POWERS OF THE DAIL.

I beg to move "That this Dáil, whose authority is derived from the people of Ireland, acknowledges no limitation upon its power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, except such limitations as are applicable to the Parliament referred to in Clause I of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed on the 6th of December, 1921, and approved by Dáil Eireann on January 7th, 1922." It does not seem to me, from what took place in this Assembly to-day and yesterday, that there need be much discussion upon this motion; nevertheless, I think it is very desirable that it should be passed and placed upon the records of the Dáil. The reason I move the motion is because there have been some semi-official statements published tending to minimise the power and authority of the Dáil, suggesting that it is provisional, and that its duty is rather to oversee administration and generally to see that it does the work of passing the Constitution, and that everything else might go by the board. That has not been said definitely or officially, but many statements have been made by unofficial Members and by some official Members rather tending in that direction, and I think it is desirable that the Dáil should have an opportunity of recording its view of its own powers. Hence this motion. Apart from the fact that the people who elected us here believe that we are a Parliament having power to enact legislation—apart from that, which should be enough—one is fortified by the interpretation of the powers of this Dáil by the views of the King's Most Excellent Majesty in Council. This Parliament in the view of the British Government, at any rate, and I think frankly and honestly in the view of ourselves as well, was set up by virtue of this Act called the Irish Free State Agreement Act. At any rate, the judgment of the last Dáil in dissolving and calling for reelection for the constituencies in the 26 counties was countersigned by the British Parliament in the enactment of the "Irish Free State Agreement Act." So, we have a double authority in the matter, one confirming the other in case of any doubt. Under Clause 2 of that Act we are told that the Members elected by this Parliament will constitute the House of Parliament to which the Provisional Government is to be responsible, and "that Parliament shall, as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, have power to make laws in like manner as the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted." It may be said these are matters of administration only, but if the Government is to be responsible to the Parliament for these matters they are administering, it is obvious those are matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, and consequently this Parliament has power to make laws over such matters. But we have presented to us to-day a draft Bill in which I read the words a "Bill to enact a Constitution, and that in exercise of our undoubted right we decree and enact as follows." That proves that in the judgment of the Government — at least in the judgment of the Draughtsmen — that this Dáil has power to enact legislation; and in this Order in Council, published on the 4th April, whereby certain administrative powers were transferred to the Provisional Government we read in Article 9: "Nothing shall be construed as prejudicing the exercise by the Provisional Government in respect of any military defence forces which may in accordance with Article 8 of the said agreement be raised in pursuance of the Act of the Provisional Parliament of such powers as may be conferred on the Provisional Government by such Act." Then, again, "subject to any Act of the Provisional Parliament and the provisions of this Order," and so on. Again, "Reference to Parliament and to each or either or both Houses of Parliament shall be construed as references to the Provisional Parliament, and to the House of the Provisional Parliament respectively.""Provided that references to matters or things authorised or constituted by Act of Parliament shall be construed as references to matters or things authorised or constituted by Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom or the Provisional Parliament as the case may be." I suppose there will not be any doubt in the minds of the Ministers, once their attention has been called to these sentences, as to the power of this Parliament to enact legislation equal with the Parliament which is to be set up by the new Articles of Agreement for the Treaty. It seems to me perfectly clear, and I do not think there is any necessity to further refer to the matter. I therefore move my motion.

I beg to second the motion. It is absolutely right that we should make it clear that we have the right to legislate for our own country on all these matters.