Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 28 Feb 1951

Vol. 124 No. 5

Committee on Finance. - Court Officers Bill, 1950 — Committee.

There are 17 amendments on the Order Paper. Four are in order and one is doubtful.

Which one is doubtful?

Amendment No. 9 is doubtful, as I am not quite clear as to what is intended by it. Amendments Nos. 1, 10, 15 and 17 are in order. All the others seek to increase different classes, the age of different categories of officials or to add years. Deputies are aware that no private Deputy can move to increase the charge on the Exchequer. As I have said, these amendments are, therefore, out of order.

Section 1 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:—

Before Section 2 to insert a new section as follows:—

Sub-section (6) of Section 35 of the Court Officers Act, 1926, is hereby repealed and in lieu thereof it is enacted that every county registrar shall retire on attaining the age of 70 years.

I put down this amendment to deal with the question of the retiring age of county registrars. The position at present is that county registrars retire at the age of 65, subject to the fact that the Minister has power to extend their years of service until they reach the age of 70. I do not know what the Minister's views may be with regard to this matter but I think in relation to county registrars, and to the occupants of other offices also, this power of doling out extensions is very invidious, not merely for the county registrar but also for the Minister for the time being. It is not the right way of conducting public offices. You have the Minister put in the position of having to consider whether the service of a particular registrar is to be extended after the age of 65. I do not intend to delay the House on this amendment but I should like to bring these matters to the notice of the House. The county registrar at present is not, after all, a civil servant. He is there for the purpose of organising and arranging the business of the court. His position is rather similar to that of the Master of the High Court or the different taxing masters of the High Court. Their duties are very similar and all these officers retire at the age of 70. I would therefore urge that the retiring age of 70, that is already contemplated, since there is power to extend to 70, should be the statutory retiring age for county registrars. I think that if that were decided by the House it would be more consistent with the settled practice in connection with the holders of similar offices in the High Court and the Taxing Office. It would also end a practice which I think is objectionable in principle, that it is left in the power of the Minister to extend for a period of five years the service of these officers after they have reached the age of 65.

I am rather surprised to hear Deputy O'Higgins objecting to what he calls this doling out principle because unless I am mistaken, he supported a Bill brought in by the Minister about a year ago doling out extra years to district justices thereby reversing a decision of the whole House here when I brought in a Bill restricting the age to 65. I know the practice in regard to county registrars and I am quite prepared to agree that it is not a good one, but the present Government has brought in a Bill to continue that practice in the case of district justices. The very least we might expect from the Government is some consistency in a matter of this kind.

I remember at the time when we had a Bill before the House, the Labour Party, in particular, was very keen in regard to the principle of retiring public servants at 65. When speaking on this Bill before I threw out the suggestion that as the expectation of life has gone up, there is possibly a case for extending the retiring age in the case of civil servants also to 70, but only last year, not quite six months ago, although it was the practice up to then that a Land Commissioner should hold office up to the age of 72, by the same tenure as a Circuit Court judge, the age was reduced to 65. That drives me to the conclusion that there is something besides the mere question of principle involved in this amendment, that we are simply legislating for some personal reason. It looks very much like it. There may be some few particular people whom the Minister has in mind. I do not think that is a good line for the Government to adopt. They should have some consistent policy in this matter. I myself know civil servants who retired at the age of 65 and some of them have got two jobs at present. If civil servants who are quite capable of carrying on their work have to retire at 65, I do not see how the Government want to legislate to extend the retiring age in the case of certain other officials beyond 65.

I should like to correct the Deputy. This is not a Government amendment. I have not even accepted it.

I had the bad habit of acting as a member of a Party, each member of which was consistent in regard to the Party policy as a whole. I have not got used to the other thing yet and I do not know what the Minister's attitude is. That naturally was a trap into which I fell. If the Minister did not move this amendment one of his principal supporters did and, if it is carried, the Government will have to implement it. I do think there should be some consistency in the matter especially in view of the fact that the Government have brought a Bill, in one case in favour of the doling system to which Deputy O'Higgins referred. That was the case of the district justice. It is only from year to year that this can be done in the case of district justices, and the very same practice has obtained in the case of county registrars. On the other hand, when the Land Bill was passed, we reduced the retiring age of Land Commissioners from 72 to 65. Surely that is not consistent.

It is all right for the people you like. The other way can be followed for the people you do not like.

