Dáil Éireann - Volume 21 - 27 October, 1927
PUBLIC BUSINESS. - ELECTION OF LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE.
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: I move:—
“That Deputy Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár) be appointed Leas-Cheann Comhairle.”
I move this motion because I consider that Deputy Hogan is a suitable person to fill this important position. He is a man who has had four years' experience in this House. Before he entered this House he had been, and is still, connected with several public bodies and he has served on committees of this Dáil. In addition to his experience he is a man, in my opinion, of tact and ability and sound judgment and eminently suitable in that way to fill the Chair. I may mention, too, that on a few occasions, being on the panel nominated by An Ceann Comhairle in the Fourth Dáil, he has occupied the Chair already. He has the further very important qualification, important especially in this Dáil, that he is a competent speaker of the Irish language.
Deputies who were in the last Dáil will probably remember that I raised an objection to a proposal made with regard to the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle and that I went so far as to divide the House on the matter because I thought a knowledge of the Irish language was a very important qualification. In fact, I would consider no Deputy qualified to occupy the position who was not able to take charge of a debate even if it were wholly conducted in the Irish language. I am in a position to say that the Deputy I am proposing has that qualification, a fact, no doubt, well known to all Deputies in the House.
I would like to say that I am putting forward this nomination not as a party nomination. We are not nominating Deputy Hogan for the reason only,  that he happens to be a member of the Party to which I belong. And above all I would like to say this: In putting him forward we hope to get no party advantage out of the appointment, because we recognise, fully, that the person occupying the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle, just as the person who occupies the position of Ceann Comhairle, is the servant of the House and must give that service while he is in the Chair impartially to every party and to every individual.
No doubt the position of Deputy Chairman is somewhat different to that of the Ceann Comhairle in that the Deputy Chairman continues to maintain his party and possibly speak on behalf of his party in debate when he is not in the Chair. But I should like it to be recognised that once he leaves these benches and takes the Chair he leaves his party affiliations behind him. That is what we understand, in any case, in regard to the duties of the person who occupies this position. I go further and say that if it should happen that he is called upon to cast a vote while in the Chair we recognise fully, and I think the House should recognise, that any such vote must be cast not in accordance with any party affiliations he may have when outside the Chair but with certain well defined principles that govern the conduct of the person who occupies the Chair.
If it happens that such a vote may fall on the side that his Party may be supporting for the time being, it will not be, or it ought not to be, open to anybody to say that he was influenced in any way in giving his vote by the fact that his Party was supporting that particular point of view, just as I would say on behalf of the Party to which he belongs, that if his vote happened to be contrary to their view it would not be a matter of discussion in our Party in any way as to the manner in which he gave his vote. It would not be a proper matter to discuss or challenge the vote he gave. It may be advisable perhaps to make this clear and to make it quite definite that whoever is in the Chair, whether the Ceann Comhairle or the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, is one who is and must be the servant of the  House irrespective of Parties or whatever views he may hold. I believe Deputy Pádraic O hOgáin is a suitable candidate. I believe he will fill the Chair with tact and ability. I am proposing him entirely on his merits and I believe that if the House elects him to that position he will give satisfaction to every member.
Mr. COLOHAN Mr. COLOHAN
Mr. COLOHAN: I beg to second the motion. I am sure all Deputies who know Deputy O hOgáin know that he has a thorough knowledge of the rules of debate and that he will make a capable and efficient Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
EAMON DE VALERA EAMON DE VALERA
EAMON DE VALERA: 'Sé ár dtuairim ar an gceist seo nách ceart éinne do thogha mar Leas-Cheann Chomhairle chó fada agus tá míle púnt ag dul leis an bpost san. Do chuamair isteach sa cheist agus ní dó linn go bhfuil an oiread oibre ag baint leis an bpost a thuillfeadh an méid sin airgid. 'Sé mo thuairim gur cóir post de'n tsaghas so a bheith mar phost onórach, gan págh, gan tuarastal. Tá níos mó oibre ag dul le post Cathaoirligh Choisde na gCúntaisí Puiblí gan aon phágh. Nuair a bhí an cheist seo os cóir na Dála dubhairt an Teachta Tomás Mac Eoin:—
“While it is desirable that the Ceann Comhairle should have somebody to throw responsibility upon while he cannot be present or when he requires to be relieved, all these requirements can be well satisfied by the appointment of a Deputy, who, while continuing his duties to his constituents as a Deputy, can also undertake the duties of Leas-Cheann Comhairle.”
Aontuímid leis sin agus déanfamuid beart dá réir. Tabharfar ár nguthanna in aghaidh tairsgint an Teachta O Conaill. Tuigfear nach i gcoinne an duine atá ainmnithe atámuid ach sé ár dtuairim nách ceart an post so—chó fada agus tá an méid seo airgid ag dul leis—do thabhairt d'éinne.
