§ [Second Reading.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, this is an unopposed Bill which has come up from the House of Commons, and may be cited as the Petty Sessions Clerks (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1907. It extends the present law, and provides that all the provisions of Section 12 of the Petty Sessions Clerk (Ireland) Act, 1858, and of any enactment amending the same, with reference to the gratuities or pensions which may be given to petty sessions clerks retiring from office through age or infirmity, shall apply to the recognised assistants of the clerks of petty sessions at Cork and Belfast appointed or hereafter to be appointed pursuant to the provisions of Section 10 of the said Act. There are only two of these assistants at Cork and nine at Belfast. It has been felt for a very considerable time by the magistrates of Belfast that these assistants have laboured under a very grave injustice by reason of the fact that they were not entitled to pensions. The contributions from Belfast to the Petty Sessions Clerks Fund, from which the salaries and pensions are payable, is more than sufficient to meet any possible claims that might arise for pensions under the Bill. The power of making rules conferred on the Lord-Lieutenant by Section 29 of the Act of 1858 is by this Bill extended to the making of rules respecting the qualifications, salaries, and appointment of any such assistants hereafter to be appointed and respecting the removal of any such assistants, whether existing or hereafter to be appointed. But there 927 will be no necessity to fall back on that provision in Belfast, as the fund derived from fines, penalties, etc., there is adequate for the purpose. With regard to Cork, where, as I have said, there are only two assistants of clerks of petty sessions, there is no doubt the fund is large enough to cover this matter. Strong representations have been made in favour of the Bill, and I hope your Lordships will see no objection to granting it a Second Reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now road 2a"—(The Earl of Mayo.)
My Lords, after the clear and lucid explanation which has been given of the details of this Bill by the noble mover, there is nothing for me to add, except to say that it was amended in certain particulars in the other House to meet the views of the Government, and that in its present form the Government of Ireland have no objection to the Bill, and will be glad to see it passed into law.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, I quite anticipated the statement which has just been made on behalf of the Irish Office. This is, no doubt, a meritorious Bill, and I think it is only right that provision should be made for the assistants of the clerks of petty sessions at Cork and Belfast. But a question might possibly arise as to the word "recognised." The Bill provides that the section of the Act of 1858 shall apply to the "recognised assistants" of the petty sessions clerks. If the Government are satisfied that no difficulty or uncertainty is likely to arise through the use of that term I will not press the point, though I think the phrase needs some definition. The power of making rules which is given to the Lord-Lieu-tenant only applies to assistants hereafter to be appointed and to the removal of existing assistants, but nothing is said of his power of deciding who is a "recognised assistant." But probably the noble Lord who represents the Irish Office will consult with the draftsmen in his Department on the point.
THE EARL OF MAYO
Though the term may not be a legal one, I cannot conceive that there will be any difficulty in deciding who is a recognised assistant.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow