I propose first to deal with the parts of this Article which touch on our relations with England under the Treaty settlement. We can pass from that to discussion of this new Executive proposal which is affected by the Treaty, and which is very much a matter for the Dáil to consider freely. In two respects this Government is standing on that Article, and feels that it must stand on that Article, and these two respects are in so far as the Article states that the Executive Authority is vested in the King. You notice after that it goes on to say that the authority shall be exercised in accordance with the law, practice and constitutional usage, as in the case of Canada. It struck me during the course of the debates on this Constitution, and more particularly yesterday, that there is a mentality here which sees this country very much in the role of a stalking horse for all the Dominions—that we are supposed to be a "devil-may-care" kind of people, rather irresponsible, and very much prepared to take risks, even when dealing with the fate and destiny of our own country, and that, therefore, we should go ahead and force the pace for all the Dominions. That is one view, and there is another view which is not quite that, and is more cautious, to the effect that we should aim rather at stating our position in such a way that a challenge to us, or an encroachment upon us, is a challenge to all and an encroachment upon all the Dominions, so that, if a situation like that were to arise, it should be fought not by any one country taking particular risks or acting in an irresponsible way on its own, but it should be fought collectively by all the countries as a matter of common concern and common interest. Now, I am trying to put the thing fairly and without heat. It does strike me that in discussions here yesterday these two particular points of view were very much in evidence. I am standing for the point of view that we should, in stating our position, stand absolutely on the letter and spirit of the Treaty, stating it in such a way that if our position were to be challenged in the future that would be a challenge all round which we could reasonably look to other countries to take up, inasmuch as it would be a challenge to themselves. Now, so much for this matter of the Executive authority of the King. There is a second respect in which we are standing for this Article—that is, in so far as it provides that the Ministers shall be appointed by the Representative of the Crown. If Deputies will turn to Articles 51 and 52 they will find that, in fact, Ministers are not appointed by the Representative of the Crown. "The President of the Executive Council shall be the Chief of the Executive Council, and shall be appointed on the nomination of the Chamber/Dáil, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the other Ministers who are members of Parliament/Oireachtas shall be appointed on the nomination of the President of the Executive Council." So the Dáil appoints or nominates the President, and the President nominates both the Vice-President and the other Ministers. In Article 52 you have Ministers who are not members of Parliament, but who shall be nominated by a Committee of members of Dáil Eireann. Dáil Eireann selects the President, the President selects the Vice-President and the other Ministers who will be members of the Dáil. As for the Ministers who, it is proposed, will not be members of Dáil Eireann, they are selected by a method to be determined by the Dáil so as to be impartially representative of the Assembly as a whole. So, in fact, the Representative of the Crown has nothing to do with the selection of Ministers, but he automatically appoints them, either on the nomination of the President or the Dáil itself, and on an analysis wherever, in this Constitution, there is power stated to lie elsewhere than in Ireland, you will find it is not real power, that in fact all real power under the Constitution lies in Ireland and in the Irish people, and any statement to the contrary is merely the keeping up of certain symbols. Now, if Deputies will turn to page 356 in their large volume giving Constitutions of the world, you will find the position as laid down in Canada:—"the Executive Government and the authority of and over Canada is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen." There is no use wasting time turning to the Constitutions of the other countries with whom we are associated by Article 1 of the Treaty, but in all you will find that the constitutional usage and practice as well as the law, vests authority nominally in the Head of the Commonwealth, but in fact the real power in the country is in the hands of the Parliament and the people. That is, of course, a thing from which we could not break away, in accordance with the Treaty. Therefore, in these two respects we stand absolutely on that Article. Now to consider the Executive itself. We are not standing on that as a matter of confidence. It is not a question on which we would go out, but we do very strongly recommend it to the Members. We have examined it carefully, and having regard to the political conditions which we consider likely to prevail in the country, and having special regard to the Proportional Representation system of voting now prevailing in the country, we consider it is a system most likely to lead to stable and orderly Government in this country. Under Proportional Representation you will have not so many great solid parties like in England, which make the party system a fairly good working arrangement, but you will have rather a lot of groups in this Dáil not bound together particularly, but voting independently on the different issues that may arise. Now, if you had the party system of Government here, and such condition of things prevailing in the Dáil, with small groups, you would not have stable conditions, but you would have, we consider, Governments going in and out far too often to admit of stable conditions and to admit of continuity of policy in the chief Departments of the State. This system is modelled on the Swiss system, and it is a system which was found to work very well in Switzerland, and the conditions in Switzerland may be considered roughly to resemble those which are prevailing here. I think it is advisable to spend some considerable time on this proposal. It is a new proposal, and our minds have always been directed towards the English party system, and sub-consciously and unconsciously we think along those lines. This proposal opens up lines of political thought, and it would be well for Members to scrutinise carefully and to weigh its merits and demerits very carefully before deciding on it. To that end I propose to enter rather on a detailed analysis of the new proposal. The scheme proposed is as follows:—
(a) AN EXECUTIVE COUNCIL responsible to the Dáil (Art. 50).
