The next set are amendments to the Standing Orders which the committee, in the light of their experience of the existing Standing Orders, think desirable. The first four are merely dealing with names to substitute "Dáil Eireann" for "Dáil" throughout; to substitute "Order Paper" for "Agenda," and to substitute "President of the Executive Council" for "President of the Ministry," and to substitute "Official Report of Debates of Dáil Eireann" for the words "Official Report of the Dáil."
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - C.—AMENDMENTS MADE IN THE STANDING ORDERS ADOPTED ON 6TH DECEMBER, 1922.
I am not sure, but there is some confusion between our proposed Amendment No. 3 and Standing Order No. 20. The existing Standing Order 20 provides:—
"If any question be not reached by 3.30 o'clock p.m., the Minister to whom it is addressed shall cause an answer to be provided in the Official Report of the Dáil, unless the Teachta responsible for the question has signified his desire to postpone the question."
Now, it is suggested that these words should be changed to the words "Official Report of the Debates of Dáil Eireann," and that these should be substituted for what was called the "Official Report of the Dáil." Now, when we come to No. 22, we find that we have to substitute the words "Official Report of the Debates of Dáil Eireann" for the words "Report of all Proceeding and Debates." The proposed Standing Order covers the same ground.
Except as regards the title of that particular order.
Amendment No. 3 seems to me to cover the same ground as the proposed Order No. 22, with the exception of the heading.
We can amend No. 22 when we come to it if necessary, either by deleting it or otherwise.
With regard to the description, "Official Report of the debates of Dáil Eireann," would not the word "proceedings" be better than "debates"? There are other things as well as debates.
Oh, no; these are the official reports of the debates. We are at present getting out the "Official Proceedings of Dáil Eireann," which chronicle what happens in the Dáil, and that is the official and legal report of what happens, and is taken from the Clerk's Journal. That is a different thing.
When is it expected that such "Proceedings" will be available for Deputies? I know, of course, your office is working at high pressure. Would it be possible to have them every month?
They are provided every day in England. The votes and proceedings of the Dáil from 9th September to the 6th December have been completed, and are with the printers, and will be ready shortly. When the office has caught up with the Dáil it will be for the Dáil, or a Committee of the Dáil, to consider how often they would like to have these reports of the official proceedings circulated—that is to say, whether they would like to have them every day, which would be very difficult, or weekly or monthly, or otherwise. Those of the Provisional Parliament will be circulated shortly.
On reading Amendment No. 5, I notice its exact sense is that if there was a panel of two Teachtai they could not be called upon to preside in the Dáil. I do not think the Committee quite adverted to that.
I do not think that could be read into the Order. The Order says: "In the case of the absence of the Ceann Comhairle and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Dáil Eireann may, on motion made without notice, appoint a Teachta to act as Ceann Comhairle for the time being." It is obvious the Dáil will do that. The Order again says: "The Ceann Comhairle shall nominate, at the commencement of every session, a panel of not less than two Teachtai, of whom one shall act as temporary Chairman of Committees of the whole Dáil, when requested to do so by the Ceann Comhairle." Is it not assumed there that such Chairman shall act as temporary Chairman of Committees, as well as Chairman of the Dáil, when necessary?
My reading of it is that it is exclusive: that the two Teachtai placed on the Panel can only be called on to preside over the Dáil in Committee, and that when the Ceann Comhairle or the Leas-Cheann Comhairle are absent for any reason, will be necessary to have a motion moved in order to put some one in the chair in the Dáil.
Is that to be distinct from the Dáil in Committee?
I was going to suggest that was the difficulty that arose just before Christmas, when the Leas-Cheann Comhairle was unable to attend here. You may remember that for two consecutive nights, when we were sitting from 3 o'clock to 8.30 p.m., the Ceann Comhairle was in the chair the whole time, without being able to leave for tea or anything else, because there was no rule which enabled anyone to take his place. He was not absent, and, therefore, Standing Order No. 3 did not come into operation. My impression is that when we passed Standing Order No. 3, what we had in our mind was the possibility of the Dáil assembling here and finding neither the Ceann Comhairle or his Deputy on the spot, and of then electing somebody to take the chair, in order to go on with the business. I think it would be well to make provision of the kind that we have been working upon lately without any Standing Order to meet it. This proposed Standing Order does not quite do that. It is entirely for the Dáil to say whether it would be better to let the Ceann Comhairle himself nominate two Deputies who could take the chair temporarily, as the Deputy Nicholls and myself have been doing for half an hour or so in the evenings lately, or whether the Dáil itself should nominate at the beginning of the session, two Teachtai who should act in the case of both the Ceann Comhairle and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle being absent, or in case of the Ceann Comhairle being present and desiring to vacate the chair for half an hour. I do not care who does it, but, I think, it would be more convenient that at the begnning of the Session we should nominate two Teachtai who could be called on temporarily in a case of necessity, rather than that it should be left to the Ceann Comhairle to get up himself in the chair and say he was tired and wanted to go away for half an hour. I think the Dáil itself should appoint someone, and I do not think that duty ought to be imposed upon the Ceann Comhairle. I think he ought to have the right, as he has been permitted lately to have it, to ask someone to take his place. Whether that person should be nominated by the Dáil, or by the Ceann Comhairle himself, I have not endeavoured to form any opinion on it.
Would there be any objection to insert the word "or" after the word "Dáil" in the second last line of the Order?
If the second sentence were to read that "the Ceann Comhairle shall nominate at the commencement of every session a panel of not less than two Teachtai, of whom one shall act as temporary Ceann Comhairle or Chairman of the whole Dáil when requested to do so by the Ceann Comhairle," would that meet the difficulty?
I think it would. If the Dáil assembled, and found no authorised chairman was present, they could then elect some temporary chairman to go on with the business.
In that case I suggest you are making provision twice for the same thing.
Yes; we do not need the first sentence in the Order now. With the suggested change the first sentence appears redundant.
