I move amendment No. 69:—
In Section 1, sub-section 2º, lines 1 and 2, to delete the words "save in so far as may be provided by specific enactment in each case."
Vol. 67 No. 11
I move amendment No. 69:—
In Section 1, sub-section 2º, lines 1 and 2, to delete the words "save in so far as may be provided by specific enactment in each case."
I do not think that it is necessary to say much on this section, having regard to what was said on the previous Article. The aim is to enable the existing practice to be continued. The views of the Department of Finance, who have been operating the procedure, must have great weight with the House and they are anxious that these words should be retained. The words, I understand, are in the existing Constitution and the deletion of them might lead to a great deal of inconvenience. On these grounds we are opposing the amendment.
I move amendment No. 70:—
At the end of Section 3 to add the words "after the elected members have been returned".
I understand that the practice suggested in this amendment is that which would ordinarily be followed. If the President can bear me out on that, I should not wish to press the amendment.
Perhaps it will be helpful if I say publicly what I said to a deputation from the United Chambers of Commerce which came to see me on this matter. They urged that I should accept an amendment in the form of that which Deputy Dockrell has down. I pointed out that it was almost inconceivable that a Government would make the nominations until they had seen the whole field, that I could not understand why a Government would take the opposite course. Consequently, I pointed out that it did not seem to me that there was any need whatever to introduce an amendment on the lines proposed, as that was what would happen. Everybody who has to exercise a nomination of this sort is anxious to use the nomination to the best effect. If you want to give the nomination the greatest effect, you will hold back until you see the whole field and you will then be able to see how the nomination can be utilised so as to be most effective in securing the purpose you have in mind. The purpose the Government should have in mind is to produce the best possible Seanad. If they had any other purpose in view they would also hold back. If they wanted to make the nominations on one particular side, they would hold back because they would then be able to see who was elected and how the greatest value could be obtained from their nominations. I think it was almost certain to happen in practice that the Government would hold back its nominations until the others were elected, and that the amendment is not necessary.
On behalf of Deputy Costello and Deputy McGilligan, I move amendment No. 71:
In Section 4, line 1, before the words "the elected members," to insert the words "six of."
I am sure that this amendment has received the consideration and close attention of the President and his advisers, and I would like to know if it is being accepted. The effect of it is that, instead of leaving the whole Seanad to be elected from within the three group proposed, six members should be elected from particular panel or groupings.
I think the Deputy does not quite see the meaning of it. The Deputy will notice that in the plan of the Draft Constitution you have six members who will be elected by the universities, and then you have 43 to be elected in a certain manner by law. I take it that this amendment is really consequential on the more important amendment which Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Costello have down. I think that their idea is to leave the whole thing practically to law. They want to work out a general systems in which you would leave more to law than is left in this Draft.
I think the President is certainly right in that. I presume he does not think it desirable to take that view of the case?
No. On the contrary I would be rather inclined to go in the other direction. For practical reasons, I think I will not be able to go as far as Deputy MacDermot would like me to go in the other direction, namely, as far as possible to make the constitution of the Seanad a stable thing so that it would not be open to variation by successive Governments and successive majorities. We are doing the best we can in that direction in the Draft. Perhaps it is that Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Costello would like to have it easy to change the constitution of the Seanad by law. I would be bound to oppose that view, and consequently to oppose this amendment which is of a consequential character.
On behalf of Deputy Costello and Deputy McGilligan I move amendment No. 72:
In Section 4 to delete lines 6 to 8 inclusive (paragraph iii) and also to delete Sections 5 to 10 inclusive and substitute a new section as follows:
"The elected members of Seanad Eireann shall, subject to the provisions of the immediately preceding section of this Article, be elected on a franchise and in the manner and for the term to be provided by law."
I take it that the object of the amendment is to provide far greater elasticity in the method of election of the Seanad than is provided for in the Constitution.
And to provide for a general franchise, presumably.
It is opening the whole thing, and leaving the constitution of the Seanad to law. I think that is not advisable. If we are going to have a Second House in the Constitution, I think that we ought to go as far as we reasonably can here. We will differ, I suppose, as to the exact time to which we should go. Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Costello evidently take the view that we had better not go any distance at the present time except to admit that the Universities should have representation. There is no suggestion, I think, of a change in the number of members, but they do suggest that the whole method of election should be left to law. We have gone a certain distance in what I may call stereotyping the frame-work of the Seanad, and I understand from his amendment that the view taken by Deputy MacDermot is that he wants us to go farther than I think we can go at the moment. At any rate, I will have to oppose this amendment as leaving it too elastic, and unnecessarily so, and I may have to oppose Deputy MacDermot in his attempt to stereotype before we are in a position to do so.
What is the objection to a little elasticity with regard to the constitution of the Seanad at this stage? With regard to the Seanad generally, provision has to be made by law for its constitution or resurrection. I take it that most of the time of those who drafted the Constitution was taken up with the Constitution itself rather than with the details regarding the constitution of the Seanad. Moreover, the President has repeatedly stressed the point, since the Draft Constitution was first introduced, that it is designed by its very construction to be loose in some respects and indefinite in other respects, and that the explanation of that lack of definiteness is that it is hoped it will be permanent and lasting. Now, if the Constitution itself is to be regarded as a permanent structure, why bind us to a permanent and everlasting structure with regard to the constitution of the Seanad? It may be that if we were given the opportunity, which the amendment asks for, to study the constitution of the Seanad in a perfectly detached way, not wedged in between hundreds of important clauses in the Constitution itself, a far better Seanad would be constituted than is likely to be brought about by limiting Parliament in advance as to the type of electoral schools that will be developed for the future Seanad.
