DAIL IN COMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION BILL. - ARTICLE 14.

Article 14 reads:—

"All citizens of the Irish Free State/Saorstát Eireann, without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of twenty-one years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for Members of the Chamber of Deputies/Dáil Eireann, and to take part in the Referendum or Initiative. All citizens of the Irish Free State/ Saorstát Eireann, without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of thirty years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for Members of the Senate/Seanad Eireann. No voter may exercise more than one vote and the voting shall be by secret ballot. The mode and place of exercising this right shall be determined by law."

Now, I think we can save time here by accepting some of the amendments that are on the paper. One is:—

"To insert the words `and subject to the provisions of Article 78' after the word `Initiative' and before the words `all citizens.' "

That Amendment is accepted. Now, as to the Amendment of Deputy Fitzgibbon——

I withdraw my amendment; I am entirely satisfied.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

We would insert after the word "vote" and before the word "and" the words, "at an election to either House."

Is that Amendment 6?

Mr. O'HIGGINS

Yes. Does Deputy Fitzgibbon withdraw?

So I have stated. I would like to draw attention to the word "or" between the words "Referendum" and "Initiative." I think it should be the word "and."

It should read "and Initiative."

Mr. O'HIGGINS

We agree to that change.

We will get that Article read out in its amended form.

Article 14 in amended form was read by the Clerk of the Dáil.

Before you put that, in trying to get the course of the Article itself, I had not quite followed the purport of the first amendment that is down in the name of Deputy Duffy, and which, I suggest, with all courtesy and deference to the Minister for Home Affairs, is accepted unnecessarily hastily. If we turn to Article 78, it will be found to deal with transitional arrangements. Transitional arrangements, obviously being transitional, do not affect the main body of the Constitution. Directly the transition has been completed, the provisions in which they are embodied cease to operate, and in the permanent body of the text there should be no reference to what is merely a transitional thing. Therefore I do urge that those words, "and subject to the provisions of Article 78," would seriously impair the character of this Constitution, by reference to conditions that are wholly past, and therefore are unnecessary and should not be included.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

I think it is a small matter. Certainly the reference to the first Senate in Article 78 prevents any danger of confusion. It is a small matter, and perhaps we could take it on the next reading. Deputy MacNeill suggests that a better reading would be "except as provided in Article 78."

Even in that regard, I would suggest to the Minister it is very desirable, in what will hereafter remain the permanent body of the text, that there should be no reference to conditions that have passed.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

In that case we can let this particular Article stand, and put in Amendments to Article 78 when we reach it.

Agreed. Excellent.

Then the words that have been added are now deleted. Deputy Duffy should be informed that his amendment was accepted, put into the Article, and then deleted——

So I understand.

On the understanding that it will come up under Article 78. Do you withdraw?

An Amendment was handed in to-day at 3.30 by Deputy Colohan. It is an Amendment to Article 14. I think it should have been in before, because it is aimed at an important thing in that particular Article.

I was just going to ask whether my colleague might be permitted to move this. We thought that this particular discussion would not be reached this evening, and of course it might not be if we adjourned at 7.30, but if permission were granted that this might be discussed it would facilitate matters.

The Standing Orders that provided for a sitting until 8.30 were drawn up with the idea that the Dáil would sit only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but, seeing that we met yesterday, it is a matter for the Dáil to decide whether they will go on until 7.30 this week and begin the other time-table next week. I am only giving you the reasons for the changes made in the Standing Orders from the first draft.

It would seem to be the intention of the Standing Orders that we should regard each draft as a separate entity.

I think we should, therefore, adjourn at 7.30 this week.

The Dáil agreed.

Well, then, I will take this amendment now. I think it may be disposed of. The Clerk will read it.

CLERK of the DAIL

"After `Chamber of Deputies,' line five, insert `and Senate.' Delete sentence beginning with `all citizens.' After word `vote' on line eleven insert `unless all voters are granted a similar right."'

Is the object to make the franchise the same for the Senate as for the Chamber?

On a point of procedure, I would like to ask where we are now exactly. Is this being inserted between Articles 14 and 16?

This is an amendment to Article 14. It is not on the Agenda. It was only received to-day, and if the Dáil does not wish to take it now it need not.

It is not that I want to obstruct, but I think we ought to get sufficient notice to see what are the terms and to consider what we should do. I am not going to obstruct discussion of the motion, but I really do not know what the terms are, and I do not think anybody else does either.

The fault is mine. It was thought that this amendment would not have been reached until the next sitting, and possibly, if we liked to design it, it might not have been. I think it would not obstruct business. The question of the change in the franchise can be discussed on its merits without very much verbiage.

We have no objection to discussion, but the real point in dispute is that you want a Register that would elect the Senate with the same age provision as that which elects the Dail.