(b) THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL to consist of not more than TWELVE (12) MINISTERS (Art. 50).
(c) OF THE TWELVE (12) MINISTERS,
(i.) FOUR (4) at least MUST be MEMBERS OF THE DAIL (Art. 50).
(ii.) EIGHT (8) chosen from all citizens eligible to the Dáil (whether they are Members of the Dáil or not), SHALL NOT DURING THEIR TERM of office BE MEMBERS of either House (Art. 50).
(iii.) PROVISO that upon occasion a particular Minister or Ministers of the Eight (8), not exceeding Three (3), may be Members of either House if so determined by the Dáil on the motion of the President (Art. 50).
So that the normal would be that you would have four Ministers of the Dáil and eight not members of the Dáil, and you might have seven Ministers members of the Dáil and only five outside Ministers.
(d) THE EIGHT, though not members of the Dáil, are to HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERS EXCEPT the right to vote. They may be required to attend the Dáil and to answer questions (Art. 55).
(e) THE FOUR (who are to be members of the Dáil) are to include (Art. 51):—
(1) The President of the Executive Council, who may also hold a Portfolio (say external affairs).
(2) The Vice-President of the Executive Council, who may also hold a Portfolio (say Finance).
(3) The Minister of Defence.
(4) A Minister for Home Affairs (in present circumstances where the restoration of order is vital to stability).
(f) OF THE FOUR
THE PRESIDENT is to be appointed on the nomination of the Dáil.
The other three (including the Vice-President) are to be appointed on the nomination of the President (Art. 51).
(g) THE FOUR must GO OUT of office if the President fails to be supported by a majority in the Dáil. (They continue until their successors are appointed.) (Art. 51.)
(h) THE EIGHT are to be nominated by a Special Committee of the Dáil. The Committee is to be chosen in a way to be settled by the Dáil so as to fairly represent the Dáil. (Art. 52.)
N.B.—The Committee is to nominate each Minister of the Eight for a Ministry with special regard to his suitability for that particular office. (Art. 52.)
This is an essential feature of the Scheme, and distinguishes it from:
(a) the British System, where every Minister is appointed by the Premier for party services rather than for special suitability for the office;
(b) a System under which a number of Ministers are appointed in group, distributing the offices amongst themselves after appointment.
This Scheme is capable of helping towards a scheme of Ministries hereafter resting on a basis of Functional or Vocational Councils. (See Art. 53.)
The nominations made by this Committee are to be submitted to the Dáil for acceptance individually, and the Committee is to keep putting up names for each office until one is found acceptable.
The broad idea of the scheme is that (a) the four members who are to be members of the Dáil are to be collectively responsible to the Dáil.
(1) These include external affairs (whether policy, negotiation or executive acts). This would include our relations with England and the rest of the Commonwealth,i.e., the Treaty position.
(2) National defence which must be closely associated with saving and maintaining the Treaty position and preventing any other than constitutional opposition to the Government and Parliament.