I think it is rather unwise and unfortunate that the President should adopt the attitude he is adopting on this amendment. If the proposals made by the movers and sympathisers with this amendment are unacceptable to the Government, then the machinery that will vote them down is the same machinery that will decide the constitution of the Seanad as constructed subsequently by law. However, any attempt to limit discussion in advance, when so much time has been taken up in the discussion of the Constitution—and people do not want to delay the matter unduly by going into it in any detailed way— is prejudicing the position. I do not think that the President would be giving anything away by saying that he would leave this matter to be provided for by law. That does not mean that he is giving anything away. He can wait and see that the law is still in accordance with his viewpoint.
I do not know why Deputy O'Higgins should object to the framework of the proposed Seanad being provided for in this Constitution, when the framework of the former Seanad was provided for in the last Constitution.
That is not in argument at all.
Very well, but I still do not know why Deputy O'Higgins should complain about such provision in this Constitution, when there were similar provisions in the former Constitution. Deputy O'Higgins complains that he and his Party have not had an opportunity of dealing with this matter in a detached spirit.
I made no such statement.
Perhaps I may have misunderstood the Deputy. I understood him to use the words: "We have had no opportunity of dealing with this in a detached spirit," and I took it that he was referring to himself and his Party; but, of course, he may have been referring to the whole House. In any case, however, he and his Party did have an opportunity of discussing this whole matter when they were invited to send representatives to take part in the discussions of the Commission that was set up to deal with the matter of the Seanad; but they did not do so. I think that, when a Constitution is submitted, with provisions contained in it for the setting up of a Seanad, the people have a right to know what is the general framework of the Seanad that is in contemplation. This Constitution is not unduly rigid in its provisions in regard to the Seanad. I am glad of that. It adopts, in general, the scheme recommended by the Minority Report of the Second Chamber Commission. There are certain divergencies from the Minority Report of that Commission, and, naturally, as one of those who signed the Minority Report, my inclination is to regard any divergencies from that Report as divergencies for the worse. However, it does represent, in general, the report of that so-called minority. I use the word "so-called" in connection with that Minority Report, because actually it was the only report that got as many as eight signatures beneath it and that held together as an organic whole.
In that report, we specially recommended that certain things should not be put in the Constitution—that they should be left open for further consideration. It is a very interesting and novel experiment, so far as this country is concerned, and, indeed, I think, so far as any country in the world is concerned, to form a Second Chamber on what may be called a vocational basis, and it was clear that it would be unwise not to leave something open to the effects of experience —not to leave it possible to make such changes as experience might show to be desirable. If, however, you are going to construct an elaborate constitutional system such as we are constructing here—as system of checks and balances, with a Dáil and a Second Chamber, and a ceremonial Head of the State, who has also got certain powers—I think we have no right to abstain from laying down, at any rate, the general lines of what the Seanad is going to be.
The provisions in this Constitution are reasonably elastic. In fact, in some respects, as the President has said, they are more elastic than, I think, they ought to be; but it would be an insult to the intelligence of the electorate to present them with something which was called a complete Constitution and which did not give any notion of the general system on which the Seanad was going to be constituted. It seems to me to be a curious thing that if Deputy McGilligan and Deputy Costello were taking the view that we should not make any arrangements at all about a Seanad except to say that we were going to have one, they should suggest including a provision to the effect that six members of the proposed Seanad should be elected from the Universities. If it is illegitimate to make certain other arrangements with regard to the proposed Seanad, why is it not illegitimate to make that arrangement? Why should we go to the country and say, in effect, that we are going to have a Seanad: that we know nothing about what its constitution will be except that there will be six representatives from the Universities? I hold that, if we were to go before the country on such a proposition as that, we would only stultify ourselves in the eyes of the electorate.
I think that this should be taken in conjunction with paragraph 3 of Section 7 of the Article. Paragraph 3 was directed against that particular method of election, and I think that the President will admit that that is the purpose of the amendment.
I think that is so.
And, therefore, it is not quite so much in the air as the last speaker would lead one to believe.
Well, it goes wider than that.
Yes, it goes wider than that; but it is necessary, if that is to be defeated. Let us take it in conjunction with Article 15 (3). Of course, I never know what, precisely, the President's views on Second Chambers are.
The Deputy says that they vary. The views vary, but the expression remains the same. Here, however, we have a proposal for what the President himself confesses is not an ideal House. He abolished a former Seanad which, according to him, was not ideal, but here is one proposed, which does not seem to differ so much except that, to an ordinary man in the street like myself, there is an absurd method of electing it— exceedingly absurd so far as paragraph 3 of Section 7 of this Article is concerned. Now, I was quite interested in the President's statement to the effect that he could not change an iota, practically, in this Constitution without changing its general principle— that he could not give way in this, because it was too broad, and that he could not give way to Deputy MacDermot, because it was too rigid. The President reminds me of an old tutor of his—a man by the name of Siéyes— who was very keen on constitutions and who held that every change that was made in a constitution of his liking thereby ruined the constitution, and that he would take no responsibility for it. We have been watching the President for the last few days taking that attitude on practically every amendment that has been put forward to this Constitution. His attitude has been that, to accept any of these amendments, would be to upset the Constitution as an organic whole —that any amendment would mean upsetting the Constitution entirely. I will make one suggestion to the President, for what it is worth, and that is that sub-section (3) of paragraph 7 of this Article, which is an absurd method, fits in admirably with the Constitution as a whole.
