In Committee on Finance. - Constitution (Amendment) (No. 24) Bill, 1934—Committee Stage.

Sections 1, 2 and 3 agreed to.
SCHEDULE
PART II.
AMENDMENTS OF PARTICULAR ARTICLES

Article

Amendment

18

The deletion of the words “either House” in both places and the substitution therefor in each place of the words “Dáil Eireann”; the deletion of the words “the House” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann”.

19

The deletion of the words “either House thereof” and the sub stitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann”; the deletion of the words “either House” where they secondly occur and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann.”

20

The deletion of the words “each House” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann.”

21

The deletion of the words “each House” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann.”

22

The deletion of the words “each House” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann”; the deletion of the words “either House” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann.”

24

The deletion of all words from the words “and the date” to the end of the Article.

25

The deletion of the words “each House of the Oireachtas” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann”; the deletion of the words “either House” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann.”

41

The deletion of the words “or deemed to have been passed by both Houses” and the sub stitution therefor of the words “by Dáil Eireann.”

50

The deletion of the words “both Houses of the Oireachtas” and the substitution therefor of the words “Dáil Eireann”; the deletion of the words “or deemed to have been passed by the said two Houses of the Oireachtas” and the substitution therefor of the words “by Dáil Eireann.”

52

The deletion of the words “save that one of such other members may be a member of Seanad Eireann.”

63

The deletion of the word “resolu tions” and the substitution therefor of the words “a resolu tion”; the deletion of the words “and Seanad Eireann.”

68

The deletion of the word “resolu tions” and the substitution therefor of the words “a resolu tion”; the deletion of the word “both”; the deletion of the words “and Seanad Eireann.”

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.

Evidently we will have no reply to the points raised by Deputy Cosgrave. I pointed out on the Second Reading of this Bill that the proposal to abolish the Seanad has given rise to very considerable uneasiness, financial and economic, in the country. Since the Bill has passed its Second Reading that feeling has been gravely accentuated. Anybody moving around the city must certainly be aware of the very serious unrest and uncertainty that exists. It is not a matter about which we want to talk very much. This amendment in the name of Deputy Cosgrave and myself is designed to allay, in some way, that feeling of uneasiness and to show that there will be at least in this Bill when it becomes an Act some brake put upon hasty financial legislation, something which will enable people to realise whither they are going and what is happening them before the thing actually descends upon them as a matter of law. This amendment is a very serious consideration put forward from that point of view and it deserves equally serious consideration from the Government.

I hold that no case whatever has been made for this amendment by the mover. We are told just now that there is considerable uneasiness abroad. Well, certainly, if there is not uneasiness abroad it is not due to the Opposition that there is not. This is a scare amendment. It can do nothing. It would be no help whatever if there was this unscrupulous or irresponsible Ministry which the leader of the Opposition said could exist and against whom there could be no safeguard. I have said that all the time. Everybody who considers the question of a responsible Government is satisfied that there is ultimately no safeguard for the public except in the integrity, the honour and the commonsense of the people's representatives. That is the position here.

What is the point in waiting for seven days? What is the point in waiting for three days? A Bill is passed, it is about to be presented. Is there any suggestion that within the three days it would be withdrawn? I have seen no case whatever put forward by the mover. It is the most surprising amendment to a Bill that has ever been put forward. We are told that Money Bills are most important. Yes, they are most important, we will admit it, but what is the Constitutional position at the present moment in regard to these Bills? Is the Seanad allowed to stop or curtail the will of the Dáil in the matter? It is not. A certain period is given.

I indicated on the Second Reading speech that in all probability the Standing Orders would be changed so as to give, perhaps, a somewhat longer time for the consideration of the Bill on the Report Stage. But these important Money Bills with the Constitution as it stands have to be passed in the form in which the Dáil wishes. There are 21 days' consideration allowed. Recommendations can be made. In the alterations which I expect will be made in the Standing Orders with regard to the special consideration of the Bill on the Report Stage, a certain period will elapse. But in all probability the recommendations, if there are any recommendations, can be put before the Dáil before it passes and can be made by the Dáil.

I must say that I am amazed that anybody could put forward an amendment of this sort. I suggest that it was brought forward simply to make and to emphasise the point made by the leader of the Opposition which was to create a scare. There is no real safeguard in this amendment if it were passed. None whatever. I suggest that it is an amendment which has been brought forward with no real saving purpose behind it.

There are none so blind as those who have eyes and will not see. The whole procedure in connection with the introduction of this measure and the speech made by the President in introducing it were most reprehensible. He brought in his measure, and he had practically nothing to say to it. Is it his defence to say "I propose to answer whatever is said at the end of the debate?" There was no indication and no assurance to the Dáil, that there was going to be any attempt at allaying any public apprehension there might be in connection with this measure. "In the course of my observations I said these are satisfactory."

They are not.

What are not?

That there is no public uneasiness.

The man who shuts himself up in Government Buildings and has his bed there does not know what is happening outside. What are the facts of the case? Is it not a fact that a Bill can be introduced here at 3 o'clock, passed at midnight, and sent immediately to the Governor-General? If that is admitted is it a danger or is the amendment a safeguard for the people who are looking for stability in this country? There is no scare about my statement, because if you do not mean that, if you want to ensure the people against that happening, tell us what you are going to do about amending this measure here.

Here is a Bill which acts improperly towards the Constitution. It practically tears the clothes off the Constitution. It is on a part with the other measures introduced. There is here a Constitution—Bunreacht—and it can be changed in less than nine hours. All you require in connection with that is a sufficient number of heads or bodies on the far side of the House to get their own whim through. They will pass any Bill that the Executive Council tries to impose on the President or that the President tries to impose on them. What is the position in the country at present with regard to finance? How many millions of Savings Certificates are there? How many millions are there in the Post Office? What is to prevent a measure coming along here to deflate our currency and presenting those people with a half or three-quarters or any other fraction of the sums they have advanced to the State? Is that the intention? If it be not the intention give them that security. That is possible, before this measure passes into law. If it be not your intention to inflate or deflate, if it be your intention to pay back the money borrowed, if you want the people to keep their money where it is in the Post Office or in the Savings Certificates, assure them that you cannot within nine hours reduce the value of that money which they have lent to the State.

No case has been made for this amendment. What case is required to be made for it? It is admitted that a Bill can pass into law in the space of four or five hours. The banks close at 3 o'clock. The Post Office Savings Bank is closed at some hour in the evening—6 or 7 o'clock—and they cannot get out their savings certificates and so on. We want to ensure stability and to give the people every possible safeguard known to the law, and the answer is that no case has been made for this. What is their case at present? There are two Houses. Supposing, for a moment, that there was a corrupt majority in the Seanad, at the worst it will occupy two days before a measure passes.

We did not find what?

You succeeded in getting a Bill through in less than two days.

No, I did not, and I will remind the Minister of his opposition and of the opposition of his Leader and his Party, and all the condemnations they uttered about it. They have falsified and swallowed them all, but, to use a phrase in the Gospel, the dog has returned to his vomit. If that were a bad Bill, why do you use it? The people who used those phrases, and who were responsible for all that condemnation and opposition, know now that they were wrong in their criticism and condemnation. They tell us now that they know what constitutions are, and what is necessary to safeguard the people's interests, and so on. They are the guardians of stability and so on. When I was a Minister of this State, I was informed by the Ministry of Finance of the seriousness of big sums of money that were borrowed by the State under savings certificates and in the Post Office. I did not put up this when opposing this measure, because I thought there was some little common sense in the Ministry. Why not let the people in at once? It is admitted that a measure can become law here in a few hours. That is admitted, and it will not be extended for the reason that it is our amendment —only because they did not think of it. Just look at what is introduced here— a continual series of chops—and it took a fortnight to consider it. That Bill is probably a tribute to the consideration measures get that are brought in by the Ministry to this House.

I do not know if there are going to be any further speakers, or if we are going to have any more of this repetition. I say again that the only aim is to suggest that any majority of the people's representatives were going to do such things as the Opposition have suggested. I hold that it is throwing contempt on the whole idea of responsible government and representative government to make the suggestions that have been made. If there is going to be this irresponsible majority in this House, then I say that there is no protection, and the Deputy who has spoken has just admitted that there is no protection.

Excuse me. I said no such thing. I suggested that if there were an unscrupulous Ministry, all that one can do is to delay the operation of their unscrupulousness.

The Deputy is trying to mend his hand.

Very good. I will make you a present of it.

It is nearer to what he said originally, that it was going to tax their ingenuity, and the suggested protection is that the ingenuity of an irresponsible and corrupt majority is going to be taxed. We know that where measures of the kind suggested have been taken, they have been taken hurriedly, and that there are ways and means by which the proposed method of delay could be defeated if there were an irresponsible Ministry which would be supported by a majority. It is no protection. It is simply a suggestion that there are intentions, on the part of the majority here in this House, to despoil citizens.

Not at all.

That is the suggestion behind it, and I say that if there are sound financial conditions in this country, and if there is stability, it certainly is not due to anything that the Opposition have done to bring about a situation of that sort, because the whole of their attitude has been to try and bring about unstable conditions. Every one of their public speeches has been aimed at that object. As I say, therefore, no case whatever has been made out for this, and we are not going to give way to the suggestion that there is going to be here, or that there is going to be elected by the people, an irresponsible Ministry of the type suggested.

As usual, the President has only to get up to make a case for one of his Bills to persuade any person, who is not led away by his mere logic chopping and who looks at the full facts in the case, that the case he is making is unsound in itself and unsound for the country. No majority should be given the absolute powers that are proposed to be given here, and that the President thinks a majority ought to have. There ought to be some checks. I do not care what Party is in power, whether it be our Party or the President's Party, there ought to be some checks. Party despotism and Party bossism is very often worse than the bossism of one man. There ought to be every safeguard for the unfortunate people of this country to protect themselves from the powers even of a passing majority of that kind to do what they wish. What is the position of the President? The position is that nobody dare criticise him when he brings in mad measures undermining the stability of the country, no matter how deleterious to the country the measures may be, or no matter what damage they may inflict on the country, because by doing so you lay yourself open to the charge of undermining the stability of the country. In that way the President has tried again to down every criticism in this House and through the country. Everybody listening to him must be quite clear, not merely from what he says but from the way he says it, that the man brooks no opposition or criticism. His plea always is that any criticism, or any attempt to open the eyes of the country to the danger of the part the Government is pursuing is damaging the country.