That is what it means. If you do not like certain people you retire them at 65, whereas if you do like them you can extend their service to the age of 70. If the Government accept this amendment they at least should consider applying it in cases of civil servants who are in good health and are capable of carrying on. They should consider whether it should not be applied to civil servants also.

I support the amendment moved by Deputy O'Higgins for slightly different reasons from those envisaged by the Deputy himself. I think I said on the occasion of the introduction of the legislation which was referred to by Deputy Boland, legislation in connection with district justices, that I objected to the principle of an extension from year to year. I suggested that a fixed date should be settled on, and that it should be left at that. I am sure, however, that Deputy Boland will agree with me that county registrars are in a slightly different category, because they are not recruited in the same way as civil servants. In the main, they are not recruited at the early age of civil servants. I should like to address Deputy Boland's mind to the real situation which arises in the case of county registrars. In the main, they are men of considerable experience. Usually, they have reached the age of 40 to 45 before they are appointed to what is a semi-judicial office. That is a particular facet of their case which I would like to press on the Minister. When they assume office they take upon themselves many activities which are on a parallel, as Deputy O'Higgins himself has suggested, with those discharged by a taxing master or the Master of the High Court. That is because they have these kind of problems to deal with. I would urge on the Minister that he should fix the retiring age in this case at 70. If he does, it will be consistent with the retiring age of Circuit Court judges, and with that odious piece of legislation which allows the retiring age of a district justice to be extended.

I feel that, in the case of this particular appointment, there is justification for the age limit being higher than the normal retiring age of a civil servant because, as I have said, the age of intake is completely different. The county registrar is the principal officer of the Circuit Court judge. Therefore, I think we ought to be consistent and make his retiring age 70. I have as deep seated an objection as Deputy Boland has to the making of any man a mendicant for an extension year after year.

It has been done by the present Government.

The Deputy will recollect that, on that occasion, I endeavoured to fix a year for retirement, and not to have this system of extension year after year. I think we should establish the principle of 70 years for judicial or semi-judicial appointments. I thoroughly agree with Deputy Boland that it is not a pleasant system to have whereby a man has to plead, or show cause, for an extension year after year. I suggest that we should fix a final date on which a man would have to retire.

I cannot accept the amendment. There are many points in its favour, but I cannot accept it. Deputy Boland put his finger on the key point, which is that the Minister is vested with the power to-day that he can push out a county registrar he does not like and can keep in a fellow that he does like.

Is that not a reason why the Minister should accept the amendment?

That is what the Minister has been saying.

What I said was that Deputy Boland has put his finger on the key point. I do not like that position. If you are going to change the policy of the Government, then, in my opinion, the thing would be to revert to 65 and take five years off him.

Have it consistent anyway.

This amendment has been put in by Deputy O'Higgins. I have not been able, positively, to make up my mind on the matter. I cannot accept it now, whatever I may do after giving it further consideration between this and the Report Stage.

Will the Minister consider it?

I will consider anything which any Deputy in this House puts up to me, whether it be Deputy Boland or Deputy O'Higgins. It is very important that, on anything like this, Deputies would use their rights to put down amendments. Even though that may not be the custom with other Parties, Deputy O'Higgins, who is supporting the Government, has exercised his constitutional right in this case to put down this amendment. There has been a case made for the amendment both inside and outside the House. I have no interest in it except one, and that is that I think it is very unfair, at the moment, that the Minister for Justice is authorised, with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, to give an extension to a man from year to year. On the District Court Bill, I pointed out that that was the existing situation then. In the case of the district justices I argue that I thought it would not be a new departure to do it. When I was arguing that you would do for the district justices what is being done under this, it was said that it was a new departure, and that it was contrary to all precedent to do such a thing. I think the Opposition was hardly fair. They challenged us for not doing it for one individual. I do not think that was fair. I have no objection to the Opposition using that argument. I regret that I cannot accept the amendment in the circumstances. I will have it examined and see what I can do.

It strikes me that the Minister has made every argument in favour of the amendment and then announces blandly that he is not going to accept it.

Deputy Boland made them for me.

It seems to me that the Minister himself is in agreement with the amendment but, for some reason, he has not been fully frank with the House, and says he cannot accept it. That would appear to show a weakness in the form of Government of which he is a member, and that some members of the Government are not inclined to extend the age of retirement generally in the Civil Service to 70. As Deputy Boland pointed out, it is time we came to a hard-and-fast rule with regard to the retiring age in the Civil Service generally.

