Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 29 Mar 1955

Vol. 149 No. 6

Committee on Finance. - City and County Management (Amendment) Bill, 1954—Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:—
Before Section 5 to insert a new section as follows:—
Section 2 of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926, is hereby amended by the addition of the following paragraph to subsection (1):
"(d) rate collectors."—(Deputies McQuillan and Sheldon.)

We were discussing amendment No. 5 with amendments Nos. 6 and 31 and something of a difficulty arose by reason of the fact that amendment No. 31 apparently cannot be taken at this stage. I was rather hopeful that some procedure could be found whereby we could have a clear-cut vote on the issue whether or not the rate collectors should continue to be appointed by the county councils and that the question of whether they should be appointed through the Local Appointments Commissioners or through an appointments board set up by the county manager could be left over until we had decided the main issue, first of all, of whether or not the House wants to continue the present system whereby they are appointed directly by the county councils.

I do not want to repeat in detail the views that I expressed the other day on these amendments but I would like to appeal seriously to the Minister to reconsider the whole position. There is no doubt about it that in many cases these appointments are done on a political basis and in many cases methods amounting to near bribery are used by candidates in order to try to secure appointment as rate collectors. It does seem certainly incompatible with the general policy adopted in regard to local authorities that we should still fasten that liability on members of local councils.

I know that the Minister has told us that he has obtained the views of a number of councils and that they for the most part expressed themselves in favour of continuing the present system of appointment. Those views were obtained by the Minister in private consultation with a few members of the county councils. I doubt very much whether, if the matter were thrashed out publicly at a local meeting, any county councillor would dare to stand up and defend the system which is at present in operation. Therefore, I do not place very much weight on the fact that selected representatives from county councils have privately informed the Minister that they wish to retain the power of appointing rate collectors. I feel that if the matter were discussed publicly in the local county councils they would realise that the force of public opinion outside is against this system. Logically, there can be little or no justification for it.

All the other appointments are made either by boards selected by the county manager or through the Local Appointments Commission. Why this particular system of political patronage should be retained in regard to the appointment of rate collectors is hard to see. I would ask the Minister to reconsider the position. I am glad that he has agreed to leave the question to a free vote of the House and I hope that the members of the different Parties will act independently.

I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy. Will the Deputy clarify what I decided to leave to a free vote of the House?

I think what the Minister said was that he was prepared to leave amendment No. 31 to a free vote of the House.

That is quite right, provided amendments Nos. 5 and 6 were withdrawn.

Is that quite correct?

I am afraid there has been a misunderstanding. I took it to be that amendments Nos. 5 and 6 were being withdrawn, at least, one of them.

If the Minister would agree that what is really desired is a vote on the main question——

Whether it should be reserved or executive?

That is right.

I quite agree.

The method of appointment then could be discussed probably on Report Stage.

It could be done by regulation. There would be no necessity for amendments Nos. 5 and 6, if we could get the views of the House on the broad question whether it should be a reserved or executive function. If we get the views of the House on that by way of a free vote, then I would give an undertaking to amend by regulation, to comply with what is expressed or, rather, even consult with the Deputies before Report Stage and see if we could come to some agreement on the matter.

That would be the ideal way of dealing with the position. There is one practical difficulty at the moment. I understand that some Deputies are totally against the idea of the Appointments Commission while other Deputies are totally opposed to the idea of an appointments board——

Again, if I may interrupt—the Deputy will appreciate that I do not wish to interrupt—if we had the view of the House on this broad principle, whether it should be an executive or reserved function, it might be possible for me on Report Stage or for some of the Deputies to bring in an amendment on which we could test the views of the House.

That would be ideal, yes.

I am only anxious to get the views of the House. I have given you my point of view. I have given you the point of view of the local authorities I consulted. I will leave it to the free vote of the House. I cannot do more than that. If amendments Nos. 5 and 6 were withdrawn it might be possible, having tested the view of the House, to come back on Report Stage, provided the House decides now that it should be an executive function.

Possibly the simplest way of doing it would be to take a free vote of the House on either amendment No. 5 or 6. Take the vote on one of these amendments so that the view of the House could be obtained on the broad question.

I thought it was on 31 that we were taking the free vote of the House. I will tell you what I am prepared to do. The Deputies here are over-suspicious. I am prepared to take a free vote of the House on the three amendments. Can I do any more than that? I want to make no political capital out of this thing. I want to get the views of the House.

There is no suggestion.

There was a suggestion—not from your side of the House.

The Minister is being absolutely fair, and I believe he should be praised for leaving this question to a free vote of the House. I am sorry that he did not feel inclined to accept our amendment.

There was no suggestion——

If Deputy Cunningham says there was no suggestion I will accept it.

I laughed at the misunderstanding, but there was no suggestion.

I am prepared to leave the three amendments to a free vote of the House.

I am sorry there were so few Deputies in the House to bother to listen to the arguments for or against these amendments because I imagine when the division bell rings they will not know very much about what they are voting for.

I presume they read the reports of last week's debate.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present,

My objection to the amendments, to be quite frank about it, is that they would take away power from the county councils. For instance, they would take from the Cork County Council the power which they are exercising at the moment of refusing to appoint a rate collector when a vacancy arises; the Cork County Council allows a central office to do the collection. That is the trouble with all three amendments—that they take completely that power away from the county councils, and that is a power which any body of sensible men would like to exercise at the moment in regard to rate collections.

I pointed out here previously that in Cork, by resolution, when a rate collecting area becomes vacant it is handed over to the office for collection and by that means we save, roughly, something between 2d. and 3d. in the £. Collection through the office costs something between 2d. and 3½d. and collection through a rate collector costs 7d. in the £. That is a saving in a period when, to my mind, every possible saving should be made for the benefit of the ratepayers.

As I said, that is the only difficulty I had with the amendments. The three amendments completely hand over the power from the local authority of doing what the Cork County Council has done with consequent savings to the ratepayers. That is my objection to all three. There is, therefore, no hope of my supporting the three amendments as they are at present. God knows, I have seen rate collectors enough appointed and rate collectors enough sacked in my time, but in this particular system I think the Minister would be wise if he put something into this Bill that would allow county councils all over the country to have rate collections made through offices.

We could not do that under the City and County Management (Amendment) Bill.

Under the Local Government Bill?

Yes, it could be done in that way.

Under such a system a saving could be made to the ratepayers. If it is feasible, as it undoubtedly is, to collect the land annuities through an office here in Dublin it should be equally feasible for a local authority to set up an office——

That does not apply on this measure at all.

I have given the reasons why I cannot support the amendments —it is because they take completely away the power from the local authorities of doing what the Cork County Council has been doing.

The Deputy has said that three times.

That is all I wish to say.

On the point made by Deputy Corry there I should like to clarify the position. These amendments, to my reading anyway, do not mean that it is essential for a local authority to appoint rate collectors, but where rate collectors are being appointed, under these amendments the local authority must take certain steps in connection with the appointments. There is nothing mandatory under these amendments to force a local authority to appoint rate collectors at all, and I am in perfect agreement with Deputy Corry's views that it would be a much more desirable thing altogether if we could get general agreement that collections would be made under the system at present in operation in Cork. But it is unfortunate that it will be impossible to get agreement in this House that such a system would be accepted by all local authorities. However, the safeguard is there for Deputy Corry and for others who think like him, and I am in full agreement with Deputy Corry. The safeguard is there for local authorities who wish to avail themselves of it—that the collections may be made through central offices and the question of forcing them to make appointments of rate collectors does not enter into it at all.

I wish again to express my personal thanks to the Minister for the way he has met the whole problem here to-night and the other evening. It is a breath of fresh air in the House to have things discussed on their merits and it is very heartening to think that important matters are left to individual Deputies to exercise their own discretion without their being subject to Party whips all the time. It is a welcome innovation in this House. The Minister has suggested in the debate which took place last week on this question that if the appointments were made by the Local Appointments Commission it would mean that all minor appointments would be made by the commission as well.

I think that could be remedied. Two of the amendments, particularly amendment No. 5, are very loosely worded but they seek to ensure that if it is considered desirable by this House, very minor appointments can be made by a local board. But where juicy plums, as I will describe rate collectors' jobs, exist they could not be described as minor appointments. It cannot be denied that to-day there are rate collectors in receipt of between £600 and £800 a year and that is no minor appointment. We should exercise great caution in the means of appointing individuals to responsible and remunerative posts such as these.

There are Deputies on all sides of this House who can say in all sincerity that they are satisfied themselves with the system in operation in their own local authorities, where possibly a first-class interview board is set up, but the difficulty is that some local authorities do not decide to set up these interview boards. What I want to see established is a general system. It does not matter to me whether it is the Local Appointments Commission or a board set up under the Managerial Act that makes the appointments as long as they are taken out of the political arena. The two amendments that are here in my name were put down for the sole purpose of ensuring that the best candidates would be selected to fill these posts.

The Minister mentioned here to Deputy MacBride the alternative of leaving appointments as a reserved function of the county council or as an executive function. I understand that an executive function would mean that the appointment could be made by the Local Appointments Commission apart from using the means of a board set up by the county manager.

Regulations could be made governing either, that is, providing the Local Government Bill, which will be discussed in the Seanad tomorrow, goes through.

I can assure the Minister I have no intention of delaying him on this. I want to ensure that when this matter goes to a free vote of the House all Deputies are clear in their own mind that what is being decided is whether the appointment of rate collectors is going to be left as it is at the moment, to the individual county councils where in nine cases out of ten the appointments will be made on political pull, or if it is going to be on the basis of his efficiency and general suitability for the position. That is what the House is going to decide in this free vote.

I listened very carefully to the discussion on these amendments and I would like to say initially that I am all one with Deputy McQuillan when he seeks to have the appointment of rate collectors taken away from elected representatives whether they are county councillors, town commissioners or corporation members. I feel it is high time that any possibility of patronage by elected political representatives should be removed from these bodies.

I, fortunately, in my capacity as a member of Dublin Corporation, do not come across this difficulty very much, but even in a small way I have observed down the years that where a position is to be filled by direct vote, whether it is in the corporation or a county council or some other elected body, the members of these bodies immediately become subject to all kinds of pressure, pressure from the ordinary canvassing of candidates themselves, the canvassing of their friends, or maybe political pressure of one kind or another. Consequently, let me say very briefly that I think this House would do a good day's work if, as regards the appointment of rate collectors, some other system than the present one was introduced.

Therefore, as this matter is very wisely being left by the Minister to a free vote of the House, I would like to indicate as an individual Deputy that I intend to support the amendment which seeks to remove the appointment of rate collectors from the position of being a reserved function.

When that is done, as I hope it will be done, we may find ourselves in some difficulty. In this House and elsewhere I have expressed some very grave doubts as to the question of whether many posts should be filled by local appointments commissioners. I think posts in local government service, in county councils and particularly in services like the Dublin Corporation——

Dublin Corporation do not like sending very many appointments to the Appointments Commission.

I am saying that. I think provision can be made to give due reward to the people who serve on these bodies. It has been mentioned before, and I am sure it will be mentioned again, that people who enter service in public bodies and give long years of loyal and conscientious service feel that they are entitled to promotion when vacancies occur not in positions where there are plums but in posts where there is responsibility and some reward for long service. Therefore, I may find myself in some difficulty because of amendments Nos. 5 and 6. However, there appears to be this particular choice, that at least there is some hope of persuading the Minister to deal with the filling of the vacancies on some agreed and reasonable basis. But there is no hope of doing that as long as this House says that the appointment should be a reserved function.

It seems, first of all, we have the difficulty of tying one knot and possibly tying another one which we subsequently have to loosen. However, I am supporting amendment No. 31. I am also supporting the other amendments, Nos 5 and 6, because I think what, in effect, they do is to set down what would really be the effect of removing the appointment of rate collectors from the elected members. I think—the Minister might correct me if I am wrong—that once you remove the appointment of rate collectors from the elected members, there has to be some other system of appointment.

It would become an executive function.

Exactly. That is actually contained, generally speaking, in these two amendments Nos. 5 and 6. In conclusion, may I say I do not know whether there are any other posts of this nature left in the county councils or elsewhere? If this is the last one, I think it is a good day's work to see that this post is filled either by way of merit, by way of ability or by reference to service, but at least not as a result of political patronage and that only.

I suppose as elected politicians all of us here consider it our right to take away minor functions from any set of elected politicians down the country if we can do so, we being the superior body of elected politicians who, through political patronage, found our seats in this House. People are canvassed, and their doors are knocked on 100 times during an election campaign, more often than the door of a county councillor would be knocked on to elect a rate collector. We find ourselves in this House endeavouring to decide how rates shall be collected, and whether or not we shall take away from the elected representatives the bit of power they have. The Minister, or his predecessor, has not come here and told us that there were abuses or weaknesses in the system, and that it should be changed.

