Seanad Éireann - Volume 31 - 24 January, 1946
Ministerial Orders—Motion for Return.
Mr. Duffy Mr. Duffy
Mr. Duffy: I move:—
That Seanad Eireann requests the Government to furnish, in the form of a White Paper or otherwise as may be convenient, particulars of the several statutory or other enactments now in force which authorise, on terms analogous to the provisions of Section 281 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, a Minister of State by Order to adapt, amend or modify Acts of the Oireachtas or any statutory or other enactments; the number of Orders made under each of them and particulars of the several statutory or other enactments so adapted, amended or modified by virtue of each such Order, and the extent of such adaptations, amendments or modifications.
After the discussion to which we have listened to-day, it is hardly necessary to remind the House that its functions in relation to the making of legislation are somewhat limited. As everybody is aware, any Bill that comes before this House can become law within a period of three months in the form in which it reaches the House, whether we like it or not. It is understandable, therefore, that members may have some reluctance to devote the time and attention to legislation which must be devoted to it in the Dáil. I do not want it to be inferred, however, that because of these circumstances the members of this House are less attentive to the legislation which comes before the House than are the members  of the Dáil. On the contrary, I think a substantial number of members of this House pay great attention to the business which properly comes before us and devote a very great deal of their time to the study of the legislation which reaches them and they endeavour to amend it and improve it.
There is one function which, it seems to me, the House should perform and it is a function that the House alone can perform in the circumstances of the case—that is, to give attention to, and watch closely, what is done outside Parliament under the authority of the legislation passed through both Houses. Everybody is familiar with the practice which has grown up of giving Ministers wide powers to make regulations by Order which, when made, have the effect of an Act of the Oireachtas. In many cases the regulations which are made under these Acts cover a very wide field. In bulk they are probably five times as great as the Act which gives rise to them.
This motion is not concerned with the making of regulations in the ordinary way; it is concerned with a very narrow field, but one of great significance in the realm of regulation-making by Ministers. The proposal in the motion is that a White Paper be submitted setting out particulars of the several statutory or other enactments now in force which were made under the authority of Acts of the Oireachtas or earlier legislation, authorising the Minister to modify Acts of Parliament. So far as I have been able to discover —although I do not at all assert that I have made a very careful study of the problem—the origin of this procedure may be found in the Local Government Act of 1898. Section 104 of that Act authorised the Lord Lieutenant of the day by an Order in Council to declare that certain stated provisions of British and Scottish Acts of Parliament would have effect in Ireland. There are two things to which I want to draw attention in that regard. In the first place, there was no power to apply any Act except an Act mentioned in the Statute as being capable of being applied to Ireland. In the second place, the Order which applied these enactments was not an  Order made by a Minister or by a Government Department; it was an Order in Council. We have no machinery equivalent to an Order in Council. The Order is now made by a Department or a Minister.
I want to emphasise that the procedure followed in 1898 was the making of an Order in Council applying certain named and specific enactments—not a roving commission modifying and applying anything one wished—but under that clause, Section 104 of the Local Government Act of 1898, we got the Application of Enactments Order which as far as I remember runs into 50 foolscap pages of print. What has happened since then? Take the Local Government Act of 1925. Section 86 of the Act says:—
“The Minister may by Order.... make such adaptations of any existing enactments (including any Local Act) relating to any matter dealt with or affected by this Act as appear to him necessary or expedient for carrying this Act into effect.”
That is a very wide departure from the principle contained in the Act of 1898 and, so far as I know, nobody outside official circles can have any knowledge of what was done under Section 86 of that Local Government Act. I suppose the legal members of this House will be familiar with what is done and will be able to tell us where these Orders, if there are such Orders, may be found.
