REPORT OF STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE. - ORDER 54.

had the following amendment on the paper:—

To Order 54:—"In the second line to insert the word `Mondays' before `Tuesdays,' and in the third line to read `Wednesdays until 5 o'clock, and Fridays until 4 o'clock.' To omit the last sentence beginning `motions or Bills."'

It is withdrawn. Before we go on with the following discussion——

I think it is not necessary to amend Order 40, to allow in Order 65.

Rules governing debate in the Dáil—"save as elsewhere provided in these Standing Orders."

That would be the best amendment.

And we can make further provision.

An amendment by the President to Order 54 read:—

"Provided that a Minister may move after questions on any Wednesday or Friday that on that day specified Ministerial business shall not be interrupted if under consideration at the time fixed for taking up motions or bills to be moved by private Teachtaí. Such motions may be proposed without notice and shall be decided without amendment."

The purpose of this amendment is not, what might be thought by some, a further encroachment on the rights of members, but in order that when pressure of Ministerial business may demand it more time might be allowed. There are four hours left to private members, I think, and it is hoped they will be able to retain them, but should pressure of business require it the amendment is put down. I formally move it.

I second it.

The Clerk then read the Order as follows:—

"The Agenda shall be confined to questions and Ministerial business on Tuesdays and Thursdays, during the entire sitting, on Wednesdays until 7 o'clock p.m., and on Fridays until 6 o'clock p.m. Motions or Bills (if any) moved by private Teachtaí and appearing on the Agenda shall be taken during the remaining period of ordinary sittings on Wednesdays and Fridays. Motions or Bills to be moved by private Teachtaí shall be selected by ballot by the Ceann Comhairle from amongst the notices reaching the Clerk of the Dáil seventy-two hours before the hour allotted for the discussion of such Motions or Bills. Provided that a Minister may move after questions on any Wednesday or Friday that on that day specified Ministerial business shall not be interrupted if under consideration at the time fixed for taking up Motions or Bills to be moved by private Teachtaí. Such Motions may be proposed without notice, and shall be decided without amendment."

Amendment agreed to.

I move in Order 56 my amendment:—"To omit all words after `circulate' in the second line." There is a mistake in the Order of the Day. The word should be "circulated" and not "circulate," and to omit the words "and shall come up for its Second Reading when a member who proposes to move it shall have his notice drawn in the ballot." I suggest that that has already been practically agreed to by the Committee on Procedure. It will come before the Committee on procedure rather than the ballot box.

That is the case, as we agreed that the Committee on Procedure shall decide private business to which the order has reference. That knocks out the ballot. The amendment is agreed to. We now come to Standing Order 65 and Amendment 17. I think we should refer back to the previous amendment by Deputy MacGiobuin.

I have substituted it in Order 60. We discussed it previously in Order 12. I think that was the general sense of the Dáil when discussing Order 12, and that, I think, leaves it in the discretion of the Chair whether the amendment is one that could be moved without notice or not.

I second that

The Order is passed with this amendment:—

"Provided nevertheless that the Ceann Comhairle may in his discretion permit any amendment to be moved without notice."

I think that is the general sense of the Dáil. In this amendment Mr. Figgis vindicates himself as a master of the English language.

Yes, I received some rebuffs on a previous amendment, but I am now getting my own back. Is it agreed to?

Yes, absolutely.

Unless I am much mistaken, there is no provision in these Standing Orders for any amendment to them. The Standing Orders were mainly drawn up to meet the present emergency; that is why they have been treated by the Dáil in an emergency manner, and things have gone through which otherwise would not have gone through. I think it is agreed that when the Constitution and the Treaty have gone through, this Dáil will be in a somewhat different frame of mind. It would be necessary, in all probability, that some of the Standing Orders should be changed, therefore it will be necessary to have specific provision made for the manner in which the Standing Orders may be modified. Therefore I propose an amendment of the Standing Orders:—"To add the following further title and order: `Amendment of Standing Orders.' These Standing Orders may be amended on the motion of any Teachta; if a motion to amend be moved by a private Teachta, it shall be subject to the provisions of the Standing Orders Nos. 12 and 54, save that it shall take precedence of other private business, and shall not be dependent upon selection by ballot."