It is our duty to tell the country whither the policy of the Government is leading and whither this particular policy is leading. It is usual to say, in connection with measures of this kind, that no matter what the Government may do there may be other Government that will abuse the powers that are proposed to be given. I am convinced that the present Government will abuse the powers now being given in every line of this Bill. They themselves were the first to oppose the granting of similar powers to a Government and, as Deputy Cosgrave has pointed out, no Government has so abused those powers as the men on the opposite benches. What guarantee have we that they, backed up by their followers, will pay the slightest attention to the wishes of the country or to the welfare of the country? Personally, I do not believe they will pay the slightest attention. It is usual to pay a sort of tribute that, though these powers are there and may be abused, they are sure that the present Government will not abuse them. I wish I could feel that way about it, but I am perfectly sure that the present Government will abuse these powers. Such powers as these should not be given into the hands of the Government—powers, as Deputy Cosgrave said, from night to morning to ruin the whole economic fabric of this country. There should be something that would make the Government pause, and up to the present the necessity for such a pause has been there.

I am not going into the question of whatever efforts are being made for the building up of the industries of this country and so on. That can be dealt with some other time, but I say that the very policy and politics of the head of the Executive Council are not giving a fair chance even to that policy of building up our industries. He is undermining, as far as any man can do it, the whole sense of responsibility and stability in this country, and when an effort is made to save the country from that mad policy he gets up here and tries to throw the blame on the other side. That dodge is time-worn by this time. That is the man who thinks he can tear up the Constitution and who removes one House of the Oireachtas altogether— a most fundamental change—and what is his attitude? He has to make no case. He can come in here and tear up fundamental Articles of the Constitution and it is not his business to make a case. When an effort is made, as this amendment tries to do, to put a limit to certain powers that this Bill gives into the hands of the Government, we have a tornado of had argument and abuse from the President.

It is time that the country should be allowed to see precisely where it is going. The plea of the President is that we are adding to the instability of the country, whereas our main purpose, in and out of office, has been to secure stability in this country for industry and everything else. The President, if he has his ears to the ground, must know that he is undermining any confidence that the people have in this country and its future. Now that the Dáil has accepted the principle of one House, I think we will be the only country in the world left with those supreme powers in the hands of the Executive, in the hands of one Party in a legislative body. I do not think there is in the whole of Europe—there may be in Russia, as is suggested here, but I cannot say the President possibly knows a great deal more about that than I do—any country in which such power is given into the hands of a majority in a single legislative Chamber as this Bill proposes. When an effort is made to ward off some of the damage that this Bill proposes to do we have to listen to speeches such as the President has given us this evening.

There is another case which I have to make in this connection. I expected that there might have been an argument that a week was not sufficient time to give in connection with a Money Bill. I took the precaution of looking up the dates on which the Central Fund Bills were introduced into this House since the foundation of the State and the dates of their passage. In the year 1923, which is practically the first year, the Bill was introduced on 26th March; in the year 1924, on 27th March; in 1925, on 25th March; in 1926, on 25th March; in 1927, on 15th March; in 1928, on 20th March; in 1929, on 7th March; and in the remaining years on 7th, 18th, 15th, 15th and 7th March respectively. There was ample time in every case, with the exception of the first two years. That is the test in respect of our experience over 12 years—ample time with the exception of the first two years. On the question of time, can there be an argument made against this amendment that will stand, having regard to our experience? Out of the 12 years only the first two years would have been a day or two short, supposing that this were the law then. I am prepared to concede at once that while the Seanad had 21 days under the Constitution, the Dáil did not give them 21 days except, perhaps, on one occasion. Nevertheless, they never held up one of these Bills and nobody went short of his wages or salary by reason of a delay taking place in connection with one of those measures.

Let us understand exactly where we are. The two Appropriation Bills, which provide money for the expenditure during the year, should pass into law by 1st April and 1st August respectively. If there has to be a third one you can go down to 1st October or November, as the case may be. These are the only two occasions in respect of which any case can be made, regarding interference with the ordinary administration of State funds. On examination you will find that it was only in the first two years out of the 12 that the time would not have been sufficient. You may get a case in which in future a Central Fund Bill will be introduced on 31st March and passed that night. Normally, the representatives of the people here have a right to express their opinions upon the expenditure of public money. They are, one and all—no one more and no one less than another—responsible to people. They have been sent here by the people. They have to account for the money. It is not the Government's money. It is not money belonging to the Government Party. It is not money belonging to the various branches of their organisation or to any political organisation which returns a sufficient number of members to form a Government. There should be sufficient time for the discussion of the expenditure of public money. If this Bill passes into law, as I said the Central Fund Bill can be introduced on 31st March to be law on 1st April. They have a sledge-hammer over the heads of the members. If they do not vote the money, old age pensions cannot be paid; labourers in the service of the Board of Works, people entitled to pensions of one sort or another, even the humble office-cleaner, cannot get paid. You will have the option of saying whether you will vote it or have more discussion.

A case might possibly be made if it could be shown that even in recent years a week would not have been sufficient. But the President has not got even that piece of solid ground to stand upon in connection with this amendment. Other than that, the passage of this amendment would have no effect and no force by way of hampering the Administration in connection with the ordinary transaction of public business here. Everybody knows that the Government can to-morrow introduce tariffs and proposals for taxation into this House and, once the resolution is passed, it is operative the next day. That is not interfered with by this amendment. The safeguard, as I have said, with regard to this amendment, is that people will know that not overnight is the law of this country going to be changed, particularly with regard to the things that must matter most in these difficult economic times—public moneys and so on.

The President has suggested, in the first place, that no case has been made out for this amendment and, in the second place, that the whole object of the amendment is to throw contempt on the idea of representative Government. I should like to recall to the President that it was the mover of this amendment who gave representative Government to this country in the teeth of the opposition of the present President of the Executive Council. To suggest that the mover of this amendment, after the service he has given to the State, is bringing in an amendment for no other purpose than to throw contempt on the fabric of the State that he himself helped to build up and gave to the people of this country is an unworthy suggestion, to put it at its very mildest.

No case has been made out, says the President, for this amendment. Perhaps not, but he made out the best case for this amendment by his own words and by the attitude he adopted towards it. He relied on the fact that he had stated to the House on Second Reading that he proposed to amend, or to have amended, the Standing Orders of this House to enable certain delay to take place between the various stages of controversial and important Bills. Is that not making out a case for this amendment? Is it not admitting the very reason at the back of this amendment proposed by Deputy Cosgrave, that there must be some delay, some chance for the people to get breathing space and time for consideration? When the President admits, as he admitted in his Second Reading speech, and as he has admitted to-day, the necessity for delay between the various stages of a Bill, is it not just making the case for this amendment, the whole fundamental reason at the back of which is the necessity for delay?

Then the President asks if there is a suggestion that in three days a Bill may be withdrawn. There is such a suggestion. A Bill may be rushed through this House some afternoon very seriously prejudicing the financial structure of this State. After the present Executive have finished carving up the Constitution and have left its bleeding corpse to die, there will be only one safeguard for the people of this country, and that is the safeguard of public opinion—strong, militant public opinion—and if a measure is passed by a majority in this House that outrages public opinion, it may be that the Executive, corrupt as they may be and strong as they may think they are, will have to bow before the storm of public opinion that may arise in this country in three or seven days if this amendment were passed.

It is most interesting indeed to hear arguments put forward by the former Attorney-General when they are put forward in that manner.

I am glad you like them.

There is no difference, of course. When we speak of delay, it is all the same whether the delay is after a Bill has passed this House or delay during the stages before it passes. Now, we find that the purpose of the amendment, as we are told, is to bring about a situation in which, when the majority of the elected representatives of the people, in the national interest, as we must assume, or otherwise we have no hope in responsible Government at all, have passed a measure, we are to allow people who are opposed to that measure and who may think themselves somehow or other aggrieved by it, to stir up a condition here which would make government impossible. Is that not it? That is clearly the argument put forward, and it is, I must say, a very interesting contribution to this debate, because now, for the first time, we have got what is at the back of the minds of those who have moved this amendment. I said that no case had been made. I had a suspicion that the real reason was something like the case made by the former Attorney-General, and now the cat is out of the bag. Now we understand why it is going to be proposed here that, when the Dáil has passed a measure, when a majority of the people's representatives have passed a measure, in the national interest, as we must assume it to be, we are going to have elements ontside trying to defeat them by stirring up a condition of practical revolt.

What else is it?

No such suggestion was made.

If there is anything behind the former Attorney-General's statement, there is that behind it, and I think it is a disgraceful suggestion.

It would be, if it were behind it, but it is not.

Militant public opinion?

"Militant," not "military," if the Deputies can understand English.

A number of Deputies have been listening to the statement made by Deputy Costello, and I think they can interpret it fairly well for themselves, and I leave it to those as to whether or not I have given a fair interpretation of what the Deputy has said. Our attitude is that, in the long run, there is only one safeguard for the people, and that is in the responsibility of the people's elected representatives. There is no other safeguard, and the sooner everybody recognises that the better, and the sooner that every Deputy realises that on him and on his general attitude towards the interests of the people depends the welfare of the people, so far as law can make it, the better. That is our position on this Bill and in resisting this amendment.

If the President attended Harold's Cross or Shelbourne Park, he would find that there is a rather notable and notorious dog runs there sometimes called "Old Time Song." I am wondering if he wants to get out of the same trap as "Old Time Song" some of these nights. Here he is at it again—democracy, the people, revolt, elected representatives, government—and the old time song about him in regard to these is that what he thinks in respect of these matters is all that counts. I thought we had got away from this rubbish of the President looking into his own heart and projecting into this House the ugly picture that that peculiar camera obscura would give.

"Obscura" is right!

Does the President remember the time when he confessed and put himself on paper—he did not think it would ever see the light of day but we saw that it did—that he had been unfortunate enough to associate himself with a repudiation of the authority of the Dáil and it was not because he thought he was backed by the people because he added in letters that came after "We shall be turned down by the people in a few months in any event."

I wonder has the President any sense of responsibility or any sense of the ridiculous when he talks about stirring up revolt against the elected representatives of the people? Will he look into his heart and see what it answers him on that point. "Stirring up revolt"—that was the neat phrase about militant public opinion. If some of the learned Deputies on the other side think that when the word "militant" is used it has something to do with appearing in arms, let them ask some of their priestly friends what does the "Church Militant" mean. But there was a military revolt in this country against democratic Government by the man who is now prating about responsibility and about Deputies beginning to realise how much on each individual depends the welfare of the country. That was not his old time song. Then we have instability, and we are the cause of it. What does his own Minister for Industry and Commerce say about the biggest sign of instability that the country has had produced to it in recent years—the failure of the National Loan which the President ran?

