There is only one very small amendment which I mentioned here yesterday.
Public Business. - Agricultural Wages Bill, 1936—Report Stage.
It is to meet amendment 1 on yesterday's sheet. It has been circulated in typescript.
I move the amendment:—
In page 2, lines 18 and 19, Section 2 (1), to delete the words "or includes" and substitute the word "mainly".
The section would then read "...under any such contract is mainly domestic service". In other words those who are engaged mainly on domestic service will be excluded from the provisions of the Act.
I think this is a substantial improvement on the section as submitted yesterday, but it still makes it possible for a person doing a substantial amount of agricultural work not to have his wages regulated by this board. It may, of course, be difficult at this stage to clarify the matter further without perhaps going too far, but I should like if the Minister would give us some idea as to what he has in mind as meaning "mainly employed on domestic service".
"Mainly" means more than half time.
That may be true. But you may get an agricultural labourer working for 12 hours a day. He may be six hours on agricultural work. In that case you will find that person exempt from the provisions of this Act. If the farmer could work the labourer long enough on a combination of agricultural work and domestic work, he might be able to get out of him sufficient agricultural work to exclude him altogether from the scope of the Bill.
Well, I took it from the Deputy's own words.
Well, the Deputy's own amendment said "employed mainly in domestic work".
It is a question of what is meant by "mainly."
Before we proceed with this stage, Sir, I should like to know if the Minister would give us the section of the Interpretation Act which, he says, gives him power to do something which the Bill, presumably, gives him power to do and which he cannot do until the Bill becomes an Act. It seems extraordinary, if he is empowered under the Bill to do something, that he can do it before the Bill becomes an Act at all, under the Interpretation Act. I should like to know what section of the Interpretation Act the Minister refers to.
What I said was that anything that is necessary to be done in order to bring the Act into operation can be done before the Act actually comes into operation. What is to be done, of course, must be implied in the Bill. As I have said, I must appoint the members of the board, but I presume that I cannot do anything more than I am told to do.
I understood that the Minister has power to set up a board?
Well, if that power is given by a particular section of this Bill, I cannot see how the Minister can possibly exercise that power until the Bill becomes an Act, and I want to know under what section of the Interpretation Act he is empowered to do so.
Of course, the Bill must become an Act before it actually comes into operation.
I think, Sir, that there is some confusion here. The Minister is advised that, in the interim between the time when we pass the Bill making it an Act and the time of the Order bringing it into operation, he is allowed to take such steps as are necessary preparatory to bringing it into operation, but he could not do it until we pass the Bill.
I could understand it quite well if the Minister were merely looking around the place with a view to choosing people—choosing, let us say, A, B, C and D—as members of the board, and then, after the Act comes into operation, making them members of the board, but how he can make them members of the board before the Bill becomes an Act is what I cannot see.
Yes, that appeared to me, too.
Well, the Minister appears to think that he can appoint the board before the Bill becomes an Act.
He has certain powers under Section 3.
But the Minister is contending that he can appoint the board before the Bill becomes an Act.
Send for the Attorney-General.
What I want to know is, whether or not I am right in thinking that the Minister is given power under the terms of this Bill to appoint a board. If he is given that power under the terms of the Bill or if he has the power already under a section of some other Act, as we hear from his advisers that he has under the Interpretation Act, why, then, is the power given to him under the terms of this Bill? I think that it merely creates confusion.
I do not like entering into the constitutional points——
Oh, I do not want to make any constitutional point.
——but Section 3 says that the Minister "may at any time before or after the commencement of this Act, by order amend an order," and so on.
But that section is no good until the Bill becomes an Act.
But it will become an Act immediately.
You might as well read, say, the Evening Herald and go by what you see there, as to that.
If you look at Section 5 you will see that it says: "At the commencement of this Act there shall be established a board". So that, the board must be appointed before the Act comes into operation.
So that you are going to act before the Bill becomes an Act?
But that is what you have just read out.