Seanad Éireann - Volume 1 - 28 March, 1923
OIREACHTAS STAFF. - DAMAGE TO PROPERTY (COMPENSATION) BILL, 1923.
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH
 AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: This Bill, the Damage to Property (Compensation) Bill, 1923, has been circulated to the members of the Seanad, and reached them on Saturday morning or on Monday last. Some strictly verbal amendments were afterwards inserted by the Dáil, and they were circulated to members of the Seanad, so that in its complete form it should be this morning in the hands of the members of the Seanad. The motion now before the Seanad is:
“That the Damage to Property (Compensation) Bill, 1923, be read a second time.”
The PRESIDENT The PRESIDENT
The PRESIDENT: This Bill was introduced to the Dáil before the adjournment at Christmas. Permission was given to have it printed. The second reading did not take place until the 6th February. The Bill passed through its final stages this week, and something like six weeks have been taken up in consideration of the measure. It is a very far-reaching Bill. It seeks, as I have already explained in the Dáil, to deal as equitably as is possible in the circumstances with the various classes of persons who have suffered damage either to property or to person. A Commission has been set up, consisting of a County Court Judge and two prominent citizens, to deal with cases of personal compensation, that is for injury to the person. This Bill is in three Sections. The first part deals with proceedings and claims for compensation for acts committed on or before 11th July, 1921. That is the date upon which the Truce was entered into between the British Government and the Dáil. The second part deals with injuries committed after 11th July, 1921. The third part deals with the matter which gave rise to very serious interruption of the ordinary law up to—or from 1919—not so much in 1919 as in the beginning of 1921, by reason of two Acts called the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Acts of 1919 and 1920. The first part of the Bill stipulates that no legal proceedings will lie in respect of damage committed on or before 11th July, 1921, because all such claims are at present, where the proceedings were not defended  by the local authority, under the consideration of the Compensation Commission, which is not a statutory body, but which has been set up since the Provisional Government started to administer the affairs of the Free State, and which was arranged by agreement between the British Government and the Provisional Government. The sittings of that body have now occupied something like eight or nine months, and a large number of cases have been dealt with. A number of these have been held up by reason of the fact that releases have got to be secured from persons to whom awards have been made. These persons, until this Bill is passed, have got a legal right against Local Authorities. The legal right has been exercised in a few cases, not many, and generally it is accepted that, although it was a legal right, it was not a negotiable asset to a person having it. Very few decrees in respect of these Acts have been paid—very, very few. Very considerable popular opposition was exhibited by Local Authorities all over the country to the operation of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Acts of 1919 and 1920. These Acts made it possible for a person to secure a decree for compensation, to present that decree to the Treasurer of the Local Authority, and to take from the Treasurer moneys that would have been levied and collected for other purposes. However necessary the money might be for these purposes, a person having that decree under the law was entitled to enter into possession of sufficient money to satisfy his award. I do not think that in any case of any Local Authority under the jurisdiction of the Saorstát was money struck under those Acts because of the general detestation of the people of their provisions. It was possible during the time of the operation of those Acts to have acted legally in order to get money struck to pay these awards, and the ordinary operation would have been for the Courts to have appointed Officers of the Courts to have prepared estimates and to have had struck a sufficient rate to meet such decrees.
I do not know that it is necessary to enter into any elaborate explanation of the peculiar circumstances that arose out of these Acts. Suffice to say that practically every Local Authority, certainly in 26 counties, and perhaps more,  at once cut communication with the Local Government Board, which was then functioning in the Custom House, and took extraordinary measures to protect the moneys that were given to them by ratepayers to discharge the various services in respect of which these moneys were levied. The sums generally awarded up to the time of the Truce in respect of these two Acts of 1919 and 1920 approach £8,000,000 or £10,000,000. When it is remembered that the ordinary rates for the whole country do not amount to much more than 50 per cent. in addition it is obvious that there was a grave miscalculation in passing measures giving such extraordinary powers and undermining the entire accountancy of Local Authorities. These are things which legislative bodies should have borne in mind. Certainly it was a remarkable departure from the law as expounded by persons having experience of local administration, from the laws expounded by such eminent jurists as the late Lord Chief Baron, who laid it down in one of these cases that money raised for a particular purpose could not be spent for any other purpose. That, I think, is an explanation of the first part of this Bill.
The second part deals with damage which has been committed and the steps to be taken to enable persons to claim in respect of such damage. The amount of damage is not yet ascertained. It is very considerable. Members of this Seanad have suffered, suffered perhaps in respect to their numbers more seriously than any other institution in the country. Members of the Dáil have also suffered. In fact, if one were to take a census of persons who have suffered by reason of what has happened here for the last twelve or fifteen months the difficulty would be to find some person who has not suffered in some way or another. That fact has been present to our minds in tabling this Bill, and must be borne in mind when one considers how compensation is to be made towards the major sufferers. Some of the property that has been destroyed can never be replaced, and for some of it, even if one were sufficiently rich to compensate according to known loss for the loss, that would not be a sufficient compensation for the damage that has been done. The aim in this has been to distribute as  fairly as possible compensation to those who have suffered, bearing in mind the capacity and the ability of those who have got to pay, and also bearing in mind what the ordinary duty of a Government is in those matters and what are the claims of Local Authorities in respect of areas which have suffered severely by reason of the loss that has been inflicted Considerable opposition has been raised by the fact that compensation for consequential loss is denied. My information—it may not be exactly correct—is that claims in respect of compensation for consequential loss were not admitted until recently, and that awards in respect of compensation for consequential loss had not been the practice. There was a decision in recent years in favour of such, but it was not the practice, and it was only recently that such awards were made. The basis of the compensation is that property damaged is to be restored. That is to say that the ordinary rights which prevailed previous to the passing of the Acts of 1919 and 1920 do not run. A person was then entitled to get money without any liability as to the expenditure of that money. There is a provision made here that where such damage has been inflicted the damaged property shall be restored or that a substituted building shall replace the damaged building, but in certain cases, where it is an impossibility to estimate the value of the property destroyed, alternative compensation is provided for. I think that is in Sub-section 9 of Section 10 of the Bill.
The Minister for Finance is entitled to the right of audience at the hearing of these cases. That is to ensure that in certain cases it be made mandatory that the property be reinstated. Certain chattels are excluded from compensation. As far as that particular item is concerned, it follows fairly closely upon the arrangement that was made for compensation for damage in 1916. In respect of Railway Companies an arrangement has been come to which meets that particular case. The conduct of the applicant is a matter for consideration in this Bill; that is to say that persons who have been engaged in this orgy of destruction will not benefit now by being compensated for losses sustained by them. In connection with  roads and bridges it has been arranged that Local Authorities should strike a rate of 6d. in the £ under the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Acts. That sum will be paid by the Minister for Finance into the Road Board Fund, and that, together with sums already in that Fund, and with sums due to us, and sums flowing in in respect of motor tax, will provide a very considerable amount of money to repair the damage that has been inflicted on roads and bridges. Power is also taken to appoint additional Judges. I think after making this short preliminary statement I had better await any questions or criticism that will be passed on the Bill.
Sir JOHN KEANE Sir JOHN KEANE
Sir JOHN KEANE: I am sure that all the members of the Seanad regret the circumstances which make it necessary to consider this Bill at all. As the President has said, many of us in the Seanad and also elsewhere are acute sufferers by the damage that has been committed, and that suffering is especially acute in quarters where it might sometimes be least expected. Many people who appear to live lives of comparative comfort have, owing to the withholding of just debts in the past, and recently the further loss of their property, now been reduced to circumstances of almost complete destitution. If the facts were known, many of these people have got as good a claim on the dole as others who are now drawing it. That being the case, and having amongst one's friends many who are sufferers, one is naturally inclined to take a personal view of the matter, and yet one must not do so in the Seanad, and I shall do my best to treat this issue on national as against individual lines. One realises only too fully the difficulties of the Government not only in this matter, but in all the task of government. I am sure we all feel acutely for them, collectively and individually, in the difficulties they had to face during the last year. Yet, while we realise those difficulties, and while we appreciate the sympathetic terms in which the President has made reference to the losses incurred by members of the Seanad, that must not prevent us from offering full, free and candid criticism of those features of the Bill which we do not believe will operate in the national interest.
 There are two main features of the Bill, if I may say so, which are of a peculiar character as contrasted with other Compensation Bills. These are the rebuilding clause and the method in which compensation is to be paid. Before I approach the first—rebuilding—I would like to thank the Government for allowing these claims to be tried by a Judge, by a person qualified to sift and handle evidence, and not by ad hoc Commissions, which, by their nature, can never be so satisfactory as a judicial tribunal. The rebuilding clause I feel we must all accept in principle, the argument, of course, being that the economic welfare of the country must be preserved. Where, as in the case of businesses, complete reinstatement is insisted upon, I feel sure we must all realise that that is right and equitable.
As regards mansions, the provisions of the Bill do not appear, in my opinion, to be so satisfactory. In that case we realise that the replacement clause is only partial, and in some cases need not operate at all. But it must also be realised that there will be pressure and, no doubt, strong arguments placed before a Judge to decree the reinstatement in many cases. We must all be aware of the circumstances under which many of these places were maintained and occupied. They represented in not a few cases a traditional life largely supported by associations and by sentiment and by family tradition, and the house itself, the fabric, with all its associations, was a distinct feature of that life. Now, after the house is lost, and I am sorry to say in some cases, under circumstances of considerable indignity, further indignities have had to be suffered. Taking all the circumstances into account, I think one must admit that many people will not desire to rebuild. Financial conditions alone will make it impossible for them to resume the character of their past life. Is it a wise thing to press these people to rebuild if they do not wish to do so? On the other hand, one quite realises the Government point of view, that capital where awarded for compensation should not be allowed to leave the country. I am going to table later an amendment which will attempt to meet that case, under which, after a Judge has made his award, an applicant can put up to the Judge an alternative scheme,  whereby he may rebuild anywhere within the Free State, and may rebuild, if the Judge approves, up to the full amount of the compensation awarded on any scheme likely to meet the housing need.