I have in my mind the position of an ordinary member of a county council, an urban council or of any local body, whether a corporation or not, who is face to face in his representative capacity with the effect of regulations about which he can have no knowledge. You can imagine a member of the county council in Kerry, Donegal or Galway coming into a meeting, to discuss a matter which appears on the agenda, having a view of his own as to how it might be dealt with and he is confronted with the manager or the clerk who tells him, “You cannot do that; it is prohibited by an Order made by the Minister under Section 86 of the Local Government Act of 1925”. Whether the clerk is right or not—he is not always right in these matters— the member of the council is powerless  because he has never seen the Order. He is not in a position to say whether or not the Order prohibits him doing what he wants to do.
We go further and we get the Public Assistance Act of 1939. You will observe that in this case the authority given to the Minister goes still further. Section 89 of the Public Assistance Act says:—
“The Minister may by Order make such adaptations and modifications of any enactment in force at the commencement of this Act and relating to any matter or thing dealt with or affected by this Act as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for carrying this Act into effect or for enabling this Act to have full force and effect.”
You see a number of new words inserted in that section which did not appear in Section 86 of the Local Government Act of 1925. I imagine these words were inserted because they have some meaning. I cannot imagine a draftsman importing new words and phrases into a section unless it is done for a purpose. I assume that the purpose it was intended to have was that Section 89 of the Public Assistance Act should have a much wider application than Section 86 of the Local Government Act. Section 281 of the Mental Treatment Act is almost identical with Section 89 of the Public Assistance Act and we shall have, in the course of the next few weeks, other Bills in which there is a continuation of this principle of conferring on a Minister power to modify, to adapt or to do pretty well what he likes with any Act of Parliament so far as he considers it necessary that an alteration should be made in the existing statute to enable him to do what he is asked to do under a particular Act. Where the layman who happens to be a member of this House or of a local authority is to be acquainted with the activities of Ministers under these provisions I do not know.
I am aware from personal knowledge that officials of public bodies do not even know where they can lay their hands on some of these Orders. I  remember on one occasion being concerned with interviewing an important official of a county council. Some questions had been asked to test his knowledge of local administration. He was looking for promotion and casually I asked him the question whether he was familiar with the Application of Enactments Order. He said he had never seen it. I said: “Surely there is a copy of the Application of Enactments Order in the office of the county council.” He replied: “There is; the secretary has a copy locked up in the safe and it is very hard to get at it. I have never seen it.” This man was a highly placed official. I said: “Would not the secretary of the county council let you take it out and read it?” He replied: “He would not; he would not give a copy of it to anybody living.” That is the experience of a person who had a responsible position in the office of a county council. How can the county councillor who comes up from a remote part of the country to attend a meeting of the county council become familiar with the provisions of those Orders when a highly placed official whose job it is to administer them cannot lay his hands on a copy?
What I am asking in this case is that a White Paper be submitted, setting out briefly the names of the Acts which have been modified or adapted, and showing the effect of the Orders made for the purpose of modifying or adapting them. I think it is a reasonable request, and I think it is the kind of thing in which this House particularly should be interested. As I have said, if they cannot have the same effect that the Dáil has on shaping the character of legislation, at least they have the function of seeing what is being done outside the Oireachtas under the authority of statutes. That is a function which cannot be fulfilled by the Dáil because of the nature of its work, and because of the kind of tasks which come before it. For instance, we know that in the Dáil a considerable amount of time is devoted to consideration of the Estimates for Public Services. We are saved all that. Therefore, I submit that it is incumbent upon us to pay attention to what  is being done, as in this case, under the authority of statutes, and to see that the public knows what is being done and how it is being done.
Mr. Smyth Mr. Smyth
Mr. Smyth: I second the motion.