The Deputy might, I think, delete everything after the word "business," as we have already rejected the ballot.

I take it that the rest will be agreed to.

I beg to second the amendment.

As the ballot is done away with there will be a different procedure. I do not think it is necessary to go any further than "54."

If the Committee of Procedure think that a motion is not an important one, and that others are important, surely they can be trusted to put them in their proper order.

Amendment agreed to.

On a point of information, I would like to know if there is still retained in the Standing Orders the right of Members to raise any matter at the time of adjournment in the usual way?

The rule reads that "At 8.30 An Ceann Comhairle shall adjourn the Dáil without question being put." It would require the permission of the Dáil to proceed with the discussion on the amendment.

Is not that another curtailment of a private Member's right? Last week Deputy Milroy himself, on the adjournment of the Dáil, raised the most important question that we discussed since we came here. It was raised on an adjournment motion. Now, under these Standing Orders private Members get no satisfaction at question hour from the Minister. He is debarred now, by your regulations, from raising the matter on the adjournment of the Dáil. I do not understand why that should be so, considering that Deputy Milroy himself was on the motion allowed to raise a question for discussion. I may say these two points were used with great effect when the humblest Member, who had no great Party machine behind him, wished to raise a question at Westminster. I myself, when I was refused a hearing and could not catch the Speaker's eye, availed myself of a supplementary question to raise important matters on the adjournment. Now, I understand, this democratic Dáil has fleeced from the private Members these privileges, and I would like an explanation.

Mr. Byrne is under a misapprehension, as he will see if he reads Standing Order 14.

I think the Deputy who spoke last was trying to mislead me. Rule 14 says we can interrupt the Agenda to get a motion accepted. A Member must get a certain support to interrupt the Agenda, and I do not think that certain Members can get sufficient support. I, for one, claim the right that I always had in another place that was not supposed to be so democratic as this—the right, as a Member representing a certain number of people, whether or not I had a machine behind me or a party to support me— the right to raise a matter of importance on the adjournment of the Dáil. It was done here last week—I am referring to Deputy Milroy's motion on the Ulster Question. I suggest that you ought to give us half an hour to raise a question on the adjournment motion. If in the other Dáil, the business was finished before time, what happened was, when the business on the Agenda fell through before the hour appointed, at that time a Member could raise a question. If the adjournment is taken before 11 o'clock a private Member, on a motion given in, may be allowed one hour for the discussion of matters he may wish to raise.

When I answered Deputy Milroy I expressed no opinion whatever as to what should be the procedure, I merely interpreted the particular Standing Order here in order that Deputies, including private Deputies such as the Deputy who has just spoken, should not be under any misapprehension as to what the Order means. It seems to me there is no provision for general discussion unless on the adjournment motion.

May I take it we have reached the final stage of the discussion of the Standing Orders?

If a general discussion lasts say half an hour on the adjournment that does not interrupt the Ministerial business, but it provides a useful vehicle for expression of opinion on important matters without committing the Dáil or a party to any decision.

There is nothing actually before the Dáil in order at the moment.

May I point out these Standing Orders are intended for this Provisional Parliament, and even where there is a grave matter for consideration by this Parliament, the Standing Orders Committee still allow 4½ hours out of the 22 hours to private members.

I think we are all indebted to Deputy Milroy for raising this question, and I do not think there is any reason why Deputy Whelehan should object to the proposal giving 4½ hours to private members. It is a very valuable right. A question may arise an hour before the adjournment is moved. It is not essential such a discussion should take place very frequently, and if some members make themselves a nuisance by frequently raising questions which are of no general importance, there is an obvious remedy, and Deputy Whelehan will know how to apply that remedy. I do not know if Deputy Milroy has any form of words which would fit his desire in this matter.

