That a sum not exceeding £161,210 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1966, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice, and of certain other Services administered by that Office, including a Grant-in-Aid; and of the Public Record Office, and of the Keeper of State Papers and for the purchase of Historical Documents, etc.
As the House is aware, the tradition in dealing with my Department's Estimates had been to treat the six Votes, for which the Minister for Justice is responsible, as one group so that there may be one general discussion, without, of course, prejudicing the right of any Deputy to raise a particular point on any individual Vote. With your permission, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I propose to follow this tradition.
The total Estimate for all the Votes for which I am responsible is £10,277,340. The total provision for last year was £9,709,300. The proposed provision for this year is, therefore, higher by £568,040 than the total amount provided last year. This increase is principally due to some salary increases determined by the conciliation and arbitration machinery, increases in the rates of travelling and subsistence allowances, increased provision for Garda pensions, the provision for a modest increase in staff, mainly in the Land Registry.
The Vote for the Office of the Minister for Justice caters for the staff and services of the Department's Headquarters, and shows an increase of £59,500. Of this increase, £20,000 is required for a new service, Free Legal Aid in Criminal Cases, to which I shall refer later. The headquarters staff is being strengthened by the provision of additional officers to deal with a growing volume of work on the law reform side, the requirements of prison and penal reform work, and the investigational activities of the Adoption Board, for which additional Welfare Officers are being provided.
The Vote includes provision for a substantial increase—from £500 to a maximum of £4,000, in the assistance to be given to the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for the publication of the Law Reports. Discussions between my Department and the Council, with a view to arranging for the sale of judgments at scrivenery fees, and for the prompt publication of enlarged volumes of Reports, have been going on for some time and we have now reached the stage where I can say, with some confidence, that a satisfactory outcome is in sight. As a legal practitioner at one time myself I was aware of the great need for these reforms and I am happy to have been able to bring the negotiations to the final stages. I am confident that the Courts and the legal profession will be well served under the new scheme. There is, however, a reduction from £3,500 to £1,500 in the assistance provided in the Vote for the Council for the publication of legal text books; the simple fact is that the sums provided in the Vote in the past few years have not been expended and the reduced sum reflects a more realistic assessment of probable requirements under this heading.
Dnring the past year, substantial advances were made in relation to our Programme of Law Reform which was foretold in a White Paper in 1962. This programme is so extensive and capable of such expansion that the determination of an order of priorities is unavoidable. For my own part, I am anxious that immediate emphasis should be placed on practical measures of reform which will benefit the ordinary citizen. To this end, I have asked the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure, which was set up in 1962 under the chairmanship of a judge of the Supreme Court, to examine as a matter of urgency certain proposals which I have put before it with a view to simplifying legal procedure and reducing the cost of litigation. I had in mind that the Committee might look at such matters as enlarging substantially the jurisdiction of the District Court and of the Circuit Court so as to make law more available to our people throughout the country. In my view, there are many issues between parties which could be agreed on a pre-trial basis and so save considerable time in the hearing of litigation. This is one of the matters on which I have asked the Committee to express their views.
I am glad to pay special tribute to this Committee for the good work that they are doing. They have already produced two valuable Reports in relation to the preliminary investigation of indictable offence— that is the taking of depositions— and in relation to juries. These Reports are being studied in my Department with a view to the promotion of the required legislation.
The Ground Rents Commission, under the chairmanship of a judge of the Circuit Court, reported during the year and recommended that leaseholders should be given the right to acquire the freehold of their premises. The Government have accepted the recommendations of the Commission, in principle, and the necessary legislation is now in course of preparation. I know the House will join with me in thanking the Commission who gave so generously of their time and valuable experience, and who by their report have hastened the achievement of a most desirable reform.
As regards the report of the Inter-departmental Committee on Malicious Injuries to the Person and Property, the Government have approved publication of a summary of the report and this is now with the printers. The action to be taken by the Government on the report must await consideration in the light of public reaction to the proposals made by the Committee.
During 1964 Bills relating to the abolition of capital punishment in most cases of murder, guardianship of infants, registration of title, civil liability, and pawnbrokers were passed. The Pawnbrokers Act came into force on 1st January, 1965, but the Registration of Title Act, which provides for the consolidation and amendment of the law relating to the registration of title to land and for the eventual compulsory registration of all the land, urban and rural, has not yet been brought into operation owing to the necessity for a large-scale reorganisation in the Land Registry.
