The original motion on which amendments arose was: "That the Electoral Bill be received for final consideration." The discussion of certain amendments was adjourned.
ELECTORAL BILL, 1923—REPORT.
What clause did we finish at last time?
We are not taking the matter by clauses. This is the Report Stage of the Bill. On the motion that the Bill be received for final consideration, it is not taken clause by clause. The amendments are taken in the order in which they occur. The last amendments were, I understand, to Clause 20.
Were those disposed of?
Yes; all amendments previous to this were disposed of.
It is not within my recollection what the particular amendment was, but we broke off at the point where the Minister said:—"We will not proceed with this clause, because there are certain disputatious points to be raised."
It was on the point about the return of the fee that that disputation, I think, occurred.
I do not think it is disposed of.
We had it on another day since.
The particular amendment was one that dealt with the return of the fee lodged by a candidate at an election. A debate occurred on that particular amendment, and it was defeated. I think that is what Deputy Johnson has in his mind. In other words there have been two adjournments of the debate on the original motion.
I beg to move the amendment standing in my name— To insert in line 22, after the word "pay," the words, "or a member of a ship's crew."
I hope it will be accepted by the Minister having charge of the Bill. It is only for the purpose of giving sailors and firemen, and those who go to sea the right to vote, by getting their names placed on the postal voters' list. My reason for doing so is that at the last election my attention was drawn to the fact that on the evening before the election nine ships left the North Wall, with an average crew of twenty, and those men were not back in Dublin till three or four days after the election.
They may have voted all the same.
They probably did.
But I want to see that it is done correctly. When my attention was drawn to this by an official of the Union concerned, I stated that at the earliest opportunity I would introduce the matter. I think those seamen who are going away ought to have the right to be included on the postal voters' list. If there was anything of an objectionable nature in the amendment I would not propose it. It is only done in the interests of those men who are ordinarily on the voters' list, but who have to go to sea, and cannot be back for the elections.
I second the amendment.
I am not disposed to accept this amendment. It was felt that it would be very desirable to get rid of postal voting altogether, but that in the case of members of the Defence Force of Saorstát Eireann—especially at the present time—they ought not be deprived of the right of voting, and if they were allowed to vote otherwise than by post we might have the undue influence on the result of an election that the movement of a large garrison into a particular place would have. Consequently, there was no other way of dealing with them than by allowing postal voting. But there could not be any better case made out for the members of a ship's crew than for many other classes of people who might be absent at the time of an election, and who might be unable to vote. The number affected will be so small that we do not think it is desirable to introduce or to extend this principle of postal voting to people other than members of the Defence Forces. The numbers affected can seldom have any influence on the result of an election. There is, as we feel, no logical reason for allowing members, say, of a ship's crew, and not other people, who might be absent from a constituency on business on the day of an election, to vote. It is a matter of very small consequence, but it is opening the door, and would lead to proper demands from further classes to be put on the postal voters' list, with the result that the object we had in view, to abolish postal voting, except for one particular class, would be defeated.
I move Amendment No. 2—"In sub-section 1 to delete all from the word ‘and,' line 22, to the word ‘not,' line 24, and Amendment No. 3—"In sub-section 1, line 24, to delete the words ‘be entitled' and the word ‘to' so that the clause shall read: "Every Dáil or Senatorial elector in any County or Borough constituency who is a member of the defence force of Saorstát Eireann on full pay shall, if he so desires, be entered on the postal voters' list of his constituency."
Are you taking Amendments 2 and 3 together?
Amendment 4 is, I think, consequential.
It is. It reads: "To add after Sub-section 1 the following new Sub-section: ‘The name of every elector in a University constituency shall be entered on the postal voters' list for that constituency." It is for the purpose of preventing other than postal voting in the case of Universities. It would only lead to needless complication, and heretofore, I think, the practice has been practically entirely, if not entirely, postal voting. I beg to move.
I am grateful to the Minister for having accepted this amendment, but I think the words used in the new sub-section are susceptible of a little improvement. There is to be only one voters' list in the University and that one should be a postal voters' list, whereas the wording implies the possibility of another—"The name of every elector in a University constituency shall be entered on the postal voters' list for that constituency." The intention is that there shall be only one voters' list and that a postal voters' list, and that the name of every elector in the University constituency shall be entered on such list. It could be amended by keeping the present words and adding "And there shall be no other list." I suggest that it requires some alteration. It takes the present form because of what was deleted in the last clause. This is dictated by the desire to supply the deficiency set up by the last deletion. I think it was not considered at the time.
Of course the object is clear. If we can get any other thing that would come under the head of a verbal amendment we might perhaps accept it. No doubt can arise out of this clause that the rule in regard to postal voting shall apply, but if we can get something that we can put in as a verbal amendment I would agree to it. However, I think no doubt can arise on the matter.
