I move as an Amendment, (a) “to substitute for the word `legislature' the words `legislative assembly,' ” and (b) “to delete the words `the King' after the words `consist of,' and before the words `two Houses.' ” These two may as well go together. After the somewhat highfalutin language we have been listening to, let us come down to plain facts.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION BILL. - AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 12.
AN LEAS CHEANN COMHAIRLE
Shall we take the first one by itself?
Put them in together.
It is really only to save time. As I say, let us come down to the plain facts of these things. It is not a question of leaving out the King from this Constitution; it is a question of putting him in his proper place. I find him sprinkled all over the Constitution, and I am entitled to ask the Minister why, if I find him in a place where he has no business. The objection is that the King is unwanted here in this Clause, and will be taken as an assertion of English authority wherever you shove him in. The Ministerial position seems to be "open your mouth, and shut your eyes, and see what the King will bring you." In view of the, I regret to say, somewhat insincere statement made by the Minister who has spoken last, I challenge him to put before this Dáil the Clause which he despatched with the final draft that the Provisional Government sent to London last June. Let the Dáil see that, and then we will see where we are in the matter, instead of trying to misrepresent the position, as the Minister has been trying to misrepresent it. Now, my point is this, and I will try to state it calmly and dispassionately, and everybody can see whether it is right or wrong.
On a point of personal information, I would like to know whether the Deputy is endeavouring to establish that we did not try to leave out the King.
I trust the Minister will respond to my challenge when he rises. The King is not essential in the Parliament under the law, practice and Constitutional usage we are adopting, for this reason: he is only used as a rubber stamp on legislation, and to summon or dissolve Parliament. For this purpose he need not be a Member of Parliament. In the ancient law, of course, he is a constituent factor in the Parliament, but the very object of putting in the words practice and Constitutional usage was that we might, at least, get down to realities. And who is going to say that the King is a reality in Parliament? He has those two functions, which he may carry out just as well whether he is inside or outside of Parliament, and which, in any case, he is obliged to carry out on the advice of somebody else. Then we are told he is an essential part of Parliament. Look at the contradiction which the Ministers have got themselves into by this assertion. Look at this Clause here. They have actually to modify Clause 17 concerning the Oath in order to square with their view of the King. In Article 4 of the Treaty it was provided that "the Members of Parliament" should take a certain Oath; but realising that now that they have made the King a Member of the Parliament the position would be a little comical, they have changed the wording in Article 17, and instead of saying the Members of the Parliament, they say Members of Parliament—M.P.'s. If they kept to the wording of the Treaty, they would be told: "so the King is to take the Oath, too." They have had actually to change the wording of the Treaty in order to bring the King into the Parliament. In Clause 18, if His Royal Majesty is a Member of the Irish Parliament, he, I suppose, is to enjoy the privileges given by that Clause— freedom from arrest——.
Is it Clause 18, or Clause 12, we are discussing?
I suppose it was intended by the Ministry that His Majesty should be free from arrest in attending this Parliament. If they had confined themselves to saying what they say elsewhere—that his fiat must be given for legislation under the existing usage—that would have been a different matter. Here they shove him in as an essential factor to this body that we call Parliament.
I suggest that the fact that they altered Article 17 and the wording of Article 18 make it perfectly clear that the proper interpretation "of the law, practice and constitutional usage," is that you should state the law as it is to-day, leaving out the law where the law is a dead letter. In fact the insertion of these words "the King" is only defendable as a metaphysical abstraction. The President told us the other day that he wanted to come down to facts. Now he has his chance.
Why did you take it?
Well, if you are going to insist on shoving the royal gentleman in here, then tell us what King you allude to? The King as spoken of in this country for the past 120 years is the King of Great Britain and Ireland, Is that the gentleman referred to? I have also heard of the King of England. Is that the gentleman you refer to? Or again, is it the King of Ireland? Or is it the King of the British Commonwealth? The man in the street picks up this Constitution and he wants to know what the Parliament consists of, and he is told it consists of the King and the two Houses. What King? I fancy the Minister will have some difficulty in answering that. I oppose its insertion on the ground that it is not necessary according to the contract we have made And I challenge the Minister to show to this Dáil the clauses concerning this Parliament prescribed in the Constitutional Draft which they took over to London.