Another Act which has been brought into operation is the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act, 1962, which, in accordance with an order which I have made, commenced on 1st April, 1965. As from that date, in respect of criminal proceedings not initiated earlier, free legal aid may be assigned by any court to conduct the defence or an appeal, as the case may be, on behalf of a poor person. Applications for such free legal aid are to be determined by the courts on the basis of the insufficiency of the means of the applicants and of the seriousness of the charges and the circumstances of cases. Solicitors will be assigned by the courts and counsel are also allowed in more serious cases. The fees will be paid by the State according to a scale prescribed in the Regulations. Travelling expenses of solicitors and allowances to defence witnesses may also be paid.
This scheme of free legal aid is an experimental one and its continuance will largely depend on the way in which it is operated. Its financial aspects are of very great importance to the State and the intentions of the legislature will be disregarded if the scheme is not operated in a commonsense, uniform manner by the courts throughout the country. In introducing the measure, my predecessor thought it desirable to outline the circumstances in which free legal aid might be granted and now that the scheme is commencing to operate, I, too, feel it desirable to mention the circumstances under which it is expected that the scheme will operate. I think that I cannot improve on the Ministerial statement on the Second Reading of the Bill outlining the principles to be followed.
(a) The situation does not, however, call for the grant of free legal aid in every criminal case or even in serious criminal cases where, as so often happens, there is no difficulty about the facts or about the law applicable to them. For example, free legal aid could not be justified in the case of experienced criminals—and there are quite a few of them—who have deliberately decided to make a living of crime.
Accordingly, the scheme provided for in the Bill does not propose to allow the grant of free legal aid in any indiscriminate fashion. The courts will have the responsibility of examining each case—except where criminal appeals are permitted to be taken to the Supreme Court and where a point of law of exceptional public importance is bound to be involved—to see whether having regard to the particular circumstances it is essential in the interests of justice that free legal aid be provided. I have no doubt that the courts will interpret these provisions in a common sense manner just as similar provisions have been interpreted in Britain and Northern Ireland. In this way genuine miscarriages of justice will be prevented and the grant of legal aid will be confined to serious cases of real doubt or difficulty.
Two Bills are at present in course of passage through the House, the Succession Bill and the Extradition Bill. Deputies will be sufficiently familiar with the position in regard to the Succession Bill but I think it necessary to explain why it has not been possible, up to now, to make further progress on the Extradition Bill, which passed Committee Stage on 19th February, 1964, on the understanding that it would be recommitted to consider Opposition amendments which were to be tabled. Subsequently, as a result of decisions of the Supreme Court and of the British House of Lords, the existing reciprocal arrangements under the old Petty Sessions Act became inoperative.
The British, as a temporary measure, made an Order in Council which enabled our warrants to be enforced in Britain again and have since introduced legislation, after consultation with us, providing up-to-date arrangements in this matter. The Bill was re-introduced last week and the text and an explanatory memorandum will be circulated within the next few days. In this connection I might mention that already discussions have been taking place between the Commissioner of the Garda and the Inspector General of the RUC and between senior officers of the two police forces with a view to that closer co-operation in crime prevention and detection on both sides of the Border, which will be made possible by the enactment of the extradition legislation.
Proposals for the reciprocal enforcement of judgements and maintenance orders as between ourselves and the North and Britain are under examination in my Department, and I am hopeful that considerable progress will be made in these matters during the coming year. As regards our relations with the Council of Europe in the legal field, I had the honour of addressing the Consultative Assembly in January in relation to the deliberations of the Third Conference of European Ministers of Justice held in Dublin last May. My Department participated in the Council's legal activities during the past year, notably in the European Committee on Legal Co-operation, which directs and supervises the expanded legal programme of the Council, and in the Committee of Experts preparing a Uniform Law on Arbitration. We were represented also at the Tenth Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law held in October last and at a United Nations seminar in Rome on the treatment of delinquency.
The Adoption Board continues to handle a steady stream of applications for adoption orders. 1,003 orders were made in 1964, 163 more than in 1963. 499 of the orders were in respect of boys and 504 in respect of girls. At the end of 1964 there were 22 adoption societies registered by the Board and 77 per cent of the children in respect of whom adoption orders were made during the year were placed by adoption societies.
One of the Board's problems was removed by the Adoption Act, 1964, which provides that, where a child was illegitimate when the mother gave her formal consent to its adoption and the Board has had no evidence brought to its notice that the child was subsequently legitimated, it may assume that the child was not legitimated. This provision is important primarily because it relieves the Board of the need to make last-minute enquiries to ensure that the natural parents had not married—a task that was often difficult and almost invariably had a negative result. The 1964 Act also made some other modifications that benefited some applicants.
Under the 1952 Act, an application for an adoption order had to be made before the child reached the age of seven—there was an exception in favour of children in the custody of applicants before the passing of the Act. The Board is now empowered to raise that limit to nine years, to deal with cases where, for one reason or another, the adoptive parents had failed to make the application in time even though they had informally adopted the child earlier. Under the 1952 Act the minimum age for adopters, save in the case of relatives where special provisions apply, is 30 years. The 1964 Act reduced the limit to 25 years in the case of a married couple, married to each other for at least three years.
