I beg to move as an amendment to omit the words "and shall be asked only by the Teachta putting the original motion." Members will see clearly the meaning of this amendment. It is to give the right to private members to ask supplementary questions upon matters that they may know something about. Now, the various constituencies are represented by two or three members, and I think the second member of a constituency should have the right to ask a supplementary question to a question put by his brother member. I know that in another place this is looked upon as the privilege of private members. Questions are practically the only opportunity for private members to get a hearing. This will not alter in any way the meaning of the Standing Orders. It gives the Chairman full power to rule a supplementary question out if he thinks fit. It will, at the same time, subject to the Chairman's ruling, give any private member the right to ask a supplementary question I availed of it in another place, and think it is a matter that will recommend itself to the unanimous approval of the Dáil.
REPORT OF STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE. - STANDING ORDER 23 (SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS.).
I second the amendment.
The effect is to allow any member to ask a supplementary question.
Yes; that is correct, subject to your approval, of course.
I am rather inclined to think that the suggestion of Deputy Byrne to allow a colleague in the constituency of the member who put the original question to ask a supplementary question suggests a rather happy medium, and I think the second member should have that privilege, but if everyone is entitled to ask a supplementary question, we might have the whole afternoon occupied with supplementary questions. If there was, what we might call an undue interest manifested in a subject, by which a body of members proceeded to discuss the matter by supplementary questions, it could go on to an inordinate length, which is not desirable, but, I think, the way suggested of allowing a colleague of the Deputy responsible for the original question to put one supplementary, might be a happy way out of the difficulty.
Before we pass on, might I refer to a small matter in Standing Order 22. That Order provides that a question may be asked by the Teachta in whose name it stands, or, if he is absent when the question is called, by any other Teachta at his request in writing. I think the Dáil will agree that you may have the case of a man unavoidably absent, and he might ring up another man on the telephone and ask him to put the question for him. This is merely a case of questions. I suggest, therefore, the words "in writing" in the Order should be omitted.
Is that agreed?
Not agreed. The position is this: A member has at least got certain rights; but the Dáil has certain rights, and I think there ought to be particular authority for any Teachta asking a question in another's absence or for him. It is not often that there is an opportunity on the telephone of making all arrangements in connection with a question. A question is put by one, and its interpretation by another may be altogether different. I think, in the circumstances, it is at least reasonable that an authorisation in writing ought to be given. I submit this is out of order, inasmuch as it is not mentioned in the amendments.
I quite agree that it is out of order; but if it were taken by agreement, and there was no objection?
That was my suggestion. I did not dream that there would be any objection.
To whom shall the Deputy send his question—to the Ceann Comhairle or to the Teachta who is to ask the question in his place?
To the Teachta.
To the other Teachta, according to this particular Standing Order.
I take it that will apply to Ministers who answer questions for other Ministers as well?
That is provided for.