I am sure that the Minister for Local Government, if advised, would feel that that was so, and on the first opportunity—he had an opportunity recently on the Local Government Bill and he has one under this Bill—tell the House that he felt the law should be changed in the matter of appointing rate collectors. A person coming here for the first time and listening to us politicians talking about political patronage, and about the wiles and ills of politics up and down the country, would think that none of us ever heard of a politician before.

There are two systems in operation at the moment by which a county council can appoint rate collectors. They can be appointed either by direct vote of the county council or, if the council so wishes, they can be appointed by the Local Appointments Commission or the selection board. That power is there at the moment. The county councils, if they so desire, can suggest that they wish the rate collectors appointed by the selection board, or appointed by the direct vote of the council.

There are three systems by which rates can be collected, and the third is a postal system. By a free vote, they can opt to have whichever of the three systems they choose. No amendment of the law is required. We have the three systems in operation in this country. We had the system in operation, I think, in County Kerry for a number of years, where all the rates were collected through the post. That system broke down completely, with the result that, as regards rate collection, chaos reigned in that county. The county manager was advised to revert to the collection of rates by rate collectors. Kerry County Council did that. Cork County Council adopted the system of collecting rates by post and, according to Deputy MacCarthy, they find that the system is working satisfactorily.

It was pointed out on the last occasion that they were operating all three systems at the moment, and had a big number of rate collectors who were appointed by the direct vote of the council. The postal system was working well; otherwise I think Corkmen would not tolerate it. Rate collectors are doing their work well. It is suggested here by some members that there is bound to be abuse because of political influence. That is all nonsense. It comes very badly from politicians. They all have political views one way or the other. Let us hope so. No man can tell me he is not interested in politics. I have said it before, and I say it again, that he is not a person at all who has not some view on public affairs, on political Parties, and all the rest of it. Whatever way they are elected, they are elected through an independent vote, before the Press and the public, and each and every member of the council casts his vote in whatever direction he desires. There is no doubt about it. It is as free as any vote we take here; in fact, much freer.

The Minister has suggested that he will leave this matter to a free vote of the House. When that comes from the Government Benches we know what it always means. We are long enough here to know that. It means a free vote of his own Party and the free vote of the Parties supporting the Government.

Would that mean a free vote by Fianna Fáil?

It means a free vote of the Deputies supporting the Government or the Deputies keeping the Government in power. That is exactly what a free vote is.

Was there ever a free vote under Fianna Fáil?

There was, several times. I am not objecting in the least to a free vote.

Will you leave this to a free vote of the House?

Deputy MacBride or any other Deputy can vote in any direction he likes on this matter. The Minister is allowing the other groups to do this, too. He has, in fact, announced that in the House, whether the vote is against him or not.

It is true democracy.

There is no doubt about it. There is nothing wrong with it. I am not objecting to it in the least. Anybody should vote any way he wishes in this matter.

Will Fianna Fáil do it?

You look after your own little pigeons, and Fianna Fáil will look after themselves. If the members supporting the Government wish to vote otherwise, the Minister is not looking upon this as a vote of confidence. There will be many votes taken throughout the lifetime of this Dáil, and they will not all be free votes.

Would the Deputy deal with the merits and demerits of the three amendments?

We spent three and a half hours on the last occasion discussing them. I was not influenced by anything I heard against the system. This Bill, as I said before, was introduced by the Minister for Local Government to give back some powers to members of local authorities under the Management Act. It is now suggested that we will have a free vote on this one question of whether it will be reserved to the local authority to decide in the selection of a rate collector or whether it will be an executive function, that is, a function whereby the rate collectors will be selected through the managerial machine. That is what it amounts to, nothing else. Instead of giving them back powers, the members of Dáil Éireann are discussing whether they should take this power from local authorities: they are discussing whether they should further restrict the powers of local authorities or not. I have not read the heading of the Bill but I wonder whether or not it is a Bill to give back more power to the local authorities.

In his opening statement, the Minister said he proposed to give back and improve the powers which local authorities possessed. The members of Dáil Éireann are setting out to restrict the powers. There has been no proof and no Deputy has suggested that there has been corruption or serious abuse or that any responsible Minister for Local Government could be influenced. Nobody has said that the system is bad or that there is anything wrong with it. I am a member of a local authority and the group to which I belong in that local authority do not represent the majority there. Within the past couple of years we have had to make a number of appointments and these appointments were made by the groups that formed the majority on that council.

On what basis?

On the absolutely open vote of the members of the county council. I should much prefer to see that system in operation than to have a system of selection in secret.

Do politics enter into it?

I hope that any person selected by the Local Appointments Commission, by the local selection board or by the county council will be independent enough to have political views, whatever they may be. Is it the desire that only Simon Pures should be selected? Is it the desire that only people who hold no political views whatsoever will be selected by, for instance, the Local Appointments Commission? The Local Appointments Commission make their selection behind closed doors and the local selection board will make their selection behind closed doors. Two or three individuals will determine every selection. There is no doubt about that. Whatever their views, each and every one of them will be politicians.

It is foolish to think that this earth is a bit of heaven and that everything will be done according to the rules and as it would be done in heaven. That does not happen on earth. We are all earthly individuals and, while we remain so, we will make earthly selections according to our own views. In my opinion, the county council who make their selection by way of open vote will make fewer mistakes than the Local Appointments Commission or the local selection board. The county council is composed of men and women drawn from all walks of life in their particular county. They will make fewer mistakes than would be made under any other system.

I think that, almost without exception, every one of the rate collectors who have been selected in Ireland in the past 20 years has given good service in the respective counties. If there have been exceptions, they are few and far between. These rate collectors have given very satisfactory service, no matter what political views they may hold. They are members of the community in their own county— the Offaly man, the Longford man, the Wexford man, and so forth. I assert that not a single one of these people would have got the appointment through the Local Appointments Commission. Consider the position of a farmer's son or a working man's son who attended the national school up to sixth standard. We all know the good education that is given in the national school, and we all know that these people are quite qualified to collect rates. However, if the system were changed not one of these men would be earning £400, £500 or £600 per annum in his own county.

We know well the types of people a local selection board or the Local Appointments Commission would get: they would get first class people, estimable in their own way. They would get careerists who have studied and trained with a view to getting these non-technical posts. All that is necessary for these posts is an ordinary education and to know the people you will be working amongst so that you can press a person whom you know is well-off to pay his rates within the required period and, on the other hand, ease off where, for instance, you know an unfortunate person is down on his luck. These rate collectors are natives of the county they work in. I believe the present system is good and I am convinced Dáil Éireann would be very foolish to depart from it.

I have not detained this House by making a speech for quite a while, but I could not allow this opportunity to pass without making my contribution, small and all as it may be, to this very important debate.

Listening to Deputy Allen and other Deputies who made reference to politicians and to politics, one would be inclined to think that there was no such thing as an honest person in politics or that a politician could not be honest. I am a politician and I am very proud to be a politician. I believe it is a very great calling and it is a calling of which we can be proud. What greater honour can be bestowed upon a person than to be elected to our Parliament by people who have confidence in us and who trust us to do our job here? For these reasons I feel that sometimes when we refer to politics and to politicians we are inclined to bring a very high profession very low and that, instead of trying to belittle the profession, we should endeavour to boast of it and to be proud of it.

The matter of the appointment of rate collectors is very important. I have been associated with a local authority for 14 years. At every meeting of that local authority some county councillor has remarked that they were wasting their time attending county council meetings as they had no power or authority except the striking of the rate and the appointment of rate collectors. Here, we have three amendments asking this House to take away from the elected representatives of the people the power to appoint rate collectors. I was present at many a meeting of the local authority of which I have the honour to be a member and I have voted on the appointment of rate collectors. I have voted for Fianna Fáil nominees and Fianna Fáil nominees have voted for Fine Gael nominees. There may be isolated cases. Every county in Ireland is not like Galway so far as the political framework there is concerned. We have many local authorities who are prepared to come together—Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour—and, when appointments such as this are to be made, they will appoint the person best entitled to the job and the best qualified.

One of these amendments asks that the appointment of rate collectors be left to the Local Appointments Commission. If the Local Appointments Commission had the appointing of the Deputies of Dáil Éireann I say that 75 or 80 per cent. of us would not be here and, in the event of the Local Appointments Commission having the appointment of rate collectors, I expect they would require applicants to have a university degree, a very good knowledge of the Irish language and, generally, very high educational qualifications. The result would be that the labouring man's son down the country—who would not have high educational qualifications but who would be looked upon by the people in general as very honest and very suitable for the post—would not have a hope of being appointed a rate collector.

If, as one amendment asks, this House agrees that the county manager will appoint the rate collector, it must be borne in mind and admitted by every Deputy that you have politically-minded county managers as well. It must be borne in mind by all Parties and it must be admitted that whatever the political mind of the county managers—and more than half of the county managers are politically-minded —if county managers set up the board to appoint rate collectors, they will put nominees on the board of their own, that is of their own way of thinking, their own colleagues, their own friends; and those people on the interview board will favour and appoint whomever the county manager tells them to appoint. Everybody knows, over the past 14 years, ever since the County Management Act became law, of instances such as that.

Deputies would be well advised to examine the duties that must be performed by a rate collector. He must collect the rates. He has the power and the authority to give time to unfortunate people who may not be able to meet moieties when they become due. The county manager has not that power; the county council as a body has not that power; but the rate collector himself can use his own discretion in giving time to a ratepayer. He will press for the collection of rates on a particular day as they become due, but if he does not like, he need not. The rate collector has another very important function—he can levy, he can seize, he can seize the last four-legged beast from some unfortunate person, in spite of his difficulties, the sickness, the bad weather and failure of the crops or other difficulties which may arise whereby he cannot meet his rates. A local rate collector will not do that, but if the appointment is made by the Local Appointments Commission and someone is appointed who has not an intimate knowledge of the local conditions, the financial circumstances of the ratepayer and the general financial conditions of all the ratepayers in his area, it would lead to very serious criticism by the local authority.

The rate collector has more power than that—he assists in the compiling of the register of electors. Assuming for a moment that in a country district you have an appointment made by the Local Appointments Commission, of someone who has not an intimate knowledge of the district, he can only compile the register on information passed on to him from somebody else. The collection of rates, the granting of time to unfortunate people who cannot meet their rates on the appointed day, the making out of the Electors List and the right to seize and levy, are very important functions held by rate collectors. It is most important that the right type of person should be chosen. There is no local collector who —when he comes, as one of the ordinary ratepayers himself, from a working-class family, who has an intimate knowledge of his friends and neighbours in the area—who is going to have recourse to the drastic action that a rate collector can take.

Therefore, I think this House would be very unwise to have rate collectors appointed by the commission. We do not know who they are. They may be politically-minded, for all we know. We do not know the inside workings of the commission. We have experience of many cases where accountants were appointed, secretaries of county councils, county medical officers, assistant medical officers of health, and where resolutions of protest were sent to the Department, because the local authority were of opinion that the wrong person had been appointed. It may or may not have been that the best qualified persons secured appointment by the commission, but it did not meet with the wishes of the elected representatives of the people in that area.

On the whole, this is a Bill to give back powers to the local authority, and this amendment is going the wrong way about it. It is killing the purpose for which the Bill was brought before the House. The only fault I find is that greater and wider powers are not given in it to local authorities and that the Local Appointments Commission and the county manager are not being deprived of making other important appointments which they can make at present. However, this House to-night will deal with rate collectors. Let us hope and trust that, in the wisdom of this House, the appointment of rate collectors will not be handed over either to the commission or to the county manager. We know very well that 90 per cent. of the appointments made by the county manager are most unsatisfactory and are the subject of criticism by local authorities.

On this question of men being appointed rate collectors because they are Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Labour, that is all ballyhoo. It may be so in a particular case where a political Party has a very large majority on a council, but there are very few councils in Ireland to-day where one Party has a complete majority. It would be very unwise of Deputies supporting the Government to give this authority now to the Local Appointments Commission or to the county manager, when for over 20 years the Opposition has enjoyed the benefit of such appointments.

I am not afraid to stand up in this House—I have always voted according to my conscience—as a member of the Party to which I now have the honour to belong, and to say here that in so far as the appointment of rate collectors in County Laois is concerned, we always considered first the financial circumstances of the applicant. I am glad to say, and I hope it will continue, that the last thing to be considered was his political outlook or Party affiliations. If the county manager had the appointment—and there are Deputies in the House who know that to be a fact—in cases where you have politically-minded managers, and that is over half of them, the first consideration would be the political outlook of the applicant. Therefore, I hope this House will reject these amendments and that the majority of the House will favour the retention by the local authority of this very important function, the making of these very important appointments of rate collectors.