Not at all. There was no failure.

The only failure of a National Loan since the country was started as a Free State—the only failure that was brought about by the President and, mind you, it would probably be worse now if he went out parading himself in all the scalps of the calves and saying, "Here is my promise to you; here is what I bring; here are the fruits of all my policy." What about your moneys to build up the State for this end, as far as one end of agriculture is concerned? The President cannot forget his own past.

I would like to know how this is relevant to the amendment?

Might I suggest that the President may be answered? He brought in all these things here deliberately.

The history of 1922 and 1923 is not relevant to the amendment before the House, neither is the agricultural policy of the Government.

If I am not allowed to discuss the President's attitude towards democracy in the light of his own past, I will bury it. If I could bury him, I would be pleased. The President has spoken of instability being caused. By what? By this amendment? Does anybody here say that there is no possibility that a Government at its wits' end with regard to taxation and unable to get a loan will commandeer? In the circumstances of a Government harassed by its inability to impose further taxation, because the exaggeration point has been reached, and by its inability to get a loan because of its policy, is there any reason to suspect that there might be measures of the rather forcible loan type introduced? Is it harassing the Government to say that, having regard to those things, Money Bills should be subject to a particular delay, and that other Bills should be subject to a certain abount of delay? Will the passing of such a clause make for stability? Will the failure to permit such a clause to be discussed even moderately and calmly not make for instability.

Deputy Costello has referred to the President's statement that he would introduce Standing Orders. We should like to see them. They should have been produced at the time this measure was produced, so that we could see the alternatives. The President realises the necessity for putting off the anxieties of the people by some nonsense about Standing Orders, but he has not indicated that he has an idea in his head as to what should be the contents of those Standing Orders. In a representative Government—we have examples of it elsewhere than here— as conducted in most countries, and in countries where there has been a bigger tradition and a longer tradition with regard to that than there is here, they always had a Second Chamber and consequent delay. There are some countries which have not dumped their Second House. How many are there? What is their type? What is their recent history? Would the President enquire how many of the countries that have not a Second Chamber, or that have precluded their Second Chamber from interfering in financial matters, have not some alternative method of delay in the passage of financial resolutions? Here we are supposed to be condemning or finding fault with the representative Government because we say that there should be some period of delay allowed in respect of Money Bills. The President must remember his own recent experience in regard to the finances of this country. There was an attempt to get a loan. The Minister for Finance, in looking for that loan, referred to this country as one of the members of the Commonwealth. He compared our situation with that of other members of the Commonwealth. He failed to get the return. He certainly paraded himself before groups in this country as the Minister who had brought about a good financial situation here. He then said that, whether it was of his making or of others' making in handing over to him, there was a good financial situation here, and one that should tempt people to lend. His colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, could say here a few weeks later that people were fools to have put their money into that loan. Nobody but a fool would expect persons to invest at such a low rate of interest if—he did not say there were— there were other investments in which money could be placed. There, at any rate, you have the wheedling first and the denunciation afterwards. There was an attempt to coax money out of the people. It did not succeed. In his usual brazen fashion the Minister for Industry and Commerce said afterwards: "No wonder it failed." Supposing even his methods failed, the Government must get money. Where is it to be got?

Can we forecast their conduct in relation to such a serious thing as the people's property and the people's money by what they have done in other respects? Has it not been only at the last moment and with great difficulty that they have been prevented by the courts of the country from infringing on personal liberty? They have no shame about what they have attempted. Judging from the arguments on this Bill the fact is that the courts, in their minds, have apparently done wrong. Why should we think property will be more sacred than people's liberty? This amendment does not take away power. It stops a measure, for a period, from coming into force. It provides for a necessary period of delay in order to allow the people to understand a measure. We are told, of course, that it is laughable at the moment to consider the probability of a measure being brought in here at three o'clock, with a guillotine resolution, and passed at 10.30 that night. Stranger things were to happened. If such a thing were to happen is it unreasonable that if it is not a Money Bill three days should be allowed so that the people would get to know what was on, and that if it were a Money Bill there should be seven days' delay for that and other purposes?

The President sees red over the phrase "militant public opinion." Did he object to it all through his life? Does he think it is not right to have public opinion militant in the country? I think it is. I think it is the duty of the Opposition to a measure—where they have had demands for the creation of such an opinion—to create it. They can do that, must do it, have been doing it and will continue to do it within the law. It is part of their duty, and the public opinion they create may be more or less militant according to the importance they attach, or that they can make the people attach, to a particular measure. Do not let there be any confusion or any fear of this word "militant." It is a good word. It has a recognised meaning and a limited meaning. That is the meaning which Deputy Costello gave to it, and which I gave to it. This amendment gives us an opportunity of delay. It is a reasonable thing to ask for on the case that has been made for it.

The President has apparently objected to something that I stated. He appears to think there was something illegal in the few statements I made, and that there was something very disgraceful in the former Attorney-General having made those statements. I made those statements very deliberately, and chose the words "strong militant public opinion" very deliberately for the purpose of drawing the President, and I successfully drew him. On the Second Reading of this Bill I again pointed out that one of the dangers that were facing the country if this Bill were passed into law was the fact that Article IX of the Constitution would be placed in serious jeopardy —Article IX which guarantees the right of free expression of opinion. I hold—and because I hold very strongly I made the statement which I made to-night—that the constitutional right of free expression of opinion is the strongest safeguard which exists in this country against unconstitutional and illegal action. It is perfectly clear from the President's statement to-night that he has no use for the free expression of opinion, and that he regards it as sedition—the present Government are very found of the crime of sedition—to criticise Government measures when they become law. A hundred years ago it was laid down by British judges, even at a time when democracy was in its infancy in England, that one of the great constitutional liberties of the British subject was to criticise Bills that had been passed by the King and his Ministers and Parliament. It was proper for the British subjects, in the exercise of their constitutional rights, to criticise the King's Ministers, and the measures which the Ministers proposed to the King for his adoption. It is perfectly obvious now that in this Irish Free State the Irish citizens are not to be allowed to criticise the King's Ministers, or the measures which the King's Ministers will propose for the King to give his signature to after they have passed, in a few hours, through this Dáil.

A couple of things were said by the President that, I think, should not be passed by without letting in the light. As Deputy Costello stated, it was quite evident an attempt was made to create confusion between the word "militant" and the word "military," and while that was not obvious to those on the back benches it was quite clear to the President himself.

Not at all.

His whole speech was based on that confusion, and it was not until interruptions began to point out the fact that there was something different.

You cannot look into his mind.

I cannot look into his mind. But let us come to the attitude of the President. What is it? According to his statement what, in fact, is it? All the time it has been that he is head of the Government, that criticism of himself is not legitimate, criticism of the man chosen by a majority of the Irish people, or of his policy, is not to be allowed. That is the obvious position that has been taken up by the President. It is the full force of his arguments here. If a majority of this House, possibly a chance majority of five or six, without the full support of the Labour Party, or possibly the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle, pass a law jeopardising the future prosperity of this country, according to the President once that happens to be passed there can be no public opinion loudly expressed against it. That would be wrong. It cannot be done. The chosen of Heaven and the chosen of the people have said so. He has pronounced ex-cathedra a verdict on the whole thing. He has got a majority here. We have listened this evening to some extraordinary lessons from the President. He often gives them to us. Apparently, according to the new democracy, the rights of the people are completely identical with Single Chamber Government, without any delay whatever to what they do. In that case, I am afraid there is hardly any democracy, with the possible exception of the one not mentioned—and I cannot speak for that—existing in the world at present. Is there any country in the world in the recent past where you have democracy existing, where such powers are given into the hands of a momentary majority in one single House as you have in this case? Surely the President's argument carries him a great deal further than he is prepared to blazon forth now, that he has got a mandate for his policy. Is not that so? Have not the Fianna Fáil Party been elected merely to support him and his policy? Is not that the verdict of the Irish people? If the Seanad dares to oppose him it can be wiped away because it flouted that pronouncement? Can we not do without the Dáil? Is not that the policy that has got a mandate? What is the necessity for the Dáil?

The Deputy seems to be making a Second Reading speech.

If you allow me, Sir, I am answering the precise arguments of the President, in which he pointed out that our amendment is devoted towards doing away with democracy. If you remember the arguments of the President, I am pointing out what they mean. Not merely would they mean that in theory, but I am convinced they are going to mean that in practice, so far as Money Bills and so far as interference with the property of the people is concerned, I am quite convinced that he will get his tame majority. If he does not he will dispense with it. He is chosen; they are not chosen. They are merely elected to support him. If there is any foundation, or if there is any genuine belief in the arguments he urged, that this amendment is put forward merely to cause uneasiness, let him accept it, and the uneasiness will disappear to a large extent. Why can he not do that when he knows perfectly well that the amendment is justified? That is the reason he is not accepting it. The President's whole line is that he is the chosen of the majority, and, therefore, the majority is right. The argument does not go the other way round, as the President knows. He has proved that in the past. He was always in favour of majority rule. He told us so. God help majority rule in that case. We know now what he meant by the majority rule that he prated about, that he was always in favour of, and we can only hope that he will not be as favourable to it in the future as in the past. If so, it is a poor look-out for the majority in this country, and a poor look-out for the people, if they can trust that he will not abuse, and grossly abuse, the powers given here. It is not by any means necessary for democratic Government that the whim of a majority should be given immediate effect to, without the people being allowed to express an opinion. I have not yet read of any country where that is the conception of democracy. The steps the President took suggest that. Therefore, that has become a democratic gospel and he puts forward this particular abuse of opponents on a complete misunderstanding. It is quite obvious that he is not going to allow criticism of any measure once he has support. That is much more fundamental than any law of morality, of the Church or of anything else.

I can only repeat what I said at the beginning, that there has been no case whatever made for the amendment. There were suggestions of delay, and a general case for the advisability of delay, but there was no case made for the amendment we are discussing. I asked Deputies to look at what was proposed. It proposes that every Finance Bill that passes the Dáil should be suspended for seven days, before it can become law; not one introduced here in the morning and passed at night, but that for every single financial measure passed by the House there should be given to the Opposition seven days in which they can do everything they may think will serve their purpose as a factious Opposition. I suppose Deputies will say that such things are not conceivable, that there are no such things as factious Oppositions, that are ready to oppose everything the Government does. There are factious Oppositions and irresponsible Oppositions that have to be guarded against, just as carefully as irresponsible Governments. I suggest that Governments have responsibility, that they have something to sober them, but that there is nothing to sober a factious Opposition. This amendment, if accepted, would give a factious Opposition at any time seven days in which they could do everything they wanted to stir up panic and to create this militant feeling. I did not have to wait until now to be told the meaning of the word "militant." Of course, we are all babies, and we have to be lectured on simple English words. We have got to be told the meaning of the word militant. The Professor of English is going to tell us what it means at this hour of the day. What did the ex-Attorney-General suggest? He suggested that this action would compel an Executive that got a majority of the Dáil in favour of its measures to give up because of the trouble that would be created by a factious Opposition. That is the meaning I take of this. I am not prepared to put such a weapon into the hands of any factious Opposition. That is a thing we have to expect with every finance measure passed here, and some few other measures. There are three days or seven days, as the case may be, in which the Opposition can do their utmost to try to create opposition; people without any responsibility who want, as some members on the other side said, by every means in their power to put the Government on the rocks. Irresponsibility would damage the country as a whole. I, for one, and this Executive Council, am not going to put such a weapon into the hands of such a factious Opposition. We have not yet adverted to the second part of the amendment, that referring to the new definition of a Money Bill. It is no harm to see what would be the effect of that part of the amendment. It deletes the word "only" from the definition of a Money Bill. That means that in future any measure under which any one of the powers indicated would be taken, makes such a Bill a Money Bill.

It does not provide for any court or any person to determine whether it is or is not a Money Bill. It places on the Executive Council the responsibility of saying whether or not the measure is a Money Bill. If it were a Money Bill, it would be held up for seven days. If it were not a Money Bill, it could be put through in three days. If the Executive Council decided that it was not a Money Bill and presented it to the Governor-General for signature within three days, then the question of whether the Executive Council was right or not would have to be determined, by the courts if the Opposition decided to contest the matter. That would bring about an almost impossible position. I have not referred to it before, because I should oppose this amendment, in any event, on account of the first portion. It would equally have to be opposed on account of the second portion because of the unworkable position which would be created by it.

It is rather interesting to follow the President's reasoning. It is necessary to prevent a factious Opposition—and there may be factious Oppositions—from doing certain things. Let us consider that argument from another angle. Is it necessary to prevent an iresponsible Government— and there may be irresponsible Governments—from taking certain courses of action? The President said that the Government had something to sober them. They have also, at the moment, a great deal to intoxicate them. Many men—and I suppose Governments— have been driven to drink by despair. Where is irresponsibility more apparent at the moment? Compare recent history, compare records or anything you like on any subject akin to this— the question of the liberty of the subject. Who has been the more irresponsible, the Government or the factious Opposition? Let us take the line of reasoning the President has adopted. He is not here to be taught the meaning of simple English words. There were—if we were allowed to go into history we could show this—many simple English words of the correct meaning of which the President clearly had no idea until force taught him what the meaning was. Force, operated by a Government functioning in the name of the people, gave him an appreciation of the meaning of English words and other things. It may be that the President does not want to be told the meaning of these words. He knows what the meaning of the word "militant" is, but there is to be a variant and gloss put upon the whole thing. What did the late Attorney-General suggest? What a field is open to the imagination when one is allowed to think of what the President suggests any time he even attempts to speak plain English. The late Attorney-General, according to the President, suggested that this factious Opposition would do all they could and then, with a few more fumbling words, we are brought to a stage of panic, in the President's imagination. He speaks of "the panic that has been created." What precisely can the Opposition do in the circumstances suggested? They may hold meetings. They may engage in what, in their opinion, is the education of the people regarding the dangers inherent in some measure that has been passed. Is that wrong? If it is, say plainly and openly that freedom of speech is going to be put down, that the right to assemble peaceably, to hold meetings and join associations within the law is not going to be allowed. We suspect that is coming. The right of free speech and the right of peaceably and in an orderly manner to assemble can be put down on foot of the same arguments used here tonight, because you can import into a plain phrase like "getting a militant public opinion" all the suggestiveness the President has introduced regarding the late Attorney-General's use of this phrase about the seven-day delay in the case of one type of Bill and a three-day delay in the case of another.

Does the President think that it is open to him to talk about the Government as if nothing could be alleged against it when we have present to our minds the memorable phrase that it pleased him on one occasion to serve out gall and wormwood to his opponents. Suppose the Minister for Industry and Commerce wants to serve out gall and wormwood to those people who were not foolish enough to subscribe to his colleague's National Loan. That was the phrase that was wrapped round one measure. That was the mentality behind a particular piece of legislation. We are told that the President is not going to allow the Opposition to operate even in the seven-day delaying period against the Government because somebody used the phrase that the object was to "put the Government on the rocks." Whoever used that phrase had not much appreciation of English words, because the Government is there already. Has not the cry gone out during the past few months that it is the duty of everybody to come and man the pumps. The ship is rammed home on the rocks, leaking badly and everybody has been called in to man the pumps. A big leakage may possibly occur hereafter in a part not yet broached—the financial part— and all that is required is that the people should know, over a period of seven days, what is happening and be allowed to do what they may do in that period. The President thinks, with all the suggestiveness he has read into the proposal, that it is an attempt to create a panic. The country has survived many things. It will even survive the present Government. Its credit will even survive the failure of the last National Loan and the way in which that was brought about. It will get over those things——

The Deputy has referred three times to the alleged failure of the last National Loan. The last National Loan is not relevant to the question under discussion.

If you say distinctly and clearly that it is not relevant, I shall bow to your ruling but I must say I was under the impression that, when we were discussing what might happen a Money Bill under this measure, a big, pronounced financial failure like the failure of the last National Loan would be relevant to the discussion——

The Deputy has repeated something which the Chair has ruled out of order.

If you say it is out of order, I shall say no more about it.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 49; Níl, 68.

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenny, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McDonagh, Martin.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flinn, Hugo. V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Bennett; Níl: Deputies Little and Traynor.
Amendment declared defeated.

I move amendment No. 2:

In Part II, in the second column relating to Article XLI, to insert after the word "Eireann" the words "the insertion after the words ‘Executive Council shall present' of the words ‘not earlier than three clear days after the passage of any Bill'".

Much of what was said on the previous amendment has reference to this amendment also, with perhaps this difference, that only three days are stipulated for in this amendment. Of course, the amendment is framed to deal with hasty legislative action on the part of the Dáil. In essence, the President in his reply on the Second Reading of the Bill, admitted that some consideration would be given towards amending the Standing Orders to provide for some delay. I do not know exactly what was meant by the words "provide for some delay." If they meant that it is not proposed, in the alteration of the Constitution which is now taking place, to facilitate hasty legislation, then he has admitted that there is a case for this amendment. As I said before, the Standing Orders can be suspended by a majority of one in this House. One may have all the safeguards necessary or desirable and they can be taken away at the same sitting of the Dáil which would pass a Bill. Three clear days afford an opportunity for consideration of a measure that is passed, either on the part of the Executive or their advisors or on the part of members of the Dáil, and provide an opportunity also of making representations in connection with the Bill.

It may be that occasion may be taken by the President or his supporters to point out that in 1923 a Bill was introduced and passed through the Dáil and the Seanad in a single day authorising the Governor-General to put his signature to a Bill. It must be remembered that that Act authorising the Governor-General to put his signature to a Bill had reference to a set of circumstances and to another measure which had been under the consideration of the Dáil and of the Seanad for a considerable period and the Constitution, as it then ran, provided that a measure could be held up if a petition were presented within a week, either by, as far as my recollection goes, two-fifths of the members of the Dáil or a number of members of the Seanad. As it was enacted that that petition or those delays should be provided for, it was found by the Courts that one week should elapse from the passage of an Act through the Oireachtas before it could be signed by the Governor-General. As I have said that Bill had been before the Dáil for a considerable time. This amendment which is now proposed, ensures that four days will be occupied from the time of the introduction of a measure, or 3½ days as the case may be, until it is signed by the Governor-General. The principle of this amendment stands confessed by the President himself. I am not wedded to the particular form in which it is presented here. To the principle of it I am wedded—that a Bill should occupy at least three days from the date of its introduction until it becomes law.

There is no use in repeating the arguments which I have already used on the previous amendment. They apply almost equally to this amendment. My view is that if a delay is deemed to be necessary, the point suggested in the amendment is not the point at which delay ought to occur. When a majority of the Dáil have decided, having considered a Bill in its various stages, on the passing of a measure I think there should be no delay proposed at that stage in making the measure law by having it signed and the whole legal procedure completed. If there is to be a delay, the delay ought to be at some point in the consideration of the Bill by the Dáil. I have admitted only one thing—that a case can be made in the Dáil, in the sole Legislature, for a certain delay and a certain more mature consideration, if you like, about the Report Stage where, for example, a Committee of the Dáil would examine the Bill from the point of view of the possibility of changes in drafting or changes of that sort and perhaps an examination to see whether there were not some implications that had possibly been missed in the Committee Stage and on Second Reading. I admit that a case can be made for delay about that stage but I am not going to admit that any case has been made at all for delay when a majority of the Dáil has passed the measure.

It appears then that the argument is not that the delay in itself is dangerous; it is only the point at which the delay will occur. That point of view has now been expressed with the peculiarly implied argument that it is right to hold up the majority from committing a mistake but that it is not right to point it out to them once they have committed it. Perhaps I misunderstood the President. I understood him to say that there was a case for holding a Bill up for better examination about the Report Stage.

When that better examination has not been given and the Bill has passed, then it is wrong, even though something objectionable may be found in the measure, to hold it up: to have a period of delay. That is the only argument that the President used. At any rate it is not clear that the President envisages the necessity for getting measures through in, say, 48 hours, because he does feel himself that there is a case some time hereafter to be made and some time hereafter to be met for introducing a delaying period round about the Report Stage. Therefore, delay itself is not the objectionable feature. It is the point at which it is introduced. What other argument is there from what the President has said except what I have indicated? It is a good thing to have delay on the Report Stage for better examination, but it is a wrong thing to have mistakes pointed out before they are committed and before the Bill has been acted on. At any rate the delay here suggested is not the dangerous matter. The President has not brought that other proposal forward. In regard to ordinary measures he is moving away from the stage in which there is considerably more delay than three days. At present there is a minimum delay of three days after the passage of a Bill by this House and the taking of it by the Seanad. That is the situation at the moment. No argument has been used against the three days. The President thinks it would be better to have some delay on Report Stage but not after the Final Stage.