I am quite amazed that a lawyer of such distinction and such wide legal knowledge should ask, as Deputy G. Duffy asks us, to accept the statement that the King and George Windsor are identical. Where the expression "the King" is used in the Articles of the draft Constitution nobody knows better than the distinguished Deputy who has just spoken that this is one of the misty, cloudy things in Constitutional law; one of the things which the British people according to their long established characteristics have agreed not to probe too closely into, but as they would say themselves to "muddle through." Either we accept the Treaty or we repudiate it. Now I understood that we had agreed to accept the Treaty and the consequences thereof—the reasonable legitimate consequences no doubt. That is to say, we have so far consented to enter the union of Free Nations called the British Commonwealth of Nations. We cannot do that and not do it at the same time. That may be ridiculed as metaphysics, but it is the metaphysics which the ordinary man in the street will adopt. You cannot have Ireland a Free State meaning a member of the Union of Dominions, and not have her so. Let us then ask what the Deputy has asked: What is referred to by this mention of the King? Is it George who recently altered his surname to Windsor? Certainly it is not the individual sovereign. What is meant is the Crown. We have the high authority of Mr. Gladstone for the declaration that the Crown and King, though often spoken of confusedly as one thing, are two things. We often speak of King George as the British Sovereign, and "Sovereign" and "Crown" are frequently interchanged with the result that we make confusion worse confounded. What is meant by the King here is what the words mean in constitutional documents—the Crown. The Sovereign also means the Crown. Deputy Gavan Duffy spoke of these as metaphysical abstractions. Well he is partly right, according to my view of the matter, and partly wrong. Perhaps it would seem too technical a distinction to draw at the moment between abstraction and abstracted. I will go more fully into this matter with just one little illustration which will appeal to most people, if I may indulge myself in it, with your permission. We have all done exercises in arithmetic of this sort:—If ten men build a wall in an hour, in what time will a thousand men build it? And Arithmetic answers:—"In the one-hundredth part of an hour." And Arithmetic will answer that ten million men can build it in the millionth part of an hour. That is to say, that you could have a wall built round your premises in so short a space of time that it would not admit of the lifting of the trowel from the level of the clay to do the work. Why, you left out in the calculation of the building of the wall all the humanity that goes to the making of the bricklayer. Instead of thinking of him as a man who wants to smoke, observe the clouds, discuss politics with the man beside him, you reduced him to a mere coefficient of labour. What you are calculating with in this arithmetical problem is not the individual as a man and brother, but a function of man, as simply a certain measurable quantum of labour. In the same way the Crown is an abstracted entity. There is, on one side, the Sovereign, the King as a man; on the other side, for the purposes of Constitutional law, and through the traditional language of Constitutional law, he becomes the Crown. As such he is immortal, impeccable, omniscient and has all sorts of magnificent characteristics, although we know what he is in his character as a man.
Do not say so.