I do not think, Sir, that we can get any further in this discussion. I think that Deputy O'Higgins would agree that it is advisable, in the Constitution, that we should go as far as we can in designing the framework of the proposed Seanad. Our attitude, in general, about the Seanad—I do not want to bother Deputy O'Sullivan now because I am afraid it would lead us into another Second Reading speech——
Our attitude on this was that we asked the Opposition, if they were anxious for a Seanad, to give us a plan for one. We were setting up a Commission to deal with the matter, and we asked them to co-operate. They, however, felt that it was not their duty to do so. We set up that Commission, and the Commission sat, and I think it will be admitted that anything I have said about the difficulty of framing a Seanad will be justified by the report of that Commission. There was one method indicated in what was called the Minority Report— as Deputy MacDermot justly said, that was probably an inappropriate name for it—and that was to give us a Seanad that would be different in character from the Dáil and which, possibly, would have advantages which could not otherwise be got. Therefore this is an attempt to give effect in general—it is not followed out in detail—to the ideas put forward in that. How far can we go to reach agreement ? We have gone here to the point of indicating the panels which they have mentioned. We have gone further than that in regard to the universities, because these are statutory bodies and could be depended upon to elect their own representatives. "Very well," we say, "let them elect their own representatives." If we had functioning here councils or associations of a vocational character, if they were properly constituted or statutory bodies and recognised as such, a very good case could be made for saying, "Let them elect so many from that panel." The difficulty arose when we came to consider how many each group or council should get in the Seanad. In this scheme we have got, first of all, a certain number of nominations, a certain number to be elected directly by the universities, and a certain number drawn from certain panels to be elected by the electors. Only two electorates were put forward in the Commission Report, as far as I remember. It may be held that proportional representation would get a better reflection of the country as a whole.
What would be the extent of the electorate, having regard to the figures at the last election?
I think about 200. Somebody went to the trouble of finding out from the figures of the last election.
Some of them will wield more than one vote.
I have given that as a figure that I have not verified myself. Somebody told me that he had gone into this matter and that he had found that there would be about 200 electors.
Possibly wielding a variable vote.
One vote each?
No. The idea is that these would be the electors, but the voting would be in proportion to the number of first preference votes cast. We have not in the present form a paragraph which we had in an original form, that the number of votes would be one for each 1,000 first preference votes, cast at the election. That is not here at the moment but it could be re-inserted. The report suggested that each of the candidates at the Dáil election should get one vote for every 1,000 first preference votes cast for him, and that in addition, for every fraction of 1,000 more than 500, he should get an additional vote, but that no vote should be given for any fraction of less than 500. That would mean that a candidate who got 1,200 first preference votes would only have one vote in this election, while a candidate who got 1,700 votes would have two votes in this election.
Like a bridge score. Everything over 50 counts 100.
I do not know anything about bridge.
Are you willing to be taught it?
If it is not too expensive.
On a point of order, should we not discuss this on the actual section of the Constitution?
It is relevant to this amendment.
There are amendments down dealing with this particular subject when we come to it. This amendment goes much further than there is any need for it to go, that is to say, instead of abolishing this particular method of electing to the panel, it goes so far as to destroy the panels themselves.
If the Chair is willing, I think we should discuss the matter now. We are getting a general picture of what we are trying to do and the difficulties in the way, and we shall be able to fit in the other amendments, it seems to me, once we come to them.
The Chair is agreeable to that course.
It is on the report that this system is based in general. It does not follow it out in detail. We have accepted what the electorate recommended. A number of people say that it is not a satisfactory electorate. All I can say is that a Commission sat on this matter. I have been for years considering the question as to whether there was any method by which we can get a Seanad which would go somewhere towards fulfilling the functions which we ideally associate with a Seanad and I have failed to find one. I put it up to those who were in favour of a Seanad to try and devise some method of doing so, and this is what we have got from the commission. It is the best of the recommendations that I have seen. I am not at all saying that I am satisfied with it. I think it is very difficult for anybody to be satisfied with any method of building a Second House. This is the best we could get and it has come from a commission that gave very careful consideration to this matter.
If we are discussing this question in general, I should like to make it quite clear that this particular electorate is not the electorate suggested by the minority.
It was the majority, in this case.
The Government has departed from the report which I signed.
I forget the report which the minority signed.
Let us consider, if we are going to look at this thing in a broad way, what object we had in mind when we tried to establish a Second House. I wrote an article about this matter, some months before the Seanad Commission sat, in which I asked for a Seanad entirely nominated by the Prime Minister and entirely unpaid except for such expenses as actually would be incurred by members in attending a sitting and some allowance for loss of time. At £2 per sitting that would mean, if the sittings numbered, say, 35 in the year, as they have in the past, that the total amount paid to a member of the Seanad would be about £70 per year. The feeling is that to argue in favour of an unpaid Seanad is undemocratic. I do not agree with that view. In some very democratic countries they are paid only the sort of amount I have just been indicating—a mere allowance for expenses. Of course, the county councils are unpaid. Thirty-five afternoons in the year is not an inordinate amount of a man's time for him to devote to the service of his country, and to the defence indeed of his own vocational and professional interests. It seems to me that, provided a man's expenses are covered in the way I have described, there is nothing undemocratic in that. You must not try to set up a Second Chamber of whole-time politicians. That is not what a Second Chamber ought to be. It is laid down here that the object is to have people actively engaged in certain professions and occupations. If they are actively engaged in these, obviously their duties in the Seanad will take up only a comparatively small proportion of their time. There is, therefore, no need to pay a man enough to live on. There is no need in the world for it. The question of payment is very intimately bound up with the question of nomination, because, if you have nomination and have the sort of salary that it is possible to live on, the task of the nominating authority becomes impossible. The Prime Minister of the day is bound to have an intolerable amount of pressure put upon him in order to provide for people who have done good service to his Party. If, on the other hand, there is no monetary advantage in being in the Seanad, the duties of a Senator would come to be regarded as rather burdensome than otherwise, something that a man undertakes for the good of the State, and for the good of the particular section of the people whom he represents.
If we, on the Second Chamber Commission, had known for certain that there was going to be a Second Chamber, if we had been told, "There is to be a Second Chamber of some kind, and all you have got to do is to decide on the best kind," we might conceivably have come to different conclusions in this respect from the conclusions to which, in fact, we came. The truth of the matter is that almost everybody on that Second Chamber Commission was anxious to see a Second Chamber. There was certainly a considerable majority who were anxious to see a Second Chamber, and, therefore, in our findings we were influenced by the fear that if we produced something which was likely to be unpopular the whole plan of having a Second Chamber might be rejected and nothing might be done, so a scheme like an entirely nominated and unpaid Second Chamber was one which was hardly practicable for the Second Chamber Commission to recommend.
Whether the majority of the Commission would have recommended it in any case is highly doubtful, but I, personally, would prefer that system to any other, although I should like the nominating authority—the Prime Minister or head of the State or whoever he might be—to look to the sort of considerations and follow generally the sort of headlines that are set forth in this Constitution as it stands. At any rate, for good or ill, it was decided to recommend that only a proportion of the members should be nominated by the Prime Minister or the head of the State.
Then the question was how to get the rest. We wanted to get a Second Chamber that would have a different atmosphere from the First Chamber. It seemed to us that the main objects of a Second Chamber are two. One is to defend democracy against itself; in many countries Party passions have reached such a pitch that the country has been rent asunder by Party violence, and, as a consequence of people getting sick of all that, or as a consequence of one violent Party overcoming the others you got a dictatorship. Secondly, a great advantage of having a Second Chamber is that you have a chance of getting each question that comes forward discussed in a different atmosphere and from a different point of view from what has been surrounding it in the First Chamber—in the popularly-elected Chamber. For both these purposes it is essential that the Second Chamber should be, broadly speaking, non-party. That is not to say that the members of the Second Chamber should have no previous affiliations to any political Party or that they should have no preference for one Party over another—of course, it would be impracticable to achieve that even if you wanted to— but that on the whole questions there should be discussed in a different frame of mind from the frame of mind of somebody who was obeying a Party Whip. We would desire that in the Second Chamber it would be a rare thing to have Party Whips put on at all. In fact, some of us even hoped that there would not be any Party Whips in the Second Chamber, and that things would not be on a Party basis.
If you are not going to have a Party basis, you have got to have something to take its place. That something is indicated here as being broadly vocational. Those panels were devised in order to get a broadly vocational Seanad. That is something which I would have thought would be welcome to the members of Fine Gael in particular, because it is carrying out the idea which was embodied in the Fine Gael heads of policy which were formulated at the end of 1933 or the beginning of 1934. It was there laid down that it was desirable to incorporate vocational bodies in our political system, not as an alternative to democracy but as something to improve the working of democracy. This is an attempt to make a start in that direction. It is not proposed, and never was proposed by the Fine Gael Party so far as I am aware—possibly it might be by some individuals who are no longer with them—that any corporative system should be substituted for the existing system so far as the popular House is concerned, but here is a chance to do something on those lines as regards the Second Chamber. That, it seems to me, ought to be welcomed by Fine Gael, having in mind what their first statement of policy was after the Party was founded. It should also be welcome to many people in this country who are constantly urging us to do more in the way of embodying the principles of various Papal Encyclicals into our political system here.
Deputy MacDermot built up a very fine structure on a very faulty foundation. I doubt if anybody listening to him was aware of the fact that he was speaking to a proposal that the construction of the Seanad should be as decided by law. There is nothing in that amendment to express the views of any Party, or to offer an opinion as to whether the Seanad should or should not be paid. There is nothing in that to indicate whether it is reasonable to have a corporative system of representation or otherwise. The only thing in the amendment, which we understood the Deputy stood up either to support or to oppose, is a suggestion that we should go into all that at a time when we are not in the middle of an important Constitution—that we should study it by itself. There is no argument which has been advanced by the Deputy that is not a pungent argument in favour of special consideration for the constitution of the Seanad. The fact that there was a special commission established to consider the Seanad—a commission which sat on very many occasions and over a great span of time—is an argument why the only consideration it would get from the Dáil should not be such as could be dovetailed in between another few hundred sections of an important instrument such as the Constitution. If the establishment of that particular commission and its labours are to be justified, and if a tribute is to be paid to the work done by the commission, it can only be by the Dáil considering the construction of the Seanad and the recommendations of the majority group and the minority group separate and aside from the other important clauses in this Constitution.
I myself cannot see where exactly the payment of Senators comes into this amendment to deal with the Seanad by law in the future, but if opinions are to be expressed on that, I should like to put it on record that it is the simplest thing in the world for anyone comparatively well blessed with the world's wealth to lay it down that all or some of the institutions of the State should be on an unpaid basis. There are wealthy men in the Dáil and there are poor men in the Dáil. The poor men have given as good service as the wealthy. They could not give that service were it not for the fact that there were certain financial arrangements made. There were poor men and wealthy men in the Seanad. The poor men gave just as much service within the Seanad in the past as the wealthy, and it would not be in the interests of the Seanad or of the country to deprive the Seanad in the future of the services of that type of person. However, that is entirely beside the point of the amendment.
The amendment and all the very weighty arguments advanced by Deputy MacDermot, and the historical account of what decided himself and other members of a certain Commission to arrive at a certain decision, are surely worthy of the very fullest consideration of Dáil Eireann. Surely, the efforts of the Deputy should stand alone in the centre of the picture, and should not be treated merely as a little addition to the more important things. Surely, when the Deputy so generously gave his time and services to that Seanad Commission, and when he thinks well to reprimand his late colleagues for not doing likewise, he should pay us the generous tribute of recognising the fact that we had such confidence in him, that once he was a member we thought it would be only pushing him out of the picture for others to be there. It is neither here nor there what particular motives decided members of this Party not to participate. They had been standing for an institution that was moderately good in the minds of some and moderately bad in the minds of others. Those who considered it moderately bad razed it to the ground, and it just ceased to be. We stood strongly against that act of destruction. Some of us felt that it would be condoning that act immediately on its ashes to participate in a tribunal to resurrect some other type of structure there, because obviously the destructionists had to justify and defend it. Repudiation of the act of destruction would be read into the construction of a Seanad similar to the previous one. I do not want to embarrass builders who had lately been destroyers. Our only desire was that there should be another Seanad.
You could not build a new house on a bad foundation. We had to destroy the old one.
You do not seem to have had any area of land outside the foundation for the new house. If there was dry rot in the other, it certainly has eaten into the timbers of this one. Perhaps part of the dry rot is the best portion. Be that as it may, the new Seanad deserves fair play and full consideration. It deserves close study, and I strongly urge the President and the Government that the constitution of the new Seanad should be "as defined by law" rather than that we should tie ourselves up to a certain type of Seanad now in a Constitution, which subsequently, if we have any reason or desire to change our mind as a Dáil or Parliament, might make it impossible to express that change of mind.
Deputy O'Higgins and others have had nearly a year to consider the Report of the Second Chamber Commission, and it is many months since the Government announced that they intended to incorporate in this Constitution a Seanad of the type roughly recommended in the Minority Report of the Second Chamber Commission. Why then should they treat the matter as one suddenly taken out of their hands by the President and the Executive Council; something that is quite inappropriate to be considered in connection with the Constitution; something they have not thought of, something they are not ready to consider, and something that they have not anything valuable to say about at present? It seems to me that that attitude is most unreasonable. They put a Seanad into their own Constitution. Why should there not be a Seanad in this Constitution? I am anxious to see it there, and to see the general framework indicated there. I think it provides something of value, something that might be lost for ever, for all I know, if not embodied in the Constitution. I think it would be criminal folly for anyone eager to see the right sort of Seanad to miss the opportunity now of getting the general outline of the Seanad provided here. The question of payment does not enter into the Constitution or the amendment. I only referred to it in so far as it bears on the question of nomination, and, in view of what Deputy O'Higgins said, I wish to say this, I utterly repudiate and disclaim any thought of excluding a poor man from the Second Chamber. I would utterly disapprove of anything of the kind. We are dealing with a House which is not to be a Chamber composed of full time politicians devoting really most of their time to politics, as we are here. The sort of provision for remuneration appropriate here is not necessarily appropriate as regards the Second Chamber. My view is that a poor man could be so compensated as fully to provide for any loss he might sustain. We cannot discuss the question of payment now, but I wish to repudiate the suggestion that I want an undemocratic Second House. I do not.
It would be very foolish of us to think that we would get anything like agreement on this here. The question of the formation of the Seanad is certainly one of the subjects on which each one holds an opinion, and also on which one differs very largely. I think the best thing is to try to make progress with this. This is the system which was suggested by the Commission that had to deal with it. With regard to the electorate, I have been looking up the report, and I think I am right in saying that the electorate suggested by the Minority Report was the Dáil itself, and not this particular electorate.
That is true, but there were certain reservations to the Minority Report, by some of the most distinguished members!
I took the wider one in the hope that there would be a better opportunity for minority representation, and also that there would be less opportunity for what a number of people feared of a sort of machine, that it was better to have a wider electorate. With regard to Deputy O'Higgins' point, that we ought to leave this liquid, I hold the same view as Deputy MacDermot, that if we are to have a Constitution with a Second House in it, it is our duty to have the framework as definite as we reasonably can. I will concede this to Deputy MacDermot's point of view, that to the extent to which we are not able to make it definite, there is a fault. If anybody can go farther to make this definite in its form here, I will go and meet him so far as I can, if he can prove that he is advancing along this line and getting a farther distance than I think we can get. I would regard as a fault the extent to which we would fall short of completely defining the Seanad, and it is our duty to do it so far as we can. As the Minority Report points out, we have not the type of organisation here to make it possible to elect directly. That would be the ideal thing. If we had that organisation, you could elect directly. The only bodies I found at my hand that could elect directly were the universities. I do not think that was exactly provided for in the Minority Report. Although they indicated generally that that was the desirable thing, I think they stopped short themselves of doing that in the case of a body that was organised in such a way that that could be done. I must say then that I am not prepared to accept the amendment.
The President gave us a reason for this particular method of election that he was anxious to avoid re-duplication of the Dáil so far as possible. If he looks at subparagraphs 3 and 4 of Section 7 of this Article, he will find that really what he has done is to secure re-duplication of the Dáil with other machinery. That is more or less what he has done. His slavery to the bridge score idea brings it even closer—the idea that there will be a vote for every 1,000, and that every score over 500 shall count as being equal to 1,000. That will lead to a re-duplication of the Dáil, and that is objectionable. I quite agree that we should get a Second Chamber that is different from the Dáil as much as possible, but I do not think that this method of election will do it. That is the reason for postponing it. Is that the best the President can do, although he has had this under consideration for a number of years?
We never destroyed the Seanad. We said we were satisfied. He is now proposing a thing that he is not satisfied with, as the result of years of meditation.
To please those interested.
I want to deal with another thing to which he referred and to which another speaker referred —our non-participation in a certain committee. The other speaker, who seemed to find fault with that attitude, provided a very good justification for it. He indicated that it was impossible that the members of that committee could consider proposals for a Second Chamber on their merits, because they did not know whether there was going to be a Second Chamber or not. "Dealing with such an unreasonable man as the President," he said, "we tried to do the best we could; therefore, we will not put forward a Seanad that is good or that we think is the best, but we will give him one that we think he can swallow." I think the House will agree that that is a fair paraphrase of what Deputy MacDermot said. Strange as it may appear to Deputy MacDermot and the President, that struck us when we got the invitation.
It is a bit late now.
Furthermore, another thing struck us which was illustrated the other night in a confession by the President, that truth coming from these benches was not acceptable to him. We knew perfectly well that any contribution we made for a Second Chamber would damn that particular thing in the eyes of the President. He stated the other night here that truth from anywhere except the Fine Gael Benches was more or less the motto he adopted. These were very good reasons for not participating. This Article, as it stands, this method of election, is really fundamentally absurd. The President speaks about leaving things vague. Section 4 is very vague. We do not know what number of votes anybody will have—that is to be determined by law. So vague is it that a distinguished member of the Commission did not know it was there at all in discussing this particular Constitution. It is there. We do not know but that a man who gets 10,000 preference votes and a man who gets 500 may have the same vote.
I am prepared to make that definite in the form I have indicated.
After six months the President was not able to draft that, and now he will do it between this and next week. The whole thing has not got consideration from the President. He came before us saying that he did not believe in a Seanad. He set up a committee and he said: "Give me a Seanad that will be ideal; I do not believe in it, and I will not promise to set it up," and they gave us this.
The fear that I had at the time of the Second Chamber Commission was that we might produce something, not that would not be swallowed by the President, so much as would not be swallowed by the Opposition.
That would be easy to do.
When I said that entire nomination by the Prime Minister was the system that appealed to me most but that I did not think it was likely to gain acceptance, I meant that, while the Prime Minister might be pleased with that system, the first reaction certainly of his political opponents, and perhaps of a good many of the public as a whole, would be to be displeased with the system. I therefore repudiate the paraphrase which Deputy O'Sullivan has suggested. I maintain my view that it was an error of political tactics—it is courageous to say that when talking of such brilliant, or at any rate such practised, tacticians as the Front Bench of the Opposition—but also a fault in patriotism. When Deputy O'Higgins gets up here this evening and speaks as if the constitution of a Second Chamber was something which he had not ever devoted a moment's thought to and something which was unreasonably sprung upon us in connection with this Constitution, he is giving away his Party completely They had nearly a year to consider the Second Chamber Commission's report.
To consider it?
They had many months since the President announced that there was going to be a Second Chamber on the lines of the Minority Report in connection with the Constitution, and they had years before the Second Chamber Commission ever was established to think over the whole subject. They must have thought over it deeply at the time they put it into their own Constitution. Where there is a grievance at one being put into this Constitution, I cannot see.
This amendment raises the whole question of the vocational character of this proposed Chamber. I have very grave doubts as to whether it is practicable in existing circumstances in this country to resort to the method of the election of the Second Chamber on a vocational basis. When you come to consider the question of vocational organisation in this country the outstanding fact is that there is very little vocational organisation within the country, and certainly there is no type of organisation that justifies us in setting out in this simple, easy way of providing in this Constitution for quite a whole variety of vocational groups. I think that any effort to implement this Constitution, providing for a Seanad to be elected on a vocational basis, will evidently produce considerable difficulty and will not be satisfactory. For instance, the first panel referred to in Article 18 is one consisting of persons who have "practical knowledge and experience of the following interests and services, namely (1) National language and culture, education, and such professional interests as may be defined by law for the purpose of this panel." What type of organisation will be entitled to make nominations in this panel? If you look at the category you will find there is quite a number of organisations, a number of them without any corporate character or corporate existence, and resumably all of them will be entitled to turn up and demand their nomination on the panel.
When you come to (ii)—"Agriculture and allied interests, and Fisheries," you will have every organisation claiming under that. You will always have amongst these numbers of people demanding to get on the panel. Trying to get anything like vocational organisation in agriculture is praying that the moon will some day come down to earth. Then we pass on to the third: "Labour, whether organised or unorganised." I would like to know what type of bodies or people will come in under that category?
Everybody in the State.
Except Deputy MacDermot.
I think I have been labouring quite hard lately.
I do not see much fruit from it.
Deputy McGilligan should have been in earlier.
The fruit may be a Dead Sea fruit.
In the category of "Labour, whether organised or unorganised," there are to be certain nominations. I wonder whether the President has any conception of the kind of difficulty that will arise in defining the persons who are to be nominated in the way this category has been set out? I presume under the category of "National language and culture" there are people who also labour. I suppose people under "Agriculture and Allied Industries and Fisheries" also labour. Why are they separated from group (iii), Labour, and why is Labour separated from them? Then we come to (iv), Industry and Commerce. That group, too, can be included in the category of Labour. I think if you have to have a Seanad—and I still have the same view as I held previously, that no case has been shown for the creation of a Seanad—it ought to be a Seanad of the kind that will work without this sort of cumbersome machinery that will be set up under Article 18. I think the former method of electing a Seanad was as good as any other method that could be devised.
That was a method by which people were nominated by members of the Dáil and elected by members of the Dáil. That was just as good a method as the one set out here. My fear is that we are simply marching ahead of time and we are trying to create a Seanad on a vocational basis without having vocational bases within the country on which to build. It seems, therefore, to be an entire mistake at this stage in the circumstances of this country with its sparse population, with its relatively young commercial and industrial growth and with very little effective type of organisation to be setting out to build a Seanad on a vocational basis, when nothing else within the country is built on a vocational basis. At all events, the proposal to constitute a Seanad on a vocational basis has not my approval. We started out here to give this Constitution a novelty which is not justified in the circumstances of this country. Deputy MacDermot said that the Second Chamber Commission felt that the order was something new and novel.
I do not remember saying that.
That is the substance of the Deputy's remarks.
I do not think so.