(3) Finance upon which the whole National position and every department of it must be firmly based.
(4) Probably Home Affairs in present circumstances; (b) the eight (who are not to be members of the Dáil) while acting collectively as an Executive with the four are to be only individually responsible to the Dáil for their respective Ministries. The intention is that the eight should hold the Ministries for the internal government of the country,e.g., (1) Education; (2) Justice; (3) Post Office;
(4) Trade and Commerce; (5) Local Government; (6) Public Health; (7) Agriculture; (8) Labour; (9) Fine Arts.
Each of these Ministers would (1) have all the privileges of the Dáil save voting; (2) hold office for the whole term of Dáil, that is 4 years, and until successor is appointed; (3) would not go out of office on defeat of the President and the Four; (4) would not be removed from office during his term unless on a report by a Committee of the Dáil that he had been guilty of malfeasance in Office, incompetence and unsatisfactory performance of his duties and failure to carry out the expressed will of Parliament. The intention of the whole scheme is to forestall the party system of government. The party system, as in England, depends for its effective working on two great parties. Where there are a number of parties, as in Italy and France, or as would be here under Proportional Representation, it would be practically impossible to get a stable government. Now, there is further this side to it—that we are launching a State. We have not the tradition of government here. We have not been governing ourselves for a very long time, and we have not been running our own departments, and it will take is a very long time to build up anything like an efficient Civil Service machine that the older established Governments have at their disposal. It would be very important and very valuable if it became possible to select Ministers solely on the basis of their peculiar fitness for their office, and not on the basis of political service or perfervid rhetoric that they may have poured out on the platform, or anything else. It is important that at the launching of a young State that a Minister should be able to bring forward proposals here and have them freely discussed by the Dáil without the feeling that their rejection would endanger his whole Ministry arid his whole administration, and endanger the President, and the policy that the President stood for. That is one of the evils of the Party System of government. In England if the Minister for Agriculture, or the Minister for Education, or some other Minister brings forward a measure, and if he is particularly keen on that measure, the defeat of that is a defeat for the whole Government, and the whole Government goes out. Now, it does not make for freedom of thought, and it does not make for freedom of judgment that the Deputies must feel, "Now, I must support this measure; personally, I do not approve of it, things were very well as they were, this measure is either evil or unnecessary, but if I do not vote for it there is danger that the whole Government goes out, and the whole policy, external and internal that the Government is standing for is in danger." That is wrong. That is one of the evils of the Party System. Now, in view of the amendment that we have inserted in Article 49, it is very well worth while to make such an experiment as this if a goodbona fide case can be established for it, and I submit that that case can be established rather by pointing to the obvious and glaring defect in the Party System, even as it exists in England, where you have two Parties pitted against each other. There are glaring defects in that form of government, but these defects would be multiplied manifold here where you have a Dáil consisting of small independent groups, or even individual members, not bound by any ties to any others in the Dáil. We have such members in the Dáil now, and we are bound to have them in the future. Now if you had a Party System of government things might go very well for a time, but then an issue might arise, such as we had here lately, and purely on the merits of that issue there would be a change in the voting, and out goes that particular Government, and then another comes in, and all the time you have in danger and in the balance the main planks that the President and his immediate advisers are standing for. The important thing, the internal and external policy of the Government, would then be endangered perhaps over some small measure like the compensation for damage to property that we had here last week, or something of that kind. If this system is found not to work it can be changed under the amendment that we have accepted to Article 49. We submit that it is very well worth trying. It is a mistake to say that the outside Ministers would not be sufficiently responsible to the Dáil. They could attend the Dáil, they could be summoned here, and it might be made a matter of routine that they would attend and answer questions, and so on. They have every right in the Dáil, except the right of voting, and they are under this arrangement left free to bring forward proposals without endangering their administration, and having these proposals discussed openly and freely, each Deputy using independent judgment, and voting on the merits of the proposal, which is a most important thing when we are establishing a new order here, and when we must go ahead with so much progressive legislation and reconstructive legislation.