to appoint the Assistant District Justices. Having authority under the Act to appoint Assistant Justices, it would seem unreasonable to ask that provision would be made now for appointing what might be called Vacation Justices. I think it is a bad principle.

Apart from the amount of money involved, I feel it is a wrong principle that there should be temporary judges or temporary justices. We have had examples of it many times. Under what is referred to as the old régime, it was a very common thing to have assizes and other courts used as platforms to give out certain views as to the terrible condition of the country. I feel, if the same practice may not be followed, at any rate it will be invited by having gentlemen put into the position of temporary justices of any sort. Where they find the position is not permanent, they are looking for the spoils of office, and, rightly or wrongly, in their view they will be saying something to please what they consider the Government in office. I think it is a bad principle, and does not make for the impartial administration of justice; but, apart from that, with the increased number of justices which the Minister has power to appoint under that Act, I do not see any necessity for making provision during the vacation of justices.

As I said before when that Bill was being discussed, it would be quite easy to arrange for these justices to take their holidays at different times and arrange that justices in adjoining districts would administer any urgent matter that would arise at the time. It has been said that the districts are so large that it would be difficult to get a district justice convenient to some parts, but the only matter of urgency that arises is that of criminal business. When urgent criminal cases arise it would be easy to arrange—I think any of these court districts are not more than twenty miles apart— that the adjoining district justice could do that business.

One hundred and fifty-eight district court clerks seem to be an excessive number in the country. I admit in certain parts of the country you have district court clerks who have fairly large districts to look after; but, on the other hand, you will find districts where there seems to be a surplus of district court clerks. I know one district court clerk who has three district court areas to look after. They are rather important and he is able to do each. I find in every seven miles of an area there is a district court clerk to deal with that area, but there is only one district court in each and the court only meets once a month. Take a district I know in North Mayo. The district court clerk has to deal with a district where there is a summary court held every fortnight.

Which place is it?

Take Ballina district. There is a district court every fortnight and civil business transacted every month. The clerk has to deal with the Crossmolina district, where a court is held every month. You come to other districts and find the clerk having to deal with a court where there is no civil business. It does not seem to be necessary to have a clerk in every little place where a court is held once a month.

Mention one you have in your mind.

Take Killala, Ballycastle, Belmullet; take any place you know and you will find a similar position existing.

Another matter. When the assistant court clerks were appointed originally they were appointed in a majority of cases without any examination. It may be that a great number of them have given satisfaction and are efficient, but there are a considerable number of instances where they are not satisfactory. Clerks were appointed without any technical or expert knowledge whatever of their work in the court. As the Minister is well aware, assuming it is the duty of the clerk to be able to perform the work efficiently, he should have a knowledge of the various matters with which he has to deal, and should be a guide to the clients who need legal assistance as to the proper course they have to adopt with regard to proceedings to be started. Numerous examples have come to my notice where litigants have been landed into considerable difficulties and costs as the result of that, their proceedings being started in a way in which they should not be started. Whether you call it inefficiency or lack of knowledge, where they did not secure or obtain legal assistance and relied on some of those clerks, those exceptions I referred to, they found they were put to considerable cost. What I urge on the Minister is this, if those courts are to be effective there must be in some way an overhaul of the system where clerks were appointed without, what I submit at any rate, a proper examination.

Examinations are being held now, but it is unreasonable, where you have men in technical positions operating in districts where the people are often far removed from legal assistance and often unable to pay for it, to have District Court Clerks who are unable to guide the people and give them proper directions as to instituting proceedings. I suggest that the time has come for tightening up all that, and for ensuring that no person will become a District Court Clerk unless he is properly equipped for his work. As I say, 158 District Court Clerks seem to be an excessive number. Travelling and subsistence allowances for Deputy Justices have increased from £920 to £2,000. I did not gather from the Minister whether that is a result of the provision that has been made enabling him to appoint Assistant Justices. Otherwise, it seems to be an increase that is not warranted, and no indication has been given by the Minister that there has been a considerable increase in litigation or that an amount of extra work has been imposed on the Justices. Moreover, it has not been stated that District Court work has got into considerable arrear.

The same difficulty is experienced in dealing with the High Court which, though perhaps to a minor extent, exists in regard to the District Courts. The Supreme Court is made up of a large number of departments and offices and, in a general way, people are informed from time to time that those places are over-staffed. I cannot say that they are over-staffed for the reason that I have not, and I do not think other Deputies have, got definite information. They may have got information from officials or in some inconcrete way that some of the offices are over-staffed. I know, and I agree with the Minister, that the Examiner's Office is hopelessly under-staffed. I know from experience that that is one of the offices which should have been first looked after to see that it would work quickly and efficiently.