I cannot imagine that the Deputy is so blind as he pretends to be on this matter. Of course, there is a big difference between delay before the Final Stage has been taken by the Dáil and delay at a later period. Suppose that after the three days and when a Bill had become law it was still found there were mistakes, were we to wait then for a further period: for the three days to be extended to six days, the six days to nine days, and so on? Surely there ought to be a certain finality where making a measure law is concerned. If the law is felt not to be a wise one there will be all the ordinary political agitation in regard to it. I would point out to the Deputies opposite what their own experience has been: that with all their care, even after Bills had passed the Seanad, they had to bring in amending legislation. What I object to is keeping a Bill suspended with inducements to a factious Opposition, if it were so minded, to create a dangerous situation from the point of view of public order, public peace and good government.

I say then that there is no Deputy on the opposite benches who ought not to be able to realise the difference there is between delay introduced in the consideration of a Bill here and this suspending of a Bill for no reason. Why was the period of three days chosen? Is that to be taken as a magic number in which the people can be so organised as to bring sufficient pressure on the Executive to withdraw the Bill? In practice it would mean that whatever Executive was in office would have to come to the Dáil and say: "Now that there has been such public disapproval of this measure it will have to be withdrawn." The thing would be quite impossible in practice, and the Deputies on the opposite benches know that as well as I do. They would resist any such amendment just as I am resisting this, because of the power that it would give irresponsible persons to do harm at a critical stage. When a Bill is passed that is not the end of it. There are the ordinary methods of political agitation to get a change of policy and to get a Bill improved. There is no suggestion that all that would not go on. The point at which delay is introduced is then an important one and that is why the Deputies opposite in their arguments did not advert to that. As I have said, no case has been made for this particular amendment.

There is no end to hair-splitting. It is dangerous to introduce a period of three days' delay after a measure has passed the Final Stage, but it is not dangerous to introduce it between Committee and Report. What is the difference? The President talks of a factious Opposition. That is now a fixed idea with him. He had others, but we got rid of them for him. His fixed idea at the moment is that a factious Opposition may do damage in the three days. How? By agitation. Will they know the purpose of the Bill after it has passed Second Reading and after it has passed Committee Stage? Will they be in a position, at that period, to raise all the agitation that will be possible for them after it has passed the Fifth Stage? Where is the difference? It is incomprehensible to me, I confess. It is not to him. The President gives me up I know. That is all right.

The Deputy does not want to see it.

I do not want to see it! I do not get into the turn of reasoning the President has. I would like the President to expound the difference between the agitation that may be raised to a measure after it has passed Fifth Stage with the three days' delay, and the agitation that may be raised to a measure between Committee and Report Stage. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, a most factious Opposition, with none of that responsibility that a Government have or that even the present Government had when they were in Opposition. Where is the difference? The President has forgotten to make any comment upon that at the moment there is delay. We are moving away from that without a case being made for avoiding it. There is a minimum delay of three days between the passage of a Bill by the Dáil and the taking of it by the Seanad. What is the case for doing away with this minimum three days?

The Deputy has rightly assumed that the President has despaired of explaining the matter to him. I am a little bit more optimistic. In any case, I think that with a little effort we may make the Deputy understand the precise difference, as he states, as regards delay between Committee and Report Stage and after a Bill has passed its Final Stage. If there is any case for agitation, any ground for public concern, or any need for amending a measure, at what stage is it desirable that that fact should become known? Surely, while the measure is still before the Dáil when amendment can be made to it. If there is delay between Committee and Report Stage, and any interest outside the Dáil wants to draw attention to the fact that it is being prejudicially affected by a particular measure and wants amendments inserted, the time in which it can make its wishes known is surely when the Bill is before the Dáil when amendment is still possible. After a Bill has passed, amendment of it is not possible. Now that is the precise difference between the two proposals. Deputy MacGilligan says that he cannot understand that. He probably can, but he is arguing for the sake of argument.

If this amendment were adopted, what is going to happen in the three days after the Bill has been passed? The Bill cannot come back to the Dáil. If there is a case made for its amendment at that stage, what good is it going to be? If the Deputies opposite merely desire an opportunity in which to criticise a Bill, they can keep on criticising it long after the three days have passed. They can criticise it between the date of its passage and the date of the next general election. I cannot contemplate what ideas they have in their minds at all. Let us imagine the situation that will exist when this Bill is passed and another measure comes before the Dáil. If this amendment were inserted in this Bill and another measure is then introduced and given a First Reading. It gets a Second Reading, passes Committee, Report and Final Stages, and then there are three days' delay. For what? On the first day Deputy Cosgrave will make a speech saying that the Bill was the worst ever introduced by the Government. I think that is his usual speech. On the second day General O'Duffy will say it is a good Bill and will criticise the Government for not having introduced it earlier, and on the third day Deputy MacDermot will make a speech trying to prove that there is no difference between Deputy Cosgrave and General O'Duffy. It may be of some use to the Party opposite to have three days in which to engage in these exercises, but it is of no importance to anyone else, and I submit to them that, if they seriously consider this matter and are anxious to propose reasonable amendments to this Bill, they will withdraw the one now on the amendment paper, because it should not be produced even before a third-rate debating society.

I said on an earlier stage of this Bill that it had been very hastily conceived.

So was this amendment.

We have had two speeches from the Government's two leading lights, perhaps the two leading competents, if I might use those words, in the intellectual sphere, dominating the Executive Council. We have had a confession from them that they did not read this measure when they were introducing it. Both of them subscribed to the admission that some delay should take place. They are now proposing to mutilate the Constitution. They are not proposing to correct in any respect the mutilation they are about to make. As I said on a previous amendment, a Bill can be introduced any day at 3 o'clock and can be passed at 10.30 that night. As I said in supporting this amendment, I am not wedded to the terms of it. I want three days from its introduction until it becomes law. Who has brought in this measure? Is it the Opposition or the Government? The Government has introduced a measure which, on examination, they now admit is faulty.

Not at all.

Then, if it is all right, there is no necessity for the President's statement that he proposed to examine the Standing Orders, after the measure had been criticised in this House on this basis; there is no necessity for the statement by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that it is on the Committee Stage there should be a delay. All you need do, apparently, is to bring in a measure, and it is bound to be all right. But there is one Minister out of the whole lot who has admitted that the Seanad improved their measures, measures hastily conceived, hastily introduced and hastily passed by this House. As soon as this Bill passes into law, there will be no Seanad to which you may look for improvement. What is the Government's contribution towards remedying the situation they are provoking? I do not care by what method they settle conditions, but it is their business to introduce a Bill that will not make a laughing stock of the Constitution and of this Dáil.

We have heard a very amusing speech, indeed. This Bill is not a Bill dealing with the principle of delay. The principle of this Bill is to have a one Chamber Legislature, to get rid of the Seanad as at present constituted. The intention at the present stage anyhow is to have a one Chamber Legislature. In that connection I said we were quite ready to listen to any argument that might be put forward against it. I said on the Second Reading that the responsibility for putting forward arguments as to why there should be a Second Chamber rested on those who believed in it. The ordinary idea of representative government does not carry a Second Chamber with it at all. I said that historically it had no connection with it, that so far as reason and commonsense were concerned, and the whole idea of representative government was concerned, a Second Chamber did not come into it. One argument was put forward from the other side with regard to delays. I said that if that was the only point showing any justification for a Second Chamber, delay could be provided for in the Dáil itself, that it was quite consistent with the main idea of a Single Chamber Legislature. I indicated also that we expected our Second Chamber was going to hold up this Bill as it held up others, that it was not going to vote its own demise and, therefore, that the question of changing the Standing Orders could only be properly approached when the Dáil has signified by a majority its desire to have a Single Chamber Legislature. I said that when the Dáil has so indicated its desire, the question of the Standing Orders that would be consistent with a possible revision in relation to the period between the Committee and Report Stages and providing for a delay could be examined.

If the idea is that there should be delay, then I said that this was not the point at which delay should be introduced. After all, those who put down an amendment are responsible for it. In this instance I am refusing a specific amendment which has been introduced by the Opposition and I have given my reasons for voting against it. That is all I intend to do. That is all that is germane or appropriate to the debate. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has pointed out what, I am sure, Deputy McGilligan could quite easily see for himself—the difference between meeting opposition at the stage when amendments would be possible and meeting it at the stage at which amendment is practically impossible. I would remind Deputies that further consequential changes of the whole Constitution would have to be introduced if this amendment were passed, in order to make it effective at all. As it stands at the moment, if the Seanad disappeared, we could not withhold from the Governor-General a measure that had passed the Dáil. Suppose the Opposition were such that it was deemed advisable to make a change, all that could be done would be to introduce an amending measure. That is the only way in which the thing could be met. Consequently, I say there is no case whatever made for the amendments tabled here.

The President makes an extraordinary proposition. When a Bill is introduced here for the purpose of making some change, it is everybody's duty to examine the conditions that are likely to exist when that Bill becomes law. The President seems to me to dodge the question as to whether the condition that will be created if this Bill passes without this amendment, will be a desirable condition. He does not commit himself to any promise but he suggests that if this amendment is passed he will have the position examined, thus admitting that to pass the Bill without this amendment is going to create an undesirable situation in this country which will require to have something done to remedy it. The Government has carefully jumped on one possible advantage to be got by this measure and they have assumed quite illogically that there can be no disadvantage.

It does seem to me that that is quite an important matter. The Government at this moment has power and uses it to change the law of the land at a moment's notice and without notification to the public. They meet in the Council Chamber and they state that in their opinion a certain organisation is an unlawful association. When they have done that the people who have not heard of it are actually breaking the law though they are not aware that they are doing it. The Government has made use of that power to wreak vengeance on a specific citizen of this State. They made an Order and before there was any opportunity in the case of one man at any rate of getting out of the position——

How is this relevant?

I am going to show this is relevant because I am going to point out that one thing necessary is that the Government are not to pass laws making anything a penal offence without the people, first of all, having an opportunity of knowing about it. Will you allow me to develop the point? What the Government has done is this: it passes an Order in the secrecy of the Council Chamber and by passing that Order it puts the Military Tribunal in the position of having to accept, as full conclusive evidence, the statement by the Government that that Order has been passed. They made use of that when they put a man against whom they had personal spite into prison against all justice.