I would think not, because you provide that these two Deputies only act on the request of the Ceann Comhairle. I put the case, that supposing the Ceann Comhairle got a sudden attack of influenza, and were not here, he would not be in the position to make the request. It would then fall on the Dáil itself to elect a chairman to preside over the meeting.
What I am not quite clear about is:—Whether, in the absence of the Ceann Comhairle from the Dáil, he has the right to say that a particular Deputy shall preside. I am not quite clear that he has, even though the Deputy is on the Panel.
As the motion stood it seems clear to me that, when we were dealing with meetings of the Dáil as such, in the absence of the Ceann Comhairle or his Deputies, the Dáil must appoint a substitute. That is certainly the intention as I see it now, and the Panel was to be a sessional arrangement for Committee work. I gather now from Deputy Fitzgibbon that he favours the proposal that the Panel should be formed at the beginning of the session, even for meetings of the Dáil. Whether that is desirable or not I have no particular opinion. Perhaps it might be wiser to leave it as it stands, and, in the absence of the two appointed Deputies, the Dáil itself should appoint a substitute for meetings of the Dáil. In practice it will probably result in the Chairman of the Committee, or at least one of the Panel Teachta, being appointed.
I think it would be very confusing to have two sorts of procedure —one for the Dáil and another for the Dáil in Committee.
They are two different types of cases altogether. We have already agreed to an amendment of this Order, which would enable the Ceann Comhairle to call on his Deputy, or, in the absence of the Deputy, on one or other of the Teachtai on the Panel to preside either in the Dáil or in Committee. That, I think, is agreeable to everybody; but when the Ceann Comhairle or his Deputy are absent the Dáil should itself appoint a substitute, that is the question. If you leave the Order as it has been amended now, it will provide that the Dáil itself will appoint a substitute in the absence of the Ceann Comhairle or his Deputy, but that the Ceann Comhairle will have the power himself when present.
I should like to have the Order read in its amended form.
The Order as amended reads:—"In the case of the absence of the Ceann Comhairle and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Dáil Eireann may, on motion made without notice, appoint a Teachta to act as Ceann Comhairle for the time being. The Ceann Comhairle shall nominate at the commencement of every session a panel of not less than two Teachtai, of whom one shall act as temporary Ceann Comhairle or Chairman of Committees of the whole Dáil, when requested so to do by the Ceann Comhairle."
I do not think there is much to be gained by appointing a panel of two Teachtai at the beginning of the session, or rather of nominating a panel, when you yourself will, on occasion, nominate the Teachta who is to act. I think you are rather restricting your choice, and that it is quite on the cards that the two Teachtai nominated at the beginning of the session may be absent.
Does the Deputy propose that the Ceann Comhairle should have power to put any Deputy he pleases in the chair?
I think it amounts to that; if you nominate a panel at the beginning of the session you have power to put in the chair any Deputy you wish.
That was not the sense of my remark. Does the Deputy object to the panel being reduced to two, or does he object to the nomination by the Ceann Comhairle?
I think two is very small.
It is to be not less than two.
The Deputy must remember there is always the possibility that the Ceann Comhairle may fail to indicate one or other of the panel for some reason or other, and the Order now will leave it to the Dáil to appoint a Chairman without notice. I think that is the intention.
This is provided for in the Constitution. This amendment is to delete Order No. 4.
Order No. 10, to insert after this Order the two following:—
(1) "A motion that Dáil Eireann shall sit later than 8.30 o'clock on any evening may be made without notice and not later than 6.30 o'clock p.m. on the same evening. On Tuesdays and Thursdays this Motion shall be made only by a Minister."
(2) "A motion that Dáil Eireann do adjourn for a period not exceeding two hours may, at any time, be made by permission of the Ceann Comhairle, and without notice."
I was suggesting some time ago that we should adjourn at six o'clock in the evening. If we substitute 6 o'clock for 8.30 it would be more desirable, but I suppose it is out of order to make that suggestion now?
In view of the wording of Standing Order No. 10, I think Deputies generally were more or less satisfied that we should wind up at 6 o'clock. It certainly gives us an opportunity of doing other business. The day is occupied entirely with the Dáil, and there is very limited time for doing other business. I was informed by some of the Deputies that 6 o'clock suited them better than 8.30. I suggest to substitute 6 o'clock. It would mean putting in 6 o'clock in the Standing Orders where 8.30 p.m. occurs at present.
I think that is not advisable. A three-hour day is not sufficient for this kind of work.
What about the bricklayers?
Constituents would be objecting to the work of the bricklayers. It may, of course, be very trying to Ministers, but in any case a three-hour day is not sufficient, and I think it is far better to leave the matter as it stands at present, and if the Ministers find that it is desirable to adjourn the sitting about 6 or 6.30 o'clock, and if there is nothing pressing, well, it might be conceded while the need lasts. But I should expect that there will be quite a good deal of legislation afoot. A number of Bills have been promised, and there are a number more that have not been promised, but that are necessary, and they may take a considerable time for discussion. I would urge that the present arrangements be not altered in the Standing Orders.
We can fairly say to the Deputy's suggestion that the bricklayer is concerned only with getting certain articles presented to his hand by other people. He is not like a Deputy or Minister in this Dáil who may have to consider for an hour or two or three or four in the morning before he starts work the particular method of regulating the bricks he may adopt during the day. It is well known that some subjects that we have under discussion here would, in order to be ready for them, require very much more study than the time spent here permits. That has been my experience.
I think it would be unwise to make an amendment to Standing Order No. 10 without considering Standing Order No. 58. It is only in the later part of the day, and only on two days of the week, that a private member's Bill can be proceeded with, and if we were to make a general Standing Order for adjournment at six o'clock, the effect of that would be practically to wipe out private members' business altogether.
It was not my intention to do that.