Certainly. The Deputy may now move the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, we heard a lot about the sovereign will of the people here for the last fortnight, and now there is a chance of giving the people the opportunity of registering their sovereign will, and therefore I think that the age of 21 years should qualify any voter to vote for a Member of the Senate. If they have intelligence enough to vote for a Member of this Dáil, I don't see why they cannot vote for a Member of the Senate. Therefore, I do not see why any restrictions should be put on the people of this country. We have an opportunity now of showing we are democratic enough, and, goodness knows, as far as we went in this Constitution the people are tied up enough with the Articles we have already passed. So, give them a chance of electing all the Members to both Houses, so that there would be some semblance of real democratic rule in this country.

We oppose that, not that I consider there is anything in the stand that we are taking, but because it is one of a number of agreements that were come to with the Southern Unionists, or the representatives of the people called "Southern Unionists"— between the late President and, I think, the Minister for Home Affairs. We are going to honour that as far as we are concerned. The Dáil can do otherwise. We stand for it. I stand for it, although I do not think there is much in it, and I do not think you are giving away much if you give away that. I am positively convinced it would not result in making one single difference in any election that would take place for the Senate, and I think the statement made by the Deputy who has just spoken is not a fair statement, and it is that the people are tied up enough in this Constitution. Where are they tied up? We are waiting here for the last week or fortnight to hear where is the democratic intrusion on the people's rights. I have not heard it. I would like to know one single line that interferes with the fullest expression of the most extended democratic thought in the country. I want to make it perfectly clear to our own supporters in this Dáil—those who stood with us for the Treaty in the late Dáil—that I believe they are committed with us in this agreement—they are bound by the late President's agreement. The rest of the Dáil is perfectly free to do as it likes; but I put it to them that this man, occupying his position and speaking on behalf of the nation—his compact ought to be kept. You are not giving much. The difference will not be considerable, and it will not affect one single seat in that Senate.

As one perfectly free in this matter I beg to support the President. There is a very excellent reason suggested in the speech of the Deputy who introduced the question. There is a psychological reason for the difference in the age qualification. It is this; that if people are not allowed to vote for the Upper Chamber, as it is sometimes termed, they will feel deprived of something and so they will value it. Now, we are to create the belief that the Second Chamber has a value, that it is a respectable thing. If you put obstacles in the way of electing candidates to this Cooling Chamber the people will regard it as a respectable thing. One should have attained middle age in order to have the privilege of voting for it. It seems to me instead of the age being 30 it ought to be 45 or 50 years.

The great objection we have to this differentiation is that it appears to be an attempt to make the Second Chamber a superior chamber, wiser, because older people select them. That is the objection. We are quite prepared to recognise the anxiety of the gentlemen and ladies—I am sure there are many of them will be ladies—who desire protection of this kind. But we are not going to flout the promises that were made. We must record our protest against this attempt to make differentiation between one House of Parliament and the other, on the basis of the constituents.

I would like to suggest that as long as the machinery does not impose any value on the Senate, and it is quite clear that it does not, a slight generosity of this kind won't affect the issue. I would like to draw the attention of the Deputy that recently in a very democratic country in Europe universal sufferage was adopted, and when recently making observations with reference to universal franchise that it was for everybody over 25. I don't think it affects the issue very much, and I think it ought not to be pressed.

I asked the Clerk to read the Article as it was adopted.

The CLERK of the DAIL

then read as follows:—

"All citizens of the Irish Free State/Saorstát Eireann without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of 21 years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws shall have the right to vote for Members of the Chamber of Deputies/Dáil Eireann, and to take part in the referendum or initiative."

I declare the amendment lost.

I move that no voter shall exercise a vote unless all voters are granted a similar right.

I second that. I may say I am responsible for this particular clause. The idea is that it is conceivable you may have a joint franchise. It is conceivable, if one of the later clauses is adopted, we might have a House elected on a territorial and an occupational franchise. Each person may have, it is possible, two votes, and the point is that if there is any change made, then it should be made for all. If any change of that kind is made it might require amendment of the Constitution.

Will you please give us the terms.

"Unless all voters are granted a similar right."

That is in the second last sentence of the Article.

The terms are unfortunate.

I would ask the Deputy to refer to the amendment standing in my name.

Perhaps it would be better to defer it until a later stage.

I was under the impression that no voter can exercise more than one vote at any election, as mentioned in a clause we have just passed, which made it absolutely certain that nobody could have two votes for a Member or any Member of the Dáil. The amendment I have suggested—and I have referred to it as it was conveyed to me—was carefully drafted, and makes it impossible for any voter to have two votes.

I suggest to the Deputy to withdraw it on the understanding that it may be brought forward at a later stage.

The amendment was then withdrawn.

The CLERK of the DAIL

read Article 14:—

"All citizens of the Irish Free State/ Saorstat Eireann, without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of 21 years, and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for Members of the Chamber of Deputies/Dáil Eireann, and to take part in the referendum or initiative. All citizens of the Irish Free State/Saorstat Eireann, without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of 30 years, and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for Members of the Senate/Seanad Eireann. No voter may exercise more than one vote, and the voting shall be by secret ballot. The mode and place of exercising this right shall be determined by law."

Is that Article agreed to?

The Dáil agreed.