That scheme, of course, is permissive, but I feel that if some of the repayment forms of the Bill are preserved certain people would prefer to risk their compensation in the housing scheme than take it in the form of partial repayment and payment in securities. There is another matter which does not appear here in the Bill, and that is the effect the reinstatement condition will have on delay in the repayment of money not earmarked for reinstatement. I put it this way: say the sum of £20,000 is awarded as the total; £10,000 is earmarked for reinstatement and the balance will be paid either partly in cash or partly in securities. The Judge can only earmark that £10,000 on the evidence of some architect or other expert. Will the applicant then be able to go to the Minister for Finance and say, “Pay me my £10,000”? The Minister for Finance will say, “We do not know whether this estimate is correct or not; we will have to wait until we see the estimate is likely to materialise.” We know the delays that have been caused over land purchase, and I anticipate very grave delays may occur in these cases. No doubt a certain portion of the money might be released, but interest should be allowed on moneys not earmarked for reinstatement; that is, interest from the date the award is made.
Another small matter concerns costs. I do not understand the technicality of legal costs, but it does seem desirable that the award should definitely state what allowance is made for costs, and it should be payable as such. Costs should be earmarked and set forth as a distinct part of the award. As, no doubt, many in the Seanad know, very considerable costs are now incurred by sufferers in having expert valuations made of their properties, and surely such costs should be paid over and above any amount awarded for compensation. I suggest an amendment should be introduced whereby a Judge should state what portion of his award is in respect of furniture and household goods, and that a larger proportion than is now suggested should be paid in cash in respect  of such losses. It is when one turns to the form of payment, regarding which the Minister said nothing in his opening remarks, that one's criticism, I am afraid, has to be of a more blunt character. In these provisions appear to lie, not from a personal, but from a national point of view, the real danger and the blemish of this Bill. It is hard to compare this provision to pay in securities with certain provisions the Government have already made. In this matter, as far as one can judge, there are two voices. One voice says we cannot pay this money. In the Press on March 11th there was reported an interview given by the President, in which he stated the finances of the country were eminently sound; no National Debt is due, and he refers to men who do not want to rebuild and who are getting out of the country. They are entitled to their money at a fair valuation. Our plan is to pay half cash and half bonds, which should bear a rate of interest sufficient to ensure their saleability at full value in the market. That rate I estimate at five per cent. Ireland's credit ought to measure its borrowing power at that figure. I take it one of the arguments in favour of payment by security is that the money is wanted to preserve capital in the country—to prevent the flight of capital. Surely, if these securities are going to be marketable, and a sufferer has every right that they should be, that will not affect the purpose. Moreover, this money which is not earmarked for building is largely wanted for capital replacement, to replace goods, furniture, household effects, and other such articles. Securities, to be of any value for that purpose and to carry a fair remuneration, must command a market price naturally in the vicinity of their nominal value. In fact, it appears that the assessment is made in sterling; part payment is made in the form of stock, of which the value is uncertain. There is, in fact, a gamble in the matter. The gamble may be in favour of the sufferer, in which case it is to the prejudice of the Government, or vice versa. It does seem inequitable, and there seems to be no national purpose served by paying in that unsatisfactory and uncertain form.
It may also arise that the stock in the early stages of the compensation may  stand near par. Later on there may be a considerable fall. Will it be equitable to pay subsequent awards in practically a different value to earlier awards? All suffers are entitled to the same treatment. If you are going to pay in a stock which must fluctuate even within small points—it may fluctuate largely—you should pay in a value which is constant and firm. I imagine the arguments in favour of paper are that we are not told what form the paper is to take, and one is becoming unduly alarmed that this paper is not going to command its nominal value. One has every right to feel such alarm. Under the terms of the Bill the Minister of Finance is practically given power to draw a blank cheque in so far as securities go. He is empowered to fix the rate of interest and the terms of repayment, and the two Houses have to approve such scheme. What is the position in the case of this House? We are the major sufferers in so far as payments in securities lie. If we refuse to approve this scheme the whole scheme is held up and one gets nothing. Even if the security issue is unsatisfactory we may have to accept it on the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread.
I submit there is a very great feeling of disquietude with regard to payment in part by securities. The clause is regarded, rightly or wrongly—I do not suggest it is the Government's intention— as an attempt to discriminate between the less wealthy and a more wealthy class of creditor. As creditors they should be all treated alike, and the circumstances of the individual should not, directly or indirectly, be discriminated against in any case. By all means cut down the award to a fair figure. But, having made the award in sterling, pay it in sterling, and not in a gambling coin. It is here from the national point of view the danger lies. If this feeling becomes prevalent among the better-circumstanced class it will seriously affect the Government's credit and borrowing power. That is a priceless asset which the Government must safeguard, and if the payment in securities is carried out in the form suggested I feel it will be a serious blow to the credit of the country, and will embarrass the Government exceedingly when they borrow, as they are to borrow, by means of an internal loan. The cirsumstances of the American War of Independence  serve as an appropriate example. The finances of that country were infinitely worse than ours here now, and I think at the time Alexander Hamilton was Minister for Finance. I was not able to verify this reference. The National Library is closed up, and I did not want to trouble the Government for a pass. Large arrears of pay were due to the Army, and those were paid in the form of securities. Feeling there was very little value in those, they sold them to speculators for very small sums of money, and afterwards they were presented to Alexander Hamilton for redemption. Strong arguments were proposed to him that if the securities were to be redeemed at all from the speculators they should be redeemed at very large discounts. He said: “No, the credit of the State is at stake in this, and I will not have it for a moment suggested that this country has put its hands to any form of repudiation of debt.” This is a close parallel to the circumstances which we now have to face, and it is important. One realises the difficulty of obtaining ready money at the present time, but what difficulty is there in doing it this way? I should like the Minister for Finance to consider this in his reply. We can say we will not pay at once, but we will pay you interest in cash year by year, having given you awards in cash, realising that you have a very strong claim on the revenues of the State. Let those who suffer stand in with other creditors against the State. Then I feel sure that as things go on, and as the country settles, it will be well able to pay off substantial sums in the form of cash. There is a very great anxiety now as to our position in the future. I appeal to the Government to realise the danger involved in the part payment by securities. It may strike a severe blow to their credit, their most priceless asset. It is an old saying that it is bad enough to have no money, but it is infinitely worse to have no credit. And if your credit is impugned it will undermine the whole economic life of this country.
Mr. MARTIN FITZGERALD Mr. MARTIN FITZGERALD
Mr. MARTIN FITZGERALD: The statement of the President has been very clear in many respects. Going back, we can see that in many cases where claims were made, and not defended in the early days by Local Authorities, these  claims might be re-investigated. But when it comes to questions of making Acts of Parliament or Acts of Government retrospective I suggest to the President and to this Seanad that a retrospective Act with reference to money is one which should be very carefully thought out. If a debt was a debt six weeks ago it ought to be a debt to-day. It should be a debt until an Act of Parliament makes it not a debt, and I do not think it adds to the credit of any country to make an Act of Parliament with reference to money retrospective. I suggest to the President and the Seanad that that should receive some consideration. The credit of a nation can be more damaged by repudiating liabilities than anything else—as has happened in the case when Mr. Goschen reduced the interest on Consols in England. Nothing was more damaging to the credit of England for years. People were tied up, and they could not go against the Act of Parliament. That is the only one outstanding case in history that I know of where an Act of Parliament became retrospective. With reference to consequential losses, the remarks I made with regard to retrospective Acts of Parliament should apply. Whatever was an Act at a particular time should be an Act until it is changed. I do not know if the Government have taken it into consideration, but, with reference to those claims, there is a great deal of money which might be saved. During a period of about nine or twelve months it was a very ordinary thing for people in Ireland to insure against riot and civil commotion; the English Insurance Companies came in here and extracted enormous fees. The fee in the ordinary case of fire insurance would be about 3 shillings per £100 for a year. These companies came in and extracted a fee of £3 per £100 not for a year, but for three months, and in practically all the cases where premises were destroyed or injured by fire owing to local circumstances the Insurance Companies, without paying a single penny, got the people who paid them the premium for insurance to make a claim on the counties or districts. A large part of the money went this way, and it is known that in places where they gave an advance they gave it on condition that when the claim was met they got back their money.  I know one case where a firm was insured for £23,000. Lloyd's gave them £16,000 on the understanding that they were to get it back. This firm got a claim of £49,000, and now they are paying back the £16,000. If the Government took action in some of these matters it would be fair and equitable. I think the Government might consider it and put that against some of the retrospective damage. With reference to rebuilding, in my view the Government are absolutely correct. If under existing circumstances a grant is given on account of a building which has been injured, this building should be rebuilt to the amount of the money granted.
Mr. J.T. O'FARRELL Mr. J.T. O'FARRELL
Mr. J.T. O'FARRELL: I must say I was somewhat surprised at the rather reckless generosity advocated by Senator Sir John Keane, in view of the great anxiety displayed by him a few weeks ago as to the capacity of the State to pay where only a few thousand pounds were involved. The subject on which he displayed such extreme anxiety on finance, on that particular occasion, was in reference to the payment of Secondary teachers. He promised he would try and view this appeal from a national standpoint, but I am afraid that the trend of his remarks were not quite so wide. They rather centred round a comparatively small section—the very wealthy or wealthiest section, at all events—of the community. Of course, one can only approach the discussion of this Bill at all with feelings of regret at the need for its enactment. The general community look upon it as a legal formula, by which the crimes of the bellicose section of the population are being visited upon the people as a whole. We are now in the position of parents called upon to accept responsibility for the depredations of a vicious or a wicked child. In these circumstances it is very difficult to feel any enthusiasm when discussing a resolution by which some of the wanton destruction that has taken place shall be repaired.