Do you agree to the amendment now and if a verbal amendment is suggested later it will be accepted if it is to the same effect?
I beg to move Amendment 5:—"In Sub-section (1) (c), line 8, after the word ‘appoint,’ to add the words ‘but the Under-sheriff of any other of those administrative counties shall, if he so desires, be appointed by the returning officer to act as assistant returning officer for the purpose of the execution, in the part of the constituency within the jurisdiction of such Under-sheriff, of any powers and duties of the returning officer other than powers and duties which require to be executed by the returning officer in person, and any question as to the respective rights and obligations of any such returning officer and any such Under-sheriff under this provision shall be determined by the Minister for Local Government, whose determination shall be final.” Where two administrative counties are joined in a single constituency, the choice will have to be made between the Under-sheriffs for the purpose of appointing a returning officer. The object of the amendment is to have the other Under-sheriff appointed to act in his own county as deputy returning officer for such duties as the returning officer may not have to do personally. The Under-sheriff who is not a returning officer will be very useful in his own county because of his knowledge of the topography and the arrangement of the polling district, his acquaintance with people suitable to act as presiding officers and poll clerks, and so forth. It is felt he will be of assistance in getting the election carried out in a smooth and satisfactory manner.
I beg to move Amendment 6—"In Sub-section 2 (b), lines 14 to 16, to delete from the word ‘who,’ line 14, to the word ‘University,’ line 16.” It appears that there is only one Vice-Chancellor and I think he does act, as a matter of fact, as Chairman of the Senate. In any case the phrase which is being struck out had its origin in the notion that there was more than one Vice-Chancellor, whereas there is only one.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (1), line 33, to delete the word "Parliamentary," and to insert in lieu thereof the word "Dáil." It is simply changing the word Parliament to Dáil; it apparently was a slip, and is being reprinted.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (4), line 21, to delete the word "an," and to insert in lieu thereof the words "a Dáil or Senatorial."
I beg to move:—
In Section 27, to delete Sub-section 3. As the rules for Proportional Representation will now apply to all the elections, it means that the choice between the two equal candidates will be made, when there is no other means of making it, by lot. As a matter of fact, the general practice of Returning Officers when they have to give a casting vote is to draw lots. It will, therefore, in practice make no change in what has been done.
I beg to second it.
I beg to move:—
To delete Sub-section (6), and substitute the following:—"A person having charge of a school adjoining or adjacent to, or forming part of a church or a convent or other religious establishment may, within twenty-four hours after receiving notice from the Returning Officer or a candidate of an intention to use such school or any part thereof for the purposes of this Section, object to such use by sending a statement of such objection to the Returning Officer. Any objection made under this Sub-section may, on the application of the Returning Officer, be over-ruled by the Minister for Local Government if he thinks it right so to do, but unless and until such objection is so over-ruled, no part of the school referred to in such objection may be used under this Section by the Returning Officer or any candidate." A considerable amount of discussion took place in regard to Sub-section 6 of Clause 30, and to meet the views put forward in the course of that discussion a new Sub-section has been drafted. It provides that there shall be an appeal by the Returning Officer to the Minister for Local Government, where a school adjacent to, or forming part of a church or convent is being acquired for election purposes. The object is to meet the views put forward, and to meet the difficulties pointed out in the Committee Stage.
I am glad the Minister has put down that amendment, and as far as can be seen it meets the objections raised.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (1), line 14, to add after the word "papers" the word "maliciously." The object is to prevent this clause operating and a fresh poll having to take place because of papers having been accidentally torn or destroyed. It is suggested that sometimes papers do get torn by being shifted about, and it is to prevent an accident of that kind causing a fresh poll that this is put in.
I beg to move in Section 36 to delete Sub-section 1. A new Sub-section will be moved a little later and will include three separate Sections which were in the Bill before.
I beg to move:—
To delete the marginal note: "Liability of Officers for misconduct," and to insert in lieu thereof the following marginal note: "Officers not to act as agents for candidates." It is simply for the purpose of altering the side note.
I beg to second. Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (3), line 36, to delete the letter "(a)" and print lines 36 and 38, inclusive, as a separate Sub-section. This is simply for the purpose of altering the arrangement of the clause.
I beg to second. Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (3), line 39, to delete the letter "(b)" and insert in lieu thereof the number "(4)" and to print lines 39 to 41, inclusive, as a separate Sub-section.
I beg to second. Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (1), line 32, to delete the word "the" before the word "Saorstát."
This is a grammatical amendment.
I beg to move:— In Sub-sections (2) (d), (e) and (f), lines 3 to 10, to delete all from the words "a member of the defence," to the words "of the Dáil," inclusive. This is for the purpose of altering the way in which the clause is put together. Deputy Magennis has pointed out that it was not desirable to put in one list all the disqualifications, undischarged bankrupts and members of the defence forces or of the police force.
