PREPARATION OF THE REGISTER.

[Abhar Rúin ón Aire um Rialtas Aitiúil.](Motion by the Minister for Local Government):

DE BHRÍ go gceaptar gur dócha go ndéanfar togha chó luath agus is féidir é taréis do Bhun-reacht Shaorstáit Eireann atá anois fé mhachtnamh na Dála so do theacht i bhfeidhm do theachtaí a thabharfaidh seirbhís uatha i nDáil Eireann nó sa Tigh Iochtarach d'Oireachtas Shaorstáit Eireann.

WHEREAS it is deemed probable that an election of members to serve in the Chamber of Deputies /Dáil Eireann or other the Lower House of the Parlia- ment (Oireachtas) of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) will be held as soon as possible after the Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) now under consideration of this Dáil, shall have come into operation.

AGUS DE BHRÍ go gcomhairlítear don Dáil seo go dtógfa sé mórán mí chun clár na ndaoine atá i dteideal bhótáil ag an dtogha san d'ullmhú agus gur cóir de réir tuairime na Dála so tosnú láithreach ar an gclár san d'ullmhú cé nár ghlac an Dáil seo leis an mBun- reacht san fós.

AND WHEREAS this Dáil is advised that the preparation of the register of persons entitled to vote at such election will take several months and it is in the opinion of this Dáil desirable that steps should be taken forthwith to prepare such register notwithstanding that the said Constitution has not yet been adopted by this Dáil.

AUGUS DE BHRÍ de réir tuairime na Dála so gur cheart gach togha do Dháil Eireann do dhéanamh le bhótáil dhaoine atá os cionn bliain is fiche d'aois.

AND WHEREAS in the opinion of this Dáil every election to the Chamber of Deputies (Dáil Eireann) should be conducted on the basis of adult suffrage.

ANOIS dineann an Dáil seo do bheartú anso mar leanas:

NOW this House doth hereby resolve as follows:

1. Údaruítear agus iarrtar ar an Rialtas Sealadach anso Clár (dá ngairm- fear feasta "An Clár") de dhaoine atá i dteideal bhótail ag to ghanna de the- achtaí Páirliminte agus de dhaoine atá i dteideal bhótáil ag toghanna um Rialtas Aitiúil d'ullmhú i slí a luaidh tear 'na dhiaidh seo agus ullmhú an Chláir sin do thosnú láithreach ar ghlaca leis an Rún so agus dul chun cinn leis chó luath agus is oiriúnach no go mbeidh an Clár san críochnuithe.

1. The Provisional Government is hereby authorised and requested to cause a Register (hereinafter called "The Register") of persons entitled to vote at elections of members of Parliament, and of persons entitled to vote at Local Government Elections, to be prepared in manner hereinafter stated, and to cause the preparation of such Register to be begun immediately on the passing of this Resolution, and to be continued with all convenient speed until such Register is completed.

2. Ullanhófar an Clár leis na daoine agus sa chuma i ngach slí (mar aon le fuirm an Chláir, na daoine atá i dteideal a n-ainmneacha bheith ann agus nós fachta amach na ndaoine sin) le n-a agus in a n-ullamhuítear Clár Togh thóirí fés na dlithe um thogha atá anois ann ach leis na hatharuithe seo leanas agus dá réir:

2. The Register shall be prepared by the persons and in the manner in all respects (including the form of the Register, the persons entitled to be entered thereon, and the mode of ascertainment of such persons) by and in which a Register of Electors is prepared under the existing electoral laws, but subject to and with the following modifications:

(a) Sé bheidh sa téarma tástála ná an téarma sé mhí a chríochnuíonn ar an 15 adh lá de Dheire Foghmh- air, 1922, an lá san do chomhaí- reamh.

(a) The qualifying period shall be the period of six months ending on and including the 15th day of October, 1922.

(b) Aon áit go bhfuil dáta ceaptha ag na dlithe um thogha atá anois ann mar an dáta roimh, ar no tar éis a ndéanfar nó ná déanfar aon ghníomh féadfaigh an t-Aire um Rialtas Aitiúil, le hOrdú, dáta éigin eile oiriúnach do cheapa mar an dáta roimh, ar no tar éis a ndéanfar no ná déanfar an gníomh san i dtaobh an Chláir.