Mr. Ryan Mr. Ryan
Mr. Ryan: The question raised by Senator Duffy is a very important one. The motion, in my submission, is rather inadequate. The motion merely requires the Government to furnish in the form of a White Paper particulars of the several enactments now in force which empower a Minister of State to legislate, that is, to legislate in a certain way, namely, by Order to adapt, amend or modify Acts of the Oireachtas or other statutory enactments in force. Those enactments can be easily enumerated. They can be found by reading through the Acts of the Oireachtas and the British Acts in force. The second part of the motion, which requires particulars of the Orders, or the manner in which those enactments have been adapted, amended or modified, is more difficult perhaps, but more illuminating, because there the things will be given. This power which is vested in Ministers of State by Acts of the Oireachtas is not a new one. In England that form of section in an Act is known as the King Henry VIII section, because in the time of King Henry VIII Parliament passed a law enabling the King to legislate by Proclamation, and this is the analogy, that the Parliament by law empowers a Minister to legislate by Order. This sweeping section in an Act of Parliament, handing over to the Minister very large powers of legislation, has well been described as the King Henry VIII section.
In the year 1929 there was set up in England a committee on Ministers' powers. The chairman of that committee was the Earl of Donoughmore, and it was a very representative committee. The ordinary power of a Minister is an executive power, but this committee had to deal with the extraordinary powers of a Minister, namely, the legislative power, which is outside his ordinary function, and the judicial power, which the Constitution provides should be separated from the executive power. The report of that  committee was published in the year 1932. It is in our Library here, and it well repays perusal. I think the command number is 4060, 1932. That committee dealt with what I may call the extraordinary powers of Ministers. It dealt with the legislative power on the one hand, and it dealt with the judicial powers or quasi-judicial powers on the other hand. Under the judicial powers or quasi-judicial powers, it dealt with the holding of inquiries by Ministers acting as judges and administrators at the same time. The motion before us to-night, of course, does not deal with the judicial or quasi-judicial powers of Ministers, but it does refer to what I may call the legislative powers of Ministers. From the time of Montesquieu, through the American Constitution down to the 1922 Constitution here, there has been an effort made to segregate the three powers of government, namely, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial power, to keep them in watertight compartments and to restrict the intrusion of a person occupying an executive position either into the judicial or legislative sphere, and likewise to restrict the Legislature from acting in an executive or in a judicial capacity.
Under our present Constitution, there has been a weakening of that segregation, and the tendency at the present time is to blot out that well-known historical distinction of the separation of the powers or segregation of the functions of the Legislature, the Executive and the judiciary. If it has come to stay—and it is a very hard thing in present conditions for the Legislature to legislate on every topic upon which legislation is required—it becomes necessary to have a certain amount of delegation of the powers of legislation to persons who occupy the position of specialists, to make subsidiary legislation. We have had a considerable amount of legislation by Order since this State was set up. We had a great number of Statutory Orders made in the early twenties, which are very difficult to obtain to-day. Senator Duffy mentioned a moment ago that the solitary copy of the Application of Enactments Order in the county council office was locked up in the secretary's  safe. I can quite understand that, because I think that, now, that Order can only be obtained either in Vanston's Local Government (Vol. 1.) for which you will pay one or two guineas, or perhaps even three guineas, or else, perhaps, there is one copy in each county council office in the country, and, presumably, there may be some copies in the Department of Local Government and Public Health. Now, these Orders were made in 1899 and, probably, are now out of print, and while everybody is supposed to know the law—ignorance of the law is no excuse—everybody cannot find the law. An effort was made here recently to bring together the Statutory Orders from 1922 to 1938, and a copy of this has been published by the Government Publications Sales Office.
Business suspended at 6.5 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.
Mr. Ryan Mr. Ryan
Mr. Ryan: Before the adjournment for tea, I stated that everybody was presumed to know the law, and that ignorance of the law was no excuse, but in order to know the law it should be possible to find out where the law is. A great portion of our law, under the heading of statutory law, comprises not only the statutes of the Oireachtas, but Statutory Rules, Orders and regulations made under powers vested in the rule-making authority by the Oireachtas. A few days ago I received from the Government Publications Sale Office the bound volume of the 1944 Statutes of the Oireachtas. If any person thought that was all the statutes made law in 1944 he is making a great mistake. We all know that there were hundred of Statutory Orders made in the year 1944, a great number of them, no doubt, under the Emergency Powers Act. All these Statutory Rules and Orders affect the rights and impose liabilities on the citizens of the State, and I respectfully submit that it is essential that these Statutory Rules and Orders should be as accessible to the public as the Statutes of the Oireachtas are. A layman may enter the Government Publications Sale Office and buy a copy of any particular set back to 1922 or 1923, but he  may find some difficulty in getting some particular Statutory Rule or Order. It often happens that a Statutory Order is made which does not affect the citizen, perhaps for some years afterwards, and when that occasion arises it becomes applicable. Since this State was set up in 1922, a number of Statutory Rules and Orders has been made. In my opinion in the early years from 1922 to 1925, the importance of these Statutory Rules and Orders was considerably underrated, and great numbers of them are locked up in Government offices. Some of them were never printed or published and, therefore, the public had not the opportunity of knowing what statute law has been enacted.
Within the last few years the Government appreciated the chaos that existed, as far as Statutory Rules and Orders are concerned, and made an effort to collect these Statutory Rules and Orders from the year 1922 to the year 1938 inclusive. These Statutory Orders were gathered together, and were bound in 14 or 15 volumes, not under the particular years, but under the particular subject or the particular Ministry concerned. An index was made of that collection and is on sale at the Government Publications Sale Office for 10/6. But at the present moment, these collected Statutory Rules and Orders cannot be purchased by the ordinary citizen in the bound form. A certain number of these collected volumes was sent by the Government to a number of libraries, for example, King's Inns Library, the Law Library of the Four Courts, the Solicitors' Library, the National Library and others, but outside these libraries the Statutory Orders in collected form are not available. We all know that, for a considerable number of years, these Statutory Orders have been published year by year in England, and if a person wishes to find out the contents of any particular Statutory Order made in any particular year, all he has to do is to refer to the bound volume of Statutory Orders for that particular year, and he can find what he is looking for.
I suggest to the Government that an  effort should now be made, even though it is belated, to collect the Statutory Rules and Orders made since the year 1922, and to publish these Statutory Rules and Orders in bound volumes for each year, not mixed up together as at the moment, but for each year from 1922 up to date. We would then have what I may call a body of law available to the ordinary citizen. This will be supplementary to the statutes enacted since 1922. It is better to do that late than never. The number of years which have elapsed since 1922 is comparatively small, and unless the work is undertaken, our statutory law will remain in a rather chaotic and unsatisfactory state. The statutes of the Oireachtas are on the table of the Clerk of the Seanad, but they are only a portion of our statutory law and we are deceiving ourselves if we think that they represent the whole of the statutory law. If those Statutory Rules and Orders were available year after year to a layman, such as Senator Duffy, it would not be necessary to bring forward this motion. I do not think that the motion is very practical. It raises a very important point, but it is rather unusual to ask the Government to publish a White Paper showing how powers vested by the Oireachtas in Ministers to adapt, amend or modify statutes of the Oireachtas have been used in practice. If we had the Statutory Rules and Orders available, Senator Duffy could look at each Order or Rule passed from 1922 to 1938 and ascertain the position for himself. It is merely imposing unnecessary work on officials to ask for this White Paper. The energy which would be devoted to this task could be more profitably employed by the officials in collecting the Statutory Rules and Orders, year by year, since 1922, putting them together, having them bound and selling them through the Government Publications Office. That is one aspect of the motion.
The motion has another aspect. That is the aspect referable to the Application of Enactments Order under the Local Government Act, 1898. We are at a great disadvantage in so far as Orders made under Acts of the British Parliament before 1922 are concerned.  Those Orders were published by the Stationery Office in London. They continued to be in operation here under the law which we carried over when the State was set up. It is as essential that they should be available now as it was when they were first made. I suggest that those Orders which are applicable to this country and are still in force should be collected and reprinted. It is almost impossible to get a copy of an Order made 30 or 40 years ago. If I were to write to London for one of those Orders, I should, probably, be told that it was out of print. When we cut the painter, the British Stationery Office lost interest in us and were no longer concerned to preserve those Orders for us. It devolves on us to make sure that those Orders which continue in force are available to citizens in printed form. Senator Duffy has raised an important point but I do not think that he should press the motion. By raising the question which he has raised, he has achieved something. I am sure that the Government will recognise the position and that they will place our statutory law on a satisfactory basis as soon as possible for our own benefit and the benefit of those who will come after us.