Of course I know it was not; but we went through these Orders, and it was on that account I had Order 58 in my mind. You would either have to give private members the whole day on Wednesday or Friday, or else you would have to provide in your Standing Order that Wednesday and Friday would be excepted from the days that we rise at six o'clock. I would suggest to the President that we will get along all right as we have been going. Nobody will endeavour to force Ministers to go on sitting until eight o'clock if they express any real desire to rise earlier. It is always in their power to adjourn at six o'clock if they like. We must guard the rights of private members as much as possible, because there will be a certain amount of private members' business coming on later, and it should not be in the power of the Dáil to shelve private members' business by forcing the Dáil to sit late in order to discharge it. The kind of business brought forward by private members is of such a nature that it only interests a small minority of the population, and if a private member is forced to get up and move that the Dáil sit longer in order to do the private member's business, the result will be that human nature will prevail and we will not do it.
Am I to understand that the President is not pressing that suggestion?
I am not.
There is a point of construction which arises very frequently on Standing Order No. 10. Suppose notice is given that a matter will be raised on the adjournment and the adjournment is proposed at 6 o'clock, can the debate go on until 8.30, or until people are tired of talking, whichever is the earlier, or is it the intention of this Standing Order that the debate shall be restricted to half an hour? I have been interpreting it in that way, and I understand there is some objection to that interpretation. It is a matter of indifference to me, but I would like to have the exact meaning of the Order made clear to everybody.
When I made the suggestion that we adjourn at 6 o'clock, it was my intention that we would regard 6 o'clock as 8.30 o'clock, in accordance with the Standing Order, and that we would discuss a matter for half an hour, no vote being taken after 6 o'clock. That is—the debate will continue for half an hour. There has been no actual insistence on that Order, but that was the intention. I put it to Deputies that it would be quite possible for one, two or three members to hold us here until 9 o'clock, if we took any other construction of it, on almost any subject.
Whatever argument may be used in favour of that rule on Tuesdays and Thursdays it should not prevail on Wednesdays and Fridays.
I take it that if the Government intended to restrict the hours of meeting on the days for Private Members' business or motions, they would have to come to an agreement with the Private Members concerned. They would have to arrange that the rights of Private Members having business down for Wednesday or Friday would not be infringed.
The number of hours must be retained, I would urge, for Private Members' motions.
That does not apply to matters raised on the adjournment.
It would, if a motion for adjournment was moved at 6 o'clock on Wednesday.
It could not be moved before a Private Member's motion. Any business by a Private Member would have to come on before the adjournment could be moved. Therefore, the matter would not arise at all.
I take it, A Chinn Chomhairle, that your point refers to a debate on the adjournment—whether it should be confined to half an hour or extend over the half hour?
I think the practice that has prevailed is a good enough practice. If there is a strong desire on the part of the members to exceed the half-hour, and there is no opposition to it, it might very well be allowed to extend a little longer.
This is merely a verbal alteration, and is intended to improve the English.
AMENDMENT No. 9.
This amendment provides that "Order No. 23 shall end after the word `number,' " the effect of that being to enable any Deputy to ask a supplementary question.
That is a tall order.
It was pointed out at the Committee—and I would like Deputies to be clear about it —that on this rule that we are adopting in the new form, so that any Deputy can ask a supplementary question, there can be no point of order raised on a ruling from the Chair as to the number of supplementary questions or matters of that kind.
Would the Ceann Comhairle have a right to stop an excessive number of supplementaries?
That is the point I am making. The Committee were quite clear about that.
I would like to know the interpretation of Clause 2 of Amendment 15—"Every Teachta present, when his name is called in a division, must record his vote." Does that mean present within the building, or within this particular House?
It means in this particular House.
Some of the Deputies have a fashion of going outside the door when there is a division—one or two in particular—and that is the reason why I would like to have this thing defined.
The meaning is "in this House."
Standing Order 51 provides: "In case of special emergency any Teachta may move that all visitors and Press representatives be excluded from the Dáil, and this shall be done by direction of the Ceann Comhairle, with the assent of a majority of the Teachtai present." The proposed Standing Order suggests that there must be two-thirds of those present voting in favour of the exclusion of visitors and representatives of the Press. The Committee so recommended, but I think it is desirable that we should state the Order which we propose to amend so that Deputies might understand what they are doing.
The Deputy should probably point out that the Constitution itself provides for a two-thirds majority, and the Standing Order, as it originally stood, is in discord with the Constitution.
Order 59, line 2, states: "If any motion by a private Teachta be not passed, or if leave to introduce any Bill be not given." It is quite obvious that a motion might be rejected, and in that case it would be absurd to go on, as the rule provides that a further day shall be fixed for the discussion of the motion.
I wonder would there not need to be a further deletion from the rule, because if leave to introduce a Bill before 8.30 p.m. was definitely refused, it would not be necessary to proceed further.
The amendment would fit in better in this way. "If any motion by a private Teachta be not disposed of before 8.30 p.m., the Dáil shall fix a day for further consideration."
A question arises here. If a notice of motion is on the agenda and that particular item on the agenda has not been arrived at before 8.30, the original proposal provided that that item on the agenda should be brought forward to the next occasion. It is desirable to preserve that.
You will see that that is provided for later.
(At this stage the Ceann Comhairle resumed the chair.)
Is it necessary to leave in the words "leave to introduce any Bill"? A Bill cannot be introduced except by motion. "Motion" would cover that.
The words can be deleted in the Order.
I think so. I was handing in an amendment.
"If any motion by a private Teachta be not disposed of before 8.30 p.m., the Dáil shall fix a day," and so on. Quite so. It is a much better Order now.
Order 64—"The matters which shall be dealt with by Bills shall include all proposals for legislation." The rest of the Order is covered in the Financial Order.
It was thought that Orders 62, 63, and 64 could be put into one Order, as they are now amended.
The object of this Order was to enable the Dáil to have some small debate on a motion for leave to introduce a Bill. We had it here before. The original Order stated that a motion for leave to introduce a Bill shall be decided without amendment or debate. The question arose when some private Bill was moved a few weeks ago, and the first question asked was, "Can anybody lawfully state reasons why the Bill should be moved at all?"