There are other people, I see, beside the President who do not read the Daily Mail and other English newspapers. At any rate we are well aware, if only through the Cinema, of how he looks. We know he has the privilege of being driven to Westminster in a State coach drawn by horses gaily caparisoned, and accompanied by squadrons of armed men on lively, spirited horses. We know that much. That is not the Crown. That is the person of the Sovereign. Now, you cannot have a legislature for this Free State unless you have the machinery of legislation that is provided in the Constitution contemplated by the Treaty. One of the instruments is a rubber stamp as someone has termed the Crown. In such documents as this, the Crown, or King or Sovereign is only another name for the rubber stamp. Unless we begin to think of the man or the person there is no sentimental hurt and there is no harm done. Some of you may remember the delightful inimitable little sketch by Thackeray. It represented a Ludovicus Rex, Louis XIV., King of Kings. You have the resplendent figure of Majesty, apparelled in beautiful robes; this is Louis Rex. Then you have the poor, puny, wretched looking individual called Ludov. Now you have this clause about the King. Deputy Gavan Duffy is well able to realise that those clothes of Rex will fit any Ludovicus, Georgius or otherwise, so long as the Commonwealth of Nations exists. The King, the Crown, the Sovereign, etc., is merely the completion of the whole apparatus for enacting statutes. If you like to go again to the building trade for a figure, he is the coping stone on the wall. Now Deputy Gavan Duffy seems to have forgotten the speech made by General Smuts in the Union of South Africa quite recently. I am not in the habit, I regret, —I have not, unfortunately, that art of making notes or of using quotations, but for this purpose and because it is, to my mind, of such vital importance I have brought a copy of the paper in which his speech appears. He was speaking about the relation of the Commonwealth —the Union of South Africa—to the British Commonwealth, of the relation of the Union of South Africa to the British Commonwealth. He was trying to impress upon the recalcitrant members of his House, for they have them in South Africa as well as here, that the Crown is the sign of the Union of Free Nations. And if the more feudal, as I would put it, language had been used of enumerating the “estates of the realm” the Crown or Sovereign would be stated as the first one of those estates. Here is the quotation from General Smuts' speech, made by him on the 13th September, 1920:—“The next question is whether the right of veto still exists and whether the King could veto a law if passed by this Dominion Parliament for secession from the Empire. On any ordinary law there is in reality no such thing as veto, but on a law for secession it would not only be the King's right, but, according to our constitution and the Constitution of the Commonwealth, it would be his duty to keep himself in force and in connection with our Parliament and Union. But so far as ordinary laws are concerned, the power of veto is obsolete and irrevocable. Every legal authority worth considering agrees on these points.”
If you will allow me, will the Deputy tell us what is there germane to the question we are discussing in that? We are discussing whether the King is a member of Parliament or not.
With all respect it is germane. What General Smuts has emphasised here is what is the King's exact function in the Commonwealth— that he is there as the Sovereign of the Commonwealth, that he is there to be the outward symbol and sign of the Union of South Africa with the British Commonwealth. That is the respect in which it is germane. Now when Deputy Gavan Duffy speaks of the King being made a member of Parliament to secure immunity from arrest on the way to the Dáil he is thinking of the King in his personal capacity, whereas Constitutional documents always speak of him in an impersonal fashion. I am not professing any great love for Kings. I am longer a Republican in theory than any member of this Dáil. But I am not a Republican in the sense in which it is understood outside to-day. I hope I have more sense—more sense of realities. I hope, too, I have a better sense of honour than after entering into a Treaty with another country to repudiate the part that is essential and vital in that settlement. We are here to enact a Constitution which shall be a Constitution giving us the agencies and instruments for securing peace and good government, and for the progress of the nation within the Commonwealth of Free Nations. We are placing ourselves inside that Commonwealth, and in so doing as in the case of the other members of the Commonwealth, we recognise the symbol of unity, if there is the bond between the different elements of that combination the King in these documents means that symbol.
AN LEAS CHEANN COMHAIRLE
I am afraid I must draw the Deputy's attention to the time.
Well, inasmuch as I speak so seldom—in a number of days I have made few, and these such short speeches, that I thought I might be entitled on an occasion such as this to speak to the finish. However, I bow to your decision and sit down.
Aontuighim leis an leas-rún. Do reir mo thuarime níl aon ráisiún go mbeadh dhá riogh againn. Dubhairt an Teachta atá treis labhairt anois na'r b'áon rud amháin an Coróin agus an péarsa. Más fior é sin, sé mo thuarim gur ceart dúinn an fhocal sin—An "Riogh" do bhaint amac as an Bun-reacht agus an fhocal eile an "Córoin," do chur isteach.