In order to facilitate adopters, the Board are holding more meetings out of Dublin. In 1964, 23 out of a total of 61 meetings of the Board were held outside Dublin. Meetings were held in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and Tralee. The Chairman of the Board, who is a Metropolitan District Justice, has recently been relieved of his ordinary judicial duties so that he can devote himself full-time to the duties of Chairman.
The number of welfare officers working for the Board has been increased from two to four and it is hoped to recruit another officer in the near future.
During the year, 3,384 aliens were in residence here for periods of three months or more. The corresponding figure for 1963 was 3,183 and, in fact, there has been no significant change in our resident alien population for many years. It is estimated that, apart from those who came here from Britain and Northern Ireland, over 68,000 aliens came to this country direct from the Continents of Europe and America, as compared with 55,500 in 1963. Of course, the very great majority of aliens arriving here are visitors for a week or two and as their stay does not exceed three months they are not classifiable as registered aliens under the Aliens Act.
Eighty-one persons were granted certificates of naturalisation as Irish citizens in 1964. In all, just over 2,400 persons—roughly one-fifth being under 21 years of age—have been naturalised since 1935, when provision was first made in our law for the grant of certificates of naturalisation. Twenty-eight per cent of these were British, 16 per cent German, 7 per cent Italian, with lesser percentages otherwise. Aliens of 44 nationalities have been granted Irish citizenship.
The Film Censor examined 980 films in 1964. Eight hundred and twenty-four films were passed — seven on appeal—and 113 were passed with cuts —three on appeal. Forty-three films were rejected. The total footage examined was just under 3,300,000, a drop of about 80,000 feet on the previous year.
As the House is aware, from earlier discussions on the subject, the five-year term of office of the Censorship of Films Appeal Board expired at the end of the year and, in reconstituting the Board for another term, I decided that it would be as well to have appeals heard by entirely new personnel, persons who would not feel tied down by decisions made in earlier years when standards of viewing differed somewhat. The personnel include a judge of the Circuit Court as chairman, a Metropolitan Justice, two Catholic and a Protestant clergyman, a psychiatrist, a trade union leader and social workers, all of whom were interested in film presentation. It would seem that the operation of our film censorship system is generally regarded as satisfactory. Of course it is impossible to please everyone.
The Censorship of Publications Board examined 537 books and 31 periodicals in 1964. Of these, 16 books were examined as a result of formal complaints and 521 were examined on reference from the customs authorities. The Board made 361 Prohibition Orders in respect of books and 21 in respect of periodicals. Seven of the books had been the subject of Prohibition Orders in earlier years but, for technical reasons, it was necessary to make repeat Orders in respect of them. There were 10 appeals in respect of books, one of which was allowed, and two appeals in respect of periodicals, neither of which was allowed.
Comhairle na Mire Gaile awarded two bronze medals and 46 certificates for bravery.
I now pass on to the Garda Síochána Vote, which is No. 22. The provision for this Vote shows an increase of £291,520 on the total provision made in the original and supplementary estimates last year. The major portion of this increase is in the pensions subhead—subhead H—which shows an increase of £1,73,000. This is due to the continuing increase in the number of pensioners caused by resignations from the Force on grounds of age. The increase in pensions granted in October last to State pensioners generally has also contributed to the increase in this subhead.
There is an increase of about £50,000 in subhead A, but were it not for the fact that it was necessary to provide for payment of 53 weeks' pay, instead of 52, to weekly-paid men— that is about one-third of the Force— expenditure under this subhead would be about the same as last year.
The clothing subhead also shows an increase. This is because it was necessary to provide for an issue of great coats this year. Also it is necessary to replenish clothing stocks, which have run rather low, and provision has been made for this. Price increases have also had an effect.
The increase in subhead B reflects increases in a number of allowances, such as subsistence allowance and locomotion allowance, that have been granted to the Force following recommendations from the Garda Conciliation Council under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme. Provision is also made in this subhead for the purchase of some new equipment, such as photographic and other technical equipment, and also for additional wireless equipment. This is in line with the general policy of providing for the police whatever technical aids they need and of keeping their equipment as up-to-date as possible.
I am glad to report that there has been substantial continued progress in Garda building. During the year under review 19 new stations with 27 married quarters have been provided by the Office of Public Works, and 155 houses have been provided by the National Building Agency. This is an increase of some 80 houses on the figures for the previous year. At present, work is in progress on 16 new stations and 188 houses and married quarters.