(b) Wherever any date is appointed by the existing electoral laws as the date before, at or after, which any act is to be done or not done, the Minister of Local Government may, by Order, fix some other suit- able date as the date before, at or after, which such act is to be done or not done in respect of the Register.

(c) Gach duine, d'ainneoin insgine, a bheidh de lán-aois agus gan aon mhí-chnmas dhlí bheith ag baint leis agus go mbeidh an tástáil chomhnuithe no an tástáil áruis ghnótha atá riachtanach có-líonta aige beidh sé i dteideal a ainm do chur ar an gClár mar thoghthóir Pháirliminte.

(c) A person shall, without distinction of sex, be entitled to be entered on the Register as a Parliamentary elector if he or she is of full age and not subject to any legal inca- pacity and possesses the requisite residence qualification or the re- quisite business premises qualifi- cation.

(d) Bainfidh coiníollacha na ndlithe um thogha atá anois ann i dtaobh tástáil chomhnuithe agus i dtaobh tástáil áruis ghnótha le gach duine d'ainneoin insgine.

(d) The provisions of the existing electoral laws as to residence qualification and as to business premises qualification, shall apply to all persons without distinction of sex.

(e) Ní bheidh baint ag an méid sin des na dlithe um thogha atá anois ann a dhineann riachtanach do mhnaoi aon tástáil eile ach an tástáil atá luaidhte i Mír(c) de seo a bheith aice mar choiníoll sara gcuirfear a hainm ar an gClár mar thoghthóir Pháirliminte.

(e) So much of the existing electoral laws as requires a woman to possess as a condition precedent to her being entered on the Re- gister as a Parliamentary elector any qualification other than the qualification mentioned in Clause (c) hereof shall not apply.

(f) Má thárluíonn aon deacaracht i dtaobh ullmhuithe an Chláir féad- faidh an t-Aire um Rialtas Aitiúil le hOrdú, aon rud no ní do dhéan- amh is riachtanach dar leis chun an Clár d'ullmhú i gcerat.

(f)If any difficulty arises as to the preparation of the Register the Minister of Local Government may, by Order, do any matter or thing which appears to him to be necessary for the proper preparation of the Register.

3. Dineann an Dáil seo an t-Aire Airgid agus gach údarás áitiúil d'údarú agus d'órdú anso chun díoluíocht do dhéanamh leis na daoine uile a bheidh ag obair ar ullúchán an Chláir de réir an ráta chéanna as an gciste gcéanna agus sa chuma chéanna ar gach slí do bheadh na daoine sin i dteideal fés na dlithe um thogha atá anois ann díoluíocht d'fháil ar na seirbhísí céanna maidir le Clár Toghthóirí fé sna dlithe um thogha atá anois ann d'ullmhú.

3. This Dáil hereby authorises and directs the Minister of Finance and every local authority to remunerate all persons who shall be engaged in the preparation of the Register, at the same rate, out of the same fund, and in the same manner, in all respects, as such persons would, under the existing electoral laws be entitled to be remu- nerated for like services, in respect of the preparation of a Register of Electors prepared under the existing electoral laws.

4. An fhaid a bheidh an Rialtas Sealadach ann na daoine uile atá ag déanamh aon ghnímh, ruda no ní no ag staona ó aon ghníomh, rud no ní do dhéanamh fé sna Rúin seo no dá réir nó i gcleachta aon údaráis adeirtear anso atá tugtha, déanfaidh an Rialtas Sealadach iad a chosaint ó bhaol agus iad a chúiteamh i dtaobh gach gníomh, gluaiseacht, costas, díobháil agus freag- arthacht uile mar gheall ar no maidir le gach gníomh, rud no ní roimh-ráite agus sé tuairim na Dála so gur cheart taréis críochnú an Rialtais Shealadaigh go leanfadh Rialtas Shaorstáit Eireann den chúiteamh san mar roimh-ráite.

4. During the continuance of the Provisional Government all persons doing or refraining from doing any act, matter or thing, under or in pursuance of these Resolutions, or in exercise of any authority hereby purported to be given, shall be saved harmless and in- demnified by the Provisional Govern- ment from all actions, proceedings, costs, expenses and liability whatsoever, for or in respect of every act, matter or thing aforesaid, and this Dáil is of opinion that such indemnity as afore- said should, after the termination of the Provisional Government, be continued by the Government of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann).

Ní gádh dhom an t-abhar rúin do leígheamh anois, ós rud é go bhuil sé léighte cheana agaibh anso.

I do not know whether this motion that I have on the paper will be regarded as contentious or not, but I think that the subject matter is in itself hardly contentious. Although the resolution is somewhat long, the scope of it is very limited. Its object is simply to provide for the immediate compilation of a Register in which women will be entered on the same terms as men. It does not make any changes in regard to qualifications, except in removing a special sex disqualification that existed. It does not make any changes in regard to procedure, the qualifying period, the abuses that arise in elections, or anything else which may be necessary to deal with in an electoral law hereafter. The purpose of proceeding with these resolutions at the present time is simply this — there was prepared for the year 1921 the third Irish Register under the Representation of the People Act. The end of the qualifying period for that Register was the 15th October, 1920. That was a good Register and properly prepared, and the previous one was properly revised. In regard to the fourth Register for which the end of the qualifying period was the 31st August, 1921, this is the Register still in force, and it was the Register under which the recent election was carried out. That Register is not a very good Register, because the revision was not in all places properly carried out, and it includes many names of persons who are dead, or who are left the country. There are many people entitled to vote whose names are not on it. This year, when the qualifying period would normally have ended on July 20th, no steps have been taken to prepare a Register. Consequently, the Register that exists now must be regarded as very stale, indeed. If no steps were taken such as are proposed in these resolutions and we waited until an electoral law could be passed, it would be impossible, I should say, to fix the end of the qualifying period before the 31st January. When this matter of the removal of the disabilities under which women laboured in regard to the franchise was debated in the second Dáil, we were told that the period allotted for the compilation of a Register was three months. As a matter of fact, no Register has yet been compiled in a period of three months. For the fourth Register the period given for the compilation was 5½ months, and that Register was not, as I say, a Register which was in all respects properly compiled. The period given was 5½ months, and that period barely suffices. With the admission of something like 400,000 new Electors, apart from the people who would have been added to the Register, in the normal way, through coming of age, it certainly is not likely that the Register can be compiled in 6½ months. That means that with the passing of these resolutions it will be about the 15th of April before we have a new Register. If we waited until an Electoral law could be passed it might be certainly next August before there would be a new Register. As the Register was, last June, already very stale, it would be impossible to hold a general election on this Register, if it was found necessary to hold a general election. On the other hand it might not be possible to postpone the holding of a general election till, say, next August. It might not be possible to postpone the holding of a general election till the 15th April, or till very long after the 15th April. We feel that it is absolutely necessary to proceed at once with the compilation of a Register, on which an election can be held, which will be a sufficiently accurate Register to enable us to hold a general election. In the draft Constitution power is taken, if it is passed in the form in which it is, to continue this Dáil as the Lower House of the Oireachtas for a period of twelve months. Once the Constitution is through, we do not know what political developments there may be within the Dáil, and we cannot at all be sure that it would be possible, even if it were desirable, for this Dáil to continue without dissolution for twelve months after the passing of the Constitution. We feel that it is necessary to proceed at once with the compilation of a Register. If it should be found that it is possible to carry on till next August, or so, when a new Register might be compiled under any Electoral law that may be passed in the beginning of next year, it still would be undesirable to put off the work of dealing with the Register till then. Once the Constitution is passed and the Free State Parliament comes into being, a large number of vacancies will occur which ought to be filled. If there is not going to be a General Election, there will be a large number of bye-elections, and for the holding of these bye-elections there ought to be a Register, and it ought to give an electorate as closely representative of the whole people of Ireland as it is possible to do. That is our reason for bringing this forward. As I have said, the scope of it is very narrow. It simply authorises the compilation of a Register immediately, with a qualifying period ending on the 15th October, and it removes the disqualifications of women. That is, up to this young women could have a vote if they were over the age of 30. That is reduced by this resolution to 21 years. It was also necessary for a woman to be in occupation of premises of a certain valuation; by this resolution we remove that. A woman is entitled to be entered on the Register on a residential qualification only, the same as men. If the Dáil comes to pass the electoral law, it may decide, and I suppose it certainly will decide, if the provisions of the Constitution in this respect are not altered, that the business premises qualification should be done away with, because the Articles in the draft Constitution provide for one person one vote. That could be carried into effect notwithstanding anything that is in this resolution or in the existing law, because in the Register there is a mark opposite each name indicating the qualification under which the person is on the Register— that is to say, the letters B.P. opposite the name of any person qualified in respect of business premises. Now, if the Dáil decides it shall be one person one vote, and that the occupation of business premises has ceased to be a qualification, then the people who might be on the Register compiled in respect of this resolution in respect of business premises will not be able to vote. This resolution does not commit us to anything further than the compilation on the old lines. Women are included on the same terms as men.