We should not forget that the majority of local authorities are comprised of decent men, businessmen, farmers, professional people and labouring and working-class people, who know their job. In the case of an important appointment such as this, which they have had and which they hold, it would be wrong for this House to deprive them of the making of future appointments of rate collectors. I hope all Deputies will realise that it would be dishonest to deprive a local authority of that power. We know who the local authorities are who would be making these appointments. As Deputy Allen pointed out —I do not often agree with him, but he is right when he said it—the vote is open, the vote is public. In the case of an appointment by the Local Appointments Commission, no one knows what is going on, what is the consideration or the qualifications to be considered of the respective applicants. We do know at a county council meeting that the vote is open and public. It is the most democratic way in which the important appointment of a rate collector can be made.

I am certainly going to vote against these amendments, as I do not believe they are honest. I am going to vote against them because they are going to deprive me of certain powers and authority I have as a county councillor. I am going to see, in so far as my rights as a Deputy are concerned, that I am not going to be deprived of the right I hold to participate in the appointment of a rate collector in my own county or constituency. Therefore, I hope the House will reject these amendments and ensure that this important function, one of two which county councils have—the striking of the rate and the appointment of rate collectors—is preserved for local authorities.

It is curious, if one stops to think of it, how very short is the time one has to look back to come to the day when everybody in Ireland deplored the entry of Party politics into local government. I am not very long on the county council myself, but, when I got on it, everybody was deploring the entry of Party politics into local government and the way they were bedevilling the administration of county councils. Ideally, a county council is a management committee running the business of the county. Practically all the business that comes before a council can have no Party significance and I think that, when Deputies talk here about politics and politicians, they mean that there is nothing wrong with politics and politicians, but when it comes to Party politicians some of us do take leave to question whether they are just as pure as they might be.

However, most of the business of a council is fortunately divorced from anything that would affect Party politics—on the administration side—but, in the financial operations of a county council, the rates have to be collected and an officer is appointed to collect them in the various districts. His functions are purely financial. Why should he be a political appointee? I listened to the Parliamentary Secretary talking about what happens in his county council—that the last thing anyone considers is the Party politics of candidates. I know what happens in my own county. I have not got the slightest doubt that that is the first qualification, and, when Deputies talk about an open vote and about how an open vote safeguards democracy, surely they realise perfectly well that giving a secret ballot at a county council meeting for the appointment of a rate collector would probably preserve democracy much better than an open vote because the open vote secures that every Party member on the council will vote the Party line and dare not do anything else because he will be thrown out and need never stand for election again. That makes it certain that the voting will be on Party lines. Let anyone try to get a rate collectorship decided by a ballot where no one will know and see how far he gets. Why should the appointments of rate collectors be on Party lines? Because they are and there is no use in anyone pretending they are not.

Did the Deputy consult the local authority of which he is a member?

In what way does the Minister mean "consult"?

Did he consult them as to whether they wished to denude themselves of this power?

I am expressing my own point of view. My own local authority is in this very fortunate position, that two or three Independent councillors hold the balance of power between the two big Parties and the result is that the appointments are probably rather better than they might ordinarily be, but that is not the sort of thing we can count on happening in every county council. I want to make it clear that I for one do not suggest that people who have been appointed as rate collectors are bad.

Everybody says the same thing. Why change, then?

Because a bad system happens by chance to produce a good result does not mean that you should not change the bad system.

It has been going on since the passing of the Local Government Act of 1898.

I dare say. I was not born then.

I have heard very little complaint about the system since.

If the Minister had been a member of a local authority, he would have heard a good deal about it and if he had been a member of a local authority, he would be as tired of it as I am. Deputies have referred to the canvassing that goes on.

I have consulted 20 of them and only three out of the 20 wished to denude themselves of this power.

That may be, but I do not see that it proves anything.

It proves nothing.

Except that they are anxious to keep the particular power.

There is nothing wrong with canvassing.

I do not say that there is anything wrong with it——

We are here because we canvassed.

I do not object to the canvassing, but I do object to it when it comes to the point that all we are told about a candidate is what political Party he favours. In the case of a large county, as has been asked already, if a member comes from one end of it, what can he know of the qualifications of people coming from the other end of it, except their political hue?

The Deputy knows that any council which wishes may denude itself of the power, if it wants to, but not one has done it.

Of course, they have not done it.

Did the Deputy try to persuade his council to do it? Why does he not try to persuade them to do so?

I am afraid that Deputy Sheldon is not being allowed to make his case.

I am sorry.

I do not see that what I do somewhere else concerns the views I express in Dáil Éireann. As I have already pointed out, I am able to use my power on my own county council to much greater effect than by asking them to pass pious resolutions, because I happen to hold the balance of power. Sometimes I support Fine Gael candidates and sometimes Fianna Fáil candidates and one thing is certain—that I get a ton of abuse.

If you confined these activities to the council chamber, you would not get it here sometimes.

The main point is that no one, to my mind, has established any justification for a continuation of making these political appointments, because they are made in a political way, and it seems to be an absurdity that the financial officer of a council should be appointed on the basis of the chance of what Party has the balance of power or holds a majority in that council. It may be that some perfectly good people get elected, but it also means that some perfectly good ones are not getting elected, and I do not see any reason why this one office should have been retained.

On the suggestion to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred, that this is a Bill to widen the powers of local authorities and that it is absurd for Deputies to bring in amendments seeking to go into reverse, whether the Bill does in fact widen the powers of local authorities is, to my mind, of very little importance, because it is not from lack of power that local authorities suffer, but from too many burdens being placed on their backs by the central Government. If the Minister would bring in some proposals to get rid of a lot of the financial burdens which his colleagues impose on local authorities, the local authorities could stop worrying about their powers.

Is the Deputy suggesting that we should do it by an amendment to the County Management Bill?

That is what we are discussing.

The Minister suggested that I ought to do something in the Donegal County Council and I thought it fair enough to suggest that he should do something in Government. A great deal of heat has been engendered as to whether politics are good, bad or indifferent. I do not see that it matters. There has been a good deal of confusion about whether rate collectors do this, that or the other, but it seems to me to be purely a matter of a business arrangement. A county council ought to be a business committee, and, if it was a business committee, this subject would not arise at all, but in fact it is not. There was a time not so very long ago when everyone was deploring the way Party politics had got into local councils. Now everybody seems to think that it is the be-all and end-all of a county council to be a reflection of Dáil Éireann politically and that what it does outside that does not matter very much.

One of the chief pins to keep it political is the appointment of rate collectors. A great many other things have gone by the board and very few real Party political matters come up except this one. It is remarkable if you look at the attendance sheets at county councils the very good attendance there is on the day when there is a rate collector to be appointed. It might be said that this is the only power left to county councils. It is really because the Party Whip is on and the boys must turn up to see that the Party candidates get their proper backing. That is only ensuring that Party politics is the be-all and end-all of these appointments. It is ridiculous when you see perfectly good men turned down for no reason in the world but that they happen to have the misfortune to be on the wrong political side. The open vote makes it absolutely certain that will happen.

I had no intention of speaking in this debate. I see no good reason for these amendments. The chairman of our council and the vice-chairman who is a member of the Clann na Poblachta Party met the Minister and decided they wanted to retain the last powers that have been left to them. I am one of the 21 representatives of that council and it would be very unfair to the people and to the members of the council to decide against them by voting for these amendments. I cannot see my way to vote for them.

Deputy MacBride and other Deputies referred to the corruption and bribery and all the other things that go on. I was sorry to hear that said. Deputy MacBride happens to have some members of his Party on my council and I am glad to say that my vote decided in favour of appointing a rate collector who is a member of Deputy MacBride's Party at our last meeting. However, if Deputy MacBride thinks that all these things are going on, why can he not get some of his councillors in the different areas to get up and complain that there is corruption? I think that members of councils are very decent people and that theirs is a very thankless job.

Deputy Flanagan, the Parliamentary Secretary, referred to the appointment of rate collectors. If they are appointed by reason of their political affiliations, I say there is a lot more than that to the appointment of rate collectors. Only yesterday I met a rate collector and we spoke about the closing of his warrant. He told me he had still £2,000 to lodge within a week. If he were unable to lodge that, what would happen? If, as Deputy Flanagan, the Parliamentary Secretary, said, he was appointed by the Local Appointments Commissioners he could afford to let those people carry on, but the unfortunate man who cannot afford to let it hang on will lose his poundage. What can he do? It is all very fine to talk about Party politics. There is not a member of this House but is attached to Party politics. If Fianna Fáil have a majority on a council and appoint a man what is wrong with that? If Fine Gael have a majority and do likewise what is wrong with it and if Deputy MacBride had a Party strong enough to have a majority and if they appointed a man what would be wrong with it?

It is said that the purpose of this Bill is to give back powers to the local authorities, but the purpose of these amendments is to take away from them the one power they possess. The extra powers we are giving are very little. I think the Bill is a case of window dressing.

That does not arise on this amendment.

I think it is dressed slightly better than it was by Deputy Smith.

What is in it? I cannot see my way to vote for these amendments. I speak as a member of a council and I am not going to turn the other members down. I am not going to take these powers from them.

My remarks will be very brief. Frankly, I have not heard any special case made by any of the members of the Opposition or by those on this side of the House for the appointment of rate collectors by the members of the local authorities. One of the cases—a weak case—that was made here—I forget by whom—was that inasmuch as the local representatives struck the rate and determined how much money was to be collected, they should be given the responsibility of appointing the men to collect the money.

I do not think there is a special case for the appointment of rate collectors in this particular way as against the appointment of a home assistance officer or the appointment of any similar officer in the local authorities. If there is a special case for leaving that particular power to the members of the local authority, then I would say that there is an equally strong case for giving to the elected representatives the right to select tenants for cottages erected by the local authorities as well. If the rate collectors have a big responsibility and must use a certain amount of discretion in the collection of the rates, surely the appointment of a home assistance officer who must use his discretion in certain cases should necessarily then be made by the elected representatives?

Play has been made on the fact that this Bill is designed to give back greater powers to the elected members. It was one of the strongest points made by those who spoke in favour of the retention of the old system. I do not think that is an issue in this particular case. I do not think it has the slightest thing to do with the Bill. Those who called it a twopence halfpenny measure obviously have not read the Bill. I would go so far as to say that if the elected representatives knew their powers under the existing legislation governing county and city management they would find they could do more things than they believe they can do at the present time.

In any case my sympathies would be on the side of those who favour the appointment of these rate collectors by a system which differs from the present system. I have various reasons for saying that. I take no exception to the remarks of Deputy Allen that politics must enter into local authorities. That is the system in operation and it will continue to be operated as long as we have local authorities in this country. If I had heard any strong argument in favour of having that power vested in the elected members of county councils, I certainly would support the retention of the old system but if that system is to be adopted in the appointment of rate collectors I would ask what arguments are forthcoming for giving similar power to the elected representatives in the appointment of other similar officers under the local authorities or, for that matter, why not give the elected representatives the power to select tenants for cottages erected by the local authorities?

I listened with interest to the discussion here this evening. I have listened to similar discussions all round the country for years back, discussions as to the advisability of local selection as against any other kind of selection. I do not suppose the present system is a perfect one but it has proved satisfactory and has worked well. I doubt if we could evolve a system which would meet with the complete approval of everybody. I appreciate the fact that the Minister has left this to an open vote of the House. That is a democratic gesture and one which I hope to see adopted more often on matters of vital importance to the community as a whole. Not merely is this of importance in relation to the future appointment of rate collectors but it is an exercise in general democracy.

I do not agree with those who say that the present system is unsatisfactory or that we could improve upon it. I know from experience that the appointment of rate collectors can cause considerable annoyance to elected representatives. Local representatives recognise, however, that their functions carry with them some disabilities. I think a word of commendation is due to representatives generally who, knowing all the difficulties and inconveniences attaching to the work, are yet manfully prepared to undertake the burden.

It has been suggested that politics enter too largely into the selection of applicants. It has been suggested that political influence is undesirable. I do not think political influence is wrong. Other influences enter into it too. It will do nothing towards maintaining the morale of the people if rate collectors are appointed whom they do not know, in whose appointment their local representatives have no say and in whose selection they play no part. Taking away one of the few remaining powers left to local representatives will not improve the morale of the people. Neither will a substitute system give better or more efficient results. Rate collectors have given efficient service. They have given satisfaction. I would like those who decry the present system to give specific instances.