There are a number of heavy cases held up there, and the Examiner is unable to deal with them. I and others have cases there but we appreciate and understand the fact that these cases are held up as a result of the staff not being increased. The Minister mentioned that particular office some time ago in a debate here as being under-staffed. I want to know why that matter has not been seen to before now. As the Minister is well aware, the cases dealt with by the Examiner are important and heavy ones, involving a considerable amount of property, so that it is a serious matter to have them held up. A certain Chancery case is being held up there and in that case a substantial mortgage is held by the bank so that the interest on it is increasing to an alarming extent. In fact, at the present rate of delay, it would mean that when the property is realised by the court and sold in the open market the interest will be greater than the debt itself. At times, when property becomes vacant you can get a better price than when a tenant is in occupation, but you often find that you have to leave the property vacant because you have to proceed in a certain red tape fashion. I am not complaining of red tape so far as that Department is concerned, but as a result of that Department not being properly staffed for the last nine or twelve months, these cases are held up. I hope that that state of affairs will not last much longer.

With regard to the other departments it is difficult to say whether they have been over-staffed or not. It is only the officials who are in those departments and who are acquainted with their work who are in a position to say that. In view of statements made from time to time I would be inclined to say that these offices are over-staffed. From a cursory examination I would agree, though I cannot say it definitely as I have not the means of proving it, that they are over-staffed. I would urge the Minister to consider at a very early date whether there should not be some committee of experts set up which would consider the whole question of the administration of the law and see how and what economies could be effected in those various departments. It is a huge task to try and go through all the departments, but perhaps an examination such as that might give a return which would be well worth trying to obtain. As I say a Deputy in this House is not in a position to criticise those departments and see whether those statements are true. We all hear rumours and reports from people who regard themselves as experts and who say that these departments are over-staffed. I agree, however, with the Minister in saying that one particular department is not over-staffed. I believe that such a committee, as I have indicated and have urged the Minister to set up, would give some results.

The Minister stated that only two taxing masters instead of three will be appointed in future, so that that means that a sum of £1,000 will be excluded from the Estimates. In regard to the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds similar remarks can be made to those made in connection with the other departments. It is difficult to criticise them, but there have been complaints regarding the delay in registering deeds. I do not know whether such complaints are general or not, but some of them have been brought to my notice from time to time, especially in regard to delays in registering deeds. After all, the people who have to have their deeds registered are the people who pay. The solicitor pays in the first instance, but his client pays in the end, so that the people are entitled to have that work done with expedition and satisfaction. I would imagine that having the work done in a central office would result in its being done more economically than by having it spread over the country in an overlapping and dual position. At the present time you give a certain amount of work to the local registry office and a certain amount of other work to the central office. Apart from the economies that might be effected, I think it would be much more satisfactory if you had all the work done in the central office. The Minister says that he has heard various views on that. He said that one body of opinion indicates one line and that another body of opinion, to be regarded just as strongly as the other, took another line. I think that the proper thing for the Minister to do is to appoint some people to inquire into the whole system and report to this House. It has been advocated for a considerable time that it would be much more satisfactory, and I believe would certainly result in some economy and a reduction in expense, if the work was done in the central office and not have it done in this way—having it spread over the country, while at the same time one has to go to the central office for certain other work.

I do not know whether I am entitled on this Vote for the Circuit Court to raise any question with regard to two appointments made to the Circuit Courts recently. I think, however, that I would be entitled to criticise the administration of the whole Department when dealing with the Circuit Court Vote. What I want to call attention to is the appointment of a second Circuit Court judge. As to the first appointment, anybody acquainted with the qualifications of the gentleman appointed, even from the outside point of view, is quite satisfied that the appointment was a good one. As to the second appointment that was made, I for one would be very anxious to know on what grounds it was made. One would have imagined, if what has been described from the other side of the House as keeping up the prestige of the courts were borne in mind, that the Minister or the responsible authority appointing a particular judge would look to see that a man prominent at the Bar and who had advanced on his qualifications as a lawyer, before being a politician, would have been considered. In regard to the appointment that I am referring to, no one in touch with the legal aspect of matters can see any reason, from the legal point of view at any rate, why this judge was appointed. One would have thought that people had got to prove themselves in some way in their own profession, by obtaining some prominence in it not as politicians but as lawyers, before they would seem worthy of a position such as that. As far as I can gather, and taking the appointment on the only ground on which I assume it can be justified, on the ground of being a political appointment, even on that ground, it would seem as if it would fall a good way short of what might have been required even from the Government in power at the time being. It is true that he may have been very active in 1916 in a way in which some members of this House would not approve of perhaps, and that kind of thing. He may have been, at a later stage, very active in courts-martial, particularly in one court-martial that we know of, where a man fell among the propaganda that he was a damned Englishman or something of that sort, but I think that is the only qualification that the other side of the House could put forward for this appointment.