I beg to second the motion.

So far as the Labour Members are concerned, I have to say we take no exception to the resolution moved by the Minister for Local Government. The existing Register is extremely bad, and we are anxious to see a new one compiled as quickly as possible. We believe it should be on the widest possible franchise, and that all these restrictions spoken of by the Minister for Local Government should be swept away at as early a date as possible. With regard to the qualifying period, we see no reason why that should not be considerably reduced. We do not see why the qualifying period should not be a much shorter period than six months.

Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, when the Ministers are replying to any debate there may be on this matter some explanation will be given to the Dáil of Clause 4. "This Dáil is of opinion that such indemnity as aforesaid should, after the termination of the Provisional Government, be continued by the Government of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann)." Surely it is not necessary for this Parliament to pass an opinion as to what the next Parliament should do. I think that ought to be eliminated if it is reasonably possible.

The subject matter of this Resolution that has been so ably proposed by the Minister for Local Government is, I think, as he said very rightly and properly, not a matter of any disagreement, but there are one or two matters I would like him to deal with. I would like to bring before his attention the form in which this has come before us, because this is practically legislation. It is legislation by resolution. It should be very much clearer if it had been brought in in the form of a Bill. I think if that had been done in that form it would have come before us in a much clearer shape than it has come, because we have before us at the present moment two documents. One is a draft of the Constitution and the other is this resolution. Comparing each with each it will be apparent that there are at least two important matters, if not three important matters, in these two documents, which are mutually destructive one of the other. I am not quite sure that one of them is that which the Minister for Local Government has already dealt with. He has said that even though the Register is compiled in respect of business qualification that at some subsequent date that qualification can be made of no effect so far as the exercise of the franchise is concerned. Nevertheless it is a fact that in laws that prevail at the present moment, which the Dáil has excepted, and under which the next election will take place, it is distinctly and definitely stated that every person who is registered as a Parliamentary elector shall be entitled to vote for a member to serve in Parliament for a particular constituency. If a person once be registered that person automatically continues to have the right to vote. If that person is registered in respect of business qualifications he is entitled on the law that prevails to exercise that right in future. That is one point I would like to bring before the Minister for Local Government, and the second matter is I think more important. It is this, that this Register for which authority is being sought for compilation is a Register that is proposed irrespective of other important articles of the draft Constitution. In Article 3, it is definitely stated that there are certain qualifications for citizenship without which no person would be entitled to vote. Now, I ask if the Minister for Local Government would show me where, in this resolution, that matter is dealt with, because as I read this resolution—and I have studied it carefully—it appears that every person, citizen or not, will be registered under the Constitution for which authority is now sought. That Register will be used in the forthcoming elections for the creation of a Second Dáil under the Constitution, and persons will, according to the provisions of this Constitution, exercise the right to vote at that election. This is, I think, a grave matter which ought to receive attention. I had intended to confine these few remarks with a view to obtaining enlightenment from the Minister for Local Government. The Minister, in bringing this resolution before this Dáil, refers to a third matter, where I might suggest to him that he is not quite accurate in the information he gave this Dáil. He said that if a bye-election occurred during the course of this Dáil, these bye-elections will be held on the new Register. Now, it would be the first time, I think, in the history of representative Assemblies where a number of persons would be elected to sit in any Assembly one part of whom were elected on one Register and one part of whom were elected on another Register. It generally occurs that, if a new Register is compiled, that new Register does not come into effect until the subsequent body has to be elected.