I support Deputy Gavan Duffy's amendment, and I do that for one reason. I am a believer in a one House Parliament, a single House without any exception. I am just as much opposed to the principle of the Second House, or Chamber or Senate, or anything else except under certain conditions, which shall come on later on another Article of the Constitution. I am opposed, on the grounds of reality I spoke a few minutes ago, but now I am coming to a reality. I do not want anyone to be a Member of the Oireachtas of the Parliament of the Irish Free State who is not a reality, who is not going to come in and do some work, and perform some function actually in the Parliament Deputy Magennis has been telling us, with some truth, at all events, that the King, or, as he calls him, George Windsor, —I think the man's name is really Wettin or Von Wettin—that he and the Crown are two different things; that the person does not matter, and if the person does not matter get him out of the thing, and put in something that is reality. Put in the Crown and then you will have the clause reading "a legislature to be known as the Parliament of the Irish Free State which shall consist of the Crown and Two Houses." That is, if the Crown is a reality as I submit the Crown is a reality —the King is not—he may be something more than he has been described by Deputy Duffy. He is flesh and blood, and if he is flesh and blood and King to be in the Parliament not merely to be in the Treaty, then let him come down and take his seat and do his ordinary day's work along with the rest of us, submitting to Standing Orders and everything else. I do not think you can make the Crown do that, but if it is the King you have got to do it. There is another word which might supply a variation, and that is the older form of the word, the Latin word which the Professor has used, Rex. You might put in that and it might mean something; it might be explained, but as the Article stands I do not think anyone can explain it. I am supporting the Amendment for another reason, and opposing the Article as it stands, because, in spite of all the questions we have put to the Ministers, the Ministry cannot, has not, convinced me, at all events, that there is any obligation whatsoever—good, bad or indifferent—in the Treaty for having the Constitution at all, or if it is a wise and expedient thing to have a Constitution when there is no obligation other than a certain Agreement between Irish delegates and English delegates, that there is no obligation in the Treaty for having certain clauses in the Treaty. Therefore I very heartily support, on principle, Deputy Gavan Duffy's Amendment. Cut out the King. If you want to put in a reality put in the Privy Council, if you like, or the Crown. Have no shams and no duds, no dummies, in the Parliament. Have something that is a reality, a convincing and real actuality, not something that none of us know anything about.
I rise to support the Amendment, and I do so on the lines advocated by Deputy Gavan Duffy and Deputy O'Shannon, and also on the further plea that by including this we are hereupon taking upon ourselves the establishment of Czardom in Ireland just as the Czar of Russia did a few years ago. I would like to deal fully with this matter, but I will reserve it for other parts of the Constitution to which I will have something to say. I do not rise as one of the new Robert Emmets of which some of the Ministers on the other Benches now and again make mention. I do so as one who has always stood by the country and do so now. By including the King and two Houses in this Article we thereby implicate, and thereby of our own accord, no matter what may be said to the contrary, put the King of England, or whatever King is meant, in the position to veto any Bill that may be passed through this Parliament. We are supposed to have a Parliament modelled on Canadian lines, and if we have a Parliament of that kind it means that within two years that if a Bill was passed by this Parliament and was sanctioned by the King, still at the same time it would be in the power of the British Cabinet to veto that Bill in two years. The Canadian Constitution says "the Executive Government and authority for Canada is hereby declared to be vested in the Queen." The Executive authority in the Irish Free State must therefore be derived from the King of England and be exercised by his Governor-General. I think no matter what is said to the contrary that there has been too much leniency in agreeing to these matters. Many of the Articles need revision and it will be for this Parliament, no matter what the consequences, to see that we have a Constitution moulded to suit the aspirations of the Irish people, and not be at the beck of any other country. We must assert ourselves that we are going to have a National Parliament, and that it will be one in consort with the needs of the people. As one elected to represent the people, no matter what the consequences may be, I am prepared to accept them to see that the full light of National freedom is obtained. It may be put forward that it can be obtained by other means, but so far as we are concerned—and so far as I am personally concerned—my object at all times has been, and I have always been looking forward to it, and I consider the need of the majority of the Irish people to be a Workers' Republic. I say that here now, and I have never departed from that position, and I never will. I say it is up to this Parliament to show their manhood here and now, to eradicate the name of the King and the two Houses from Article 12, and show that we are here to act for ourselves and want no camouflage and intricacies put before us. It may be easy for Members here to laugh and joke, but a time will come when it will be put before us to say whether we are men or not. Many things said here may be a matter for laughing, but perhaps the running through of this Constitution without altering it, having gone through the farce, the result will be we will have the whole country—no matter how it now stands by the Free State— getting up against the action that would be decided or seemingly is about to be decided. I do not personally see why you should have the King mentioned so often in this draft Constitution, in practically every second Article you will find his name.
