I move Sub-Section 1 of the Clause. It is unnecessary to say anything in regard to this sub-section. It simply gives effect to the provision of the Constitution.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - ELECTORAL BILL—COMMITTEE.
There is just a small point I want to raise in regard to the words "or otherwise" in the sub-section in line 21 of the Bill. Could the Minister give us some indication of what that refers to? One would prefer that the limitations should be set out in the Bill, rather than in general terms such as the words "or otherwise," but if this is impracticable, perhaps the Minister would give some indication of what is intended to be covered by these words.
I think these words are only intended to refer to anything that might be, by any circumstance, provided for subsequently. I do not know whether that is so or not, but I think the intention is to provide for any subsequent change in the law that would add to any statements of legal incapacity which might be in this Act. In case that a subsequent incapacity, not mentioned in this Act, is set up by the Dáil, it would have effect as if it were incapacity mentioned in this Act, so that there would not seem to be any disparity or inconsistency in the statement here enabling a person to be registered.
I rather anticipated it had reference to Acts passed in future, such as the Corrupt Practices Act, and it would be an advantage, at a later stage, to introduce all these disqualifications at present in mind in a single Act before this is passed, because we should have this as comprehensive as possible.
I think we could consider that, when we come to the Clause, which deals with this qualification, and perhaps we might be able to add this. I move Sub-section (2).
I think when dealing with a Bill of this kind in Committee you deal with it Clause by Clause, and not Sub-section by Sub-section. I think Clause 1 is put as an entire Clause after the various sub-sections have been amended. It might be necessary to go back on something already passed, if an amendment were introduced in a later sub-section of the same Clause. I understand you to be moving the whole Clause.
I will move the whole Clause. I think the previous practice had been that we took it sub-section by sub-section.
I think you will find it desirable to go sub-section by sub-section, and I think it would facilitate the discussion to deal with the various Clauses by sub-sections.
The two are not necessarily contradictory. You can take them sub-section by sub-section, but move Clause by Clause.
That is the method I have suggested.
I take it in that case it would not be possible to vote against a particular sub-section, unless the amendments were put in afterwards. My colleagues and I have been proceeding on the assumption that the practice adopted hitherto would continue, and instead of moving the deletion of certain sub-sections we have contented ourselves with voting against them, leaving the whole Clause to be supported.
It will still be open to the Dáil to move the deletion of any particular sub-section, and if it is deleted it goes out, and the Clause as a whole as amended by the deletion will be put.
Do you rule that without sending in notice to that effect, we may move the deletion of certain sub-sections?
I think in Committee you can. That is an amendment to a Clause which would come within the ruling of an amendment which might be taken without formal notice.
It would really make no difference to do it that way, because the Dáil could give effect to the same object by voting against the Section.
I think it would save time.
I beg to move the following Amendment:—
To delete in Sub-section 2 (b) all words after “occupies,” line 29, and to substitute the words “business premises on the qualifying date, and to add a new sub-Section, viz.:—
"The expression business premises' in this section means a house or other premises which the person to be registered occupies, either alone or in partnership with another or others, for the purpose of his or her trade. profession or business, provided that the rateable value of the premises is not less than ten pounds, or, if the premises are in the joint occupation of two or more persons, provided that the aggregate rateable value of the premises is not less than the amount produced by multiplying ten pounds by the number of joint occupiers. If the premises are not separately valued the rateable value shall be deemed to be the amount which would, in the opinion of the registration officer, be the rateable value if they were separately valued."
I may say that we would prefer to have the business qualification deleted altogether, but as it was incorporated in the Franchise Resolutions we have endeavoured to make the best of it. Therefore, I move this amendment for the purpose of preventing or minimising the possibility of such votes being multiplied unduly. We therefore suggest that a £10 qualification should be necessary in order to secure one of these business premises votes. The amendment is taken, not word for word, but as closely as possible, from the Act of 1918, and bearing in mind it would not cover land as distinct from business premises. We think it would be desirable to have it incorporated, and I therefore move the Amendment.
With reference to the Amendment which Deputy O'Brien has moved I would be prepared to accept the principle of it, because on going into it we are convinced that to have no limit on the valuation might lead to abuses and to the doctoring of a particular constituency. As, however, this Amendment does differ in some way from the law as it exists I would not like to do more at the moment than accept the principle. If Deputy O'Brien would allow the clause to stand as it is I would put a new clause in which might either be identical with his or identical with the law as it stands, and the Dáil on the report stage could decide the matter finally.
Very well then, I agree to that, and withdraw the amendment.
The amendment is withdrawn on the undertaking of the Minister of Local Government to bring in on the Report Stage a Clause embodying the principles of the amendment. I take it that that includes the definition section which the Deputy did not give. It is the definition Clause which is the vital one.
I would like the Minister to qualify the word "scholarship" a little. I do not think that it is sufficiently definite. There are various kinds of scholarships, and I would suggest the addition of the word "foundation."
I think this particular phrasing of it was put in to meet the circumstances of the Dublin University, but if Deputy Thrift would suggest an amendment that would meet the case he puts up I am sure at a later stage we could take it.
The suggestion is that it be scholarship on foundation, which is the definition of a scholarship, the holding of which makes him a member of the Corporation of the University.
Scholarship on the foundation, or scholarship of the House. Scholarship on the foundation, I think, would be better.
I would accept that, but as there may be some difficulty, there are two forms of words suggested, perhaps if that were left over and brought in on the Report Stage it might meet the case.
I think if it were considered in the interval it would be satisfactory.
No amendments were proposed to Sub-sections 3, 4 or 5.
I would like to ask if the Minister would state exactly if the wording is sufficiently clear and as to who would be the judge of the words "ordinarily resident" at the top of page 7 of the Bill.
I take it that in this particular case it will be necessary practically to take the words of the man himself. It is very difficult to say where a man would be "ordinarily resident." It is comparatively easy to say where he would be, but I think we must take the word of the man himself that he would be resident in the same house as his father, or something like that.
I think if we could be sure that that would be the interpretation, that the Revising Barrister or some officer who would replace the Revising Barrister will place on these words, it might be satisfactory. The same thing would then apply to Sub-section 6.
That would lead to complications.
Any question arising on Sub-section 6?
I think by including in Sub-section 6 inmates of workhouses and poorhouses you will be depriving a lot of people of the vote. We all know that there are a number of people inmates of workhouses and poorhouses who are there through no fault of their own, but because they have no home. Especially for the last few years a lot of people had to seek shelter in these places, and the mere fact that they are there should not disfranchise them. I think it would be a bit of a hardship on a lot of good citizens, who were good citizens and did good service for the country when they could do it, but who in their old age had to seek shelter in workhouses through poverty. I think the inclusion of such people in this Clause is a hardship.
Following the point raised by Deputy Morrissey I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to an apparent, at least, possibly fundamental contradiction between Sub-section 6 and Sub-section 1 of Section 7. Apparently if relief be received within the poorhouse people are disqualified, but if relief be received outside—outdoor relief—the person is not disqualified. Yet the distinction between the two is not to me quite apparent.
There is another matter that I think we should have some information upon. We have not put in any amendment in the hope that the Minister would clear up the point on the words "or other similar institution," which are vague and indefinite, and may easily lead to a great deal of injustice, especially at a time when a change is taking place in regard to Poor Law institutions. In another part of the Bill we have a reference to County Homes. I think there are no such institutions recognised in formal law yet as County Homes, but I may be wrong in that. But all "other similar institutions" might well include an alms house, an old man's home, or any house of rest for an old age pensioner which happens to receive some assistance from rates or taxes. I do not think it is the intention of the Dáil—I hope it is not the intention of the Minister—that such persons should be disfranchised, but it is quite possible that under this Sub-section any resident in such institutions would be disfranchised. I rather fancy that it is a relic of Acts passed in the days when it was thought desirable to disfranchise such people. I do not know that, but, whether it is or not, we ought not to make it possible for people in that category to be deprived of the franchise solely by virtue of misfortune or poverty.
The phrase "other similar institutions" was designed to cover a County Home; in fact, we do not know whether it will be called the County Home, but the present state of the Poor Law is, owing to the changes which were done extra-legally, very much in the air. A Bill will be introduced almost immediately to legalise County Schemes which have been adopted in the various Counties, and to give them legal effect, and probably before this Bill is through we will have the County Homes recognised legally and given legal names, and it would be possible, perhaps, to clear up any vagueness that might be in the phraseology here. Of course, there would be the difficulty of regarding residents in a County Home as being ordinarily resident in the area. There is that difficulty, apart from the difficulty of mere vagueness of phraseology, which was raised by Deputy Johnson.
Will the Minister agree to delete those questionable words with a view to putting in better words if they could be found at a later stage of the Bill?
It would be better to leave them to stand and to put in better words later.
It is safer to take them out.
I have no objection to taking them out, but the custom we have mostly followed is that we let the phrase stand until a later stage and undertake to consider it. It is a matter of little consequence.
Motion made and question put: "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
A man shall be entitled to be registered as a Local Government elector for a Local Government electoral area if he is a citizen of Saorstát Eireann of full age and not subject to any legal incapacity, and
(a) is on the qualifying date occupying as owner or tenant any land or premises in that area; and
(b) has, during the whole of the six months immediately preceding the qualifying date so occupied any land or premises in that area, or, if that area is not an administrative county or a county borough, in any administrative county or county borough in which the area is wholly or partly situate:
(i) for the purposes of this section a man who himself inhabits any dwellinghouse by virtue of any office, service, or employment, shall, if the dwellinghouse is not inhabited by the person in whose service he is in such office, service, or employment, be deemed to occupy the dwellinghouse as a tenant; and
(ii) for the purposes of this section the word "tenant" shall include a person who occupies a room or rooms as a lodger only where such room or rooms are let to him in an unfurnished state.
