There are certain points arising out of this amendment to which I would like to draw the attention of the House. Deputies will remember that when this Bill first came before the Dáil certain Deputies on this side of the House put themselves to great pains to convince the President that the Bill did not in fact achieve what he asserted it was designed to achieve. On the Second Reading and on the Committee Stage we urged that the increased power which it was proposed to give to the Seanad by this Bill in relation to Bills certified by the Ceann Comhairle to be Money Bills could be used for obstructionist purposes. Despite the eloquence and the ability with which that case was put forward by Deputies on this side of the House, the President refused to be convinced for a very long time. After we had argued the matter out on the Committee Stage we succeeded in getting into his head that there was some substance in our arguments. The Bill was then hung up for a period of about 12 months, at the end of which time the President moved the Report Stage and introduced certain amendments designed to meet the particular points that we had drawn attention to. The Bill then went to the Seanad.
I said that Deputies here saw the danger that the power given to the Seanad by the Bill would be used for obstructionist purposes. The Seanad, on the other hand, saw the danger of the particular wording used in the proposed section of the Constitution giving powers to the Dáil to obstruct the functions of the Seanad in the same connection. And therefore the Seanad have moved this amendment, designed to make obstruction by the Dáil impossible. Now Fianna Fáil, Cumann na nGaedheal and the Seanad have all combined to try and make this proposed section of the Constitution workable. Unfortunately, however, the material was bad in the first instance, and, despite the ability which Fianna Fáil brought to the task, I suggest that the section of the Constitution is not yet workable in all circumstances. We have provided for the possibility of the Dáil refusing to appoint members on the Joint Committee. We have provided for the possibility of the Seanad refusing to appoint members on the Committee of Privileges. We have provided for the possibility of the Committee of Privileges failing to report within the 21 days specified, but there are certain other contingencies against which we have not yet safeguarded.
The Bill provides that the Committee of Privileges shall consist of three members elected by the Seanad and three members elected by the Dáil and the Chairman who shall be a member of the Supreme Court able and willing to act. Who appoints the Chairman? Presumably the Government are responsible for the appointment of the Chairman. Is there anything in this Bill which says that the Government must appoint a Chairman? If the Government fail to appoint a Chairman can the Committee act, and if the Committee cannot act what happens to the Bill certified by the Ceann Comhairle to be a Money Bill in respect of which the certificate is questioned by the Seanad? If there is no Judge of the Supreme Court willing to act what happens? Can the Committee be constituted? Can a Chairman be appointed? Can the question of whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill be determined? If we succeeded in getting members appointed by the Dáil and members appointed by the Seanad and a Judge of the Supreme Court appointed by the Government, who actually brings the Committee together? Who appoints the time and place at which they meet and summons the first meeting? If the person who might carry out that duty fails to do it what will the position be? Will the Bill certified by the Ceann Comhairle to be a Money Bill become such without question after the expiration of the 21 days? Is it anybody's duty to summon the Committee to meet or will we have the situation that three members of the Dáil will be available here, three members of the Seanad available in the other Chamber, a Judge of the Supreme Court available somewhere else and no machinery in existence by which they can be brought together and constituted as a Committee of Privileges.
We spent a long time over this Bill. It was ordered by Dáil Eireann to be printed on 31st October, 1929. My recollection is that it was introduced before then. It is Constitution (Amendment No. 12) Bill, 1928. We spent a long time over it and since we have spent such a long time over it let us at least try to produce a workmanlike Act at the end. We, the Fianna Fáil Party, are not particularly concerned about the Constitution, whether it is workable or not, but when that document goes abroad it is studied by Constitutional lawyers in other countries who are anxious to know the forms of Government here and we at least would like them to think that we can produce a workable Constitution. I suggest to the President and the House that if Article 35 is amended as suggested here workable machinery will not be established in consequence thereof. We have provided for certain contingencies, not for them all. Even at this late hour the President can withdraw the Bill and ask for the co-operation of the Fianna Fáil Party in having a better one prepared.