The Deputy was aware that the President had his knife in the previous Seanad, and if there was any case for going back to the President with the ghost of the former corpse you had to dress up the ghost in a way that would not excite the President's anger again, and this view of a Second Chamber was brought along in the hope that the President might be appeased on the second occasion and be sorry for his first act and that he would say: "I will take this." When you have said that you have put your finger on the only reason for producing a Seanad in this country. That is the only explanation for the introduction of a Seanad now. The idea was "Try something on the President which is different from the last Seanad and give him some reason for saying: ‘Oh, well, this is not the same Seanad as the last one.'" If you gave him back something that was there before in the existing Constitution it would have no chance of being accepted and they said: "Let us give him something that is novel so that he will be able to accept it and that he will be able to say ‘No one can now say I am inconsistent because I am introducing this Seanad'." The scheme has worked well. The President has accepted this proposal to form the Second Chamber Commission. The President is blowing hot and cold on the Seanad. He made speeches here denouncing the Seanad. The Fianna Fáil Party stumped the country also in their denunciation of the Seanad.
Deputy Norton is forgetting that the scheme was not the report of the majority of the Commission at all. It was in the minority report.
I am not saying that it was suggested in the majority report. I am saying that those members who signed it were very wise in their strategy. They wanted a Second Chamber. The President had abolished the Second Chamber. The Fianna Fáil Party had acclaimed its abolition with enthusiasm and one would expect that they, at least, would stand for a unicameral system. It was obvious after a time that the President had changed his mind about the Seanad question and Fianna Fáil felt that "because father changed we should all change," and they began to cultivate the view of a Second Chamber. The tacticians who worked with Deputy MacDermot on the Second Chamber Commission said: "He is weakening on the Second Chamber question, but anything like a Seanad constituted like the old Seanad would be anathema to the President. He will destroy any scheme for a Seanad that contains provisions like the first Seanad just as he destroyed the first Seanad; let us bring back a new scheme for a Seanad, something that will be novel to him so that he will not have to retrace his footsteps; having regard to the wobbly attitude he has shown on Second Chambers, he will probably embrace this scheme."
The theory is very interesting.
From the point of view of the tacticians responsible for the minority report, the theory was successful. It happened that the minority report produced a scheme for a Second Chamber and the President, wobbling on the desirability of a Second Chamber, immediately grasped this thing and so we have it in the Draft Constitution to-day. We have that scheme not because it is a method of producing a good Second Chamber but because it is different from the one abolished by the President. That is the only reason for its being here. That being the private view of the President, he would recognise that, though the former Second Chamber had better machinery for its election, still because it was different from the Second Chamber that he abolished he was ready to accept it. The old method of electing the Second Chamber gave you a certain type of people who were just as good as can be got under this method and they could be got just as easily.
Easier because the method of selecting the previous Seanad was that certain members of the Dáil nominated them and in that way it was quite easy to affix the test of nomination to the candidates. Under this proposal you will necessarily have to create a big superstructure in order to find out whether the people selected belong to a certain panel. Who is to certify that they belong to different interests and services? Who is to certify that a certain individual is connected with labour, whether organised or unorganised, that he is not a person associated with agriculture and allied interests, and fisheries? Who is to certify whether he belongs properly to labour or industry?
There are definite suggestions with respect to all these matters in the report.
We saw the suggestions that are contained in the report, but they are not in the Draft Constitution. It is still possible to pass a law giving effect to an entirely different scheme and not one of the suggestions made in the Minority Report may be embodied in the proposed legislation. I am opposed to a Second House, but if we are to have a Second House we ought to be able to get one with the greatest ease and simplicity. I do not think we would be getting that under the proposals in this Draft Constitution. I think that under these proposals you are creating an unnecessarily heavyweight structure and the difficulties of that structure will become apparent once an effort is made to classify people under these different panels. I am opposed to this whole conception of a vocational Chamber in the circumstances existing in this country. I do not think you have vocational organisations adequate to enable you to resort to this method of election. You merely will get endless difficulties, big obstacles and an unsatisfactory method of election when you try to put into operation a system to which the country in the existing circumstances does not lend itself.
It must be remembered that the atmosphere in which the Commission with regard to a Second Chamber brought in its variety of reports was that which was engendered by the President when he said in the House that Adams was no mean political thinker; he stood for the Single Chamber. As Deputy Norton has said, after that wise pronouncement the Fianna Fáil Party went around the country shouting "Up Adams," whoever he was, whichever Adams it was, because the President had said that Adams was no mean political thinker and he stood for the Single Chamber. After the President announced that most modern minds had come round to the view that the Single Chamber government was the best, he decided that he would get as many simple people of the Deputy MacDermot type as there were in the country to go into a room and see if they could oblige him either by falling out over the details of the Second Chamber or doing what they ultimately did do, submitting to him several suggestions. I do not suppose that the President's objective was quite clear even on the day the terms of reference came out. At any rate, Deputy MacDermot went into that commission with others and he helped to give the President the justification for including this nonsense in the Draft Constitution because he provided him with what amounted to disagreement in detail and he enabled him to say that nobody could agree about a Second Chamber, but he would endeavour to provide something which people might regard as better than a Single Chamber and, retracing his steps, he submits this proposal in his Draft Constitution.
We have in the Draft Constitution this entirely novel electorate. It is an electorate which, when one reads about it first, cannot strike anybody as being a sensible one. In opposition to that is a proposal that the members of the Seanad shall be elected on a franchise and in the manner and for the term to be provided by law. The suggestion is that this matter should be left over to be determined by law. It would not be part of the organic law of this country. The proposal here is that the Seanad should be composed of a certain number, that it should have certain powers and that it should be chosen from a particular electorate. The majority here voted in favour of a Single Chamber Government and the President has had served up to him a variety of suggestions from a carefully handpicked committee. It is surely a proper thing to suggest that in a country which has had experience of a Seanad there should not be an attempt to fix here for all time what is to be the method of selecting the personnel of the Seanad.
