I propose the following amendment to Standing Order 12:—To substitute for the words "be handed to," both places where they occur, the word "reach." I think a verbal amendment would be sufficient for Standing Order 12. All amendments have to be handed to the Clerk at 11 o'clock a.m. That may involve you handing in an amendment on the last day. I think there would be no objection to changing this Order No. 12.
REPORT OF STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE. - STANDING ORDER No. 12.
I am suggesting an amendment to Standing Order No. 12 as follows:—To omit the word "fourth" in the third line of the first paragraph, and to substitute the word "second." In the second paragraph in the third line, to omit the word "second." In one brief sentence the reason for my doing that was this—I think it would be prohibitive of efficiency it it were required that a motion could not be considered until the fourth day after it was handed in. When a most urgent matter may arise which would require a more prompt dealing with it I think it would expedite business and help the general efficiency of this Dáil.
It does seem a long time, and I would like to hear from members if they think it absolutely necessary to have this long interval.
I was Chairman of the Committee on Standing Orders, and the view taken of it was that Deputies should have as long notice as possible of the business to come before them. I have arranged now for a notice board on which we will put copies of all notices and resolutions to be considered by the Dáil. Also printed notices on the paper should be got out as quickly as possible in order that Deputies will have them in their hands. The Committee decided that you would require four days' notice of the motion and two days' notice of the amendment. Standing Order 14 provides for the discussion of any matters of urgent importance, provided that the Chairman thinks it a matter of urgent importance, and provided that twelve Deputies give support.
That only provides for the discussion, and I don't think it enables a motion to be passed, and it is not desirable it should enable a motion to be passed which could be passed in the ordinary way.
If shorter notice is given the Deputies will have much shorter notice of the matters that they are going to consider. That is my whole interest in the matter.
I appreciate that, but I think the advantage would be one of efficiency, and enable us to get on quicker with the work.
I second the amendment.
I think four days may seem an undue length of time, but two days are too short notice for ordinary motions. It may be there are urgent motions; if so, provision could be made for them. It is not fair to Deputies that a motion should be handed in only two days before it is placed on the Order Paper. Four days might be too long for ordinary motions, and two days too short.
Why not say a third, A Chinn Chomhairle?
Why not follow the ancient wisdom with reference to splitting the difference?
The Committee spent a considerable time over this matter, and they came to the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary to have the time mentioned as notice. I think the Dáil might agree on what the Committee has spent a considerable time over.
I think you will remember it was your desire, when we were considering this matter that the Agenda be posted to Deputies when times got normal. That consideration influenced the Committee in arriving at their decision.
Before the motion is passed in its present form I think there should be some understanding, inasmuch as it is provided elsewhere that it should be understood that by leave of the Dáil an urgent motion could be brought forward with less notice.
Yes; could it not be provided that, with the leave of the Dáil, a motion might be asked without previous notice?
Yes; urgent questions can be asked without previous notice. I suggest that we should adopt some formula such as Standing Order 16, which provides that a question on a matter of urgent importance may be asked on a private notice to a Minister.
Would not Standing Order 14 easily cover this point?
I would like to point out that what is provided in Standing Order 14 is for a discussion of matters of urgent national importance. I would like to preserve the distinction there.
Shall we insert in 12 "Provided that, by leave of the Dáil, urgent motions may be discussed on shorter notice"?
I would like to have these also by permission of the Chairman.
Perhaps it would be well to have the whole thing according to the proviso in No. 16.
Would these words meet the case: "provided that by special leave of the Dáil, a Teachta may move a motion on an urgent matter without previous notice or with less notice than the prescribed notice"?
Yes, where the majority of the Dáil were not objecting to that.
I understand what is really at stake here is not so much any previous notice as less notice, which would be read as interpreting the feeling of the Dáil. I take it that it is to avoid the four days' notice for specific motions.
That would cover both cases.
Would that give rise probably to the other circumstances as provided for in Standing Order 14?
Clause 14 does not provide for motions.
What would be the circumstances that would necessitate this provision which is being discussed now?
CLERK of the DAIL
The addendum is: "provided that by permission of the Ceann Comhairle, and by leave of the Dáil, urgent motions may be discussed on shorter notice."
Does that meet the case?
It is agreed to by me.
The amendment is therefore agreed to in that particular form.