Mr. Kingsmill Moore Mr. Kingsmill Moore
Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I have addressed the House so often on subjects akin to this subject that members are familiar with my views and I do not intend to press them on them at any length to-night. I support Senator Duffy's motion in the form in which it was drafted. I must take mild exception to a certain fear expressed by Senator Ryan. He suggested that a great deal of work would be involved in giving effect to this motion. I doubt that that is so. Every Department has at its fingertips the Orders which it has itself made, altering a statute or modifying it in any way or giving effect to provisions in a statute. It is the very blood of the Departments' veins and they know how it circulates. If we can get out a volume such as the Statistical Abstract, with all the labour that that involves, this work could be done by the Departments concerned within a week without very much trouble so far as the  compilation is concerned. Only this morning I heard that, on inquiry being made at the offices of a very big local body with regard to two or three Orders, made for them, it was discovered that that body had no copy of the Orders and did not know where they could be got. What we want is, in the first place, a key to the maze and, in the second place, reproduction of the contents of the maze. I agree with Senator Ryan in that but it is unfair to suggest that Senator Duffy's motion—which is only a necessary preliminary—would involve anything like the extent of work which the Senator suggested.
Mr. O'Dea Mr. O'Dea
Mr. O'Dea: May I suggest that, if the terms of the motion are agreed to, no publication be made until we shall have passed the new Local Government Bill and the Public Health Bill, because they will, probably, do away with many of the Orders which have been made? That will appreciably lessen the work. A number of those Orders has been repealed. The Procedure-in-Council Order, for instance, which took up a large portion of Vanston, has been repealed. A great part of the Application of Enactments Order has also been repealed and there will, probably, be more repeals under the new Acts.
The Taoiseach Eamon de Valera
The Taoiseach: I cannot take the view that Senator Kingsmill Moore takes, that this would be an easy task. My information is that it would be a task of considerable magnitude. The question I am considering is whether the time that would be occupied in making this return would be justified. I take quite a different view of the suggestion by Senator Ryan, because work done in the direction indicated by him would, undoubtedly, be of permanent value. The trouble in connection with returns of this sort is that, if they are not complete, they are worse than useless; they are dangerous. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure that the whole ground is covered. That cannot be done without the expenditure of a great deal of time. For many years I have been urging the adoption of procedure by  which we would, by degrees, consolidate our laws. Certain steps are being taken to that end and I hope that, before long, we shall have definitely started upon the work.
The task involved by giving effect to this motion would be one of considerable magnitude. It would mean going through not only all the statutes passed here since 1922 but the British statutes which were taken over. I do not think it is right to say that the Departments have these Orders available to themselves in that particular form. Senator Kingsmill Moore's statement might be applicable to Orders which were actually in use. But we are asked for a return in respect of all those in force, which would, I take it, cover those which are capable of being used. I admit the justice of the argument that work of this sort is necessary and that it is not right we should have our laws hidden away so as to make access to them difficult. There may be difficulties which I do not perceive at the moment but, subject to those difficulties, I would urge very strongly on the Government that the work Senator Ryan suggested should be undertaken. That is to say, that we should have in accessible form, year by year, the Statutory Orders made since 1922. I am speaking as a layman. I have not examined the matter in detail. There may be difficulties in doing as I suggest, but these difficulties should, if possible, be overcome. It is but right, too, that Statutory Orders applicable here from the pre-1922 period should be pursued and made available. That I am content to recommend should be done, but this type of return would require a great deal of research and would not be of much value.