The new Training Centre at Templemore, which was opened a year ago, is now functioning smoothly. The accommodation there caters for 320 recruits which is about twice as many as it was possible to house in the old Depot; in addition, there is accommodation for resident unmarried training staff and for members taking more advanced courses. At a period when large numbers of Gardaí are retiring on grounds of age, we can count ourselves fortunate that steps have been taken to provide the new accommodation in time to meet the increased requirements.
The transfer of the Training Centre to Templemore coincided with the introduction of a change in the system of recruit training. The former system, which had been in operation for some years, provided an initial period of 22 weeks' instruction in the training school, followed, after about 12 months' practical work at a Garda station, by a final period of 4 weeks' fulltime instruction in the training school. It was felt that better results would be achieved and a greater degree of efficiency brought about by deferring, until the recruit had gained some practical experience, the study of the heavier subjects in the criminal code. Accordingly, the period of initial training has been shortened from 22 weeks to 18 weeks, and the final period of instruction, which, as before, is given after one year's "on-the-job" training, has been lengthened correspondingly from 4 weeks to 8 weeks. On the conclusion of the final period of instruction the recruit will be tested by an examination which will cover the entire period of training from attestation up to the date of the examination. The new scheme provides that the recruit will study the more involved aspects of his work after he has gained some practical experience and I am confident that the result will be that on completion of his training a recruit will be much better qualified than before to undertake the full range of his duties.
The strength of the Force and its distribution throughout the country continues to be kept under active review. A study of the position in Dublin led to the implementation in June last of a major reorganisation of the arrangements for policing the city and its environs. In carrying out this reorganisation, three major factors were borne in mind: firstly, the need for unified police control of the city, the outer suburbs and nearby towns; secondly, the desirability of reducing the size of the former districts, that is, the geographical units in direct charge of Superintendents; and thirdly, the desirability of allocating more officers to specialised duties of criminal investigation and traffic control.
The factors I have mentioned arose directly from the great increase in population, not only in the city proper but also in the outer suburbs, and from the increase not only in the volume but also in the complexity of urban crime and traffic. Although one-half of all crime in the State is committed in the metropolis, only about one-tenth of the total strength of Chief Superintendents and Superintendents was assigned to it.
In June last the new Dublin Metropolitan Area was set up and the reorganisation brought Dublin City and its environs, from Howth to Bray, under unified control. The enlarged area has a population of slightly more than one-fourth of the total population of the State, and has a serving police strength of 2,026, which is 260 more than the strength of the former Metropolitan Division.
The new area is in charge of an Assistant Commissioner, and provision is made for him to have the assistance at area headquarters of a Chief Superintendent and four Superintendents for specialised duties related to crime supervision, criminal investigation, crime prevention, traffic control and administration. The new area is divided into two Divisions, each in charge of a Chief Superintendent. At each Divisional Headquarters there will be, in addition to the Chief Superintendent, a Superintendent for criminal investigation. There will also be a Superintendent for traffic control.
The new area has a total of 13 districts, each in charge of a superintendent. Seven of these districts are attached to the Southern Metropolitan Division, and six to the Northern Metropolitan Division. The Garda authorities are fully satisfied that this new scheme of control around Dublin has already achieved better police results in dealing with crime and other police matters.
The increased requirements of the Dublin area, particularly in the matter of officers, is fortunately only part of the picture. While it has been necessary to provide, as I have outlined, additional officers for Dublin, a review of police distribution throughout the country showed that these officers could be made available, without increasing the overall strength, by re-organising some country Divisions where the officer strength had proved to be capable of some reduction. This reorganisation has already taken place in Kilkenny, Meath and Donegal and in that way it has been found possible to transfer three Superintendents to the new Dublin area. Police arrangements in some other Divisions are at present under review. The simple fact is that, outside of Dublin and one or two other large centres of population, organised crime is practically non-existent.
I should like to assure the House, however, in regard to these transfers, and also in regard to the closing or reduction of stations, that changes are made only after it has been clearly established that the efficiency of police supervision of the areas concerned will not suffer as a result. In every case, alternative arrangements are made to ensure that the area concerned is adequately policed. It is, in my opinion, a good thing that the operation of the system permits of the reallocation of manpower from place to place where the services of Gardaí can be most effectively used at particular times. I am sure that there will be general agreement that, when additional Gardaí are required for any police purposes, they should, as far as possible, be provided from within the Force. There is no question, of withdrawing officers or men from any place where they are needed. I am satisfied that we have a very fine police machine in this country which is functioning smoothly and efficiently. The pay is good, the conditions of service are good and we are getting plenty of recruits of the right calibre.
