I beg to move Clause 44.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - ELECTORAL BILL.
I have received notice from Deputy Duggan that the Minister for External Affairs will move the amendments in his name.
I beg to move in Section 44 to insert new Sub-section as follows:—(1) "Each General Election shall be held on one day only, and such day shall be the same throughout Saorstát Eireann, and shall be not later than thirty days after the dissolution of the Oireachtas, and shall be proclaimed a public holiday."
This amendment embodies part of an amendment I have given notice of, and I support it.
I beg to move in Sub-Section (2) to delete and insert the following Sub-Section:—
(2) (a) The poll, if any, at a general election, shall commence at nine o'clock in the forenoon and be kept open till seven o'clock in the afternoon and no longer.
(b) The poll, if any, at a bye-election, shall commence at eight o'clock in the forenoon and be kept open till eight o'clock in the afternoon and no longer.
The reason for that is that on a public holiday people will be able to vote during ordinary working hours, and this additional hour is not necessary when there is a general election, but as the occasion of a bye-election is not a public holiday, the other hours hold.
Would you not consider nine o'clock in the evening, in the case of a bye-election, suitable, because, for working men, it would be a tremendous advantage? Of course I admit that would entail an additional burden on those employed in the conduct of the polling. The other hour is quite reasonable as regards elections on a general holiday.
This is inserted, and is in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
I support the suggestion made by Deputy Magennis with reference to the new Section (B) of the amendment. It has been found very desirable, particularly with summer time arrangements, that the polling booth should be kept open until nine o'clock at night. The fact that at a general election the polling day will be a general holiday makes that unnecessary. I do not see why at a bye-election the poll should be closed at eight o'clock. It is found difficult in a good many cases, particularly in rural districts where the voters have some distance to go. Although it is presumed they will not have the same distance to travel to the booths now as in the old days, it may still be an undue hardship upon certain voters. I think that the Ministry should reconsider this section and bring it more into agreement with some of the things that were in the original Clause; that is, to enable the candidate, if he so desires, to have the poll extended to nine o'clock in the case of a bye-election.
There is one point to be borne in mind in connection with this portion of the Bill, and it is that whatever staff may be employed is certainly employed at important work which requires some energy, and I question whether you will get a staff to remain twelve hours on inside duty practically the whole of the time and to work satisfactorily if you are going to extend the hours beyond what is laid down, that is, eight to eight. I think, if anything, it is too long, and the extension of an hour is to convenience the ordinary public who have really got 12 hours in the ordinary way to present themselves to vote. I think that is a reasonable length of time to enable that to be done. Everybody knows if it were extended to 12 o'clock there would be people still to poll at 12 o'clock, and who would say: "They might have kept open till 1 o'clock." But, from my own experience of the amount of work handled inside, you would put too much of a task on them if you ask them to work for another hour, during which their wits are as much needed to be alert as in the first hour. Most of them will have to get up between 6 and 7 o'clock in order to get their breakfast, and probably they will have to travel some distance to the polling booths, so that they are actually working at a fairly fast pace from 6 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock at night, and if you extend that to 9 o'clock, I do not think you will get valuable work out of them. People who seek to take advantage of the infirmities of election procedure concentrate upon the last hour or two, and everyone knows there is need in these hours for sharp wits, and if there is an extension when the officials are tired it would not be in the interest of what everyone seems to have in mind, that is, a clear and accurate record. There are few elections—I think that the percentage would not be more than three—which are really affected by a tight poll. I expect it is those tight polls we have in mind here—one side not having the advantage of being able to bring up voters at the last moment, and in very few cases, I think, would the extension of the hour really affect the result of the poll, if that result depended entirely upon bona fide voters. On the other hand, if it be extended, and that there are facilities, by reason of the circumstances, afforded those who wish to poll votes, not bona fide, that would leave the door open to corruption and interference with the correct interpretation of the real voters' intention, and so I do not think, from my experience of it, it would be wise to extend it beyond the ordinary time, and I think, if anything, twelve hours are too long.
