Before the next motion is taken I should like to say that the Deputies have now in their hands the second draft of the Standing Orders, which has been drawn up by the Standing Orders Committee, after consideration of amendments, submitted by certain Deputies. In order that there should be no further complaints of lack of time for consideration of the matter, I suggest that we continue our present Standing Orders until Wednesday, and that on Wednesday next, the 27th, we take up consideration of the new draft; that the Clerk will receive amendments on Monday up till 3 o'clock, and we will have the amendments ready for Tuesday, and take up the Standing Orders on Wednesday.
I believe the Minister for Defence wants Wednesday for some very important resolution that he has to bring before the House.
I suggest Tuesday.
I have no objection to Tuesday, except if we take amendments on Monday they will be only available for Deputies when they come to the sitting on Tuesday. Tuesday was my original idea.
In view of the fact that there has been already one body of amendments put forward, and a certain amount of thought given to it, perhaps it might meet the case if amendments were received by you on Monday, and by us on Tuesday. We would still have this extra time to give the amendments the attention they deserve.
As far as I am concerned I doubt if there will be any amendments at all to the Draft Standing Orders.
Then we can take it on Tuesday. Amendments will be received up to 11 o'clock on Monday.
Would you make it 3 o'clock?
I cannot make it 3 o'clock, very well. If we are going to consider the matter at 3 o'clock on Tuesday, I would rather have them at 11 o'clock on Monday.
FOGRA BILLE DO CHUR OS COIR NA DALA.
(Notice of Presentation of Bill.)
—Bill for an Electoral Officer Act.
FOGRA BILLE DO CHUR OS COIR NA DALA.
(Notice of Presentation of Bill.)
Bill for an Electoral Abuses Act.
Mr. Chairman, with your permission and with the permission of the Dáil, I think I may take the Bill for the Electoral Abuses Act before the other, as I think would be the sequence. I have the two Bills drafted. I will take your ruling. You will remember I referred to this matter once or twice before, saying it is extremely difficult to be able to deal with matters of this kind until Bills have have been handed in, printed and circulated to Deputies for their consideration and attention, and consequently to provide for contingencies of this kind, it has usually been the practice, as I understand it, that a Bill handed in, drawn up with all its parts complete, with a proposer and seconder, be automatically given a First Reading, and that it be circulated. Can that be possibly done now? I have the two Bills here complete in all their parts.
It would appear to be the simplest and most expeditious procedure.
I will oppose that. This whole business of Electoral Law is under the consideration of the Government.
It is not seconded yet.
I wish formally to second the motion.
Which Bill is Deputy Wilson seconding?
He can only second one at the time.
No. 4. Let it be taken first. I can appreciate that there are Electoral matters that are engaging the attention of the Ministry, but it seems rather curious, if I may suggest it, that a Bill should be opposed, even before it is known what is going to be in it. It is only in order that Deputies may be able to discover what is in this Bill that I am bringing it forward now. Then, if necessary, when Deputies are in possession of what are the contents of the Bill, they can oppose it on the Second Reading. To oppose it before Deputies get to know what is in it seems a very remarkable proceeding.
Do I understand the proposal is to receive a Bill in order that it be printed without having any explanation of what it contains?
That would seem the proposal.
I don't think it is desirable. I think we should have some short description of the Bill before we agree that it should be printed.
I am quite prepared to give that. I am only stating, as I stated twice before, that it is usually the procedure that a Bill should be printed if it is presented in complete form.
I think the Standing Orders which we are working on at the moment suggest that a short description should be given. I am sure that it is within the competence of the Deputy most closely interested to give a short description of the Bill before we order it to be printed.
In fact, the practice usually is that a short description of the Bill appears on the Orders of the Day.
A short description, I suggest with every respect, is given in the short title. I can give the long title: "An Act to prevent abuses in connection with the preparation of Registers of elections and the holding of elections, and to amend and extend the existing law relating thereto." If required by you, I will read each Article. These Bills have been drafted in consultation with others, with some care, and are not exactly easy to follow unless you have the existing body of laws before you in order that they should be compared with the existing body of law, inasmuch as some of the clauses are brought against the actual clauses of the existing law. That is where the difficulty lies.
I think the description read out is sufficient for the particular purpose contemplated.
