SHANNON ELECTRICITY BILL, 1925.

I ask leave to introduce the Shannon Electricity Bill, 1925, the purport of which is described in the Order Paper:—

To authorise and provide for the production by the State of electricity, generated by means of hydraulic power, derived from the waters of the River Shannon, and for the distribution and supply by the State of the electricity so generated, and for other matters.

I may mention that as far as the present proposals go the question of distribution and supply is only referred to in one general clause, but that general clause will later be supplemented by a complete organisation Bill. This Bill merely deals with the generation side. It has one clause dealing with the matter of distribution and sale, to get over a certain transition period, but the general question of distribution and supply will be dealt with in a particular Bill directed to that end.

Question put and agreed to.

With regard to the Second Stage, I am in some difficulty, and I would like to have the views of the House. To a certain extent the House has come to a decision such as would ordinarily be arrived at on the Second Stage of a Bill of this type. I do not want, of course, to push that too far; the House may come to another decision on this Bill. Ordinarily with a Bill of this importance I would like to give as long as possible, but seeing that something in the nature of a decision has already been taken in connection with electricity to be derived from the Shannon, I would, on that ground, urge that the shortest possible time should be given for the Second Reading. Whatever be the period between this and the Second Reading does not much concern me, provided that the Committee Stage would be understood to come on within the shortest possible time after Second Reading. That is to say, that I am not to be faced with a plea for extended time, both for Second Reading and Committee Stage, that I can look ahead to the Committee Stage and see that a certain time will be allowed. How that time is spaced out between now and the Second Stage, and between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage is really not of much concern to me. If I ask that the Second Stage be taken on this day week I am more or less giving notice to the House that if I get that I will move that the Committee Stage be taken within the shortest possible time allowed by the Standing Orders.

It will depend, of course, on the character of the Bill, but it will be much more satisfactory to allow the Second Reading to be taken on the first day possible after notice is given, and then to allow longer time than the minimum for the preparation of any amendments which would be required for the Committee Stage. It seems to me that if the Minister is prepared to take the Second Reading on Friday next, and if he then seeks to take the Committee Stage as soon as possible afterwards it would be preferable to the House if the Minister would take the Second Reading on, say, Tuesday, as I think he would be allowed under the Standing Orders, provided that notice is given now, and then have an extended time for preparation for Committee, because after all, assuming that the Bill is as comprehensive as one imagines, it will take time to read prior to the Second Reading, and after the Minister's explanations on Second Reading. I think that any appearance of rush for the Committee Stage would not be desirable at all.

I would like to support very strongly Deputy Johnson's plea for some reasonable time between Second Reading and Committee. The preparation of amendments will require very careful consideration. Of course very much will depend, from my point of view, upon what assurances the Minister sees fit to give us in continuation of what I think he promised in our last debate, namely, that in the interval the proposals would receive the fullest consideration, and that he would have the best engineering advice that he could get. I think that considerable time is required for considering these engineering proposals after we get the Bill. Therefore, perhaps Tuesday would be too early; Wednesday, with a suitable interval between then and the Committee Stage, might be better.

From a practical point of view, apart from a decision that might be taken under the Standing Orders, next week, Wednesday and Thursday are barred, in the first place by the Budget Resolutions, which must be reported. I do not think that the Minister for Finance could possibly give way to the Minister for Industry and Commerce at present. The only two days available for Second Reading are either Tuesday or Friday next, but if the Minister gets the Second Reading on Friday, again the arrangement made with regard to Estimates bars Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week. The first day possible for the Committee Stage, therefore, would be next Friday week.

If we had the Second Reading on Tuesday we could have the Committee Stage on the following Tuesday.

Oh, yes, if we had the Second Reading on Tuesday. I mean, it is possible to have the Second Reading on Tuesday, and then to have the Committee Stage on the Tuesday following.

Assuming that we would get the Bill this evening, that would simply mean that we would have a fortnight for consideration, and I do not think that would be enough.

There is one difficulty. We are to a certain extent prejudging the form that the Committee Stage will take. I take it that it is on Second Reading that any motion referring the consideration of the Bill to a Committee of the Dáil instead of to the whole Dáil, or any action of that kind must be moved. Until I see what is in the Bill, I cannot say whether it would be better to have the Bill taken by the Dáil or by a Committee. One would like to consult with other Deputies to see whether that is the best course and whether an amendment like that should be moved. If we are getting the Bill to-night would notice of such a motion be required on Second Reading?

No, not a notice to refer it to a Special Committee.

Our viewpoint on this Bill is, that we are not very particular when the Second Reading is taken, but we are particular as to when the Committee Stage is reached. This is a very comprehensive Bill, and one of far-reaching importance. It is one of the most important measures which we have had before us, and perhaps which most countries had before them. We cannot have the assistance in studying the Bill that the Minister has, and he has his engineering and other staffs to assist him. I would ask him to extend something like the privileges that common-sense would demand if he were in our position. We have no objection as regards the Second Reading, but we do object to rushing the Committee Stage, and we have objection to the matter being taken on Friday, inasmuch as Deputies on these Benches want to get away for the week-end. Friday is a most unsuitable day for a Committee Stage, especially if you have an extended sitting. I insist, on behalf of the members on these Benches, that the Committee Stage be given an interval as long as possible, and I ask the Minister to look at it from our point of view as compared with his point of view. He knows this question inside out, whereas we have not yet seen the Bill.