I am glad to report that the Garda authorities are pressing ahead with the campaign to encourage members to participate actively in all branches of outdoor and indoor sport. Each Garda Division now has an active sports committee, and the Executive Committee, which is under the chairmanship of a Deputy Commissioner, includes representatives of the various games and sports. During recruit training, members are encouraged in every possible way to take part in sports. Playing fields, handball alleys, and a basketball court have already been provided at the Training Centre in Templemore, and organised games play an important part in the training course. When the new swimming pool at Templemore is completed, as I hope it will be shortly, there will be a fresh emphasis on swimming and life-saving. Gardaí in Dublin continue to have access to the swimming pool of Messrs. Arthur Guinness & Co., and this generous gesture on the part of the firm makes a very valuable contribution to the promotion of skill in swimming and life-saving techniques.
I am sorry to have to say that the upward trend of recent years in the number of crimes being committed has continued. The toal number of indictable crimes in the year ended 30th September, 1964, was 17,700 as against 16,203 in 1963 and 15,307 in 1962. Larcenies showed the biggest increase —from 10,203 in 1963 to 11,972 in 1964, and housebreaking and similar offences increased from 4,006 in 1963 to 4,282 in 1964.
More than 10,000 of these indictable offences were committed in the new Dublin Metropolitan police area which embraces Dublin city, most of County Dublin and small portions of some of the adjoining counties. It is apparent, therefore, that the incidence of crime outside the Dublin area is comparatively small.
I can assure the House that no efforts are being spared in the war on crime but, as Deputies are aware, there appears to be a world-wide increase in crime. It is some consolation, perhaps, for us to know that the incidence of indictable crime per 100,000 of the population is far lower here than in neighbouring countries and that our police detection rates are far higher both as regards our cities and rural areas when compared with corresponding entities abroad. For instance, as compared with the latest available figures (1963) for England and Wales the number of indictable crimes per 100,000 of the population is very low: 632 in this country as against 2,100 there; furthermore, the detection rate here was 64 per cent as against 43 per cent there. Strict comparisons are not justifiable, of course, but the overall picture does seem to show that the crime wave which has flooded most countries in recent years has touched us comparatively lightly. That is not to suggest that we are complacent about the problem. All possible steps have been taken to equip the Gardaí with technical equipment and expert knowledge to deal with the situation. We have had a number of Superintendents, Inspectors and Sergeants trained in the most modern police methods at British and USA police schools. We have provided radio police networks around Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford and, gradually, the whole country is being covered by a radio police network which allows information to be flashed instantly to police stations over wide areas. We have also had a pilot two-way walkie-talkie scheme put into operation recently for the man-on-the-beat in Dublin. We are not concerned at all with the cost but with results, with getting the best system that suits our particular police needs. When this pilot scheme—or some other one— has proved itself the equipment will be supplied generally in Dublin and, later, in other centres. Deputies may have noticed that we have availed of the services of Telefís Éireann to broadcast topical weekly police messages. In general, the picture is of a good police machine functioning smoothly.
The total number of persons prosecuted for summary offences rose from 101,467 in 1963 to 120,715 in 1964, the biggest increase being in road traffic offences, for which nearly 95,000 persons were prosecuted as compared with less than 75,000 in the previous year.
The Vote for Prisons at £402,950 is £75,110 more than last year's. The greater part of the increase is accounted for by pay increases. The prisons staffs benefited from the ninth round pay increases as did other workers: in addition, a number of the grade claims submitted on behalf of the different prison officer ranks have been settled under the conciliation and arbitration process, involving increases in the pay of the grades concerned who comprise numerically more than 90 per cent of prison staffs. Also, the creation of ten additional temporary posts of Prison Officer has been necessary to cope with the larger numbers of persons in custody and more frequent escort duty, and to reduce overtime working.
An increase in the daily average numbers of persons in custody in the prisons and in St. Patrick's Institution —from 553 in 1963 to 573 in 1964— continued the upward population movement which has been a feature of the past few years. The steepest increase over these years has occurred in the average numbers undergoing detention in St. Patrick's—from 116 in 1961 to 154 in 1964—and reflects an increasing use by the courts of their powers under the Criminal Justice Act, 1960, of committal to that institution of male offenders between 16 and 21 years of age. The overall figures, however, seem to reflect, in part, a slight stiffening of the attitude of the courts in the matter of sentences, and, in part, that increase in crime, particularly among the younger age-groups, which is shown by the Garda Annual Crime Reports. As I mentioned earlier, the crime trend is one which gives cause for concern, though not for alarm. I am satisfied that our prison system, like our police system, should be—and is being—modernised to deal with new situations and that the Department of Justice are conversant with the steps that are being taken in a great many countries to-day to make prisons places of rehabilitation as far as possible. I shall say more about this later.
The total increase of £80,236 under Subhead A, and smaller increases under other subheads, are offset to the extent of £14,054 by a reduction in the provision for maintenance of prison buildings and equipment arising from completion of the major part of the work involved in the installation of the new boilers in Portlaoise Prison. In these old prison buildings, works of improvement and modernisation form an extensive programme which is taken in stages year by year: during the past year, apart from the completion of a hostel for corrective trainees in Mountjoy Prison, to which I shall refer again, new quarters for prison officers were completed in Limerick Prison, extensions were carried out in St. Patrick's and a number of cottages for married prison staff in Portlaoise were equipped with bathrooms. Modernisation work provided for in the coming year includes a major renovation of the kitchen in Limerick Prison; considerable renewals and extensions of electrical and plumbing services, particularly in Mountjoy Prison and in the officers' quarters in Portlaoise Prison; reconstruction of Portlaoise Prison laundry, and the installation of bathrooms in a further number of cottages in Portlaoise.
The increases provided for under the other subheads are, in the main, due to increases in the cost of some foods and materials and also to an increase in the number of prisoners to be provided for, although increases under these heads are estimated to be offset by an increase of nearly £3,000 in Appropriations-in-Aid, arising from anticipated increases in sales of prison products and in the rates of payment therefor.
The daily average number undergoing detention in St. Patrick's during 1964, at 154.6, was only fractionally greater than in 1963: nevertheless, the point has been reached when a further expansion of accommodation is hardly possible within the present buildings. There is already too little reserve accommodation for any unusual influx of persons on remand or on committal, and this brings to a head the question of the extent and location of the Institution.
Progress in the field of penal reform, since the last report on this subject was made to the House, has mainly been a matter of consolidating, improving upon and carrying further into effect the changes initiated as a result of the work of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders. Once again, however, some interesting new developments deserve mention.
Within the prison system itself, the most notable event has been the opening of a hostel in Mountjoy Prison for those prisoners who are at an advanced stage of corrective training and who are being prepared for their final release. The system of corrective training adopted, which appears to be justifying the hopes placed in it, is a co-ordinated effort involving the individual selection of prisoners for training, education and trades training in the prison school, the awakening and encouragement of both individual responsibility and the sense of individual achievement on the part of trainees, followed, in suitable cases, by the procurement for them of outside employment and a corresponding grant of day-to-day releases within the period of the sentence. The aim is to have the prisoner already established in society at the time of his final release.
In practice, before this, it was observed that further progress of those prisoners in outside employment was being retarded by their abrupt return to full prison conditions at the end of each ordinary working day. For that reason we have established a hostel, where such prisoners have their meals and spend their free time after their day's work. The hostel is also most useful in assisting in the segregation of corrective trainees from ordinary prisoners —a matter that has been found essential to the proper working of the training system. Prisoners not yet in outside employment but who have qualified in the preliminary stage of corrective training are also allowed a limited use of the hostel facilities.
In other directions, also, the corrective training system and other programmes of prison rehabilitation have been strengthened and improved. In-service training for recruit prison officers is now an established practice, and includes special courses for officers concerned with the corrective training unit. Advanced courses have been planned for the prisons supervisory staff. Two welfare officers have been appointed, and one of them is occupied whole-time in Mountjoy: the other looks after the welfare needs of the inmates in St. Patrick's and of the prisoners in Portlaoise and Limerick Prisons.
A scheme has been introduced for the assessment and grading of prisoners on reception so as to determine the most suitable mode of treatment for each prisoner. There is a reception board for preliminary screening, an induction centre, where the incoming prisoner is under observation for about three weeks, and finally an allocation board which decides the trade or work at which each prisoner is to be employed and the prisoner's fitness for corrective training. The latter Board sits from time to time to review its decision in each case. The prison personnel involved in the scheme comprise the Governor and his senior officers, the medical officer, and the welfare officer. In order that we may keep abreast of developments in other countries, the Governor and Deputy Governor of Mountjoy and the Governor of St. Patricks have attended courses in British prisons under a fellowship scheme of the Council of Europe, and senior administrators in my Department have taken part in penal reform seminars abroad. A great deal of thought is being given in international organisations to questions of penal reform and we hope to benefit from their conclusions.
In St. Patrick's Institution, the continuing increase in the number of committals, reflecting an even greater use by the courts of their powers of committal to that Institution as an alternative to imprisonment or to other forms of correction has made the problem of accommodation a pressing one. This pressure on accommodation has made the quest for a new location a matter of some urgency. After a careful investigation of the possibilities, and bearing in mind the essential needs for a progressive and effective system of treatment, we are now almost at the stage when a decision can be taken, and I hope, later in the year, to be in a position to indicate the Government's intentions. In the meantime, pressure on space has restricted to a considerable degree that expansion of the educational and training facilities which the Inter-Departmental Committee has recommended in relation to the Institution, as well as a proper system of segregation, but a solution of the problems of accommodation and location will enable us to move forward on these fronts.
