It is reported that in Committee Recommendations No. 1 and No. 2 from the Seanad on the Finance Bill have been considered and agreed to. The question is that the Dáil agree with the Committee in its report.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - DAIL RESUMES.
I think, sir, that will not be right. I think I will have to move, in order to give effect to the vote which has just been passed, that Section 2 be deleted.
We have first to agree with the report. After that the President or anybody else can move that Section 2 be deleted.
The deletion of Section 2 of the Finance Bill would not impose a charge. It is therefore open to any Deputy to move that it be deleted.
I formally move that Section 2 be deleted.
I move that Section 23 be amended by substituting for the words "15th day of July" the words "first day of September."
A message will be sent to the Seanad acquainting them accordingly.
There is a small matter to which I just want to call attention for fear of a repetition. I wish to ask your ruling as to whether it is in order for Deputies, or others who are more than Deputies to use the messengers of the Dáil to call in Deputies to vote.
I think that must be addressed to me—
Surely the Minister for External Affairs does not think that such a question should be addressed to him.
He is extern.
Has the Minister for External Affairs something to say on the question?
Yes, sir. No messenger was asked, not to my knowledge did any messenger ask any Deputy to come in. I moved from one place to another, but I did not look for a messenger, nor did I convey anything to one, either intentionally or unintentionally. I think Deputy Johnson had got his eyes fixed on me and is well aware that nothing of the sort was done.
Deputy Fitzgerald or the Minister for External Affairs, as he may wish to call himself, is quite mistaken. I was not referring to him. Perhaps Deputy Dolan would answer?
I was just going to say that the Chief Whip was the person to answer that question.
It seemed to me that the question was addressed to me. The question that was asked was certainly addressed to me.
I am not calling attention to it to find any particular fault at the moment, but because it is a practice that might be developed and it should not be, I suggest.
My attention has never been called to such a practice, nor have I any evidence that there has been such a practice resorted to, but I feel that such a practice would not be desirable. I take it that answers Deputy Johnson's question.
There is no doubt that Deputy Johnson will make a good deal of allowance for a mistake that might be made by a new Whip.
A Deputy said "Resign." If the opinion of the Dáil is that the Executive Council has not got the confidence of the Dáil, or of the majority of the Dáil, I submit that that would be the course. (Several Deputies—"No, no.") I am prepared to afford an opportunity for having that matter decided. But I do not intend to resign unless the Dáil so wishes, and I am prepared to afford an opportunity to the Dáil to express its opinion as to whether or not the Executive Council has got the support of the Dáil.
As far as we are concerned we accept the President's statement of his resignation. It is the same old dope and the same old threat that has been held out all the time—"You can do nothing without us." As far as we are concerned we will accept it.
I think it would be rather absurd to say that the Dáil desires the President to resign on a vote taken within twenty-four hours of a vote of confidence in the Government. I do say that by this vote which has just been passed the Dáil has expressed its opinion on an item of the Finance Bill in the way that they indicated was the right decision on the matter. I do not think that it involves that the President or the Executive Council should resign.
This is a point of a certain amount of importance. It may become more important as time goes on. Surely, it is a matter for the President himself to say whether the vote which has just been taken is one which he considers involves his continuance in office. If he takes it as a vote of no confidence in his guidance as Minister, then it is for him to follow the procedure indicated.
I do not personally consider that that is the case, but if people in the Dáil think that we are elinging on to office I would like to disabuse them on that, and I would also like to disabuse them of the idea that we think there is no alternative Government. There are six. I could form three and I might not, even in that case, have to call on those who think most that we are not worthy to continue in office.
Of course, Deputies are forgetting the fact that certain people were released from prison yesterday who might form a Government. I think that the attitude taken up by the President is ridiculous. Surely one is entitled to say "Resign" if it is in their minds. Deputy Johnson has touched on the right point—that it is for the President to consider whether he should resign or not. I know perfectly well, and I am quite satisfied, that the President does not want to hold on to office. Well I know it; well he knows that I know it. But I know very well also that he would like to get out of office, and that the puzzle to him is how he can get out, and the best way to get out.
As far as that is concerned, I could get out now. If I were puzzled I have an excellent opportunity now, and I am not availing of it. If it be put that this is a matter which should entail the resignation of the Ministry—and ordinarily I say that it should, because the Finance Bill is a most important measure, perhaps the most important of the year, and ordinarily it should involve that—but there is one point perhaps lost sight of, and that is that this particular vote which has been taken this evening is not the same vote that was taken here within the last three weeks.
I want to say that I do not subscibe to the view expressed by Deputy McGrath, that is, that the people outside have a right to form a Government, because unless the people outside are prepared to accept the Constitution set up by the Government elected by the people they have not that right.
May I, on a point of order, ask exactly what the issue before the Dáil is?
There are occasions when points of order are of very little importance. This is one of them. The position is quite simple. The President does not deem this matter of sufficient importance for him to resign upon. Estimates for Public Services, Vote No. 44, will be resumed.
Would I be in order in moving that the Dáil do now adjourn to give the President time to consider the position?
No. The President has stated that he has already decided. Therefore, he cannot be given time to do a thing that he has already done.