May I again ask whether Ministers are prepared to consider the possibility of running one Bill right through before starting on another Bill? I think it will appeal to the Dáil as much more satisfactory if we could pursue one measure right through and keep up the continuity of thought rather than turn on to an entirely different subject on alternate days. I suggest the present arrangement is not so satisfactory, and does not assist the Ministry or the Dáil.
DAIL RESUMES. - BILL PROCEDURE.
We would be prepared to consider that. The Deputy, I think, will realise that in the absence of closure resolutions, which we have not adopted from the beginning, it is rather difficult to arrange a time-table and agenda so as to carry over from one day to another. I have a particular objection, if it can possibly be avoided, to introduce the closure. We have not done so so far. It is almost impossible to regulate Government time between all these Bills unless something of that sort is done. If you put down a Bill for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, sometimes the debate will collapse on a Monday, although one had reasonable anticipation of its lasting over Tuesday and Wednesday. Then if you allot only three days and the debate lasts five it encroaches on the time of another Bill. I will, if the Deputy or any other members of the Dáil wish it, consult with them as to how it might be possible to get over this difficulty. If it is the general opinion that it would be better to take these Bills, as far as possible right through without interrupting them with other business, I will consult with Deputies and with Ceann Comhairle.
I am speaking now of two Bills, the Local Government Bill and the Malicious Injuries Bill, which we have been considering on alternate days. On the Committee Stage of these Bills I do not think there has been any delay inconsistent with their due consideration, and I hope the Minister is not thinking in terms of a closure because of any discussion that has taken place. I suggest it is still within the present Standing Orders, within the option of the Ministry, to say that this Bill we have been discussing to-day shall be taken first on the next day rather than the other Bill.
Personally I am willing to meet the view of the Dáil with regard to these matters.
If my suggestion is adopted, it will facilitate discussion in the Seanad also.
It would necessitate some working out in detail. We did not wish to introduce the closure, and I did not mean to convey that. But without closure one can scarcely regulate the time. If we allow two or three days to a Bill which might last five or six it would interfere with other arrangements, but it may be possible to work these things out in detail and we are prepared to do that.
Is it not more difficult to arrange a time-table in the present circumstances when two Bills are running concurrently?
What I meant, and Ceann Comhairle will bear me out, is the difficulty in regard to the arrangement of the agenda. If we fix a time, say to-day or to-morrow for a Bill, and the discussion suddenly collapses, then we have no further agenda to go on with because the agendas have to be printed a day in advance.
The difficulty, for example, is this. Without consultation with anybody I considered that we would get through this Order Paper to-day, and we have not. We have printed the Order Paper for to-morrow, and we are bound by the Standing Orders to proceed on a printed agenda. If we were to take up this Bill again to-morrow we would have to take it up by general agreement; otherwise we must take up the printed Order Paper, which will contain the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill, and take this Bill on Friday next. Even on Friday we shall have further difficulty, because if any part of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill remains over to-morrow we will only be able to get the Order Paper for Friday out very late, that is to say about noon on Friday.
The main object of an Order Paper or an Agenda is that one wants to know what the amendments are to be, and for that reason they are printed on the paper. Now, you have already printed the amendments to the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill, and also to this Bill, and surely it would save printing and would be economical both from the point of view of printing and of time if, at the bottom of the paper to-morrow, there was a note to say we resume the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill. It would be easy to have a note on the Order Paper indicating the intention of resuming the Committee stage of any Bill on any particular day. That would prevent your losing a day, and that would be complying with the Standing Order, which says that you must have a printed Order Paper, but no Standing Order says that you must have, every day, a paper setting out all over again the amendments which were set out on the Order Paper of the previous day. As I suggest, a note on the Order Paper intimating the intention to resume the Committee Stage of such and such a Bill would be quite sufficient notice to the Dáil as to the business that was going to be taken without printing the amendments all over again. It would mean that you were going to take the unfinished part of the amendments that had already appeared on the Order Paper. Notice that the Committee Stage would be resumed would be notice to everybody that these amendments were going to be taken. What has given rise to some of the confusion is the anxiety on the part of yourself, A Chinn Comhairle, and the Officers of the House and all the Ministers that we should have set out in detail all the amendments that are going to be taken, but I suggest that it is not necessary to do that a second time. It is enough that they should be set out in detail once, then we would know how far we got each day, and we would resume the Committee Stage of this Bill, say on Friday next.
If that is agreeable to the Dáil, well and good. I think the general question should be left to the Committee on Procedure. The particular question is now whether we shall resume the Committee Stage of this Bill to-morrow or take up the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill.
I press the Dáil to take up the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill. I am very anxious to deal with that. It is a very important measure. There are many people suffering who might be relieved if we got that through, and I am sure that it is known to the Dáil that there is nobody to whom we are indebted more than these people who would be relieved by this Bill.
I hope also, on Friday, to be able to give the terms of reference to the Committee which is to deal with personal injuries.
Under these circumstances would it not be the best thing to do to put the recommendations that have been made here to-day into effect in respect of the Criminal and Malicious Injuries Bill to-morrow, and go right through with it from day to day until we have that finished?
I do not think this particular Bill we are on now will take more than one hour to finish. The remaining clauses are mainly non-contentious, and some of the amendments could be accepted in whole and some others in part. It is a matter that could be disposed of very soon. I think if we were to allow a week to elapse before taking it up that would be too long, as the other parts of it would have been forgotten.
What about the schedules?
Half-an-hour would do for the schedules.