It is clear that the nation is responsible to those who suffer from the mad orgy through no fault of their own to the extent to which the nation is compelled to meet these great demands. We believe that the responsibility should be discharged in the fairest and most equitable  manner that is ultimately possible. The country has evidently made up its mind to pay a very large sum of money, which will have to be raised, for this purpose, and we are mainly concerned, I think, with the basis upon which, and the manner in which, that amount shall be paid out. To my mind, at all events, one of the gravest features of the Bill is its avowed tendency to place a casual or almost negligible value upon human life. The father of a young and helpless family may be done to death because he refuses to carry out some order which his conscience tells him is an outrage against the people or a crime against society. Alone and unprotected, unknown to fame, he plays a hero's part; still it is a poor consolation to a man in his last moments, circumstanced thus, to realise that the community in whose interest he gave up his life may let his wife and children or his dependents die of starvation. Take the case of a railwayman called to assist in the scientific destruction of railways and bridges, or an engine-driver asked to dismantle his engine, or the case of a stationmaster or a clerk asked to supply information regarding the passage of certain stores, such as war material or the conveyance of troops by train. Refusal to comply with requests or instructions of this character may mean death, and it has meant death on more than one occasion.
We have had the evidence of a General in the Free State Army that an engine-driver was shot dead in Tralee, and another seriously wounded, because they refused to take part in the destruction of engines in that part of the country. We have had the case of drivers shot upon their trains because they refused to obey the signal to pull up. We have had the case of men who would heroically defend the places of trust with which they were entrusted, such as post offices, banks and buildings of that character. Now some of these paid the penalty with their lives, and yet it is proposed that the compensation for the widows and orphans of these people shall be at the pleasure of the Minister for Finance, while a man who has had his window broken has full compensation granted to him under the terms of the Bill. I suggest that this policy, apart from the fact that it is unjust and inequitable, is not calculated to develop a  good civic spirit in the people. A man who may be quite prepared to risk his life in a good cause will hesitate before doing so if he knows that his family may have to go to the workhouse, and no one would blame him for that. Of course the argument used that money paid for compensation where life is lost is not likely to come back in the way of employment or in the price of building materials, etc., or in the same way that it is likely to come back when paid for the reinstatement of buildings destroyed, is an inhuman and callous doctrine; and one can only wish that some more convincing and less ignoble argument were put forward than the manner in which it is proposed to deal with the dependants of those who lose their lives.
Now, Section 8, dealing with compensation to Railway Companies involves very serious consideration. We can understand the necessity for keeping the lines open. We can easily admit the need for expedition in making advances for these purposes to the companies most heavily hit, and we can also see the needs for obviating the necessity for bringing all these cases into Court. But while admitting all this it is very difficult to see the need for secrecy as to the terms of the agreement which the Government has come to with the companies. The Minister for Finance argued, in the other House, that the bargain was so good, from the Government point of view, that if the Railway Directors in the Seanad were only informed of its terms these rapacious gentlemen would tear up the arrangements and call for better terms.
The PRESIDENT The PRESIDENT
The PRESIDENT: I may say I have no recollection of saying anything like that.
Mr. O'FARRELL Mr. O'FARRELL
Mr. O'FARRELL: I am sorry if I misunderstood the President, but I have read up the Official report and that is my interpretation of it. At any rate the Railway Companies know now what the Government think about them. The Government have discovered that their loyalty to the State has a certain gilt-edged reservation. We suppose it is nearly time that some of them were found out, but the Minister must be very simple-minded, or he must imagine the people are very simple-minded, when he  suggests that the Directors of Railways were ignorant of what is being done.
He knows very little about railway administration if he thinks an agreement can be come to without the knowledge and authority of the Directors of the various Railway Companies. One can easily fancy these gentlemen laughing up their sleeves at the splendid simplicity of our legislators. I observe that under Section 8 the Minister is enabled to pay away millions of public money without the Oireachtas having any voice whatsoever as to the amount or basis upon which this money is paid out. Of course we are constantly being reminded that we are living in abnormal times. It is quite evident that we are, because the proposal involved in this amendment is certainly a negation of all Parliamentary control over the expenditure of National funds. To a layman some of the sections and sub-sections of this Bill seem to be contradictory. In Clause 10, Sub-section 2, it is provided that full reinstatement orders shall, in all cases, be attached to decrees as far as Upper O'Connell Street is concerned, but Sub-section 4 of the same section seems to give the right to the Judge, and in fact commands him, not to issue a full reinstatement order in any case in which he is of opinion that the injury to the building does not materially prejudice the economic welfare of the district, and so on. It is a section which has no reservations, and more or less seems to contradict what the previous sub-section specifies. There is a somewhat similar and in many respects more dangerous, sub-section to Section 15. Sub-section 9 of this section seems to render it unnecessary that the destruction of bank or Government notes or the paper currency of any country should be done by people acting in what might be termed a political sense. These are just a few matters more or less of detail, and I presume they can be dealt with later; but the principle —the manner in which I look at the Bill —is quite the reverse of the view taken by Senator Sir John Keane. He seems to argue that the first consideration should be given to those who have lost property. He never uttered a single syllable as to the omission to make proper provision for the loss of human life, and completely ignored the fact that the loss of a human life is infinitely more serious to those  who are dependent on that person than the loss of mere property is to those who have been left their lives and given an opportunity to make good in the future.
Mr. A. JAMESON Mr. A. JAMESON
704 705 706
Mr. A. JAMESON: I think Senator O'Farrell hardly does justice to the remarks made by Senator Sir John Keane. Senator Sir John Keane dealt with one part of the Bill, and Senator O'Farrell dealt with another part, but I do not think it is fair to conclude that because Sir John Keane did not touch on that particular subject that he may not have been in full agreement with Senator O'Farrell in the part that he did not mention. I myself, when reading the Bill, was, I confess, greatly astonished,—just as much, probably, as Senator O'Farrell— on finding that the provision to pay compensation for personal injuries was taken out of the Bill. I suppose there are reasons for doing that which we may hear later; but, really, when one knows the state of this country and what has happened in it to a number of people who have suffered personal injuries, I should have thought that it would be one of the very first things that would have been specifically dealt with from the only way in which the Government could deal with it—that is, from the money point of view, because nothing else could be done. I certainly was astonished when I discovered that, and I should certainly join with Senator O'Farrell in pressing on the Government that the way in which those cases are to be dealt with should be much more clearly stated than in anything we have been told up to now. But on the Second Reading discussion of the Bill there is no use, as Senator O'Farrell says, in going into the smaller matters, which may be matters of detail and of slight alteration. It is really the principle of the thing that we should look to. Senator Sir John Keane, speaking on the Bill, dealt with it principally from the point of view of principle. I agree with Senator Martin Fitzgerald in this, that where the Government have declared their intention to reopen cases which have already been fought out, the local authorities being represented, and a decision given under the law which existed at the time, the Government in taking that particular class of case and getting a legal right or Parliamentary action to  have such cases re-opened and dealt with under a law which is only now being made, are unduly running a great risk of having their reputation for honest and fair dealing seriously attacked. I would recommend to the Government the serious consideration whether anything that is to be got in the way of money, or, perhaps, as they may consider it, principle—because there are consequential damages in the old cases and they disallow them now—makes it worth their while to ask us to break up legal decisions and apply new law to them. If we once establish that principle, the very principle which they themselves lay down now, and which we make into law, a new Parliament may come along and upset the whole thing just as easily as they now can upset this. I know there are arguments in favour of doing this, many arguments as regards the difference in these cases to the cases that will be adjudicated on under the new Act, but I do think nothing of that sort could possibly be worth the remarks that will be made to us, ordinary Free State Irish citizens when walking about to the effect that our Government is beginning its career by breaking down its own credit and breaking down the credit of the law. I would strongly recommend them to consider and to look into that matter very carefully, and that, at any rate, if they find there are cases of that sort which must be re-opened, that the fullest details will be given of all such cases as well as the reason why the Government have had to re-open them. Another matter that seems to me to be of great importance, from the point of view of the Government's credit, is the sections dealing with the issue of the securities which are to be given in lieu of money and in satisfaction of the awards. Now I would just like to read the words to the Seanad: “The Minister for Finance may for the purpose of the foregoing sub-section by Order create such securities bearing such rate of interest and subject to such conditions as to repayment, redemption or otherwise as he shall think fit.” I do not know whether I am right or not, but in my memory I cannot think of any case where such power was taken by a Finance Minister or Chancellor of the Exchequer. In all issues of securities that I have known of they have been sanctioned by the Parliament. In this  case all that either this Seanad or the Dáil can do is to annul the proposal of a Minister. I cannot understand the Dáil that has the power of the purse allowing such a clause to go through. I really cannot understand the Finance Minister putting himself alone in such a position, and it is the Finance Minister of the day —it might be the Finance Minister of to-day or it might be the Finance Minister of to-morrow—and it is not stated when he is to give his decision and when these securities are to be described and agreed to before the actions are being tried. It is quite possible under this Bill that the Judge who is giving a decision may not have the remotest idea of what his decision is worth in money value. It may be difficult enough, as Senator Sir John Keane said, to know as time goes on what the value is. It may rise or it may fall, but we all hope, and I personally am inclined to think, that the greatest danger of a low price will be at the beginning. I believe once this country is settled that undoubtedly these Government bonds will rise in value, and I should be more inclined to think that the later issue will be worth more money than the earlier ones rather than the reverse. I do not think it is a wise thing for a Finance Minister to take that burden on his own shoulders, and I do not think that this Bill is correctly drawn in leaving it entirely to him, when and how and on what terms he will issue these securities. I shall listen with the greatest respect to what the Finance Minister says as to his reasons for that. I have no doubt that he has reasons, and good reasons, but there again I would say that he is breaking through what has been looked upon as the governing conditions, and the conditions which a country insists that its Chancellor of the Exchequer shall follow when he issues loans depending upon the credit of the State. The Dáil must have a voice in it, and we have the right of reviewing and saying what we like about it. That he should take that entirely upon himself is, I think, unwise. I admit to the full that in bringing in this Bill at all the Government are showing a desire to do justice and right. They could have left the whole thing alone, and nobody could have said a word to them, and in bringing in the Bill and in telling the  country just how far they think they can go, and saying that they cannot bear consequential damages, they are, I think, with their knowledge of the funds which are possibly available, absolutely in the right, but I do think that both with regard to these re-opened cases and in the case of these securities it will be well worth while to reconsider the matter.