Representatives in this House are elected under a Party system. Why should they sit in judgment now on people no less worthy and no less self-sacrificing, namely, those who administer the county councils throughout the country? They have no more desire to be unjust or unfair, or to use political influence, than we have, sitting here as Solomons. This debate is very like Satan rebuking sin; Deputies are prejudiced because they say county councillors vote according to a Party system. They hold that thereby they make wrong appointments. In practice these appointments have worked out very satisfactorily over a long period of years.

Rate collectors have acted honestly, humanely and leniently where lenience was called for. They have to carry out a very distasteful duty in collecting the rates. I do not think it is democratic that we should seek here to deprive county councillors of yet another function. If county councillors are not anxious to discharge that function they can either resign or not seek reelection. There is no case made to justify the removal of this power from local bodies. They have done their duty well and faithfully in the past in that respect.

Is it a crime to be politically minded? If it is, then we are all criminals. There is no evidence they have discharged their duties in an unfair way or to the disadvantage of the community. It is hypocrisy to talk here about politics entering into these appointments. Politics are our existence. It is politics that have all of us here to-night. If it is virtue in our case why is it a sin in theirs? I am opposed to anything that may remove this power from local authorities.

When I sought the votes of the people of my native constituency for the fourteenth time during the last general election campaign I promised, among other things, that I would use my influence to secure the restoration of some of the powers that had been taken away from local authorities by the various City and County Management Acts, Acts against which I myself had voted on almost every occasion. I never even hinted, privately or publicly, either in my election address or any speech that I would proceed to take from local authorities one of the few powers left in their possession. In addition to that, I was present with the Minister when he met a very representative group of the members of the Laois County Council. There are three groups there—Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour. There are no Independents.

That is your misfortune.

On that occasion they unanimously asked the Minister to allow them to retain this power of appointing rate collectors. I am not an interested person, and I have already said so here, inasmuch as I am not and never have been a member of a local authority, and at this stage of my career I have no high hopes that I ever will be because I have no intention of being a candidate. Because of that I hope that I can look at this matter in a disinterested way. Like other Deputies here, and like a very big percentage of the electorate, especially in those areas where these jobs are given away, I know for a fact that after the appointments are made the unsuccessful candidates and the friends of the unsuccessful candidates carry on a whispering campaign relative to corruption, political and otherwise.

I have had as much experience of investigating these allegations in my own way as any other Deputy who has represented that constituency for the last 34 years. If I got—I am sure the same would apply to all of my colleagues who have served with me over that long period—clear evidence on any occasion of corruption as it is commonly understood, I would regard it as my duty to report it to the Minister in office at that time. But in spite of all this whispering campaign around the country alleging corruption very little action has ever been taken by any Deputies from the areas concerned to bring it to the notice of the Minister who has power to deal with allegations of that kind.

I do not believe it exists. I am not blind, and I believe, of course, that there is nothing wrong about this— and it has happened in my area—that members of a county council are influenced wherever the candidate for rate collectorship approaches them. They are bound to be influenced. It is only natural that they should be influenced by the fact that as well as being a fit and suitable candidate for the rate collectorship a man has certain close affiliations with certain members of the local authority. I do not see anything wrong with that.

I think political affiliations have influenced members of local authorities in counties in my constituency on more than one occasion. Does anybody suggest that is corruption in the sense that corruption is understood by the people or by the electorate? I do not think it is. The one thing that I am influenced by in my vote here in this House and the one thing which I would like to influence any member of a local authority is that the candidate whether he is of my political faith or not—and I do not think a man should be punished when looking for a political office for his political faith; I think it is criminal that he should be punished in that way and deprived of something that he is fit to do because his views are in opposition to those who have the responsibility for making the appointment—I am influenced by the knowledge that a man has of the people in a collection area. I entirely agree with my colleague, Deputy Flanagan, on that.

If an outsider is appointed through the Appointments Commissioners or through the county manager, who in the majority of cases has no previous association with the people of the county, does not know them and does not care a curse about them so long as the rates are collected he will not have that knowledge. The county manager, in my opinion, no matter how efficient he may be in the discharge of his duties is not the best person to appoint rate collectors. The man who knows the people well enough to know when he goes at a particular period to collect rates from a farmer, who says he is not able to pay, will know that he is not able to pay, is, I think, the proper man.

The last thing I want to see is to have the collector handing over his warrant to the sheriff's bailiff and going out and collecting the personal property and goods of the ratepayer at the wrong time instead of doing, as a good rate collector would do, for instance in the case of the sale of live stock, giving the man time to sell his live stock at the next suitable fair and sell them to the best advantage and pay his rates.

I would like the Dublin Deputies to forget about the position that exists here in Dublin and to realise that the position is quite different in the rural areas from what it is in Dublin. No rate collector could be expected to know, even if he is the most popular and well-known man that could be found, the same percentage of people in his collector's area as a local authority collector would be expected to know very well if he secured the job. I am not influenced by these insinuations or allegations of political corruption. Suppose you have some political corruption of one kind or another which influences the votes of members of local authorities—in how many cases has that happened?

I would also ask certain Deputies who have taken part in this discussion to get away from the point of the system of collection for the moment at any rate, because the system of collection is not under consideration in any of these amendments. What is under consideration is whether we would leave to the members of local authorities what nearly every one of them has requested the Minister to leave to them, this power to appoint rate collectors, or hand it over to the Appointments Commissioners, who would probably appoint outsiders, or to the county managers which would be far worse from my point of view. If the county manager did not make the appointment himself he would get it made by a selection board nominated by himself. I do not see much difference between an appointment made by him and that made by a board nominated by him. If this is a Bill to restore powers to the local authorities I appeal to the Deputies who promised their constituents that they would support a Bill to restore these powers, not to take the power out of the hands of the people for whom they promised to retain it.

I rise more or less to uphold the honour and dignity of public representatives in this country. In a couple of months' time—next June—I will be celebrating my 48th year in public life. It is a long time to look back upon and during that long number of years I have had vast experience of many men coming into public life and, unfortunately, many men going out.

When I hear young men as I did hear to-day, criticising the honour and integrity of men elected to public boards and when I look back and remember what I lived through, and the decent men, and the honourable men I met, and the honourable way in which they conducted the affairs of their counties, I blush with shame to think that such reflections as were cast here this evening on such men should be made now that many of them are in their graves. Out of my 48 years' experience I can say without fear of contradiction that the finest type of men that one could meet in rural Ireland are the men elected by the people of rural Ireland to represent them on the local councils and it is the greatest tribute, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, that can be paid that they are elected by the honest people of our rural districts.

The Minister came up to Monaghan and came before a representative gathering of our county council and put it very clearly to them whether they wanted to dispense with this authority or not and without hesitation they all said no; they would retain it. Let me speak of those men who gave the Minister that assurance. I have seen those men—20 of them—all down the years elect rate collectors from time to time. I have never yet found that they appointed a collector who was not in every way suitable and fit to carry out the duties to which he was appointed. Never one defaulted. To my mind that is a tribute to the men who made the selection. Listening to some of the Midlands men here this evening I felt that perhaps we were unduly blessed north of the Boyne, that if you want to find an honest man you must come north of the Boyne. According to the speeches here there was no area in all Ireland immune from corruption. I have never witnessed corruption during my time on the Monaghan County Council extending over a period of 48 years.

I would like to join with the Parliamentary Secretary and those who have defended the very name "politician". There is a gentleman just entering the House who boasted more or less that he was not a politician but, in the next breath, he boasted that he held the power to decide who was to be appointed as rate collector when it would come to a vote of his county council. In other words, he is delighted to be an Independent because he can weigh the balance whichever way suits him best.

I did not say I was not a politician. I am not a Party politician.

I get it very hard to follow the Deputy when he says he is not a Party politician. I do not like to question him too much on that point because I have sad experience of what Party politics means up North. There is no such thing, Deputy, as a man being a politician without being a Party politician. There is no room for him.

There is room for one.

When you are passing through County Monaghan, if you pull up on the road and ask any old man or woman going to the creamery or the market for a definition of an Independent, the answer will be "a weakling, one who has not the courage to go either one way or the other but who stands with a leg in both Parties."

That is not what your Party thought before the last dissolution.

We are hearing a thing or two now.

I do not think Deputy Flanagan likes that remark or Deputy Dillon.

As far as Deputy Dillon and others are concerned, personalities do not enter into this.

You are bringing them in and you will get what is coming to you before this is over.

That has nothing to do with it. Deputy Dillon represents my county. Deputy Dillon is respected in that county. There are sufficient people in that county who believe that Deputy Dillon is the proper man to represent them. On the other side there is a section of the people who think not.

What are we discussing now, may I ask?

I fail to see how this has any relevance to the amendment.

Somebody mentioned Deputy Dillon's name and I wanted to make it clear that we have nothing but respect for him.

Was not he an Independent?

The question of Independents does not arise either on this.

I think Deputy McQuillan had better wait for another few years.

Deputy Kelly on the amendment.

At a Monaghan County Council meeting about two years ago a motion was tabled to abolish rate collectors and to have the rate collector appointed by a selection board. That was defeated on a vote of the council. That was prior, of course, to the Minister's visit. Again, on the Monaghan County Council we have had all shapes and makes of politicians and all shapes and makes of religious parties appointed rate collectors by the open vote of the council without any ill-feeling between the political Parties of any kind. I feel it would be a mistake to change the system for the reason already explained by different speakers here this afternoon. It is all right to set up a selection board. A selection board of two or three would be much easier got at, if I may use that expression, than a full council of 20, 30 or 40 members, as the case may be. For that reason I think we should not alter the system.

From my own experience in Monaghan, I am satisfied that the members of county councils as a whole judge the character of the applicants and satisfy themselves that the selected applicant is suitable for the job and one they can stand over. If he belongs to the political Party to which you happen to belong, naturally you will vote for him but, on the other hand, you will see to it that he is a capable man and a man who can be relied upon to do the job honourably and well.

I know the Minister is weary of this debate and I suppose we cannot blame him but, since I propose to support the amendments, I am not going to allow anybody in this House to suggest that we are supporting the amendments for the sole purpose of castigating members of local authorities. That is entirely untrue. I am not a member of a local authority but I have intimate knowledge of county councillors and they are usually honest, decent men. At the same time I do not think anybody, unless he is speaking against his conscience, can say that a man should be appointed to a job as rate collector solely because of his political affiliations. I have heard Deputies this evening saying that the rate collectors do a good job and always have done. Rate collectors in general do carry out their work very well but have the people who make these statements ever stopped to think of the people who could have made an infinitely better job of rate collecting but for the fact that they were on the wrong political ticket when the rate collector for the particular area was being appointed?

It is a shame that a man must carry a particular political badge before he is appointed. I am sure even Deputy Allen would not like to follow his line of reasoning to its logical conclusion when he said that it was right that the political Party which had the majority, no matter who they were, should have the right to appoint rate collectors. That would mean that they should have the right to make all the other local appointments and we would find that even county council labourers would obtain work or be deprived of work according to the political Party that ruled the local county council. While I did interrupt Deputy Allen to point out that in some cases the appointments are made by the Fianna Fáil Party, I am quite sure that Fine Gael, Labour and Clann na Poblachta also do the same thing in certain counties and I believe they are all wrong.

Somebody asked what was wrong with an open vote. Did anybody ever hear of the appointment of a rate collector on a Wednesday by a county council? The 30 members of that county council were called together to go through the formality of having a vote on the appointment of a person who had been appointed by the political Party on the previous Sunday. Does not everybody know that that happens and even if the person appointed happens to be a good man is it the right way to appoint somebody to a responsible job?

It is wrong.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy O. Flanagan, made reference to the fact that rate collectors were highly qualified to compile the register of electors because of their intimate knowledge of the localities in which they worked. I think he was talking with his tongue in his cheek, although I know he does not often do that. But we know enough about rate collectors to be aware that when appointed to an area they have not got such an intimate knowledge of it, even though they might live in it, to enable them to be experts at the compilation of the register. They go to the local shopkeeper who knows everybody in the district. If he knows everybody they go on the register; if he does not they are not put on the register. As has been said already, people are left off the register deliberately.

I cannot see how we can debate that on the amendment.

I am afraid that there are very many counties where that occurs, but even if it happened only in one county it would still be wrong. I believe something must be done. Perhaps the amendments here do not offer the ideal solution, but I am firmly convinced that no matter what happened we must get away from the system that operates at the moment whereby a man gets a job because of the colour of his political tie.