That is not the sort of thing that is going to get respect for the law or the courts in this country. Political appointments of that sort are not going to fill people with the awe that they are supposed to have for the fair administration of law in the country. It is bringing respect for the law at any rate, to a very low standard, and it is arousing in the country again the memory of things that it might be better for the country if they were allowed to be forgotten. To make an appointment like that looks like ripping open what might have been healing sores. It is opening and holding up before the people of the country things that, perhaps, in the interests of the country we might have been anxious to forgive if not possibly to forget. I do not know whether the Minister has in mind making any further appointments. I hope that when appointments of this kind are being made that that kind of thing will be forgotten, and that the Minister will look rather to men who he knows quite well have made their name at the Irish Bar, men who are prominent at the Bar and have got on on their merits, no matter what their political beliefs are. Of one of the appointments that the Minister has made that can be said, but the other selection is the one that I am commenting on.

The Minister has tried to make a comparison between the cost of the administration of law in this country with what it is now and what it was in 1920 and 1921. Of course, it is obvious that as two Governments cost a lot more money than one, even though they are spread over the same area as the one may have been, so also two sets of courts cost a very different amount of money from what one would cost. It is obvious to anyone that no favourable comparison can or should be made on that basis. If you add up the total cost of all those votes which the Minister is asking for, you will get a great total, and this total will show to the people what the cost of the administration of the law is in this country. It brings us forcibly back to the position when it was strongly advocated that this country was being robbed in the way of taxation arising through the administration of the law and the policing of the country. I suggest to the Minister that the way to deal with that is to have some sort of a committee to make inquiries and see what economies can be effected. It is no use for anyone getting up here and trying to criticise the Department when that Department is made up of experts in their particular work. I have not attempted to do that, even though I might have certain data in my possession as being the opinions of people perhaps who have been to some extent connected with this Department—that in certain departments they are overstaffed, while, as I have said, in one or two departments, they are not.

There is another matter that I want to bring to the Minister's notice. What arrangements, if any, have been made with the Six County Government to deal, for instance, with judgments got against people who reside in the Six County area? A certain case was brought to my notice the other day of a bus driver who operates in the Sligo area. He knocked down an unfortunate lady there and she got a decree for, I think, something like £1,400. That defendant holds a contract from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Inquiries were made from the Secretary of Posts and Telegraphs to ascertain if any particulars would be given as to what name was registered as the contractor, whether it was the defendant himself or his wife. The Secretary has refused to give those particulars, so far as I am aware. I am not complaining about that, but what I want to ascertain is whether, if necessary, some legislation could not be introduced so that when a party who goes through the Free State but is residing in the Six County area is sued in the courts of the Free State there should be some arrangement whereby his property in the Six Counties should be liable for the levying of a decree.

Another matter to which I would draw the attention of the Minister is that with regard to the Workmen's Compensation Act. Conventions have been arranged between England, France and other countries, and no convention, so far as I am aware, has been made between the Free State and England. The result of this is to cause particular hardship in the West of Ireland. Hundreds of people, as the Minister is aware, emigrate to England or Scotland. If they meet with an accident in those countries they are allowed compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act while there, but if they return to this country they can get nothing. They are not allowed any compensation until they go back again to England or Scotland or wherever they have been working. I think representations were made to the Department of Justice two years ago on that particular matter, urging on the Department that something should be done.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but surely this is a matter for the Department of External Affairs. It could not arise under this Vote, which deals with the administration of the law in this country. The question raised by the Deputy is a matter of making a reciprocal arrangement with other countries.

I have mentioned the matter and will not pursue it further. That is the whole position covering the matters I wanted to raise. I believe that if a committee of inquiry were set up very substantial economies could be effected.

I want to raise a matter in connection with the Vote for the Circuit Courts. I am sorry I did not hear the Minister's opening statement. The question which I want to raise was raised by me some time ago in the form of a question, and afterwards I had some correspondence with the Minister on the subject. It is regarding the arrangements for the Circuit Courts in Cork County. The position is that all the criminal business for the county is transacted in Cork City. and that in addition a great portion of the civil business is also transacted in the city. The present arrangements have created what is a genuine hardship for a good number of people in the western portion of the county. The courts that were formerly held in Bandon are now held in Cork City. That involves very great hardship for the people generally who are concerned with legal business, and particular hardship as regards the people who are called upon for jury service in the western portions of the county. I looked over the reports in the papers recently of the Circuit Court cases in Cork, and I noticed that a number of jurors had to be excused on various grounds. In one case a Guard explained that when he served the summons on a man for jury service the man informed him that he would not be able to go, for he had not got suitable clothes. That was typical of a good many cases of hardship.