I may just state briefly the position in the matter. I do not think it is a very vital thing. The Government has under consideration the question of Electoral Law. That will be introduced as soon as possible. After the Constitution is through it will deal with all the matters that we think it necessary to deal with at the present time in the way of reforming the Electoral Law. If it does not contain everything, or does not deal with any matter in the particular way in which any Deputy would like it, it will be possible for Deputies to amend it, and the Government will only be too glad to have amendments of that kind, but we do not think it desirable that the matter should be dealt with piecemeal or that Bills should be passed through the Dáil dealing with particular aspects apart from the whole. Mr. Figgis said it was very difficult to follow the import of his Bill apart from the existing body of law. That seems to us to be a reason why we should have, so far as it is possible, a rather comprehensive Bill, so that when we have all the relative law explained to the members for the purpose of dealing with one point, it will be explained so that members may make up their mind as to all the changes that will be necessary. That is a reason why we will oppose these Bills. There is another reason—that the Government has from the beginning been against dealing with any legislation until the Constitution shall have gone through. If the Dáil were to pass these Bills and print them, unless the wishes of the Government in the matter were to be overruled by the Dáil, it would be impossible for this Bill to get through the remaining stages. I think that I might safely say that if the First Reading were to be given to this Bill, and it were to be passed, that no purpose would be served except in so far as it might be a satisfaction to the introducer of the Bill to have it recorded that he had introduced the Bill, and that it had been read in the Dáil, and that it was first on the roll. It would serve that purpose, and no other purpose. Personally I do not think that it should come up for reading later on, and that a certain amount of time should be spent on it that need not be spent on it. It is well, as it were, to nip the thing in the bud, and not give a First Reading to a Bill the further stages of which we will oppose at the present time. I do not want to go into in detail the reasons why we oppose the passing of any legislation until the Constitution is gone through. There are reasons of two kinds. There is the reason that the first duty and the first necessity is to get the Constitution through, and interpose nothing before it. That is a matter in which it is best to have a fairly clean-cut rule and a fairly clear and considered attitude in regard to it. If we ought to take up time dealing with matters of no immediate importance—matters which will be dealt with more fully and thoroughly a little later on—it would be an inconsistent thing to refuse time for matters of much greater and much more urgent importance. That is one reason why we are opposed to giving any of the time of the Dáil to such a measure as this. There is the other reason—the difficulty that exists in regard to legislation, a constitutional difficulty of raising a matter before it has been set in a formal way, and through the enactment of the Constitution; a matter which would have been clear—I don't think it was clear—to Mr. Johnson when he raised his motion the other day; a mere technical matter if he had read the Free State Act more carefully than he did. However, it will be plain to anybody who reads it that a question of legislation is immediately involved, that that question ought to be settled specifically in the setting up of all constitutional machinery, and that we should not settle it in rushing with a Bill when there is no need for it.
Before you put the motion I would like to correct a certain statement made by the Minister for Local Government when he talks about our now being asked to pass and print a Bill. There is nobody being asked to pass and print a Bill. The Dáil is simply being asked to receive a Bill and bring it before the attention of the Deputies, and if on the second stage it should be stated by the Government——
I would like to ask for a count of the Dáil.
On a count it was indicated that a quorum was present.
I am satisfied.
As I was stating before the interruption, it is merely a question if, on the Second Reading, it should transpire this matter will be dealt with more or less on the lines stated here, and elaborated in these Bills by the Government. A great deal of time and attention has been given to this matter not so much by myself as by electoral experts in this country, and in other countries that have dealt with this question very exhaustively. Bills have been drafted not primarily by myself, but I think the least that could be done is that these bills, following the procedure adopted by other assemblies of this kind, should be accepted and sent forward for Second Reading. The Minister for Local Government says the Second Reading may not arise, but, after all, you are the Chairman of this Dáil, and you have put before us certain Standing Orders, and in these orders it is specifically stated that private Teachtaí business may be taken on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The motion before the Dáil is that the Bill for An Electoral Abuses Act be read for the first time.
Motion put and lost on a division by 15 votes to 30.
Pádraig O Gamhna.Tomás de Nogla.Riobárd O Deaghaidh.Darghal Figes.Tomás Mac Eoin.Ailfrid O Broin.Liam O Briain.Tomás O Conaill.Aodh O Cúlacháin.Liam O Daimhíin.Seán O Laidhin.Cathal O Seanáin.Seán Buitléir.Nioclás O Faoláin.Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
Donchadh O Guaire.Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.Seán O Maolruaidh.Mícheál O hAonghusa.Liam de Róiste.Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.Peadar Mac a' Bháird.Seán O Ruanaidh.Micheál de Duram.Seán Mac Garaidh.Mícheál de Stáineas.Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.Sir Séamus Craig.Liam Thrift.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Seosamh O Faoileacháin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Pearas Béaslaí.Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.Criostóir O Broin.Caoimhghin O hUigín.Séamus O Dóláin.Risteárd O hAodha.Eamon O Dúgáin.Peadar O hAodha.Séamus O Murchadha.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Earnán de Blaghd.Uinseann de Faoite.Domhnall O Broin.
Now for No. 3.
There is no use in pressing that now.
No. 3 is withdrawn.
I propose that the Dáil adjourn until 3 o'clock on Monday.
With reference to the arrangements for the Dáil, I wonder would the Ministers tell us whether they have in mind the appointment of a Committee of the Dáil to supervise arrangements regarding the privileges and convenience of the Members, and of the Press, such as was suggested earlier in the session. It seems to me that we might now, having gone so far, and with the experience we have, appoint a Committee who could make arrangements on these matters.
In spite of recent experience, the question of control, I submit, is a matter for the Dáil, not for the Ministry. As it is a question of privileges, they are the privileges of the Dáil, not of the Ministry. I suggest that Deputy Johnson might bring forward a motion to have such a Committee appointed, as it is of the utmost importance to have a Committee of Privileges to decide a number of questions, such as, for example, the issue that has already arisen in an acute form on one or two occasions with regard to tickets available for visitors here, and as to the number of tickets available. The matter has already arisen in respect of several Deputies, and there is an amount of room available that might be taken advantage of. I urge that a motion be put down by Deputy Johnson, perhaps, that a Committee of Privileges be appointed, as the matter is one lying within the authority and privileges of the Dáil.
It is very kind of Deputy Figgis to suggest that I should do what he is entitled to do.
You raised the question.
It is strictly out of order. On the question of privileges, it was one of the first things that struck myself when I had to make arrangements for the Dáil on the second occasion it met, and I suggested it to the Standing Orders Committee. The arrangement as to tickets at present is that Deputies receive one ticket. Personally I endeavour as much as I can to meet the wishes of the Deputies on special occasions for extra tickets.