There is nothing before the Dáil strictly speaking, but I could give permission to have a motion embodying this idea brought on.

Let us understand exactly what it means.

I gather that any member who desires to raise a question on the adjournment may do so, provided that the discussion on that question will not last more than half an hour.

On that question I take it a private member would find himself restricted beyond all contemplation, if he was only entitled to speak on a matter of public importance like this once in every twenty-nine weeks. That would be the period, I take it. Now, I take it there are something like 116 members in this Dáil who are private members, and each of them has just as much right as any other private member, and each of them could ballot for one half hour each night during the period. As there are 116 members, and only four days, it should be 29 weeks before the last man got his half hour. If it is not that, I do not understand what it is. That is the point. There is a multiplicity of private members, and no private members have any more rights than the others. If some of the private members want more time, they will have to invent a longer day than 24 hours. I do not see how it is possible to get in all sorts of questions on the adjournment. And if every question is brought up on adjournment, we will have to sit there listening to them.

There are no Standing Orders compelling Deputies to remain here and listen.

But the Ministerial Members must wait and balance private Members, who would wish, perhaps, to set up a Government of their own.

I am really surprised at the remarks of the President. It is not my intention to suggest to Members of this Dáil the idea of bringing along unnecessary contentious questions for the purpose of detaining Ministers here, but up to the present we have had to exercise this right of bringing forward matters that may arise at a moment's notice. That would not be provided for by the machinery of the ballot; it could only be provided for until such questions did arise. I think, after all, with due respect to the Ministry, they will have to recognise the fact that they are here to answer to the nation for their responsibilities; that they, will have to meet questions and criticisms concerning the administration of the country when and how they arise, provided they are matters of sufficient urgency and importance to merit their attention. I think this is really a valuable means by which ordinary Members can ventilate their rights, and should not be treated as a frivolous matter or as an unnecessary intervention. If you will allow, I will endeavour to find a form of words which will cover it and give it in as a motion for consideration when the next draft of the Standing Orders is brought up.

I intended that the Standing Orders Committee should meet again and make that clear. The draft Standing Orders, which you have considered with certain amendments, were drawn up at two meetings, and they had to be printed last Friday in order that the Deputies would have them in their hands. The Standing Orders Committee, however, left out a fairly considerable number of Standing Orders dealing with ordinary procedure, which I think would meet with very little opposition from any Members of the Dáil. I would like, if the Dáil grant me leave, to summon the Standing Orders Committee again for consideration of these and other matters, and also generally for the purpose of considering questions that arise, and particularly to making Standing Orders. It is better we would be able to point to a particular Standing Order instead of having to point out such things as general practice. I find the Standing Orders Committee cannot meet again until Thursday, when we can go into this matter, and when Deputy Milroy has furnished us with the words of his amendment.

The Dáil agreed.

One way in which this question could be met is this. A certain hour is named for the adjournment. If the Speaker announced that the Dáil would adjourn at 8.30, then you would be at liberty to receive a motion for suspension at 8 o'clock.

I take it, there will be the usual transition period before the new provision about notices begins to operate. The Minister for Defence has given notice of motion for a resolution to be moved to-morrow.

We received that notice this morning, before the Standing Orders were adopted.

I also understand the Minister for Home Affairs is going to submit a resolution to be the basis of discussion.

That is a resolution which there is a general desire to have debated in the Dáil. There will be a transition, of course.

Will the terms of the motion of the Minister for Defence be circulated, or be read out this evening?

The motion is posted up in the Lobby.

I meant the motion of the Minister for Home Affairs.

That will be posted up to-morrow morning.

As soon as we receive it we will post it up.

As the Standing Orders Committee is being very severely handled over the rights of private Members, I should like to correct a statement I made. The Standing Orders give six hours out of twenty-two for the private Members' business.

The Dáil will now go into Committee. Yesterday we disposed of eleven Articles of the Constitution Bill.