"When a Bill is to be initiated in," instead of "introduced into."
I do not want to object, but I would like to know why "initiate" is used instead of "introduce."
"Initiate," because it begins here in the Dáil. "Introduced" might mean "from the Seanad."
A certain redundancy was noticed in these Orders, and it was suggested that a new Order should be put in in this form. The reference to 77(d) and any further references to 77 which occur arose from the fact that instead of giving a group of things which happen under the present 77, we took them out and put them in their proper place.
"Shall" should also be inserted instead of "may."
I think so.
Order 74 is to meet a point that was already raised in connection with some of the Bills we have been already discussing. I would like Deputies to give it some consideration, because it gives me certain powers.
There is one point, but I take it that it is not very likely to arise. If amendments are proposed on the Fourth Stage and a Bill is recommitted for consideration, for instance, and if the amendments are passed would it be possible to proceed with that stage without having the matter again put on the agenda? This recommittal of a Bill, I take it, will not mean a greater delay than would occur at present.
I think the intention of the Committee was, and I think it should be generally approved, that if an amendment of substance is introduced on the Fourth Stage after discussion in Committee, then whatever time is necessary to insert amendments to that new form should be allowed. It might mean delay, but it is intended that there should be some check upon the bringing forward of important matters on the Fourth Stage This is one of the checks. If there is general agreement, then the usual procedure can be agreed to, and the Standing Orders may be suspended for that particular purpose. It is intended that there should be some check upon the production of substantial amendments on the Fourth Stage of the Bill.
I quite accept what Deputy Johnson has said. It has hitherto frequently happened that what are in fact and in practice substantial amendments are really amendments introduced as a result of discussion, and, perhaps, compromise, in the Committee Stage. They are hardly parallel with what I might consider new amendments.
The Committee considered that. For example, on a Bill to be considered to-morrow, the Minister for Local Government has an amendment down—I think it is to abolish all disqualifications for outdoor relief. That is an important amendment. It was put down by the Minister in response to an agreement in Committee that all disqualification should be removed. In that case if anybody asks for an expression of opinion from the Ceann Comhairle, whether it was a new matter, the Bill would be recommitted. I pointed out to the Committee on Procedure that these Standing Orders mean that any Deputy who asked for that opinion and got it, that it was a new matter or an amendment of substance, would be entitled to claim that the Standing Orders should be put into operation.
The main object, I think, was that when an amendment with substance in it was introduced, the matter comes under the rules of debate of the Dáil, which prevent anyone speaking more than once upon it. When you are discussing the wording of a new section it very often happens that one wants to add a few words to what one has said in an amendment, or to correct something that has been put in. That is more than a verbal explanation, and it is to provide that the rules of debate in Committee shall apply in what is really Committee work—the moving of a new clause or substantial amendment. I do not think it is intended that a great delay should be caused in the consideration of a Bill, and my impression was that it would work like this: A new amendment is introduced; some members suggest we should go into Committee; that is agreed, and when it has been considered on rules governing debate in Committee we should then report at once to the Dáil, and go on with the Fourth Stage in the ordinary way.
I think that was understood. The only thing is that Rule 74 prescribes that when a Bill is returned from the Committee notice shall be given to receive it for final consideration. I was wondering if it might be thought that a new notice would be required.
I think it might. I think we should be quite clear. If an important amendment is introduced on the Fourth stage, and on motion the matter is referred to Committee, discussed in Committee, and passed, the Bill then takes upon itself a form different from that in which it emerged from the ordinary Committee Stage. If members demand it, I think they should be allowed time to bring forward an amendment on the Report Stage, following the rules of Report Stage. I think it would not happen very often. I think it is an exceptional case that would arise; but the liberty ought to be there. If an important amendment is concluded in a new Committee Stage, then the proceedings that are set down for the consideration of the Bill in Committee and on Report ought to apply, except by general leave.
If you wanted to do that, Deputy Johnson's difficulty would be met, if, on the motion to report back to the Dáil, the Dáil was of opinion that we ought not to report back at once, we could report back on the Thursday of the following week or so. That would give the Dáil an opportunity to have complete control over its whole procedure. The point of substance in this amendment is that when new matter was being discussed, we should discuss it under the rules governing Committee Stage. Then, when we move to report that Committee work back to the Dáil, if the Dáil as a whole thought it ought not to be dealt with at once, and that further time should be allowed, it would be within the power of the Dáil so to decide.
This is a very valuable amendment, because we already have had experience of the necessity of being at liberty, even at this final stage, to alter in substantial respects some things left in because of oversight. I would like to suggest that when an amendment, such as is contemplated in this suggestion arises, where a Bill has come from a special Committee, it should not be recommitted to the special Committee, but to a Committee of the whole Dáil. The reason for that is that if the necessity for this amendation has escaped notice until this last stage has been reached, it is something about which it is desirable that the Dáil as a whole should have an opportunity to consider and debate. As regards this further portion that has not yet been touched on: In the case of a Bill returned from the Dáil sitting in Committee, any amendment previously returned shall be in order, it is possible to draft an amendment in such wise that it would defy the wit even of the present distinguished occupant of the Chair to decide that it was an amendment already rejected. I would like to have the words "no amendment or any colourable equivalent of it, in the opinion of the Ceann Comhairle, shall be in order." Just as we have given discretionary power to the Chairman to decide whether or not an amendment moved is one of substance and should be reconsidered, we ought to specifically state that it is for the determination of the Chairman, and that his decision shall be final, as to whether an amendment brought forward is in effect an amendment already disposed of by rejection. Otherwise, unless we give the power of final decision to the Chairman, it would mean a waste of time, and we might have debate upon debate on the matter.
I think he has the power under the Standing Order. The question raised by Deputy Magennis is one upon which I would like to have the opinion of some members of the Committee on Procedure. It is, whether when a Bill is returned from Committee this proposed Standing Order means recommittal to a Special Committee or to the whole Dáil. That point has, I think, been overlooked, and it has to be decided.
I think that is covered by Order 67: It can go to a Special Committee or a Committee of the whole House, as the order for recommittal provides.
That is leaving it to be decided in each particular case?
When the motion to recommit came on, the proposal would be: new matter is being introduced into this Bill, and I propose it would be re-committed to either the Committee that dealt with it already—which of course would hang it up—or to a Committee of the whole House, when we could all debate the new matter.
That is why I would like it to be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House on every occasion, and not recommit it to a special Committee.
The recommittal is mandatory, I would like to point out. "The Bill shall be recommitted"—not on motion made. A motion to recommit could be defeated. The Standing Order contemplates compulsory recommittal.
Shall we put in "to a Committee of the whole House?" It would be the most expeditious way.
It would be obviously the right thing to do, because the Bill was being considered in the whole Dáil.
It might have been returned from a Special Committee.
Deputy Fitzgibbon points out in support of my contention that at this stage it is now before the Dáil. Is it not desirable to keep it before the whole Dáil?
There might be certain classes of Bills that it would be desirable to send for Committee consideration, not of the whole Dáil, but of the Special Committee once again.
If we said that the Bill should be recommitted to the Special Committee, or to the Committee of the whole Dáil, as may be decided by the Dáil?
I do think it would be better, in spite of what the Minister for Local Government said, that it be provided that the Bill shall be re-committed to the whole Dáil for this reason; obviously the new amendment would be brought up for consideration by the whole Dáil, and not by the Special Committee, because it is moved in the whole Dáil. Presumably it is an amendment of a kind that the whole Dáil would be considered a proper tribunal to deal with. It would save time, and it is difficult to conceive circumstances under which, after a Bill had been thrashed out in a Special Committee and had come up on the Fourth Stage, it would be necessary to send back to the Special Committee for consideration an amendment that had been brought along in the First Stage.
As against that the Special Committee has had the whole discussion, and would understand better what change had taken place in the balance of the Bill, and the effect of the new amendment on certain preceding clauses. That may be better discussed in the Special Committee than in the Committee of the whole Dáil. I think it should be left open for the Dáil to decide whether it should be re-committed to the Special Committee or discussed by the Dáil in Committee.
On consideration of the new Order as it stands without amendment, it seems to me it would be open to re-commit the Bill either to a Special Committee or a Committee of the whole Dáil, as decided by the Dáil. That is the effect of the Order as it stands, because, speaking from the point of view of the Chair, if we decide the Bill is to be re-committed, it would have to be left to the Dáil whether to re-commit the Bill to a Special Committee or a Committee of the whole Dáil. I think that is so.
Does not Order 66 cover that?
What about the grammer of it? Instead of "such section or sections as are affected," I would suggest "such section or sections as, in the opinion of the Ceann Comhairle, the amendment affects." That meets all the requirements.
Deputy Magennis's point is covered in the rule as it stands. I think "are affected" seems to me much better. I think the point raised by Deputy Magennis is covered by the Order as it stands.
I have a difficulty with regard to 33. It may be because I have not been studying the Standing Orders with sufficient closeness. "Any Bill not enacted within the Session then current." Now, that description would cover a Bill which had left the Dáil, or was about to leave the Dáil, for consideration by the Seanad, and it is to be carried over in any incompleted stage to the next Session. It really comes under a new category altogether. I think what the framers of the Order intended is that any Bill which is incomplete may be carried over in such stage of completion as has been reached to the next Session.
Any Bill which has not passed through all its stages?
"Not disposed of," because otherwise we would be in the same difficulty as we were with motions not passed, because a Bill that was rejected would be a Bill that was not passed. "Any Bill" not disposed of "within the Session then current."
The suggestion is to delete the word "enacted" and put in "disposed of."
Supposing there is an election in the interval, that case ought to be met.
The Session is a Session of the existing Parliament.
There might be quite a meritorious Bill not affecting politics at all. Would it not be a reasonable thing that it should continue in the new Dáil after the general election? Of course if a general election changes the complexion of the Dáil the new Dáil might hurl out any Bill which is carried over, partially completed, but the object of this rule was to prevent the necessity of going through all the stages again, even in a new Parliament, of a Bill that had gone a fair distance or one that had come to an untimely end. The new Dáil will have full control over any legislation that comes before it.
Can we bind the new Dáil to accept any Standing Order of this kind?
Yes; I think so. Those are Standing Orders for all time until they are repealed, or if they are not, they can be re-enacted at the beginning of the next Session.
81A comes from consideration of a matter that was raised, and which it was promised, would be considered by the Committee on Procedure.
Perhaps it would be well to explain the purpose of this suggestion—81B. It is that there shall be appointed a Committee at the beginning of the Session which shall have the duty thrust upon it of examining the Orders laid upon the Table of the Dáil in accordance with the provisions of Acts of Parliament, and that it shall report, if it thinks well, to the Dáil on the matter.
At present Orders are laid upon the Table, and, of course, it is optional for every Deputy, one might even go so far as to say that it is the duty of every Deputy to examine these Orders and compare them, and see what they connote and see whether they are within the bounds or intentions of the legislature. Deputies do not, and never will do that, and cannot be expected to do it. But if a Committee is set up which shall consider it its duty to examine these Orders, and report on them if necessary, I think it will be found that the future legislation would admit with more readiness a provision that Regulations might be made by Order than if there were no such Committee. The Committee on Procedure consider that a Committee of this kind, having such a duty, would help to facilitate the business, and would prevent motions, perhaps, being brought forward by individual members objecting to certain regulations simply because they did not understand them. If a committee of this kind were appointed it would be able to find out the meaning of such regulations and orders, and probably would save a good deal of time for the Dail, which otherwise would be wasted by private members initiating debates on matters which they did not thoroughly understand. I think the proposal is a wise one, and will add to the business procedure of the Dáil.
I was just wondering what was meant by the expression "shall be made available for discussion in the Dáil." Does it mean that every such report shall be printed and circulated to members of the Dáil?
It does, I think.
I think perhaps it would be well to be specific in the matter.
I am very sorry that, so far as I understand this motion, and it has been recommended by Deputy Johnson, it seems to me to make for a waste rather than for an economy of time. Observe what is to happen. In accordance with some Statute, an Order is laid upon the Table of the Dáil. Unless objected to and defeated by a specific resolution, within 21 days it becomes operative. Now, here a machine is created by which a Committee of a number not decided, and constituted in a way not determined, is to submit this Order to critical examination and to report upon it, and that report is to be circulated and become itself in turn a subject for debate. Now we will assume that there is a majority and a minority report possible in this matter. Each of the reports, of course, is to be circulated, and a debate upon these—why, this is simply multiplying work. Deputy Johnson said that it was the duty of every member to make himself acquainted with the documents laid upon the Table of the Dáil. I cordially agree, but a moment later he said—perhaps this is captious criticism—that the ordinary member could not be expected to do that, that is, he cannot be expected to do what is his plain duty in the matter, and because he cannot be expected to discharge the duty that is plainly incumbent on him, a Committee must be appointed beforehand which is to make up his mind for him, or to assist him in making up his mind in the matter. I suggest, with all respect, that this is merely creating new opportunities for debate. It is certainly taking away the liberty of spontaniety of criticism from individuals, because if a Committee on which Deputy Johnson and Deputy Fitzgibbon, for example, and others of whom I might name, constituted of membership of that type, were to report against a rule, and that an individual member like me should have to be guilty of the temerity of setting up his judgment against it, he would incur the odium of wasting the time of the Dáil by a calling in question their report. I suggest that the Standing Orders are much better without this incumbrance.
The Deputy has assumed that the Standing Order makes it incumbent on that Committee to make a report. It does not. They shall, if they consider it necessary, report. Every member of the Dáil is supposed to be conversant with every law, but, of course, we depute to specialists the responsibility of undertaking the duties which are imposed as a matter of fact on every citizen. We are presumed to know the law. In that sense I say it is the duty of every Deputy to understand every clause of every Bill brought before us, and also to understand the implications of every Order laid upon the Table for the information of Deputies. But while that may be the nominal duty, we know as a matter of practice that it is outside the bounds of possibility, and, because of that, we make provision for the appointment of Special Committees to examine special Bills. Every Deputy is supposed to have equal knowledge upon every subject. There may be very conscientious Deputies, who would want to examine every Bill or Order that is laid upon the Table, and we know from experience that we may think we have got hold of very important defects, and we take the opportunity of raising the question within twenty-one days before the Dáil, and promote a discussion upon it, and inveigle another half-dozen Deputies to take part in the discussion. All that may be saved if a Committee were in existence that could examine such a matter and have a right to call upon an expert from the Department concerned to explain. I am confident that such a provision would save the time of the Dáil and not waste it, and probably would facilitate legislation in matters of detail by allowing what, probably, Deputy Professor Magennis will not approve of, certain kinds of legislation to be done by Order. I can see the possibility of this method of legislation developing in this country, just as it has developed in England during these last few years. There are advantages in it, but only so far as these advantages are under the control of the Dáil and under direct control. I think if the responsibility for examining these Orders is thrown on every individual member indiscriminately, the check that should be applied will probably not be applied, but if a Committee has the duty thrust upon it of examining such Orders we may feel more security in allowing that kind of legislation. That is the intention of the proposed Standing Order.
I think that the proposal either goes too far or does not go far enough because I consider that to be effective it ought to provide that all these Orders and Regulations and documents ought not to be put on the Table of the Dáil but ought to be sent to the Committee; because I cannot see myself, assuming that I was on that Committee, coming here half an hour or an hour earlier every day in order to grope about the Table to see what papers had been put there since the night before Some means ought to be provided for bringing to the notice of the Committee the fact that these Orders had been made, because otherwise the Committee will come here one at a time and some of them may forget to come, and unless we make provision for this Committee to meet every day, or for the Orders to be sent direct to it, in the first instance, I do not think it will have the desired effect. The Committee will no more go about looking for Orders that are not brought to their notice than the ordinary member of the Dáil will, and yet the Dáil will tend to rely upon this Committee to bring to its notice in the proper time anything that they ought to notice. They shirk their own duty, and they rely on the Committee, but probably, being human beings like the other Deputies, the Committee will not do anything except what is actually thrust upon it, so that the Orders will not receive even the attention they receive at present. I am afraid it would not work.
I should explain that there is a certain amount of confusion, perhaps, in the phrase "Papers laid on the Table.""Papers laid on the Table" means papers which have been sent to the Clerk and which in future, when we get a Library, will be sent to the Librarian and will be available for the inspection of Deputies in the Library or in the Members' Rooms. Notice that such papers have been received is always printed on the Order Paper. I should like to hear the point of the Minister for Local Government about the words "available for discussion," or "printed and circulated to Deputies."
I think it would be preferable to say "printed and circulated." It may be that no member of the Committee may wish to propose any motion in the Dáil, but if they have anything to report about one of these documents, that should be available for discussion and the way it should be made available is by having it printed as a report and circulated in the way that the Order papers are circulated, and any member may take any action he chooses.
What guarantee have we that this Committee will do more than any ordinary member? I take it that it is within the ordinary duties of members and we are told that the ordinary member will not look at these papers and will not do what is his duty. What guarantee have we that the Committee is going to do this? None at all. Besides, they can initiate discussions on legislation that may never be passed. This may be good in some directions but I think it could also be abused, and in fact I think it will do more harm than good, and we have no guarantee whatever that the members of this Committee would do more than the ordinary member would do.