As other speakers have pointed out, it is not a pleasant job for a Minister to grant an extra year's service between 65 and 70. The retiring age of a Circuit Court judge is 70 years. His job, if anything, is more exacting and takes more toll of a man's expectation of life than the job of a county registrar, even though the county registrar is a man with different titles and degrees. He is registrar of titles, registration officer for franchise purposes, taxing master and probate officer. If I had time to think of it, I am sure I could find a few other jobs that he has to do. Therefore, even though he is not appointed at as early an age as the average civil servant, after a certain number of years he becomes a highly qualified man in his own particular branch of administration. I think it is desirable therefore in the public interest generally that the services of a man of his capabilities and experience should not be dispensed with at the comparatively early age of 65. It has also been pointed out that, owing no doubt to the health policies of the two preceding Governments, the expectation of life has increased considerably. I think most insurance companies will admit that readily at the present time. Therefore, it is generally accepted that a man of 70 now is as good as a man of 65 was 15 or 20 years ago — certainly from the point of view of mental capacity.

There is another argument in favour of an extension of the age limit for a county registrar when it is compared with that of a judge from the point of view of duties. The county registrar has not to sit on the Bench, as the judge has, day in day out and come to quick decisions. He can take his time in his office. I suggest, therefore, that his expectation of life is thereby extended beyond that of the Circuit Court judge and, for consistency sake, I submit that the county registrar's age limit should be advanced to 70 in common with the age limit of other civil servants, no matter what their capacity.

I can agree with the arguments advanced in regard to this amendment, but I think it is high time that we had some general principle governing this matter. We deal in another section of the Bill with a particular officer, the City Sheriff of Dublin, and we make provisions whereby he may serve to the age of 72. This amendment deals with county registrars. We have had a lot of talk over a number of years in regard to judges, district justices and land commissioners. No matter whom we are discussing, the argument is always put up that, owing to better health services, people are able to act longer now in responsible positions. Of course that is all nonsense, because some individuals have always been able to exert their abilities much beyond 70 years of age. I think, however, that it is high time we discussed this from the general principle point of view. Are we to have 70 years as the retiring age or are we to have 65 as the retiring age? There are more people in the courts concerned than judges and county registrars. There are District Court clerks, chief clerks of the District Court, and many other officials who are as much entitled to have their service extended as a county registrar.

Instead of considering this amendment by itself, the Minister ought to consider it from the general principle of the court officers and bring in an amendment on the Report Stage which will govern the whole position. This method of dealing with it from year to year is unfair. There were some retirements from the position of county registrar not so very long ago. If this amendment had been law, these men might have been able to serve for a longer period. I do not know whether that is so or not.

Their service was extended up to the last minute, except in one or two cases some years ago.

If there has been a general practice of extending their services, that does support the amendment. I do not know why people are anxious to work as county registrars or as judges up to 70 years of age. If I were a judge I would like to retire at 65, and spend the other five years enjoying myself.

How long would you want to be a judge before that?

There is a serious matter that needs correction in regard to the length of time a judge has to serve before he becomes pensionable. That is another matter which requires consideration and I hope it will get it at some future date. There should, however, be no question of just keeping on a man for no other reason than that he should qualify for a bigger pension. That is a bad principle. I ask the Minister between this and the Report Stage to consider this matter in a general way and perhaps to bring in an amendment which will govern quite a large number of people other than county registrars. In a small country like this there ought to be a general desire to utilise the services of people as long as possible. In that way, the pensions bill would be reduced and that is a matter of some consideration for the State. I ask the Minister, if he is considering this, not to consider it just as an isolated matter affecting county registrars, but to consider it in a general way affecting court officers in all sections of the court service.

It appears to me that there is a general desire to have what is proposed in this amendment reconsidered before the Report Stage. But, as Captain Cowan said, it should not be confined to county registrars. We all know that district justices have to retire at 65, except those who officiate in the Gaeltacht. In the Courts of Justice Act, 1936, provision was made for the retention of district justices up to the age of 70 in the Gaeltacht. I understand that two years ago a change was made in the position relating to district justices and it was provided in the Bill then brought in that their service could be extended on a year to year basis. I think that is very undesirable. I consider it more or less an interference with the independence of district justices. It would be far better to have a definite legislative rule for the retention of these services. I would suggest that when the Minister is considering this amendment between now and Report Stage he would also consider the position of district justices.