With regard to Clause 2, I may say that I do not propose to move it. Clause 2 continues the law as it exists at present. Now, it cannot be said that there are not anomalies in the law as it stands at present; it cannot be said that changes are not necessary, and it is for that reason that I think it is perhaps as well not to ask the Dáil to re-enact the faulty law, and my proposal is not to move the Clause, but to move the amendment to the Tenth Schedule, which repeals various Acts, to amend that Schedule in such a way that the repeal shall not extend to the provisions that are in this Clause. My intention is, if the Dáil agrees, that the law in this matter shall stand as it is at present, but as that law certainly urgently requires consideration and amendment, not to ask the Dáil formally to re-enact it now. The intention of the Government is that this question of the Local Government Franchise must be dealt with in relation to the whole question of local government. We do not believe that the arguments that apply to the extension or adoption of any particular Parliamentary Franchise necessarily hold when we deal with a local body. A local body has very restricted powers; it exercises delegated powers; it exercises them under supervision and over a limited area; it is not subject to the same scrutiny from public opinion; it is not responsible in the same way to public opinion as the National Assembly would be. Often it does not get the same interest and service from its members that a National Assembly would. We do not hold that it can be argued that the franchise that is right and good for a National Assembly is right and good for a Local Authority. As a matter of fact, there could be as good a case put up for restricting the Franchise for local bodies more than it is now. As good a case could be put up for that as for extending it. On the other hand, if the Franchise were to be extended there would be a very good case for increasing the powers of supervision of the central authority. Then, if that were to be agreed to as necessary it would have to be carefully considered how far these supervising powers could be increased without destroying the value and vitality of local government. We feel, therefore, that the whole question of local government reform and local government franchise must go together. Consideration is being given to the question; the bones of a Bill carrying out various reforms in local government are under consideration, and it is hoped that they will be ready to be brought before this Dáil before many months. It is for this reason that I do not propose to move that clause of the Bill. Of course I am not doing this for the purpose of cutting out the amendments which the members of the Labour Party have put in. I mean the principles of these amendments can be contested in this reading of the Bill on the repeal section, and if it is desired afterwards they can be brought up as amendments on the Report stage.
The statement of the Minister relieves one of some difficulty at the moment, at any rate; but it is undoubtedly somewhat stupefying that within a few days after the Bill has been presented and passed the Second Reading we should have a really radical alteration in the scheme presented to us. But I think it is an improvement. I think it is better to discuss the question of Local Government Franchise separately, unless we are prepared, quite frankly and fully, to equalise the franchise as between the Parliamentary Franchise and the Local Government Franchise. Our amendments were designed to that end; that is, to make, with certain small limitations, the franchise which applies to a voter for the Oireachtas equally valid for a voter for the local governing authority. As the Bill is drafted there are very many complications. Now, I understand the reason for the circulation of the amendments in the name of Deputy Duggan which have been the source of very much puzzling during the last twelve hours. We could not understand them at all, but now the coast is clear and we understand the meaning of them. I think it is important to have the matter discussed entirely separate from the question of the Parliamentary Franchise, and, consequently we are saved some difficulty. I hope, however, that the mind of the Ministry is not made up finally against the proposition which we put forward, that the franchise should be still an adult franchise for all voters for local government authorities. A case could be made—perhaps the Minister suggests that a case can be made—for strengthening the powers of the central authority. Well, we have to hear that, and it might be a very good case, but the resident in an area who is capable of exercising the franchise for the supreme authority in the country ought to have the same influence at least for the election of a local governing body. To discriminate on the score of age is inequitable, and there has yet to be found a satisfactory test of an educational character; and certainly the property qualification is not acceptable to anybody in these days. I may say that the statement by the Minister obviates the need for my moving this particular amendment.
The amendment to delete Section 2, and to substitute three new Sub-sections is withdrawn.
CLAUSES 3, 4, AND 5.
Clauses 3 and 4 I propose to deal with in the same way.
Clause 3 is withdrawn also?
Yes, and Clause 4. I move:—
Clause 5.—Every person, without distinction of sex, who is a citizen of Saorstát Eireann and has attained the age of thirty years and is not subject to any legal incapacity, whether imposed by this Act or otherwise, shall be entitled to be registered as a Senatorial elector in the constituency in which he or she is registered as a Parliamentary elector.
I beg to move the following amendment:—
To delete all words from "without," line 7, to "otherwise," line 10, inclusive, and to substitute the words:—
"Who is entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector, and who has attained the age of thirty years."
The object of this amendment is rather to simplify the phraseology, but there is another reason. My proposal is to leave out the words from "person" to "otherwise" so that the Clause will read:—"Every person who is entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector, and who has attained the age of thirty years shall be entitled to be registered as a Senatorial elector in the constituency in which he or she is registered as a Parliamentary elector.
There is a possibility of reading into the Clause as it stands that certain disqualifications might be applied to the Parliamentary voter, but such disqualifications would not apply to the Senatorial voter, and I do not think that was the intention of the Minister. If any act or proceeding is sufficient to disqualify an elector from voting for a member for the Dáil that same disqualification ought to apply to voting for a member of the Senate. The effect of the amendment would be to make that disqualification apply all round.
Arising out of the point mentioned by Deputy Johnson, there is another matter, possibly a question of wording, but I think somewhat important wording for the future. Both in his amendment and the Clause to which it is an amendment there is a distinction drawn between "Parliamentary election" and "Parliamentary elector" and "Senatorial election" and "Senatorial elector." Under the Constitution it is clear that the Senate is part of the Parliament. I think we should change that wording, because "Parliament" includes both the Dáil and the Senate.
I quite agree. If Deputy Figgis will find a good word I would be prepared to adopt it. With regard to Deputy Johnson's amendment, I do not see that it makes any difference really, and for that reason I would prefer to keep the words as they are in the Bill.
In answer to the question that has been put in the form of a friendly challenge or invitation by the Minister, I do not think it would be possible to get it in an adjectival form; why not put it frankly, and say "Elector to Dáil Eireann" and "Elector to the Seanad," and speak about it frankly, as an elector to Dáil Eireann and Seanad Eireann?
I would just like to press and re-state the objection which I think will be seen to be against the wishes of the Minister. As it stands, the Clause reads: "Every person, without distinction of sex, who is a citizen of Saorstát Eireann, and has attained the age of thirty years, and is not subject to any legal incapacity, whether imposed by this Act or otherwise, shall be entitled to be registered as a Senatorial elector in the constituency in which he or she is registered as a Parliamentary elector." Unless you pass a special Act dealing with disqualifications for the Seanad, a disqualification for a Parliamentary elector will not apply to an elector for the Seanad. Perhaps the Minister will promise to think it over.
Well, I will consider it between this and the next sitting.
I think the difficulty of Deputy Figgis scarcely arises, because the word "Parliament" does not occur in that document. It is called Oireachtas all through.
I think so too, but at the same time I am not satisfied with the word "Parliament."
Does Deputy Johnson propose an amendment?
No. I accept the promise of the Minister that he will think it over. I withdraw my amendment.
I move Clause 6:—"Every person registered as a Parliamentary elector for any constituency shall, while so registered, be entitled to vote at every Parliamentary election for that constituency, and also to vote in that constituency at every Referendum.
(2) Every person registered as a Senatorial elector in any constituency shall, while registered, be entitled to vote in that constituency at every Senatorial election.
(3) A person registered as a Local Government elector for any Local Government area shall, while so registered (and in the case of a woman, notwithstanding sex or marriage), be entitled to vote at every Local Government election for that area; but where, for the purposes of any election, any such area is divided into more than one county, district, borough, poor law, or town electoral area, as constituted pursuant to the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919, a person shall not be entitled to vote for more than one such electoral area.
Notwithstanding anything in this sub-section, a person may be registered for more than one county, district, borough, poor law, or town electoral area as constituted by the Act aforesaid, and may vote in any such electoral area for which he or she is registered at an election to fill a casual vacancy."
I would delete Sub-Section 3, because it will be dealt with in the same way as the other.
It is proposed to delete Sub-section (3) consequential upon the withdrawal of Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Bill.
Motion made and question put: "That Clause 6 as amended stand part of the Bill."
I beg to move Clause 7, which reads:—
"(1) A person shall not be disqualified from being registered, or from voting as a Parliamentary, Senatorial or Local Government elector, or from voting at a Referendum by reason that he or she or some other person for whose maintenance he or she is responsible has received poor relief or other alms.
"(2) Nothing contained in this Act shall, except as expressly provided therein confer on any person who is subject to any legal incapacity to be registered, or to vote either as a Parliamentary, Senatorial, or Local Government elector, or to vote at a Referendum any right to be so registered or to vote.
"(3) A person shall not be disqualified from voting at any election as a Parliamentary, Senatorial, or Local Government elector, or at a Referendum by reason of being employed for payment by or on behalf of a candidate at such election or Referendum so long as the employment is legal."
I beg to move the following amendments:—
"To omit in sub-section 1, lines 35 and 36, the words `or Local Government,' and to add the word `or" before the word `Senatorial' in line 35.
"To omit in sub-section 2, in line 42, the words `or Local Government,' and add the word `or' before the word `Senatorial' in line 42.
"To omit in sub-section 3, in line 45, the words `or Local Government,' and add the word `or' before the word Senatorial' in line 45."