I have counted the number of times and I find that his name is mentioned nine times in the 79 Clauses.
In each Article he is mentioned two or three times, but in my opinion it is nine times too often in the 79 Articles, but as Deputy Cathal O'Shannon has said, if you are going to mention the Crown you mention the Crown of the two Houses. Deputy Magennis says the King represents the Crown and that the Crown can be substituted for the King. In my opinion the Crown of England is worth 5s., and I am sure the King is not worth much more. Let us consider for a moment what we are up against in the future. We are up against the Irish Nation, the people have returned us here, I am not against the Treaty, I am quite prepared to support the Treaty, but as the question has been asked of the Minister on several occasions here before and not answered, I now ask—why has not the first and second draft Constitution been placed before this Dáil? The Constitution was sent to England and it was altered by Lloyd George and others to suit themselves and not to suit the Irish people, and that is the rag we have in our hands at the present moment. I think we must be serious for once in our lives. I am glad to hear the Minister for Foreign Affairs say "hear, hear," because it applies to himself, more or less; we have been here for the past fortnight and I certainly admit a fair amount of work has been done, but in the old Dáil the late Commander-in-Chief got absolutely sick of long speeches and he said, "give up talking and proceed with the work." Now I say the same to you, give up talking about the King and get on with the work. If you give up talking about the King you will abolish him out of this Constitution and then you will get it accepted by the Dáil. I do not wish to detain the Dáil as I am more of a man of business than a man of words. I ask you, especially the Ministers, seriously to consider the matter. Ireland has gone through a lot before, and I am quite prepared to take all responsibility for not having the King's name mentioned in this Article 12.
I think every Member of the Dáil must have a very deep measure of sympathy with the Amendment that has been moved. I do not imagine that any person is going to vote for the retention of this royal person with any peculiar pleasure. I think it runs across the tendency of feelings that have been engendered in this country for a long time. I would like to repeat what I said in this Dáil on an earlier occasion, that I did not believe that this word would have appeared here but for the action of certain persons who weakened those who represented this country when the matter of the Constitution was under discussion. What we have to deal with at the present moment is that, as a result of these discussions, these two words that have now been objected to have been put into the Constitution by the consent of each side. What we have to decide, seeing it has been so entered into, is whether they shall now remain or whether by their deletion we shall take certain consequences, but I do not believe that those whom we represent and who are our masters in the country would desire us to do so. That is to say, if these two words be accepted and made part of the debate, I think that the speech made by the Minister for Home Affairs made it perfectly clear that he himself regarded it as a necessary medicine that he had to take, I think everybody here would regard it as a necessary medicine to be taken. I think there is one serious consideration that might help us in this matter, and I would like to draw attention to it. Deputy Magennis, in a speech that was really as illuminating as it was entertaining, referred to the King as a Sovereign Authority.
If I did, I withdraw it; it was a slip.