This Bill does not refer to district justices at all.

Reference has been made to other court officials.

And the principle of retirement has been raised.

I suggest that if the principle can be debated in connection with county registrars it should be relevant to refer to other court officials also.

To make a case for district justices on this Bill is quite irrelevant. The Deputy can make a case for court officers but he cannot make a case for district justices.

I think I am entitled to point out the inconsistency in the matter.

The amendment is withdrawn subject to the Minister examining the matter.

I will have the matter examined as sympathetically as I can. I have my own view on it. The case has only recently been made to me and it has not been examined in the way in which I would like it to be examined. I will do the best I can between this and the Report Stage.

Taking district justices and so on into account?

District justices were raised by Deputy Moran. When I brought in the Bill extending district justices it was opposed by Fianna Fáil.

Is it not obvious that the Minister cannot change the position in relation to district justices under this Bill?

I was merely pointing out that particular lacuna in this provision. I thought the Minister was accepting it because it came from the Government Benches in the first instance, and I took it for granted that the Minister would not oppose it. I was pointing out that the practice in respect of county registrars had been introduced by him in the Courts of Justice Bill in respect of district justices and I thought it a very bad principle indeed because it meant that one could extend the period of service of a district justice if one liked, or put him out if one did not like him. I think that is a very bad practice particularly in relation to a person acting in a judicial capacity. It would be much better to fix a definite age limit in all these cases and not leave it to the Minister to decide. Why the Minister adopted that particular provision I do not know. I think there was a particular case in point at the time but I do not think the step should have been taken and the Minister ought to amend the provision.

I cannot understand the Minister's attitude at all. He has had this amendment before him for some time and he must have had ample opportunity of considering it in relation to the Bill. I cannot understand why he has not been able to make up his mind. He made one very important statement which, I suppose, represents Government policy; he said that it is the general practice to keep district justices on until they reach 70 years of age.

County registrars —not district justices.

With regard to district justices, we obviously cannot settle the position now. We cannot do anything about them under this Bill. The position is rather chaotic. I think the best thing now would be for him to accept the amendment and have done with it. He can then deal with the other cases arising.

On a point of order. Has not the amendment been withdrawn?

You must get permission from the Deputy.

There was no objection to that.

Until permission is given, the amendment is still before the House.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 2 agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 not moved.

The Chair has some difficulty in understanding what amendment No. 9 is about.

The Chair intimated that he was rather doubtful about this amendment, and was awaiting an explanation. I shall be frank. If I give you the explanation, you will do with this amendment what you did with the other amendments. Its acceptance would impose a charge. All I can say is that I am grateful for the amendment in the Minister's name because it does give us something saved from the wreck.

Amendment No. 9 not moved.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In sub-section (3), line 14, to insert "or otherwise" after "section".

Sub-section (3) of Section 3 provides for the payment of gratuities to whole-time clerks who may not obtain certificates of qualification or, in other words, may not secure pensionable status. It is not intended that a clerk should be eligible for a pension and at the same time for a gratuity under sub-section (3). A certificate of qualification may be obtained under sub-section (2) of the section, but it might also be obtained under the Civil Service Regulation Acts as, for example, in the case of a clerk who is at present part-time but may be successful in a year or two in a competition held by the Civil Service Commissioners for a whole-time post. As the section stands it is conceivable that such a clerk, being a person to whom in accordance with paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) the section applies, could claim a gratuity under sub-section (3) as he had not obtained his certificate under sub-section (2) and, in order to remove any possible doubt on this point, the amendment proposes to insert the words "or otherwise" after the word "section" in the fourth line of sub-section (3).

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14 not moved.

I move amendment No. 15:—

To add the following sub-section:

(4) As, on and from the passing of this Act, the officer in charge of any District Court office shall be known as the District Court registrar, and all previous enactments shall be deemed to be adapted accordingly.