I beg to move Clause 8, which reads:—"No member of any police force on full pay may be registered as a Parliamentary or Senatorial elector, or vote at any Parliamenary or Senatorial election or at a Referendum." The principle of this clause was discussed at some length when the resolutions dealing with the matter were before the Dáil, and I do not know that it is necessary for me to add anything in support of that. I think the matter was pretty fully considered by the Dáil then, and it was felt on the whole that the balance of advantage lay with keeping the members of a police force off the register. One of the main arguments was that impartiality in these matters was better safeguarded, and that while a man might be on the register and be absolutely impartial, or a man might be off the register and not impartial, that at least by not being able to vote they were protected from the efforts that would be made by canvass and other means to draw them into the party politics of the area in which they were stationed and doing duty in, and in which the need for their impartiality would exist.
I sent in an amendment for the abolition of this clause, and I wish to press that amendment. It does not appear on the amendment paper, but I will now move it, with the permission of the Dáil. It seems to me a very grave injustice, seeing that every other class of citizen is given the right of acting as a citizen in the fundamental right of voting, that it should be taken away from policemen. I believe it is peculiarly bad because it is practically taking on a bad tradition of the past. It is assuming that the police force of the Irish Free State in the future will be imbued with some of the same bad principles as the police force had inculcated into it in the past. I have looked through a number of other Electoral Acts, and speaking subject to correction, I have not yet been able to find one single case in any country where the police of that country has had removed from it the right of voting and the right of participating to that extent in the political life of the country. I believe it would be very much better if they were allowed to exercise that right and responsibility. I hope it will be true that in the future, unlike the past, the exercise of that right will not lead to abuses. If it should happen in any particular case to lead to abuse it is quite easy for the Minister of the day, and the legislature of that day, to deal with that abuse on its merits, and correct it. But because an abuse may arise, to withdraw from a certain body of citizens their rights under the Constitution seems to me a very unhappy and deplorable procedure under such a Bill as this, in the beginning of a new State. I move that Clause 8 be deleted.
If it were necessary to second it I should be glad to second it. It is true that the arguments were gone over in discussing the resolutions, but I hoped further consideration on the part of the Ministry would have shown them the unwisdom of depriving of citizenship, because in effect that is what it means, a body of men whom they are gathering together and are trying to make a peace force. It does not add to the feeling of pride in civic duty to tell a man that you are expected to do all the things good for a citizen to do, but we are going to deprive you of the first and vital privilege of citizenship. I am not sure, and I do not want to press it, in face of legal opposition, but I wonder really whether this is not unconstitutional. Article 14 says:—"All citizens of the Irish Free State 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." It may be said that we are making an electoral law which is going to deprive them of the right to vote. It occurs to me that that is a considerable stretch of the intention of the Constitution. Apart from the formal constitutional question, it seems to me that the Act of a Parliament which says to a body of policemen you are to be deprived by law of the right to franchise, you are to be placed in the same category as criminals, lunatics and paupers, simply because you have taken up the work of a peace officer, is going far to degrade a policemen. I can see some arguments in favour of making a regulation of the force that they shall not take part in political activities, and that they would even be advised and make it a tradition of the force that they should not exercise the vote, but that is a very different thing from laying it down, as a statutory condition, that they are, on entering the force, deprived of the right of citizenship. The Minister has urged the risk of their being made the plaything of political pressure, from one side or another. But the numbers are not so great, over a whole country, for that argument to be very effective. In any case is not that, again, a sign of no confidence in your police force? You cannot expect these men to rise to a position of responsibility when at the initial stages of their existence you are telling them they must not be allowed the fundamental right to citizenship, because we cannot trust you to withstand political pressure from one side or another. I think that the characteristics of a disciplined body are such that political pressure of that kind is not going to have very much effect, especially when they are not massed in large numbers. You have a few in this district and a few in another district, miles apart. The amount of political pressure of a bad kind that might be applied is very little, and the influence of that body over the whole community must be very diffuse indeed. With a view to making that force feel that it is part of the civic life of the community, that it is trusted, and that it has the responsibilities of citizenship, as well as the added responsibilities of a policeman, I would appeal to the Ministry to allow the amendment to be carried, and if it is considered necessary that some limitation of the rights of policemen should be put into operation I suggest that that should be done by an Order within the organisation itself. The same argument may apply to other public servants, but we are dealing now with the police force, and I would ask the Minister to reconsider this whole question with a view to the acceptance of the amendment.
I think Deputies should understand that I do not treat this as an amendment at all. The Minister has moved that Clause 8 stand part of the Bill, and the two Deputies who have spoken, have spoken in opposition to Clause 8, and the motion before the Dáil is that Clause 8 do stand part of the Bill.
I hope the Minister in charge of this Bill will stand firm behind this Clause because I think it would be disastrous to attempt in any way to impair the local efficiency of the police by embroiling them in the political turmoil that arises when this question comes before the community. I do not agree with this argument about loss of civic rights. There are not many advantages in these things, and I do not think the police will thank you in any way, or should thank you, if you allow them to be engulfed, as they will be, in the political struggles that will take place. I would ask the Minister to stand firm behind his clause unless he can by a regulation do the same thing.
I think Deputy McGoldrick is just showing that want of confidence in the police force which Deputy Johnson has spoken of. If the police are allowed to exercise the first right of citizenship—that is through their votes—it does not seem to me that that in any very serious way embroils them in political struggles up and down the country. It would be a very different thing if the police or the military were taking an active part in political campaigns. I do not think that anybody who desires that the police should not be deprived of this right of citizenship, desires that they should be taking part in political campaigns and siding with one particular party or another. Personally I cannot see any very great reason why a peace officer should not have all the rights of a soldier. The question of local politics, I think, does not enter into discussion at the moment at all, because it is the Oireachtas franchise I think we are dealing with. If there is a danger in giving the peace officer or the soldier the right to exercise his vote, and that is all that is asked, the danger seems to me greater with the military. It seems to me that in this matter, as in a certain other part of the Bill, the Ministry is going to deprive a certain section—a minority no matter how small it is—of the constitutional method of expressing themselves, and if you take away the constitutional method of expressing themselves from any number of citizens you will leave them no alternative but to adopt some unconstitutional method. I do not see at all that it would be very desirable that all the police should do everything that the ordinary citizen does, or wants to do, but I think that it is a wrong thing by Statute to deprive them of this particular right. After all they have got all the obligations of ordinary citizenship; they will be able to enjoy many of the benefits of ordinary citizenship, and in my opinion this particular right should not be taken from them. I do not say that they should be encouraged to go "on a stump" or anything like that, but they should not be deprived of the constitutional method of expressing themselves as citizens of the State.
I strongly oppose this clause which debars a police officer from exercising his right to vote. I think it is unconstitutional and I think it is unfair. These men ought to be allowed the same rights as other men. You have a large number of young men in your Civic Guard, and I presume the word Police Officer covers Civic Guard. Everybody will agree that these young men are men who ought to have the right to vote, and they should not be encouraged to take other means of making their power felt. There has been an agitation in the past on this matter, and some time ago we had hoped that a measure would be introduced, in another place, to withdraw, as it were, the embargo on police voting. You may remember there was an agitation about policemen registering in trade unions, and one of the grievances expressed at that time was that they had not the right to vote, or to choose who their legislators would be. I would make an appeal to the Minister responsible for the Bill to withdraw the clause and allow these men the right which every other individual is entitled to.
It seems to me there is an air of unreality about this discussion. Deputy Byrne talked very nicely when he says that it is not fair and constitutional to deprive those men of their just rights; but there has been no advertence at all to the realities of the situation—no advertence to present conditions or to the fact that one of those forces, and the largest one, is passing through a very delicate stage of growth and development. And to talk as if this country were in normal settled conditions—as if, to use a slang phrase, "everything were grand in the garden"—is talking of a thing which is not. I have recommended that particular clause to the Minister for Local Government, and to the Members of the Cabinet. Nothing that I have heard induces me to withdraw that advice. But I want to say that the advice was given with advertence to the existing conditions, both to the fact that the country is just emerging from a revolutionary period that for some years to come conditions may be tense and difficult, and also to the fact that one of those forces is not only in process of training, but in the process of discipline. I am very pleased with the improvement in the condition of that force, but it would be idle to speak as if it were an ideal and fully developed police force. It is not. The men had to be sent out crude, raw and indisciplined to face their duties, and it will probably be necessary when more are recruited, to bring them gradually back and pass them through their depot for another course of training and discipline. I would not agree to subject those men to the strain of being canvassed and propagandized for any election, and I am not going to make it worth any man's while to canvass or to propagandize them. When and if conditions alter in the country, and when that force reaches its state of fullest efficiency and reliability, then we can review the situation.
May I point out that the first register which is the only one to which the Minister has made reference, and to which his objection will apply, is in course of preparation, and it will be a simple thing to make the disability apply only to this first register. And, as respects subsequent registers and elections, no doubt the discipline of the force of which the Minister is justifiably proud, will be such as to remove even his objections. But I would, if I may, remind members and the Ministers that the same Bill is going to enfranchise soldiers who are subject to at least the same pressure and appeals as the police. Will the Minister use the same arguments when we come to the question of soldiers?
I would like to congratulate the Minister on his monoply of "the realities of the situation." It is a monoply he ought to be content with, without such frequent advertisement of it. I want to come to the point Deputy Johnson has referred to. If it be right for a police force, then it is clearly right for the army. At the recent elections we know—in South County Dublin, for example—from my own experience and from cases I saw with my own eyes—army lorries were used in the elections for the carrying of Panel voters or voters who were intended to vote for the Panel, but whether they did so or not is another matter. They were driven by soldiers and there were officers too there who were canvassing at the time. The Minister says there was one force in a delicate state of organization. If his arguments are sound I would say there are other forces in respect of which it should be introduced. And if it were introduced at all for both forces, it were better to introduce it merely as a regulation and not bring it into this new Bill.