I beg to move:—
After Sub-section (2) (g) to insert a new Sub-section:—
"Any member of any local authority who shall have been surcharged, or charged with any sum struck out of the accounts of such local authority by an auditor of Poor Law Unions where the sum so surcharged or charged shall not have been paid.
"(a) Where an appeal is made against such surcharge or charge within one month of the date of the Order of the Court having jurisdiction or the Minister for Local Government upholding such surcharge or charge.
"(b) In any other case, within one month after the day on which such sum was charged or surcharged as the case may be and found due by such person."
Before proceeding with this I would just like to raise a question of order. This introduces what is practically a new principle, and I submit that it is hardly within the spirit at least of the Standing Order to submit this on the Report Stage. The Minister has considered it not at all necessary to re-commit the Bill for consideration in Committee, but this is a clause which would necessitate consideration in Committee, and if it were passed the possibility of amending it ought to be given to the Dáil. I just raise a question as to whether it is in order to move an amendment of this kind raising an entirely new proposition at the Report Stage.
The amendment does not introduce a new principle I think, but it adds to the category of persons who are disqualified from filling a certain position, and just as we have accepted the amendment to increase the class who would be possible voters I think we can accept this amendment as well. It adds a certain class of people to these disqualified but I think pending a more explicit Standing Order than we have at present it is in order.
The purpose of this amendment is practically the same as that of some of the sub-sections of 51. It is for the purpose of keeping the Dáil clear from certain charges that might be laid against it. For instance we are keeping out an undischarged bankrupt because we think that while there may be genuine misfortune and nothing else, still there are people who have defaulted, and it is undesirable, and would not add to the honour or to the reputation of the Dáil, if any undischarged bankrupts should be members of the Assembly.
Now a member of a local authority who misuses or causes to be misused, or mis-spends public money, seems to us to be equally deserving of being put upon this list with the undischarged bankrupt. Up till recently the operations of the surcharge did serve, to some degree, to safeguard the interests of the ratepayer in any particular locality. It prevented the illegal spending of public money. But there are often people, members of public boards, who cannot be made to pay the amount of a surcharge and who know that they cannot really personally be made responsible for the amounts that have been struck out by the Auditor, and are quite regardless of any censure that is implied in the effect of a surcharge. In the past people felt it an honour, sometimes it was regarded as a local honour, to be surcharged. It was regarded as quite in the game to defeat the law, because that was regarded as part of the plan to defeat an alien authority. Now, in the future it would be undesirable, from the public point of view, that that outlook should persist. It would be undesirable that people should regard it as proper to break the law, and proper and commendable to be able to avoid the consequences of breaking the law. The rule for the future should be, if the law is wrong and the central administration is bad, to take the proper steps to alter the law and to improve the central administration, but it is very undesirable that there should be among public representatives, or any section of them, a spirit to defeat and defy the law. We will have to assume in this Assembly, and must assume, that for the future the law will be equitable; that the administration of the law, so far as it concerns the central authority, will be in accordance with the wishes of the Dáil, and will be in accordance with the wishes and desires of the people If that be assumed, and it seems to be the proper thing to assume, then the person who is breaking the law and makes himself responsible for improper payments, and avoids facing his responsibility of paying the amount of the surcharge, should be regarded as one whose public conduct has been contrary to the interests of order, and as one who is equally entitled to be disqualified with, say, an undischarged bankrupt. That is the purpose of this amendment. I do not think that it can be regarded as too severely penal. It cannot be regarded as too drastic, certainly in the case of a person who is conscious that his own goods are not to be seized, and who has made suitable arrangements that nothing of his can be taken possession of, and who, being aware of that immunity, proceeds to spend public money of which he is only trustee, in a way that is improper and illegal.
I beg to second the amendment.
The Minister will find if he reads and understands the Sub-section as it is printed here, that it is completely spoiled. The blemish is a slight one, as it happens to be a full-stop after the word "paid" in the first paragraph of the new sub-section, and the result is that the remainder of the clause is unintelligible. The intention is that where any member of a local authority is surcharged, and where the sum so surcharged or charged shall not have been paid within one month after the date on which the charge is made, or in cases where an appeal is pending but by the full-stop occurring after the word "paid" in the first paragraph (a) and (b) being put in paragraphs, Sub-clause (a) is left absolutely without meaning.