I may have mis-heard the statement. I said these two words in Article 12 are to be construed in connection with other words in the Constitution. Article 2 comes before Article 12. In Article 12 it appears the legislature to be appointed shall consist of a King and two Houses and that the King shall be part of the legislature. Article 2 is before Article 12. It says: "all powers of Government and all authority, legislative, executive, and judicial, are derived from the people and the same shall be exercised in the Irish Free State/Saorstát Eireann through the organisations established by or under, and in accord with, this Constitution. The King shall remain in Article 12, and he shall remain as a functionary of the Irish people, and nothing more or less than a functionary, just like a member of the Civic Guard although with a more or less ornate uniform and a greater variety of them to choose from. That organisation created by the Constitution is created by the authority of the Irish people. I would like, here, however, to repeat certain words I mentioned in another place, with a view to having them on record. I said there whatever Constitution or organisation is established to act on behalf of the Irish people, acts under the authority conferred by them and in accordance with the specific bestowal of that authority and not otherwise—whatever person or power is named to act on their behalf and under the same authority in accordance with the specific bestowal of that authority and not otherwise. The people conferred, of their own right, and what they conferred they may withdraw, and it is in that sense I vote for the insertion of this as an unfortunate necessity, and the adoption of the Clause.
Deputy Gavan Duffy mentioned that the King was sprinkled all over the Constitution. I may say I counted up the times that his name occurred, and I discovered it was nine times in the 79 Clauses, or it might be oftener—but I discovered nine times. I then looked at the document which bears the signature of Seoirse Gábhain Ui Dhubhthaigh, and I find the name mentioned eight times. Perhaps the Hon. Deputy was in his pyjamas and did not read the Article before he signed it, but it is there at all events within eighteen Articles. I think that disposes of the sprinkling. We heard from a gentleman on the benches on the opposite side some talk about Czardom. The position in which we find ourselves on this Constitution is that of a co-equal member of the Community of Nations, of which the English Nation is one, and you get disadvantages, if you think them disadvantages, along with the advantages, if you think them advantages, of this association. This is one of them, as nominal head of the State there is a particular person mentioned, called by some His Majesty, by some the Crown, and by others The King, and so on. And the position of the King is known to everybody in this country as very different indeed from Czardom. This Constitution from beginning to end is certainly the most democratic Constitution in any country in the world at the present, and the mention of Crown in it, the limitations of the Crown are well-known to the Deputy who has spoken and to everybody else. That is down in black and white. And if you think there are any other safeguards in the Dominions of the English Nation we can get them into this Constitution if you point them out. We have heard about Republicans in this country for some months, and I put it to anybody in this Dáil or in Ireland, is there any comparison between the position of the Crown in this country and the position of the gentlemen who held up the white flag in the Four Courts a few months ago? If that be Republicanism, then any armed bandit can throw up a flag and say this is Republicanism. I say the position of those under the Constitution is far superior to that of people who arm themselves and seize public property and adopt the antics of the Czar.
This seems somewhat far away from the question whether or not the King is a Member of Parliament. I want to say to the President's suggestion that the document in which His Majesty's name appears eight times was drawn up mainly by the English themselves. This document is supposed to be drawn up by us, and I say if the name of the King appears in this document nine times, I say it occurs nine times too many.
If you left him out of your own document, we need not have put him in at all.