This is a simple amendment which the Minister should have no difficulty in accepting. The purpose of the amendment might at first sight appear to be vague. The Minister might say that there is no purpose in it and that it does not matter whether one calls the officer in question a District Court clerk or a registrar. The word "clerk" as applied to the person who sits under a judge or a justice, is, in the first instance, a relic of the old British days. For that reason alone, without any other, it is time it was abolished. Secondly, the work of the clerk of a District Court has increased considerably and will increase as a result of the passing of the Criminal Justice Bill. There is also the suggestion that by the use of the word "clerk" the position of head of a District Court office, possibly, would be demeaned to some extent. For these reasons, I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.

I could not accept it at this stage. I will examine it and see what I can do on a later stage.

I cannot see any reason why the Minister would not accept this amendment.

The Minister does see a reason.

It is purely a change of title. I think the case advanced by Deputy Lynch should appeal to the Minister. "Clerk" is an invidious title to give a man who, in the District Court, acts in the same capacity as a county court registrar under a county court judge. I do not see why the court officer should not be known as the District Court registrar.

There is a registrar to the Circuit Court, a registrar to the High Court, a registrar to the Supreme Court. Even in the Land Commission Court, there is a registrar. There is a registrar to the lay commissioners. The only officer that seems to be singled out for the title "clerk" is the District Court clerk. From the point of view of uniformity alone, why not call the officer who performs these functions a registrar?

I think there is also a registrar in the patents office.

I do not know that there is this desire on the part of the officials. I take it, as Deputy Lynch has put down the amendment, that it has been put forward by the court officials. There may be something to be said for uniformity from the Supreme Court registrar down to the District Court registrar, but I do not think there is anything obnoxious in the title "clerk". I think "clerk" has a particular distinction of its own and even in this House that particular designation cannot be considered as being objectionable. I can see simple cases in regard to it. I can see difficult cases. In the district courts throughout the country, I do not suppose there need be any difficulty. I can see some difficulty arising in the Dublin District Court, as there would have to be a chief registrar, a deputy chief registrar and perhaps other degrees of registrar.

I do not think that District Court clerks have any objection to that title. I do not know that they will be very keen on getting what is considered the more important title of "registrar". As I understand, they want their work recognised, not in the title they get, but in the amount of salary that goes into their pockets. I think that is what they are mainly concerned about. As far as most of us in this House are concerned, I think that, in so far as we can press the Minister, we should press him to put more money into their pockets and not to bother about the title that they are to get.

Arising out of what Deputy Cowan says with regard to the attitude of District Court clerks to a change of name, I can assure the House and the Minister that the District Court Clerks' Association is keenly interested in a change from "District Court clerk" to "District Court registrar". In fact, they are rather surprised that the name "District Court clerk" was ever applied. Probably it derived from the Petty Sessions clerk, as such officers were called under English rule. A clerk may be regarded as somebody who is under direct supervision or jurisdiction but, so far as I can see, the District Court clerks are independent of such supervision. To some extent, they are under the supervision of the Minister, but they are not under the supervision of a district justice. In very many cases the district justice sees the District Court clerk only when he comes to court. Many district justices live in the City of Dublin. I think these officers should be given their correct title of registrar and that that title should continue up to the Supreme Court. I want to assure the Minister and the House that their organisation is keenly interested in a change of name.

Deputy Cowan has asked us to examine a most important point in reference to this amendment. It is often the case that a change of title is not sufficient to change the duties of the officer concerned. In some cases—and it could be in this case —a change of title might carry with it, in time, if not immediately, an increase in responsibility, an increase in duties, a raising of prestige and, naturally flowing from these, an increase in emoluments. Personally speaking, I should imagine that the organisation concerned would rather adhere to the good old title "clerk". The title "registrar" is a very modern innovation. "Clerk" is an historical title. It goes back to the early days of our history. I think it is a more dignified title.

The assumption of the modern term registrar will enable any additional increment or increase in salary to accrue in time to these officers. If it makes that desirable state of affairs easier, if, in other words, the Minister or the Department of Finance or the Dáil will look with greater favour upon a body of its servants because they are called registrars than if they are called clerks, then of course we should champion this amendment.

The Minister, however, does not think, like Shakespeare, that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; he prefers to keep the clerks as clerks and thereby carry on the tradition that has obtained from the time of the clerks of the First Dáil, the clerks of these courts under the First Dáil, the clerks of the parish courts, the clerks set up by the Provisional Government, and all the other clerks who were appointed. Against that argument it has been stated that most of the courts in existence have their officials known as registrars, from the Supreme Court down, and that it is a modern custom. Even when we set up the military tribunal we had a registrar at that tribunal and I am sure his actions and functions did not smell any sweeter because he was called a registrar instead of a clerk.

