As the Minister for Finance is engaged in Dáil Eireann, I am instructed by him to take the Second Reading of this Bill. It is the measure complementary to the Civil Service Regulation Bill, 1956, to which the Minister for Finance referred when dealing with the latter Bill earlier to-day.
Recruitment to the Civil Service is at present dealt with in the Civil Service Regulation Acts, 1924 and 1926. Certain amendments to these Acts are made necessary by the Civil Service Regulation Bill, 1956—for example, the Section in the 1924 Act dealing with the making of regulations for the controlling of the Civil Service about which the Minister for Finance spoke on the other Bill has to go. It has been decided to avail of the opportunity thus presented to carry out a general overhaul of the 1924 and 1926 Acts so as to overcome certain defects which the actual working of the Acts has brought to light and to introduce some improvements in procedure. The Civil Service Commissioners Bill, 1956, will, accordingly, replace and supersede the Civil Service Regulations Acts, 1924 and 1926.
Whilst the Civil Service Commissioners Bill is a fairly long and detailed measure, it does not seek to change in any way the principles governing recruitment to the Civil Service. The general framework of the 1924 and 1926 Acts is retained. Recruitment will be in the hands of independent Civil Service Commissioners appointed by the Government. The principle of compensation is reaffirmed and the Commissioners are given a regulation-making power which will enable them to determine the precise form of competition.
The power to make appointments in the public interest which was provided for in the 1924 and 1926 Acts is retained. It has been thought well, however, to provide that, instead of requiring a person approved for established appointment in the public interest to undergo the process of obtaining a certificate of qualification from the Civil Service Commissioners, he should be deemed, on appointment, to possess such a certificate.
The Bill also contains some new material about appointments in the unestablished groups. This, however, is really a rounding-off of the provisions of the existing Acts about corresponding established appointments and is intended to fill certain lacunae in the 1924 and 1926 Acts.
As in the case of the Civil Service Regulation Bill, I do not think an account of this Bill's various sections is called for at this stage and such detailed information as is required can more conveniently be given on the Committee Stage.
I might, however, say a few words about Section 27 (3), which is new. It provides that a Special Commissioner of Income Tax appointed under the Income Tax Act, 1918, will be appointed to an unestablished position in the Civil Service unless the Minister for Finance determines that such appointment should be to an established position.
Appointed Special Commissioners of Income Tax, that is, as distinct from the Revenue Commissioners, who are ex-officio Special Commissioners, have very important duties, which are semi-judicial in nature—they act as an appellate tribunal for hearing appeals against income-tax, surtax and corporation profits tax assessments. Special Commissioners have been appointed from within the Civil Service and from outside it, but it has never been quite clear that persons appointed from outside the service could be taken as appointed to Civil Service positions. Section 27 (3) removes this doubt.
Where non-civil servants are appointed to carry out the important duties of Special Commissioners, they must be barristers or solicitors of standing. It is important from the point of view of recruiting Special Commissioners that the Minister for Finance should be able to offer a pensionable appointment—if he thinks this necessary. Section 27 (3) enables this to be done.
The remaining changes in the Bill are of a minor order and are designed to overcome administrative difficulties revealed by experience and to clarify the functions of the Civil Service Commissioners in certain respects.