Late Sitting.

I move: "That the Dáil sit later than 11 p.m., and that the Order for Adjournment be taken not later than 8 a.m. to-morrow." It will be observed that quite a number of Estimates have still to get consideration from the Dáil, and it is usual to allow some time to the Seanad to consider the Appropriation Bill. There was, I think, an understanding that the Estimates would have been disposed of on the 20th June. Although the understanding which had been arrived at, that each Thursday should be allotted to Estimates, was not strictly adhered to, to date the time allotted was practically the same as would have been given had the date allotted for Estimates been as arranged at that time. I think it will be generally agreed that the financial business, so far as the Estimates are concerned, should be concluded in time to allow due and proper consideration of the Appropriation Bill by the Seanad.

We are opposed to that proposal. I think that a sitting overnight simply means that the work will be only half done. The rush of business at this particular time is due largely to the Government's introducing a number of Bills at the last moment. Some of these Bills require careful consideration, and we think that any effort to rush them through the House is against the public interest. As for the Estimates, we think that it is right that we should get reasonable time for their consideration. The proposal that we should sit all night simply means that the Estimates will not get that consideration, so we are going to vote against that proposal.

I must say on behalf of the Labour Party that we object to an all-night sitting also. I, as a member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, consider that that Committee should have been called together before the President moved a motion of this kind. I believe, if that Committee had been called together, a certain amount of accommodation would have been afforded. Even at this stage, I submit that might be done.

I submit that the Executive Council have been given every consideration during the present Session to get Government business done. I think that I am correct in saying that since the Budget was introduced by far the greater portion of Private Deputies' time was given over to Government business, and no objection to that was taken by us. We are strongly opposed to sitting all night, irrespective of what the state of the Order Paper may be, because it is quite obvious that proposals for legislation cannot get proper consideration from Deputies who are sitting fifteen hours at a stretch. As I mentioned already, a large number of Deputies have been in Session since 11 o'clock this morning on various public committees, and to think that they will be able to give the Bills and the Estimates that will come before them proper consideration, having been at that work for twenty hours is, to my mind, a very mistaken idea. I have no doubt that this proposal is put forward largely because the Government believe that this Dáil is not capable of improving any of the propositions which they bring before them, whether these proposals relate to Bills or to Estimates. It is, in addition, an attempt to prevent a proper examination of the administration of the various Departments by the Government during the year. I say it is a form of blackmail. It means delivering an ultimatum to Dáil to the effect that if we do not permit this encroachment on the time of the Dáil, the Government will submit the members to a certain amount of physical inconvenience. The Government appear to think that quick legislation is better than good legislation. On that matter, we strongly disagree with them. The various Estimates on the Order Paper deserve the proper consideration of the Deputies, if these Deputies are to carry out their duties as public representatives.

A number of new Bills were introduced last week, including the Agricultural Credit Bill, the Land Bill, and the Electricity (Finance) Bill, all of which are designed to remedy defects in Acts introduced by the Government and rushed through this House in this manner. Afterwards it was found that they were unworkable. It has been found necessary in other cases to remedy similar defects due to lack of foresight on the part of the Government. It is a decidedly bad practice to introduce into the House at the end of a long session important Bills of this nature. Deputies should be given an opportunity of considering them over the Recess, during which they will have an opportunity of getting all the information they want in relation to the Bills. Then, when we resume, Deputies will be able to discuss all measures in a proper frame of mind. A certain system of Government has been framed here—it has been embodied in sections of the Constitution—which implies public discussion by the elected representatives of the people on every proposal for legislation. It is not supposed to be government by a dictator or by decree. Every day we are getting fresh evidence that the Government appear to consider themselves hampered by these democratic sections of the Constitution, and they appear to be anxious to get back to a position in which their word will carry without any further question. I submit they have not the moral courage to come here with proposals to amend the Constitution and they are just trying to evade its obligations by trickery.

