Before proceeding with the Electoral Bill I wish to say that I gave an undertaking to Deputy Johnson on the day when we were discussing the Comptroller and Auditor-General Bill that I would agree to a Committee to consider the appointment of Comptroller and Auditor-General. On looking into the matter afterwards I found that there were two Committees already in existence dealing with matters affecting the Dáil. One of them was a Committee on Procedure and the other was a Committee on Salaries, and I am in some doubt as to whether it would be advisable to refer the matter to either of these two Committees. I think it would be better if another Committee were appointed to consider this question and in that connection if it were agreeable to the other members of the Dáil, I propose we should select a Committee now and receive the report at the earliest moment, and put the question down for consideration to-morrow, or, at the latest, Tuesday or Wednesday next. As I have already explained, the fact that we have not got at this moment a Comptroller and Auditor-General means that, to some extent, we are operating against the principles of the Constitution. Matters such as that are, perhaps, excusable, having regard to the circumstances of the time. It should not be allowed to continue for any length, however, and, it is only through the courtesy and the co-operation of our bankers that we are in a position to carry on at all without this officer. Every payment made is an extra legal payment and must get the sanction, and has got the sanction of every member of the Executive Council. It will be necessary from that, to have the matter considered and the position regularised, at the earliest possible moment. If the various sections of the Dáil would nominate members, I think a committee of, say, seven might meet after the Dáil adjourns. I do not think the Dáil will sit late and so the committee might meet to-day, and the matter be considered at the earliest possible moment.
APPOINTMENT OF COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR-GENERAL.
I agree with the remarks of the Minister with regard to the urgency of this appointment, and I think the suggestion that he has made for the appointment at once of such a committee and of its earliest possible meeting, commends itself to the Dáil.
There has been a certain quota allotted, I think, to each of the different parties of the Dáil. Might I take it that that quota will stand, and that if I submit names now from what is called the Government side of the Dáil that the other parties would also nominate members, and we can have the committee appointed here now?
I suggest if the Ministry, through the usual channels, make arrangements, we might appoint a committee a little later. We will then have time to give some little consideration to the proposal. I think if your assistants in the back bench would speak to Deputy O'Connell, Deputy Gorey and others, the arrangements could be completed. I suggest it might be deferred to the motion on the adjournment.
Might I suggest that Deputy Gorey or some other member of his party, if agreeable, to the proposal, would consult with Deputy O'Connell with a view to putting forward names for the Committee by half-past four. The Committee might then meet after the Dáil rose and possibly if agreement were reached we might be in a position to make the appointment to-morrow.
If I might intervene again for a moment, I understand the Minister for Local Government yesterday said that he did not intend to proceed with the Electoral Bill this evening. Evidently there was some misunderstanding. I did not know that it would appear on the Order Paper this evening. It was certainly the intention of the Government to put forward the Amnesty Bill this evening. In view of the fact that it is not on the agenda, I take it, it is only by getting the consent of the Dáil, that it can be taken, this evening. It was carried over from yesterday for two reasons, one of which was that a Deputy who had amendments tabled occupied the chair, and, naturally was precluded from putting from the chair matter that might be contentious. Agreement has been reached upon these amendments, and we propose now, with the leave of the Dáil, to take the Amnesty Bill this afternoon in the Committee stage.
To what date is the Electoral Bill postponed?
Yesterday I proposed that the Bill should be postponed until Friday, that is to-morrow, and that we should take up to Clause 45 on that day, if we could get through so much. The only way to prevent the Dáil from being held up, is to fix a time-table, so as to give members time to put in their amendments to any section of the Bill. Then, if we do not reach the particular part of the Bill, to which the amendments refer, they can be carried over. I suggested, yesterday, that we should take up to Clause 45 to-morrow, and that at the next sitting of the Dáil, we might carry on up to the end of the Bill. Then we could begin with the Schedules. It would be desirable if members would put in their amendments, even to the schedules, so that the Government may have an opportunity of considering them, and may be able to determine whether they would accept them, or put in alternative amendments or definitely oppose them. By setting out a time table, even if we have to vary it, members will be induced to send in their amendments, and we would gain time rather than lose it. I suggest that we should take up to Clause 45 to-morrow, and to the end of the Bill on the next day that the Dáil sits, and that we take the first two schedules, the first day after that, that the Bill is before the Dáil. If we can get the amendments up to the end of the two first schedules, we will be able to consider them, and make better progress with the Bill.
Does that mean that to-day we have the Comptroller and Auditor-General Bill and the Amnesty Bill only? We have three pages of amendments on the paper to the Electoral Bill, and why not get ahead with them after finishing the other business? I gather that these amendments are in from the Labour Party and other members and are representative of the various bodies in the Dáil, up to Clause 45. What then is to hinder us, from getting on with this portion of the Electoral Bill before us?
If there is any doubt as to what occurred last night, I can give my record of it, as I was in the chair. Of course, the Orders for to-day were in print before the Dáil rose yesterday, and that is how the amendments to the Electoral Bill appear on the paper to-day. I asked at the rising of the Dáil what business the Government proposed to take to-day, and the Minister for Local Government stated that he would not go on with the Electoral Bill, but proposed to take up to Clause 45 on Friday. "To-morrow," that is, of course, to-day—he said, "we will take the Amnesty Bill and the Comptroller and Auditor-General Bill." Anybody who was present in the Dáil at that time got notice that the Electoral Bill would not be coming on to-day.