I should just like to stress the point Deputy Johnson raised in connection with the army and police. The Minister says the Police Force is comparatively raw. We all understand that, but at the same time those who have seen it in operation have nothing but admiration for the manner in which it is attempting to carry out its duty. But the army is not so regularised an institution, functioning in the ordinary way. I can give you an instance to show you how ridiculous the thing is. It so happened that at the last election that a seconder of the nomination paper on which I relied was temporarily a police officer. He is now an army officer, but in the future election he will be held to exercise the franchise. If he remained in the police force he would be too raw even after proposing me. He is not too raw when he is in the army, not at all too raw, and now the army will be a much bigger force numerically than the police force. Not only that but he will be subject to influences to which the police as a rule will not be subject. We all know that among army men there is a certain combining influence that draws them closely together and that they are more inclined to come in conflict in one direction than those who have not got that close combining. In Ireland at all events it is the experience that there has been greater coherence amongst the army men than amongst unarmed men of the police force, and if there is to be a wrongful influence exercised on either of those two forces it is much more likely to be directed on the bigger force and the armed force much more so than on the smaller and unarmed force, and if indeed there is likely to be any particular organized body that is going to have more influence than anything else on either of those two forces I think that will be the body supporting whatever Government is in power at the moment. They are citizens, and should be treated as citizens. Whether they want to exercise those powers is not the question. The question is whether they ought or ought not to have the power to do so.
I am thoroughly satisfied with the Minister's explanation, especially in the last few words, that when things are normal the situation will be reviewed.
Would it not be easier to make provision in this Electoral Bill for the future and to put in some kind of transitory clauses until this period is passed?
First of all, with reference to Deputy Byrne's remarks that he interprets what I said as an undertaking that when conditions altered this matter would be positively amended, or that I will positively recommend such amendment, it is right that I should make clear what I did say. I said that if conditions improved and the situation altered, in will be possible to review that particular clause. Deputy Figgis said if it be right for the police, then it is clearly right for the Army. If there be necessity to make provisions that members of the Police Force shall not exercise the vote, then, according to Deputy Figgis, there is equally such necessity in the case of the Army.
That is not what I said. What I really said is, if it be right for the Police Force because it is in a delicate state of organisation, then it is right also for the Army because it is in a delicate state of organisation.
What Deputy Figgis said was, if it be right for the Police Force, then it is clearly right for the Army. But the relations of the Police Force to the people are different from the relations of the Army to the people. In the average small towns in the country you will have a force of six or seven police stationed there to do their duty impartially, and impersonally to enforce the law and to protect the rights and the property of every citizen in the community. It would be a bad thing and a dangerous thing, I submit, if a particular barrack or particular officers were to take on a definite political complexion, and human nature being what it is, a man—even a policeman—might acquire the reputation of being a very rabid partisan, and having a particular colour and outlook on any matter, even remotely applied to a political question. And we might have this unfortunate state of affairs that people might be looking for a redress of grievances or to lodge a complaint, and they might say, "There is no use going to Sergeant So-and-so, he is a bloated capitalist"; or they may say, "Do not go near that barrack, they are a pack of Bolshies"; and in that way the utility of the Police Force, the impartiality and the impersonality of the police in the administration of their duty, would be injured. But, to my mind, it is an entirely different matter with the Army. Normally, only in a very unfortunate state of affairs can the Army of a country be used in any way against any section of the population. Normally they would be a force to be used for the protection of the whole country against an outside enemy, and their relations with the ordinary bulk of their fellow-citizens are not the same delicate relations as those of the police. That is my reply to Deputy Figgis when he says, "If it is right for one it is right for the other—deprive them all of the vote." It will be possible at any time in the future, if conditions are so stable and the normal idea of law and government and respect for one another's rights so prevail, to review this matter. It is, of course, not necessary to say the Parliament of the country is at all times sovereign, and that we cannot bind our successors. We cannot, strange to say, bind ourselves a single day, and we can change immediately if circumstances call upon us to change our minds. I meant no more in what I said than that it would be possible to review this course at a future stage.
Could the Minister in charge of the Bill answer this question—whether, under the British Electoral Law in the past we did, in fact, disfranchise policemen?
I understand that the existing law, as far as the Royal Irish Constabulary were concerned, did disfranchise them.
I have seen them coming to polling booths and voting.
Perhaps I am wrong then.
It was done by regulation.
I do not think it necessary to add anything to what has been said by the Minister for Home Affairs. What concerns us is not any question as to how the police would vote. The numbers would be infinitesimal as far as any constituency is concerned and that is not of the least consequence. The object of the clause is to keep the police out of politics so far as it is possible to do so. Circumstances may so alter when it would not be so necessary to adopt the precautions we are now adopting to keep them out of politics, but I believe it is very necessary at the moment. The police will have duties in connection with the elections. They will have to be on duty in the polling booth, and will be charged with removing those who are obstreprous, and with the arrest of people who commit any offence and it is very important that they should not be actuated by any strong bias. We cannot, of course, help the police having strong political views, but at all events we can take precautions that will prevent them being canvassed and dragged into the expressions of opinion unnecessarily. I think it is much more desirable to exclude them from the franchise by Act of Parliament than to do so by departmental order. For my part, I think it is most undesirable that a right given by law should be forbidden by a departmental order. It appears better if the police are to be debarred from voting, to prevent them by law than to give them a right and then by a departmental order to prevent them from exercising it. The police will be in charge of the Ballot Boxes even if the military have to be brought in for their protection. They will be there as a guard, and individually and personally will not be concerned in the matter at all. It will be far better in any circumstances that we can see at the moment that the police should not be mixed up in politics, and that they should not be canvassed, and should not exercise the franchise so that they would not be concerned about whether one person is elected or another.
There is one point involved that has not been touched upon by any of the previous speakers. This clause as drafted deprives the police force of the right of taking part in a referendum. There may be a big question, not political in the narrow sense of the term, that may be submitted to the people. It may be a question of civil war or it may be a question of the participation of this country in a big war outside, and this clause deprives the police of the right to vote upon such a question as that. I think every citizen should have that right.
The dangers, I think, are somewhat less in the case of a referendum, but the same argument applies and, indeed, it might be that in the case of a referendum there may be even greater heat than in a normal election and for the reason that it may be a question of greater public importance. This again is a question of serving the State and the community in a particular way. I regard this question of franchise largely as a service of the State, and I do not hold that any person is substantially deprived of his right as a citizen in not being able to vote. As far as I am concerned I never voted in a Parliamentary election, and never had a Parliamentary vote. The rights of the citizens are bigger than the right of a vote in regard to a small class that specially functions, and there is no real hardship at all in disfranchising them. I suppose the occasion would never arise in which the small number of votes they exercise would turn the scale one way or another.
The principle just now enunciated by the Minister is unquestionably sound, that in these matters what we have principally to consider is the public good. So whether the policeman shall exercise the franchise, or shall not, is to be determined solely by the consideration, which redounds more to the public advantage. Now I regard the exercises of the franchise in a very different way from the Minister. Some weeks ago Deputy Johnson declared—and I think it was the sounder view—that the exercise of the franchise was to be regarded as something in the nature of a sacred rite, a religious performance. It is not a mere empty formulary, it is really the operation in which the citizen acts most prominently and perhaps most effectually as a citizen in the discharge of his duty to the State. The Minister admitted by implication that by no contrivance either by regulation or statute could a member of the police force be kept wholly out of politics. You cannot make him cease to have an interest in politics, and it would not be well to have him cease to have that interest. The only question is, are you to leave him with a sense of grievance, that he alone, of all citizens, who is to have a care, according to the measure of his powers, of the public tranquility and the safety of the public property and person, is not to have any voice in the determination of the great public questions, more particularly of the legislation of which he is to be an humble Minister later. I think that everything we do to make the policeman a better citizen, with a full consciousness of his position as a citizen, will be so much to the good for the discharge of his duties as a policeman. You cannot ask him to be interested in the closing of public houses, or have due regard for the sale of liquor, or for those other things that make for the public advantage, if he is one of a class, a part to whom these things are alien, if he never has the opportunity to make his views effective, in so far as casting a vote makes it effective. Why, then he is merely a spectator, a mere looker-on at these affairs, and he will be implicated only in so far as he may have sympathy with a dog-fight in the street. It will be through his heart, his human feeling, and not through his sense of duty to the State in whose service he is employed and by which he is paid. It is most essential that we should not put this brand on the policeman, by which he is a citizen only for certain purposes and not fully a citizen for those things which we treasure most.
I move that the question be put.
I think Professor Magennis almost caricatured the argument against the Clause, and to my mind his speech would rather support the adoption of the clause than otherwise. If a man is going to be made a better citizen by voting then it is suggested than some people in Dublin would be 100 times better citizens than any one of us.
The Minister is referring to Panel voting.
Tá.Donchadh Ó Guaire.Seán Ó Maolruaidh.Seán Ó Duinnín.Mícheál Ó hAonghusa.Domhnall Ó Mocháin.Séamus Breathnach.Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.Seán Ó Ruanaidh.Domhnall Mac Carthaigh.Earnán Altún.Sir Séamus Craig.Liam Thrift.Eoin Mac Néill.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Fionán Ó Loingsigh.Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.Cristóir Ó Broin.Risteárd Mac Liam.Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.Séamus Ó Dóláin.Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.Eamon Ó Dúgáin.Peadar Ó hÁodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Seosamh Mac Giolla Bhrighde.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Tomás Ó Domhnaill.Earnán de Blaghd.Uinseann de Faoite.Domhnall O Broin.
Níl.Tomás de Nógla.Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.Darghal Figes.Tomás Mac Eoin.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Liam Ó Briain.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Tomás Ó Conaill.Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.Cathal Ó Seanáin.Séan Buitléir.Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.