My objection to the clause is of a different character. I object to the new sub-section because it is striking at a body of people that we have a right to assume have gone into local public life with a clean and honest intent, just as the Minister says we have a right to assume that the administration of the law will be honest and clean in intent. It seems to me that the Minister has very little faith in the future public life of this country, because what seems to be dominating his mind is that people are always going to be scheming and conspiring to do dirty things in public administration and legislation. There have been instances, I have no doubt, where local Councillors have done what the Minister suggested, divested themselves of all their property rights and then paid away money which they had no right to pay. But there have been very many more instances where members of public authorities have been surcharged for paying away moneys illegally without intent to do so, and with no deliberate purpose of defrauding or of maladministration. This clause penalises these men. And there have been many other cases where moneys have been paid, and where men have made themselves liable to surcharge for a good public purpose and for the purpose of drawing attention to evils and forcing the Legislature to amend the law. But one of the evils of this proposal is that the Minister himself, who is a political appointment, retains to himself the right to veto the rights of certain citizens to attend this Dáil. It is not right that the Minister who is the nominee of a political body should have in his hands the power of saying that so-and-so because of a certain misdemeanour—if it is assumed to be a misdemeanour—shall not have the right to be elected and take his seat in the Legislature. This amendment retains in the hands of a political Minister a right to prevent a possible opponent taking his seat. He is judge and prosecutor at the same time. That is not a fair position for him to adopt. There is another objection to this clause. It is assumed that the people who will aspire to membership of the Dáil are in a different category from those aspiring to be members of the Seanad, or, alternatively, it is assumed that the character of the Seanad does not matter, because it is not intended that this disability will apply to membership of the Seanad. I think no case has been made out for adding to the number of disabilities. I think that this particular insertion coming so late rather suggests an afterthought determined by certain local events in connection with the Dublin Corporation. Now, it is not desirable, I think, to build up legislation on transient events of that kind, and, where matters of great principle may be involved, to prevent men who are imbued by principle from having a right to take a seat in the legislature. In so doing they are overriding the intention of the Constitution. I would urge that this clause should be withdrawn, and if it is not withdrawn we should not agree to its insertion.
I see one very great weakness in the clause; that is, payments are frequently made which are technically illegal, but for which there is some equitable justification. This clause, if adopted, might have the effect of placing members of the Dáil at the mercy of a Minister who might not choose to exercise fairly his equitable jurisdiction in remitting their surcharges, and for that reason, because I feel there is that weakness in the clause—although from other points of view such a clause is very necessary, and might perhaps be incorporated in law when further reforms have taken place—I am not inclined to press it.
I beg to propose the following amendment:—
To add a new Sub-section before Sub-section (3), line 13:—
"A person shall be incapable of being elected or sitting as a member of Dáil Eireann who is
"(a) A member of the defence force of Saorstát Eireann on full pay; "(b) A member of any police force in Saorstát Eireann on full pay;
"(c) A person either temporarily or permanently in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann unless he is by the terms of his employment expressly permitted to be a member of Dáil Eireann."
This is consequential on the previous amendment. It is simply putting the same matter in a new place.
May I remind the Minister that there is a passage retained here in Sub-section 3 which it was unanimously agreed to delete? The Minister may recollect that he replied very vigorously in refutation of the case set up by Deputy Johnson in favour of another amendment. I took the liberty of pointing out to him that his argument was destructive to this and the President agreed—not publicly, but as I understood from his apparent communication with the Minister. I was under the impression—and I think the Official Report will bear me out—that it was agreed then to give no permission, so that it would thus read: "a person either temporarily or permanently in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann." The proposal to give him permission is just as objectionable as the contrary proposal. My recollection is subject, of course, to correction by the Official Report, which unfortunately I have not got.
I am afraid I do not recollect that.
May objection be raised to this amendment now?
I understood Deputy Magennis to have spoken against it.
No; I, first of all, without either pro or con, reminded the Minister that the passage contained words, as I thought by inadvertence, which the Dáil agreed to omit. If the Minister does not accept that version I would like to speak against the inclusion of these words.
The Dáil did not agree to omit these words. If it did they would not appear. The Deputy can speak against the amendment now.
The Minister on the occasion of our discussing an amendment proposed by Deputy Johnson, gave a great number of reasons why a member of the Civil Service—especially of the higher Civil Service—engaged in an administrative position, should not aspire to Parliamentary honours, because he would have to canvass, and would have to cultivate the favour of some electorate, and in doing so it would be necessary for him to criticise his own official superiors, and either to praise or blame the policy of the Ministry, in whose employment he was at the time. The Minister dilated very effectively upon the evil results of that being allowed, and unless he has changed his mind very considerably in the interval, I presume he sees himself that it is a highly undesirable thing that in the higher Civil Service the possibility should be provided for what would destroy discipline, and might really be conducive to the dislocation of some policy of the Minister.
I think the general substance of the objection made by Deputy Magennis was one that I am in agreement with. I have felt the force of the argument that all grades of the Civil Service, except the very highest, should be able to discharge national duties of being public representatives, but whatever the argument be, either for or against that, the Minister, when the matter was proposed here, brought forward arguments very strongly against the principle. I do not go into that now. I say either it is right or wrong, but surely it must be wrong to allow a rule, which is nevertheless made a rule, to be set aside in one or two specific instances, according to the terms of employment, that a particular Minister might wish to accord to certain members of the Civil Service? That is really what it comes to. It means that, let us say, in a hypothetical case, in the future, there may happen to be a Ministry that desires to get people into the Civil Service, and to let them discharge duties in the Legislature, who could easily make it possible for that to be done—while it is undesirable that it should be done in that form— by allowing their employment to contain a specific clause or a covering letter to that effect. If it is going to be done at all it should be done in a more careful way than allowing the ordinary conditions of a man's employment to allow him to be a member of Dáil Eireann, while excluding all his colleagues from that by right of their office.
