I propose that in Order 11 we amend the first sentence of the Order by the addition of the words "in consultation with the Committee to be known as the Committee on Procedure, on which the Ministry shall have the right to be represented by at least half its members." Briefly, sir, to explain the purpose of this amendment I would like to refer to a later Order, in which it is stated that a ballot should be taken of private Members' Bills. Well, I think that is a procedure that is only adopted in one Assembly—that across the water—and even there it has not one single person to speak in defence of it. To choose legislation by ballot is obviously a very slip-shod method of procedure. You may have ten Bills, and there might be only two of these the Dáil would consider of importance and eight of them might be matters that the majority of this Dáil would consider to be of no practical importance. Yet the whole ten have to be put into the box, and one is to be picked out by ballot, which is a very haphazard fashion, and the Dáil would be asked to give its attention to matters that would not be worthy of its attention, or not so worthy of it as others there. There is nobody in the Dáil who has one single word to say in favour of it. Obviously some method must be adopted for the choice of Bills. I suggest that the human method is better than the mechanical method. If it was arranged that this Committee would have before it all the Bills, and would be able to select those of importance, acting in consultation with yourself, sir, they would be able to set them down for a day for consideration. Any Committee of this kind, to be truly representative of this Dáil, must have on it Members who would reflect the mind of the Ministry of this Dáil. That is, the Ministry should have the opportunity of appointing at least half of the Members of this Committee. Therefore I suggest this amendment to Order 11.
REPORT OF STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE. - ORDER 11.
I think that is a desirable proposition, and if it is necessary to second it, I will do so; but I suggest that the amendment in its phraseology is not consonant with the Deputy's reputation. The phrase suggested as an amendment is not easily understandable. It reads:—"The Ministry shall have the right to be represented by at least half its members."
It could be read: "By half the members of the Committee."
Is it the Ministry will have the right of appointing?
Yes, if they care to do so.
Seeing that we have no Committee on Procedure at the moment, I think it is not the proper time to introduce any amendment of that kind.
Does the Deputy who moved the amendment adopt the words that the Ministry shall have the right to be represented by half the members of the Committee?
I think it is a very clumsy way of wording it. It would be much clearer if it was said that the Ministry have the right to nominate one half.
Say a Committee of which the Ministry shall have the appoinment of at least one half.
I am sorry for the faulty wording.
May I point out that in the order as printed two words have gone astray and been lost. We have just been reminded that for practical purposes that "at least" in that text is equivalent to "at most," and we really feel that the Ministry ought to have a majority on that Committee.
And not less than would safeguard the majority we feel we require.
This is a right. If you say "at least," if you leave these words in they could claim the right to appoint the whole Committee.
No, a bare majority would meet our case, I think.
You are thinking of the present Ministry, but you have also to think of the next.
These are only for the present Parliament. Of course, I understand, we may not survive the present Parliament. I would suggest the words that a bare majority or a majority shall be nominated.
I am quite agreeable as to whatever form of words would be acceptable.
The order was then read with the amendment:
"Of which a majority shall be nominated by the Ministry."
This was agreed to.