You are altogether wrong.

I think it is the usual practice that bye-elections are always held upon the Register that prevails at the time of the General Election, and the new Register is not put into effect. I am not referring now to a new Register on the same principle as the old Register; I am referring to widely different principles and a widely extended franchise. Therefore, I think I am right, and on reflection on the matter I think it will be proved that we have no authority to hold bye-elections. We can have them on the corrected Register, but not on the Register holding a different basis altogether. These are the three matters in this resolution that I think are deserving of attention, and the chief of them that I would like to stress in conclusion is with regard to Article 3 of the Draft Constitution by which a distinction is made between certain persons residing in Ireland, who are citizens, and those who are not citizens of the Free State, citizens being entitled to exercise the right to vote, and those who are not citizens not being entitled to exercise the right. If the new Register proceeds on the principle outlined in the resolution how non-citizens are to be disentangled is a problem which is not very easy to solve, even if there were powers to disentangle them, and as I read the law there will not be power to disentangle them, as once they get into the Register such persons can automatically exercise the right to vote.

I think the matters raised by Deputy Figgis present no difficulty. At the present time the law, as it stands, entitles a person entered on the Register in respect of business premises to the right to vote, and it will be within the power of the Dáil to alter the law so that he shall not have the right to vote. In regard to Irish citizenship it is pretty well the same. The machinery for preventing a person who would not be entitled to vote under that clause of the Constitution has not yet been arranged. Persons who might be disqualified and others of that sort will be on the Register undoubtedly; and it is possible to pass a law—to put a provision in the electorate law—dealing with the transition period, saying that such persons on the Register will be guilty of an offence if they exercise the franchise, and enabling the Presiding Officer to challenge them at the request of a personating agent. That will be a test. It is only a matter of detail to prevent persons who would not be qualified. It will not be a difficult matter in actual fact to prevent the exercise of the franchise by such persons. In regard to the point Deputy Figgis spoke of, and in the course of which I think he mended his hand a little bit— that is the question of alternatives— for reasons of which we are all aware, we know it is quite probable there will be a big number of bye-elections immediately or soon after the Constitution is passed. It will be a test whether we should have them on the new Register or on a Register altogether old and effete. By continuing the indemnity I think it is a promise to no one going on these resolutions, which are not legislation. It is simply a promise to them—a sort of pledge that legislation will be passed, that provision will be included in any legislation which will continue after the indemnity. About the qualifying period, I agree with Deputy O'Brien that the qualifying period ought to be reduced; but I think, as we are proceeding by resolution, and as in part this was in the nature of an administrative act—the mere compiling of a Register out of the usual date is in the very nature of an administrative act—giving the same franchise to women is a matter so generally accepted here that there is not likely to be any discussion with regard to it. We can proceed on a matter like that by resolution, but if we are to go into the whole question of electoral law there will be serious difference of opinion, so that we felt it was better to hold that matter over. Some people might hold that the qualifying period—I dare say there are people in the Dáil who hold that—should be continued as at present, and other people that it should be practically or entirely abolished. In regard to the business qualification, it might be held that it should be abolished altogether; but other people, who say that there should be only one vote for one person, hold that a choice should be given as to whether they should be registered in respect of business premises or residence. These are matters outside the scope of this necessary and urgent matter which make it debatable to proceed by legislation, which would take considerable time, and which the Government could not ask the Dáil to give the time to before the passing of the Constitution. It is entirely a matter of making the scope of this thing as narrow as possible so that it can be recommended to be dealt with by the resolution of this Dáil at the moment, and that we should not be compelled to wait until after the Constitution, but proceed in a regular way with what stages are required.

Motion put and agreed to.

May I now ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce the question on the Paper in my name?

I will allow this question and also question No. 1 to be put on this occasion, but it must not be taken as a precedent for asking questions in the middle of the business.