The argument which the President has just uttered gives point to the amendment in my name which was down on the last Order sheet, and, subject to correction, I thought it ought to have preceded this amendment. But I would suggest to the Minister who has just spoken that he has in mind Dublin City, and that the argument will not apply to the greater part of the country. It is only after working hours that the labourers are able to go to vote unless special facilities are given. They do not usually vote at breakfast hour, and if they are any distance from polling places they cannot vote during that hour. It is after they have finished their work, after they go home and get their tea, that they go out to vote, and that accounts for the desire to have the hour extended in the evening. The arguments which the Minister has used would lead one to say that there was no way out, but that the poll should open later in the morning, and that the twelve hours should be retained. A still better provision outside the City of Dublin is that sought to be obtained by my amendment—that outside the City of Dublin even the bye-election shall be a holiday in that area. Then you can have 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the long day for the men in the booth would not be a burden. Dublin City must be an exception because of the fact that you propose to divide it into two constituencies, and a bye-election on the north side could not very well entail a public holiday on the south side. I see that that is the difficulty, but in the greater part of the country the argument for a general holiday for a general election applies equally to a bye-election. I do not suppose that anybody wants too many bye-elections. There is a suggestion that a bye-election might be held on a different plan. I am not convinced of its value. I think that the present method is the right one, and the objection the President has raised to the extension of the hours at night can be got over by the acceptance of my amendment to make a bye-election the occasion for a public holiday in the area of that election. I would suggest that the President's influence should be used to secure the acceptance of my amendment, and it would save further discussion.
That matter was considered to-day, and we decided that it would not be in the public interest to have a public holiday in the case of a bye-election. Apart from other considerations, one side of a road might possibly have a holiday and the other might not. You do get a boundary in some place or another, and we can understand a case where a man has ten employees, six being on one side of the road and four on the other. Four men may have a holiday, and say to the others, "We have a holiday, you can go and work." A bye-election has not the importance of a general election. It really scarcely matters who gets elected, and from the point of view of Proportional Representation it is scarcely an indication at all of what you should get. From that point of view I do not regard a bye-election with any degree of importance. It slightly disturbs the various sections constituting the Dáil. Therefore we came to the conclusion, taking the matter into consideration all round, that a bye-election could not be regarded in the same light as a general election, that it would be more of a disturbance and possibly be regarded with a degree of unpopularity. The question arises, who is to be at the loss, and there would be endless disputes. Members opposite generally know what that gives rise to. Some people may say, "We will not under any circumstances pay for that," while others will say "If we are to suffer loss of work we do not want a holiday." Accordingly we came to the conclusion that there was not a good case for a holiday in a bye-election. There may have been cases even in which employers would object to men getting away to vote. I do not know. There may have been objections to people exercising the franchise in that way. But, supposing there were, I think that the general run of employees leave off work at six o'clock in the evening, so that they have two hours to vote. From my experience during the last election in the constituency for which I was elected I think there were from 60 to 80 polling booths in the two counties. I think that the people represented by the members opposite have any advantage, if there is any advantage whatever, to be derived from that.
With regard to the place of the amendments on the Order Paper, if the amendments in Deputy Duggan's name were carried, those of Deputy Johnson would fall. The reverse is not the case. I would suggest, if it is agreed, that the sub-section, as now drafted, should be deleted, and then we can take any amendments Deputy Johnson wishes to propose to A and B as in the Order Paper, and pass them with such other amendments as may be passed. For the moment treat them as a sub-section.
I think we would all agree to delete Sub-section 2.
Then we can take Deputy Duggan's amendment as a substitute for it, and take amendments to that.
Of course there is a difficulty in drafting amendments on the spur of the moment, and, though there are two points of difference, still I think they pretty well hang together, and perhaps a vote on the matter will decide. Our point of view is that the same difficulties that would be met with in having a public holiday in one part of the City of Dublin and no public holiday in another part of the City of Dublin would apply even when we go to the country. There are adjacent rural districts in a constituency—border towns and border districts—where people who would be working outside the constituency would not get off to vote and there will be people who, as a result of the holiday, would lose their day's work. Consequently we think it would give rise to inequity and that it would be undesirable to have a public holiday in a constituency during a bye-election. As to the points whether the time should be extended at a bye-election to 9 o'clock, instead of 8 o'clock in the evening, a Committee that went into the question of corrupt practices, whose report should be circulated to-day, did not deal with the matter at length, but stated in a final paragraph: "As the polling day for a General Election will be a general holiday, we recommend that the hours of pollings should be from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. at all such elections; and in the case of bye-elections and Local Government elections the hours should remain as at present, viz., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m." They did not specifically state that there should be any means of extending the hour until 9 p.m., but I gather that the feeling is that the greatest proportion of personation takes place during the extended hour and that it would give much greater facility and make it much harder to deal with the question of personation if the hour was extended later than 8 p.m. And as the real test will always be at a general election and not at a bye-election, and as a bye-election will in itself be a disturbing factor, from the point of view of Proportional Representation, the balance of gain is in favour of restricting the opportunities for the most prevalent of corrupt practices in connection with election personation, rather than the inconvenience that a certain small number may experience in getting to the poll.
As to the point that was raised by the Minister in regard to the extension of the hour, I would like to ask if he would agree that the same law as at present operates, where there is a demand for the extension of the hour, shall be allowed. I would go, perhaps, so far as to say that where two candidates agree—there may be only two candidates at a bye-election or there may be four or five—at present if one candidate demands it, it must be extended, but I think the same objection to that might be met by saying that where two candidates agree, the hour should be extended in the case of a bye-election.
