Wednesday, 29 September 2004
Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Bill 2003: Report and Final Stages.
I congratulate the Minister and his officials on the passage of this Bill through the House. We had a good debate on the net points that my party raised on Committee Stage, some of which we attempted to re-enter but which were negatived as a result of the discussion that occurred on Committee Stage. It is very important reforming legislation.
I have one point to make. The Civil Service Commission has served this country well from the 1920s until the current day largely because of its independence and impartiality. It is highly respected because of those two great qualities which we should never underestimate, even with the new infrastructure that will be in place as a result of this Bill. It is important that there be flexibility within Departments so that persons with particular expertise can be brought into a Department for a period of time. That makes perfect sense.
However, we should not lose sight of the significant contribution that has been made by the Civil Service Commission historically. It was once suggested to me by Dr. Garret FitzGerald that when the first Cumann na nGael Government came into power in the early 1920s its supporters wanted two things, first, that the Republic invade Northern Ireland immediately and, second, that jobs be given to all their sons and daughters because they had won the war. Obviously, that was not done.
The architecture put in place in the early 1920s has stood the test of time. It has shown our civil and public servants to be persons of extreme ability, capability and of the utmost integrity. An example of this was the success on the international stage of Ireland's EU Presidency when fantastic advice of all hues and descriptions was given to the Government. I wish the Minister of State well in the implementation of the Bill. More flexibility within the public service and a modern framework for bringing new people into it are needed. However, the historical principles built up since the early 1920s of what the Civil Service Commission and the public service stand for must be remembered.
I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, for bringing this important Bill through the House. I share the sentiments expressed by Senator Brian Hayes, particularly as it is almost 30 years to the day since I came through a Civil Service Commission examination. It is important that the spirit and ethos of the commission is maintained in the more flexible arrangements that are now required. This Bill has an obvious relevance to the more flexible management of Departments and the decentralisation programme to which the Minister of State has made an important contribution.
I join Senators in their praise for the integrity and history of the Civil Service. I thank the House for the positive contributions made during the passage of the Bill. It was an excellent debate. I also thank the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissioners. I wish the new bodies to be established by this legislation well. They have big shoes to fill which I am sure they will do.