If my recollection serves me, when I moved the adjournment of the debate on this Bill I was endeavouring to point out to the House that this measure might be very undesirable in its consequences. I have refreshed my memory by a glance at the official report of the debate, and I remember that the Ceann Comhairle was good enough to say that when the debate was resumed he would explain to the House what the Bill was really about. Now I think that that is a task which should not properly have been left to the Ceann Comhairle. After all, so far as these Constitution Amendment Bills are concerned, though he has very seldom discharged it, that is a duty which properly belongs to the President who has made himself their sponsor before the Dáil. I remember that Deputy Flinn, in addressing the House on this matter, pointed out that this Bill was, as he described it, a pig which has been drawn from the poke in all its young and naked beauty. I do not think that that was exactly the attitude which the President took on the matter, but I think he came to the House and, with all the bashfulness of the erring housemaid, asked us to deal mercifully with the measure because it is only a little Bill. It is a little Bill, but I think it contains a very important principle. We are asked to confer in regard to a measure, on which the Ceann Comhairle has already adjudicated and has decided that it can be properly certified as a Money Bill, the power upon a comparatively insignificant number of Senators, first of all, to refer that Bill to a Committee, and thereby, if that body of Senators can sufficiently influence that Committee, to ensure that such measure will be held up for a prolonged period. That can be done under this Bill by the Committee coming to a decision that this Bill was not, in fact, a Money Bill. I submit that the fiat of the Ceann Comhairle of this House should be final in this matter.
Article 35 does already make provision that a Bill about which a dispute has arisen, as to whether it is or is not, a Money Bill, should be referred to a Committee on Privileges. Even though that proviso is already in the Constitution, I think that that proviso is wrong, and, from the point of view of the privileges of this House, is undesirable. Therefore, I contend that we should not make it any easier for the Seanad, or any section of the Seanad, to secure or exercise powers which are already more or less conferred by Article 35. I feel that if Article 35 were to be amended at all it should be amended in the direction of depriving the Seanad of the right to question a decision of the Ceann Comhairle of this House in relation to a Money Bill. I think that is the only way whereby at some future period, what Deputy Cooper referred to as a constitutional erisis, between this House and the Seanad, can be avoided. I believe that the sole purpose of the Constitutional amendments which the Government has introduced into this House is to give to the Seanad the capacity to enlarge its functions and its power under the Constitution and in relation to legislation, as those powers and functions are enlarged in the amended Constitution.
I feel that a time will come when the Seanad will seriously challenge the right of this House to absolute control in financial matters. In any event, I do not see that even the most modest of us would concede that men, ordinary, common, everyday individuals, men not in any way greatly demarcated or distinguished from ourselves—that in any body composed of such men, elected by us, there should reside any superior wisdom. I do not see either how even the vainest of us could imagine that our votes or our mandate could confer upon any body of individuals or any assembly a wisdom, a prudence and a judgment that are not conferred on the members of this House by the citizens of the State. Therefore, because neither the most modest nor the vainest among us would hold that there is inside that Seanad any greater sagacity, any greater prudence, any greater wisdom, any greater knowledge than is to be found in this House, I cannot see how we can concede to that body the right, which we hold as an inalienable right, of unfettered control over the purse——