I was much impressed by what was said by my old colleague over the way. I did not think there were very many of us left. I have been a long time associated with public administration—ten years in the district council and 31 years of uninterrupted association with the county council— and surely every system that operated during these 41 years under the jurisdiction of these domestic administrations ought to be well known to me. It amuses me when I hear young men here, relatively inexperienced in public life, coming in here and criticising a system that has served the community so long. Recently a large delegation from the ratepayers attended a meeting of my council without being clear of its facts, and it carried absolutely very little conviction with some of us. The members of the delegation thought that a system of collection other than the system that operates would be more efficient and that a considerable figure of money would be saved to the community if it were initiated. I thought that they had established their case with some cogent facts but found that the basis on which they had built their case was like a house built on sand.

I am not concerned here with the changing of the various administrations from one political Party to another. Each Party in turn, when they had the majority vote, made their selection from their own Party and in my long experience those selected by the different Parties discharged their duties with credit to themselves and to the benefit of the ratepayers. We were not unmindful down along the years of changes which might be desirable if they relieved to a fairly considerable degree the burden of pressing and increasing rates. We had a very fine chairman in those years—a very extensive farmer whose rates were quite considerable. He suggested one day that there was a council beside us in another county which had been suspended by Sealed Orders of the Government and which had changed its system.

I am afraid the Deputy may not discuss the system of collecting rates. We are discussing the appointment of rate collectors.

It was suggested that the system was a very fine one and a much more efficient one as far as the relief of the ratepayers was concerned. We all know that there are 70 per cent. of the ratepayers who will pay a rate collector or who will pay anyone. But you will find that the other 30 per cent. are dodgers and the only man who can successfully collect from these is the man who has lived among them and who knows precisely when and where to touch them and get the money. The county secretary brought us into a big room and showed us a big iron case and in the case there was an enormous lot of nulla bona decrees due to the fact that the council had departed from the system the council had operated up to then. The council had brought the ratepayers who had not paid to the courts and all they had got were these nulla bona decrees which meant overdrafts and overcharges in the bank against the county council. We decided to operate the system that had worked so satisfactorily down the years.

That is the system which it is suggested should be changed now. Last year our collection of rates was anything from 96 to 99 per cent. in the maximum. That is a very good total rate collection. It is highly satisfactory. I know perfectly well that the system is not the acme of perfection because you will find men who will go the wrong way. Every human institution is weak in the same way as human nature is weak.

We are discussing the manner of the appointment of rate collectors.

It has been my experience over the past 40 years that the system of rate collection we have operated has been efficient and satisfactory and as that system has been satisfactory I am here to vote against any other system.

I wish to point out that since I spoke before I have examined the amendments and I cannot find any way in which I can support them without preventing the county councils doing what they desire in this regard. That is the exact position. Listening to the statements made by Deputy James Tully one would think the only place politics are to be found is in county councils. Does not the county manager go into the polling booth to vote?

We are not discussing how county managers vote.

Deputy James Tully maintained that it was a bad thing to have county councils making these appointments on account of their politics and I suggest to him now that the remedy envisaged through the amendments will not prevent political appointments. If it goes to the manager—and if he is a man at all he has politics and he votes—the manager will say: "I will give it to one of my own crowd"; and if the appointment goes to the selection board which is appointed by the manager there is nothing to prevent that board being two-thirds one way and one-third the other, and so the same political bias might be brought to bear in the case of the board's appointment the same as in an appointment made by the county council. Even civil servants have got politics. Every man in this country has politics one way or the other.

Since the appointment are to be made by somebody, they might at least be made by the fellow whose brand of politics is open and whose politics everyone knows. That is the way I look at it and I think that is the honest way of looking at it. I instanced the different ways in which those people used to be selected before in county councils and I would suggest again to the Minister that it would be well for him, even in the Seanad, to which the Local Government Bill has gone now, to get such an amendment in, which would cover this whole matter. For instance, the standing orders in the Cork County Council were changed. When different political viewpoints took control there, the standing order "All positions of emolument in the case of the county council were filled by competitive examination" disappeared. That would be a good thing to see in the new Local Government Bill and would end all this thing straightway. It should be put in the standing orders of all councils.

That can be done under the Managerial Act.

It cannot.

The Minister is prepared to accept regulations.

We have heard three amendments proposed. Any one of these three amendments takes out of the power of the council even the method of collection of the rates. As for Deputy Tully's argument may I point out to him that it should be stretched right along from the top notch down to the bottom?

It should be.

You are not going to improve the position by voting for one of these amendments. There will be only a certain number who know the politics the manager has. It would be the same way with any selection board appointed by the manager. It is just as well to be straight about this. I would depend a lot more for honour and for straightforwardness on men who have to go out before the people and face them at an election than I would on any appointment or any appointed official no matter where I go.

As a member of a local body I must say there has been no convincing case made for these amendments on the question of the changing of the system from appointments by local bodies or by an interview board. I say there is no pure system. Each one of us, no matter what side of the House we are on, is subject to one little fault and that is the fault of original sin. There are no haloes floating over any of us. If I am in order in bringing to your notice the appointment recently of a technical and a mechanical engineer in a certain place in Galway——

The administration of a local authority does not come into this.

I am trying to make the point that such boards are not infallible.

The administration of local authorities may not be discussed on this.

I was trying to make the point that they are not infallible.

Is the Deputy making the case notwithstanding that I have said he may not discuss the administration of local authorities?

Our Minister travelled the full length of the country and got the views of the representatives of the people and those views were that we should widen these powers. Recently there has been a lot of talk about rate collectors being appointed in Galway by Fianna Fáil. While there is nothing to prevent a change in Galway after June, and I can assure you that is coming, I definitely am not convinced that a case has been made for the amendments.

Deputy McQuillan concluding on amendment No. 5.

I understand three amendments are being discussed.

The three amendments are being discussed but is the Deputy concluding on his own amendment?

I do not know that the question of concluding arises. If there are other speakers who wish to add their views after my own I consider I am entitled on the Committee Stage to reply to them again.

While I am satisfied there is sincerity behind these amendments, still I am not going to support them. I am 18 years in public life and a man in public life has to take the rough with the smooth. The appointment of rate collectors is, perhaps, one of the roughest jobs we have in our county council but whether it is rough or not it is our duty to stand up to it and take our decision. Whether we like it or not county councils are political in the main and they will vote politically and work politically. There is nothing we can do about it and we must accept it. As far as my county is concerned I could be one of those who could readily support the amendment because for 15 or 16 years the political Party in power have appointed their rate collector at any time that suited them. However, I am satisfied that taking everything into consideration the rate collector position in my county is wholly satisfactory and I do not think there was one bad appointment. I would not oppose it because I think it is one way of getting a small appointment for our own men in our own county.

When an appointment is advertised in the newspaper eight or ten small farmers or workers from the area will put themselves forward for the appointment. They may belong to the different political Parties. The Party may have a meeting the night before and decide which of their men they will vote for. I find nothing wrong with that. We could do that ourselves as Fianna Fáil have done in some cases. Perhaps if my Party was in the majority we would have a meeting too to see which of the eight or ten men we would support, first, second or third. I see nothing wrong with that except that the public have left Fianna Fáil in power for 20 years. In my county they made 20 or 30 appointments but the public gave them that democratic right.

I had hoped these amendments would be withdrawn. They may be sincere but the present position leaves the only hope of a small man in a country area getting a position. I can honestly say from long experience that not one of those men has failed in his job. There was honesty and sincerity in every one of them. I could have voted for the Fianna Fáil man just as I could for my own because I found they were all decent and honourable men and it made no difference to me which side of the House got that appointment. Perhaps in the course of a few months my side of the House will be in the majority in the Meath County Council and will perhaps be able to exercise the same power as Fianna Fáil have exercised over 20 years. I expect we will operate in that way, but I know the men who were appointed over a long number of years are a credit to the community. It is one of the few functions that are left to us.

We are all crying out against the County Managerial Act taking away our powers, but here is a little power we have. It is an awkward little power. People are afraid to face up to it, but I was never afraid to face up to anything, big or small. I would not be afraid of voting openly for any good man. I have done it before. The fact that you vote cannot fail to make enemies. In public life you have to take the rough with the smooth. I am one of those who believe in men in public life standing up to their responsibilities. If they do not feel like doing so they should step out of the way. They should do their duty or get out.

I am satisfied that there is no need for this amendment. If rate collectors are to be appointed, let every county council appoint its own. As Deputy Corry suggested, there could be a selection committee appointed by the county manager to select rate collectors. We all know that their votes will be cast in a certain direction. For all we know the county manager may use his political leaders and appoint the man he thinks they should appoint. I think an open vote at the county councils is the right way to select rate collectors.

Of the men who have been put forward for these positions there is not one who could be turned down. They are a decent type of people, maybe drawn from the working class or the small farmer class. Those of the small farmer type may have ten acres of land on which they cannot live, and they say: "Here is a nice little job in my area, and if I am able to secure it through the vote of the council I would be glad to get it." That is the type I want to see getting these jobs. We have people coming from the South of Ireland and up to the Midlands to Dublin, and if they can secure these jobs, well and good. This is a case where counties can appoint their own rate collectors, and I think it is the right way. It makes enemies for every one of us, but we are bound to do our duty.

I say again that an open vote is the best way of appointing rate collectors, and that public representatives should not be afraid to have the courage of their convictions and make up their minds honestly and publicly.

Mar duine ná raibh ina chomhalta de chomhairle áitiúil ariamh agus nach bhfuil aon chuimhneamh aige ar a leithéid, le cúnamh Dé, is dóigh liom go mba cheart an gléas atá ann fé láthair ag comhairlí áitiúla chun bailitheoirí rátaí do cheapadh d'fhágaint mar atá sé. Do réir mar a thuigim an dlí, níl bac ar aon chomhairle chontae ar mian leo é dhéanamh na postanna so do líonadh tré scrúdú comórtasach nó in aon tslí eile a cheapann siad bheith oiriúnach. Do réir mar thuigim an scéal, tá an chumhacht sin ag na comhairlí contae.

Táthar ag gearán anso gur baineadh na cumhachtaí a bhí ag na comhairlí áitiúla díobh nuair cuireadh an tAcht Bainisteoireachta i bhfeidhm agus táthar ann atá ag iarraidh go láidir na cumhachtaí sin fháil thar n-ais, mar a deirtear. San am céanna táthar ag moladh ins na leasuithe seo an chumhacht seo a bhí ag na comhairleoirí contae i gcónaí, bailitheoirí rátaí a cheapadh de thoradh vótaí na gcomhairleoirí, a bhaint díobh feasta. Ní thagann an dá rud le chéile. B'fhearr, i mo thuairimse, an scéal d'fhágaint fé mar atá sé fé láthair agus gan glacadh leis an leasú.

I think Deputy Giles was very near the mark when he stated that the appointment of rate collectors led many to a political graveyard. I also think that factor is influencing some of the speakers who have spoken against the existing system. They want to run away from the local pressure groups. All of us who are members of local authorities know that appointments of this kind can be annoying and awkward, and can, in practically all cases, have political repercussions. I think, in principle, that an elected representative of a local authority should be the last to cast away that small power which has remained. We are all aware that there are small, influential groups in every constituency who make it their hobby and pastime to cast reflections and aspersions on the public representatives. You will always find that Smart Alec who will try to imply and impute that elected representatives, who were once honest men, are people who have fallen from a great height, "the last resort of rogues and scoundrels," as somebody once said.

My colleague, Deputy Corry, spoke of the competitive examination, but I think that that is only part of the job. Again, the question arises: how are we to select the interview board? I think that most speakers have said that the system of appointment which has been exercised up till now has produced the right type of man. No speaker—while many admitted that most of the appointments had a political back-ground—implied that rate collectors, once they were appointed, used their offices to the detriment of the people who might have voted against them.

There was a lot of talk about appointments by the majority of a political Party, but there are very few councils on which any Party has a clear-cut political majority.

I always think that the successful rate collector in most counties will have to depend—while he may have to find a political Party to sponsor him— invariably upon support from other political Parties. Besides being a successful candidate, he is, in many instances, a super-diplomat. I think that the system of appointments which has been exercised up to now has given satisfaction, and I see no reason whatever why we should change it. Why should we hand the appointment of rate collectors to the county manager, to the selection board or to the Appointments Commission?

Deputy Giles said that no man should be afraid to go out and cast his vote in the open, as we do on county councils. We know that there are hidden things in other forms of appointment, and that there is a long line from the bottom to the top. We are well aware of that, but that particular system and that particular form of exertion is not spotlighted, nor can it be. I think that anything done in the light of day can be kept under observation, and if there is any member of a local authority who does anything dishonourable he is soon found out. It is invariably found that an intelligent electorate will soon eliminate that individual and render him innocuous.