I would like to put a case. Suppose a paper is presented to the Dáil, under a statutory provision which sets forth that unless a resolution annulling this particular document is passed in the Dáil before the expiration of twenty-one days, the document or order, whatever it may be, becomes law. The Committee suggested here has that document before it, and it prints and circulates a report. I take it that what is intended is that, in the light of the report, a Deputy will move that the Order be annulled, or will refrain from moving that the Order be annulled, but he will not be able to move something about this report if the Statute under which the Order is presented provides that some other resolution must be moved about the Order.
Quite so, and if you will allow me, I should like to supplement what you have said. If any member of the Dáil not included in that Committee wished to impeach the rule or Order, he may be held up by the answer that the Committee has investigated it and has not reported; but how is that Deputy to become aware of the date on which it will be within his power so to move, the Committee either having regarded the thing as a matter not to report on or having overlooked it altogether? It seems to me altogether a needless obligation.
The Committee could not remove the right of a Deputy to move.
No; that is quite so; but the Committee might make it undesirable for him to raise the matter until the Committee itself, under the Standing Orders, has issued a report.
Surely any Deputy would know who constituted the Committee, and such Deputy would have the ear of the Chairman of that Committee. If the Deputy who sees a flaw or an objectionable paragraph in the Order wishes to raise the matter in the Dáil independently of the Committee, there is nothing to prevent him. If, on the other hand, he wishes to bring to the notice of the Committee such flaw or objectionable Order, the Committee is there, ready and available for him, and the Committee could either examine the point that he raised, or disabuse his mind of what is, perhaps, a fallacy. The one argument used that may have some effect, is the leaving of the option to the Committee to report. I would be prepared to support the suggested amendment saying that the Committee shall report within ten or fifteen days—a report in which they might say, "We have examined it and find no objection." But the only point made which seems to me to have any substance is the point that the Committee may or may not report, as it wishes.
Does Deputy Johnson not realise that what he has now proposed is, that in addition to the Cabinet, the Executive Council of the Ministry, there shall be set up another sort of Cabinet, and that other members, not constituting the Committee, are to report to this secondary Cabinet the objections that occur to them regarding certain Orders laid on the Table of the Dáil; whatever fallacy is operating on the mind of the objector, that fallacy should be removed, and his mind quietened by the Committee?
So, in fact a great deal of what is the initiative, and not merely the privilege, but the duty of members of the Dáil is by this grandmotherly system to be taken over from them, and put into the leading strings of a Committee. If his objection is good, the Committee will bring it forward, and if objection does not find favour in the sight of the committee they will make his mind easy about it, and with this placating influence at work all will go smoothly with the Order on the Table of the Dáil. It is a most specious proposition, and seems to be giving nothing, while taking much away.
Will this Committee be bound by a majority, and will the minority have any right to raise any objection? Could not these Orders be issued every week, and sent out to each Deputy?
As I see this amendment it means that a committee will be appointed to examine Orders, Regulations and Documents, and shall, if necessary, consider a report. Does that mean in the event of their not reporting it shall pass—that an Order passes through automatically, and that a private member has no right to move that the Order be not complied with or adopted? In what way is the time of the Dáil saved by this?
The private Member's right would certainly stand.
Then it is really a question of getting a number of Members together to see whether it is advisable, and to inform or to speak to other Members about it afterwards in an indirect way. I do not see that that is a business proposition. I am not concerned at all about it, but I do not think it is a benefit to us.
There have been in other Houses Committees on Estimates. We are proposing a Committee on Public Accounts. One might say, it is the duty of every Member of the Dáil to examine into the accounts and estimates, but we are relegating the specialised work of examination of accounts and estimates to a Committee, and we are asking them to report, and in the case of accounts, if they do report on them, that does not deprive the individual Member of the Dáil from investigating into and reporting on any account and making any motion that he may think fit. Nothing in this proposal will deprive any Deputy of any right he has to-day. What it does is to throw a particular duty upon a particular group of Deputies. Any group of Members may decide that they shall form a Committee of this kind on anything, but they will only have the rights of any group of individual Deputies. But the proposal is, that there shall be officially appointed by the Dáil a Committee that will have responsibility. But it is not the intention, and it is not implied in the Standing Orders, that any of the present rights of any Deputy shall be in any way given up or lost. All the rights the Deputies have will continue, but the particular duty will be thrown upon a group of Members to do certain work; and you are doing that every week, and why there should be a particular objection in this case I cannot understand.
This proposed new Order has been amended, I take it, by the words put into the second sentence: "every such report shall be printed and circulated to Deputies before the expiration of the time, if any." I take it that that is agreed. As a matter of order, I want to make it clear that action in the Dáil, by way of a Motion, would have to be taken on the Order or on the documents, and not upon the Report of the Committee. Nobody could move that the Dáil approves of the Report of the Committee, if there was a Statutory provision that some other kind of motion could be made on the Order or on the documents.
In that case would not the report of a Committee be merely what is called a pious opinion?
With regard to the Orders and Regulations, I do not know what is meant by "document" here. It may be that it means something there is not much in, or it may mean a great deal. This has come as a great surprise to me, and I do not see that there is much use in it. I fail to appreciate all that Deputy Johnson has said. He seems to attach considerable importance to it and to view it very favourably, and thinks it would be of some advantage. I certainly do not see the advantage, and I do not know what is meant by "documents."
When we speak of documents, we mean that there are certain documents that are obligatory to be placed before the Dáil and laid upon the Table, such, for instance, as the report of the Intermediate Board. This speaks of Orders, Regulations, and Documents submitted to Dáil Eireann in pursuance of any Statutes.
The argument in favour of that would not be the same as the argument in favour of Orders and Regulations, if there were Orders and Regulations which might be annulled by the Dáil within a limited time. The Committee might prevent, perhaps, unnecessary discussions due to misunderstanding on these Orders and Regulations. But in the case of other documents I think the only effect of the Committee's report would be to cause unnecessary discussion. In the case of ordinary documents, any one on which action must be taken within a limited time, discussions could properly be raised by any interested Deputy. There would not be the same temptation to rush into discussion if he had only a very limited time within which to take action.