I have no objection to this, but I do not know whether I would be prepared to accept an amendment to an amendment to that effect.
There is another side to this picture. There may be a very big body of men who would be technically Civil Servants, who ought to be by the terms of their appointment eligible to become members. It is quite conceivable that we should follow the example of well-governed countries, and allow men or women who may be Civil Servants to become members of the Legislature; to suspend the actual period of their service to become members of the Legislature. That may well be made a condition of the terms of their employment, but the opponents of this sub-section are assuming that this had special reference to individual cases. I would think it is more likely to have reference to a body rather than an individual.
I move Amendment 20 (Section 51): "To add after Sub-section (3) a new Sub-section as follows:—‘This Section shall not come into force until immediately after the dissolution of the present Dáil.'"
Will the Minister give us some reasons?
For instance, members of the Defence Force.
Is it not the intention of the Minister that it should become operative at the moment of the dissolution? I think the words "shall not come into force until immediately after the dissolution of the present Dáil" is an attempt to say that automatically a dissolution of the Dáil brings this into operation.
I think the object of the sub-section is not to bring it into operation, but to suspend its coming into operation.
I move Amendment 21: "To insert in line 21 the word ‘voluntarily' between the word ‘may' and the word ‘resign.'" I do not know if it adds anything very much to the clause.
Does not "may" mean "voluntarily"?
I suppose the question of duress arises.
I move Amendment 22—to add after the word "Dáil," line 22, the words "and such resignation shall take effect immediately upon the same being announced to the Dáil by the Ceann Comhairle." This is for the purpose of meeting a point that was raised in Committee, and on consideration it was felt that it would be the duty of the Ceann Comhairle on receiving a notice which purported to be a notice of resignation to assure himself that it was in fact such a notice.
A point was made in Committee that there should be some proof that the formal resignation had in fact been signed by the member resigning. If the responsibility is thrown upon the Ceann Comhairle he will not make an announcement until he has satisfied himself that the objection is fairly well met.
That would appear to be the intention of this particular amendment.
Would it not be better to say, shall not take effect until the Ceann Comhairle has done this?
That is the same thing.
I move Amendment 23—To delete Sub-section 5 and insert in lieu thereof a sub-section as follows:—"(5) The provisions of this Act and the Schedule hereto regarding the registration of Senatorial Electors shall not apply to the first register prepared under this Act." Before this measure was introduced the preparation of the first register had gone a certain way ahead and it would have been difficult— as it was unnecessary—to carry out the provisions of this Act in regard to Senatorial Elections.
On this question may I raise the point that there may be some economy obtained if we were to make provision that these registers for Senatorial Elections might only be prepared in the years that Senatorial Elections will take place. If it would add to the expense of making up these registers, perhaps that expense might be avoided, except in these three-year periods. I just throw out the idea, but I do not know that there is much in it.
I think it would not, as it is intended simply to distinguish the persons who are entitled to vote at Senatorial Elections by putting a letter opposite their names. I think it would make no difference.
I beg to move Amendment 24:—
"To delete this Section, and to insert a new Section as follows:—
"(1) Where any registration officer, returning officer, clerk or other person having duties in connection with the registration of electors or the conduct of any election refuses, neglects, or fails without reasonable cause to perform his duties in that behalf,. a person aggrieved by such refusal, neglect, or failure shall be entitled to recover by action at law from such person such sum not exceeding one hundred pounds by way of damages as the Court by which such action shall be tried shall consider just.
"(2) Every registration officer, returning officer, presiding officer, clerk or other person having duties in connection with the registration of electors, or the conduct of any election, who is guilty of any wilful or grossly negligent misfeasance or any wilful or grossly negligent act or omission in contravention of this Act shall, in addition to any other liability to which he may be subject, be liable on prosecution by the Minister for Local Government in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction to forfeit to Saorstát Eireann such penal sum not exceeding £100, as the Court before whom such prosecution shall come shall consider just."
This has been introduced for the purpose of incorporating the three sections which have been deleted. It is the one section remaining which imposes penalties. In the second part of it it deals with cases where things go wrong on account of negligence; that is, it deals with a person guilty of any wilful or grossly negligent act in contravention of this Act. That, I think, would cover a person who negligently failed to stamp ballot papers or anything of that nature.