Colonel Sir HUTCHESON POE Colonel Sir HUTCHESON POE
Colonel Sir HUTCHESON POE: I should just like to say a few words with reference to the remarks of the last two speakers as to the exclusion from the benefits of this Bill of persons who have suffered personal injuries. As you are aware, the first part of the Bill deals with both personal injuries and losses to property. The second part of the Bill excludes personal injuries, and in considering that people suffering from personal injuries are excluded I think we have to bear well in mind that, prior to the Criminal Injuries Act of 1919, injuries of a personal character were excluded altogether. No one had any claim to it, although I believe in the old days of the Land League war there were a few cases where resident magistrates were granted compensation, but they were few and far between. The Criminal Injuries Act of 1919 and of 1920, as the Minister has pointed out, however well they can be defended from the British Government point of view to meet the terrible conditions of that time, were undoubtedly resented bitterly and have been ever since. They gave the Lord Lieutenant power to allocate sums of money broadcast. The first thing to bear in mind is that prior to 1919 personal injuries were never recognised and they are not recognised in England now. I think the Ministry are right in getting these vindictive Acts struck out of the Statute Book. The Finance Ministry has agreed to several very important concessions, one of which Senator Jameson referred to, of opening up cases under Clause 2, I think it is. Very important amendments were inserted only last week. Well, there he has shown his desire to do what is right. Last week I think the Minister said to Mr. Johnson, the leader of the Labour Party, that he was quite prepared to give sympathetic consideration to any recommendation made by the Commission or  the Judge, whoever it is who is going into these personal injuries cases right from 1921 to the 6th February last. He was quite prepared, he stated, if he received recommendations with regard to exceptional cases of hardship to entertain such cases. In these directions I think the Minister has shown every desire to treat the people broadmindedly. There is no legal obligation, but he is quite prepared to treat them on their merits.
At this stage Sir Thomas Esmonde, took the chair.
Mr. BENNETT Mr. BENNETT
Mr. BENNETT: There are one or two points in connection with the Bill to which I would like to refer, especially to the question of differentiation to persons who receive large sums under the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Compensation Act. I think the principle adopted by the Government that those who receive small sums should be paid in full and that those who receive larger sums should be paid partly in cash and partly in bonds is an excellent one. I welcome the principle suggested in the Bill that bonds should be created, and I think the argument adduced by Sir John Keane, that of American bonds, shows us that bonds are a good negotiable security and they will always be met by any Government in Ireland. I appreciate the fact that our infant State will, in the course of time, honour these liabilities to the full. The President has shown in this Bill that he means to do so, and I think that nothing will deter him or his successors from doing so. There is one other point on which I should like some guidance, and that is the question of personal injuries which are excluded in the third part of the Bill, but I see that under Section 6 commissions of inquiry are referred to, and I would be glad to hear from the Minister in charge whether the commissions of inquiry are in being or whether it is his intention to establish commissions of inquiry as to the compensation to be awarded outside the Act that we are discussing. If that is the case, and if commissions of inquiry are to be set up to compensate for personal injuries then I am quite in accord with the Bill  on the whole, but if on the other hand these commissions of inquiry are not intended I think it is a pity that some arrangement could not be made for compensation in the case of personal injuries. I think I made a mistake in the section. It says “That this section shall not prevent the prosecution of claims before any commission of inquiry to which this applies.” That seems to me to suggest that there is either a commissions of inquiry at present sitting or that a commission of inquiry is to be established. I would like some guidance with regard to that.
Mr. DOUGLAS Mr. DOUGLAS
Mr. DOUGLAS: The main point under discussion of the principle of this Bill and of compensation generally that interests me, and on which I should like to speak, is compensation for personal injuries. As some members of the Seanad know, it has been my lot, to some extent, during the past two or three years, in connection with the White Cross, to come in contact with some of the earlier suffering during the struggle, and there is one thing of which I have not the slightest doubt, and that is that the feeling of assurance that if a man was loyal to the cause for which he stood his family would not be allowed to suffer, the feeling that funds were made available which would enable the family to be secure, went a very long way towards helping people to stand for their principles. I feel strongly that while I know it is the intention of the Government to have the ex gratia Committee that they are setting up to deal with most of these cases, I cannot help feeling that if there were, in addition to this Bill, or as an addition to it, provisions to make the right to compensation for loss of life a legal right, I think it would add greatly to the confidence in the State and that it would be of very real value. After all, if I am a shopkeeper and I lose my stock, I have lost my livelihood. If that is replaced I can go on making my livelihood. If I am a doctor, or a bricklayer, or a professor, or something depending on my brain or my hands for a livelihood, my stock-in-trade is my life, and my ability to follow my occupation. If my life is taken I have nothing to leave my family except, possibly, some little savings, and there is no compensation. If as a result of  things that have been happening in this country a man is permanently disabled —I do not mean some claims which we had before the White Cross which were called disabled, but real permanent disablement so as to prevent a man from earning his livehood—I think the State, partly to defend the principle of right and partly because it is going to make this difference, that if the people stand together we are going to see whether the will of the people is going to prevail or not, should consider the question of making compensation for loss of life a legal right, a matter in which I have been interested for years. After 1916 the British Government made certain compensations. They denied entirely the right to compensation for loss of life. I had the privilege of being the secretary of a committee at that time, and I have two of the letters from the then British Prime Minister stating that under no circumstances could the Government admit for a moment that loss of life was of as much national value as the loss of property. I then went with members of the committee to see, in Dublin Castle, the gentleman who is now the Chairman of the Seanad and he at first was inclined to support the Government, of which he was then a member, but after some discussion we pointed out to him that if a man had a cork leg and the cork leg was shot he would be entitled to compensation for it, but if the leg which was not cork was shot or damaged there was no compensation. That seemed to make a considerable impression apparently. He is not here to-day, but he will probably remember it. In any case he had a conversation with his then colleague. Sir Edward Carson, and to our great satisfaction Sir Edward Carson announced in the British House of Commons that, in his opinion, the Government were wrong, and if there was to be a distinction between the two as a moral principle life was of more value than property. I think that was the only occasion on which I found myself in entire agreement with that particular gentleman. At the same time I do feel that this is a matter that the Government should carefully consider. I know that it is their intention, through the ex gratia Commission, to deal fairly with the people, and I hope, whether they take my point of view or not, that it  should be made legal, that on as many occasions as they possibly can they will make it clear and reassure the public that they do intend to act generously with regard to loss of life. After all, the amount of money involved is not so great, and the principle, I suggest, is of the very greatest importance.
Mr. WILLIAM CUMMINS Mr. WILLIAM CUMMINS
Mr. WILLIAM CUMMINS: I wish respectfully to support the appeal made by Senator Douglas to the Ministry to give compensation in these cases. The classes of sufferers that they have very amply provided for are drawn to a great extent from the well-to-do-classes of the people. Their sufferings, I think, are, not at all to be compared with the sufferings endured by the poor, whose lives are being freely taken in this campaign of destruction. The lives of the workers have frequently been sacrificed on the altar of civic duty, and if the Government is to encourage this civic spirit on the part of the people so as to predispose a man, even of the humblest means, to take his life in his hands in defence of the Government of the day, I should say that they could not do a better thing than to make this claim for loss of life a legal claim. At present, as I understand this Bill, it is optional on the Government, and on this Committee set up by the Government, to give any compensation. Not one penny may be laid down for this loss. I consider that no man can make greater sacrifices for his country than to lay down his life in its defence, and if we are to have those sacrifices continued, and if we are to hope to have this broad civic spirit displayed by the unarmed worker, it is the duty of the Government, I maintain, to support them in every possible way. The story of the wooden leg, the cork leg, well illustrates the position of affairs, and I would point out that the classes who suffer are those of the poorest and those who perhaps have taken the greatest part in the fight that this country has gone through for the last six or seven years. I would strongly appeal in support of the statement of Mr. Douglas and the other Senators who have spoken in this regard, and I would strongly urge upon the Government to make this compensation legal and not voluntary.
An Leas Chathaoirleach resumed the chair.
Mr. P.W. KENNY Mr. P.W. KENNY
 Mr. P.W. KENNY: In the criticisms that we have heard, I do not think the position of the Government has been fully appreciated. I am satisfied that it is through no want of appreciation or sympathy on the part of the Government, or any member of it, knowing as we do the national records of those men and what they have gone through themselves. I say it is through no want of sympathy or appreciation of those who have fought side by side with some of them, and who have in the fray lost their lives that the Government have put these Clauses in the Bill in the form in which they stand at present. I hope, from the remarks that have fallen from the speakers in this Seanad, that the Government will see its way to give consideration as generous as the financial position will allow, to the claims of those who may have been maimed or who lost their lives in the national cause. Claims are coming in from every side to the Government, and it is a very difficult matter to get in revenue at the moment, through the state of the country, the depression in trade, the general chaotic state of affairs, and the inability of the taxpayers to pay the heavy taxation that it is now necessary to impose upon them. The Government now finds itself in the position of trying to get a gallon of liquid out of a quart pot, and it must, in some of the claims that are pressing upon it, retrench, and it cannot give all the money that it would be disposed to give in satisfaction of any of these claims. That is the position at the moment, and possibly the Government is viewing the position from that narrow financial standpoint. I am satisfied that the Government need have no cause of anxiety on the grounds of narrow finances. I do not know what the Minister for Finance has in mind, or what his particular private knowledge may be of the result, or probable result, of the negotiations between the two countries in adjusting the financial position. But we know that the Constitution provides that Ireland may bring in to that adjustment any legitimate claim that she may have against the British Treasury, and if we can, under that head and under that clause, bring in our claim for over-taxation as an offset against our proportional share of the war debt—if we are allowed to do that—the financial aspect of this  country and its credits in the markets of the world will be very superior, and will enable this country to float its own stock on very favourable terms indeed.