81B as amended reads:—"A Committee shall be appointed at the beginning of every Session to examine all Orders, Regulations or Documents submitted to Dáil Eireann in pursuance of any Statute, and shall, if they consider it necessary, report to Dáil Eireann thereon. Every such report shall be printed and circulated to Deputies before the expiration of the time (if any) during which such Orders, Regulations or Documents lie upon the Table."
I think the Amendment is lost.
I thought the motion was that the amendment should be passed. I would like to divide the Dáil if I am in order.
The Deputy is under a misapprehension.
I accept your ruling, A Chinn Chomhairle. The misapprehension I was under was this: that when you said the amendment was lost I thought that meant that the new Order proposed by Deputy Fitzgibbon was carried. The motion was: that the report be adopted which included these various schedules.
That is not so. My motion was that the report be received and considered in Committee, and then that each of these clauses should be put as in the case of a Bill in Committee except that it was not necessary to formally move each of them. I was taking as formally moving each of them.
Perhaps the use of the word "amendment" by myself gave rise to some misapprehension. At any rate the motion now is: "That the proposed new Order, 81B, as amended, stand part of the Report."
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Liam Ó Briain.
- Tomás Ó Conaill.
- Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.
- Liam Ó Daimhín.
- Séamus Ó Dóláin.
- Seán Ó Laidhin.
- Cathal Ó Seanáin.
- Peadar Ó hAodha.
- Seán Buitléir.
- Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.
- Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
- Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.
- Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
- Donchadh Ó Guaire.
- Seán Ó Maolruaidh.
- Seán Ó Duinnín.
- Mícheál Ó hAonghusa.
- Mícheál de Duram.
- Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
- Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
- Éarnán Altún.
- Gearóid Mac Giobúin.
- Eoin Mac Néill.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Criostóir Ó Broin.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Aindriú Ó Láimhín.
- Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.
- Alasdair Mac Cába.
- Tomás Ó Domhnaill.
- Éarnán de Blaghd.
- Uinseann de Faoite.
- Domhnall Ó Broin.
- Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill.
I think 81 (c) would benefit by the deletion of the word "whole." It seems absurd. "The whole Teachtaí" is a peculiar phrase. I would suggest that you put down "the total number of Teachtaí."
"Present and voting." Otherwise it might mean the total number altogether.
That is what is meant.
"Present and voting"?
No; it means members of the Dáil who have taken the oath.
The Committee understood those were the Members of the Dáil.
It might be made clear.
The object of this proposal is that it should not be open for a chance majority at the commencement of a sitting to suspend the Standing Orders, and that these Standing Orders, which have been passed by all of us, should not be done away with except the majority of the whole body were in favour of suspending them for the time being.
We could say "Members of the Dáil who have taken their seats."
It is proposed to amend this Order in this way: From the word "provided" read "that such motion has the support of a majority of the total number of Teachtaí who have taken their seats."
Or on the roll.
The words "who have taken their seats" might be interpreted pretty much as a moment ago it had to be interpreted for a Deputy who was sitting outside the limits of the House. He had to resume his seat, and that might be taken as a roundabout description of the position in deciding the question of the right to vote. The intention is to defeat a snatch vote, and what is meant is a majority of those eligible to vote.
He is not a member until he has taken his seat?
I do not think he is, but the Minister for Local Government is anxious to have the matter cleared up.
It is set out that the oath must be taken and subscribed by every member of the Oireachtas. That would seem to indicate that the person, when elected, is a member, although not having taken his seat.
I have decided that point in another connection.
He must take the oath before he is a member of the Dáil. The Committee never intended that it should be otherwise.
He is not eligible to vote in any division, or to take part in the transactions of the Dáil until he has taken the oath. Therefore, what is intended is: "eligible to vote."
Will this amendment meet the case: "Provided that such motion has the support of a majority of Teachtaí who have the right to vote?"
We have already deleted Standing Order No. 4, which provided that every Teachta should publicly sign the roll and, thereupon become entitled to sit and vote. That has gone out.
Will this amendment be accepted:—"Provided that such motion has the support of a majority of Teachtaí of Dáil Eireann who have the right to vote?" Is the amendment agreed to in that form?
"Qualified to vote" would be better, because every Deputy has the right to vote, but he must qualify himself first.
Will this do as the amendment?—"Provided that such motion has the support of a majority of Teachtaí of Dáil Eireann qualified to vote?"
But they may not be present?
The proposed new Standing Order would read:—"In cases of urgent necessity, of which the Ceann Comhairle shall be the judge, any Standing Order or Orders of Dáil Eireann may be suspended for the day's sitting, on motion duly made and seconded without notice: Provided that such motion has the support of a majority of Teachtaí of Dáil Eireann qualified to vote."
I think, with all respect, that "qualified to vote" is too vague. It may sound hypercritical, but let me quote an instance that will appeal at least to Deputy Fitzgibbon. A man took a ticket for the grand stand at Doncaster races. He offended the steward of the races. In the issue it will be seen that this example appeals to the taste of Deputy Fitzgibbon rather than to the taste of Deputy Gorey. This man offended one of the stewards, and he had him removed from the grounds. He had paid a guinea for his ticket, and so he protested against his removal and brought an action. It was held that the right to be on the lands of another man must be given by deed, and as the ticket was not an instrument signed, sealed and delivered, he had no right of action whatever. The law being interpreted in this meticulous way, the question of compos mentis might arise. A man might have taken the oath in due form, signed the roll, and yet not be qualified legally. I suggest, therefore, that the formula you submitted yourself is better—that is, the “right to vote.” That precludes the necessity for these minute enquiries as to the state of mind and health, and so on.
Is 81 (c) agreed to as amended?
I would suggest that you add, after the word "seconded,""with or," so that it will read "with or without notice."