As far as the Ministry and I were concerned we had not intended to make any alteration in the existing law until the report of this Committee came up. As I say, it is not absolutely explicit in that respect. It certainly says that the hours should be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and does not rule out specifically the possibility of extension. I would undertake to consider that question, seeing that it arises from the report of the Committee, with a view to meeting Deputy Johnson's point, if possible, on the next stage of the Bill.
The amendment in Deputy Duggan's name says, "The poll, if any, at a bye-election shall commence at 8 o'clock in the forenoon and be kept open until 8 o'clock in the afternoon and no longer."
The point about a public holiday in an area where a bye-election is being held is waived.
Yes, in view of what the Minister has said.
Until the next stage.
I undertake to go into that.
Sub-section 2 in the draft is deleted and in the meantime the amendments standing in the name of Deputy Duggan are inserted.
Deputy Johnson withdraws the amendment in his name.
I move Clause 45.
I move Clause 46.
I move that in Clause 46, Sub-section 3, line 57, after the word "Part" to delete "II." and substitute "I." That is merely to correct an error in transcription.
I move Clause 47.
I move Clause 48.
I move Clause 49.
I move Clause 50.
I move Clause 51.
I move amendment No. 5. It is consequential upon changes made earlier.
I move Clause 52. I might say, with regard to this Clause, that we may have to add a proviso, because I do not think it is desirable that any Referendum should be taken until the new Register is complete, and it might be necessary to add a proviso to the end of Clause 52 saying that a Referendum should not be taken until after, say, the 1st of June. That is a matter which struck me this morning.
Is that possible? Can you pass that?
I do not know. It struck me as a difficulty which might arise and I mention it to the Dáil. It is a matter for consideration.
I would suggest that the only way to meet that is by dilatory action, for you are constitutionally bound.
It is a matter for consideration by the Dáil whether it is advisable to have a Referendum made the subject of a public holiday like an election. It will, in fact, mean that you will be prevented from having any Referendum at all, or it will be one of the arguments used against having them, and I suggest that the voting in a case of that sort would be "Yes" or "No." It does not present all the difficulties that are presented when there is an election for candidates. Now, it is not in the Constitution that the Referendum shall be the subject of a public holiday, and bringing it in here makes it the law. I think that it would be found that very strong objection will be made towards the Referendum if it means that it is a public holiday in consequence, and there is that objection generally to the idea of a Referendum. I am of opinion that the Referendum is a rather good safeguard for every section of the community to have, but if it means that you cannot have it without having at the same time a public holiday, it will be quite understood what an amount of criticism there will be urged against having it at all and if you were not to have it at all it might as well not be in the Constitution.
That is a matter for the Ministry; they proposed it and we are not opposing it. We have no very strong feelings on the matter.
The difficulty, I think, is that you might have Referenda very frequently. The desirability would be to have a public holiday if you were only to have a Referendum very occasionally, but we have no guarantee that it might not be a frequent demand. It is a matter which will have to be considered on the Report Stage. The matter might be met in such a way that it could be proclaimed a public holiday without making it absolutely binding to have it so on all occasions. Then, if Referenda were to be thrust upon us very frequently they could be treated in a more casual way. If we are going to have it only rarely the thing might possibly be a solemn occasion.
I move Clause 53. The discussion in connection with this Clause, of course, will come on when we deal with the appropriate Schedule.
Sub-Clause (f) is very heavily attacked. It has very little chance.
Amendment "To delete Sub-Clause (f),” standing in the names of Mr. E. J. Duggan and Cathal O'Shannon, agreed to.
There is another amendment standing in my name. It is for the deletion of (d), (e) and (g), and the reference is to membership of the defence force, police forces or persons either temporarily or permanently in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. I have doubts as to whether the Ministry will be prepared to accept my amendment, but I would urge that they should, in spite of their firmness in refusing the Civic Guard and the other police force the vote. The clause as it stands seems to stigmatise certain sections of the public service as unfitted to be legislators. I do not think that that is very fair. There is one phrase, (g), which seems to me a rather queer insertion, that is, “unless he is by the terms of his employment expressly permitted to be a member of the Dáil.” Now, in a free country it seems to me to be a very queer thing that any man's terms of employment should permit him to be a member of the Dáil, or the Seanad, or of anything else. I think that the only permission that he should require in the ordinary way would be his citizenship. My amendment reads: “A person employed, either temporarily or permanently in the defence force, or the police force, or the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann, if he is by the terms of his employment expressly prohibited from being a member of the Dáil.” That, as a matter of fact, is, I think, the existing provision so far as Civil Servants are concerned, according to an Order in Council of 1910, which prohibits them by the terms of their employment from being members of Parliament, but in practically every country in Europe, with the exception of Great Britain, no attempt is made to keep out all of these public servants from the legislature, and I do not see why they should be kept out in Ireland, except some such provision is made as we make in this amendment standing in my name. I would, therefore, urge the Minister to accept the amendment in lieu of the Sub-sections in the Clause.
