In connection with the Arterial Drainage (Minor Schemes) Bill, when does the Minister propose to fix a time for taking the Seanad amendments to it?
I suggest that they be taken on Wednesday next. With the exception of amendment No. 11 and the more or less drafting amendments that arise from it, I propose to accept the other amendments. As I say, I do not propose to recommend the Dáil to accept amendment No. 11.
May I ask whether there is any alternative to the system by which, when important and complicated amendments are made to a Bill dealt with in the Seanad, these amendments are merely submitted here for examination on one day. My point is as to whether there is any Standing Order or other rule by which a Bill like this should go through more than one stage? In this case the amendments are of a most complicated and radical character and if adopted they would practically constitute a new Bill. Under the circumstances it would be strange if the Dáil considered them only for an hour or so.
The system is that when a Bill is passed by the Dáil it is sent to the Seanad, and if the Seanad amends it the amendments come before us and, under Standing Orders, are considered in Committee. They are open to relevant amendment and are again considered on Report, so that in important cases there would really be two stages here, but the discussion is necessarily confined to the amendments inserted by the other House. The Deputy's point as to a Bill being practically a new one is a very important one which I have not considered, but there are, in fact, two stages. In practice there is only one stage, but if the matter is of sufficient importance there can be two stages. I do not know that there is any alternative system which we could adopt, because we must keep to the discussion of the Seanad amendments. The wider they are the wider is the range of discussion.
Would I be in order in helping the Deputy in regard to the extent of the amendment coming before the Dáil? There is nothing in the elaborate amendment except this, that where we deal with the question of bogs we recognise that a permanent improvement is not made to a bog by drainage in the same way as to land, and it contemplates that the period of time over which the money that is spent on the improvement, and which has to be collected, should be brought into relation with the period of time that benefit will be taken from the bog. We deal with the matter by having a turbary assessment running in the same way as a drainage assessment. It is simply a scheme for turbary assessment, parallel to a scheme for a land assessment, but they have to be put in separately because they deal with a matter that has to be dealt with over a different period of time to the drainage assessment.
We can come to these Seanad amendments later. The real point of difficulty is that there might possibly be a widening of the discussion.