It is up to me and the Party to which I belong to make our attitude on this matter clear. There were no false issues at all so far as we are concerned. We came out in the open. There was not a platform we got on, there was not an utterance we made in which we did not say we stood for this Treaty. If nobody else made it an issue, we made it an issue. We asked for the support of the electorate on that issue, and we got it. If Deputies stand up here and give very strong views on this Treaty—very strong views on this Constitution—I say here, because I know, they never made this Treaty or this Constitution question an issue at the elections. As a matter of fact, the way they got about the question when it was asked—and it was asked five or six times at every meeting in my constituency: Were you for this Treaty or against it? The question was never answered by them; they went round about evading the question, and they got no mandate whatever from the people to speak upon this question one way or the other. Can Deputy Gavan Duffy, or any other Deputy in this Dáil, assure us on his own initiative, or even with the Dáil behind him, that he is going to make this Treaty or Constitution better if we reject the Clause now? Can he stand up and say "I know I can make this Constitution better, the Treaty better"? Will he risk his reputation and say so? Will anybody do so? Why did not they go to London when the Constitution was up there? There was nothing to prevent them from doing this. I have no objection to this King George Windsor, or George Guelph, whatever he is, as the nominal Head of this Nation, provided he conducts himself properly. If he conducts himself properly according to our Constitution, I see no more objection to George Windsor than I have to Erskine Childers——
And as much.
And as much; one is as good as the other to me. He represents freedom to me, and while he represents freedom nothing else matters. Everybody in this country knows if the name of the King is in the Constitution, and if the name of the King is in the Treaty, it is not through choice, it is through necessity. There is hardly an Irishman to-day but would have him out of the Treaty and out of the Constitution if we could, but are we able to put him out of the Constitution? Let us come down to realities and face this question honestly. My idea of it is, talk sense, talk actual facts. How can we get the English out of this country? I say there is no use in trying to humbug the country. The country has given the answer on this question; they know they cannot beat the King out. All this is camouflage and window dressing. To use the expression of the President, it is only trying to cod the public. I will just say this, that we have got a clear mandate on this question. If we were satisfied that anything further could be got out of the Constitution we would vote for Deputy Gavan Duffy's Amendment, but we have no evidence that anything better can be got. On the contrary, we think that the very last ounce has been squeezed out of it, and for that reason I support it.
The Amendment was put and lost on a division, the voting being 16 for and 43 against:—
Pádraig Ó Gamhna.Tomás de Nógla.Riobard Ó Deaghaidh.Liam de Róiste.Tomás Mac Eóin.Seoirse Ghabhain Uí Dhubhthaigh.Liam Ó Briain.Tomás Ó Conaill.Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.Seán Ó Laidhin.Cathal Ó Seanaín.Seán Buitléir.Nioclás Ó Faoláin.Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.Risteard Mac Fheórais.Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.
Liam T. Mac Cosgair.Donchadh Ó Gúaire.Uaitear Mac Cúmhaill.Seán Ó Maolruaidh.Seán Ó Lideadha.Micheál Ó hAonghusa.Domhnall Ó Móchain.Seán Ó hAodha.Darghal Figes.Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.Micheál de Duram.Ailfrid Ó Broin.Seán Mac Garaidh.Pilib Mac Cosgair.Micheál de Staineas.Domhnall Mac Carthaigh.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Earnán Altún.Sir Séamus Craig.Gearóid Mac Giobuin.Liam Thrift.Eóin Mac Néill.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Piaras Béaslaí.Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.Criostóir Ó Broin.Risteard Mac Liam.Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.Proinsias Bulfin.Séamus Ó Dóláin.Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.Éamon Ó Dúgáin.Peadar Ó hAodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Tomás Ó Domhnaill.Earnán de Blaghd.Uinseann de Faoite.Domhnall Ó Broin.Séamus de Burca.Micheál Ó Dubhghaill.
I beg to move:— To insert the words "sole and exclusive" between the words "The power."
I ask the Dáil to consider this Amendment as one of the highest importance. I trust the Ministry will either accept it or not make it a matter of confidence. The object of this Amendment is to make it plain that the sole and exclusive power of making laws for the Irish Free State is vested in the Irish Parliament. I propose to add the words "sole and exclusive" and to quote one or two authorities which, I think, will be sufficient to show that we are absolutely entitled to insert these words. I have here a quotation, first, from General Smuts. He is not one of the people whom the Minister for Home Affairs describes as the left wing of the Dominions. General Smuts, addressing the Parliament of the Union of South Africa, in September, 1919, said:—
"Constitutionally the Union Parliament is the legislative power for the Union, and the doctrine that the British Parliament is the sovereign legislative power for the Empire no longer holds good. The British Parliament cannot, without the consent of the Union Parliament, pass any law binding South Africa, without a revolution——
"A Member interrupted: `Would it be legal?'