As for the future, on the broad question of the giving of powers to Ministers and to the Government to make Orders of this kind, it will be for the Dáil and Seanad to see that such powers are given in a restricted form, if that can be done. In particular cases, there may be special difficulties and it may be necessary to insert an omnibus clause but a time-restriction could be inserted. If powers were given, for example, to enable an Act to be put  into operation, it might be provided that the initial part would be done in a certain time and then any difficulties likely to crop up would show themselves. You could also have a safeguard in the provision that Orders be laid before the Dáil and Seanad and be open to discussion. These matters involve some difficulty and we have to see how far we can go in the desired direction. With regard to those general powers of adaptation, such powers are generally given to a Minister bringing in a large measure, having a bearing on a number of previous statutes. He cannot see precisely in advance how difficulties in connection with those statutes will impinge on the Act in question. Those general powers are necessary in those cases but it is objectionable always to have an omnibus clause. However, one oftentimes goes to a great deal of trouble to particularise and then finds that he is beaten and cannot sufficiently foresee things likely to arise so as to make provision for them. You find then that, to do a practical piece of work, room will have to be found for an omnibus clause. I do not think that those powers have been abused in any case. A great many of the powers are spent; they have exhausted themselves and the necessity for using them has passed long since. It is very questionable that a court would hold that an Order was justified in accordance with the terms of the omnibus clause after the passage of so many years. I do not think that we would be dealing with an immediate and practical problem in furnishing this return. I admit that there is need for proceeding on the lines indicated by Senator Ryan. If the Senator who brought forward this motion would be satisfied, I would undertake—I can only do my best and there may be difficulties in the way which I do not now see—to press for the carrying out of the suggestion made by Senator Ryan and to try to get those Orders brought together in volumes year after year. If they are already in existence, from say, 1922 to 1938, it would not be a very hard task to segregate them and to arrange them according to years, and, as I take it, a large number have not  been published, there will not be any loss, so to speak, in discarding a number of volumes which have cost public money to produce. There is, therefore, a practical task which we could face there. I do not know, if we go on with the process of consolidation, how far it would mean the incorporation into the statute law as it is of Orders as well as statutes of the Oireachtas. It possibly would mean that, but in any case the doing of what is suggested here in preparing these Orders would be valuable for those considering the question of consolidation and, therefore, the money spent—and the time of officials and the disorganisation of other work mean money—would be spent for a purpose with a definite and permanent value. I again urge the Senator not to proceed with his motion in its present form, but to accept the suggestion made. We do not need a motion from the Seanad in relation to it because I can promise that it will be done, if it can be done. It will be done unless there is something which I cannot see at the moment in the way.
Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
Mr. Sweetman: Senator Duffy is to be congratulated most sincerely on putting this motion down in that it has drawn a statement from the Taoiseach which I think should be especially marked in the records of the House and for the opening portion of which a special red ink should be used, because, in the very limited time I have been in this House, we, on these benches, on practically every measure have requested the Minister in charge to agree that the regulations to be made by him and his Department under it should be limited, first, as to time, and, secondly, as to degree. We have on practically every occasion also urged the Minister in charge to agree that the regulations to be made by him and his Department under these measures should be tabled before each House of the Oireachtas, and both of these suggestions have been seriously fought against by the Ministers concerned. Only in the case of the Children's Allowances Act was it accepted and then it was accepted grudgingly and not in a full and complete manner.
It has been the practice of Government  Departments in the framing of regulations in recent years consistently to omit any provision for the tabling of these regulations. It has been the practice to add, perhaps necessarily, a special section providing that the Minister concerned will have power to amend the Act if, in its initial operation, it should be found that there was some detail which required amendment. We did not object to that, but we always tried to have it limited, and for that reason and because we have to-day got the whole-hearted imprimatur of the Taoiseach on the efforts we have made to limit the power of Government Departments, I rise to congratulate Senator Duffy.
The Taoiseach Eamon de Valera
The Taoiseach: I should like to say that the emergency situation was quite different. I was not talking of the mass of documents which had to be produced during the emergency.
Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
Mr. Sweetman: I was not referring to Emergency Powers Orders.
Mr. Duffy Mr. Duffy
Mr. Duffy: I feel that the motion has very largely served its purpose. It deals with two propositions: the question of Orders made heretofore and the question of the introduction into future Bills of this provision authorising a Minister to make regulations. In the Local Government Bill, 1945, which should come before us in the near future, there is a provision which says that the Minister may by Order make such adaptations in any statutory or other enactments in force at the beginning of the Act and relating to any matter affected by the Act as are in his opinion necessary to enable the enactment to have effect in conformity with it. That, again, is totally different language from that to which I drew attention already.
There is, however, one saving feature about it, and I make so bold as to hope that the motion we are now discussing has had an effect on the Minister's mind, because he is making provision in the new Bill that any Orders made under it will be tabled, so that, so far as the future is concerned, any Orders made under the Local Government Bill  when it becomes an Act will be printed and laid on the Tables of both Houses and we shall have an opportunity of seeing what he is doing. We tried to get that done on the Mental Treatment Bill, but failed. What the Taoiseach has just suggested was impressed here on members of the Government, that is to say, that the power to make these adaptations and modifications should not extend beyond a certain limited time. We suggested that there should be no power to interfere with existing legislation by Ministerial Order unless it were exercised within, say, 12 months of the passing of the measure. We failed to get that done, and I respectfully suggest that there are many instances in which Local Government officials, much less members of local councils, have no knowledge of the law they are applying.
I want to make it clear that I was not dealing with Emergency Powers Orders. These have a temporary life, and when the Emergency Powers Act, 1939, expires, all these regulations fall with it. They have no validity except by virtue of the 1939 Act. I was not referring, as Senator Ryan seems to think, to the whole body of regulations. I was referring only to an Order made by a Minister for the purpose of adapting or modifying an Act of the Oireachtas or a British statute. Take the Local Government Act of 1945. Surely it is not too much to say that the Department of Local Government have in their offices copies of any Orders made under Section 86 of that Act? It is almost unbelievable that that Department would not have in their offices now copies of every Order made under the authority of Section 86 of that Act. If they have these Orders, it would not take them more than ten minutes to assemble them for publication. I take it that if there are Orders made under the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, these are available in the Department and it should not take very long to collect them and to have them printed.
While I agree with the Taoiseach that if you set out to reproduce a complete list of these Orders, showing the modifications in other statutes effected by them, you may mislead, and, in  fact, will mislead the public if it is not a complete and accurate list. But that could be done by instalments. There is nothing to prevent the Department of Local Government issuing a White Paper showing the portions of the Application of Enactments Order now in force. There is nothing to prevent it producing a White Paper showing what Orders have been made under the Act of 1925 or the Act of 1940. Let us bear in mind that the bulk of these provisions, authorising the Minister by Order to modify and adapt an existing statute, are almost entirely Local Government Acts. They apply very rarely in any other case, though I notice that they have been brought into the new Harbours Bill in a most extraordinary manner. That, however, is a matter that we can discuss when the Harbours Bill comes before the House.
I do not want to press this motion, but I do hope that some action will be taken, arising out of what the Taoiseach has said, to impress on Government Departments the fact that the public at large are severely handicapped in protecting their interests and in defending their rights if they are denied access, as they have been, to Orders and Regulations, affecting many phases of their activities, made by Government Departments and not published. I think it is known to the members of the legal profession who are members of this House that cases have come into court in which it was discovered that there was no copy of the Order, under which the prosecution was brought, available. In fact, I seem to recollect a case that was taken to court where there was no copy of the Order at all available, either written or printed. I am satisfied, however, that nothing more would be achieved by having a division on the motion than what has already been achieved, and, with the permission of the House, I am prepared to withdraw it.
Question—“That leave to be given to withdraw the motion”—put and agreed to.
Seanad Éireann 31 Ministerial Orders—Motion for Return.