I move Amendment 25, to insert a new section before Section 62, as follows:—
"(1) All rules, regulations, scales of expenses or provisions made or framed by the Minister for Finance or by the Minister for Local Government in pursuance of the powers conferred by Sections 11 (2), 12, 14 and 25 of this Act, shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas forthwith; and unless and until a resolution annulling such rule, regulation, scale of expenses or provision is passed by each House of the Oireachtas within the next subsequent twenty-one days in which either of such Houses has met, such rule, regulation, scale of expenses or provision shall have effect as if enacted in this Act, provided that annulment of any such rule, regulation, scale of expenses or provision shall not prejudice or invalidate anything done thereby or thereunder prior to such annullment."
"(2) Any such rule, regulation, scale of expenses or provision may be revoked or varied as occasion requires."
It provides that rules and scales of expenses shall be laid on the table.
I move Amendment 26: "Rule 5, line 40, to add after the word ‘constituency' the words ‘and so far as they relate to Senatorial Electors, shall together form the register of Senatorial Electors for that constituency.'" The Schedule previously dealt only with the Dáil electors. Of course, they will both come together in the future.
I move Amendment 27: "Rule 6, line 49, to delete the words ‘15th day of September,' and substitute the words ‘29th day of January.'" This is a consequential amendment.
I move Amendment 28: "Rule 7 (c), lines 16 and 17, to delete all from the word ‘any' to the word ‘health' inclusive, and substitute the words ‘any person for the time being exercising the functions of a Superintendent Registrar of Births and Deaths.'" It is just because this matter is not entirely uniform; it may not be the case in future always that the Secretary of the County Board of Health shall be the Superintendent Registrar, and this is to allow for any changes there without upsetting this arrangement.
I move Amendment 29: "Rule 9, lines 46 and 47, to delete the words ‘7th day of October,' and substitute the words ‘26th day of February.'"
I move Amendment 30: "Rule 10, lines 56 and 57, to delete all from the words ‘the claimant' to the words ‘Registrar of,' and substitute the words ‘the name of the claimant is not included in the Electors List, as appearing to be entitled to be registered for that or for.'" This is simply for the purpose of qualifying slightly the phraseology.
I move the following amendments:—
"31. Rule 11, lines 65 and 66, to delete the words ‘14th day of October,' and substitute the words ‘12th day of March.'"
"32. Rule 12, line 72, to delete the words 1st day of October,' and substitute the words ‘19th day of February.' Line 75, to delete the words ‘21st day of October,' and substitute the words ‘26th day of March.'"
"33. Rule 13, line 7, to delete the words ‘21st day of October,' and substitute the words ‘5th day of March.'"
34. Rule 13, lines 10 and 11, to delete the words ‘21st day of October,' and substitute the words ‘26th day of March.'"
These are all amendments altering the dates in consequence of amendment already made.
I move Amendment 35: "Rule 16, lines 21 to 25, to delete from the words ‘any person' to the words ‘that list' inclusive.
I move Amendment 36: "Rule 16, line 29, to add a new paragraph at the end as follows:—‘Any member of the Defence Forces of Saorstát Eireann may, not later than the 26th day of February, give notice to the Registration Officer that he does not desire to have his name entered on the Postal Voters' List.' "
Does "not later than the 26th day of February" mean not later than the 26th day of February in any year, or the 26th day of February, 1923, which is close at hand?
It menas in any year.
Should not the words "in any year" be inserted?
Should the words "in any year" be inserted for greater clearness?
I have no objection, but I think it is not necessary. There is no need to insert it at all, and perhaps it is better not.
I move Amendment 37: "Rule 23, line 20, to add after the word ‘constituency' the words ‘The Registration Officer need not consider any claim under this section received after the 26th day of March.'"
Amendment 38: "Rule 26, line 45, to delete the word ‘April,' and substitute the word ‘June.'"
I move Amendment 39: "Rule 1, lines 27 and 28, to delete all the words from ‘show which persons' to ‘Postal Voters,' and insert in lieu thereof the words ‘record the addresses of every person whose name is entered thereon.'" That is because all University Voters will be Postal Voters in future.
I move Amendment 40:—
"Rule 2, lines 29 to 36, to delete the whole rule and substitute a new rule as follows:—
‘2. (1) For the purposes of the preparation of the first register prepared under this Act the registration officer shall send the prescribed form of claim to each person who appears to him to be entitled to have his name entered on that register.
‘(2) For the purposes of the preparation of each register after the first register prepared under this Act the registration officer shall send the prescribed form of claim to each person who appears to him to be entitled to have his name entered on that register other than and except:
‘(a) Any person whose name is entered on the register then in force, and is shown to the satisfaction of the registration officer to be ordinarily resident and occupying business premises (if any) at the addresses recorded by such person with the registration officer; and
‘(b) any person who has elected not not to be registered in that constituency.
‘(3) It shall be the duty of the registration officer to record any change of address communicated to him by any elector whose name appears on the register for the time being in force.