If I am to accept Deputy Gorey's statement, that business of this nature will be confined hereafter to Tuesdays, I do not think that the House is going to accept that, and if Friday is to be ruled out as well as Wednesday and Thursday, I can only move that the Second Reading to be taken on Tuesday.

Candidly, I do not see eye to eye with Deputy Gorey on this matter. I think the Second Reading is very important, and if we are to go home this evening and have not an opportunity of seeing one another until Tuesday, that will not expedite the position as regards Second Reading. I do not think that Second Reading should be taken on Tuesday, especially if we have to read the Bill and get time to study it. Anyone who wants to put forward amendments has a day or two in which to do so, whereas we would not get the Bill until Monday or Tuesday morning.

The Bill is not very long. There are only 19 Clauses. I am not sure what provision could be made to supply Deputies with copies before they leave this evening, but it may be possible to arrange that. There are certain copies of the Bill in the form which I have here, and it may be possible to let Deputies have them, but I do not know what arrangements could be made to have proper copies sent to Deputies. If it will facilitate Deputies perhaps the Ceann Comhairle could make arrangements.

Yes, I was told before coming in that the Bill would probably be ready for delivery before four o'clock. The proof is being corrected and if we get copies we could give them to certain Deputies who have to go away this evening, and it would mean circulating them to the Dublin Deputies later to-night.

I was wondering whether it would not be more satisfactory to sit late for Estimates on Wednesday and take this Bill after Private Business.

It is not a question of Estimates but a question of the Report of the Budget resolutions, which would fail in their effect if they were not reported. We may have to sit late to deal with the Budget resolutions.

Assuming that the Bill would be taken on Tuesday, it should not be taken before five or six o'clock, as it would be unfair to us.

There are already seven Bills for consideration on Tuesday on the Order Paper. Could an undertaking be given to take it after the adjournment at 7 o'clock, as I presume we will have to sit late?

We prefer sitting late on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to rushing this matter or to having a late sitting on Fridays.

We could have an arrangement to sit late on Tuesday, but, considering the amount of discussion there already has been on anything dealing with the Shannon, I hesitate postponing another debate upon it until 7 o'clock on Tuesday.

Is the Minister contemplating that the Second Reading debate will pass at one sitting?

I do not anticipate much more talk about the Shannon on Tuesday. I ask for the Second Reading to be fixed for Tuesday.

From the point of view of Standing Orders, the Second Reading cannot be taken on Tuesday, unless there is agreement.

I think the Minister should recognise that it would not be fair to our Party to ask that this Bill, which we have not seen, should be taken on Tuesday. It would not be fair, as we would not have an opportunity of seeing our members beforehand, but if it would be taken at six or seven o'clock we would not object.

We do not want to stand in the way but we want a reasonable chance of consulting our members.

What we have to debate on Tuesday is: "A Bill to authorise and provide for the production by the State of electricity generated by means of hydraulic power derived from the waters of the River Shannon, and for the distribution and supply by the State of the electricity so generated, and for other matters incidental thereto or arising in the course thereof or in connection therewith." There are matters incidental to that, but the general principle has already been debated twice, and I do not know what further ammunition Deputies believe they are going to get to hurl against the Shannon and against the scheme to generate electricity from its waters. That should occupy only a few hours on Tuesday. If there was going to be another general debate, irrespective of anything that has already been said on this question, we should not have it on Tuesday, but I should ask to have a sitting on Monday to have it properly considered. I hope that people will realise that the arguments have been put up, that some of them have been answered and that we are not going to beat over the same ground again.

I think that the Minister has not stated the case quite fairly. It is not only a question of principle but also of giving the State power to interfere with private property. That has not been fully debated.

I think it has been fully debated.

Supposing you get the Second Stage on Tuesday, when would the Committee Stage be taken?

On the following Tuesday.

That is too soon.

I would also like to protest against the rushing of the Committee Stage, because I know that people who are keenly interested will ask, and I think justly ask, that after the Bill has been in their hands they should have a reasonable time to examine its provisions.

If I cannot get agreement, I cannot have the Second Reading on Tuesday. I am asking to have that agreement announced here, so that we can have the Bill taken some time on Tuesday. If it suits Deputy Baxter we can arrange to have it taken somewhat later.

We are prepared to take the Second Reading on Tuesday at six o'clock, provided there is a decent interval between that and the Committee Stage.

Say, that day week.

That is too short.

Then say that day fortnight.

We are satisfied with that.

Second Stage ordered for Tuesday, May 5th.

The Committee Stage will be fixed in accordance with what happens on Second Reading. The President has heard what Deputies have said and he can arrange for the Second Reading to be taken at a suitable hour on Tuesday.