Now, the Government need have no qualms in this matter. Any country going through a revolutionary period, or any country in which a drastic change of government takes place, as has taken place in this country, will inevitably have to meet conditions such as we are having to meet to-day. It would not be fair to tax the present generation, or to ask those who are in the country at the moment to bear the full brunt or burden of the consequences of the revolution through which we are going. Posterity is a debtor in this case. To our children and our children's children, for whom we are laying the foundations of a future and prosperous Ireland in which they may live, we must pass the major share of this burden. I do not think the Government need have any qualms whatsoever as to how we will come out of this financial adjustment between the two countries. But if we come out of it as favourably as I believe we will, I do not think the Government need have any qualms about the matter of finance. Any burden that we morally are bound to shoulder to-day in payment of compensation to those who have helped us to win the position that we now enjoy, we should freely bear. In that sense men who have lost their lives, or men who have been maimed in such a way as to prevent them from earning their livelihood or being any longer the bread-winners for their families, I would say have a prior claim on the Government for recognition, for compensation, or for dependants in the case of those who are dead or those who are maimed to the extent of being no longer able to support their families. The dependants of those people who are poor have a prior claim to those who are in a better position or who are better circumstanced, but who have suffered loss in material substance, but who still have their lives and their health and a competency, or possibly much more than a competency, to carry them on for the remainder of their lives. Also, we must recognise that many of those people who have given their lives in the service of the country to attain the position we find ourselves in to-day have done more for their native country than the men who are to-day  to be compensated for a slight material loss of bricks and mortar. So that on these grounds—strictly moral and equitable grounds—I am satisfied that there is a want in this Bill, and that some provision should be made to meet claims of that kind. With regard to the clause dealing with undefended claims, I think that is a very proper clause. Anybody who has been connected with the work of County Councils will know that at the time those claims arose the Courts were not recognised. The instruction was not to recognise the Act of 1920 in any way, and the County Councils did not defend these cases. As a result I know of one case in Waterford where for a piece of wall, which a mason told me he would repair in less than two days, the claimant got £60. I know of another case where the supposed wife of a Black and Tan in an undefended case got £700. It afterwards transpired that the lady was not his wife at all. When you know clear instances of this sort, no man can say that it is not right and proper to introduce into this Bill a provision that either sides shall be at liberty to have the case reviewed. That is due to the taxpayer. Sir John Keane has spoken of the possibility of Government stock depreciating in value. That is inherent in all stock—land stock and every other class of stock
The landlords under the old land purchase schemes were considerable sufferers by the fluctuations of Land stock. But those who are optimistic as to the future of Ireland will not dwell too much on an argument of that sort. The stock that will be given as part compensation will be given at par value, and possibly the interest might be guaranteed. Though there may be a little fluctuation on either side of the par line, I do not think there will be any serious depreciation. I do not think there is need for any anxiety about the difficulty of floating a sufficient loan. Moreover, I think it would be a good thing for this country or for any young Legislature that a fair debt should be incurred. There is nothing that has a better or more steadying effect or that makes for sounder economic legislation than a debt of reasonable magnitude. I think it makes for purified legislation, and it has a general steadying and good effect. The Minister for Finance, in my opinion, need not be  timid about floating a sufficient sum when these adjustments with the British Government are disposed of, and I hope that questions of compensation will be dealt with so that no man can hereafter point a finger at the Government for having refused to deal fairly with those who helped us to reach the position we are in to-day, and who have suffered either in person or property.
Sir THOMAS ESMONDE Sir THOMAS ESMONDE
Sir THOMAS ESMONDE: I cannot quite agree with the last speaker that it is altogether advantageous to start business—and particularly national business —with a debt. I would rather, if I were starting business, have no debt at all. In starting business, such as the business we are engaged in, the last debt I would care to have is the debt we are at present building up. It is sad that the opening of an era we all looked forward to as full of hope for the country and pregnant with possibilities of development should be characterised by the circumstances we are all aware of. It is sad that the first really important measure to come up to us for discussion should be a measure of the class before us. As far as we are concerned, I suppose this is inevitable, and there is no use in lamenting too much over it. So far as the Seanad is concerned, and so far as the Parliament of the Free State is concerned, they have borne their share of sacrifice for their country. Further, whatever may be said of the Parliament of the Free State, it has made sacrifice for its convictions, and it has given more substantial proof of the honesty of its intentions than any other Legislature of which there is record in history. I feel a disinclination to take part in this debate for personal reasons I shall not say much. One could say many things, but I should like to say at the outset what I think of the attitude of the Government. There are times when one can afford to say what one thinks. I wish to say here and now that I consider that the present Government has done, generally speaking, as well as it possibly could do. I am not here to find fault with the Government. If I offer any criticism on this Bill, I do so in a purely friendly way. I think broadly that the present Government have met an extraordinarily difficult situation—an absolutely unprecedented situation—as well as they could reasonably be expected to do.
 There are certain matters in connection with this Bill that one might like to ventilate. There is the question, for instance, of consequential damages; there is the question of injuries to the person, and the question of compensation for loss of life, and so forth. These matters will certainly be raised as our debate proceeds, but we shall raise them in no captious or acrimonious spirit, and, if we raise them, we shall discuss them according to our ability, and it will be for the Government by-and-bye to say whether our arguments have impressed them or not. All we ask them to do is to keep an open mind as long as they can in relation to these particular details. Again I wish to say I recognise the position of the Government in these matters. The Government are trying to meet the case of certain people who have met with very severe losses. On the other hand, the Government are the trustees of the taxpayers. The Government have to recognise the potentialities of the the country and the amazing strain upon our financial resources that recent times have thrown upon us. Therefore we must be fair. No doubt there are directions in which we might expect the Government to be a little more generous. At the same time we must remember they cannot do all they would like to do. They can only do as much as they think is feasible at present, and we ought to assist them instead of critisising them. A point was made by Senator Jameson which I cannot follow. He found fault, I think, with the terms of the Section under which the Government were to make compensation in the case of these awards. I submit very respectfully that it would not be possible for the Government at the present moment to put down in black and white the exact terms under which they would issue these securities or the percentage they would give for them, and to say when the securities are to be terminable or over what period of years they are to run. These are matters that at the present moment many Governments would find it very difficult to lay down in an Act of Parliament and more particularly the Government of the Irish Free State. Therefore I do not think that Senator Jameson is quite right in asking the Government to specify these particulars  at the present time. My own idea is that the sooner this Bill is passed the better. The sooner the people who are suffering these injuries know what compensation is going to be made to them the better it will be for the country. It will have a stabilising effect and will also, I hope, to some extent, assist Irish business in its various spheres of operation. Various similar points will be raised in the Committee Stage. We shall all talk about them and many amendments will be moved—probably I shall be responsible for a good many myself—but the Government understand that we are doing all this not in any spirit of hostility but in a spirit of endeavouring to make this Bill as good as it reasonably can be expected to be made. All we ask the Government in relation to our various amendments is to preserve an open mind. If we succeed we shall be pleased, but if we cannot succeed we cannot help it.
Mr. MICHAEL O'DEA Mr. MICHAEL O'DEA
Mr. MICHAEL O'DEA: I was interested in the remarks of Senator O'Farrell in which he stated that the first consideration of the Government ought to be the satisfying of claims where human life has been taken, or where there was damage or injury to the person. I am sure the Government's determination not to refer to that particular class of damage in this Bill has a good reason behind it. It may not be prudent for the Government or for the Ministry to declare the reason but I am perfectly sure there is a reason. I think the liability for human life and for injury to the body of those who have suffered ought to be the first charge on any Government, or any people responsible to the country. It is a charge that ought to be discharged immediately. I feel that. Though life in these days is held very cheaply—I am sorry to say it is—still I think with all Christian people even in Ireland, it is regarded as the greatest asset. Any other loss, whether it is a mansion, a house, or goods can be restored, but human life cannot. Therefore it appeals to me, and I am sure appeals to all other Christian people, that no asset is so valuable as human life, because no power can restore it. It ought to be the very first charge on the Government. I was very much interested in Senator Sir John Keane's address. He  put the case I thought, even from his own point of view, very fairly. I do not think it ought to be compulsory for any man who had lost his mansion or house to rebuild on that site before he receives compensation. It might be dangerous for him to do so. I quite agree that it is perfectly fair that the money the Government award a person should not be removed out of the country, but I feel that the Government should give people of that kind an option as to where they spend that money, so long as it is inside the territory of the Free State. With regard to discharging the compensation for losses, I do not agree with the payment being partly in money and partly in script or securities. I do not know the nature of the securities but I think the compensation ought to be in cash. I can speak stronger on this point as I have not so far been one of the unfortunate ones, so that I have no prejudices on one side or the other, except to do what I think is fair and right to the country.