I have never been in favour of the Appointments Commission or of the County Management Act. Therefore, I am in favour of the local representatives having the power of electing rate collectors. If I had my way they would have complete power and control. As a previous speaker said, if there is anything dishonourable done in a county council or a corporation down the country it is out in the broad clear light of day. However, if anything dishonourable is done by the Local Appointments Commission it is done behind the cloak and dagger and nobody will ever know about it.

We have to take the measurement of appointments made all down through the years. I have taken a keen interest in the local affairs of the city where I was born. I have noticed that whether the Party I support was in power or whether the Party I oppose was in power they elected a good deal of officials—some of them higher officials than rate collectors—and every one of these officials was well worth his salt. Every one of these officials was a front line man. I doubt if we would have got better officials from the Local Appointments Commissioners. We have got some officials from the Local Appointments Commissioners and, while I am on the subject, I might say that I do not like to see strangers sent hundreds of miles to take up appointments.

We are not discussing the administration of the Local Appointments Commission.

I was drawing a comparison.

The Deputy may not discuss any appointment made by the Local Appointments Commission. There is a regular method for challenging that, if the Deputy so desires. The Deputy will deal with the three amendments.

Let me come back to the subject of rate collectors. Some people here are of the opinion that county councillors should not have that power. The borough council to which I belong have not that power. We should have that power. Recently in County Waterford there was the election of five rate collectors. There was a division in the ranks of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and everybody in the council. Five very good men were elected. I doubt whether we would have got five better men from the Local Appointments Commissioners. As a matter of fact, I would say I am sure we would not have got five better men from the Local Appointments Commissioners. God knows how we would get them from the Local Appointments Commissioners. As a Deputy beside me has just asked me, how would we get them? My answer to that is God alone knows.

Let me repeat that there is too much hobbledehoy with small groups of people here and there throughout the country who have not the pluck to be in any political Party but are always picking on the people who go out and do their duty in public service and public administration. I am talking of the people who are always getting up in various self-elected bodies and little organisations here and there throughout the country and finding fault with this, that and the other. These people never offer themselves for public service but, at the same time, they are frequently behind motions such as this. They hold up their hands in dismay when somebody with political opinions is voted into an office. If, like the rest of my Fine Gael colleagues, I am appalled if a Fianna Fáil man is elected a rate collector, the Fianna Fáil Deputies are likewise appalled if a Fine Gael man is elected—but we will put up with that because I would prefer the present system. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that, when the Irish people go to the polling booths and elect representatives, these representatives should have much more power and control than just the electing of rate collectors.

I have listened to quite a number of the contributions which were made to this debate. Many of the speakers have had great experience on local authorities. My experience is very limited, but during my membership of a local authority we have appointed some rate collectors and we have done so by the system of open vote of members of the county council. I am going to vote to-night for the retention of that right. During his visit to the local authorities, the Minister for Local Government was asked to take this right away from them. I can assure the Minister that that does not represent the views of the elected representatives of the Wicklow County Council. That county council is comprised of two Parties— the Fianna Fáil Party and the Labour Party: I think there is one elected Fine Gael representative there and the rest of them are Independents. In the last year, there was a 97 per cent. collection of rates and that is good enough for me. I believe the present system is all right.

I should like to comment on what a previous speaker has said—that the views of the elected members were taken into consideration by the Minister in preparing this amending legislation. That is somewhat similar to what we have heard from both sides of the House about the feelings of members of local authorities. It is suggested that there is a feeling of annoyance amongst the elected representatives on local bodies at the thought of this power being taken from them. It is extraordinary what little heed was passed on the views of members of local authorities when the County Management Act was rammed down their throats. From both sides of this House, the whole appeal has been: "We, as members of local authorities, believe we should have far more power than just the appointment of rate collectors." Was it not the votes of people on both sides of this House that took away the powers from these local representatives? The elected representatives in this House cannot ride two horses at the same time to-day.

They rode them on different days, of course.

It has been put forward here that it is dishonest on my part to submit these amendments. I challenge any Deputy to show me where I have been inconsistent in my remarks with regard to the powers of local authorities. Possibly, if I had 44 or 48 years' experience on the job, I would be bound to have made errors. It is a well-known fact that the longer you are in public life the more you learn about the evils of it. My argument has been that it is wrong to have Party politics brought in to the appointment of rate collectors. We had a very honest contribution from every member of the House. Deputies set out exactly what they believed and made no bones about it. Both sides have stated they were satisfied that the main qualification necessary for the appointment was political pull.


I cannot see how that can be challenged. Where the appointment is made at present by the local authority on a so called open vote, it is the man with the greatest political pull who will secure the job. That is the system, and evidently that is considered to be the most desirable system by the major Parties here. The discussion we had during the last two and a half hours and for three hours last week will be of great assistance in the future, when the people realise that Fianna Fáil have had 16 or 18 years of this and, now that the local elections are coming off next June, the people on the opposite side let the cat out of the bag and say, in the words of their representatives: "Fianna Fáil were able to make the appointments on local authorities for 17 or 18 years when they had a majority: our day is coming, so why should we accept these amendments?" They have been very fair in expressing their views.

I am in thorough agreement with portion of the contribution made by Deputy Giles. I should like to see the small farmers' sons and relations appointed to these jobs in rural Ireland. If the system I suggest is brought into operation, they will have every chance of being appointed. At present we have competitive examinations for typists, clerical officers, staff officers and others on the local authority and it is the small farmers' sons and daughters from the rural areas who sit for those examinations and are appointed on a panel. What is wrong with including rate collectors on that panel? Is it necessary for small farmers' sons to use political power to be appointed as a staff officer? I do not think so. The main things are his qualifications, his intelligence, his standard of education and general suitability. I want to see a similar line of approach in the appointment of rate collectors.

If we take the contributions of Deputies on both sides who have spoken against these amendments, I do not think it is unfair to suggest that their argument was, first, abolish the Local Appointments Commission and, secondly, abolish county managers and make all the appointments by the local authorities. That has been the argument from both the Fine Gael side and the Fianna Fáil side of the House. Deputy Giles rightly said that, for months before the appointment of a rate collector, the knocker was worn off the door of every local representative. If Deputies are logical in their arguments about restoring powers to local authorities, the unfortunate county councillors will need new sets of knockers every week, on account of the rapping for the appointment of gangers, clerks and other positions.

The Minister for Social Welfare made a very reasoned statement and a reasonable type of contribution to the debate. His argument to those opposing the amendment is: "If you are serious and if it is a question of principle that is worrying you, why is it that this is the sole appointment left to county councillors?" I accept what the Deputy from Monaghan has said, that the majority of men elected to local bodies are honest men. It is a slur on them that the appointment of rent collectors and other appointments were taken away from them. Regarding the line of thought put forward by some—I think Deputy Kelly from Monaghan—I never suggested that the local representatives were dishonest, but I believe they should be saved from unfair and undue pressure.

The open vote is suggested by Deputies here as being in operation in various counties, but that is utter nonsense. The actual final vote before the county council is an open vote, with every potential candidate watching over the shoulder of each county councillor to see how it is going; but the appointment is made before the council meets at all. That is what I want to get rid of. I do not care what Party has a majority in a council, I do not think these jobs should be given to individuals who happen to have been loyal friends of a political Party for a number of years. That is the basis they are given on now. I hope that cannot be construed as a suggestion that these men who are appointed are bad men or evil characters. I am not saying a word against the individuals themselves, but I am saying that the system which selects men on the basis of political jobbery is wrong. The argument has been put up to me and others: "Have you produced evidence that rate collectors have been dishonest or that the system has not worked in a satisfactory manner?"

There was never any intention on my part of suggesting that rate collectors who have been appointed on a political basis have been dishonest or inefficient. I have never suggested that; I suggested that the main qualification for appointment has been pull within the political Party. Let us take it that there are three appointments of rate collectors to be made by a county council; that Mr. X happens to be organiser for a political party and is a single man; and that we have Mr. B. a married man with a small holding of £3 or £5 and four or five children within the age limits—we find the organiser to the political Party is selected and given the job, while the man with the wife and family is turned down because he has not the political pull the other man has. Is it not time that system was changed if at all possible?

What guarantee have you that any other system will appoint the man you are talking about?

If that is the argument put forward, all I can say is that it is an argument in favour of doing away with the Local Appointments Commission, the county managers and local boards in general.

Is there any guarantee that if you do away with the present system they will appoint the married man as against the single man?

I agree with Deputy Killilea that we will not have perfection. I am making no claim that these amendments will give a perfect solution. It will satisfy me—and I think Deputy Killilea and others will agree —if the same system can be brought into operation as applies to the appointment of young men and women in a county as clerical officers, typists and so on. If we consider that system to be working reasonably well and subject to the minimum of political pressure, then I see no reason why we should not include the appointment of rate collectors in it.

I would ask Deputies to accept these amendments on that basis, to accept No. 5, No. 6 or No. 31. I do not know if I am in order at this stage in suggesting that the most satisfactory way of getting what Deputy Corry and others want, a competitive examination basis, would be by accepting amendment No. 31. The reason a county manager enters into it is a technical one. It is not my desire that the county manager should make the appointment but, as Deputies know, there are technical difficulties involved in drafting suitable amendments. I am not an expert in drafting amendments to meet the wishes of all sides of the House, but I felt we would have to get a decision on this basis, that it was fairer all round to everybody that the appointment of rate collectors would be on the same basis as other officers of the local authority, rather than on the basis of political pressure alone.

Question put: "That the new sub-section be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 77.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Hession, James M.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Larkin, James.
  • MacBride, Seán.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Manley, Timothy.
  • O'Carroll, Maureen.
  • O'Connor, John.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Tully, James.
  • Tully, John.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Barry, Anthony.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Burke, James J.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Deering, Mark.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Anthony C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Finlay, Thomas A.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Gogan, Richard.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kelly, Edward.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Lindsay, Patrick J.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Carew, John.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Crowe, Patrick.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Michael J.
  • Davin, William.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Madden, David J.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moher, John W.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Donovan, John.
  • O'Hara, Thomas.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Roddy, Joseph.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Mary B.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Walsh, Thomas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies McQuillan and Sheldon; Níl: Deputies P. S. Doyle and O'Sullivan.
Amendment declared lost.

I take it that covers amendment No. 6?

There would not be much use in my pressing my amendment, having regard to the view expressed on the amendment in the names of Deputies Sheldon and McQuillan.

Amendment No. 6 not moved.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In page 8, sub-section (10), to delete paragraph (a), lines 23 to 27, and substitute the following paragraph:—

(a) Where an office of manager becomes vacant the local authority shall with the sanction of the Minister appoint a person to be manager temporarily until a permanent appointment is made but such temporary appointment may be terminated by the local authority with the sanction of the Minister at any time.

This amendment is intended to cover the eventuality which might arise on a council failing to pass a resolution requesting the Local Appointments Commission to recommend a person for appointment as county manager and to cover the interim position. The amendment seeks to delete paragraph (a) of Section 5 and substitute a new paragraph. The new paragraph provides, in effect, that, where the office of county manager becomes vacant, the local authority shall have power, with the sanction of the Minister, to appoint temporarily a county manager until a permanent appointment is made. It is to obviate a situation in which, where there is a vacancy in the county managership, some temporary official might be appointed by the Department and left in a semipermanent capacity. It is to ensure that the local body would have full power of control in that situation.

The amendment also tries to safeguard the position of the Minister by providing that any person appointed would have to be sanctioned by the Minister. It seems to me to be an amendment which should not cause very much difficulty. I do not know if the Minister has any opinion on the amendment or whether he would consider he can accept it or some similar provision.

Will the House discuss amendments Nos. 7 and 8 together?

They are not quite the same.

They are practically the same.

I think the same principle is involved.

My amendment reads:—

"Before Section 6 to insert a new section as follows:—

When it becomes necessary for a local authority to make a temporary appointment of an officer or employee pending the receipt of a recommendation from the Local Appointments Commission of a person for permanent appointment, such temporary appointment shall be made by resolution."

The purpose of my amendment is really in line with the spirit of the Bill, as interpreted for us by the Minister and other Government speakers, to give more power to the local councils. Now, the appointments I had in mind when putting down this amendment were appointments about which the county councils would not have to make up their minds in any event in relation to the qualifications of the candidates. For instance, if a doctor is to be appointed, it is quite obvious that he must have qualified as a doctor before, in fact, he can be in the running for the appointment; the same is true of the other executive positions to which this amendment refers. This would have one decided advantage, I think, and that is that the manager in each case would proceed with all expedition to secure the making of the permanent appointment, seeing that the temporary appointment was not of his own making, and I think it would be desirable that permanent appointments in all cases should be made as soon as possible.

