REPORT OF STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE. - ORDER 35.

We will now take Order 35.

The draft Order declares that after a Ministerial motion has been proposed and seconded, and has been further discussed for not less than one hour, a Minister may move that the discussion be stopped, and then it goes on at the end of the draft order to say that any Teachta may move a closure of the debate at any moment. There was a rule in the old Standing Orders which assured a private Teachta, moving a motion, that he would have half an hour's discussion before the closure was moved. I think it would be fair that that should be restored here; therefore, I propose to add the words "after half an hour's discussion," so that the closure may not be moved until there is half an hour's discussion; otherwise it is obvious it would be possible for the closure to be moved after two or three minutes. The distinction between a Ministerial and a private motion made in this Order is altogether too marked, I think. In the case of non-Ministerial motions you may not move the closure until half an hour's discussion has taken place.

Before a seconder is asked, I would like to ask your ruling as to that particular Order. I understood the last sentence, in my construing of the Order, was governed by the conditions in the earlier parts, and, therefore, an hour's discussion was required in any case. I put it to you, sir, that to anybody else but Deputy Duffy, that would be apparent.

Unfortunately the rule does not say so.

The amendment is not seconded.

I understood Deputy Figgis seconded it.

He was making a construction prior to anybody seconding it.

He was warning seconders.

If his construction is right, I withdraw.

Amendment withdrawn.

Are we to take it Deputy Figgis's construction is right?

Deputy Figgis's construction is correct.

The position is then—that no closure may be moved except after an hour's discussion?

Mr. O'HIGGINS

Can I move the amendment that Deputy Duffy has withdrawn?

I do not think so.

Your ruling amounts to this—that only a Minister can move a closure?

If I recollect aright, in the Standing Orders Committee, following the old Standing Orders of the Dáil, the idea was, if the matter had been discussed for half an hour the closure could be moved; and in drafting these, as you recollect, we separated Ministerial motions from non-Ministerial motions. That is, in the case of Ministerial motions the closure could only be moved by the Minister after half an hour's discussion. In the case of non-Ministerial motions, the closure could be moved by any other member of the Assembly. I presume, upon reconsideration, that the less than one hour idea came in; but what I mention was a distinct understanding in the original draft.

It would be well that we should be quite clear. In the original draft it was first pointed out that Ministers could move the closure on Ministerial motions, and private Members could move the closure on any motion other than the Ministerial motions after half an hour in both cases. The change is that a Ministerial motion must be proposed and seconded, and after it has been further discussed for not less than half an hour, the Minister, and only a Minister, can move the closure. The Committee did not advert to what would happen to private Members motions when they made that change. They made the change with regard to Ministerial motions, and did not advert to what would happen to other than Ministerial motions.

I did advert to it.

Tell us exactly its meaning.

I did not understand private Members' motions could be discussed for an hour.

This Order must be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee, it seems to me.

Would it be generally acceptable if we took the sense of Deputy Duffy's amendment to mean after half an hour's discussion after the mover and seconder, and agree to it?

On the construction, I think you have agreed that the Order says an hour.

Is Deputy Johnson's suggestion agreed to?

Any Teachta may move the closure of a debate when a motion is proposed and seconded and further discussed for half an hour.

Does this refer to other than Ministerial motions?

It has reference to the last sentence only.

It would be possible then for a Minister to intervene in a debate on a private member's motion and talk it out. Is that the intention of this? Suppose a private member, say Deputy A.B., moves a motion and it is seconded, and then, in the ensuing debate, a Minister intervenes and talks with his eye on the clock until the half-hour period is on the point of expiring, whereupon, at a signal from the Ministerial Benches, one of the Ministerial Whips moves the closure. Thus of course, all rights of the private members would disappear.

The private members may then apply to the Ceann Comhairle.

Would not the same apply in the case of private members? Private members, perhaps Deputy Magennis, may talk for an hour on a Ministerial motion.

Deputy Magennis assumes a wealth of iniquity on the Ministerial side.

I am speaking out of recent experience.

The Clerk will read the Order as amended.

The amended Order read:—"After a Ministerial motion has been proposed and seconded, and has been further discussed for not less than one hour, a Minister may move `that the motion be now put' or `that the amendment be now put,' and the motion `that the motion be now put' or `that the amendment be now put' shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment, unless it appears to the Ceann Comhairle that the motion is an infringement of the rights of a minority or an abuse of the Rules of the Dáil. On motions other than Ministerial motions any Teachta may move the closure of debate after half an hour's discussion."

And that is a safeguard for the private members.

I suggest that it still requires to go back to the Committee to be re-worded.

I would like to amend it by putting in after "Rules of the Dáil,""provided that on motions other than Ministerial motions."

Make it one sentence.

The amended Order read:—"After a Ministerial motion has been proposed and seconded, and has been further discussed, for not less than one hour, a Minister may move:—`That the motion be now put,' or, `that the amendment be now put,' and the motion `that the motion be now put,' or `that the amendment be now put,' shall be put forthwith, and decided without amendment, unless it appears to the Ceann Comhairle that the motion is an infringement of the rights of a minority, or an abuse of the Rules of the Dáil, provided that on motions other than Ministerial motions, any Teachta may move the closure of debate when the motion has been proposed and seconded and further discussed for half an hour."

Order, as amended, agreed to.