If the Circuit Court were restored, as we are advocating, in Bandon, there would still be a certain amount of hardship, but its extent would be greatly minimised. I can anticipate the answer the Minister will give to this will be the same as he has previously given— that, as we know, the Circuit Courts cater for a wider range of business than did the Quarter Sessions Courts, but I submit it is a great hardship that people should have to travel 47 miles to do business in the courts. The courthouse which has been reconstructed in Bandon is a suitable court in every way. It would be a convenience to litigants, legal men and jurors if that court were availed of. I ask the Minister to give some indication as to what the position is. At the time the Rules of the Circuit Court were referred to a Committee of the House, I intended to raise the matter in Committee. Subsequently the Rules collapsed, I think for the reason that they were not approved of in the Seanad. I am not clear as to the position at the moment. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation in the matter, in justice to the people I represent, I will be compelled to vote against this Estimate.

There is a small matter I would like to raise under this Vote, and that is, what is the position of the official assignee in Cork? The official who held that position died early in July, and no appointment has been made since. That has caused a great deal of inconvenience. I hope the Minister will consider the making of an appointment to the position in the near future.

I listened with some astonishment to the remarks of Deputy Ruttledge on the recent appointment of a Circuit Court judge. I say I listened with some astonishment, because Deputy Ruttledge is a member of the legal profession himself, and ought to know better than to say the things he said. He did not profess to express the views of his own profession as to this appointment. I can perhaps express the views of my profession regarding the appointment. The Bar, so far as it is concerned with the appointment, is concerned with one point of view only, and that is whether the man appointed was a competent workman or not, because if not it reflects discredit on the Bar when the work is done badly. The view of the Bar is that not only the two previous appointments, but the last appointment, are excellent appointments. The appointees are all known to have been qualified workmen in their profession. The Circuit Judge whom Deputy Ruttledge attacked in this wholly unjustifiable way was to my knowledge a working barrister in good practice for a number of years, and he had the respect both of the solicitors' profession he came in touch with and the Bar, who saw that he did his work always competently. He was tried as a judge previously in another capacity, and he acted to the satisfaction both of the professions and the public as judge in the Dáil Winding-Up Court. I am astonished to see that a Deputy like Deputy Ruttledge who has experience of this matter should bring forward political considerations and suggest that the appointment in his case was made for any reason other than that he was a suitable person for the appointment.

Deputy Rice has rather anticipated me by his reference to the very unfair criticism by Deputy Ruttledge of a recent legal appointment. I have nothing to do with the law; I have no interest in appointments, nor do I ever seek to get a job for anybody, but I say it was the most disrespectful statement, from the point of view of the carrying out of the law, that I ever heard here from an official of the courts, that appointments like this are likely to bring the law into disrepute. It is statements in this House reflecting on men who are qualified for positions that are much more likely to bring the law into disrepute than the appointment that has been made. I would not have intervened in the debate were it not for the fact that the Judge referred to has been allocated to County Cavan, which I represent. I have taken particular care since his appointment to inquire amongst the Bar of the County Cavan as to how his appointment was regarded by them and what they thought of him since he filled the vacancy. He has followed one of the best Judges that was ever in the County Cavan, and I can assure you that he is giving the utmost satisfaction. It was very surprising to hear a lawyer make the statement that that man had no qualifications for the position and was likely to bring the law into disrepute.

I never made such a statement. The Deputy should try to quote with some degree of exactness and truth what I said. I never said that.

That this appointment was likely to bring the law into disrepute. If he did not make that statement——

What Deputy Ruttledge objects to was the statement that he said that the gentleman in question had no qualifications.

He asked what qualifications he had, the inference being that he had none. I say no more.

He suggested political qualifications.

To the people of Cavan this Judge is giving the utmost satisfaction, and there is no doubt in the minds of the people that he is amply qualified for the position.