I declare the resolution carried, and Clause 7 stands part of the Bill.
I move Clause 9, as follows:—"The qualifying date for the first register prepared under this Act shall be the 15th day of October, 1922, and the qualifying date for every subsequent register shall be the 15th day of July." It fixes the qualifying date as the one fixed by the Dáil for the register which is in preparation. With regard to the second date, July 15th, which is set down, I do not know whether I may not say a few words with reference to it now. I agree that the period for completing the register should normally be about six months. If, however, it is July 15th, perhaps more time will be taken up, because the Registration Officer would be engaged compiling the Jurors' Lists. Of course, future legislation might make the Jurors' Lists identical with the Parliamentary List, but until legislation occurs it would be different. The Registration Officer, under a wider franchise, does not get the same amount of assistance, and is not covering the same ground, in making up the Parliamentary Register as when dealing with the Jurors' Lists, and a considerable amount of time would be lost. There is another matter in connection with that. Heretofore municipal elections have been held, as you might say, in mid-winter. Now, very good arguments have been put forward against holding elections in mid-winter. There is no doubt that when an election is held on a short day a difficulty arises in connection with people who are in a delicate state of health, who would be likely to catch a bad cold, and also there are increased facilities for impersonation owing to the pushing into ill-lighted booths late in the evening. It might be desirable to change the time when municipal elections are held either to the autumn, as in the case of England, or to the middle of June or the end of June, as in the case with rural elections. If that were done, it would be better to move the qualifying date back to the end or middle of November, so that the six or seven months may elapse and the register be completed some little time before the elections would be held. I would rather have no amendment as far as I am concerned, now; but in good time, before the Report Stage, I would circulate an amendment with regard to the qualifying date. It must necessarily hang to some extent on the date on which the municipal elections will be held. If the Dáil were to agree that the municipal elections should continue to be held in January. I think it would be desirable that the new register should be got out immediately before the elections, but if the Dáil agrees to put the municipal elections back permanently to some date in the summer or autumn, then I think it would be very desirable to have the qualifying date put back to November. I will move the Clause as it stands now, because I would not like to move an amendment at the present stage, but it is with the proviso that I intend when the Report Stage comes along, having previously taken the opinion of the Dáil, formally or informally, as to the date on which the municipal elections might be held, to fix the qualifying date somewhere nearer the summer.
I agree with practically all that the Minister has stated in support of this Clause, and I hope that at a later stage the qualifying date may be fixed, I think, for October for subsequent registers, so that the new register would come into force in April, and this would allow the local elections to be held in the autumn. I think that would be a more desirable time than November, which is very close to the old date, January, which is considered so objectionable, and I hope the autumn or the early summer will be agreed to as the time.
Motion made, and question put:—"That Clause 9 stand part of the Bill."
Clause 10.—For the purposes of this Act a person's age shall be taken to be that person's age—
(a) In a University constituency on the date to which the register is made up;
(b) In any other registration area on the qualifying date.
I move Clause 10. I may say, in regard to Clause 10, that there was a little confusion and it will have to be amended. There is no qualifying date, as you will observe, for a University. You will notice in Clause 1, "Every person is entitled to vote in the Constituency in which he or she is ordinarily resident on the qualifying date, or holds business premises on the qualifying date," but no qualifying date is fixed for the Universities. There was some delay in preparing the Schedule which contains the rules for University registration, and their final form was not the form which it was expected they would have taken when this particular Clause was drawn up. Such Clause will require to be amended slightly so as to make sure that a person who happens to be entitled to a University qualification would not find himself on the register, while a person of equal age who was outside found that he would be excluded from the register. A small amendment will be necessary in this Clause subsequently.
Motion made and question put: "That Clause 10 stand part of the Bill."
CLAUSE 11. PART 2.
Clause 11:— (1) One register of electors shall be prepared in every year and, except in University constituencies, the first register to be prepared under this Act shall be a register of electors who were qualified on the 15th day of October, 1922, and the register to be prepared in every subsequent year shall be a register of electors who were qualified on the previous 15th day of July.
(2) The first register prepared under this Act shall come into force on the commencement of the 1st day of June, 1923, and shall remain in force until the 15th day of April, 1924, and except in University constituencies every subsequent register shall come into force on the commencement of the 15th day of April next after the qualifying date in respect of which such register is made and shall remain in force until the next following 15th day of April.
(3) If for any reason the registration officer fails in any year to compile a fresh register for his area, or any part of his area, the register in force at the time when the fresh register should have come into force shall continue to operate as the register for the area or part of an area in respect of which default has been made. This sub-section shall apply to a failure in respect of the first register prepared under this Act as well as to a failure in respect of any subsequent register.
I move Clause 11, Part 2, and there is not very much in it. It fixes the qualifying date for the first register. It validates the first register, and it continues the provision whereby, if a Registration Officer fails to compile the register, we will not then be in the position of having no register. It may frequently happen in an area that for some particular reason a Registration Officer will not carry out his duties, or will not carry them out in time. There are always delays in the compilation of a register, and it might happen that, through circumstances, say, in the Dáil, a General Election would come suddenly, and that in a particular case where a Registration Officer was a fortnight late with his register, a new register would not be complete in time to be used at the election, and it is necessary to have a provision whereby the old register in that particular case would be available for use.
I would like to ask the Minister if Sub-section 1 is not redundant in view of Section 9, which we have already passed, because it only says in rather more words what you have already stated in Section 9. I have been trying to find out exactly what is the difference between the two of them, and I have failed to find it. Perhaps the Minister might explain it.
I think the one fixes the qualifying date for the first register. The one deals with the qualifying date and the other deals with the registers, and it is this clause which definitely says——
So does the other.
I think it does complete it a little. I dare say that the two clauses could be rolled into one and shortened considerably.
One prescribes the franchise, and the other directs the preparation of a register.
Yes; if there is a redundancy, I think 9 is redundant, and not 11.
Deputy O'Brien has an amendment to Sub-clause 2,
I beg to move the following amendment:—"To delete the word `April' in lines 11, 14, and 16, and to substitute the word `January' in each place." The substance of this, or portion of it, was discussed on Section 9, but the main purpose of it is to reduce the time occupied in preparing the register from nine to six months, and I take it that from what the Minister has stated he agrees that the normal time ought to be six months. Seeing that two registers are prepared in the year in Great Britain, there can be do difficulty about it being done in the six months. May I take it that at a later stage the dates will be altered, making it clear that six months will be sufficient?
The amendment in your name is withdrawn?
Motion made and question put—"That Clause 11 stand part of the Bill."
(1) Each administrative county not being a county borough and each University constituency shall be a registration area, and there shall be a registration officer for each registration area.
(2) The Clerk of the Crown and Peace for an administrative county not being a county borough shall be the registration officer for that administrative county, and the Clerk of the Crown and Peace for a county borough shall be the registration officer for that county borough.
(3) The registration officer for a University constituency shall be appointed and paid by the governing body of the University.
I move Clause 12, which simply provides that the Clerk of the Crown and Peace for the borough or county shall be the registration officer, and that in case of a University the governing body of the University shall appoint and pay the registration officer. If I would not be out of order in adverting to a proposal in an amendment that it should not be the Clerk of the Crown and Peace, but some other officer who would be a registration officer, I would point out two things. As far as the register that is at present in preparation is concerned it is already in hands. The machinery is in motion, and it must be the Clerk of the Crown and Peace so far as the present register is concerned. With regard to subsequent registers there will probably be legislation dealing with Clerks of the Crown and Peace from another angle before the time comes for the preparation of a second register. A Judiciary Committee has been set up, and I have no doubt that its recommendations and the legislation and changes that will probably follow from that will result in legislation dealing with the office of the Crown and Peace. Quite possibly that office will be abolished, and some other office with, perhaps, not quite the same functions, or with extended functions, will be substituted. If it should happen that the office of Clerk of the Crown and Peace is abolished, of course under the Constitution and the Treaty the question of compensation will arise. Now, if under this Act we took from the Clerks of the Crown and Peace their duties with regard to the preparations of a register, we would thereby deprive them of a substantial portion of their income, and would immediately raise the question of compensation. I think it is most desirable that that question should not be raised, and that in fact the whole question of compensation, if it arises, should not be raised at present, or complicated by dealing with portion of the duties of a Clerk of the Crown and Peace. I think there can be no doubt at all that changes in the judicial system will bring about great changes, and will bring about the abolition of this office, which is, in many cases, a sinecure, and such that the holder of it could discharge a considerable amount of additional work without putting too great a strain upon him. As the whole question of the position and duties of Clerks of the Crown and Peace are certain to be dealt with before the preparation of the second register comes on it would, I suggest, be well not to make any change or do anything now that would raise the question of compensation.
I beg to move the following amendment:—"To delete Section 12, and to substitute the following:—
(1) An officer styled "The Electoral Officer of Saorstát Eireann" shall be appointed. Such Electoral Officer shall be responsible directly to the Oireachtas for all matters in connection with registration, elections, whether of the Dáil or of the Seanad, or of bodies of local government, the holding of referenda, and all matters connected therewith, and he shall report directly to the Oireachtas whenever instructed or ordered to do so.
(2) The remuneration of no Electoral Officer may be diminished during his continuance in office. Such Electoral Officer shall not be a member of the Oireachtas, nor shall he hold any office or position of emoluments. He shall not be removed except for stated misbehaviour or incapacity, on resolutions passed by Dáil Eireann and Seanad Eireann. The provisions of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, shall apply to such Electoral Officer.
(3) There shall be, and hereby are, transferred to the aforesaid Electoral Officer:—
(a) The functions of the Local Government Board under the Representation of the People Acts in regard to Registration.