‘(4) The principal Postmaster in each constituency, other than a University Constituency, shall, at the request of the registration officer of a University Constituency, ascertain and state to such registration officer whether any elector whose name appears on the register for that University Constituency in force on the 15th day of November, is on that day ordinarily resident and occupying business premises (if any) at the addresses recorded by such elector with the registration officer. The statement of a principal Postmaster under this section shall be prima facie evidence of the matters stated therein but the Postmaster shall not be liable to any person for or on account of any inaccuracy in such statement.’”
Amendment 40 was put in in response to the points raised by Deputy Professor Thrift. The purpose is to secure that there shall be as good representation as possible on the University Register every year. In the past, I think, University Registers have not been well revised and the names of people who have long been dead have continued on them. I think that this is about the best that can be done in the circumstances. The Postmasters in each Constituency will certify whether the people whose names are on the register in that constituency continue to reside at the addresses given.
I think the Minister has met my representations very fairly and I am very well satisfied with the way in which he has arranged the matter. There is just one point in which he has not done what I have asked, and that is the insertion of the statement in the form that the applicant is a citizen of Saorstát Eireann. Perhaps he would consider the possibility of putting that in, and if so I should be completely satisfied.
I desire to point out that Sub-section 4 says: "The Postmaster shall ascertain and state." He shall do that, but that gives a duty which he might not be able to discharge unless the University voter is necessarily a citizen within the Saorstát.
Does the Constitution cover that?
The Constitution covers it. There is a part of the amended form in connection with this particular Schedule which we do not feel to be so complete as we desire, so that it will be possible to meet Deputy Thrift's point by an order made by the Minister if necessary.
I move Amendments 41, 42 and 43. Amendment 41. "Rule 3 (b), line 42, to delete the word ‘July and insert in lieu thereof the word ‘November.'"
42. "Rule 3 (c), line 44, to delete the word ‘July' and insert in lieu thereof the word ‘November.'"
43. "Rule 4, line 53, to delete the words ‘21st day of November' and insert in lieu thereof the words ‘1st day of January.'"
These are consequential amendments.
I move Amendment 44: "Rule 4, line 55, to add after the words ‘this Schedule' the following words:—‘and shall also enter in the Electors' Lists the name of every person whose name is entered on the Register then in force, and is shown to the satisfaction of the Registration Officer to be ordinarily resident or occupying business premises at the address recorded by such person with the Registration Officer.' "
This is consequential on the previous amendment, No. 40.
I move Amendment 45:—
"Rule 6, lines 1 to 12, to delete the whole rule, including the marginal note, and insert in lieu thereof a new rule as follows:—
‘The addresses to be recorded on the Electors' Lists and on the register in respect of any person whose name appears in such lists or register shall be:
‘(a) The address at which such person was ordinarily resident on the next previous 15th day of November; and
‘(b) The address of the business premises (if any) as defined by Section 1 of this Act, occupied by such person on the next previous 15th day of November. There shall also be recorded in the Electors' Lists and the Register, opposite the name of each person thereon, the name of every other University constituency in which he is qualified to be an elector.' "
This is to substitute for Rule 6 these new provisions, all of which are consequential on the changes made.
I move Amendment 46: "Rule 8, line 20, to delete the words ‘28th day of September,' and insert in lieu thereof the words ‘29th day of January.'"
I move Amendment 47: "Rule 9, lines 24 to 28, to delete the whole rule, including the marginal note, and insert in lieu thereof the following new rule:—‘9. The registration officer shall send to the registration officer of every other registration area in Saorstát Eireann a copy of so much of every Electors' List and of every register prepared by him as contains the names and addresses of all persons whose recorded addresses are, or either of them is, in such registration area, or (in the case of the registration officer of a University constituency) of all persons who are recorded as being qualified to be electors in such constituency.' " The purpose of this is to prevent duplicate registration.
There is a bracket here with regard to the University constituency which had better be omitted, and say "in such registration area, or, in the case of the registration officer of a University constituency, of all persons who are recorded as being qualified to be electors in such constituency," that is, in such University constituency.
That is right. The brackets will be deleted and the commas inserted.
I move Rule 14, line 49, to delete the figure ‘4,' and insert in lieu thereof the figure ‘3.'"
I move Amendment 49: "Rule 6 (5) (a), line 26, to add the words ‘and the number of votes credited at such count to the lowest candidate is greater than one-third of the quota' after the word ‘candidates.'" That is consequential on the amendment adopted in the Bill which provides that the return of the deposit shall depend on the candidate's having credited to him during the count of the votes only the third of the quota. Consequently it may be necessary to make transfers in certain cases where transfers would otherwise not have been necessary.
I move Amendment 50:—"Rule 7 (2), line 64, to add after the word ‘candidate' the words ‘and the number of votes credited to the lowest candidate is greater than one-third of the quota.'"