I do not wish to interfere in this controversy, but I want to draw the attention of the Minister to a very important matter with regard to the attendance of jurors at the Cork Circuit Court. Jurors from East Cork who attend that court have to travel about fifty miles to the city, have to leave their homes at about seven o'clock in the morning, and do not get back until about eight in the evening. If that situation is to continue, I suggest that it would be well to include in next year's estimate money for the payment of these jurors, whether they are called on a jury or not. Thousands of pounds have been spent on the Midleton Courthouse, and it is fit for any judge to sit in. It is heated, well-ventilated, and has all the necessary equipment to enable it to be used as a courthouse.

I believe that the greatest hardship that can be inflicted on jurors at present is to summon about 150 of them to Cork City and then to have none of them called on any of the juries that are sworn. A way out of the difficulty could be got by summoning and paying a certain number of them for one circuit court and another number for the next circuit court. That would meet the case. But I believe that the time will come when jurors—I will not say will refuse intentionally—but will find it very hard to attend the Cork Circuit Court unless their expenses are paid. Something must be done in that direction. For years back as far as I can remember the quarter sessions were always held in the town of Midleton, and what the idea behind the change was I do not know. It may be that it is to centralise everything in the cities. If that is so it is a bad thing, and jurors will have to be paid for attending these courts. At present business people in the towns and the farmers especially have their own work to perform, and they cannot go to Cork without losing a certain amount of money. They have to pay their expenses and get their dinner and tea, and I need not tell you that all this forms an expensive item for the farmers of East Cork, and for those of West Cork also, because I agree with the case for Bantry that Deputy Tadhg Murphy has put before the Minister, and I say that the same thing applies to Midleton and East Cork. I would particularly ask the Minister to consider the question of the payment of jurors, if he does not intend to restore the old procedure with regard to the holding of courts in Midleton.

Deputy Rice was at some pains to attack Deputy Ruttledge because of the way in which he referred to a recent judicial appointment. The important aspect of that which must be brought out is that, whilst there were men of greater experience who had given greater evidence of ability to act as Judges, these men were passed over in preference to one whose services to this country had been as odious to a very large section in Ireland as services could possibly be. Anybody who was associated with the court-martial that condemned Erskine Childers to death was not a man to be appointed to a judicial position in this country. One would imagine that the Government, looking to appoint a man who would command the respect of the whole community, would not appoint such a man to a judicial position. I do not know whether Deputy Rice considered that he himself, if he were appointed to some position, would not come under criticism—I will not say similar criticism—but criticism of the same character. His advancement in public life appears to be in accordance with his power of changing his coat in politics.

But turning to a less-contentious part of this discussion, I would like to refer to one matter, and that is to the complaint, both of practitioners and others, of a lack of expert knowledge in certain departments. For instance, I have heard complaints about the Registry of Deeds—that where formerly sales were carried out in three weeks, they are held up now for anything from six to ten weeks. I do not want to say anything unfair about any officials or individuals, but I think that special regard should be had to these complaints, that a consultation of some sort should take place amongst the officials, so that those who show sufficient ability could get an opportunity of studying so as to be brought up to the requisite standard of expertness. They should get that opportunity, and the others should be moved into some other department. Instead of working on the principle that any civil servant can do any work in any office, men should be put in their place who would have the very expert knowledge required for these offices. Criticism of a lack of expert knowledge applies, I know, to various offices, and I do not wish to specify them, because I do not wish to say anything invidious about any office, where I am sure these officials are doing the best they can. But the absence of real expert knowledge is of such a nature as to militate against the proper dealing with legal business.

There is a small matter to which I would like to direct the attention of the Minister for Justice. It is in connection with court messengers. Is there any specific charge to be made by these men for their services? Complaints are often made to me that they charge in a rather extortionate way for what are rather questionable services sometimes. I have in mind a case of a decree for a Land Commission annuity for a comparatively small amount. The man paid the amount before the decree was executed. Before he got a receipt the court messengers came on the scene and demanded £1 expenses, although they had done no work whatsoever. They made no seizure because the man was able to prove that he had actually paid, but they demanded a pound and they got it. That is only one case, and I have got several other cases of a like nature. It would be advisable to afford some protection to the unfortunate people who are mulcted in this way.

On this Estimate, I would like to refer to a matter that has been already dealt with by Deputy Ruttledge in connection with the District Court clerks. I understand that some of these appointments were made without examination, and I also understand that some appointments have recently been made as a result of a qualifying examination. The point I want to make is, as Deputy Ruttledge stated, that litigants have often been put to very considerable expense and inconvenience owing to the want of legal knowledge on the part of certain District Court clerks. That is not to be wondered at, because it is my experience that the rules governing these appointments are not of such a nature as would guarantee efficiency. We had one appointment——

On a point of order, can the work of the Civil Service Commissioners be discussed on this Estimate?