(b) The supervision and entire control of Parliamentary and Local Government elections
(c) The function of the Local Government Board in regard to local elections.
(d) The making of rules under Schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, for submission to the Dáil.
(e) The conduct of elections to the Seanad.
(f) The taking of a Referendum.
(4) Each Returning Officer, whether at Parliamentary or Local Government elections, and each Registration Officer shall be appointed by the Electoral Officer, and the said Returning Officer and Registration Officer shall carry out any general or special directions to the Electoral Officer in regard to the conduct of every election and the compiling of every register.
(5) The certificates of the Electoral Officer as to the result of an election to Dáil Eireann, and to Seanad Eireann, and to any local governing body, and of a Referendum, shall be a good and sufficient certificate for all purposes of any election or Referendum.
(6) It shall be the duty of the Electoral Officer to examine and report to the Oireachtas as to whether Initiative Demands, presented to the Oireachtas in accordance with the Constitution, comply in all respects with the law and regulations relating thereto. The Electoral Officer shall have power to make regulations, subject to the approval of the Oireachtas, prescribing the time, place, manner and conditions at and in accordance with which Initiative Demands may be presented.
I followed the Minister's arguments and agreed with the substance of what he said. I have been thinking over this amendment which is in my name, and seeking to find some suitable place where it ought to be inserted. I think the right place is not where it stands at present, because I do conceive, as regards this appointment for reasons which I am prepared to set forth, but will not do until I put this point to you, there are very grave reasons why if such an electoral officer, as I have imagined in this amendment were appointed, he could easily combine the work of Clerk of the Crown and Peace, so that the amendment and the substantive motion are not really in conflict with each other at all. I desire now to ask you whether it would not be better to postpone this amendment, and bring it up between Part 2 and Part 3 as a separate part altogether, dealing purely with the method of administration under the Act without any prejudice whatever to the suitability of the Clerk of the Crown and Peace. I do not think that is the right place for it.
I had not had time to consider this amendment carefully. It is a very long one, but looking through it when the Minister was moving the Clause it seemed to me that there are certain portions of the amendment clearly out of place, and that are out of place at the present stage of the Bill, especially dealing with the returning officer, who comes under the heading of elections in the conduct of elections later on. Therefore, it seems to me that if this special officer is to be appointed he ought not to be appointed here, but at a separate place in the Bill, when the question of registration, and, possibly, also the question of the conduct of elections have been dealt with. The Deputy will have an opportunity of putting down amendments at later stages of the Bill, and he could embody this amendment.
I think that would be much better.
I was going to suggest it could come at the end between "membership of the Senate" and "general."
I give notice that I will move it as an amendment for that place.
Leave is given to Deputy Figgis to withdraw his amendment. There is an amendment standing in the name of Deputy O'Brien.
I intended to move the following amendment:—
"To delete, in Sub-section 2, the words `Clerk of the Crown and Peace for,' lines 29, 32, and 33, and to substitute therefor, in line 29, the words `Secretary to the County Council of,' and in lines 32 and 33 the words `Town Clerk of,' " but in view of what the Minister has stated, I do not propose to move it.
That amendment is also withdrawn.
Motion made and question put—"That Clause 12 stand part of the Bill."
I move Clause 13:—
(1) Any of the duties and powers of the Registration Officer may be performed and exercised by any deputy for the time being approved by the Minister for Local Government, and the provisions of this Act shall apply to any such deputy so far as respects any duties or powers to be performed or exercised by him as it applies to the Registration Officer.
(2) In the event of any vacancy in the office of Registration Officer, or in the event of the Registration Officer's incapacity to act, the powers and duties of the Registration Officer may be exercised and performed by any person temporarily appointed in that behalf by the Minister for Local Government.
(3) This section shall not apply to University constituencies.
May I ask the Minister if we can get an assurance from him that in the Ministries Bill which he has promised there would be a definition of the Minister for Local Government. We have right through this Bill references to offices that do not exist, and I assume that they will be made legal and recognisable by the Ministries Bill.
That is largely the purpose of the Ministries Bill.
Motion made and question put: "That Clause 13 stand part of the Bill.
I beg to move Clause 14:—
(1) It shall be the duty of the Registration Officer to compile the annual register, and to place, or cause to be placed, on the register, in accordance with the rules contained in the First Schedule to this Act, the names of those entitled to vote as Parliamentary electors, or Senatorial electors, or Local Government electors in his registration area, and to comply with any general or special directions which may be given by the Minister for Local Government with respect to the arrangements to be made by the Registration Officer for carrying out his duties as to registration. If a Registration Officer refuses, neglects, or fails without reasonable cause to perform any of his duties in connection with registration, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.
(2) The Minister for Local Government may, by order, prescribe the forms to be used for registration purposes and any fees to be taken in connection therewith, and alter the rules contained in the First Schedule to this Act for the purpose of carrying this Act into full effect, or for carrying into effect any Act for the time being in force amending or affecting this Act.
(3) This section shall not apply to University constituencies.
This clause refers to the rules contained in the Schedule which we will come to later on, and which provide for the elucidation, if it should prove to be necessary, of these rules by further Orders. It also provides for penalty in case of the failure of the registration officer to carry out his duties.
I beg to move the following amendment:—
To omit in sub-section 1, lines 52 and 53, the words "or local government electors."
I beg to move Clause 15:—
(1) Any expenses properly incurred by a registration officer in the performance of his duties in relation to registration, including all proper and reasonable charges for trouble, care and attention in the performance of those duties other than duties which are performed by the registration officer in person (which expenses are in this Act referred to as "registration expenses" shall be paid:—
(a) in the case of an administrative county by the County Council of that county;
(b) in the case of a county borough by the Council of that county borough.
(2) The registration expenses shall be paid in the case of the Council of an administrative county out of the Poor Rate as a county at large charge, and in the case of the Council of a county borough out of the rate or fund out of which the general expenses of the Council are paid, or out of any other rate or fund which the Minister for Local Government may on the application of the Council approve.
(3) The Minister for Finance may frame a scale of registration expenses applicable to all or any class or classes of those expenses, and may alter the scale as and when he thinks fit.
Any expenses incurred by the registration officer of a class to which the scale is applicable shall be taken to be properly incurred if they do not exceed the maximum amount determined by or in accordance with the scale, and so far as they do exceed that amount shall be taken not to have been properly incurred unless the excess is specially sanctioned by the Council and the Minister for Finance either before or after the expenses have been incurred.
If any question arises whether any expenses incurred by the registration officer of a class to which the scale is not applicable have been properly incurred or not, that question shall be referred to the Minister for Local Government, and the desision of the Minister on the question shall be final.
(4) Any fees or other sums received by the registration officer in respect of his duties as such officer, other than sums paid to that officer in respect of his registration expenses, shall be accounted for by that officer and paid to the credit of the fund or rate out of which the expenses of that officer are paid.
(5) There shall be paid out of moneys provided by Oireachtas to the council of any county or borough in aid of the fund or rate out of which any registration expenses are paid by the council in accordance with this Act one-half of the amount so paid by the council.
(6) On request of the registration officer of any registration area for an advance on account of registration expenses the council by which the registration expenses for that area are payable may, if they think fit, make such an advance to such officer of such amount and subject to such conditions as the council may approve, and if such council shall refuse to make to the registration officer any advance, or any part of any advance, for which he shall have made such request as aforesaid, the Minister for Local Government may, on the application of the registration officer, direct the council to make to the registration officer such advance as the Minister aforesaid shall think right, but not exceeding the amount of the advance for which the registration officer shall have made such request as aforesaid and the council shall forthwith make to the registration officer an advance in accordance with such direction.
(7) The Minister for Local Government shall procure all printing required for registration purposes to be done by such persons and at such prices as he shall think proper, and the cost of such printing shall be part of the registration expenses of the registration area, or several registration areas, for the use of which such printing is done, and one-half of the cost of such printing shall be paid out of moneys provided by Oireachtas, and the other half thereof shall be paid by the council by which the registration expenses of which such printing forms part are payable. Provided that any question as to the apportionment between the several registration areas of the cost of any printing which is done for the use of more than one registration area shall be fixed by the Minister for Local Government.
(8) This section shall not apply to University constituencies.
This is a very long Clause. It provides for the continuance of the existing arrangements in regard to financing registration. It proposes to direct the Minister to empower the Council to make advances to a Registration Officer. It also deals with the question of printing. It actually adopts in principle what has been done in practice in regard to printing of a variety of forms. These forms are the same for all areas, and they can be much better done by having the thing centralised.
There is only one point I would like to draw attention to. It is in Sub-section 3 and one or two other following Sections. I would ask the Minister to state his views upon those points. There is no provision made in the Bill as far as I can see where such Orders or scale of registration expenses shall be submitted to the Dáil or laid on the Table in any way. As a matter of fact, there is no provision in the Bill for any Orders of the Departmental Minister to be laid on the Table. That is, perhaps, an omission, but in the case of the scale of expenses it may be alterable as the Minister thinks fit. I think it will be wise to make provision for any such scale to be placed before the Dáil in that form so that it can be discussed if any objection is found to it.
I will undertake to consider the matter. At present the law is that the Treasury frames the scale. I understand that this provision conforms to the law as it exists. I would not like to undertake that a scale like this should be laid on the Table if it has not been done heretofore. If the British practice is that the Treasury frames the scale and that it has not been submitted for Parliamentary sanction, there is probably a reason for that, and I would like to know exactly what that reason is before I would agree to any alteration. I will look into the matter.