Be that as it may, while we think the title of clerk is a good and sufficient title for the work and merits as much recognition as any other title, yet if the organisation concerned sees any point in having the name changed to that of registrar, then we would press the Minister to give some cognisance to this desire of the organisation and to read into it whatever they think should be read into it, and we can hear from him about it on a further stage.

Contrary to what Deputy Connolly has said, the use of the word registrar is not as recent as he suggests. The persons who acted in the capacity of Clerks of the Dáil courts were known as registrars, so if the Minister is looking for a precedent for naming a District Court clerk as registrar he can find it there. I do not want to go through the various duties of a clerk of the District Court. I think most Deputies know that the clerk is already a registrar in at least one respect, inasmuch as he is a registrar of clubs. I ask the Minister to adopt what was recognised under the old Dáil courts and extend the title of the man in charge of the office and let him be known as registrar of the District Court, which will cover all his duties.

I might add, in reply to Deputy Cowan and Deputy Connolly, that this amendment is put forward with the full approval of the District Court Clerks' Association, the members of which are keenly desirous that the Minister and the House will accept it. After all, if the men concerned want to be called by this name it is only fair we should listen to them. I have no desire to belittle the use of the title clerk. We all know that the Clerk of this House is by name, nature and title a host in himself.

I have told the House that I am prepared to consider this. I have had some information that it is not just as simple as it looks. There is an object somewhere that I have to have examined and I cannot accept this until I have that examination made.

Think of an Irish title.

I was thinking of that myself.

Major de Valera

There seems to be a controversy as to the merits of the two names. To reinforce Deputy Lynch, when he says there is nothing derogatory about the title of clerk, I would like to mention that if my recollection serves me the officials in the old courts in the country were called clerks. For instance, there was the Clerk of the Crown and Hanover—but that may be an association people want to get away from and there may be nothing in that. Quite frankly, I do not see why the Minister could not accept Deputy Lynch's amendment.

Is amendment No. 15 being withdrawn?

There is a distinction between withdrawing and not moving.

This amendment has been moved and discussed.

Can I re-enter it?

If I do not put it in on the Report Stage, you can.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 3, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

When the Second Reading was on I was unaware that the treatment meted out to the Circuit Court clerks is entirely different from what is proposed for the District Court clerks. I put down an amendment but, as it was imposing a charge, it was ruled out. The Bill was presented before those concerned got a chance of studying it and therefore they did not make their case. I was amazed to find in the provisions, which appeared to me to be fairly satisfactory, that serving District Court clerks can have their previous services counted for pension purposes while in the case of the Circuit Court clerks they get it only from the date on which they are established. That is very bad. I was told that arrangement was made when I was Minister. Even so, it is a bad arrangement. The Minister has made much better provision for these other clerks. I ask the Minister to place both types of clerks on the same basis. He could do that on the Report Stage.

Every Deputy is aware of the trouble we have had from the clerks on both sides. As long as I have been here we have been canvassed by these clerks, and I think rightly so, because they have a case. If we are to have this discrepancy in treatment, it is a very serious matter. I ask the Minister to reconsider the whole thing and not have two separate systems. I was surprised to find such a big discrepancy in the scale of pay. There are seven grades of District Court clerks and there is only one grade of Circuit Court clerks—that is, if the information given to us is correct. What I was shown last week by some Circuit Court clerks was that the maximum they can attain is only equal to the maximum that the lowest grade in the District Court can rise to. If that is the case there is something wrong. I am not a legal man, but I imagine the legal people here will agree with me that the Circuit Court clerks are at least as important a body as the District Court clerks. The Minister should make some effort between this and the Report Stage to settle the whole thing and deal fairly with both sides.

I want to direct the Minister's attention particularly to the certificate of qualification. The numbers involved are small. There are a number of clerks in the District Court who might be rightly described as the pioneers of the District Court. They are the gentlemen who took over from the clerks of the old petty sessions. Apparently their service is rated as part-time service. When the Minister is considering the issuing of the service of qualification in relation to this limited number who did that pioneer work, I urge him to consider the possibility of having that service, though it was mainly part-time service, regarded as full-time service. I move to report progress.

Progress reported, the Committee to sit again.