Might I suggest a slight amendment of the amendment, more particularly as regards its placing? In the draft Clause there is set out a list of disqualifications, and, as the Deputy has just now stated, it does seem offensive as stigmatising members of the Army, and members of the police forces, to have membership of these forces set out as disqualifications; so I would suggest either of two courses, either to alter—assuming this amendment is adopted—line 49, whereupon, although the sentence becomes somewhat cumbersome, we shall have, "every citizen of Saorstát Eireann without distinction of sex who is of full age, and who is not," and then this—"who is not a person employed either temporarily or permanently in the defence force or police force or Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann." Then will follow a list of disqualifications; in other words, we rescue from the stigma these deserving people. The second way in which it could be done is to allow the Clause to stand as it is, and in Sub-clause 1 remove, as suggested in the amendment, these three from the list of disqualifications, and put it as a new sub-clause, stating that "provided that no person employed etc." It is merely a question of politeness, of having regard to the feelings of those members, not to put them along with imbeciles, bankrupts, and other undeserving members of the community.
I would like to support Deputy O'Shannon by quoting in a little more detail, what he said, from the Constitutions of some other countries, and most of them recent Constitutions:—
Poland.—Soldiers on active service not entitled to vote but may be elected. Officials may vote and be elected, and are given leave of absence, but (except those in central departments) may not be elected for area in which they work. Esthonia.—No restriction. Czecho-Slovakia.— Practically all officials eligible and get automatic leave with pay. No specific reference to soldiers in Constitution. Germany.—Officials and soldiers may be elected and get automatic leave if elected, and also to prepare for the elections. Denmark.—Officials may be elected and get automatic leave. Soldiers not specifically mentioned. France.—Officials may be elected but may not continue in employment. Some high officials not eligible. Switzerland.—Federal employees may not be elected to Federal legislature (Referendum in June, 1922, turned down a constitutional amendment to annul this provision). Norway.— Higher officials in the central offices may not be elected.
We are not arguing in favour of soldiers on active service being allowed to be members of the Legislature nor police officers in full employment. What we are arguing against is that it should be made a disqualification in an Act of Parliament. We say if it is to be a disqualification it ought to be rather a disqualification following upon their employment in a particular office, just as a private employer would say to a man, "When you take service with me it is clear that you are not going to take an active part in political agitation." That is understood on both sides. A man in private employment may well be debarred from entering the Legislature. So it would be in this case. But it should in our view be a condition of employment rather than a statutory disqualification.
Some of the Constitutions referred to, or the quotations used, or the references made by Deputy Johnson, I do not think fully support his own case.
In one case it was mentioned that officials might be elected, but not in the constituencies in which they worked. I take it this might be officials with some sort of local responsibility or perhaps employment. In Switzerland he said that the Federal employees could not be elected to the Federal Parliament. That would support the point of view that the Government is taking. The difference apparently is not in substance at all, at any rate in regard to police or members of the defence force. It is really in regard to the Civil Service. We have in matters like this our own special circumstances, and our own special difficulties, and we know the public and official failings and weaknesses in this country and we have to have regard to our own circumstances in deciding. Apparently other countries decided this matter in various ways and as it suited themselves. To my mind it is much better and will lead to less friction and less trouble in these circumstances if the matter is done by legislation rather than by Departmental Orders. It seems to me that if a man is given a right by law it is vicious to deny him the exercise of that legal right on penalty of dismissal. I think it would be improper for a private employer to make it a condition; it would be an undesirable act and an act that is contrary to any good idea of citizenship that a private individual employed by a private employer should be obliged to pledge himself to abstain from doing things which he is legally entitled to do—obliged to pledge himself against the exercise by him of ordinary acts of citizenship. Now, following that out—private employers will do this and one cannot prevent them, but I think it is undesirable that the State, as an employer, should take that point of view. If the thing is not like this, which is an ordinary act, that is submission to the electors as a representative—if an ordinary act like that is permitted to Civil Servants they should not be denied that right by regulation. As a matter of fact, the only argument, as far as I can see, for doing it by legislation would be in the case of a person who wants it done and does not want to prevent any provision about it by law. The only object I can see in favouring that would be to get the right so far as law is concerned of Civil Servants to be candidates for election. Get that admitted, then it would be very easy, I think, to carry on a considerable agitation in favour of removing tyrannical legislation of the Departments which prevents civil servants going forward as