Major COOPER Major COOPER
Major COOPER: There is just one point in reference to Deputy de Valera's argument that the duties of Leas-Cheann Comhairle should be performed  by an ordinary Deputy without salary. The duties of taking the Chair and relieving the Ceann Comhairle possibly could be performed in that manner, but the Standing Orders of the Dáil impose an additional duty on the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, and that is to take charge and supervise the proceedings relating to Private Bills. The whole procedure in relation to Private Bills is a very intricate study. It requires a man to devote a good deal of time to it, apart altogether from the ordinary business of the House. The promotion of a Private Bill involves the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, not only in passing it through the Dáil and Seanad, but also subsequently. I know I was Chairman of a Private Bill Committee in a previous Dáil, and the amount of money that was required to be expended on the Private Bill was £250,000. If you are going to have an officer of the Dáil charged with that duty you should put him in a position of independence. He has really the same position and almost the same responsibility as a Judge. And while possibly the salary might be reduced, while possibly the salary for Judges might be reduced, I do not think it would be fair to charge a Deputy with all that detail and all that responsibility—responsibility not only for the money, but for the right of development of enterprise in the State— and pay him no salary at all. I think it was suggested by Deputy Redmond in the last Dáil that a Committee should be set up to review the emoluments of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. That Committee was set up, and I hope it will be revived. I do think if Deputy de Valera would consider the great responsibility that the supervision of Private Bills places on the shoulders of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle he will not persist in his plea.
Mr. O'KELLY Mr. O'KELLY
Mr. O'KELLY: So far as we on these Benches are concerned, we do not wish in any way to suggest that the duties attaching to this office are not duties of importance and are not duties which deserve, in the person who is to fill the position, that he should have all the attributes at least that Deputy O'Connell spoke of as being possessed by Deputy Pádraig O hOgáin proposing  him for the office. We do not in any way challenge the suggestion that such qualifications are necessary, nor do we challenge the idea that the office is a responsible one. In certain times it may be just as responsible as that of the position of Ceann Comhairle, but so far as we have been able to discover, in making inquiries as to the duties that have been performed up to this by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, we have been told that the duties have been negligible, and that is a mild word. Up to this the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, except for occasionally going into the Chair, has had to do nothing else. Probably that may be due to the energy and ability of the present Ceann Comhairle. He is always there, we are told, to look after his duties, and always has been, so that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle in the past has not been very frequently called upon. That may be so, but then at any time anybody, even a person who may be as healthy and energetic as the present Ceann Comhairle, might fall ill, and we realise that it would be possible that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle would be called upon for a more extended period of service and for a greater amount of his time to be given to the office. Even so, we think that a salary of £1,000 a year is such a sum as ought not to be attached to the office, considering even the responsible nature of the post, and more especially the duties that have been attached to it up to this. Going on what we have heard from inquiries which we have made, we are satisfied that any Deputy could fulfil the duties that may be attached to the office as part of his ordinary work as a Deputy here.
Considering all these things, the office itself, the duties attaching to it and the state of the finances of the country, we think that a salary of £1,000 a year is an exaggerated sum to be attached to it. We are supported in that view very largely by the late leader of the Labour Party himself. When this question was under discussion in the Dáil in July last Mr. Johnson then said: “I think it will be generally recognised by those who  were members of the last Dáil that there was an over-estimation of the importance of the office of Leas-Cheann Comhairle and an over-estimation of the salary value, shall I say, of the office.” Again he said: “My view is that the duties of the office do not warrant the payment of a salary of £1,000, that that is a matter that has a right to be considered, and the question will at once arise as to what would be considered to be legitimate and fair remuneration for the office, if the office is necessary.” Mr. Johnson raised two questions there, first as to whether the salary should be as it was then and is now fixed at, £1,000 a year; and, secondly, whether the office is necessary. We have not had the same experience as the majority of Deputies here, but our information, gathered from various sources here, is that the duties are of the lightest nature: that if a Deputy is in attendance in the course of his ordinary duties here the additional trouble that will be put upon him by taking the Chair occasionally will not be such certainly as to warrant anything like a salary of £1,000 a year being attached to the office. We do not like to be taken as being in any way opposed to the Deputy who has been proposed. We merely raise the question on the duties attaching to the office, and we look upon as exorbitant the salary that is attached to it. As long as that salary is attached to the office we feel bound to oppose any appointment being made, and if necessary our Party will go in the Lobby against the motion.
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: The only thing I desire to say is that, in my opinion, the question of salary does not arise at the moment. The salary attached to the office has been fixed by Act of Parliament, and I am sure the Deputies who have spoken know that there is a way of changing an Act of Parliament if it is thought necessary and advisable by the House to do so.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 90; Níl, 58.
  Tá
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Cassidy and Davin; Níl: Deputies MacEntee and G. Boland. Motion declared carried.
Dáil Éireann 21 PUBLIC BUSINESS. ELECTION OF LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE.