LOCAL ELECTIONS BILL—COMMITTEE—(RESUMED).

"This Part of this Act applies to every local authority whose functional area is outside the County and the County Borough of Dublin and also applies to the Commissioners of the town of Balbriggan."

Ba mhaith liom an leas-rún so do chur os cóir na Dála, "go bhfágfar linete 39, 40 agus 41 as Cuid II., alt a ceathair." Sé mo thuairim go mbaineann na linnte seo le cheist toghachain i gCathaireacha Baile Atha Cliath, agus Chorcaigh agus má fagtar istig iad ní féidir linn, nuair a thiocfhaimíd níos deánaí go dtí Cuid III., ní féidir linn aon éifeacht a thabhairt do rún atá ar aigne againn do chur os cóir na Dála níos deánaí. Sé ar dtuairim, mar sin, go mba choir an leas-rún so do chur anois agus gan fanúint go dtí go dtiocfaimis go dtí Cuid III. Fágann sé sin go leíghfidh an t-alt so mar seo:—"This Part of the Act applies to every local authority" agus stad annsin.

Baineann Cuid III. le toghacháin i gChondae Bhaile Atha Cliath agus baineann Cuid II. le tóghacháin I ngach áit, eile.

The whole House is interested in this, not only 10 per cent of the House. I should like to know what the reply of the Minister was. It is a matter of public importance and 90 per cent. of the House would like to know exactly what he stated. I would ask that you, sir, or somebody on your behalf, would translate both the questions and the answers.

I do not propose to assume the rôle of translator. I sympathise with the Deputy, but I am not here as an interpreter.

Mr. BYRNE

Would your sympathy, sir, not extend to 90 per cent. of the House, as well as to the Deputy who asked the question?

My sympathy is all-embracing.

Mr. BOLAND

Not 90 per cent.

Mr. BYRNE

I am satisfied that only 10 per cent. on the opposite benches understood the Minister, but they have not the courage to say so. Those who have a knowledge of the language ought to give those who are also interested in this matter under discussion the benefit of it.

If the Deputy possesses his soul in patience, it will all come out in good time.

I may be asked to vote on it.

The first thing I have to do is to reply to the Deputy's point. The point raised is that the last three lines of Section 4 be left out, so that the whole of Part II. would apply to every local authority in the country. But the Bill has been constructed so that Part III. refers to elections in the County Dublin, and Part II. refers to all other elections. There is nothing more sinister in Section 4, as it now reads, than that we propose to deal with the City and County of Dublin separately, and then with the rest of the country, including Balbriggan, for the reason that Balbriggan does not come within the scope of the Greater Dublin Commission's Report.

If we pass Section 4, we may be passing something which may require to be altered if we change Part III., or get rid of Part III., as we hope to.

The question at issue is whether the matter of Dublin City can be raised. I am not sure that it can be raised on Section 4.

It was quite as relevant as Cork to Section 3.

Is not the point that if the last three lines of Section 4 are deleted, then all of Part III. can be deleted also?

The Deputy handed in an amendment to delete lines 39, 40 and 41——

To delete the section.

When did the Deputy hand in the amendment to delete these three lines?

On the 15th of November.

I understood that was withdrawn.

It was said it was not necessary to give notice.

It is not necessary to give notice to delete a section. If the Deputy intends to delete the section his remedy is when the question is put from the Chair—"That the section stand part of the Bill"— to vote against it. If an amendment were accepted simpliciter to delete the section, we would possibly have first a debate, and then perhaps a division. The question that the section stand part of the Bill would have to be put then and the same considerations would arise. If he proposes to delete the section there is no necessity for an amendment at all.

The purpose was not to delete Section 4, because it was intended that the first line of the section should stand if the Bill were to have force. The purpose was to delete the next three lines, and that amendment was taken in the office when sent in by Deputy French. He was told that it was not necessary to give notice of amendment to delete these three lines. The amendments were put upon one sheet when sent in. Some appear on the Paper now and others do not.

The assumption was that we could debate the question of Dublin and Cork separately on Section 3 of Part I. and Section 4 of Part II. The belief was that the amendments would serve no purpose if these two clauses were passed. It was merely in order to get a debate on Dublin and Cork in two distinct clauses of the Bill. If Section 4 is passed, no matter what action is taken on Part III., I understand it would not be effective, as authority is given in the previous sections of the Bill. The idea is to get a definite vote of this House upon the local government of Dublin.

I appreciate the point, and so far as I am concerned I raise no objection to any amendments that will deal with the matter.

Without notice?

Yes. I understand what the Deputy is endeavouring to attain now could be done later.

If it would have the same effect, I would have no objection.

If this is allowed to go, it should not be taken as a precedent.

There is some mistake somewhere about this amendment and the notice of it. I have considered this matter, but I have never considered the idea of deleting lines 39, 40 and 41 of Section 4. I am not sure what the result of deleting these lines would be. I do not know what the effect of having the section read, "This part of this Act applies to every local authority" would be, or whether it would make sense at all.

It might mean that Part III. of the Bill would fall. It might be necessary to carry out certain alterations in Part II. again. The only suggestion of any amendment that I got in connection with the matter was the mimographed amendment that was circulated to delete Part IV.

The information I got was that if the amendment to delete lines 39, 40 and 41 were moved it would have no effect if Part III. of the Bill were passed and vice versa: that they both control the same point. I think I ought to be understood perfectly. The matter intended to be moved is that the local government of Dublin should be handed back to the elected representatives of Dublin. If that can be done with the authority of this House by deleting Part III. and that the case is not prejudiced by allowing these three lines to stand, there is no necessity for dividing on Section 4. We are entitled to know whether the passing of this section, as it stands, would render inoperative any action this House may take on Part III.

It is scarcely fair to press an amendment which could not be examined in the short time at our disposal. Looking over Part II. of the Bill, my impression is that the elimination of these lines would not effect the purpose that the Deputy has in mind. I do not find any year mentioned in respect of the election of Aldermen and Councillors or in connection with boroughs. "In every county the ordinary date of the election shall be such date not earlier than 23rd day of June or the 1st day of July," but it does not actually fix the date for next June. I have not had time to examine the amendment. I do not know what its purpose would be, but I suggest it would be dangerous to press the amendment now without being able to examine here. I think what cannot be examined here. I think what the Deputy means to effect is what is in Part III. of the Bill.

I suggest to the Deputy to look at his own amendment, No. 5, in which he asks in Section 19 to delete the words "31st day of March, 1929, and to substitute therefor the words 30th day of June, 1928." That is his reasoned way of raising this question of the Dublin Corporation, and the question could be much more satisfactorily raised there.

Does that apply to Dublin City as well as to Dublin County?

The matter arises in this way: it was thought necessary to preserve to Deputy French the right to raise the matter he wanted to raise. It was suggested to him, perhaps wrongly, that if he did not move on Section 4 he would be precluded when Section 4 was passed from moving on Section 19. Is not that the position?

It was not thought desirable to put him in that position. It appears now—and the matter can be dealt with on Report, if that is considered necessary—that amendment 5 is the proper amendment on which to raise the question of Dublin City.

I am sorry I misled you. Part III. refers only to the County of Dublin, and the City of Dublin comes in under Section 3, which has been disposed of already.

It is because Part III. seems to concern the County of Dublin only that when the Deputy brought in his amendment 5 he was asked did he want to make allusion to the City of Dublin. When it was discovered that he did, it was suggested that was not the right place.

"This part of this Act applies to the Council of the County of Dublin and to every local authority whose functional area is situate within the County of Dublin except the Commissioners of the town of Balbriggan."

Part II. deals with elections, etc., outside Dublin City and County.

Section 3 says: "Nothing in this Act shall prejudice or affect the operation of any order under Section 12 of the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923 (No. 9 of 1923), or Section 72 of the Local Government Act, 1925 (No. 5 of 1925), nor of the Local Elections (Dissolved Authorities) Act, 1926 (No. 22 of 1926)."

If this Act is not to prejudice the Local Elections (Dissolved Authorities) Act, 1926, it is not going to prejudice the position with regard to Dublin City, the position with regard to Cork City and the position with regard to Dublin Union. In fact, Section 3 of the Act proposes to bring the County of Dublin into accord with the County Borough of Dublin.

When we were discussing Cork City yesterday on Section 3 the question of the Dublin City Commissioners should also have been raised.

It can be raised on the Report Stage.

The only remedy I can see now is that on Report, and relevant to Section 3, some amendment should be put in which would have the effect of limiting the time during which the present Dublin City Commissioners can function and compelling an election for the Dublin Corporation to be held. That is what is desired?

The only way that can be done is by limiting the operation of Section 3 on Report. Part III. refers to the county, and Deputy French's amendment 5, although it would be relevant to the county, does not cover the point he wants to make in regard to the city. That being so, Section 3 having been decided already, we can see whether on Report an amendment to Section 3 cannot be brought forward in such a way as to bring in Dublin City.

What will happen in regard to consequential changes that may have to be made? It is obvious Section 4 will have to be changed.

Not of necessity.

The question that would arise on Report is that if an amendment is carried to a particular section which necessitates consequential amendments, these must be made, and the onus of making them all through the Bill lies upon the people in charge of the Bill.

I think the question depends upon the interpretation of the first section of Part III. It would be important for our information that you give a ruling as to what the words in the section imply. It says it applies to every local authority whose functioning area is within the County of Dublin, excepting Balbriggan. That might be taken to mean areas geographically situated in the County of Dublin. That is the way I would read it, and I do not know if that is the legal interpretation.

No. The County of Dublin is a distinct thing, and there is a Borough Council of Dublin, which is another thing. The County of Dublin, for the purposes of the Local Elections Act, does not include the County Borough.

The words are not to be taken in the geographical sense, but rather in the strictly legal sense?

The Local Government Acts generally, when they refer to the County of Cork, mean something different to the County Borough of Cork, and when they refer to the County of Dublin they mean something different to the County Borough of Dublin, and it is because of that that Deputy French was giving certain advice on the whole question.

The Minister did give the impression on the Second Reading that Part III. applied to Dublin Borough. He said it was proposed to postpone elections in County Dublin and the County Borough until a date not later than the 31st March, 1929. In the discussion, in which the Deputies on this side took part, we took it for granted that Part III. applied to the Borough of Dublin and that March 31st, 1929, was the date before which the elections for Dublin City would be held. If it is the fact that there is no date fixed——

There is a date fixed already by legislation, by the Local Government (Dissolved Authorities) Act, 1926, by which an election must be held in the County Borough of Dublin, in Cork County Borough and for the Dublin Union, and that date is the 31st March, 1929.

That is in Section 3.

That date is fixed by reference, but it is not actually set out in the Bill. It will be better to let the question go until Report as regards the City of Dublin rather than endeavour to discuss an amendment now which might possibly not have the desired effect.

I am sorry to persist, but I would like a little further information. If it is true that Section 3 does not apply to Dublin City——

Section 3 does, but Part III. does not.

I meant Part III.: then that is where the City comes in?

It is proposed under this Bill to postpone not only the election for the County Borough of Dublin but also the elections for all other local governing bodies in the County. I would like some more information as to why that is considered necessary, why, for example, the Dublin County Council Election cannot be held next year, the same as the elections for the rest of Ireland?

The Greater Dublin Report marks out an extended area for what it proposes should be called "Greater Dublin," and that eats into a large section of the County. On page 3 of the Report the following paragraph occurs:—

"In the area to be administered within Greater Dublin and to enjoy unitary control of administration, there now function some nineteen thinking and spending authorities."

The only one of those thinking and spending authorities that does not come, in some way, within the ambit of the Greater Dublin Commission Report is the town of Balbriggan. For that reason, while allowing the elections to go ahead in Balbriggan, we are holding up the elections for the other rural districts and Boards of Guardians. That means that their period of functioning in office is extended by nine months, or I should say that actually it only means that their period of office is extended for an additional period of nine months. It seems reasonable, bearing in mind what is involved in the report of the Greater Dublin Commission, that that would be so, and that we would not have elections for areas that might be materially changed by March, 1929.

We have got the Greater Dublin Commission now into discussion, and that will enable us to bring up some points that we wanted to have discussed in this House. We have had the matter mentioned on the Second Reading of this Bill, and we had various explanations offered by the Ministry as to why there has been such considerable delay in the preparation of legislation following that Report. I am not satisfied with the explanation offered. The explanation offered by the Ministry is not satisfactory. The Report has been in their hands now for a period of twelve months, and, apparently, from the replies that we have received from the Ministers, it has not even yet been presented to the Executive Council, so that the principle contained in the Report could be decided on. The impression given to us certainly during the whole course of the debate was that the Government does not appreciate the seriousness of depriving the ratepayers of the County Dublin and these other districts of their democratic rights. They have shown no anxiety whatever to restore these rights to them now. I think that whatever legislation is necessary, that legislation should be decided upon to give effect to the recommendations in that Report, or otherwise. I say that, because we have not even yet been informed that that Report will be accepted by the Government and that the legislation that will be introduced will be on the lines indicated there. I see no reason why that cannot be effected in sufficient time to enable the elections for the local governing bodies in Dublin to proceed at the same time as the elections for the other local governing bodies throughout Ireland. Whatever opinions we on these benches may have on the matter, there can be no doubt that the number of local governing bodies in Dublin are too many, and that some reduction will have to take place. At any rate, I think that the area in which Greater Dublin will operate should be defined. It does not require very deep consideration to map out roughly what that area will be, particularly as you have a very full report from the Commissioners who considered the matter for two years. No doubt that matter has been already considered by the Minister's Department. They have had the Report for twelve months. If legislation defining the area in which the County Council of Dublin would have control could be introduced next June—and I see no reason why it should not—then we could have the elections for the Dublin County Council in June, and they could proceed on that day to hold the elections for the County Council of Dublin the same as the elections throughout the rest of the country.

Question—"That Section 4 stand part of the Bill"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 59.

  • James Walter Beckett.
  • George Cecil Bennett.
  • Ernest Blythe.
  • Séamus A. Bourke.
  • Michael Brennan.
  • Seán Brodrick.
  • Alfred Byrne.
  • John Joseph Byrne.
  • Edmund Carey.
  • John James Cole.
  • Martin Conlon.
  • Michael P. Connolly.
  • Bryan Ricco Cooper.
  • William T. Cosgrave.
  • John Daly.
  • Peter De Loughry.
  • Eugene Doherty.
  • James N. Dolan.
  • Peadar Seán Doyle.
  • Edmund John Duggan.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • James Fitzgerald-Kenney.
  • John Good.
  • D.J. Gorey.
  • Alexander Haslett.
  • John J. Hassett.
  • Michael Joseph Hennessy.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Mark Henry.
  • Patrick Hogan (Galway).
  • Richard Holohan.
  • Michael Jordan.
  • Patrick Michael Kelly.
  • Myles Keogh.
  • Patrick Leonard.
  • Finian Lynch.
  • Arthur Patrick Mathews.
  • Martin McDonogh.
  • Michael Og McFadden.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Joseph W. Mongan.
  • Richard Mulcahy.
  • James E. Murphy.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Martin Michael Nally.
  • John Thomas Nolan.
  • Richard O'Connell.
  • Bartholomew O'Connor.
  • Timothy Joseph O'Donovan.
  • John F. O'Hanlon.
  • Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
  • Gearoid O'Sullivan.
  • John Marcus O'Sullivan.
  • Patrick Reynolds.
  • Martin Roddy.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
  • William Edward Thrift.
  • Michael Tierney.
  • Daniel Vaughan.
  • John White.
  • Vincent Joseph White.
  • George Wolfe.
  • Jasper Travers Wolfe.

Níl

  • Frank Aiken.
  • Denis Allen.
  • Richard Anthony.
  • Gerald Boland.
  • Patrick Boland.
  • Daniel Bourke.
  • Seán Brady.
  • Robert Briscoe.
  • Henry Broderick.
  • Daniel Buckley.
  • Frank Carney.
  • Frank Carty.
  • Archie J. Cassidy.
  • Patrick Clancy.
  • Michael Clery.
  • James Coburn.
  • James Colbert.
  • Hugh Colohan.
  • Dan Corkery.
  • Richard Corish.
  • Martin John Corry.
  • Tadhg Crowley.
  • Thomas Derrig.
  • Eamon De Valera.
  • James Everett.
  • Frank Fahy.
  • Hugo Flinn.
  • Andrew Fogarty.
  • Seán French.
  • Patrick J. Gorry.
  • John Goulding.
  • Patrick Hogan (Clare).
  • Samuel Holt.
  • Patrick Houlihan.
  • Stephen Jordan.
  • Michael Joseph Kennedy.
  • Frank Kerlin.
  • James Joseph Killane.
  • Mark Killelea.
  • Michael Kilroy.
  • Seán F. Lemass.
  • Patrick John Little.
  • Ben Maguire.
  • Seán MacEntee.
  • Séamus Moore.
  • Daniel Morrissey.
  • Thomas Mullins.
  • Thomas J. O'Connell.
  • Patrick Joseph O'Dowd.
  • Seán T. O'Kelly.
  • William O'Leary.
  • Matthew O'Reilly.
  • Thomas O'Reilly.
  • Thomas P. Powell.
  • James Ryan.
  • Martin Sexton.
  • Patrick Smith.
  • Richard Walsh.
  • Francis C. Ward.
Tellers.—Tá: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle. Níl: Deputies G. Boland and MacEntee.
Motion declared carried.
SECTION 5.
(2) Every election of aldermen and councillors of a borough other than a county borough and of urban district councillors and town commissioners shall be held on the day which is fixed under this section as the ordinary day of election of county councillors for the county in which such borough, urban district, or town is situate, and every such election shall be held together with the election of county councillors for such county.

I move:—

To delete sub-section 2, and to substitute the following new sub-section:—

"Every election of aldermen and councillors of a borough other than a county borough, and of urban district councillors and town commissioners shall be held on a day one week later than the day which is fixed under this section as the ordinary day of election of county councillors for the county in which such borough, urban district or town is situate."

The principal reason which prompted me in putting down this amendment was to elicit more definite information as to the method which is to be adopted as regards polling. The Dáil will, I think, agree that there is certain difficulty in asking voters to fill up two different ballot papers on the one day and practically at the same time, assuming that there will be in the future, as there has been in the past, a considerable number of candidates. I can quite anticipate a ballot paper a yard long in some county council elections. Here, for instance, are two specimen ballot papers.

How many names?

Twenty-two and twenty. I anticipate that there will be greater enthusiasm in the future, and there is a possibility of having forty names on the ballot paper. Is there any manner by which we could avoid that and make the method simpler?

The object, as I have said before, of having the two elections on the one day is for general economy, saving the time of the schools, and also of the time of the people. This amendment proposes to bring people to a county council election one week and to an urban election the next week, thus doubly taking up the time of the schools. As regards the question of confusion, I have had particulars obtained as to the number of candidates and the number of vacancies in county electoral areas and in certain urban areas, and the case for confusion cannot, in my opinion, be argued very strongly, having regard to the extra expense. Take Wexford, for example. If an election takes place in an urban district in Wexford on one day and the county council election is held another day, it means that the urban district of Wexford will have to pay £50 in additional expense and the county council will have to pay £120 additional. That means that every third year the rates for Wexford town would be 1.1 of a penny up, and that the rates for the county would be three-farthings up, and that because of a desire to avoid suggested confusion, particularly through the illiterate voter, as has been mentioned. In Wexford, at the 1925 elections, there were seven county council vacancies and there were twelve candidates. In the only ward in which there was an election for the urban district council there were six vacancies and eight candidates. What the Local Government elector in Wexford town was called on to do was to take a list of twelve candidates, to mark down his preferences to fill seven vacancies, and he was asked to take a list of eight candidates and record his vote to the extent of six names. If a person is going to be a Local Government elector at all, intelligently co-operating by his vote to have Local Government work carried out, it is not too much to ask that he be sufficiently intelligent to fill his ballot paper properly.

If you run down the whole of the lists you will find very little possibility of confusion. In Cavan there were twenty candidates for eight vacancies on the county council, and in one area there were ten candidates for seven vacancies in the urban district, and in another there were eight candidates for six vacancies, so that out of thirty candidates on the two lists the elector was asked to pick fifteen names. There is no town, and I have got particulars for most of them, for which it could be seriously argued that there is a liability of confusion. The question of over-nomination has been raised, and, to a certain extent, there is over-nomination, but it does not seem to have created very great confusion, because some of the nominees got very few first preferences. One very glaring case of that occurred in one part of the town of Wicklow, where there was an especially large number of candidates—twenty-two in part of the urban district for nine vacancies. Three of the candidates got no first preferences, one got one, six got three, and four got five. The same happened in Athy, where, out of sixteen candidates for nine vacancies, two got one first preference, one got five, and one got six. Thus, if you look to actual results, the extra few number of names put on a ballot paper does not seem to have created very much confusion. Considering the cost and the inconvenience to people coming a second time to vote, even in urban districts, and taking into account the extra call on the time of the schools, confusion has not reached the particular stage at which it ought to bear against other considerations.

I admit that there is a certain amount of confusion caused by holding two elections on the one day, but I think, on the balance, it is more advantageous to have them on the one day. I do not think that the number of names on a particular ballot paper makes very much difference. In the Dáil elections we have had from nineteen to twenty-three and twenty-four candidates' names on the ballot paper, and it has not, so far as I know, gone to any great extent to increase the number of spoiled papers. The same could be said of the Seanad elections. I admit that the number of people who polled and the percentage of spoiled papers was very small. I think there is less chance of an illiterate voter making a mistake than anybody else, as the illiterate voter's paper is marked by the presiding officer. The person who is supposed to be able to mark his or her own paper is more likely to make a mistake than the illiterate voter. I suggest that if you hold the two elections within a week or a month you would have a very small vote. One of the reasons why I favour the holding of the two elections on the one day is that by that method you will have a larger poll. It must be remembered that it is only in the urban and county borough areas the question of two ballot papers arises at all. It does not apply to the rural areas. So far as I recollect, on the last occasion steps were taken in the polling booths to see that the persons voting put the ballot papers in the proper boxes—that is to say, that a person did not put a county council ballot paper into an urban council ballot box, and vice versa. The ballot papers for the two bodies were of a different colour, and the people were told when they were handed the papers that one was for the county council election and the other for the urban council election. While there is likely to be a certain amount of confusion, I think if Deputy French looks into the matter he will see that, on the balance, we should be in favour of holding the two elections on the one day.

This amendment is not one on which the Deputies on these benches are taking a party attitude. We are individually open to conviction on it. I admit that the arguments put forward in favour of the Bill as it stands with regard to imposing a lesser burden on the local rates and avoiding inconvenience to the schools, and also, as pointed out by Deputy Morrissey, that there is likely to be a larger poll, are strong arguments, but at the same time there is the danger of confusion. I do not think that any useful comparison can be made on the elections of 1925. At that period there was considerable apathy in the country. In the case of Wexford, I think the Minister mentioned that only in one district in the urban area did an election take place. At that particular period the elements represented by the Deputies on these benches did not participate in the local elections to any extent in the majority of districts. These circumstances are likely to be changed, and there will probably be much keener competition next year than there was in 1925, and consequently a much larger number of candidates nominated. I would like, if the Bill goes through as it stands, to support the suggestion put forward by Deputy Morrissey, that the papers should be of a different colour and that there should be printed on the top of the ballot paper the local body to which that paper had relation. In addition, there should be in the polling booths posters in which would be clearly set out specimen papers showing which is the paper for the urban elections and which for the county council elections, so that voters would be less likely to be confused and place their papers in the wrong boxes. I think if the necessary precautions were taken that danger would be reduced to minimum, although it would be there as long as the elections are held on the one day.

It is quite clear that certain precautions can be and will be taken. There is no reason why different coloured ballot papers should not be used, or why the top of the boxes should not be of the same colour as the ballot papers that are to go into them. Arrangements can be made to have everything that is required done.

I think on the balance that the advantage is on the side of having the elections on the one day. There is a danger of confusion, but I think most of the Deputies on these benches are not likely to press that point. I do not think Deputy French wishes to press the point.

I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment; by leave, withdrawn

One point which has, perhaps, escaped the notice of Deputies is the loss of a couple of extra days to school children attending national schools in the country by having the elections on separate days. That may not appear of importance to some, but in my opinion it is of the utmost importance, especially to working-class parents whose children as a result of recent changes in the educational system have had their school period lessened. I need hardly refer to the question of teachers who had to put in intensive periods learning Irish and then having to teach it to children who had no knowledge of Irish.

On a point of order, has not the amendment been withdrawn?

Anyhow, I agree with the suggestion that the ballot papers should be printed in different colours. I would also suggest that the names of the candidates be printed in different shades of green, according to the intensity of their patriotism.

Section 5 agreed to.

On Section 6, Deputy Kilroy raised a point on Second Reading that, I think, deserves consideration—that is, that prior to the 23rd June a very large number of migratory labourers leave Co. Mayo. I think it should be possible to get some special arrangement for that county by which the election would be held, say, a month earlier. Of course, there is the difficulty of the publication of the register. But even if the register was published a fortnight earlier in that particular county, it should be possible to hold the county council and other local elections on a date that would enable these people to participate in the elections.

The same thing applies to Tirconaill. I do not know the number of migratory labourers who leave the county, but probably it is as big as the number who leave Mayo, and I would agree with Deputy Lemass that the same principle should apply to Tirconaill and other congested areas as would apply to Mayo.

Perhaps the Minister would consider whether we could put in from the 23rd May to the 1st June instead of the dates we have here. It would change the Electoral Act, but that could be easily done.

The whole point is the preparation of the register. The statutory date on which the new register comes into force is 1st June. The earliest possible date on which an election could be held on the new register, bearing in mind that it comes into force on the 1st June, is the 23rd, or at a stretch the 22nd. What is being done now is shifting the election from the earlier part of June to the end of June. Deputy O'Connell pointed out that the greater number of migratory labourers leave about the 20th June. The evidence we have been able to get on the matter has not been such, up to the present at any rate, as would warrant going into the whole question of the preparation of the register, and the particular times of the year on which it is made out. In the County Council election for June, 1925, the percentage of the poll in Mayo was fifty-three of the local government electors. The percentage of the poll in the last Dáil elections was sixty-six. It seems, looking at that comparison all around, that it is a fair comparison of the interest that is taken in the Local Government and Dáil elections. If you consider Tipperary: In the South Riding of Tipperary in the Local Government elections of 1925 the percentage of the poll was sixty, and the percentage of the electors who voted in County Tipperary in the June Dáil elections this year was seventy-seven. You have a difference of seventeen per cent. there, as between the Local Government elections of 1925 and the Dáil elections, whereas you have only a difference of thirteen per cent. in the Mayo case. So that I think the matter would require to have much stronger grounds for making an exception in the case of those Western counties than we have been able to get. None of the Mayo bodies have been among those that have asked for the postponing of the elections from January to June. The consensus of opinion—and it includes, as far as I can find out, Mayo—is that June is the most suitable month. I would suggest the case is not strong enough at the present moment. We have not sufficient information that would make a strong case for differentiating between the times in which elections are held in Mayo and Donegal as compared with other parts of the country.

If this section goes through as it stands the matter will be fixed for all time. Would it not be possible to put in a section authorising the Minister or some other authority to make an order in a particular case, if strong arguments can be advanced for it, to postpone the election? I know the difficulty of the register coming into force on the 1st June is a considerable one, but I believe the matter of the register could be, with considerable utility, altered, and the date of the publication put much earlier in the year than it is at present. That is another matter altogether, and it is possible that at some future date the Electoral Act may be amended so as to ensure that the register would be published earlier. It should be possible to hold county council elections in Mayo and Donegal on an earlier date. In order to save trouble, would it not be convenient to put some section in the Bill giving discretionary powers?

Is not the Minister aware that the number of migratory labourers from Mayo is more or less ten thousand? It is a serious thing to disfranchise ten thousand people in a constituency.

Could not the elections be held in April on the previous year's register? Perhaps if the register were only compiled every other year it would be an economy.

As a matter of fact, I do not know whether a strong case could not be made for the alteration of the date, so as to make it generally applicable to the whole of the country. The consensus of opinion amongst farmers, on these benches, seems to be that the last week in May would be the most suitable date for these local elections. In connection with the question of the register, too, I think that the Minister ought seriously to consider whether publication of the register should not be made at least six or seven weeks before the date of these local elections. The three weeks that are now given do not afford candidates a reasonable opportunity of getting into touch with the electors, particularly in the larger electoral areas. While, of course, it does seem a big thing now to suggest that in this one section you could also consider the alteration of the Electoral Act, so as to secure the earlier publication of the register still the two things hang together, and if some formula could be devised fixing the date of the election earlier than 23rd June I think a useful purpose would be served. That would leave the way open to fix an earlier date for the publication of the register under the Electoral Act.

In regard to the suggestion made by Deputy Lemass, suppose you put in "May" instead of "June," making the dates 23rd May to the 1st July, and then leaving the date for the election to be "such date as shall be fixed by the county borough, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government." I think that would meet the case that has been made from these benches. Leave the period wider, and let the consent of the Minister be necessary for the fixing of the date of the election. I think that would meet the case.

With regard to the point raised by Deputy Lemass, I would not like, on a matter that he felt keenly about, simply to give an undertaking to look into it and leave it there without some kind of hope that something could be done. I hardly think it would be feasible to do what he suggests. As far as we can find out, it is in the end of June that you get a strong wave of migration. Therefore, the 23rd of June gives you a reasonable date upon which, in the western counties, the elections could be held. If the Mayo and Donegal County Councils hold their elections on the earliest possible date it meets, as far as our information goes, the situation in a reasonable kind of way. With regard to the point of leaving the period wider, we have come to the conclusion that it is better to have the local Government elections held inside one week all over the country. We think there is a lot to be said for that, so that in the absence of a considered amendment bearing on the matter I would not be prepared to change the dates in the section. The preparation of the register extends over a very long period, from the 15th October to the 1st of June. Every aspect of the preparation of the register was fully considered four years ago, and since then nothing has arisen in any kind of vital way to suggest an alteration of the dates. I did consider it when this particular matter first arose.

After giving full consideration to it, I decided that as the county council elections had in the past been held in June, as that was found to be a suitable month and as the urban bodies were applying for an election in June —twenty-seven of them, as I have already stated—that it was reasonable to take June and fix a date at such a time in June that the new register would come into operation. If we go to the expense of preparing a register yearly it would be absurd to have the elections held on the eve of the publication of a new register, so that taking everything into consideration I think it is more satisfactory to leave the dates for the preparation and publication of the register as they are and hold your elections on the 23rd June or after. In regard to the point made by Deputy MacEntee, that does not mean that you may not have your new register until the 1st of June. In many cases the register is available for some weeks before that date. Everything possible is done to see that it is available at the earliest possible moment, but the point under the section is that it does not come into statutory operation until the 1st of June. For these reasons I think it is better that the section should stand as it is without further experience or further information that would warrant us in making special provision by which the western counties should fix their elections for a different date.

Is the Minister not aware that the last week in May is a much slacker time in the country than, for instance, the last week in June? As regards having all the elections on the one day, if the phrase "with the consent of the Minister" is put in he could easily arrange that the elections would be held practically within a week. As regards the other point, it would simply mean putting forward by one week the date on which the register is to come into operation if that were necessary. I suggest that it is not fair to disfranchise a large number of people who will be disfranchised if the section is allowed to stand in its present form.

It would not be warranted at all if you are going to have the Local Government elections fixed at a regular time, not to fix that date by statute. The position would be that you would have the Minister used as a kind of clearing house as to the opinions of different county councils as to what particular week in the year the elections ought to take place. It would be an impossible position for the Minister to be in. As regards having the elections in May, the representations and the general consensus of opinion that we have had is that June is the most suitable month. That fits in with our legislation with regard to the register and makes a very strong case for having the elections in June.

From the agricultural point of view and the point of view of people residing in rural districts the last week in May would be the most suitable time for holding the elections. Generally all the work is finished then. Towards the end of June hay-cutting on early meadows has to be attended to. The slackest time and the most convenient time to have the elections held for these people would, in my opinion, be the last week in May.

Question—"That Section 6 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.