It is necessary again to stress that these reforms of the prisons system are essentially long-range in their effects, and it would be imprudent to look for any far-reaching results at this stage. Nevertheless, such results as have been observed so far are very encouraging, and indicate that we are working along the right lines. Through the prison selection and training procedures, and through exercise of the powers to grant temporary working release under the Criminal Justice Act, 1960, a total of 68 prisoners and 28 inmates of St. Patrick's have since April, 1963, been placed in employment prior to the date of their final release.
Apart from the prisons and St. Patrick's, I am happy to report that advances have been made in a number of related fields. A probation administration officer has been appointed to head the probation service and, following on a course of study in England, has undertaken a review of probation work so as to increase its effectiveness and to establish a closer liaison between the professional service and voluntary societies working in the probation field. Proposals so far approved and put into effect provide that in every case where a juvenile appears in court for the first time charged with an indictable offence, a social inquiry report, prepared beforehand, will be available for the guidance of the court. Regular meetings to discuss common problems and to pool information have been arranged between the probation staff, the Garda juvenile liaison officers and other professional and voluntary social workers, while the professional probation staff has been re-deployed so as to make the most effective use of each probation officer's services.
The establishment in the Dublin area of a team of juvenile liaison officers is an innovation which has met with considerable success. These specially selected Gardaí have the informal care of those young offenders to whom a police "warning" has been given, in lieu of prosecution, and of other youngsters who, though they have not committed offences, are known to be in need of care and guidance. Since August, 1963, when the team was formed they have dealt with over 760 juveniles, less than seven per cent of whom have subsequently come under unfavourable notice. The initial reorganisation of the probation service, to which I referred a moment ago, has had the effect of bringing about a large measure of integration between the work of the juvenile liaison officers and that of the probation service and, on the record of their success to date, I think I can say that the juvenile liaison officers will become a permanent part of the Garda Síochána. Encouraged by the good results in Dublin, the scheme is now being extended to Cork and, later, it will be extended elsewhere.
The work of the Gardaí in promoting the boys' club movement is another matter to which I would like to refer in this connection. I do not wish to imply that this means the introduction into youth clubs by the Gardaí of a strong delinquent element, as some people seem to fear: on the contrary, the Gardaí are well aware of the dangers of such an attempt, and their work here is rather a preventive measure designed to assist in directing youthful energies into healthy and satisfying channels. Throughout the country they are co-operating with local interests in the establishment of new clubs and the promotion of existing clubs, and they are taking an active part in the management and running of almost 200 boys' clubs out of a national total of over 350. This total reflects an increase of almost 150 in the number of clubs during the past two years, an increase to which the efforts of the Gardaí have made a very substantial contribution. The figures represent a notable achievement, and I am glad to pay tribute to this work of the Gardaí which is important not only in the field of preventive justice but also as an indication of their constructive participation in the life of the local communities whom they serve.
At every level of activity here—in preventive work, in the treatment of offenders and in the rehabilitation of prisoners—it will bear saying, over and over again, that every facet of society is and ought to be involved. We are dealing with human beings who cannot be considered and treated in isolation from their environment, and society as a whole is vitally concerned in the effort to harmonise the relationship of each individual to the society in which he lives. For that reason, I am very happy to acknowledge the help given to the professional staffs concerned by the many voluntary social workers who assist the efforts of the police, the probation officers and the prison staffs. I refer, in particular to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul—especially the Guild of St. Philip—to the Salvation Army, to the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society and the St. Patrick's Welfare Association, the Legion of Mary and lastly but not least the Visiting Committees of the Prisons and St. Patrick's Institution.
Finally, I should like to say a special word of thanks to those employers through whose co-operation so many prisoners on their temporary or final release have been placed in remunerative employment and thus have been enabled to start a new life on level terms. The goodwill of these employers and the confidence they have shown in the recommendations of the prison authorities are a most heartening support and are deserving of our gratitude. More than any other single factor, the procurement of constant, gainful employment, immediately on discharge from prison, helps to place a man on his feet and to assist him in his rehabilitation in society. I would earnestly appeal to the employers, the trade unions and their respective organisations to facilitate the employment of such individuals as are brought to their notice.
The next Estimate, No. 26, is that for the Courts of Justice. At £502,730, it shows an increase of £80,830 over the previous year. The additional provision is required in the main to meet increases in remuneration of court officers and a small increase in the number of posts in the Circuit and District Court offices.
As was mentioned here last year, the number of permanent judges of the Circuit Court, including the President, was restored to ten under the Courts Act, 1964. This enabled a permanent appointment to be made to replace a judge who had retired on age grounds. The restoration of the number of Judges to ten, coupled with a limited reorganisation of the Circuit Court Circuits, also effected under the 1964 Act, is resulting in a more expeditious dispatch of the business of the Circuit Court.