candidates in this country, in a way they were not prevented in other countries. It would seem to me that the suggestion that it is more desirable to have it done by departmental order than by legislation is merely a way of putting in the thin end of the wedge. It seems to me that this is a wedge that is undesirable to let in at all. For that reason I would be opposed to what I regard as the thin end of the wedge. To me it is undesirable that a Civil Servant should be in the position of going out and making his case in public where some matter of Departmental administration is concerned. It is undesirable that a civil servant who might be a good talker, a man with some sort of talent for creating public opinion, should be in a position to threaten to go out and take the field as a politician to try to get perhaps a partially informed public opinion to bear on his Department in an irregular way. For public opinion, in dealing with Departmental things should operate through Parliament and it should operate through the general body of the Members of Parliament. It should not operate by an official of a Department coming out and appealing to the public. Now, it would be almost impossible to prevent an employé in a Department who would go out as a Parliamentary candidate threshing out in detail Departmental administration in public. It would be almost impossible to prevent him taking a line that would really be very prejudicial to the discipline of the Service, and the same treatment in the way of, perhaps, suspension or dismissal, that might very properly be dealt out to him in the ordinary way, could not be dealt out to him if he did it in pursuance of an electoral campaign. You would certainly find that it would be very difficult indeed to justify any sort of disciplinary action in regard to an official for something that he had done or said in the course of a campaign. If any official, either for the body of the Civil Service or for a particular Department, wishes to attract public attention to any specific matter, it is always open to him under this Clause to leave the Civil Service, and once he leaves it—and he can leave it immediately—he is free to come forward and to take his chances at the polls. It certainly should not be open to a Civil Servant to go to the Electorate for any particular matter, or to utter a threat of going before the electors on any particular matter, as a means of getting himself advancement and then be in a position to continue his work in his department, and be immune from, perhaps, any sort of well-deserved disciplinary action because of the fact that anything he had done in pursuit of his electoral campaign would in fact be regarded, to some extent, as privileged. In France, I think I gathered from Deputy Johnson, an official who was elected ceases to be an official. Now, that would get over certain difficulties. To make that a provision would, at least, get over the great evil which would arise if a member of the Civil Service should be elected a member of the Legislature and be free in the Legislature, by casting his vote this way or that, by using his knowledge perhaps, this way or that, to advance himself in the Service. I think it would certainly be a most corrupt thing to allow a Civil Servant to retain his position in the Civil Service—that is, unless he held some sort of a special post in the Civil Service to which for some reason clearly the ordinary rule would not apply—but except in the case of such a special post, it would be a most corrupting thing to allow him to retain his position in the Civil Service and be at the same time a member of the Dáil or the Seanad. To some extent these arguments apply to allowing him while in the Civil Service to come forward for election. It would often happen that a Civil Servant could bring improper pressure to bear by the threat of undertaking an electoral campaign, and in the interest of discipline and efficiency in the Service I think it could not at all be accepted that a Civil Servant can be free to come forward for election to the Oireachtas. If a man who has such ability, so commends himself to any Party that they desire him, under the Proportional Electoral System he will be able to know pretty well what his chances are if he wants to serve the State in a political capacity. He can make his choice and decide to serve the State in a political capacity, but he cannot be allowed to have the thing two ways or, at least, to use the Civil Service as a jumping off plank to get into politics. He must neither have the possibility of threatening a Department with what he will do in a political campaign nor be allowed to carry on his Civil Service duties or encouraged to carry on Civil Service functions in such a way as to gain popularity which would bring him votes at an election, because in certain grades of the Civil Service there would very possibly be a serious danger that a man who had an eye on a political career would lose some of the impartiality and the integrity which we would hope at all times to have in the Civil Service and would carry on his duties in such a way as to be considered a very good fellow by some section of the community who might be organised politically in order to gain their support afterwards at an election. For these reasons. I think it is quite impossible for us to consider accepting the amendment put forward by Deputy Johnson.
The Minister has argued so cogently and so convincingly against making Civil Servants, especially permanent Civil Servants of a higher grade, eligible to contest an election to the Dáil, that it seems to me he ought to eliminate from his own draft the reservation in line 10, page 26 "unless he is by the terms of his employment expressly permitted to be a member of the Dáil." There is no reason that could possibly be given in favour of that reservation that has not been demolished just now most effectually by the Minister in his speech. I need say no more.