The Government may introduce a Bill at three o'clock and have it passed by six o'clock making something that was previously legal, illegal. They may introduce it on Wednesday and it may take some time going through. A person may be doing a perfectly legal thing but the Government are putting themselves in the position of depriving that person of the right he has under the Constitution, depriving him of the right to what is perfectly legal. If the Bill is passed this House makes it illegal for a man to wear the clothes he wears so that he will have to spend money on new clothes. The citizen has the right to expect that there is no possibility of such injustice being inflicted on him. Until this Bill is passed this cannot be done. He will have three days in which to know that the Government are desirous of outraging justice. He has three days in which to save himself from the operation of the law. But when this Bill is passed the Government, in the secrecy of the Council Chamber, can make an Order to have that man brought before the Military Tribunal and the Military Tribunal must find him guilty.

In the mind of the Government that is perfectly compatible with justice. The Government say they have a right to pass legislation creating anything an offence, but the citizen has a right to expect that the Government will not pass legislation creating new offences which will inflict hardship on the people. The people should not be asked to change their manner of living until the Bill has actually passed this House. In these three days the people will be able to save themselves from victimisation by the Government by putting themselves within the law. At the present time there are all sorts of Bills. The Government pretend that they are not wishing to act tyrannically. They do not wish to create a dictatorship. Not merely now do they want not to have the Seanad but they want the full power to pass a law and to have that law imposed upon people before the people have any time whatever to adapt themselves to the law.

I am sorry that I missed portion of the President's speech. As I was just coming in he caused me great amusement when I heard him repeating an argument of the old sophists. I never expected that the President of the Executive Council would repeat that argument in this House, but it gave me great pleasure to hear it from him. It is characteristic of the man and of the whole manner in which he approaches this question. He is now fond of the saving formula by which he can trample on his opponents. That saving formula is "factious opposition." What is factious opposition? All those who disagree with him are guilty of factious opposition. If you agree with him, that is constructive opposition. Now we all know that is the way he will apply it.

He does not believe that himself, but everybody knows that is what the President means by factious opposition. Factious opposition is the opposition that dares to disagree with him. Once a Bill becomes law it cannot be amended. Agitation for its amendment is treason. That is the line taken by the Government of late. The sovereign Executive Council has spoken. What business have people to criticise the Government? Is not the decision of the Executive Council that a certain thing is good enough for the nation, good enough for all? Is not that argument enough for it? Is not that the whole contention of the President here every day—that certain things are good for the nation? When he says they are good for the nation, therefore, they are good for the nation. Any criticism of that is factious opposition. Any criticism of that is treasonable. The only business left for the people of this country is to say ditto to the President, and throw up their hands in admiration that they have such a wise man to look after all the business of this country. It is a fine saving clause to enable him to trample on the people of this country to say they are a factious opposition; they are interrupting him and, therefore, interrupting the nation. He is the nation and the nation is him——

The nation is he.

That is pedantic. That is exactly like what your master might say. If it came from the President I would not be surprised, but I am surprised to hear it coming from a back bencher. The nation and the President are identical. He has spoken, therefore the nation has spoken. That is really the whole case he has put forward. He could not even on this Bill give a straight statement of what this Bill stands for. He still pretends it is "for the abolition of the Seanad as at present constituted." He could not even at this hour refrain from trying to throw dust in the eyes of the people. This Bill is a Bill to abolish the Seanad. It is abolishing the Second Chamber. It is to prevent any delay for three or four days, or any number of days. That is the purpose of this Bill.

To make it quite clear, democracy for him means not that the people of Ireland or the settled will of the people of Ireland shall be triumphant, but if he gets a chance majority he will be triumphant. Why is it that no democracy in the world has found it necessary to take these powers? There are countries with Second Chambers. I asked the President to name them. Let him name them. He is not slow to go to other countries for precedents.

This is a Second Reading speech.

I would be very slow to make a Second Reading speech on this Stage, but I should like to point out, Sir, that the question of the Second Chamber was introduced by the President when debating this amendment, and I am now replying to the statement made by him, and showing what the purpose of the Bill was. I have suggested to the House what the purpose was. He has not justified the purpose of the Bill. He said in his speech here that it was the business of the Opposition to justify the existence of the Second Chamber. The experience of all democracies in the world is in favour of Second Chambers. To what does the President appeal? His reason? We know what kind of reason that is. On the question of delay he says he is willing to give delay, but even on the last amendment he was hedging on that question. On the last amendment we debated, he said he was prepared to amend the Standing Orders. If there is necessity for delay he will amend the Standing Orders. This is the great Constitutionalist. He thinks one of the most fundamental matters in any Constitution in the world—whether there is to be one or two Houses—is of the same moment as the Standing Orders. This apostle of democracy, this apostle, lately awakened to the virtues of democracy, comes here and puts the fundamental alteration of the Constitution on a level with the Standing Orders of this House. That is his idea of the settled will of the people. There are many reasons why delay is necessary. Every effort should be made to see that the people are given an opportunity of realising what the Bill is about. I have seen measures passed through this House in the period during which this and the last Government have been in power, and they were passed into law before the people woke up to know what they meant. It was then they began to become critical and to see what they were let in for. Deputy Fitzgerald has made the point that that may mean a very serious thing so far as the liberties of the people or of the country are concerned, and it is not a mere possibility, but an absolute certainty that abuse of that will be made by the present Government. There is every reason why this amendment should be accepted.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has asked for concrete examples of what might be done in the three days after a measure became law. Then he got personal. Let me retort that it would give him an opportunity of saying, as he usually does, that this was the best measure ever introduced and far better than any measure ever introduced by their predecessors. If it were a measure dealing with the question of sedition or treason, it would afford an opportunity to the Minister for Industry and Commerce to tell the House that he knows more about it than the Attorney-General. If it were a Finance matter, it would give him an opportunity to say that he knows more about it than the Minister for Finance, although he might admit that he was a fool about the fourth National Loan. No matter what the subject might be, the Minister would take it as an opportunity of showing his superior knowledge and saying "The more I say it is good, the better it is."

Is not that an argument against the amendment?

It is an argument the Minister should accept. If I were to accept it, I would have to get something that would suppress the Minister as well as the Seanad. Will the Minister give us his reasons for saying that there is some necessity for delay on Report Stage? There is no delay after it. We are not asking for an alternation of delays. It is still being assumed that all Bills are not going to be forced through the House, and that there will be the ordinary delay as between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage of a Bill and between the Committee Stage and the Report Stage; but, in addition to all that, at the moment the situation is that there is a minimum period of three days except in very special circumstances, and then only by agreement. The onus is on those who are seeking to remove that to make a case. We have not got it. The Minister holds that it is an objectionable thing to give any period to an Opposition to raise even public opinion against a measure once it is passed. The Minister did not always hold that view, nor was he always so obedient to the law or such an admirer of representative Government and democratic Government. I remember the time when he was thrown out of his position of Chief of Staff and he questioned whether Acts ought to be re-enacted or whether he had to get any legitimisation as to what he had done, although he was acting contrary to the wishes of the people at the time. He is going to use the law now because he thinks it is in his favour.

Let it be assumed that there is going to be the ordinary delay as between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage of a measure and the ordinary delay as between the Committee Stage and the Report Stage, and even some delay as between the Fourth and the Fifth Stages. In the case of concrete measures founded on concrete legislation, what is there against permitting the minimum three days which are there now? Deputy Fitzgerald has given one case, not merely a concrete case, but a concrete case that must hit the Ministry very hard—their attitude towards Commandant Cronin and the way they abused the law in his regard. I find that there is still here an Article of the Constitution to the effect that it shall not be possible for the Oireachtas to declare a thing to be a crime which was not so at the date of its commission. The Oireachtas shall have no power to declare acts to be offences which were not so at the date of their commission. Who is to decide that particular point? Who is to decide whether a measure, passed through this House, has transgressed that, if it is allowed to remain here as an Article of the Constitution? Surely it is the courts. Is it better to have a period of delay during which the Minister might be precluded from putting it into force and during which its validity might be examined, or to have it enforced first and questioned afterwards? If they are so anxious for representative Government and for getting the proper view of it from the people, they should not run the risk of having such a thing occur as I am suggesting might happen. There is that possibility. There is the possibility that the courts might have to be appealed to against Acts that have been passed.

Supposing we assume that every question of different treatment for Money Bills is gone and that they are going to be treated in just the same way as any other Bill and that no more care of Money Bills will be taken than of ordinary measures. Take one of these constitutional amendments. Here, at any rate, is one provision, that there shall be three days' delay. The Minister, who, as I say, previously did not care whether laws were passed by this House or not—and, I think, recently held that there was a flaw in this House in relation to law-making —is terribly keen now that a law, passed by this House with a flaw in it, should get obedience from the people and that no opportunity should be afforded of getting up agitation against such laws once they are passed; that there should not be the three days' delay. The suggestion is that this was an attempt to get some delay transferred and made occur after the measure has passed the Fifth Stage. That is not what is proposed. Of course, the mentality that suggested that and jumped to that conclusion is the mentality of one who is clearly looking forward to a period in which measures will not be subject to any delay, even the ordinary delays, in their passage through this House, and that the passing of measures in two days or a week is going to be the ordinary thing. The Minister jumped easily to the conclusion that there had been accepted here the idea of no delay in the different stages in the passage of measures.

Now the Minister can be put up here, and has been put up here from time to time to do many things. He has been put up here from time to time to give his views on matters of finance and sedition and so on. I think he was made even the herald of the call slaughtering. But brazenness does not carry him anywhere. His brazenness is breaking down in regard to certain matters he used to boast of. It is breaking down in regard to industry, and that is why there is this diversion of the Minister from the affairs of his own Department and his remarkable glibness in regard to other matters, and his eagerness to debate the affairs of other Ministers who are supposed to be specialists in their Departments. The three days' delay might give a very valuable breathing space to people in this country, but not what was aimed at. Supposing, for instance, there was a further attempt made, such as had been made previously, to get some sort of settlement of an economic war with England, and that the Minister had been more successful in his attempt than he was on that occasion, and had actually achieved something and succeeded in getting a scratched-together majority in this House to get that agreement through, would it not be well to have a three days' delay in order to let the people find out all about the agreement and how it was accomplished; who were the intermediaries, who were appealed to, how the agreement was arrived at, and so on? There would be pretty considerable revelations under these circumstances once they were gone into properly which would take the forced smile off the Minister.

The Deputy should write detective novels.

At any rate, good detective novels generally end in this— that the wrongdoer is caught. I can see my novels having a pretty pleasant ending from my view-point in relation to the Minister. We have taken more than three days to get the Minister to assent, at least not to deny that he had a part in this type of negotiation. Suppose all that sort of thing had to be included in the measure. Does the Minister think that, pushing that through behind the backs of some of his colleagues, as would have to be done, it would be held over for three days as between the Committee and the Report Stage? The whole thing would have to go through quickly for the Minister —the upholder of democracy, the man who stood for representative Government, for decent activities in connection with his colleagues, the man who did care about making use of certain people as instruments and defaming them afterwards. To have that sort of thing revealed to the people might do types like the Minister a lot of good.

It has been admitted in all the speeches that we have heard from the two Ministers that there should be delay. In the course of the President's speech on the Second Reading we had extracts from the Abbé Sieyes, whom I referred to before as one of the unfrocked priests of the French Revolution. He said that if the Second Chamber is in agreement with the first it is superfluous; if it is in disagreement with it, it is a nuisance. The President went on to say then that he had never seen or heard of a suitable or ideal Seanad and that he was waiting to be presented with one. From my knowledge of him, I can suggest one that will suit him, if it will not suit anyone else, and that is, the board of the Irish Press, with himself as chairman, with all the powers that he has under the articles of association, or whatever they are called.

Let us assume we have that. A Bill passes through this House. Even some members of the board would say: "Notwithstanding the powers that the chairman has got we have to read the Bill; we want to see what is in it; to know what it is all about; we will not go to that meeting, even though he has all the power he has, until we have read it." How long is it going to take? Are you going to give them one day, two days or three days? Are three days too many? That is what you are taking out of the Constitution as it stands, and you are making no provision instead of it, as far as this amendment of the Constitution is concerned, which is now being perpetrated by the Ministry in this measure. The Constitution of this State will have no more power and no more strength in it than the ordinary law. It can be repealed, changed, altered and amended in a night. Things which are not now offences may be made offences. There is such a thing known to the ordinary people of this country as the Opposition. As soon as this measure is law, by decree they can be regarded as an illegal association. (Deputies: Hear, hear.)

"Hear, hear," say his followers.

And made liable to imprisonment.

They are not even an association.

As much as the Minister's.

They do not go behind one another's backs to do things —do not forget that.

At any rate, whatever may be said about it, the fact of the matter is that we are making towards legislation by decree. They say they do not want it. They admit that there ought to be delay. The whole case that we are making is a case to prevent legislation being passed into law in six hours. The President tries to argue from that that you are going to hold it up for three days; you hold that there is a mistake and at the end of the three days it is held up for another three days; then you will find out that there is another mistake and you hold it up for another three days. He wants finality—not justice, not correct laws, or decent legislation. The whole history of this Administration can be written in a few words. It is an Amending Bill Government. No Government that will ever come into power here will have as many Amending Bills as this Government has since it came into office.

They were all necessary.

Of course they were owing to the stupidity of those responsible for their introduction. Even the Minister for Industry and Commerce brought in a Bill last week or the week before amending his Transport Act. Since they came into office we have had seven amendments of the Constitution. The strange thing is that the 23rd amendment of the Constitution has been overtaken by the 24th. The 23rd Amendment Bill, as far as I know, has not yet been circulated. I may have missed some post this week. Has it been circulated yet?

You must have been asleep.

When was it circulated?

Ask some of your wide-awake colleagues.

We have had the Second Reading and the Committee Stage now of the 24th amendment of the Constitution and we have not yet had the Second Reading of the 23rd Amendment Bill. This decree-Ministry, this Ministry which is afraid of opposition, which realises the case made against such a measure, which realises the weaknesses which have been pointed out, have not the moral courage to correct them.

Deputy Cosgrave says he wants to make a case for delay and all his arguments are based on the assumption that the existing Constitution provides for delay. He assumes that there must be a delay between the Second Reading and the Committee Stage, and the Committee Stage and the Report Stage, of a Bill and Deputy McGilligan even stated that there must be three days between the passage of a Bill by the Dáil and its introduction in the Seanad. Deputy Cosgrave is remarkably ignorant about the Constitution which he fathered. There are no such provisions in the Constitution as he appears to think. He complained that this Government introduced seven Bills to amend the Constitution during its term of office. He introduced 17. I want to give him the time-table for the 17th Bill to amend the Constitution which he introduced. The necessity for delay and the existing constitutional safeguards against speed have to be considered in relation to this particular time-table.

The Bill for the 17th amendment to the Constitution was introduced on Tuesday, 14/10/31, with a time motion which was debated for a considerable length on that day and passed after seven hours' discussion. Following the passage of the time motion the Bill was introduced on the Tuesday and circulated to Deputies on the Wednesday. The Dáil assembled on Thursday the 15th to discuss it and was allowed to discuss it on Second Reading from 3.30 to 6.30. Immediately after the conclusion of the Second Reading, without giving any Deputy time to submit an amendment for the Committee Stage, it was discussed in Committee from 6.30 to 10.30. It was passed through Committee at 10.30 on the Thursday. The Dáil met again on the Friday at 10.30 in the morning and was allowed to discuss the Report Stage from 10.30 until 12, and immediately following the conclusion of the Report Stage, the Fifth Stage was taken, concluding at 1 o'clock and the Bill had passed the Dáil. Introduced upon the Tuesday, circulated on the Wednesday, passed through the Dáil by 1 o'clock on Friday—then came the delay, the delaying sections of the Constitution then came into operation. All these constitutional safeguards against hasty action by the Executive Council were then called on to do their part. The Bill introduced on the Tuesday, discussed in the Dáil on Thursday, and passed through the Dáil on Friday at 1 o'clock was considered in the Seanad at 3 o'clock on the same day and it passed its Second Reading and Committee Stage in the Seanad by 10 o'clock on Friday night. The Seanad met on Saturday——

They were working overtime.

——to pass the Report and Final Stages in two hours, and the Bill was law by 1 o'clock on Saturday.

Twenty-six hours of Parliamentary time.

Five days and the amendment says three days.

That is the procedure they are trying to defend on the ground that it necessitates delay and that it checks hasty action by the Executive Council——

Three days.

——and that it enables public opinion to be brought into play —a Bill introduced on Tuesday, circulated on Wednesday and law by 1 o'clock on Saturday without any three days——

——following its passage during which public opinion can be organised against it. Deputy McGilligan has been talking about my past, and as he has mentioned the past, I think that there are some things of which Deputies opposite want to be reminded. It was once said that the majority have no right to do wrong, and that statement was criticised up and down the country at a thousand meetings. Who were the critics? There they are. You would not think it to listen to them now.

We make some obvious distinctions.

Deputy Hogan, when he was Minister for Agriculture, countered that statement in his own inimitable way by saying that the majority have a right to do anything they damn well like, and they were so proud of Deputy Hogan's utterance that they printed it on posters and placarded it all over the dead walls.

The Minister is quoting the President wrongly. Give his own words.

I am quoting the statement discussed here in the Dáil and outside the Dáil, and which every Deputy opposite took as his text at every public meeting he addressed.

You have not got the words right.

They have been reading Ibsen—or misreading Ibsen—who makes a character in one of his plays say, "The majority are always wrong," and they have concluded from that that the minority are always right and so they are now enunciating a new doctrine—the majority have a right to do anything the minority agree with. That is their policy; that is what they are defending. They are not defending the Seanad because they think the Seanad is a safeguard or a check or an occasion of delay. They know that it is nothing of the kind and they would not care a snap of the fingers for the Seanad if there were a Fianna Fáil majority in it. They are defending the Seanad because, in the present composition of that body, they are able to exercise an effective veto over legislation desired by the majority of the people and enacted by a majority of this Dáil. That is their case for delay and they know quite well that if the composition of the Seanad were changed to-morrow, that if, after the elections which take place on 6th December next, a Fianna Fáil majority were in the Seanad—not a majority of their own Party but a majority of their opponents—they would be most enthusiastic for the passage of this Bill. Deputy Cosgrave said, and Deputy McGilligan also said, that the Government objects to criticism. It does not; it objects to unintelligent criticism and we are getting too much of it.

Get the President's words right.

Assuming that we agree that all that the Minister has said is right and that the Constitution (Amendment) Act took three days to pass——

Twenty-six hours.

——although it really represents five days—it is five days out of which he says there were really only three——

The Deputy is arguing for three days between the time the Bill emerges from the Dáil and the time it becomes law. I am pointing out that the Bill emerged from the Dáil at 1 p.m. on Friday and was law by 1 p.m. on Saturday.

I said, when introducing this, that I was dealing with one thing—a measure that might be introduced here at 3 o'clock and passed into law without being held up even for three days. I am not wedded to the period of three days after the Bill has passed.

The Deputy is wise to get a divorce.

As I said before, when making my case, the argument I put forward on Second Reading had not been thought of. The answer of the President was that he was going to regulate the Standing Orders in order to meet it. That is an absolutely fool suggestion. The measure which he complains the Seanad passed, and for passing which he condemns the Seanad, is a measure which they condemned and which they used. After telling the people it was bad and that they repudiated it and condemned it, and denounced it as being an outrage on our liberties, and all the rest of it, they have used it and abused it.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce had one crushing argument. Who has it crushed? The Constitution (Amendment No. 17) Bill was passed in a period that was, at any rate, outside the three days asked for here and, signs on it, that Bill, passed in that way, has been found to have many a hole in it, and the Attorney-General and the present Government have discovered most of them.

The Deputies opposite realise that its very introduction was a mistake.

Not at all.

We made a case which was more than you did.

Has the Minister realised that the use of it is being dangerous to himself at the moment?

Not at all.

At any rate, there was that measure introduced in that way, and now discovered to have flaws in it. As I say, sad experience teaches the Government what the flaws are, when even a period of contemplation over it or a period of trying to find holes in it did not discover them. They just blundered in.

Who tried to find holes in it—the Seanad?

The present Government, when in Opposition, tried to find holes in it and they could not get them, but it is an old saying that the best way to learn anything is to make mistakes. They will be a well-educated Government after a while.

And a well-educated Opposition.

And on finance, they have been better educated than anyone else by reason of the more frequent mistakes. Let us consider that Bill and how it was introduced. It was passed very hurriedly and it has all the marks of imperfection on it at the moment because it was passed hurriedly. Why was it passed? There had been murders committed and these murders were ascribed, and rightly ascribed, to two organisations in the country which had been condemned by the Hierarchy in this country as sinful and Godless. Was that a case for rushing a piece of legislation through, no matter what imperfection there might be about it?

