I beg to move amendment No. 1:—
In Part II, in the second column relating to Article 41, to add after the word "Eireann" the words "the insertion after the words ‘Executive Council shall present' of the words ‘not earlier, in the case of Money Bills as hereinafter defined, than seven clear days, or in the case of any Bill other than a Money Bill, three clear days after the passage of such Bill.'"; the insertion at the end of the Article of the words—
"A Money Bill for the purposes of this Article means a Bill which contains provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration or regulation of taxation; the imposition for the payment of debt or other financial purposes of charges on public moneys or the variation or repeal of any such charges; supply; the appropriation, receipt, custody, issue or audit of accounts of public money; the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; subordinate matters incidental to those subjects or any of them. In this definition the expressions ‘taxation,'‘public money' and ‘loan' respectively do not include any taxation, money, or loan raised by local authorities or bodies for local purposes."
This measure was introduced in order to take the Seanad out of the Constitution. The taking out of the Seanad would provide a fairly easy passage for Bills. Under the Constitution, so far, a Money Bill could be considered by the Seanad and recommendations could be made in connection with it. There is a period of 21 days after which, if no recommendations come from the Seanad, a Money Bill becomes law. This amendment provides that seven clear days shall elapse from the introduction of the Money Bill until it becomes law. The most important Money Bills of the year are the two Central Fund Bills. One is introduced some time in March and the other should be introduced and passed into law before 1st August. As the Bill that is now before us stands, it would be possible to introduce the Money Bill and get it through all stages here on the day of introduction and it could be signed that night. I put that point before the Dáil on the Second Reading. In the course of the President's speech on that occasion he indicated the intention to set up a commission and said that it was intended to amend the Standing Orders. I think that was merely trifling with the position. In fact, the whole procedure in connection with the introduction of this measure indicates a certain trifling with the Dáil.
It is really a major measure and it simply lops off portions of the Constitution which enshrined certain safeguards for the people. If it be not intended to have Money Bills passed through the House within 12 hours, then there should and there must be some consideration given to an amendment which would prevent any Administration from doing that. The 21 days provided in the Constitution to enable the Seanad to consider and make recommendations in connection with Money Bills were really a safeguard. This Bill, when passed, provides no such safeguard. Aftering the Standing Orders will be no safeguard. In the case of certain local authorities,, where they have Standing Orders, it is provided that they cannot be waived or suspended without a two-thirds majority. The Standing Orders here can be suspended by a majority of one. Altering the Standing Orders is simply begging the question. You could pile up Standing Orders here to the number of 1,000 and a majority of one would suspend them and enable the Ministry to carry through any legislation it pleased, as long as it possessed a majority, within any space of time that the resolution which they would put would confine the Dáil.
Money Bills are, perhaps, the most important things that could come before the Dáil or before a Parliament in any country. If we mean to make an effort towards having stable conditions we could only ensure stable conditions by letting the people understand that economic considerations, economic changes or taxation changes are not going to take place overnight. It is quite true that no matter what safeguard one provides in legislation an irresponsible Ministry, an unscrupulous Ministry, can evade or get over it. Notwithstanding that, it is necessary to ensure that we tax their ingenuity in that connection. If the desire is to achieve stable conditions, then this amendment or some such amendment is required in order to satisfy the people that no such intention is under consideration. In most countries under normal conditions taxation proposals are introduced at one period of the year. There have been departures from that in recent years, but recent years were not normal years.
The aim of a legislature should be to get to the normal conditions as quickly as possible. People in business realise the importance of knowing prices so that they can purchase their goods and do their business without the fear of a change taking place overnight. Nobody can question the fact that Money Bills, taxation and so on, are the most important business that Parliament can transact. In view of these considerations I am proposing this amendment.