There is the further point; that the Minister has argued praccally in favour of making it a condition of employment that never at any time, now or in the future, must a man who enters the Civil Service ever try to enter the Dáil. That is the implication, although in the course of his argument he said that a man could resign from the Service, but if he is willing to resign from the Service then all the evils that are counted up remain. We must bear in mind that we are proposing in this Clause to impose a new penalty upon even present Civil Servants. At present they have the right to proceed as candidates or take their seats, if elected, with this understanding: that as soon as they announce their candidature they are required to resign and sacrifice any pension already earned. Now that is a disqualification; that is a penalty that I do not think should apply, but that is the position to-day. The Ministry want to impose a most stringent obstacle by saying that they must not be allowed; that there is no hope for them if they attempt to enter, and they want to do that in connection with Civil Servants to-day, and henceforward before they enter the Service. They want to bring them to a level which suggests that they are improper and unfit. I think the Minister demolished much more than the case for the amendment. As Deputy Magennis pointed out he has certainly argued cogently against the provision that certain persons who are in the Civil Service may be expressly permitted. We are not suggesting that it is a good thing that Civil Servants should be free to carry on any political propaganda anywhere in any manner, and simply go from their office desks no matter what posts they may occupy, and take part in a political agitation for, perhaps, a particular cause or on a particular departmental grievance. That is not the proposition we are putting forward. We are putting forward the proposition that a man entering the Civil Service should not be stigmatised as somebody unfit to carry through the rights of citizenship. The Minister must bear in mind when he makes the distinction between giving a man the right by law and then removing that right by a condition of service, that it is a much greater evil to give him that right by the Constitution, and then remove it by a legal enactment.
With reference to what Deputy Magennis has said and Deputy Johnson has said, I really think that the qualifying clause in paragraph (g), sub-section 2, ought to be removed. I cannot say exactly what idea was present when it was inserted, but I will consider removing it at the Report Stage.
Will the Minister also be good enough to consider putting those sub-clauses apart so as not to give them the character of disqualification?
I will consider that.
I beg to move Clause 55, which reads:—"Any member of the Dáil may resign his membership thereof by notice in writing to the Speaker of the Dáil."
My amendment reads as follows:—"To delete all words after `thereof,' and to substitute `by notice to the Ceann Comhairle given in writing under the hand of the member and attested by a witness.' " The point in this is that the Clause as it stands is too loose and there is no suggestion of proof in regard to the authenticity of the resignation. It seems to be required that the Ceann Comhairle should know, in some manner at least, that the person who sends in his resignation is the person who was the member of the Dáil, and that should be attested by a witness. Possibly Ministers may think that there should be further provision to ensure that the man is not personated.
I have no objection at all to this. The only thing that occurs to me is that as each member of the Dáil will sign the Roll the Ceann Comhairle will have an opportunity of comparing the signature on the notice of resignation with the signature on the Roll. The witness, I take it, might be anybody and the signature of the witness——
Should be attested.
No; it would mean nothing to the Ceann Comhairle. He could not say who the witness would be. I do not know if it would be worth considering that the resigning members should do it before the Commissioner for Oaths.
Something like that was the intention.
Perhaps you could leave this over for further consideration?
This amendment was moved more or less for the purpose of bringing the matter before the mind of the Minister.
I will consider it.
Amendment withdrawn to be considered on Report Stage.
Perhaps the word "Speaker" might be altered to "Ceann Comhairle" in the Draft.
I beg to move Clause 56.—
"(1) In the case of the death, resignation or disqualification of a member of the Dáil the vacancy thereby occasioned in the Dáil shall be filled by the return of a member in the place of such deceased, resigned, or disqualified member by the electors of the constituency for which the deceased, resigned, or disqualified member had been a member.
(2) The principle of Proportional Representation and the transferable vote shall apply to every election of members to fill more than two such vacancies as are mentioned in this section existing at the same time in the same constituency, but the principle aforesaid shall not apply to any other election to fill any such vacancies or vacancy."
I move the following amendment:—
"To delete Sub-section (2)."
Perhaps the Minister would also consider between now and the Report stage as to whether there should be some provision for obtaining the proof of death, in case of death.
I will consider that.
Deputy Figgis has asked me to postpone the consideration of his amendment to Clause 57. He points out that his proposal is a very important one, which could be put in at any point in the Bill. I take it I have the consent of the Dáil in so doing?
(1) If and whenever the Oireachtas shall be dissolved the Clerk of the Dáil shall immediately upon the issue of the Proclamation summoning a new Oireachtas issue his writ to the returning officer in each constituency named in the Eighth Schedule to this Act directing such returning officer to cause an election to be held of the full number of members of the Dáil to serve in such new Oireachtas for the constituency for which he is returning officer.