In Sub-section 7 provision is made for bearing one half the cost of printing out of monies provided by the Oireachtas. Yet in Sub-section 8 this shall not apply to University constituencies. In several of the preceding Clauses we had this uniformly as a Sub-clause "that this Section shall not apply to University constituencies," and hitherto that reservation was to be commended. Here it creates a grievance. The University is to appoint and pay its Registration Officer, and if this is passed as it at present stands it shall also bear the total cost of printing and be the only constituency subjected to that burden. I suggest that this is merely an oversight which the Minister will hasten to correct.
In Schedule 2, which deals with the Universities, it says that "the expenses of obtaining and printing all forms (other than the register itself) required by the Registration Officer, and all expenses of postage incurred by the Registration Officer in complying with the rules contained or incorporated in this Schedule, shall be paid by the Minister for Finance." In connection with the Universities a compromise of some sort was effected, and, as far as the Universities are concerned, the printing and postage will be paid in full by the Ministry, and other expenses will be paid by the Universities. In the other constitutncies the expenses will be paid half and half. It works out about evenly, I think.
Motion made and question put: "That Clause 15 stand part of the Bill."
"Where an administrative county is divided into Ridings, the Minister for Local Government may, by order, divide the county into a corresponding number of registration areas, and make any adaptations of this Act which may be necessary in consequence of the division, and the Clerk of the Crown and Peace for any Riding shall be Registration Officer for such of those areas as may be directed by the Minister for Local Government."
I believe this clause is necessary because of the fact that Cork County is divided into two Ridings, but there is only one Cork County. The fact that there are two Ridings in Cork makes it necessary. In Tipperary there is a North and a South Riding, but each Riding is an administrative county in itself.
Having regard to what has transpired in Clause 12, I would like to withdraw my amendment, which reads:—"To delete in line 22 the words `Clerk of the Crown and Peace' to the end of the clause, and to substitute the words `Secretary to the County Council of each such Riding shall be the Registration Officer of that Riding.' "
I beg to move Clause 17:—
"Notwithstanding the limit imposed by any statute now in force the salaries of Clerks of the Crown and Peace may be increased by orders made by the Minister for Finance to such extent as shall appear to such Minister to be proper, having regard to the additional duties imposed on those officers by this Act: Provided that the liability of a Clerk of the Crown and Peace to account for sums other than registration expenses received by him as registration officer shall not extend to any increase in salary."
This is necessary because the County Officers and Courts (Ireland) Act, 1877, fixed limits to the salaries of the Clerks of the Crown and Peace, and statutory authority is necessary to provide for payment of registration duties. At the same time that does not in any way interfere with the truth of what I said in regard to the claim that they would have if their position and their ordinary habitual emoluments were interfered with by depriving them of the work and the payment for their registration duties.
We have here another case of a point made by Deputy Johnson a short time ago, and that is with regard to orders made by the Minister for Finance taking effect without the legislature being aware of what those orders might be; that particularly applies to a case such as this, where it affects the expenditure of monies. Orders of this kind should be tabled or circulated in order that the legislature may know what expenditure it is incurring. I do not press the matter now.
My undertaking to look into the matter covers that.
Motion made and question put: "That Clause 17 stand part of the Bill."
I beg to move Clause 18:—
(1) "The governing body of every University forming a University constituency shall, in accordance with the Rules contained in the Second Schedule to this Act, cause a register to be kept in such form as the Minister for Local Government shall direct of persons entitled to vote as Parliamentary electors or as Senatorial electors in the University constituency, and shall make the register available for the purpose of such electors and shall, on the application of any person, allow that person at all reasonable times to inspect and take extracts from the register.
(2) "The register for each University constituency shall be made up in each year to the date for the time being fixed by law in relation to constituencies other than University constituencies as the last day for lodging objections to claimants, and every register made up after the first register prepared under this Act shall come into force on the commencement of the 15th day of April next after the date to which same is to be made up and shall remain in force until the next following 15th day of April.
(3) "The governing body of any such University may direct that a person who, before the passing of this Act, has received a degree at the University but was not entitled to vote in respect thereof shall have no right to be registered unless he makes a claim for the purpose.
(4) "No fee shall be charged by the governing body of any such University in respect of the registration of any person as an elector in the constituency comprising such University."
This Clause provides for the compilation of the University register. Details of the matter will be considered, of course, when we are dealing with the first and second Schedules of this Act. It simply means that the Register is to be compiled at a particular time. Heretofore a register in definite form was frequently not made up in the Universities, and in whatever form it was kept it was made up from time to time and there were no very strict obligations on the Registrar as to the form in which it should be kept. It is necessary, in the present circumstances, that it should be made up to a definite date, and should be done in a certain way, so that the provisions of this law with regard to choice by any person as to whether he shall vote in a University or the constituency in which he resides or holds premises should be complied with.
The Minister will, perhaps, explain why there is a Register of Senatorial electors, in view of the fact that there are not special representatives of Universities in the Seanad, and that the whole Saorstát is the constituency. Is it for the purpose merely of having a Registration Officer, a registration area, and other conveniences of that sort?
It is merely a matter of convenience. Although the whole country is the constituency for Senatorial elections, people must vote in districts. Any person in Ireland who is qualified to vote in a Senatorial election is entitled to do so, but of course the machinery of registration and the machinery of identification must be used, and consequently each person must vote in a constituency in which he is registered to vote for the Parliamentary elections. A person can only be registered once as a Parliamentary elector. If any person is registered in a University he must vote in that University. There will be one register with distinguishing letters indicating whether a man is entitled to vote for the Seanad or not.
I understand that; but I may appear particularly stupid if I say the "explanation" merely repeats the fact which I sought to have explained. There is nothing in the Constitution declaring that for Seanad elections a University graduate is obliged to make his choice. The fact that the Minister contemplates having a University elector on one register is the reason why there shall be the entry of such a voter only on such register. What I wanted to know was why that decision has been made. Is it for greater convenience? If so, what is the greater convenience?
There will be a standard form of register.
For An Dáil?
For An Dáil and An Seanad. There will be one register, and the people who are entitled to vote for the Seanad will have the letter "S", or some letter, added to their names. I take it there would be nothing gained by having a different form of voting for Senatorial elections, or having a person entered on the register in a constituency and marked ineligible for Parliamentary elections and eligible for Senatorial elections, and entered on the University register as eligible to vote for the Dáil, but not for the Seanad elections. I think to alter this would add to the complications, and would not increase the convenience in any way. Undoubtedly many people living outside the country, and not being ordinarily resident, although domiciled and entitled to a University vote, would be compelled to vote in the Senatorial election in the University constituency, and those who chose to vote at all in the University constituency would not be under any hardship, and it probably would prevent confusion to have that system.
I think Deputy Mageunis will probably agree that it is better for his constituents to have the right to vote in this manner, which is certainly more convenient, because if it were otherwise, those who will not live in the constituency will be deprived of the opportunity. It is suggested for the consideration of the Minister, that, perhaps, when he is deciding, the distinguishing mark for the Senatorial Electorate, he will put the word "aged" instead of "S."
Deputy O'Brien's amendment has got to be cleared off the paper. Deputy O'Brien's amendment to Clause 18, I assume, is withdrawn.
Quite so, I am withdrawing that.
(1) An appeal shall lie to the County Court having jurisdiction in the registration area from any decision of the registration officer on any claim or objection which has been considered by him under this Act, or the placing of, or refusal to place, any mark against any name on the register, and rules of court shall be made for the purpose of determining the procedure on any such appeals and for applying and adapting thereto any enactments relating to county courts and the procedure therein:
Provided that except in University constituencies an appeal shall not lie where a claimant or objector has not availed himself of his opportunity, as provided in the First Schedule to this Act, of being heard by the registration officer on the claim or objection, or as to the placing of, or refusing to place, any such mark as aforesaid.
Provided also that in the County Borough of Dublin and in a University constituency and in the administrative County of Dublin the appeal under this section shall not be to the County Court, but shall, in the County Borough of Dublin and in a University constituency, be to the revising barristers for the City of Dublin, and shall in the administrative County of Dublin be to the revising barrister for the County of Dublin.
(2) In any county in which the jurisdiction of the County Court is exercised for the time being by two or more County Court judges, the appeals from the registration officer shall be dealt with by such one of those judges or his assistant judge as may be directed by the Minister for Home Affairs, or shall be distributed amongst those judges and their assistant judges according as may be so directed.
(3) For the purposes of this Act County Court rules, orders, and scales of fees, costs, and charges may be made under sections seventy-nine, eighty-three, and eighty-four of the County Officers and Courts (Ireland) Act, 1877: but the provisions of those sections as to the concurrence of, or certification by County Court judges or the Recorder shall not apply.
(4) An appeal shall lie on any point of law from any decision of the County Court or of a Revising Barrister as the case may be on any such appeal from the registration officer in accordance with rules of the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal, but no appeal shall lie from the decision of the Court of Appeal.
(5) The right of voting of any person whose name is for the time being on the register shall not be prejudiced by any appeal pending under this section, and any vote given in pursuance of that right shall be as good as if no such appeal were pending, and shall not be affected by the subsequent decision of the appeal.
(6) Notice shall be sent to the registration officer in manner provided by rules of court of the decision of the County Court or of a Revising Barrister or of the Court of Appeal on any appeal under this section, and the registration officer shall make such alterations in the register of electors as may be required to give effect to the decision.
(7) On any appeal under this section the registration officer shall be deemed to be a party to the proceedings.
(8) If the Minister for Home Affairs is satisfied on the representation of the judge of any County Court or the Revising Barristers or Barrister of the City or County of Dublin that the judge or Revising Barristers or Barrister is or are unable, owing to the necessity of dealing with appeals under this Act, to transact the business of the court with proper despatch, the Minister, for Home Affairs may appoint a Barrister of at least seven years' standing to act as assistant judge or assistant Revising Barrister as the case may be for such time as the Minister for Home Affairs may direct, and subject to any conditions which he may impose.