It is a well known fact that a man never yet failed for want of money. A Government never yet failed for want of money. You have that clearly illustrated in the case of the British Government during the European War. Men and Governments fail, not for the want of money, but for the want of credit. If they lose their credit it does not matter what money they have. Money will soon be exhausted and they will get no more. I strongly advise the Government—possibly it is very presumptuous of me—to issue a loan for a moderate amount. Money was never in my memory as cheap in the Banks as it is now. In fact it is hard to get anything for it—only one per cent. If business once revived very possibly that money would go to double, and might even go to three times the present price. There never was a more favourable time to issue a loan than the present moment. If conditions in the country are not favourable—all the expressions I hear round about this Chamber are to that effect—we need not take those conditions too seriously. I hope Senators who say they are serious are not right. So far as I am concerned, my own mind is not quite made up on the matter, but I am inclined to agree with the more hopeful people. There is no better way of discharging  all these commitments than by a moderate loan. I do not think they ought to issue a large loan; a moderate loan would be much better. A loan for, say, twenty million pounds would be sufficient. I think they would get that amount very quickly and easily. If the Government begin to throw paper on the market, it will be difficult afterwards to raise money by loan. We, old business chaps, know all about paper money floating around the country. I prefer to see cash. With regard to the points raised by Sir John Keane, I think his criticism was very fair. With regard to the point raised by Senator O'Farrell that the Government have gone behind the backs of both Houses of Parliament, and are to give two or three millions to the railways, I have no evidence. Perhaps Senator O'Farrell knows something about the matter. As far as I am concerned, all I can say is that I hope they may.
The Seanad adjourned at 6.15 p.m., till 7.30 p.m.
Colonel MOORE Colonel MOORE
Colonel MOORE: I think most of the things that ought to have been said upon this Bill have been said already. Our hearts are wrung by the idea of the dependants of people killed not getting any compensation. It is a difficult question. I presume that those who are in favour of that did not include soldiers, because some of us have been soldiers all our lives without any idea of getting anything for it. Sir John Keane made a plea for not building up the old mansions again. No one knows better than I do that for many years these old mansions have been gradually falling into decay. People have been leaving the country, especially in the West, and there are numbers of houses unoccupied, I am very sorry to say. There are some of us living now who have seen the end of one period and the beginning of another. I remember a good many years ago things were as different as possible from what they are now. The society and people of those times have passed away, and the country is now totally different from what it was 30 or 40 years ago. Everything is changed. Whether the old order will be renewed or not it is very hard to say; I have doubts myself. I should be very sorry to see the houses that remain left derelict. I should like to see them built  up again. I think it is necessary to have a leisured class in this country, able by their money and the extent of their land to do a good deal in the way of setting an example, trying experiments in agriculture, and affording an object-lesson to the people of the district around them. I do not say they always did that, but in the future that is what they could do. They will have sold their land, but retained sufficient around their mansions to farm on a large scale. I confess it seems to me rather regrettable that these old Georgian mansions should fall into neglect and disrepair. In the olden days the people lived in the raths, but these have passed away; then came the Norman castles; these were all wrecked, and they were succeeded by the great mansions built in the country. Possibly they, too, will pass away, and they will be succeeded by something new. It would seem that the idea of some of the people who are causing all the destruction in the country is that we should revert back to the wooden hut and houses of clay that the Gaels of old lived in. I suppose that is the idea they have in their minds. Well, the famine gave the first blow to people who occupied these great houses, then came the Land League, and now we have the present agitation. Now, there is one serious omission from the Bill. I see nothing in the Bill requiring the money to be spent in the Free State. I think it ought to be clearly laid down that any money for reinstatement should be spent in this country, and not taken off to England or Scotland or France and spent there. There is another matter to which I direct attention, and that is that a Judge can decide, if a mansion is burned down, and if there is a mansion in some part of the country that can be had cheap, that the unfortunate owner whose house is burned down should go and live there—that is, in a place that may have no attraction whatever for him —I think is most unfair, and should be remedied.
Mr. FARREN Mr. FARREN
Mr. FARREN: We all realise the necessity that has arisen for the introduction of such a measure as this, though we regret the reasons that make it necessary for the Government to bring forward the Bill. I would like to offer one or two criticisms on the Bill. In the first place I think the Government  are to be congratulated on Section 2, Part 2, of the Bill, which gives them power to re-open cases that have already been heard. The people will wholeheartedly support the Government as far as that clause is concerned, because we all know that in some cases that have already been dealt with, outrageous compensation awards have been given. We know that, in one particular case, compensation up to something like £1,000 was given for the inconvenience of being away from home for a day and a night. I think the Oireachtas ought seriously to consider the position of the Judges who awarded compensations in some cases that were dealt with; and, if the Bill gives power to deal with these cases retrospectively the Oireachtas also ought to have power to take serious notice of the manner in which some of these cases were dealt with. I heard several members of the Seanad to-day talking about credit. It seems to be the desire of some members of the Seanad that the Government should float a loan. Personally, I do not agree with that, because when Governments float loans it means that some people are going to get money more easily, and the only people in favour of floating loans are people who are going to reap the benefit of them in interest. Statements were made to the effect that a Government might have no money, and still have its credit. Statements were made that you could have money and have no credit. Well I am not a financier in any sense of the word, but I always understood that people who have money can get unlimited credit, and if the Government have money I feel certain that they too can get credit, and that there will be plenty of people to give them credit.
A most important section, in connection with this Bill is in Part 3 with regard to the non-admission for injury to the person, or for the loss of human life. When the Leas-Chathaoirleach was making a statement on the Bill he dealt with that point very fully, and called the notice of the Seanad to the fact that the British Government did not recognise the right of compensation for the loss of human life. It seems to be a settled policy with all Governments, that property is of more importance than human life. Of course we do not agree with that. Human  life is above all property; human life is more sacred than anything else, and we say that where a life has been lost, the people dependent for a living on the person who has lost his or her life, are entitled to adequate compensation. Provision is made whereby a Commission will be set up to consider claims made under this head. But it is being set up in such a way that it will be an act of charity to give compensation where a life has been lost or personal injury has been suffered. I think it is wrong to make it legal for a person to receive compensation for the loss of property, and still make the other way where human life is lost only an act of charity. If it is right to give compensation for the loss of property, it is more right to give it for the loss of human life.
Statements have been made by my colleagues that most of the people who have lost their lives have been of the poorer or working class, and their families have suffered more loss than the people who lost their property. The bread-winner has been lost on many occasions, and therefore, I do not think it is fair or just that these people should be put in the position of begging for charity, for that is what it means exactly. The Government proposes to set up a Commission to deal with such claims as may be made, but there is no power to compel the Government to compensate the people for the loss of their bread-winners. Senator O'Farrell pointed out that the railwaymen were real heroes who drove their trains and carried on their normal occupation. Some have lost their lives because of the carrying on of their normal occupation and in the endeavour to carry on the work of the country. Surely in cases such as these the dependents of these men should not be thrown on the charity of anyone. The Government ought to recognise the right to compensation for the loss of human life or for personal injuries. It has been the universal expression of opinion from the members of the Seanad that the Government ought to make it legal for compensation to be paid for personal injuries or for loss of human life.
Mr. McKEAN Mr. McKEAN
Mr. McKEAN: I think it is obvious from the course of the debate that the Seanad is not satisfied that the Government has not included in this Bill some  provision for those who have lost their lives or who have suffered personal injuries during the last few years. The Government has undertaken to indemnify for loss of property, for instance, and it has differentiated between the various classes of property, and I think rightly, but there is no doubt that, taking into consideration the damage done to property, preferential treatment should be shown to property that has some influence on the industrial life of the country. While it is obvious that property ought to get compensation, I think that the question of personal damage should not be neglected. In many cases the personal damage has been caused to men who gave a lot of service and sacrifice to their country in the hour of its need, and through whose exertions this Government, who now ignores their claims, is in power. I think their claims should be regarded by the Government not only as legal claims, but I think that the Government, in dealing with people of that kind, ought to regard it as a debt of honour which they should satisfy. In this Bill they are legalising the right to compensate property, and they are legislating themselves out of their legal responsibilities for personal damages; but if they legislate themselves out of their responsibilities for legal compensation, they cannot legislate themselves out of their responsibilities.
Human life is a far more sacred thing than property. Of course, in putting a value on human life and on property the balance might easily be struck in favour of property, but it is a bad dictum to follow that property is of more value to the State than human life. In the consideration of the claims of property, as I said before, preferential treatment is shown to property that has an intimate connection with the industrial life of the country. I think also that in considering personal damages preferential treatment should be shown to those who influenced the industrial life of the country. Senator Farren has spoken of railwaymen as taking a heroic part in the late conflict. So they did, but there is another body of men, to which I belong, and in any consideration for personal damages they should not be left out. In all the struggle that has gone on through the country they were up against every danger—ambushed  roads and derailed trains and all the dangers of road and rail. I think the commercial traveller has played a very important part. The commercial traveller has kept the wheels of industry going when it was very essential to the Government that they should be kept going. The commercial traveller daily and hourly imperilled his life. You often heard people in the country saying “I will not go to Dublin, as I dare not take the risk of travelling,” but no such expression of opinion was ever uttered by commercial travellers. They went out on their business; they kept the life of the country going, and I think if the Government introduces a Supplementary Bill to this that those who sustained injury of this class and those who have lost their lives should at least get some sort of ex gratia payment for the losses that they have suffered. Of course, the question of finance is one that can be overlooked. Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde said that he would not like to commence life in debt. Well, that is not a commercial idea. Every man commences life, but does not commence it properly, commercially, if he does not incur large debts, and, having incurred them, he meets them when the time comes that they should be met. The State is exactly in the same position, and I think that, owing to the splendid legislation that the Government has got through and the gratitude which the country feels to them for their efforts, the Government would have no fear whatever if they floated a loan of not having it subscribed, and over-subscribed, to-morrow. The most eminent political economists tell us that a National Debt is a national necessity. They scarcely consider the question at all. They take it for granted that a National Debt is a necessity, and, to mention only one aspect of it, that a National Debt affords an opportunity to give greater security, and the Government will see that banks and others would take up that loan, and I think it would be subscribed to very readily. I saw by a paper that it is intended to introduce a Supplementary Bill with regard to what have been called timid people whose property was destroyed, and if the President takes timid people into consideration I think he ought also to take into consideration  those people whom Senator Farren has described as heroic, and to whom also I will use the same appellation.