(2) If and whenever any vacancy shall occur in the membership of the Dáil by death, resignation or disqualification of a member the Speaker of the Dáil shall as soon as he is directed by the Dáil so to do, direct the Clerk of the Dáil to issue his writ for the election of a member to fill such vacancy, and upon such direction the Clerk of the Dáil shall issue his writ to the returning officer of the constituency in the representation of which the vacancy has occurred directing such returning officer to cause an election to be held of a member of the Dáil to serve in place of the member so dead, resigned, or disqualified.
(3) If at any time there shall be more than one vacancy in the representation of any constituency in the Dáil and the Clerk of the Dáil shall be directed at the one time to issue his writs for the election of members to fill all or more than one of such vacancies the Clerk of the Dáil shall issue only one writ to the returning officer of that constituency and shall by such writ direct him to hold one election to fill all the vacancies mentioned in such writ in the representation of that constituency, and the returning officer shall accordingly hold one election only for the election of members of the Dáil to fill all the vacancies mentioned in such writ.
(4) All writs issued by the Clerk of the Dáil under this section shall be in one or other of the forms contained in Part III. of the Fifth Schedule to this Act.
I beg to move Clause 58.
I beg to move that Section (f) be deleted.
I move Clause 59:—
I move the following amendment:—
"Line 46, To delete the words `and the Local Government.' Lines 48 and 49, to delete all words from `and' in line 48 to `Government' in line 49, inclusive."
I move Clause 60:—
"(1) All the provisions relating to bribery, personation or corrupt practices at elections or to election petitions (other than Local Government elections or Local Government election petitions) which are contained in any statute and were in force on the 23rd day of December, 1920, and have not been repealed by this Act shall apply to Parliamentary elections, Senatorial elections and Referenda held under this Act, and for that purpose all references in such provisions to:—
(a) elections shall be construed as referring to Parliamentary elections, Senatorial elections and Referenda held under this Act;
(b) constituencies shall be construed as referring to the constituencies established by this Act;
(c) returning and other officers, persons, ballot papers and other matters and things shall be construed as referring to the corresponding officers, persons, papers, matters and things acting, used, or done under this Act.”
I move Clause 61:—
I move the following amendments:—
"Sub-section 1—Line 16, to insert before the words `this Act' the words `or under.'
"Sub-section 2—Line 22, before the words `this Act' to insert the words `or under.'
"Sub-Section 3—Line 27, before the words `this Act' to insert the words `or under.'
I beg to move Clause 62. The amendment which will be moved to this is to deal with a slight difficulty which is created by the fact that this Bill removes the qualifying period. Before this Act can finally become law the preparation of the register will possibly have gone to such a stage that any correction by way of including people ordinarily resident in a place on a certain date at a certain residence during the qualifying period may create some difficulty. I do not believe any great number of people will be affected. I do not believe the qualifying period by the investigator and those preparing the list was deemed so very serious; but in case there might be any fair number of people excluded by this means, it might upset the registration procedure by bringing about their inclusion after the date upon which this Bill might become law.
I beg to move to insert after Sub-section 3 a new Sub-section, as follows:—
(4) The first register prepared under this Act shall be completed in accordance with the said Franchise Resolutions, save that the following provisions of this Act shall apply to such first register, that is to say, the provisions relating to:—
(a) The registration of and voting by members of the Defence Force of Saorstát Eireann.
(b) The non-registration of and nonvoting by members of any Police Force.
(c) Voting by Post.
I beg to move Clause Clause 63.
I beg to move in Sub-section 1, line 56, after the words "first register" to insert the words "under the preceding section and the Franchise Resolutions mentioned therein.
I beg to move Clause 64, and with reference to it I should like to say I find it is practically the same in substance as Clause 39, about which there was some discussion on the last day. The difference between the two sections is very slight indeed. If Deputy Fitzgibbon's interpretation of Clause 39 was entirely correct, I do not think there is any difference between them in effect, although they appear different in drafting. They are cast in different ways. This Sub-section (1) of Clause 39 was to carry out an undertaking which I gave to reconsider Section 39, and possibly this will embrace Section 64.
I made a statement in reply to a sort of question from Deputy O'Shannon when we were dealing with Clause 39. When I had gone away, and in order to make sure I did not mislead the Deputy or the Dáil, I looked into the matter to satisfy myself, and I think it may be taken as law that where the words "person aggrieved" come into the Act of Parliament, you need have no fear of the "common informer." It has been decided over and over again that the "common informer" is not the person aggrieved, and therefore the fear that Deputy O'Shannon expressed that this provision would perpetuate the practice of the "common informer" coming in to pursue people for penalties need not be anticipated. It is quite clear under the form of legislation adopted here that no one can bring an action for a penalty except the person who has himself actually suffered loss.