I move —"To add to the second paragraph the words `provided nevertheless that this Clause shall not apply to amendments proposed during the consideration of a Bill in Committee."' This amendment does not deal with motions or amendments to motions at all. It deals with what we are doing now—the consideration of a Bill in Committee. I think what has happened for the last twenty minutes shows that consideration of a Bill in Committee is more or less in the nature of an informal discussion of details. It does not touch with questions of principle at all. When you get into Committee on a Bill and the motion is made that the Clause stand part of the Bill, you will inevitably find, and experience in other places has shown, it at once occurs to someone that that will necessitate an amendment, or make advisable an amendment in some immediately succeeding Clause, which has been overlooked by the member who proposed the original amendment. Now, the Standing Orders provide that the general rules shall apply to discussion on Bills in Committee. That is Standing Order 40—the rule governing debate shall apply to debate in Committee. If you once begin to apply this, and formally fix times—two days' notice of any amendment—I think it is not a rash prophecy to say, when the first part is considered, you will find yourself hung up. You will have to begin again in order to enable an urgent motion to be introduced, and the whole time will be spent discussing whether some particular amendment should be allowed without notice. The same provision as to notice is given in Standing Order 65:—"Proposed amendments shall be notified in due time" that is, in Committee. The Standing Orders do not say what is due time, but they do refer you back to Order 12, which we are considering now. The rule is two days' notice. I venture to suggest the Dáil will run no great risk by allowing amendments, when a Bill is in Committee, without notice, because it is always open to the Committee if it thinks an amendment is too serious to be taken without due consideration to decline to discuss it, but to shut out amendments, which are often merely verbal amendments, and which are very often agreed to by everybody, except by one man who makes objection, because due notice has not been given, I think will involve you in waste of time. It would be possible to add to my proposed amendment some words authorising the Chairman, in Committee, to disallow any amendment of which he considers longer notice should be given. I do suggest that you ought not to fetter the Dáil in Committee by requiring two days' notice of any amendment that is going to be proposed.
I have much pleasure in seconding the amendment. I think it is a very necessary one.
Would the insertion of the words, "non-essential amendments" meet the view of the mover?
If the Deputy for Co. Dublin would not insist on "non essential," but would leave it to the judgment of the Chairman, as to whether an amendment is a fit one to be received, without notice, I think it would meet the case. The Chairman, will always be someone elected by the whole Dáil, by reason of the confidence the Dáil has in his impartiality. I think we could leave it to him to disallow any amendment he thought would require longer notice.
It has become clear from our experience, in Committee, that a certain type of amendment, without notice, should be accepted, but it would be preferable that amendments that have any bearing on essentials, or are important, should be notified in due time.
Would it suffice if we proposed that this clause shall not apply to amendments proposed during the consideration of a Bill in Committee, which the Ceann Comhairle might consider fit to be taken without notice.
An amendment similar to the amendment to the previous clause just passed might meet the case. It might be worded in this way: "By permission of the Ceann Comhairle and by leave of the Dáil in Committee, amendments proposed during the consideration of a Bill in Committee may be accepted without notice."
That would entirely cover the case of my amendment; but what I was afraid of was that my amendment might be strained to meet other cases, which I entirely agree ought not to be sprung on the Dáil without notice. I want to make special provision for Committee, which is a wholly exceptional stage of legislation.
If we insert here "to apply to Bills in Committee."
I think it is desirable that "permission of the Chairman" should be included. The minority should have the Chairman as a barrier.
I suggest the form of words you have now, or something like them, should be introduced later in 65. This is merely a negative motion, saying such things are not be to excluded. You can later on, in proper course, decide how they will be included.
Does Deputy Thrift suggest that we pass the amendment, and let the matter come up again on 65?
It would seem to me the better course.
And leave out the amendment?
No, I am strongly in favour of the amendment as it stands. If you do not put it, you exclude yourself from taking up the matter later on.
It seems to fit in with Clause 65.
Could not this matter be left over to 65?
That is what the amendment proposes to do—to leave the regulation of amendments in Committee to 65.
To withdraw this amendment now, and take it up on 65?
That would be quite sufficient, provided Rule 40 was also amended.
Rule 40 can be made to read "as elsewhere provided." This amendment is now withdrawn. It will come up under Rule 65.
There is a point in this Order that requires a little explanation. This Order relates to motions, but the following one expressly says "amendments to motions or bills." I should like to ask if there is anything special intended in that. If both mean the same thing it certainly indicates a difference, and I don't see what the difference is. An amendment to a Bill is, strictly speaking, an amendment to a motion. It appears to me there is no difference, but if you keep the two kinds of phraseology it indicates there is a difference, and I should like to ask if the Committee intended that.
That is Standing Orders 13 and 12.
Yes. In Standing Order 13 you will see the words "motions or bills," whereas 12 refers to amendments to motions.
We are now considering Standing Order 12. We have no amendment to Standing Order 13
My question is whether amendments to motions also cover amendments to bills.
I think so.
This is rather an important point, and deals with a matter which may lead to confusion later. Would it not meet the case if the words "whether to motions or bills" were deleted, since no Bills can come before the Dáil except on a motion.
That would meet it.
Question "that the words `whether to motions or Bills' be deleted," put and agreed to.
Before we pass Standing Order 14——
There is no amendment down to Standing Order 14.
No, but it occurs to me to say that the words in reference to "the discussion of an urgent matter of national importance," and later, where the words "urgent public importance" occur, I suggest that the words "urgent public importance" are better. A matter may be of urgent public importance, but may refer really to a local matter, and unless we have a thorough understanding of what national implies in that it may lead to misunderstanding.
We have not got in the words "public importance."
Yes, in Standing Order 16, top of page 5, the words "public importance" come in, and I want to have consistency right through.
The idea is to change the word "national" for the word "public."
To put in the words "urgent public," I think.
The word "national" is to be changed to the word "public" in both these clauses.
The Dáil agreed.