We are not pressing this matter to a division, but we are not satisfied that this could not be better done.

Sections 7 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 14 stand part of the Bill."

The amendment to this section in the name of Deputy Brennan is not appropriate to this Bill, but would be to a Bill dealing with the electoral law.

I might say with regard to Deputy Brennan's amendment that the powers that he seeks under it we have already under sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 1 of the Local Government Act of 1919.

Amendment not moved.

There is just a small amendment that I desire to move to this section. In sub-section (8), line 2, on page 6, to delete after the word "town" the word "of" and substitute therefor the word "or". It is really a verbal correction.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.

I move:

Before Section 15 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The poll, if any, at an election of members of a local authority shall commence at nine o'clock in the forenoon and be kept open till nine o'clock in the afternoon and no longer.

(2) Paragraph (c) of sub-article (2) of Article 5 of the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, and so much of all Rules made under said Article 5 as relates to the hours during which a poll is to be kept open shall cease to have effect in respect of any local authority to which this Part of this Act applies.

The effect of the amendment is to make the hours of polling for Local Government elections the same as those for Parliamentary elections. I think the experience generally is that these hours suit the public convenience.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 15 stand part of the Bill."

I do not know if I would be in order in raising on this section a matter now which relates, to some extent, to the conduct of elections, in so far as it has to deal with the counting of the votes. There appears to be great dissimilarity in many parts of the country in the methods by which the counting is carried out.

This question does not seem to arise on this section.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

I move:

Before Section 17 to insert a new section as follows:—

Whenever the day on which anything is required by this Part of this Act to be done falls on a Sunday or on a bank holiday that thing shall be done on the next following day which is neither a Sunday nor a bank holiday.

I think that amendment is self-explanatory.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Sections 17 and 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 19.
(1) Section 2 of the Local Elections Postponement Act, 1925 (No. 42 of 1925) shall cease to apply to the local authorities to which this Part of this Act applies and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that the statutory elections of members of such local authorities which but for that Act would have been held in the year 1926 shall be postponed until and shall be held on such date not being later than the 31st day of March, 1929, as the Minister shall by order prescribe.
(2) An order under this section (including an order under this sub-section) may be revoked by a subsequent order, but in every such case a new date for the holding of such election shall be prescribed by such subsequent order.
(3) In this Part of this Act the expression "the prescribed date" means the date prescribed under this section for the holding of the statutory elections of the local authority in relation to which the expression is used.

On behalf of Deputy French I move:

In sub-section (1), line 27, to delete the words "31st day of March, 1929," and substitute therefor the words "30th day of June, 1928."

The idea was, especially in view of the statement made by the Minister, the last day that this Part III. of the Bill related to the County Borough of Dublin, as well County Dublin.

Is this amendment 5 or 6?

Amendment 5.

Is the amendment going to be moved by Deputy French?

As he is not here I am moving for him.

I thought there was an understanding that this amendment would not be moved at this stage.

I did not know that.

What happens is that Friday is a bad day for a contentious amendment like this. This raises the whole question of the Commissioners, and obviously that calls for very considerable discussion. I expect all parties will want to speak on it, and that we will have what is called a fairly full dress debate. That is almost impossible on a Friday.

We are not responsible for bringing the Bill in on Friday.

It was quite obvious that contentious matters were going to be raised.

Certainly, but is this the best time? Are we to finish it now? I do not mind.

Will you take back the section?

We will take it on the Report Stage.

On one point, the President's remarks are, apparently, in conflict with what was decided regarding this Bill. We have already decided that it did not relate to Dublin Borough at all.

That is the point that I wanted to make, that this section only applies to the County Dublin. The point that Deputy French wants to raise applies to something else, which could not be raised on this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move "To delete sub-section (2)."

The real object of sub-section (2) is that it might be useful in case of an earthquake, or something like that, which would upset the arrangements.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Sections 20 and 21 agreed to.

In connection with the amendment proposed by Deputy Duggan, I would like to ask if the words "Catholic holiday" could be inserted in the new section after the words "Bank holiday." In the constituency I represent—the diocese of Ferns—the Catholic holidays are observed the same as Sundays.

Perfectly right. I hope the Deputy does the same thing.

I do. I would ask the Minister to put in the words "Catholic holiday" after "Bank holiday" in that section on the Report Stage. I do not think that is too much to ask.

I will consider the matter.

It is a great tribute to the Deputy's piety to raise the question.

I hope the Minister will take the suggestion in that sense, and treat it accordingly.

Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Dáil went out of Committee. Bill, as amended, reported.
Fourth Stage fixed for Wednesday, 23rd November.

In view of what the President said about an early adjournment, I will, probably, ask for facilities to have the Final Stage of this Bill taken on Wednesday or Thursday next.