With all respect, I think I am in order in dealing with these appointments, where the salaries are being paid on this Estimate.

I submit that these appointments cannot be discussed. We had that on the adjournment before.

I do not think the Deputy can on this Estimate raise the matter of an appointment. That is a matter for the Civil Service Commissioners.

I do not want to raise the question of appointments; I am merely referring to appointments in order to bear out what Deputy Ruttledge stated, that appointments as District Court clerks have been made that will not make for efficiency. That is the point I want to make.

That is discussing an appointment. The Deputy can discuss the administration.

The cost of administration and of these clerks in the District Courts is paid out of this Estimate, and I presume that I am within my right in bringing forward a question as regards the efficiency or otherwise of District Court clerks. I do not know if I am out of order in doing so. However, I will leave the question alone, but I want to point out that the provisions governing these examinations will not lead to efficiency in the future. I will leave it at that.

That is a matter for the Civil Service Commissioners.

I hope the Minister will deal with the matter.

I have nothing to do with the Civil Service Commissioners.

I think that the same provision should be made as is made in the Legal Practitioners Bill governing appointments—five years from now. The only other thing I wish to refer to is the recent appointment of a judge in the Circuit Court. I do not know why Deputy Ruttledge referred to this appointment. All I do know is that objection is, perhaps, being taken, owing to the fact that the person appointed did not take a part in the fight for freedom.

Against it.

I am more or less in the same position. I certainly took no part so far as securing the freedom of this country is concerned, but that does not mean that I am against Ireland being free. I held certain specific views at that time, and in the light of recent events I think I was not far wrong in following up those views, even to the present day. If the Judge in question had the same views I do not think that should be a reason why his appointment to a Judgeship should be criticised, provided he has all the other accomplishments necessary for the position of a Judge. I would say the same as far as the appointment of a Judge is concerned, even if a member of the Opposition Party were appointed, that all other things being equal, political tests should not be applied to appointments now nor at any time in the future. I think it would be well if we could get away from criticism of that nature, and let us all come down to hard facts, and remember that though we have disagreed in the past yet we are all imbued with the same spirit, to make Ireland prosperous and contented and, if possible, to restore her unity. I think that it is not wise to introduce matters of this sort when Estimates of this nature are being presented in the House. I think it would be as well in the interests of the peace of the country, and in the interests of the preservation of law and order, that references of such a nature should not be made in the House or outside it. I prefer to let the past bury the past, and to work in harmony with any section of my fellow-countrymen who are out to secure the best possible freedom for this country.

There is just one matter on which I desire to say a few words, and that is the matter referred to by Deputy Rice and Deputy Coburn. It should be quite clear to all Deputies who heard my colleague, Deputy Ruttledge, speaking that he did not say that the person appointed as a Circuit Court Judge was not qualified for the position. Deputy Rice has spoken, apparently with authority, for the Bar. I should like him to state——

On a point of order, I did not make any such statement—that I spoke with authority for the Bar. I expressed what I knew or believed to be the view of the Bar.

I have a note of the exact words used by the Deputy—that he could speak with some authority as to what were the precise views of the Bar. I think these were the Deputy's precise words. I should like to know if there were not men senior to the barrister who was appointed a Circuit Court Judge who, at least, had attained equal distinction, if not greater distinction, than he had, without any political pull, and against whom nothing whatever would be said by any Deputy in this House if they were appointed. Two appointments were made and neither of the gentlemen appointed agreed with this Party politically. To one we take no exception. There are men at the Bar known to Deputy Rice, of greater legal attainments, longer practice and greater standing, who might be Unionists, ex-British Army men or anything they like politically, against whom not one word would be said. But as we like Deputy Coburn, would like to bury the past, and try to get contentment in the country, we think it was inadvisable to appoint a man against whom there are bitter feelings in this country, in preference to men better qualified, against whom there were no such feelings.

This debate which, on the whole, was very admirably conducted, was most unfortunately marred by the subject Deputy Ruttledge introduced. He introduced an attack upon a gentleman, a distinguished member of the Irish Bar, who has recently received promotion and is now one of our Circuit Judges. That gentleman has practised for a great number of years at the Irish Bar. He has done an extremely good business. He was most highly thought of on his own circuit. He held, as Deputy Rice said, a semi-judicial office when he was a member of the Dáil Eireann (Winding-up) Courts Commission. He bears everywhere amongst his colleagues at the Irish Bar a high reputation, and I do not believe that there can be found one single member of the Irish Bar who would contradict me in saying that he was a man of great ability, a man of high standing at his profession, a skilful advocate and, above all things, a man of the most unimpeachable personal honour and personal integrity. With these remarks I will pass away from that, just expressing my regret that Deputy Ruttledge should have spoken in a way that was utterly unworthy of Deputy Ruttledge in my opinion.