Mr. YEATS Mr. YEATS
Mr. YEATS: If it comes to a vote on the question of compensation for personal injuries I do not know on which side I am going to vote, because as yet I have heard no defence of the Government position. I have failed to find any defence of the Government's position in the newspapers. I am convinced that they have a defence, because I have found through my life a certain dogma very valuable, “There is no strong case without a strong answer,” and the whole country is full of cases for compensation for personal injuries. It is full even of excellent jokes on the subject. I am told that a certain country solicitor, acting for the widow of a murdered man, has sent into the Government a bill for a very badly perforated suit of clothes. Now, I think that the Government which receives with equanimity a claim of that kind has obviously a very strong case indeed, and I hope that the Minister for Finance will give us that case. I am very anxious to be instructed on what side I am to vote. Am I to assist the Seanad to hold up this Bill or not on this most important question? I do not know if I am in agreement with the Senator who is anxious that where a man's house has been burned he should be given the opportunity, instead of rebuilding, of building house property in some neighbouring town. I suggest that that would be an incitement to other men to burn their neighbours' houses and get rid of men who are occupying a certain amount of land that they would like. I also suggest that it is very desirable that any clause in this Bill which encourages a man to rebuild should be kept. This country will not always be an uncomfortable place for a country gentleman to live in, and it is most important that we should keep in this country a certain leisured class. I am afraid that Labour disagrees with me in that. On this matter I am a crusted Tory. I am of the opinion of the ancient Jewish book which says “there is no wisdom without leisure.”
Mrs. WYSE POWER Mrs. WYSE POWER
Mrs. WYSE POWER: From the trend of all the speeches that we have heard this evening it would seem that there was  absolutely no provision for personal injuries or for the loss of life. Senator Farren was the only one who referred to the Commission which is being set up, and he referred to it as a Charity Commission. I do not think that was fair, because I consider, in the setting up of this Commission, every care and every attention will be given to the losses that will be brought before it. I think it is very necessary in this particular thing that there should be a great deal of sifting. Senator Farren and myself belonged to certain organisations for the past six years, and I think he will bear me out when I say that for deaths of children of 16, 17 or 18 years claims were put in for them as bread-winners even if their fathers were alive. I think nothing can compensate for human life. I think no money we can give will compensate for the natural love and affection for those who are lost to them. But I do think that it would be most unwise that for everybody who died compensation should be paid. I also think that in the hands of the Commission which is about to be set up—and I think it is quite right that Senator Farren and everyone should know the details of that Commission—that we can feel that that Commission will do justice to all claims for the loss of the bread-winners. I think that nobody here who knows Irishmen, and the Commissioners will be all Irishmen whatever they are, but knows that they will sympathise with the claims of those people, and they will turn down no claim where a bread-winner has been lost. As to the railwaymen, there is no fear whatever that the people dependent on those who are lost or maimed will be left destitute. I regret that all the speeches here this evening went that way, and nobody said that the Government were doing a wise thing and a just thing in setting up this Commission.
Mr. MacLYSAGHT Mr. MacLYSAGHT
Mr. MacLYSAGHT: I did not intend to take part in the debate, but I intend now to make a record for short speeches. We heard a lot about Alexander Hamilton's dictum that no nation is a nation until it has a National Debt. We did not hear the addendum to that, and it is, “provided that the National Debt is held by the people of that country.” But where does the benefit of a National Debt come in when a country has to pay all that interest to a foreign country?
The PRESIDENT The PRESIDENT
 The PRESIDENT: I think it is fairly obvious that it would be impossible to meet the wishes of all Senators. I take first the case that was made for bonds. Let us take a house worth £20,000, and furniture worth £10,000. Money will not be paid in respect of that £20,000, if that house is to be reinstated, until the work is begun and value received. Then the instalments will commence to be paid, and they may not commence to be paid until twelve months after the award has been given if the owner of the property does not start sooner the building operations. On the other hand, directly the award is made the owner of the property who gets compensation for £10,000 for the furniture receives immediately, I think, a sum of £2,000 in cash and £8,000 in securities. What is his position? No matter how rapidly he commences to collect his furniture it will be surely twelve months before he can store it in the new house. It may possibly be a very much longer time before he will have to spend the money on the furniture; and in the meantime he gets what he never got for his furniture, a return of five per cent. on the money. The furniture, except it is of an exceedingly valuable order, will not appreciate to that extent. Now, it is put that, having lost sterling, he should get sterling. He has not lost sterling. He has lost certain articles, and he says “I must get sterling.” Who is to give it to him? Obviously, the citizens of the country. Therefore, in addition to getting compensation he must get sterling out of the citizen's pocket.
Now, is it fair to ask in the first place compensation, and in the second place to ask the people who are giving compensation, and their promise and their security and good faith, to discharge their obligations in respect of the bonds that are to be issued, and the securities that are to be given, in addition to put their hands into their pockets and supply money and hand it over to a person who may not be able to use it for eighteen months or two years, and possibly will not expend the whole of it at all? These are circumstances which possibly people with less responsibility may not be inclined to consider; but which we, having the responsibility of guarding the resources of the State, must take into consideration in making this burden as  equitable and as fairly distributed over the shoulders of the people as we possibly can. It may not be a satisfactory explanation, but it is a fairly good one at any rate. The second point that was mentioned by Senator Jameson was a criticism of the Minister for Finance having authority or power to issue securities in certain cases or in any cases. There was a paragraph following which stated that
“Every Order made by the Minister for Finance under this sub-section shall forthwith be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, and if both such Houses shall, within the next twentyone days on which either House has sat after such Order is laid before the Houses, pass resolutions annulling such Order, such Order shall be annulled.”
Now, the Minister for Finance, as will be seen, has no authority to do what has been said here that he would do. If he comes in with his liver out of order and says “I will only give 2 per cent. to-day,” he has no authority for that. It is not a question of his saying “Yes” or “No,” or of his saying “2 per cent., 3 per cent., 4 per cent., or 5 per cent.” He must come down here, and no matter who the Minister for Finance may be, if he were affected with all the nonsense that is at present affecting the Irregulars, he would not have authority to deal with a question of this sort.
The Senator must not have read into this all that it means. Both Houses have power to discuss and to criticise, and to make the Minister for Finance answer for and defend whatever rate of interest he has decided upon. It is obvious the Minister for Finance must maintain at something like par value the securities that are issued, and he would not issue securities unless they were of such value as would give the State a character amongst the nations. I do not think there is much in that point.
I would like to say that on this question of National Debt I do not mind much what Hamilton said or what Adam said, or any of those other people. If there is to be a National Debt there must be national value. If there be national value for the National Debt, then it does not matter. But if there is no national value upon which to build a National  Debt, then there is a difference. Here there is nothing but the industry of the people and the business of the country, and except they are developed we are not in a position to bear a National Debt. This money that we are going to spend now is not for value received. It is to place us on a level with other nations, who are already far ahead of us so far as commercial and industrial activity is concerned, and it will, to a certain extent, restore our national honour. That is what we are going to buy back with the money we are going to raise. That is the serious thing for us to bear in mind. It bears, to some extent, on the case made in respect of personal injuries. I must say I have great difficulty in keeping my temper when I hear about this question of personal injuries. The Committee that is being set up to deal with compensation for personal injuries consists of His Honour County Court Judge Johnston, Dr. Hennessy of the Medical Council, and Dr. Henry Kennedy, who has had experience of the White Cross for some considerable period. The terms of reference of the Committee state:—
The Committee shall receive, investigate and consider applications for compensation presented by any person who has suffered loss by reason of having been injured in his person or by the dependents of any person who has died in consequence of having been so injured in any of the following cases occurring since the 21st January, 1919, namely:—
Where the injury was an injury to which the Criminal Injuries Acts would have been applied by the Criminal Injuries (Ireland) Act, 1919, as amended by the Criminal Injuries (Ireland) Act, 1920, had these Acts remained in force.
Where the injured person was or was likely to be excluded from the benefit of the Criminal Injuries Acts as so applied, by reason only of the injury having been inflicted by members of the British Military or Police Forces.
Where the injury was sustained without default on the part of a person being a non-combatant in the course of belligerent action between the British Forces and the Irish National Forces or in the course of operations by the  National Forces against persons engaged in armed rebellion against the Government of Saorstát Eireann whether before or after the passing of the Constitution.
The Committee will recommend to the Minister for Finance what sums should in reason and fairness be paid in the several cases above mentioned, regard being had to, inter alia, the actual earning capacity of the injured person prior to the injury, and to the impairment of earning capacity attributable to the injury and to the actual extent of dependency of dependents upon the deceased person prior to the death or injury of the deceased person, and to any effective provision made by the deceased person for his dependents by way of insurance or otherwise.
The Committee shall in general recommend awards by way of lump sum but shall also recommend in the alternative monthly or quarterly allowances in cases of injury considered likely to be permanent. The payment of a periodical allowance may be recommended to commence on the first day of April, 1923, but a payment of a sum in the nature of arrears, but not exceeding the amount of one year's arrears, may be also recommended.
The Committee shall not recommend an award in any of the following cases:—
(1) Cases eligible for any award under any Act making provision for Army Pensions.
(2) Cases in which a final decree under the Criminal Injuries Acts was obtained prior to the 12th of February, 1922; and
(3) Cases in which the British Government have undertaken full liability.