There is, therefore, at issue the question of taking from the manager the power of making a temporary executive appointment and handing it over to the council. I take it the period or duration of such appointments would be short. It would certainly be much shorter than it is at the present time if an amendment of this kind were the law. As I said in my opening remarks, I think this is within the spirit of the Bill which the Minister is recommending to the House and I do not see that there can be any serious objection to the amendment.

I regret that I am unable to accept either amendment. I will deal with amendment No. 7 first. At the moment sub-section (10) of Section 5 provides that temporary appointments to the office of manager shall be made by the Minister as at present. That is the law at the moment. The purpose of this amendment is to enable the local authority to appoint a temporary county manager. Now, let me deal first of all with the drafting of the amendment. A county manager is not only manager of a county council; he may be manager of a number of urban bodies in his particular county. The amendment, as drafted, does not specify which local authority will have the appointment of the temporary manager. Can each of them select its own? Can the town commissioners of Ballydehob, for instance, select their own temporary manager, and the county council likewise? I could not possibly accept that amendment as at present drafted. Neither does it specify that this appointment will be a reserved function. Again, I could not accept it on that account.

Surely that is easily remedied.

Possibly. I am merely dealing with it as the amendment stands at the moment. The amendment suggests that the local authority will have the appointment of the temporary manager subject to the sanction of the Minister. Can we not visualise a county manager dying suddenly? Once he dies all executive functions cease. Can we imagine the county secretary calling a special meeting of the county council—he would have to do that—and asking them to appoint a temporary manager? But it is not the county council which appoints the temporary manager. They appoint him subject to the sanction of the Minister. His name has to be sent up to the Minister and his qualifications have to be studied and examined. The Minister may not be satisfied that he is the ideal person and he will send down a further request to the county council saying that he will not accept this particular individual and asking them to send up another name. Then another meeting of the council will have to be called to select a second man.

An obstructionist local authority, politically opposed to the Minister of the day, would keep on sending up names merely for the purpose of holding up the entire business of the local authority. That would be a very serious objection in my opinion. At the moment when a county manager wishes to vacate office, the Minister may immediately, within 12 hours, appoint a deputy. I think that is the most expeditious manner in which to carry out the business of the local authority. It is ridiculous to suggest that in a scattered area, such as my own native Donegal, every time the county manager gets ill and takes a few days or a week off a special meeting of the council should be held to appoint——

Surely the section and the amendment only deal with an actual vacancy. If the manager is ill for a few days the question of a vacancy does not arise.

I agree. I have been unfair to the proposer of the motion. The Deputy, however, sees the other argument. In the event of a sudden death there would have to be a special meeting of the local authority for the purpose of appointing a temporary manager. The Minister may refuse to sanction that appointment. Another meeting would have to be called and the entire business of the council would be held up. The only objection I see to the amendment is that the local authority would not be in a position to deal with the matter as one of urgency. I am in sympathy with what both Deputy MacBride and Deputy Bartley have said but it is a question after all of dealing as efficiently and expeditiously as possible with the business of a council. To suggest that a meeting should be held, accompanied possibly by a wrangle as to who should be appointed, and the appointee's name sent up to the Minister for sanction would take a considerable time and then the Minister might not accept.

With regard to Deputy Bartley's amendment, only a very small minority of local officials are appointed by the Local Appointments Commission. The majority are appointed in a different manner. If we accepted this amendment the majority would still be appointed by the manager in accordance with existing procedure and statutory regulations and only a minority would be appointed by the local authority. I think it would be very unfair to draw a distinction. Clerical officers and library assistants are appointed by the manager. If this amendment were accepted a distinction would be drawn because under this in the small minority of cases where appointments are made by the Local Appointments Commission the Deputy wants the temporary appointment made by the local authority and not by the manager. I think that distinction would be very unfair.

Deputy Bartley said on the Second Stage of the Bill that if the elected representatives had power to appoint such temporary officers it would have the effect of speeding up the manager's request to the Local Appointments Commission. In actual fact managers usually send in their request before the vacancy occurs, and I can assure the Deputy that, if any delay takes place, it is not due to the manager neglecting to send in the names to the Local Appointments Commission. Managers have been repeatedly requested not to wait until vacancies occur before approaching the Local Appointments Commission.

I was wondering if amendment No. 29 could be taken in conjunction with the present amendments? It seems to cover the same ground.

I suggest that this has nothing to do with the points raised already.

I would be inclined to agree.

Very well.

The only argument the Minister has put forward is that the amendment would affect only a minority of appointments. Is that the only objection he has?

Of course it is a fundamental and it is an accepted principle of the managerial system that the county manager should have control of staff and it has never been suggested that that control should be taken out of his hands, with the one single solitary exception, the one we have discussed here for six and a half hours.

The Minister knows, as well as we do on this side of the House, that managerial control of councils was very largely experimental when it was introduced and I think on both sides of the House everybody had an open mind about it and everybody was prepared to support whatever legislation would be necessary to make good the deficiencies which experience showed up in the managerial system. Now, one of the greatest complaints, the fundamental complaint, is that it has taken too much power from the elected representatives and concentrated it in the hands of what has been described as bureaucracy. I want to help the Minister in doing what he says is the purpose of this Act, giving back as much power——

The Deputy did not try to help his colleague when he was drafting the Bill.

Will the Minister come this far with me? Will he agree we have now much more experience than we had then?

In 12 months?

Well, we have 12 months' more experience anyway. In any event the Minister has said several times that the purpose of the Bill is to give back as much power as possible to the elected representatives.

I consulted them for that purpose and not one of them asked me——

I do not think we will go into the Minister's consultations now; we are not all quite happy about the manner in which they were carried out whatever the results have been. If the entire results are contained in this measure, some of the comments of the Labour Party, I am afraid, are being justified. However, all I want to do in this amendment is to follow in line with the spirit that the Minister says is behind this Bill——

Oh, yes, I accept that.

—and give back as much power as possible. Can the Minister point out—apart from the slight departure from what he says is the principle of managerial control— any serious objection to giving to the local authority the power to appoint a doctor or a county engineer or an accountant or to make some such appointment for a very limited period until the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission has been brought into operation?

Yes, I will give you an answer. Take, for instance, a dispensary district out in an isolated area where a doctor suddenly goes sick. Deputy Bartley wants me to call a special meeting of the local authority to appoint a doctor temporarily in his place, even though a doctor may have a pain in his tummy and wants a week's holiday. We are continually appointing—county managers are continually appointing—temporary dispensary doctors to replace men who have been taken ill and the Deputy wants to call a special meeting of the local authority every time we have to make one of these temporary appointments. I think it is better, simpler, and less costly on the taxpayers as it is, because all the local councillors will have to receive their travelling expenses if they come to one of these meetings and if this suggestion were accepted they would be meeting practically every week. In our county alone we have at least 30 or 40 doctors. Each doctor may be sick, let us say, once a year and if you are going to call a special meeting of the council every time you want to appoint a deputy or a locum tenens, I think, if the Deputy considers it, he will see the danger, the expense and frustration of the whole thing.

Would the Minister tell us, if the council would have to be called together formally because the local doctor had a pain in his tummy, how were these tummy pains dealt with in pre-managerial days?

I beg the Deputy's pardon. I did not catch what he said.

The Minister is reducing his argument against the amendment to the ridiculous. Does he not know that there have been a great many cases before managers were ever thought of in which doctors and other executive officers of local authorities became temporarily incapacitated? How were these temporary vacancies dealt with then? Surely the Minister is not offering, as a serious objection to this amendment, a temporary indisposition of a doctor or other officer?

I understand they were actually dealt with retrospectively. The council was merely a rubber stamp. Somebody filled the job and the council dealt with it when they met.

What is the objection to doing it that way now?

I object to the council becoming a rubber stamp. If the Deputy wants them as a rubber stamp he can have them, but I will not.

I think the Minister has made quite a strong case against Deputy Bartley's amendment. As regards the amendment standing in my name, I do not think the Minister has made a strong case. His approach seems to be illogical because it seems to me that we have spent the last few hours in discussing whether or not it was right for a county council to have the power to appoint rate collectors, and the House decided against me that it would be a gross infringement of the civil liberties of county councils if they were not allowed to appoint rate collectors. The issue in my amendment is whether county councils should have the right to appoint temporary county managers, or whether the Minister should have that power exclusively. Now the attitude of the Minister is—"by all means, let county councils appoint rate collectors but let me appoint county managers, even in temporary capacities." It does not appear to be very consistent with the earlier attitude adopted by the Minister and the Department.

But the Deputy sees my reason for it—in the case of a death?

I see it only to a very limited extent. I was just trying to recollect while the Minister was talking, cases in which there had been vacancies, and I feel the positions were left vacant for some considerable period by the Department.

I do not think that is right. All executive functions cease in such a case and we would not have left it open.

There are provisions for appointing a deputy manager, and I believe in a number of cases there is a deputy manager to cover the period during which a county manager is indisposed, or away or on leave or something like that. Presumably, in the fortnight, three weeks or month following the death of a county manager the deputy county manager could perform the functions of county manager without grave difficulty.

I will be quite frank. I will tell the Minister exactly what was operating in our minds when we put down this amendment. We felt that very often vacancies in major posts of this kind are left unfilled for a very long period and that inevitably there would be a tendency on the part of the Department to put in some official as acting county manager who would be left there for a very long time before the appointment was made. It was to obviate that eventuality. It was to obviate having departmental officials acting as county managers in various county councils, while a new county manager was in process of being appointed. We felt that if the appointment of the county manager was left in the hands of a county council in a truly democratic fashion, restoring full powers to the local authority, there would be less tendency on the part of the Department to appoint some of their officials to administrative positions in county councils. That was the purpose of the amendment and I do not see that there is any very grave objection to it. There is very little more I can add. I do not know if the Minister could see some method of reaching a compromise on it or not.

To be quite honest, I cannot understand the mind of the Minister at all. I do not know whether it is because I am too far south and he is too far north or not. Apparently, the same kind of mind is being brought into this as was brought in in the difference between Youghal bridge and the bridge in Athlone. There is about the same line-up.

Ballyhooly bridge was mentioned to-day.

Here is the Minister fighting hard for four hours to preserve to the local authority the right to appoint rate collectors and sticking to his guns and winning. Now, when it is a question of the appointment of a deputy county manager he twists around and says that he must go up to the Department to be appointed. The Minister's argument is completely ridiculous. I say that as a member of a local authority for the past 30 years. What happened when a county secretary fell ill? Did not the man next in charge step in and take over? Was not that the way it was done? There was no special meeting called to appoint a temporary secretary who, in those days was far more important than the manager is now. There was no question of sanction from the Department of Local Government. Cannot this matter be settled very simply? While the manager is all right and has no pains in his tummy, the county council can appoint a deputy to act whenever the county manager is ill or absent for other cause.

If you wish, let the matter be submitted to the Department of Local Government for sanction. That deputy is there always in that capacity to act as manager if the manager for any reason is absent. I cannot see any reason for the Minister's objection to that course. It is a procedure that has stood the test of time and to which there was never any objection by the Department of Local Government before the County Management Act was introduced. That procedure was always carried out. If the county secretary fell ill the county accountant took over. In this case why should not the county council make the appointment? With all due respect to the Minister and his Department, I say that the county council has a far better knowledge of the capabilities of its officers than either the Department or the Minister can have.

I hope it is not because the Minister has got a pain in his tummy through walking around the Lobby that his outlook on this matter has changed. I would be very sorry if that were the case but some great change seems to have taken place in the Minister's attitude in the last quarter of an hour.

There are places worse than the tummy where one can get a pain.

I cannot understand the Minister's attitude. I have no more faith in a selection board set up by managers than I have in any other method of appointment. I see too many queer things coming out—including Youghal bridge. However, we will have that out later on.

It was not the county manager who fixed Youghal bridge; it was the county council.

We are not discussing Youghal bridge.

I cannot see any grounds for the Minister's attitude. The Minister has visited every county council in the country and has said to them: "What do you want? If there is anything wrong in the County Management Act, I will give you full and free permission to correct it, to change it".

They did not ask for this one. Neither did the Deputy when he was addressing the county council.

No. The Minister knows what happened—I do not know—in the delays which occurred. When a Minister is expected at 12 and he comes at 4.30, we know what happens in the meantime.

Nothing happened to the Deputy.

No. In view of the Minister's attitude on amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 31, in which I supported him, I cannot see why he has a different attitude in regard to the amendments of Deputy MacBride and Deputy Bartley. I cannot see any fair ground for that change. It is as bad as the decision he took between the Black-water and the Shannon.