On the occasion when this was before the Dáil I took an opportunity to suggest to the Minister that he should leave in the Clause dealing with wilful misfeasance and draft a new clause dealing with negligence. While I repeat that again on this occasion, I ask him to allow Clause 64 to stand. As regards some of the words, there is a slight difference between this and Sub-section 1 of 39 which resembles it. "Such right of action shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any other remedy or action which may by law lie against any such officer." It is advantageous to retain that.
I take it the Minister's intention is that Clause 64 should be moved and that his undertaking with regard to 39 should be applied to 64.
That is my intention. It may be necessary to have one Clause instead of the two.
Then I would agree not to move my amendment to delete the section.
I beg to move after Clause 64 to add a new Clause before Clause 65, viz.:—"(1) All rules, regulations or provisions made by order of the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Local Government under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas forthwith; and unless and until a resolution annulling such rule, regulation or provision is passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which the Oireachtas has met, the rule, regulation or provision shall have effect as if enacted in this Act.
(2) Any order under this Act may be revoked or varied, as occasion requires, by any subsequent order." This is taken from the existing 1918 Act, except that that Act referred to Orders in Council. It is necessary, I think, and it does not prevent action in an emergency, as the Order is valid unless and until it is nullified by both Houses. I think there was a promise given that some such clause would be accepted—I am not sure.
I promised Deputy Johnson at an earlier stage in the Bill that I would consider the matter. We did go into it and we find that we are agreeable to accept the idea of this amendment—that is, that Orders should be laid upon the table of the Houses of the Oireachtas. But there are a couple of points in connection with the drafting that I would like to look into first. It has been suggested, for instance, that it would be necessary to safeguard the position that some words should be inserted so that annulment should be without prejudice to anything done pursuant to any rule or regulation prior to the annulment. Also some question was raised as to the length of time during which annulment might be possible in view of the fact that, so far as we have the Seanad, the twenty-one days during which it might sit might occupy a very considerable length of time. On the other hand, if it is sufficient to allow twenty-one days to elapse during which one of the Houses is sitting, that is another matter. I undertake to accept the principle of the amendment, subject to consideration of the words, and to bring up a Clause that will meet the various points of view put forward when the report stage of the Bill comes on.
That will satisfy me. I would like to re-state the fact that this particular clause is taken out of the existing Act. The two Houses in England do not always meet concurrently.
It will cover a rather wider range than the existing clause, because that covers Orders in Council. There will be orders issued by the Minister for Finance, and the Minister for Local Government, which will not be equivalent to Orders in Council, but will be orders of a minor character which previously were not tabled.
I understand it will be considered subject to modification, and so I withdraw my amendment.
I beg to move Clause 65.
I beg to move an amendment to delete the words "The Dáil Eireann of the Oireachtas of the Saorstát Eireann" and to substitute the words "Dáil Eireann." These are really verbal amendments to the clause I also move, in the same clause, lines 21 and 22, to delete the words "the Seanad of the Oireachtas of the Saorstát Eireann" and to substitute the words "Seanad Eireann." If I remember correctly, the titles are "Dáil Eireann" and "Seanad Eireann." I do not think anyone can make a mistake about that.
What is going to be done about the word "Parliamentary"? I find on reading the Official Report the point was raised before I raised it. I was under the impression it had been overlooked. It does seem peculiar that Oireachtas represents Parliament, but Parliamentary means Dáil.
I invited Deputy Figgis to make suggestions. He made a suggestion which is the only one that has come in up to the present. It might be accepted if nobody thinks of anything better, but I do not quite like it, however.
I beg to move in Section 65 to delete from the words "the expression" in line 41 to the words "or body" inclusive, on line 47.
I beg to move Clause 66.
I beg to move Clause 67.
Before we pass from this, which is practically the whole of the legislation of this Bill, there was a point raised on the second reading in a speech by Deputy O'Brien which I thought he would deal with in an amendment. We have repealed the "Representation of the Peoples Act," I think, but we have not put in here in this enactment the provision that was in whereby every candidate was allowed free postage on one address to his constituents. That has not been re-enacted, and its absence would mean a deprivation of a very great privilege.
Yes, but there is such an institution as the Treasury, and it wants money. It is not very much, but you are losing a very large amount on the Post Office, and it is the Post Office that will have to bear this. It was not allowed up to the time of the last election and I do not see why candidates should not be able to afford what it costs. It is not very much.
Are we to understand that the provisions of this Act deprive candidates of that privilege which was granted. I cannot point to the exact clause in the Schedule but I was under the impression that the Schedule provided for free postage.
The section is not in the repeal Schedule.
I understood it was.
The particular section that gives free postage is not repealed.
I beg to move as an amendment in Section 67, for the word "Franchise" to substitute the word "Electoral."