"General Smuts: `It is not a question of law. It would be unconstitutional.' "
In other words, this is a case where your law, practice and constitutional usage come in, and your constitutional usage blows the law to smithereens. It would be unconstitutional, and I want this Dáil to insert here that no other Parliament has any right to legislate for Ireland. I am fortified in this not merely by General Smuts's dictum, which was re-echoed by Sir Robert Borden in Canada, but also, curiously enough, by a letter which appeared in the "London Times," when the Constitution was first issued, from Professor Berriedale Keith, who is recognised to be the foremost authority on the Constitutions of the Dominions. Not merely does Professor Keith sustain and, indeed, suggest the view I am putting forward, but he thought it necessary, although a true blue Briton and not an Irish Rebel, although a believer in the British Empire, he thought it necessary to go out of his way to write a letter to the "London Times" to point out this omission in the Irish Constitution; and that from a Briton. Members have had a copy of this letter, circulated to them in print, as an appendix to the letter from Mr. Henry Harrison. Let me remind the House of what Professor Keith says upon this subject:—
"The Constitution vests legislative power in the Irish Parliament but it is ineffective, as it stands, to exclude the predominance of the Imperial Legislature and the application of the Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, which applies to all British possessions abroad, save where specially excluded. It will be necessary (says Professor Keith) to confer sole and exclusive power upon the Irish Parliament. The Imperial Parliament approving the Constitution will then operate as a renunciation of Imperial Legislative supremacy."
We have Professor Keith stating these words are necessary from the point of view, not of an Irishman, but as a believer in the British Empire, and stating that these words are necessary to prevent England asserting that she has a right to make laws that will override our laws. If we do not put in these words, England will claim to rely upon the Act cited by Professor Keith—the Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, from which I will quote one section, and I ask you to remember that that Act was passed before the British North America Act and before Australia and South Africa got their Constitutions. It goes back to the dark ages, and we want to get rid of that Act so as to make the law and practice clear and express the fact that we have the sole right to legislate for Ireland. That Act, when using the term colony, includes all British possessions abroad, having a legislature—and that is the word we are using here—and they will claim that we are a British possession. Section 2 goes as follows:—I am only quoting the material words:—
"Any Colonial law which shall be in any respect repugnant to the provision of any Act of Parliament (meaning British Act of Parliament) shall to the extent of such repugnancy (to the extent that it does not agree with the English Act), be and remain absolutely void and inoperative."
In other words, any English law intended to affect Ireland could under that Statute of 1865 overrule any Irish law. I have given you the authority of General Smuts and I could give you the authority of Sir Robert Borden, but I have not got the quotation here. I have given you the express authority on the very wording of this very Constitution of Professor Berriedale Keith in the letter circulated to you, to show that we are absolutely entitled in our contract to put in here those very words, "sole and exclusive."
With infinite respect both to Deputy Gavan Duffy and Professor Berriedale Keith I submit that Article 2 of the draft Constitution does limit the legislative power of Ireland to Ireland. Article 2 says:—
"All powers of Government and all authority, legislative, executive, and judicial, are derived from the people, and the same shall be exercised in the Irish Free State/Saorstát Eireann through the organisations established by or under and in accord with this Constitution."
Now the British Parliament is most certainly not an organisation "established by or under and in accord with this Constitution," and further, I submit that in this very clause the definite article "the" before "power"—"the power"—to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Irish Free State is vested in the Parliament, and I submit that that, to most minds, is sufficiently satisfying on the point raised by Deputy Gavan Duffy. But if it is calculated to soothe the mind of Deputy Gavan Duffy and to soothe people who may be troubled with similar minds, we accept the proposed amendment.