When I come now to deal with the ordinary criticism which has been passed by Deputy Ruttledge on these various Votes. I wish to express my view that Deputy Ruttledge has done what I think should be done in a Vote of this kind. He has criticised the Vote quietly, and, as far as lay in his power, he attempted to give help. He made such suggestions as he should make. Beginning with the District Court, he criticised the appointment of Assistant District Justices again, and said that they should work like the magistrates in the old times. That is absolutely impossible. The District Justices are an extremely hard-working body of men. As a matter of fact, there are District Justices at present who are overworked, and to suggest that an overworked District Justice should do not only the work of his own district, but of another District Justice, during the latter's absence, is to ask him to do what would be absolutely impossible.

Deputy Ruttledge also talked about the salaries of the new Assistant District Justices, and why they should not appear upon the Estimates. Deputy Ruttledge must know that these Estimates were prepared and printed before the Bill appointing the new Deputy District Justices was introduced and before it became law. For that reason the item here opposite the temporary District Justices will in future go to Assistant District Justices.

There is another matter to which Deputy Ruttledge very properly drew the attention of the House, and that was the increase in the sum payable to the Assistant District Justices for travelling expenses. No travelling expenses were given at one time to the Assistant District Justices. They were paid a fee of two guineas, out of which they had to bear their own travelling expenses and their hotel expenses. That was considered inadequate. Now they are given an extra sum for their hotel expenses.

Deputy Ruttledge spoke about the District Court clerks, and he said there were too many in the country. He instanced Ballina and Ballycastle. Deputy Ruttledge, I think, rather unconsciously left the House under the impression that you could have five or three of these courts amalgamated, and that you would then have three done for the cost of one. That is not so. If you take, for instance, the salary of the District Court clerk of Ballina, you will find that he gets £275 a year. If you take Ballycastle you will find that the clerk there gets £50 a year. Then Ballycastle is too far away to amalgamate with Ballina, and if you appoint the one clerk to do the two the Ballina clerk will certainly earn his £50, and there would not be a saving.

I did not say Ballycastle; I said Killala.

Ballycastle is the name I got here. I forget what the figure for Killala is. Passing on to the High Court. Deputy Ruttledge criticised the delay in the Examiner's Office. I have already, on several occasions, admitted that there has been delay in the Examiner's Office. But the Deputy knew perfectly well that the delay in the Examiner's Office is caused because of the fact that you cannot put in there any particular individual and say to him, "Go in there and work the Examiner's Office." The Examiner's Office is an office in which you must put in somebody who is a competent man and who knows something about the work. The fact is that some well-trained officials left that office and went out on pension, and the difficulty has been to get somebody who is really competent to do that work expeditiously. I say that because it is work that is highly technical. Everything that can be done in that line is being done. I have particular regard to that matter. I know that the office is not satisfactory, and I also know that the Master who is looking after that is the chief officer in the court, and that he is doing what he can do to see that that state of affairs is put right.

Deputy Ruttledge said that there was over-staffing in some Departments. That matter has been very thoroughly gone into again and again. The work that every person in the court offices is doing has been very carefully examined. If there has been any mistake made anywhere, it is a mistake of under-staffing and not of over-staffing. I am satisfied that without doing an injury to the work the staff in the court could not be reduced by as much as one officer.

Deputy Ruttledge talked about delay in registration. That is in the Registration of Title Office, and he also suggested that the District Registrar should be done away with, and that the entire work should be carried out in the High Court Office. A great deal could be said for that. That is a matter that requires consideration, and it is a matter which is receiving our most careful consideration, weighing the pros and cons. I know it will receive a great deal of opposition, because a great many country solicitors, especially solicitors who live near a town where a local office is situated, would have extra trouble put upon them communicating with Dublin. We are weighing the advantages on both sides and setting the one against the other. If time permits in the present year I hope to make some alterations in that particular system.

I do not think the Deputy said anything about the Circuit Court. I pointed out that this question of reciprocal arrangements between governments in which accommodation can be reached is a matter on which I wish an arrangement could be come to. It really does not arise on this Vote.

Deputy J.X. Murphy asked me about the position of the Official Assignee in Cork. There was a whole-time official in Cork, but he did not get a great deal of work. In fact, he was in rather a pleasant position there. He never had enough work to justify the salary which was being paid to him. A suggestion was made about appointing an assistant instead of a full-time registrar. Well, the gentleman who will be appointed there will not be a whole-time man, and he will receive considerably smaller remuneration. That appointment will be made forthwith.

