INDEMNITY BILL, 1924. COMMITTEE.

SECTION 1.
(4) Where any such action or other proceeding as is mentioned in this section was instituted before the passing of this Act, and final judgment was given in such action or proceeding after the 11th day of June, 1924, and before the passing of this Act, such judgment and any appeal therefrom, and any order or judgment made on such appeal before the passing of this Act shall be and is hereby made void, and such action or proceeding shall be discharged and made void, subject to such order as to costs as the court by which such judgment was given or a judge thereof or any court to which jurisdiction of that court has been transferred or a judge thereof shall think fit to make.

I move:—

In Section 1, sub-section (4), to delete in line 29 the words "11th day of June, 1924," and to substitute therefor the words "21st day of January, 1919."

The object of the amendment is to bring in cases that have been decided by the courts previous to the 11th June, 1924. I know at least of one case that was decided before that date, where all the justice was on the side of the person against whom the judgment was given, but the judge was afraid to give that decision as he was working at the time under the British law. I do not know what attitude the Minister may take on the matter, but it would be very desirable that this amendment would be carried, or, at least, such a date fixed that it would be considerably prior to the 11th June, 1924. It does not look just that a judgment given, say, on the 12th June, 1924, would be made null and void, whereas a judgment given before that would be allowed to stand. Compensation is provided by a subsequent clause in the Bill, and this clause would not take effect unless the Minister certified that the proceedings in respect of which it took place were proceedings governed by sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Section 1 of the Bill, that is, that the matter was done by a person holding office under the first Dáil Eireann or the second Dáil Eireann or employed in any capacity whatever in any service, military or civil, established or maintained by the authority of the first Dáil Eireann or the second Dáil Eireann, or was done under the authority of any person so holding office or so employed. That will not come into effect unless the Minister certifies whether the matter was done to carry out those objects or not. I hope the date will be amended, putting it back to the 21st January, 1919, which is the date in the Bill of the period to be covered.

The amendment would in effect reduce this section almost to an absurdity. The actions that took place up to the 21st January, 1919, are negligible in number and in the amount for which decrees would have been obtained. I explained on the last day that a number of actions are pending against persons who in some cases were acting under orders. Where there is a liability in respect of such cases, provision is made in the Bill for that liability to be discharged by the State. But protection is required for individuals who so performed what they believed to be their duty acting under the orders of others. This amendment would practically reduce this section to an absurdity. No guarantee, no security and no indemnity would be given in respect of the great number of actions that are pending where individuals have not benefited themselves. These individuals are at present liable and would be liable if this Bill were not passed. In the case of the British, in the indemnity which we gave we put down the date as the date of the passing of the Act, or, certainly, some date in January or February, 1923. At that time quite a number of British military had left the country—in fact, all of them. We gave that indemnity in very generous terms, and we could be criticised if we did not afford the same generous cover to persons who have just as much right as the British military, whom we indemnified under the Act of 1923.

Amendment put and lost.
Amendment 2 not moved.
Remaining sections ordered to be added to the Bill.
Bill ordered to be Reported without amendment.