We have never rushed——

The Minister rushes his fences too often, with the obvious and inevitable result. There were murders committed about that time to such an extent that this condemnation by the Hierarchy of the country had come about and it was in those circumstances that the Bill was introduced. Even introduced in those circumstances and even rushed as it was rushed, the Minister has not made a case, using that, against this three days' delay amendment. Brazenness can go to a certain point but facts catch up on it. The Minister has grown a hard shell but it can be pierced by facts. There are certain things on which he does not talk with the same fluency as before. On other things, where ignorance is to a certain extent something in the nature of bliss, he can be blissful in his fluency. We have to get back to this idea of a representative Government and whether the people have any right to do wrong. The Minister apparently accepts the phrase which the President has so often and so vehemently denied. I do not know that anybody on this side has ever denied that the people have a right to do wrong. They definitely have a right to do wrong. Certainly they are not going to be prevented from doing so because of a doctrine put forward by a man who is setting up, as the standard of right and wrong, what he himself thinks—a man who holds that people have no right to do what he thinks to be wrong: because that was the use of the phrase. Nobody here considers that majority rule is wrong. Nobody here considers that the minority has the right to prevail over the majority. That has never been stated; it has never even been implied. The object of Parliamentary Government is to try, by reasoning, to prevent the majority from doing wrong. All that is requested is time to indicate what errors there have been, and the possibility of harm accruing to the State through those errors. That is what is feared. The mentality of the people opposite is such that they want to get measures through whether they are right or wrong. If they are wrong, or there is a likelihood of their being wrong, the less time there is to enable people to expose them the better. A reasonable Government might be able to mend its hand by promising an amendment.

I do not think that there is virtue in those three days. One Minister made a confession in the Seanad—and other Ministers by their conduct have agreed with it—that after a Bill is brought through this House a more contemplative period ensues. It was the experience of all my colleagues and myself and has been confessed to have been the experience of one Minister over there—not through any virtue in the Seanad, but because there is another House to go to—that the period of delay has often been useful; it has been useful more often than anything else. I think there is no doubt that once a measure is introduced here, particularly if it is of a controversial nature, and a Party attitude is taken up—as it has to be taken up strongly on Second Reading—that attitude colours every argument used on the Committee and Report Stage. It is only when the struggle is over, and the passage through the House has been secured, that Ministers begin to think about the Bill and want to find out if any errors have crept into it. It is only in that contemplative mood that errors are discovered. That has been the experience of every Minister in the last Government. It has been confessed to be the experience of one of the present Ministers, and the conduct of most of the Ministers implies that they recognise the truth of what I am saying. We were told here that the whole thing is over once a measure has passed the Fifth Stage. With a Government amenable to reason that is not so; they may be convinced that there have been mistakes. They may not be convinced by what happens here, but they may be convinced by the accumulated opinions of different representative bodies outside adding force to whatever is said here.

Three days may permit of a point assuming such importance as the Government, if it is reasonable, cannot withstand. That is objected to. Why should it be objected to? Why should the three days period of delay be made a Party point here? Why should anybody fear delay? A case might be made here—founded upon one or two measures of exceptional urgency and importance—that there may be certain measures which it will be imperative to get through within a certain period, even within 24 hours, and that it is wrong to stop them. Make exceptions in these cases if necessary. Generally speaking, with regard to ordinary Bills, has any case been made, either by concrete examples from the past or any philosophy in relation to legislation in the future, to show that three days' delay is an abhorrent thing? That is what you are up against.

We could have progressed a great deal faster, I think, if speeches such as the last one had been made earlier——

Come over here and make them for us.

——and if there was an attempt made to deal with the actual point at issue. I have said that the point at which delay is introduced here is the worst possible point.

Because it is a rotten Bill.

This is a new excuse. It is a rotten Bill, and, therefore, you have to get a rotten amendment to it! What sophist used that as an argument? I said that the question of giving to the Dáil, when it is the sole legislative Chamber, a further opportunity for careful consideration of a Bill that has passed its Report Stage, will be gone into. The proper time to consider it is when the question of a Single Chamber Legislature has been dealt with. We want to have that settled. There are occasions—members on the opposite benches would say there was one at the time of the Constitution Amendment Bill—on which it is imperative that there should be a short period between the time when a Bill reaches its Final Stages and when it becomes completely law. I hold that the wrong time to impose delay is after a Bill has passed its final reading here, and has, as far as this Chamber can make it, become law. There should not be delay at that period. There should not be delay imposed on all sorts of Bills. We are told now that we might consider exceptions if this amendment were accepted. I think that is not at all the proper way to proceed. I think that if there were any consideration of that sort it should apply in regard to each particular Bill. The time at which it would begin to operate should be indicated in the Bill itself if there were to be any exception, but ordinarily a Bill ought to be signed by the Governor-General as soon as may be after it has passed this Dáil. That is the only position consistent with the Constitution as it stands. Any arguments that have been put forward here in favour of this amendment are really effective, in so far as they have any force at all, as showing that it would be desirable at a point about the Committee or Report Stage to ordinarily interpose some period for this consideration which Deputy McGilligan has suggested might be useful. I have not denied that at all. I have indicated from the start that we were fully alive to that consideration. We did not need to have it pointed out to us by the Leader of the Opposition as he suggests, because I myself indicated long ago that that consideration was clearly before my mind. We are opposing this amendment as being of the worst type, and the worst point at which delay could be introduced. I have explained our attitude fully, and I do not think there are any arguments on the opposite side which are going to change it.

I am glad the President has at last recognised one thing, that there is a distinction between Bills, and that the situation in the country may be such that haste is necessary. My difficulty with members of the Government, and with their able lieutenant, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, is this, that they have not taken what the wisdom of ages, and the wisdom of other countries, has shown, on the whole, to be the method of securing proper consideration of measures, that is, a Second Chamber. If they by this Bill wipe out what is the best method of securing proper consideration for Bills, undoubtedly they can make laws which confessedly, at their best, will be merely second-best. This amendment, confessedly, is only second-best, and it is only put in to secure some consideration for measures before they are hastily passed into law. A Government without sufficient reason could put forward any case, by a mere appeal on some abstract reason, that the President is always appealing to, and could ignore the experience of democracies all over the world. It is because there might be that impossible position that an amendment of this kind is necessary. I am afraid experience will prove to this country, to its cost, that the best method of securing proper consideration for measures is a Second Revising Chamber. Undoubtedly that has been proved in most countries to be the best. I admit that there are some modern democracies where they have not a Second House. That system has not yet been proved in this country. Even these other countries have safeguards against hasty legislation. According to this Bill, we will have none.

This amendment is put in as a substitute, because the House in its carelessness for the good of the country has chosen to follow blindly the lead of the Executive Council. In less than two years this House has shown that on all occasions the majority is prepared to follow blindly the leader of the Executive Council. There is no consideration by the Party opposite of the measures that come before the House. Have we got any criticism or any suggested amendments to the measures that the Government introduced here? Where is the consideration? It is not government by this House we are going to have; it is to be government not merely by the Party opposite but by the Executive Council. This amendment tries to make this measure a second-best one.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce went into all sorts of reasons why the House should reject the amendment. He had even the hardihood, too, to rake up the old saying of the President that the majority has no right to do wrong. He takes good care not to let that phrase die. The President used that phrase, according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That phrase was used, and was understood by the Minister and by others to mean the right of the minority to take up arms against majority government. That was the interpretation put upon it, whatever the President may say, six years later, by explaining what he did not mean. That was the meaning others put upon it. Whether the President put that meaning on it or not I do not know, but by their actions that was the one meaning they put upon it. It was in that sense we objected to it. We, in no sense, object to the view that the majority is not open to full criticism. Neither the Minister nor the President has the slightest ability to make most important distinctions. The one meaning of that phrase, as understood by the young men of this country, was that people were justified to go out in armed rebellion against the Government of a majority. That was the reason every young man read out of it. It was years after they knew that what the President merely meant was that obviously the majority outside might do wrong. That was not the meaning the President and his followers attached to it. The President shakes his head.

Does the Deputy agree that the majority has no right to do wrong?

Nobody has a right to do wrong. That is obvious. Let us be quite clear about it. If a Government elected by the majority passes a certain law a minority has no right to resist it. Apparently, Ministers do not yet see the distinction. It is lack of ordinary vision. Where a minority is concerned that case may disappear. We must look for responsibility to Ministers who are responsible for Government; to those responsible for putting forward the arguments that were put forward, and to a man like the President, who was capable of using that phrase, that the great bulk of the people understood to mean one thing, and that years after he said meant a different thing. I say that man is a public danger. I know that the President always wants to speak about himself, all his speeches are about "I."

What are your speeches about?

I understand that the Minister is quite jealous. If he thinks that other people can have a discussion in this House without the President being the principal, he is making a mistake. The President's one desire is to explain what he meant, not what the country wants. He was always in favour of some delay.

It seems that the Deputy is trying to end that now.

I suppose the Minister is in full command of his senses. I take it for granted that he is. This amendment tries to give a certain opportunity, to see that hasty legislation is not passed. The President says that he was always, apparently, in favour of some delay. Why does he not make provision then? No, he wants to destroy first. That is always his line. It is his line here. Destroy first and then build up. We have never seen the building up. It has always been destruction. That is what he has accomplished, destruction, destruction, destruction.

Clearing the foundations.

So that there will be nothing left. That is precisely the policy of the President. It is his policy regarding the Constitution, and the future of the country, to clear away until there is nothing left. That is precisely the line he takes up here. We can do nothing except propose an amendment that will, to a certain extent, minimise the evil. We are perfectly justified in putting forward the amendment. We do not pretend that the amendment meets by any means our case to the full. We are not perfectly certain that there will not be drawbacks. Of course that is inevitable from the nature of the Bill. That fault is inherent in the Bill, and is inherent in the amendment because the Bill is bad. It may be taken for granted that a Second Chamber for a number of years will not run counter to the wishes of the people. Unfortunately the Government has taken away that particular method. We are trying to ensure some kind of preservation, some opportunity for proper consideration being given to measures that come before this House. The Minister for Industry and Commerce indicated some measures in which he said there was haste. Will anybody deny that we had to make on one measure, as in most measures introduced in the Seanad, a very strong case before they accepted it. We made out a case, which is more than can be said for Ministers opposite when they put that Act into force. They made no case and did not attempt to do so. They did not come before this House or the Seanad before putting that Act into force. They say they had a mandate from the country for doing this. The one thing they had a mandate for was for the removal of the Act altogether. Did they do it? They had no justification for putting it into force. There are occasions when it may be necessary, even in 24 hours, to pass a Bill. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 26.