Are we to understand that there is a lack of bankruptcy in Cork?

There is, astonishing to say. It does not agree at all with the mournful wails that we sometimes hear in this House about conditions in that city.


Perhaps they had not enough money to go bankrupt.

Deputy Tadhg Murphy, Deputy Carey, and other Deputies, talked about the places in that county in which Circuit Courts might be held but are not held. Deputies might know that at present, owing to the absence of Circuit Court Rules, things are in a great state of confusion. That is because the draft Rules were turned down by the Joint Committee which was set up by the Dáil and Seanad. The result is that the Rules are in Limbo at the present moment. That seems to be the only way in which I can describe the matter. The whole thing must be completely taken up, and the whole circuit system will have to be examined by somebody. When these Rules have been examined and considered other things will have to be considered too, such as where the sittings of the court are to be. That will also have to be considered. Deputies, I think, should bear in mind that at every period a number of jurymen from Cork had to come into Cork city for the assizes. That would be true of other places.

Not so frequently.

Might I ask if the Minister can give us any idea as to what progress has been made or at what time we may expect a revision of the Rules of Court?

I could not give the Deputy any date, because these rules have been turned down by the Committee completely in principle, not in detail. The Rules Committee will have to start again de novo. If they accept the rules which were suggested by the Joint Committee it seems to me it will flow from that that the whole question of the Circuit Court will have to be examined. I cannot give any idea as to when the new rules will be ready.

This is a very serious matter, and it is causing very considerable inconvenience.

I am aware of that, but the Deputy must know that I cannot make the rules. The Rules Committee make them, and then they will require my sanction and the sanction of the Dáil. I cannot make the rules myself. Even if I could, I could not guarantee that these two Assemblies would pass them.

Could the Minister not say that they would be ready, perhaps, in three months?

I could not give the Deputy any undertaking.

Have you no control over this body? They belong to the sky, I suppose.

Is it within the Minister's power to make a change in the position governing the appointment of clerks to the District Courts? Does not the final selection rest with the Minister?

It does not rest with me. The Civil Service Commissioners send up a particular name. If there was very strong reason against that appointment I might be in a position to say: "No, I will not take him," but that has not been done.

It has been said by a former Minister.

I have as little to do with the selection of a District Court clerk as the Deputy.

A former Minister for Justice refused to ratify the selection of the Civil Service Commissioners. I want to know has the Minister power to modify in one particular aspect the provisions governing the appointment of clerks to District Courts. On the testimony of Deputy Ruttledge it will be only natural to assume in future that there will be people appointed to these positions who have not a sufficient knowledge of the law, and they are appointed simply because they take honours in Irish. They will get the position as against men who have from 15 to 20 years' training in the law.

And experience in a solicitor's office. I know that speech almost off by heart.

Still, there is a grievance in it. You must admit that.

I am afraid the Deputy does not understand Deputy Ruttledge. He said there were some of the clerks who had been appointed without examination. He did not in any part of his speech suggest that the clerks who had been appointed as a result of examination were ineffective.

I mean to convey that idea, and I want no mistake made about it. They are inefficient.

Will the Minister deal with the points made by Deputy Carey and myself regarding the sittings of District Courts?

I cannot fix the sittings of the Circuit Court. That is done by the Rules Committee.

Will the Minister make representations to that Committee in accordance with what is clearly the wish of the people concerned?

I am sure the Rules Committee will take that fully into consideration, but of course there are a whole lot of things that have to be considered as well as the actual convenience of people. Of course towns in the country are not anxious to lose their little courts, and I think there is a great deal in that.

What is the position of the clerks in the County Registrar's Office? I would like to know if they are really established and pensionable. How many hours per day and per week do hall porters work in the High Court of Justice for the magnificent sum of 25/-?

I am afraid I could not tell the Deputy. I would require notice of that question as to the number of hours hall porters work. As far as the other point is concerned, I tried to explain that these men who have been taken over from the County Registrar's Office have not as yet been made permanent civil servants. The whole thing is being very carefully considered. Of course they were, so to speak, temporary clerks, as clerks of private individuals are. They are now the temporary clerks of the State.

What is the intention in regard to them?

The whole thing is being very carefully gone into. The men who are efficient and suitable will certainly be established. Finally, the idea is that you will have established civil servants there.

Will they get credit for the services rendered to private individuals, as you call them?

That is a detail that I would not be able to inform the Deputy on at the moment. The scheme has not been worked out; it has only just started.

Vote 34 put and agreed to.