If in this case of personal injury the word “charity” is used, it should be used only in the sense of love and of humanity, for the awards will certainly not be alms. What is the case made for this? A very strong case, a very powerful case, a case in which very intemperate language is used, a case in which stress is laid upon the moral liability of the nation, a case in which we are upbraided for being seated here upon seats of velvet while the unfortunate people who have put us here are suffering,  and their dependents in want. What is the alternative? A very easy alternative — to go back on this Bill and to restore to claimants their legal position under the Acts of 1919 and 1920. Will you do that? It is a serious responsibility to take, to ask local authorities to do this. There is considerable hesitancy about accepting an offer of that kind. And why? Because it means that you place immediately upon the backs of the people a burden which they are not prepared to bear. Some people look to the Treasury as if it were the Treasury of the British Government, or the Treasury of some enemy of the State, and they forget that it is the Treasury of their own country and that the money got out of that Treasury must be paid in taxes by the people of this country or by those who come after them. In no case that I know has there been a marked disposition to place immediately upon the shoulders of the people this burden. Why then all this talk about legal liability and moral liability and the debts we owe to the dead, and so on? I have in mind one case. In that case there were four male members of a family and they had been in the struggle from the commencement. Two of them are dead. Not one penny has been claimed from the State, or has been paid by the State, or has been received by the members of that family by way of compensation. The other two members of that family have spent pretty long terms in gaol. The members of that family and their children, and everybody like them, will be taxed to pay the compensation that is awarded to the others. They do not grumble about that. When it is really brought home to the people that it is they who are responsible for any moral or legal liabilities there are, there is reluctance to place immediately upon the shoulders of the ratepayers that liability. These monies that have to be raised in respect of this Bill have to be paid in our generation or the next, if we are ever to progress as a nation. That fact must be borne in mind. It is a very serious consideration in this business.
Some criticism has been passed on us on the ground that in this Bill we seek or we seem to have impugned the National credit. We are informed that credit is a very serious thing to be tampered  with. We know that. That is the point of view that the Ministry had in mind when they considered this question — National credit. We have not broken any promise that we made as far as I know or as far as has been brought under my notice in connection with this Bill. Anything that we have undertaken we have carried out as far as our ability permitted us, and our capability of discharging obligations in this respect will be eventually according to the ratio of the damage that has been done. In other words, if this damage is to go on to five times the extent and that our National capabilities are X, obviously if we have reached X at present there will be but one-fifth of X when the thing is stopped. As to the question of National credit we are only starting business. We know quite well that every person who has suffered loss cannot be compensated to the extent of the loss that has been suffered. It is impossible. Apart from the sentimental loss, which is irreparable, the material loss cannot be made good. You cannot give back to persons what they have lost. You cannot restore the simple little articles that there may be in any house. You cannot restore immediately all the place. You cannot restore the health that has been undermined by reason of the damage done and the inconvenience placed upon people by the mental anguish that has affected some members of a family, perhaps all the members of a great many families, that have been injured in these cases. What we have endeavoured to arrive at is as fair a distribution of what we can afford to pay as is possible in the circumstances. If on consideration of the Bill it can be shown to us that we have failed in that respect, then it is our duty to meet the Seanad and to see how far we can remedy any defects that there are in this Bill.
I said this evening that I had no recollection of the language that was used and put to me as having been used by me in relation to the Railways. I was certainly surprised to hear the statement. I believe on the part of the State we made a good bargain. I believe on the part of the Railways that they made a good bargain. One must bear in mind, in connection  with a service like that, that the State would be justified in paying more to maintain the service than if it were a question of simply restoring it months, or a year, or two years after the damage had been done. Keeping open transit was one of the most important considerations and is at the present moment a consideration of some importance. We are collecting rates and taxes and we are levying liabilities upon people who must certainly get the facilities that the Railways afford them. If the Irregulars think that by concentrating on the Railways they are cutting the throat of the Nation they are making a very serious mistake. A Nation's throat is not so easily cut as all that. There may be a considerable amount of inconvenience and a considerable amount of expense incurred in keeping open these Railways. They did not get £3,000,000. They did not get 1 per cent. of £3,000,000. I mentioned the sum that we had paid on account to one of the Railways. I think it was something like £30,000. There is certainly a remarkable difference between £30,000 and £3,000,000. Another case made was that we are legislating ourselves out of our moral and legal liabilities. Well, we can legislate ourselves back again into our legal responsibilities anyhow, and the way in which that can be done will be found in the Schedules, and if there be an objection to restoring these two Acts that I have referred to a particular Clause dealing with the subject can be put up for consideration and we will see whether or not the local authorities will be so anxious to assume these legal and moral responsibilities as we are told they should.
I must say that on the whole this Bill has been very favourably received in the Seanad. I expected very much more opposition to it, not because of its infirmities, but because it was natural where there was a number of diverse interests and where so many people were affected, that they would speak for the class to which they belong, and that even if one were not personally affected by any particular Clause in it that some friends of the Senators might be so affected. A good deal of criticism has been indulged in in another country about this Bill. A great number of people have alleged imperfections in it  and have alleged against this State that we never really intended to bear our share of contributing towards the losses that they had sustained. People have made claims against us and have slandered our country and have received money, not to a very large extent, but to a small extent, on the ground that they had lost property here and suffered wrongs, and so on. I thought that in an assembly like this, where there are friends of such people, there are opportunities of criticising every single Clause which appears even to do an injustice to those people. The statement I made at the very last stage dealing with this Bill was to the effect that if it were shown to us there was an injustice done to any order of the community, and if it were proved that there were certain people who have claims against the State who could not benefit by getting these awards under the terms of this Bill — that it would not be safe for them to come back, as their lives would be in danger— we would consider this and introduce an amending Bill. I did not, I think at any time indicate that we contemplate an amendment of this other than in these terms, and on the basis of the compensation awarded. In other words, if a man had a castle which it would take £100,000 or £200,000 to restore but which had no market value approaching that sum, it was never our intention to have him awarded that sum and let him clear out of the country because it was unsafe for him to live in it. It was our intention according to this Bill even if a building had no market value that the measure of compensation would be such as would afford him much the same sort of accommodation in some other place. If I have left out any points or not answered some of the questions put to me by Senators, I will be very pleased to do so if they repeat them now.
Mr. KENNY Mr. KENNY
Mr. KENNY: It would appear to be an extraordinary thing that Senators, having a copy of the Bill in their hands, should stand up and assert that no provision is made to compensate for death or serious personal injury. From a casual reading of it I cannot find any counterpart of that which was read out by the Minister.
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: I think the Senator is acting under a misapprehension. What the President said  was that provision was being made by the Committee which the Government has set up to make ex-gratia grants. He did not say it was in the Bill.
Mr. KENNY Mr. KENNY
Mr. KENNY: We have no information of that.
The PRESIDENT The PRESIDENT
The PRESIDENT: Part 3, Section 17, Sub-section (6):— “This section shall not apply or prevent the presentation or prosecution of a claim to or before any Commission of Inquiry in respect of any injury to which this section applies.”
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: While it is scarcely in order as the President has offered to answer any questions, if there are any, I think we should allow them.
Mr. KENNY Mr. KENNY
Mr. KENNY: I think that paragraph did not convey, after a casual reading or even a critical reading, all that we now find it is meant to convey.
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH
AN LEAS-CHATHAOIRLEACH: It is not in order to debate now the exact meaning of the words. We shall have a Committee Stage to discuss the exact meaning. The only point now is that the President has offered to answer any questions as to which there is any doubt. I think such an opportunity should be given to any Senator, but it would not be in order to debate the clauses or the exact meaning of them.
Sir JOHN KEANE Sir JOHN KEANE
Sir JOHN KEANE: I would like to ask the President whether it would be necessary to introduce an amendment to specially earmark costs, or whether that is already provided for. It is rather a legal point on which I am not quite clear. I mentioned that as very heavy costs were incurred by persons who suffered in these cases in surveys of property and legal expenses, and whether they can be separately provided for in the awards or not I am not quite sure.
The PRESIDENT The PRESIDENT
The PRESIDENT: Do I take the question to mean that in the event of costs being awarded by the Judge they will be paid in cash? If that is the question, I would say yes, they will be paid in cash. It would be for the Judge to award the costs. As a rule, and from my experience of cases under the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Acts, are usually awarded by the Judge in such cases.
Mr. JAMESON Mr. JAMESON
Mr. JAMESON: I was wondering if the President caught one point that I  made. It is, at what time an announcement will be made as to the securities that will be offered? There is nothing about it in the Bill that I can see, and it seems to me a very important thing, before these cases begin, that at least the Judge trying them should know the value of the material which the claimant is going to be paid in. The time when the decision of the Minister for Finance is going to be given is a very important matter. I know it is a point he might not like to answer here at all. In the Seanad we have great difficulty in dealing with financial questions of that sort. The Attorney-General will probably tell him we would be out of order if we put in an amendment dealing with the necessity for a declaration before this Bill was passed. Probably I know quite well what is running in the President's mind, but it would certainly be a great relief if we had some knowledge of the description of these bonds, the time they will have to run, and the interest that will have to be paid on them.
The PRESIDENT The PRESIDENT
The PRESIDENT: An amendment of this sort, or something dealing with this matter, was put up in the Dáil. The interest mentioned was not to be lower than four per cent. and the term of years not greater than 25 years; that was not accepted. I should say notice in connection with this would appear almost immediately after the first award was made, but it is no business of the Judge to consider what the value of the security is. He is dealing with sterling, and he has to assume we are paying sterling in those cases.
Question: “That the Damage to Property (Compensation) Bill, 1923, be now read a second time,” put and agreed to.
Seanad Éireann 1 OIREACHTAS STAFF. DAMAGE TO PROPERTY (COMPENSATION) BILL, 1923.