On the District Court side, I should lik to mention that the District Court Rules Committee are actively engaged at the moment on the revision and consolidation of the present District Court Rules. The task they have set themselves is not an easy one and I would like to pay tribute to the zeal shown by the Committee and, in particular, the Chairman who is President of the District Court in taking up this work. The removal of outmoded procedures and the publication of new Rules in a single volume cannot but lead to greater efficiency in this important court.
The Superior Courts Rules Committee have also been actively engaged during the past year on a limited revision of the Rules of the Superior Courts rendered necessary by the enactment of the new Companies Act. The revised Rules have been published separately. As interested Deputies will be aware, the main Rules of the Superior Courts were published in 1962 without an Index, the preparation of which would have delayed unduly the coming into operation of the new Rules. I am pleased to say that this hiatus is now being made good by the publication in a separate volume of the Index. The preparation of the Index was undertaken by the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting. Arrangements are being made for the publication at a later date of a new volume of the Rules incorporating the Index.
The Public Record Office received for safe keeping during the year the usual batch of documents transferred from the offices of the various courts, including testamentary documents from the Principal and District Probate Registries and from County Registrars. All documents of this kind which were received have been arranged in proper form.
Presentations from solicitors and others have added 419 testamentary and 1,223 other documents already listed and numbered, and a large quantity of papers not yet listed but estimated to contain at least as much more. The most interesting acquisition of the year was that of the Blake papers of Martin J. Blake, MP for Galway for a long period in the early 19th century, and which may therefore be expected to throw much light on local history for this period.
The 59th Report of the Deputy Keeper was published during the year, and the Short Guide to the Public Record Office was reprinted, supplies having been exhausted. The Irish Manuscripts Commission has undertaken the publication of the Calendar to the Council Book of 1581-86, the Calendar to Departmental Correspondence, 1683-1740, and the list of political prisoners forming the first section of the Kilmainham Jail register of 1789-1814, and comprising those arrested in connection with the risings of 1798 and 1803. The Books of Survey and Distribution for County Clare have been reproduced photographically in preparation for publication by the Manuscripts Commission.
Estimate No. 27 is that for the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds. This year's figure of £225,270 represents an increase of £59,180 over the previous year. The additional provision is necessary to meet increases in remuneration and the cost of additional staff to cope with the growing volume of work coming into both Registries. Some provision is also being made for extra assistance that will be necessary to discharge the new duties arising for the Land Registry on the coming into operation of The Registration of Title Act, 1964.
The progressive increase in the business being transacted in both Registries, during recent years, continues. In the Land Registry the number of dealings received for registration rose from 31,910 in 1962, to 33,062 in 1963 and to 35,321 last year; applications for discharge of equities rose from 1,916 to 2,132 and 2,282 for the same years. Applications for Land Certificates increased by approximately 1,000 over the same period.
In the case of the Registry of Deeds, the number of registrations rose from 24,689 in 1962, to 27,563 in 1963 and 29,508 last year. Applications for searches increased from 6,249 to 6,709 over the same period.
The provision of adequate accommodation to meet the growing needs of the Land Registry continues to receive the attention of my Department. The recent completion of a one-storey extension to the present building has relieved to some extent the overcrowding in the existing accommodation. However, this represents only a fraction of the additional accommodation that will be required to meet the needs of the Registry in the years immediately ahead. Plans are well advanced for the provision of additional accommodation in the form of a two-storey extension over the Public Record Office. There is every hope that the new accommodation will be made available by the end of next year.
Before leaving this particular Estimate, I should, I feel, refer to the prospects of bringing the Registration of Title Act, 1964, into operation. The delay to date in giving effect to the important new provisions of the Act is due principally to difficulties being encountered in recruiting qualified legal staff. These difficulties are, however, having the close attention of my Department and I hope that a solution will be found to enable the Act to be brought into operation before the end of the present year.
The final Vote makes provision for the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests. The Estimate for 1965/ 66 is £11,580, that is £800 higher than the total provided for this service in 1964/65. This increase arises from the grant of normal increments and also from some salary increases fixed under the Conciliation and Arbitration scheme.
The useful and valuable work of the Commissioners continued during the year. Stocks to the value of £26,605 were transferred to the Commissioners during the year, and on 31st December last the nominal value of investments standing in their name was £1,975,100.
It remains for me to express my sincere thanks to the members of the various voluntary Boards and Commissions which are associated with my Department for their valuable services during the year. Since my appointment as Minister for Justice, I have been deeply impressed by the extent of this unpaid public service and by the zeal and devotion which animates the persons concerned.