Does line 8, "to the council, commissioners or body," become "other local body" or "other body" merely?
I think "local body."
Might I ask if that definition given would include a body such as the Dublin Port and Docks Board?
Some Port and Docks Boards would be included. I do not know whether the Dublin Port and Docks Board would or would not. It depends whether they would be required by statute. I will inquire into that. Of course it is not necessary to issue any Order under this Act, except the Order postponing the elections of Borough Councils, Urban Councils, and Town Commissioners.
My point was that it ought not to include the Dublin Port and Docks Board, because they have a separate register of their own which is properly prepared.
My amendment, which reads as follows, explains itself. To move a new Clause 10:—"Every order made by the Minister shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas forthwith, and unless and until a Resolution annulling such order is passed by either House of the Oireachtas within the next ensuing twenty-one days on which that House has sat after such order is laid before it, such order shall have effect as if enacted in this Act." I think that would be better, because there may be some matters which may occur to some member of the Dáil which he would like to bring to the Minister's attention, and the wording is the ordinary form applicable to such circumstances.
Does that include the matter in Clause 8, Sub-section 2?
I noted that myself, and wondered whether it should include it or not.
As it stands, it does. The Order in Sub-section 2, Clause 8, is an interpretation Order.
Yes. When we came to Clause 8, Sub-section 2, I thought this was strictly not applicable to it.
I think that in the particular circumstances I cannot accept the amendment. It is very necessary that bodies should know at once whether elections are to be postponed or are not to be postponed. For instance, there certainly should be no such period as 21 days elapsing between the passing of this Act and the date when the elections in January would normally occur, and I think it would produce an awkward situation if elections are not held on the statutory date, and then the Order that caused them not to be held were to be nullified afterwards by either House of the Oireachtas. I think such a provision could not apply to the order postponing the elections to be held in January. I think also this particular provision would not be particularly desirable. The ordinary elections of Co. Councils and Rural District Councils are to be held in June, if it is possible to hold them in June, and if it is desirable that they should be held. Whether they will be held or not will depend on the register being ready. It may not be possible to know until nearly the last moment whether they can be held or whether they are to be postponed. It would again be necessary that the order as soon as issued should take effect. It would be very undesirable to have it take effect and then to have it nullified by a vote of either House.
It seems to me that this is not one of those things where it is necessary or desirable that the order should be laid upon the table of the Dáil. Once the principle of postponing elections is accepted, the actual day fixed is a very minor matter of detail; whether it is the 15th June or the 25th seems to me to be a matter of very little consequence and one that might be very well decided without being laid before this Dáil. As to anything being done in the matter that would be contrary to the general wishes of the Dáil, I think there is no likelihood whatever of that. Ordinarily there would be no objection to the provisions of this proposed amendment at all, but when it is a matter of postponing elections, and that that must be decided one way or another and when difficulty arises, as Deputy O'Brien pointed out, by people insisting on going on until they see the law actually amended, it is not desirable we should have a situation in which there might be doubt about the matter as to whether it will be actually coming into effect or not, and there would certainly be some awkward situations created if, at the last moment, a couple of days before the election was to be held, it could not be properly held. Therefore, in the particular circumstances of the case, I think it would not, on the whole, be an advantage to have this provision.
I do not press this, and certain of the arguments used by the Minister have made it perfectly clear that it is rather wider than I intended, and I think my first instinct to have kept it for Article No. 1 would have met the case much better. Would the Minister be prepared to accept it there? I do not press it because, as I say, I do not think it is a matter of very great importance except in one respect only. I think it would be clearly unworkable if any order postponing elections were to be laid in that way. I was referring more specifically to the order prescribing the date, where I think it would be both to the advantage of the Dáil and Minister that there should be some knowledge between the two. Would it meet his case if the wording was put in this way: "Every order made by the Minister shall prescribe the new date for the elections which have been postponed," not therefore requiring any agreement in regard to postponing but requiring agreements and general knowledge and consultation with regard to the appointment of the new date?
Surely this is only adding to the complication and difficulties of administration. If the decision as to postponement is left at the discretion of the Minister, it will be because of special information that he has received that a further postponement will be ordered, and it is scarcely necessary that this Dáil should be called upon to discuss the fixation of a later date. It is all part of the administration of the ministerial office.
There is just the difficulty in the second suggestion of Deputy Figgis also, and that is I do not know exactly how the Seanad will be sitting, but to get 21 sitting days may involve a considerable length of time; it may run to the most of two months. We do not really know. If the election was further postponed it might be impossible with certainty to prescribe the second postponed date upon which it would be held. I would not like to agree to it in the form suggested by Deputy Figgis, even in the second instance, without thinking it over further.
I will leave it until later on.
Better withdraw it; it is not practicable.
I beg to move that the Bill be cited "Local Elections Postponement Act."
I beg to move the Preamble:—
Whereas under the Statutes now in force in Saorstát Eireann elections of the members of borough, county borough and urban district councils and of town commissioners are required to be held in the month of January, 1923, and elections of members of county and rural district councils and of other local bodies are required to be held in the month of June and of divers other times in the year 1923.
And whereas owing to the non-completion of the Register of Local Government Electors now in course of preparation and for other reasons it is necessary that the said elections required to be held in the month of January, 1923, should be postponed to a later date in that year and for the like reasons it may become necessary that some or all of the said elections required to be held at other times in the year 1923 should also be postponed:
And whereas any such postponement of the elections aforesaid involves consequential amendments and adaptations of the existing law relating to such elections.
I beg to move that the following be the title:—
"AN ACT TO POSTPONE THE ELECTIONS TO CERTAIN LOCAL BODIES WHICH ARE DUE TO BE HELD IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY, 1923, AND TO ENABLE THE ELECTIONS TO OTHER LOCAL BODIES WHICH ARE DUE TO BE HELD IN THE YEAR 1923 TO BE POSTPONED ALSO, AND TO MAKE CERTAIN PROVISIONS CONSEQUENTIAL ON SUCH POSTPONEMENTS."
I think the word "also" is in the wrong place. If it is put in at all it should come in after the word "and," and would then read "and also to enable elections, etc." It seems to me it might be left out altogether.
I think so.
Amendment: "That the word `also' be deleted."