I move Amendment 51:—"Rule 9 (3), line 12, to add after the word ‘made' the following words, ‘so long as the number of votes credited to each of the continuing candidates referred to in Rule 9 (2) who are not deemed to be elected is greater than one-third of the quota.'"
I move Amendment 52:—"Rule 53, line 15, to add a new rule as follows: ‘the expression "returning officer" in this Schedule includes any deputy Returning Officer appointed by the Returning Officer with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, for the discharge of any or all of the duties of such returning officer.'" That is simply in the nature of a definition Clause.
I move Amendment 53:—"Form No. 9, line 32, to add the words ‘Note:—These directions to be illustrated by examples of the ballot paper.'"
Would it be in order to point out that the suggestion of the President has not been followed: that is, to make those specimen forms to be filled up with historical names or names that cannot possibly be identified with any of the candidates?
On consideration it seemed that it was not necessary to put entirely fanciful and impossible names and that if the directions of the Note were carried out, that the surname of the actual candidates at the election should not be used on the specimen ballot paper, the difficulty would be met.
That is satisfactory.
Would the Minister not add the words "if the ballot paper as in A, B, C, of Form 8"—to the words "these directions to be illustrated by examples of the ballot paper," where you wish to refer to examples? It is a small matter.
I accept that.
I move:—"Part II.— County Constituencies. To delete the words (page 59),
‘Mayo—The Administrative County of Mayo—nine.'
The county electoral areas of Ballina, Killala and Swinford in the Administrative County of Mayo—four.
The county electoral areas of Castlebar, Claremorris and Westport, in the Administrative County of Mayo—five.’”
When this Bill was before the Dáil a Committee was appointed to consider this particular Schedule 8. A meeting was held, and it was agreed that one or two counties, Galway or Mayo, should be divided into two constituencies. Now, it was not found practicable to divide Galway without disturbing the boundary of the existing electoral areas. In County Mayo it was possible, having regard to the population, to make a division, and I have put the amendment on the paper. Personally I think there is nothing in favour of it. I simply put it down because the majority of the Committee and the Mayo Deputies, who were present, thought it is desirable. In my opinion it would achieve no good result. The constituencies which it would provide would be large and scattered, but I leave it to the Dáil.
After the Minister's enthusiastic espousal of it I second it.
I beg to second it.
The amendment was proposed in a very extraordinary way, and it has been seconded twice.
How many other constituencies, might I ask, are in the same position as Mayo? Have not we Cork and Kerry?
Kerry is not divided and it has 8 or 9 members.
Would it not be well if Deputy Gorey would read the Bill?
There are quite a number of constituencies with 8 members— Donegal, Dublin, and then North Dublin, that is, the City constituency.
How many are there in Cork?
North Cork 3, West Cork 5, and East Cork 5.
Considering that there are other constituencies in the same position as Mayo why pick out Mayo?
I think the only reason why Mayo was picked out was that certain of the local Deputies who were on this Committee desired that it should be divided. As I say, I am unable myself to put forward any good reason for it. On the other hand, I do not want personally to stand up against any local feeling in the matter.
First in reply to Deputy Gorey I wish to point out the reason that convinced us.
I agree with the Deputy, because I think that 4 or 5 to be elected is quite enough. It is too confusing otherwise.
That is the very thing I wish to point out. We thought that 9 would be too large a number on the ballot papers, and that it would confuse the electors. We considered that before we should increase the area we should teach the electors to creep before they walk, to vote on the small areas before they have got a very large area. Besides, in considering a particular constituency itself it is difficult to get men who are known from one end of the place to the other. I think the original intention of those who brought forward Proportional Representation was that you would find a number of men in an area who would all be known. If you put forward nine local men in an area like that the man would not be known over the whole area, and you would have a patchwork election, where each man would be supported by his own area. It was not the original intention of those who urged Proportional Representation at all. I agree with the Minister that in the final counting it would come to the same thing, but let us teach the electors to know what they are doing. They will not know what they are doing if you make the area too large. The Minister for Local Government might go to the electors and say it all boiled down to the one thing, but that is not good enough; let him understand it himself; he would not understand it if the area were too large. I submit he would know all about it if you commence with a moderate area first.
I am with Deputy Sears. It is quite possible that where you are electing nine members you would have 27 or 30 on the ballot papers. It is more a job, I think, for a University man than for an ordinary elector. You want certainly a man of some education at least to make a choice between 27 or 30 candidates. I think nine is too many if you are going to give Proportional Representation effect. What happens is the elector will vote for two or three, and he certainly will not go down to 29 or 30, and the exercise of preference will not get any show at all.
I have no feelings in this matter. I would like to point out that when the Seanad comes to be elected you will have 45 names on the ballot paper, and I think you ought to prepare them for that ordeal.
I think Deputy Sears overlooked the fact that it is a great advantage sometimes for a candidate not to be known over the constituency.
They would know of him.