In addition to what I have already said, I think it is but fair to say to Deputy MacBride that we do not want the manager to be the creature of any particular section. We want him to try to hold a balance. If you have two candidates on the staff of a local authority and both are ambitious enough to become temporary managers they will pull strings and, if one of them is appointed, he feels possibly, or may feel, that he is under obligation to certain sections of the council who sponsored him.

He cannot under this Bill. Then what about rate collectors?

They have not got the same functions.

They compile the Voters Lists.

That is a statutory obligation only and is quite a different thing altogether. They may be penalised if they do not do their duties properly in that respect.

And there are checks afterwards.

Yes, there are checks. Under this particular Bill, it is proposed that the county councils will send the statutory request to the Local Appointments Commissioners and not to the Minister, so that there will be no delay. The councils are the people who will make the request and accordingly, as I have pointed out already, there should be no undue delay on their part in making the application. But supposing for a second that the council had the appointment of temporary officers and at the same time that they had the power to make the statutory request to the Local Appointments Commission, they could appoint one of their pets and they might be very, very slow in sending in their statutory request to the Local Appointments Commissioners. They might delay a considerable time if they had the power to make a temporary appointment. If Deputy Bartley had considered that point he might see the objection.

That could not happen under my amendment.

There was a provision under which the chairman of the council could appoint a temporary manager in the event of the existing manager withdrawing or resigning from his appointment.

That still remains in the case of a deputy but we are dealing with temporary appointments here, not with the appointment of a deputy.

There is only a matter of hours between the two types of appointment.

I think there is no difference between the two. The Minister has been referring to fundamental principles in relation to these appointments. How fundamental is the difference between the appointment of a deputy and the appointment of a temporary man? It is not easy to see what the difference is at all.

There is a very big difference.

The Minister made some reference to the analogy between the functions of a council in relation to temporary appointments and a rubber stamp as an objection to my reply to his very trivial objection. The temporary appointment of a doctor in the case where the existing doctor was temporarily indisposed was mentioned. Does not the Minister know that the councils are no more than rubber stamps in relation to all appointments that come from the Local Appointments Commissioners at the present time?

The councils have no functions in it at all; it is the manager.

All right, but the councils have provided the money in any event.

They strike the rate but the unfortunate ratepayer pays the money.

The council raises the money through the rates. The Minister will have to give us some more cogent reason for refusing to give back to the councils the right, for instance, to appoint a county engineer.

Deputy Bartley does not take the engineer into account in his amendment.

The Minister took examples. He took the case of a dispensary doctor who suffered from some slight indisposition. Now I am taking the case of a county engineer.

The Deputy did not take that when drafting his amendment.

Are not all engineers appointed by the commission?

So are doctors, and if a doctor wants to appoint a locum tenens——

I quite agree. My amendment refers to all appointments that come from the commission and in so far as it is necessary to appoint a temporary person to hold an appointment until the permanent appointment is made. The Minister has given us no more cogent reason than the fact that these appointments, taken all in all, represent only a small minority of the appointments made by local authorities——

Who would have to hold a special meeting to appoint, for instance, a locum tenens.

If I understand Deputy Bartley's amendment correctly, it means that where one of these officers of the council either dies or resigns, his job is, for one reason or another——

That is not in the amendment as put in.

I would ask Deputy Bartley to clarify that.

The amendment deals with appointments pending appointments made by the Local Appointments Commissioners.

It is not very plain.

If the Minister is basing his objection on some technical reason like the phraseology of the amendment, will he accept the spirit of the amendment seeing that the amendment is being offered by me as being in line with the spirit of his Bill?

I accept the spirit in which the amendment is offered.

If the Minister accepts the spirit of the amendment——

I did not say the spirit of the amendment but the spirit in which it is being put in.

All right, but can the Minister show me where the effect of this amendment is contrary to the spirit of his Bill? It is designed to give back to the elected representatives as many of the powers as possible.

They never had this power except as a rubber stamp.

Yes, they had it in pre-managerial days. Surely the Minister knows that the comparisons that have been made by Parties supporting the Government have been based on local government as we now have it compared with local government in pre-managerial days. Local authorities did have this power in pre-managerial days.

May I ask the Deputy a question: has he in mind temporary appointments or the appointment of deputies?

Let me give the Minister a contrary case. Assuming, let us say, that a county engineer dies and it is found necessary to make a temporary appointment until such time as the permanent appointment can be made, my amendment is designed to give the power to make that temporary appointment to the county council.

Listening to this cross-talk between the Minister and Deputy Bartley, I think it is apparent that the Minister is under a misapprehension. The Minister up to now has based what I thought was a very strong argument on the question of the appointment of deputies. He was referring to officers such as doctors who are temporarily absent from their post due to sickness, or for some other reason, for a short time.

Or in a case where the doctor might drop dead.

I am talking about the position where the holder of the office is absent for a short time.

I will accept that.

I thought Deputy Bartley's amendment was based on that assumption.

I quite agree.

That undermines the case put up by the Minister against the amendment.

Except the case where the doctor drops dead.

We will have to get clear, that in the case of a doctor or any other officer being temporarily absent——

I said "dropped dead".

We are seeking then by this amendment to give the council power to appoint an officer in cases where an officer dies, resigns, or becomes——

I do not wish to interrupt the Deputy, but I would like to clarify the matter. Would the Deputy suggest then that a dispensary be left vacant, with no medical officer appointed to it, until the local council would meet and appoint a temporary doctor? Is that the Deputy's suggestion?

I appreciate that argument but the Minister did say that it would mean that you might have a council meeting every week to appoint a doctor. That is not so.

I would not say that.

They would not die that fast.

I am glad we have clarified the matter.

I think the Minister ought to accept this amendment. I understand he is not accepting it and I am surprised at that in view of the professed tendency of the Bill towards giving more power to the elected representatives of the people. This is a trivial matter, if you like, but it is a step in the right direction towards giving more power to the elected representatives. If we cannot trust the elected representatives to make a temporary appointment pending the selection by the Appointments Commission, of a person to fill the vacancy permanently, they are hardly worthy of being trusted as representatives of the people at all.

I understood the Minister in his reply to state that the likelihood would be that the council would be canvassed for temporary appointments, that a section of the councillors would lean towards a particular candidate and that thereafter the successful candidate might feel under an obligation in some way or other to those members of the council who supported his appointment. That again is taking a very poor view both of the person who has been selected to fill the vacancy and of the representatives who would appoint him. Under the present system, where temporary appointments are being made in some cases by a local board selected to make the appointment, everything is not satisfactory.

There is one thing that would be in favour of the suggested method of selection even for a temporary post; whether the period would be short or long the appointment would be made openly and above board and the public would know whether the candidate whose merits were outstanding was the person selected or not. All of us know cases where local boards have selected what obviously was not the best qualified candidate.

For example?

It might not be fair to give an example but I could give one. If the selection were made by resolution of the council, as asked in the amendment here, it would certainly be publicly discussed and those supporting a particular candidate could state what were the merits of the candidate whom they were supporting.

We will have local elections this year and it is expected that the people will select representatives who are capable of carrying out their duties as local representatives. I am afraid the Minister is not showing much faith in the new councils to be set up if he is not going to trust them with this little bit of power that is being asked for under this amendment. I think that on second thoughts, when the Minister takes into consideration that this Bill is supposed to have a leaning towards giving more powers to local representatives generally, he will not hesitate to give this little extra power.

I am surprised the Deputy did not make the suggestion when I asked for suggestions. I am surprised he never made the suggestion to Deputy Smith when he introduced the Bill last year.

I was making many suggestions.

They are not on record.

I think I even had amendments submitted not dissimilar to this one, if I remember rightly. However, when the Minister was telling us how much power he was going to restore to elected representatives, one would not even dream of suggesting a trivial matter like this. Surely if the Minister's Bill is worth what he claims it to be, he will not hesitate to give that little extra power to the new council which will be elected in June next and thereby do away with this system which prevails at present of making appointments by local committees which does not seem to be satisfactory to anybody. I strongly urge that the Minister should accept the amendment.

I would like to know what is the present position. I am not conversant with it and the Minister might enlighten us. We know that a doctor must be at hand 24 hours a day, 365 days in the year. Are we going to wait until a council sits and let a fortnight go by before an appointment is made? I would like to know the present position before I would agree to any change.

I think we had the question of principle discussed here for six hours on the appointment of rate collectors, and I suggested to the Minister that there were Deputies in this House trying to ride two horses in the same race. The Deputies who are opposing this amendment now and who voted against the three former amendments are attempting to ride two horses at the same time. I was practically accused here of casting a slur on members of local authorities when I suggested the removal of the power we discussed under the previous amendment. Here is an amendment to restore powers to the local authority and it is being turned down. I cannot understand that unless it is showing a mentality — this is not towards the Minister for Local Government — a general mentality on the part of the Custom House——

The Minister is responsible for the Bill. The officials do not enter into this at all.

——unless it shows a desire on the part of various Governments to be little members of local authorities. If power is left to play cat and mouse with regard to the appointment of rate collectors, why should the Minister for Local Government, when higher responsibility can be given to them, turn down the suggestion as outlined in this amendment? I am putting a case, repetition if you like, but as far as the Minister and members of the Opposition are concerned they are restoring more powers to local authorities. As far as I am concerned, I will personally oppose that amendment because, if a man is to be consistent in this House, he must show, in a logical way, the arguments which he puts up for amendments which follow each other so closely that he cannot just vote a different way on each of them.

The same abuses can creep in if this amendment is accepted, as are apparent at the present time in the appointment of the gentlemen to whom we have been referring for six hours— the rate collectors. If we have a dispensary doctor appointed on a temporary basis, and if it is left to some resolution of a county council, there will be general canvassing immediately. If there are two doctors in for the temporary appointment as dispensary doctor, each of them will have to prove that his political record is good enough to get the votes of whatever party has the majority on the council. It is a matter of bringing politics straightway into it. I find myself supporting the Minister in resisting this amendment, but I think that the Minister should be accepting the amendment if he was being logical in his argument on the former amendment on rate collectors.

I suggest to the Minister that he is opposing the principles of his own Bill. The Bill states:

"The purpose of this Bill is to amend the City and County Management Acts so as to give to the elected members of local authorities greater and more detailed powers in regard to expenditure, and greater powers of direction, supervision and control over the actions of city and county managers generally, and to make certain minor amendments in the law relating to city and county management."

That is the purpose of the Bill—to give the elected representatives more power. Will the Minister kindly accede to the request of his colleague and tell us how temporary doctors are at present appointed, and who appoints them? I think it would be enlightening to know that. There is no difference whatever between the line we are taking in this and the line we took with regard to rate collectors. The only difference is that the Minister is drawing a line of distinction. My only objection to those two amendments is that they are not going far enough. I think the manager would be a lot more human, and would pay a lot more heed to what the representatives would tell him, if he were elected by the people. I think it is a huge joke to bring all high appointments before the Local Appointments Commission or selection board.

I do not think a statutory body should be described as a huge joke. It is a statutory body.

I do not mind whether it is statutory or monumental. I am just judging this thing as I see it. If the Minister would tell us to-night who will appoint a temporary doctor——

Deputy Corry.

We would have to pay his travelling expenses to go down and do it.

The temporary doctor to fill the vacancy might be appointed by the local home assistance officer until the next meeting.

The next meeting of what? Are we going back to the old days of the boards of guardians?

I am telling the Minister what does happen to my knowledge. I think I have as long a knowledge of local government as the Minister has. I have 30 years of experience, and I can tell the Minister how they are appointed at present. The Minister was requested by one of his colleagues to tell the House how they were appointed, but he was cute enough not to answer.

I did answer.

I told the House they were appointed by the manager.

I beg your pardon, they are not. They might be sanctioned by the manager after they are a week working.

The manager might never know they were appointed.

In the ordinary course if a doctor died suddenly, say, in Cobh, you could not expect the manager to be pulled out of bed to be told: "You must appoint a temporary man immediately."

We take it that somebody will have to be pulled out of bed, and why not pull the manager out? It is easy enough to do that, but it is not so easy to pull all the councillors out and bring them to a meeting.

I do not want to be pulled out of bed at night. I am putting the case to the Minister that, having opposed the taking away the power of appointing rate collectors, I cannot see how he can completely turn about now and oppose giving those powers which are, after all, the principle of the Bill. If one is right the other is right. I am supporting Deputy MacBride's amendment because I consider it is a wise one. I have given the Minister previous instances of what has gone on for 30 years. If anything happened to the secretary of the county council in pre-managerial days, the accountant always stepped in and did his work. There was no noise about it.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 30th March, 1955.