Any assistant judge or assistant Revising Barrister so appointed shall have all the powers and privileges and may perform any of the duties of the judge, Revising Barristers or Barrister, whether under this Act or otherwise, to whom he has been appointed assistant.
An assistant judge or assistant Revising Barrister shall be paid out of moneys provided by Oireachtas such remuneration and travelling allowances as may be allowed by the Minister for Finance.
(9) For the purposes of this section the expressions "County Court,""Supreme Court," and "Court of Appeal" shall, until Oireachtas otherwise determines, mean the Courts which, under the enactments in force at the passing of this Act, exercise in the registration area the powers and jurisdictions of a County Court or a Supreme Court or a Court of Appeal respectively, by whatever name or names such Courts may respectively be called.
Clause 19 maintains the existing principle that appeals lie to the County Court from the Registration Officer on questions of law and fact, and that appeals lie further to the Supreme Court on questions of law.
I beg to move:—"To delete, in Sub-sections 2 and 8, the words `Minister for Home Affairs' in lines 22, 49, 54, 55, and 57, and to substitute in each place the words `Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.' " I do not know whether that will be the title of the premier Judge, but the object is clear, I think, and that is, that the officer or person who is responsible for the appointment of the Registration Officers and, I think, of the County Court Judges to act in this matter should not be a political Minister, who is subject to the usual disabilities that a politician is subject to, but that he should be a judicial person, the head of the Judicial system. I think that the alteration that has been made in the transferring of this clause is not an advantage. I think I am right in saying that the Lord Chancellor in the past was the officer responsible for making these appointments but I do not think that the change that is sought to be made from a Judge to the political Minister for Home Affairs is an improvement, and, subject to any arguments that might be adduced by the Minister, I would move the substitution of the words "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court" for "Minister for Home Affairs."
I suggest that this Amendment should be divided, because it is obvious that different considerations apply to the Minister for Home Affairs in Sub-section 2, where he is selecting judges for registration, and in Sub-section 8, where the question is as to the number of judges that are necessary to do the particular work. Perhaps Deputy Johnson would move the amendment to Sub-section 2.
I beg to move the amendment to Sub-section 2 first.
As far as Sub-section tion 2 is concerned, I would be prepared to accept the amendment. I think that when it comes to a matter of dividing the duty between judges that would be a proper matter for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I might say with regard to the change that it was not really the drafters of the Bill who made the change from Lord Chancellor to Minister for Home Affairs. The Lord Chancellor, I think, did this duty, not really as a judge, but as an Executive Officer, and that his duties as an Executive Officer under the Act of 1920 were conferred on the Lord Lieutenant. Then the Minister for Home Affairs inherited from the Lord Lieutenant. However, I would be prepared to accept the amendment as regard Clause 2.
I wonder has the Minister adverted to the discrepancy of nomeclature in Sub-clause 9 and Article 64 of the Constitution. The Sub-clause in question, no doubt, ends with the words "by whatever name or names such Courts may respectively be called." I would suggest that the names given to the Courts in the Constitution under which we act, should take precedence over other names; when an adjustment is to be made the adjustment should operate upon the terminology hitherto in use. You will notice that Article 64 of the Constitution altered the names of the Courts; it is too late to say now unnecessarily altered them.
"The judicial power of the Irish Free State," says this Article, "shall be exercised and justice administered in the public Courts established by Oireachtas by Judges appointed in manner hereinafter provided. These Courts shall comprise Courts of First Instance and a Court of Final Appeal, to be called the Supreme Court. The Courts of First Instance shall include a High Court."
We have altered the names of the Courts. The Supreme Court now under the Irish Constitution means the Court of Appelate Jurisdiction—the Court of Appeal—and High Court is the official title for the High Court of Judicature of First Instance. So I would suggest that Sub-clause 9 might be re-worded at a later stage, so as to give precedence to the new titles of our own Constitution.
I think that would arise when we get to Sub-clause 9.
I thought the Clause was moved as a whole.
No. Deputy Johnson has divided his Amendment, and it has been, I understand, accepted, that in Sub-clause 2, the name of some Judicial Officer should be substituted for the Minister for Home Affairs. I thought that Deputy Magennis was referring to the proposed Amendment.
Yes, I had that in view, because the Chief Justice belongs to the High Court, does he not, in the new terminology, as well as to the Supreme Court?
That requires a prophet. The name of the Judicial Officer to be substituted in Sub-clause 2 will have to be the Head of whatever Court the Administration consider proper.
I take it that the name is not so important. We will consider the name and put in whatever name we think proper, but I accept the substance of the amendment.
On Sub-clause 8 the second part of Deputy Johnson's amendment comes in.
I move, to substitute the words "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court" for "Minister for Home Affairs" in this Sub-Clause. I do not think there is any difference in the principle.
I do not think that either the Amendment or the wording of the Sub-clause itself will meet the case. I am afraid that when this particular Sub-section was being drafted, regard was not had to Article 68 of the Constitution which says "that the duties of the Supreme Court or High Court and all other Courts established in pursuance of this Constitution shall be appointed by the representative of the Crown on the advice of the Executive Council." I am afraid that on the Report stage it will be necessary to move a new sub-section, which will make the appointment by the Governor-General on the advice of the Executive Council "for such time, and subject to such conditions as the Executive Council may advise." However, I will consider the exact wording of the sub-clause. Substantially it will, perhaps, be the Minister for Home Affairs or some officer like that, but the form of the sub-section, I think, will have to be that the appointment will be made by the Governor-General.
I suggest this is really a formal matter, because, although the appointment will be made by the Governor-General, somebody else actually will take the decision—in other words instead of saying he shall be appointed by the Minister for Home Affairs or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the only necessary change of wording required would be, in that case, that it should be done on the advice of one or the other. I do not know whether the Chief Justice is the person who under the Constitution would have to give such advice, but, I think, that being a legal matter, he should attend to it, rather than to place legal matters of that kind under the control of the Executive.
I am afraid you could not accept as a constitutional principle that the Governor-General shall act on the advice of anybody, except on the advice of the Executive Council.
Perhaps that Sub-clause 8 should pass as it stands, with a view to being amended on Report, or does the Minister withdraw it?
I move that it stands because I stand by the substance of it, but the wording will have to be altered on Report.
As a good Constitutionalist I must withdraw the amendment because of the Article in the Constitution.
Now we come to Sub-clause 9.
I think the Minister has accepted what I was suggesting in connection with this sub-clause.
I will look into that matter.
Sub-clause 9 put and agreed to.
That concludes the clauses with which we were to deal to-day.
How far does the Minister intend to go next day?
I do not know what length of notice of amendments has been given, but that is for to-morrow, as I do not propose to go any further with this particular Bill to-day.
The Clerk tells me that a number of amendments have been received for later portions of the Bill, and that they will be printed and in the hands of the Deputies when they receive the Orders of the Day for to-morrow.
I do not know that it would be desirable to go on to-morrow, because there may be other amendments and it is difficult enough to keep track of amendments and to keep things in a businesslike shape, even when we have all possible amendments in print. I do not think it is desirable to go on, if we can avoid it, with a large number of amendments which have not even been circulated in typescript to the Deputies. I would rather say that I would take to the end of Clause 45, or so far as we may get on that road on Friday.
I would like to ask if the Minister has given thought to the question of taking the Schedule referring to a certain portion of the Bill at the close of the discussion on that portion. It would mean if we deferred the discussion of the Schedules until we finished the Bill that we shall be practically going back on the subject matter which we have already discussed and passed over. Would it suit the convenience of the Dáil to discuss the Schedule immediately after dealing with the part of the Bill to which the Schedule has reference?
I would have no objection to that course, but the substance of the Schedules is only dealt with in a cursory way in the Bill. The Schedules give rules in very great detail for dealing with each matter, and I think that a discussion on the principle would hardly be likely to recur on the Schedules, and we would really not be covering the same ground.
I do not like to press the matter, but a little later in the discussion on the Bill it might be considered whether it would facilitate the general business.
If there was a general desire for it I would have no objection, but of course I would have to give the same time for Deputies to put in their notices of motions for Schedules, and I take it that very few Deputies have thought of that at the present stage, and that we cannot decide now on taking the Schedules.
At any rate this Bill is not going to be further proceeded with to-day, and it seems to me the proper thing to do would be for the Minister to state now what business will be taken to-morrow.
There is one question I was anxious to ask as to whether we shall touch upon the Schedules to which reference was made. When we come to these schedules we will not be qualified to deal with them until certain matters are put before us in some decisive form. There are several matters that suggestions have been made in respect to, and the Minister has promised to consider them again on report. I do not know if we can handle these schedules if these matters remain over, and if we do not know what is to be done until we have come to the schedules. I think in this case, and other cases also, it would be a commendable procedure if, having gone through the Bill in Committee, we should, before report, and before we come to the schedules know the decision we have reached. If the Ministry would inform us what its decision is upon these questions, so that we could get them concluded in Committee, and having known clearly what stage the Bill is in, we would be in a better position to come to the schedules which contain very important legislative matters.
I suggest that we should now take up the Amnesty Bill, and the question asked by Deputy Figgis could be answered on the adjournment.
I move the adjournment of the Dáil until 3 o'clock to-morrow. We will then take up the Amnesty (British Military) Bill, and the Comptroller and Auditor-General Bill.
I beg to second.
The Amnesty Bill Committee Stage.
All the stages, I hope, of the Amnesty Bill.
Question:—"That the Dáil do now adjourn."
Put and agreed to.
Dáil adjourned at 6.15 p.m.