I see it suggested in the Press that the Dáil should adjourn on 11th July. Why I do not know, except that prominent members of the Government Party may be anxious to attend celebrations usually held on 12th July. It is unusual, in any case, to adjourn in the middle of the week. The proposal to adjourn on 11th July implies that the members of the Government Party are anxious to be off on that particular Friday. Even if adequate time were to be afforded to the Dáil to consider all the matters on the Order Paper. I would remind the Government that a very large number of Bills necessary for the proper government of this country have been promised but have not yet been introduced. We were promised a Town Tenants Bill, a Dublin City Management Bill, a Merchandise Marks Bill, a Minerals Bill, and a Fisheries Bill, together with a number of other Bills. Not one of these has appeared. Apparently a number of them exist only in the imaginations of Ministers for election purposes and they are not likely to appear. If the Dáil is to do its work properly it is not the convenience of members or a desire for holidays that should be taken into consideration, but rather the legislative needs of the country. The legislative needs of the country do not permit of an adjournment as early as 11th July. Neither does the idea of proper government require that we should sit all night, most of us probably half asleep, to consider important proposals.

I hope that the Dáil will assert its independence of the Executive Council in this particular matter, and reject the proposal that has been made by the President. If it is necessary, we can meet on Tuesdays, or we can meet for an extra week. In fact, we can meet on Mondays and Saturdays as well. The length of each day's sitting is sufficient to enable Deputies to follow the proceedings with some degree of intelligence. A meeting lasting over fifteen hours would make that physically impossible. Eminent scientists have estimated that the average man can do only four hours constructive work a day. I do not allege that members of the Dáil are average men, or that they do constructive work, but I submit that it is not physically possible for any member, even the supermen of the Executive Council, to do fifteen hours' work a day.

I object to this wearing out process that is being inflicted upon us. I would like to point out that when there was a rush of business last year we met on Tuesdays, and I do not think that any Deputy here objected to that course. I see in this all-night proposal a scheme to bludgeon out the opposition. I have a decided objection to being bludgeoned by anybody. I wish to point out also that there are a lot of Estimates here which, if taken at two or three o'clock in the morning, will not receive the amount of discussion necessary for their proper consideration, particularly when we consider the usual condition of the Assembly at that hour. I would urge, for the sake of the dignity of the proceedings, that this proposal should be reconsidered. I am afraid the condition of the members of the Dáil at three o'clock in the morning will not be very dignified for anybody to look at.

In regard to what has been said by Deputy Corish, that if this matter had been brought before the Committee on Procedure and Privileges some accommodation might have been found, I may say that in order to save the time of the Committee I made an investigation beforehand, and I found that it was useless to submit the matter to the members of that Committee, that there was no use in going to the Committee on the matter. I doubt very much if the Deputy is not aware of that.

I am not.

It was a back-door method.

If the Deputy wishes to put it that way, and if he considers his whip a back-door method, I would like to remind him that he must be well aware his Party met and discussed this matter and decided against us.

Are not all Parties represented on the Committee?

Certainly.

Who has the majority vote?

As far as I am aware, matters of this kind are not decided in that fashion. This is the place to decide that matter in that way. I would further like to remind Deputies that if there is any Party in this House which has distinguished itself by reason of its anxiety to present a picture to the people of the country depicting its members as being all willing to die for the nation, it is the Party on the opposite Benches. I am merely asking the Deputies over there, in this proposal, to sit up all night for the nation.

Question put.
The Dáil divided. Tá: 62; Níl, 53.

  • Aird, William P.
  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Cole, John James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Conlon, Martin.
  • Connolly, Michael P.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Daly, John.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Dolan, James N.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Dwyer, James.
  • Egan, Barry M.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Hassett, John J.
  • Heffernan, Michael R.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Henry, Mark.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Jordan, Michael.
  • Keogh, Myles.
  • Law, Hugh Alexander.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • MacEóin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James E.
  • Nally, Martin Michael.
  • O'Connell, Richard.
  • O'Connor, Bartholomew.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
  • O'Reilly, John J.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reynolds, Patrick.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Shaw, Patrick W.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Vaughan, Daniel.
  • Wolfe, George.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Broderick, Henry.
  • Buckley, Daniel.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cassidy, Archie J.
  • Clery, Michael.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Colohan, Hugh.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Fahy, Frank.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan; Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Kent, William R.
  • Kerlin, Frank.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Connell, Thomas J.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
  • O'Hanlon, John F.
  • O'Kelly, Seán T.
  • O'Leary, William.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Tubridy, John.
  • Walsh, Richard.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Duggan and P. S. Doyle. Níl: Deputies G. Boland and Allen.
Question declared carried.
Ordered accordingly.