DAIL IN COMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION BILL. - PROPOSED NEW ARTICLE 12.

I move that a new Article be inserted saying:—

"The Saorstát may, by legislation, in the economic interests of the community, oblige economic undertakings and associations to combine, on a self-governing basis, for the purpose of ensuring the co-operation of all the productive factors of the Nation, associating employers and employees in the management and regulating the production, manufacture, distribution, consumption, prices, and the import and export of commodities upon principles determined by the economic interests of the community."

It may be said that this is one of the clauses which ought not to be put into the Constitution, but is merely a subject of legislation and a mere declaration. I would forestall that objection by saying it has not been applied to other clauses in the draft which suggest that Saorstát may do certain things. When I am met with the argument, as I probably shall be, that it is not the kind of thing that ought to go into a Constitution, I will refer to a Constitution, recently adopted by the German Republic, and say it has been embodied there, pretty much in its present form, and while I do not desire that Saorstát Eireann should follow absolutely or even closely the procedure of the German Legislature in building a Constitution, at least they have shown how it can be done, and how it ought to be done. The proposition is, as a matter of fact, to lay down that in the view of this Assembly, which is building a Constitution, or pretends to be, that we have in mind an idea of social order different from that which we are, I hope, growing out of and which has been introduced by means of the economic subjugation of this country. It is a proposal that the new Ireland shall encourage the organisation of industry in such a manner that those engaged in the operation of the industry shall be the controllers of the industry and to discourage what is evidently in the minds of some people, who had hopes, at least some months ago that you were going to bring in all kinds of foreign capital to exploit this country, to the full, in the interest of foreign capitalists. The proposition here is that the State should definitely set itself out to encourage something better than that. The operators in an industry and the workers under those operators should combine for the exploitation and management of that industry and generally to encourage the idea of cooperative control and ownership or guildisation of industry and the control of markets, of consumption and of export and import by the people engaged in the various industries. It would mean, for instance, that agriculture would be under the direction of agriculturists, and I am sure our friends the Deputies who represent agriculture would prefer that to having agriculture dominated by townsmen. That is the proposition, and it is a very good precedent. I understand it is already in good working operation in Germany as a consequence of the adoption in the Constitution of such a clause a couple of years ago.

I understand that amendments to this Constitution do not require a seconder.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

I can take it this amendment is in order.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

I wonder if Deputy Johnson has any serious doubts as to whether the Parliament of Saorstát has this power or will have this power, if it thinks fit to legislate along these lines. If he has no such doubts, why are we to insert this thing in the Constitution? It seems to me that we, at any rate, having regard to the particular circumstances of the time, and the particular circumstances of the country, should aim at putting down in our Constitution only matters on which we will get the broadest possible measure of consent, and that we should aim at keeping out of our Constitution matters which will stir up controversy, and which will stir up fears. Personally, I have no doubt whatever as to the powers of the Parliament of Saorstát Eireann to legislate along the lines indicated in this amendment. I have no doubt whatever of the powers of the Parliament, for instance, to nationalise railways, and if they can nationalise railways I see no reason to draw a rigid distinction with regard to other matters, but I personally am not in favour of setting out this particular amendment in the Constitution, as if to indicate in some way we particularly favour that course, because that course is one that would want to be very carefully discussed and very carefully considered. I see no need to insert the amendment in the Constitution, and, speaking for those who are putting forward the Bill, while it is not a matter that we stand or fall for, like some other matters in the Constitution, it is a matter which we do not accept and which we would vote against.

The proposed Article was put and declared lost.