I gather that Deputy MacDermot has some doubts as to whether there is anybody capable in this country of producing a plan for a Second Chamber. That is not so much the difficulty; the difficulty is that there are so many plans for a Second Chamber capable of being produced and they can all be considered admirable when viewed from a different standpoint. Modern thinkers are generally in favour of a Second Chamber Government all through the world, and if you took the best of these minds in countries which have had experience of Second Chambers you probably would not get them to agree on the terms of reference the President put before the Commission previously. I suggest that you cannot think accurately about a Second Chamber when the terms of reference more or less indicate "If you decide to have a Second Chamber, tell us what you think it ought to be."
The first pivotal point is, do you intend that the Seanad should take office at the same time as the representative House? Do you intend that the Second Chamber should be an elected body? Then, if you are going to have a change, with the wave of popular opinion that brings about a change, the particular powers you should give to such a body would be entirely different to those given to a House constituted under different conditions. If you think you are going to have a House so made up that it would not in its entirety go out of office or out of being on the day on which the representative House ceases to exist, if you are aiming at having an overlap and that the Seanad built up under one administration would hang over for a certain number of years, then I think you would give entirely different powers.
The people who were collected together at that Commission did not even think fit to address a question to the President or to his nominees, so far as the records produced show, as to whether there was anything in the President's mind with regard to a Second Chamber, what was the type he thought of, whether he wanted a Seanad with powers of delay or a Seanad with powers of amendment, whether it was to be free, or would it be confined because of money matters or constitutional matters. Anybody could have seen that confusion was bound to be the result of a commission set up in the way that that commission was set up. Can anybody say that there is sufficient thought given to this matter in this document? Can anybody say that he believes that what is here is better than any alternative suggestion that can be thought of? Is there any argument sufficiently definite as to this fancy electorate? Have the details been properly thought out? Is there any reason why there should be panels of candidates chosen more or less on a vocational basis? Is anybody convinced that the panels are exhausted or have been properly provided?
Is there any reason why a Constitution which is to be changeable only by a process of referendum after three years should contain the details that are here with regard to these panels, the people they are to represent and the electorate that is to choose them? Will any harm be done by leaving these matters over for determination by ordinary law? Is it ludicrous to suggest that any harm would be done in such circumstances? I suggest that the powers of the Seanad should be left over for determination by ordinary law. Even if you take the powers that are proposed to be given, can anybody say that this is the best suggestion that could be made? Has the President discussed any alternatives? I suggest that there is a case for leaving over certain matters connected with the Seanad for determination by ordinary law. For instance, the numerical strength of the Seanad could be left over. Can anybody see any harm accruing to the State if radical changes affecting everything that occurs after paragraph 4 are left over for determination later? I only limit it to paragraph 4 as a reasonable stopping point. Can anybody see any harm accruing to the State if the whole Article dealing with the Seanad be changed, and changed several times, in the next three years? Is there anything that would shake the foundations of the State if the particular policy in regard to the Seanad is not fixed and immovable?
There is an interesting development in all this matter. There are certain types of arguments from which one can see personality projecting and types of argument from which one can see arguments on personal experience proceeding. That is definitely Deputy MacDermot's attitude on this question of a Second House. On one occasion he spoke of what seemed to mean the desirability of having election with regard to the Second House. That was at a time when Deputy MacDermot felt secure somewhere in the country as an elected member. A little later, he became wedded to nomination. He was getting a little insecure with regard to the elective process in respect of himself. Now, he is all for the lot, which is the last gamble of a defeated man.
I shall be very much interested if Deputy McGilligan can produce a quotation from any speech of mine favouring election to the Seanad. I am certain he could not produce anything of the kind. He inquires what harm could be done by leaving this matter over. I reply: what good can be done by leaving it over?
You will get a better decision.
I question that very much. What the President said a few minutes ago is perfectly true. If you put up any workable scheme for a Second Chamber, almost everybody who looks at it will think of improvements upon it. There is no perfect or ideal scheme. The number of permutations and combinations that are possible with regard to a Second House is infinite, and the longer you put it off the more difficulty and the more confusion you will have. Why are the leaders of the Opposition insisting on a course being followed here which they did not adopt themselves? They put a Seanad in their Constitution and these clear thinkers made numerous subsequent alterations with regard to the arrangements for the Seanad. The truth of the matter is that these proposals are not perfect—far from it. They are especially imperfect at a time when the vocational basis we hope some day will exist does not, as Deputy Norton has said, exist as fully as we should like to see it. Even when these things develop further, the Seanad will not be a perfect body. Few people will be found to say that it is in all respects the best of all possible arrangements for creating a Seanad. But if we have to wait until the House is unanimous, or nearly unanimous, on that question, we shall have to wait for ever.
The arguments which Deputy McGilligan is putting up are extremely mischievous because they create a danger of our having no Second Chamber at all. They are mischievous from the point of view of anybody who is anxious to have a Second Chamber, if at all possible. I do not believe that the Second Chamber the President abolished was at all as satisfactory as the Second Chamber that can be created by these proposals. I do not believe that for the reason that the last Second Chamber was a Party body. On most measures that came before it, the Party Whips were put on and a decision was taken on a Party basis. If you want a Second Chamber of that kind, which is frankly a reflection of this Chamber, except in so far as there is an overlap, adopt the Norwegian system, which many people do not consider a Second Chamber system at all, and have just a Revising Committee appointed from this Chamber.
If you want something that is not a reflection of this House, you are driven to constitute it on some other principle and to make it unlike the last Seanad. If one is to be perfectly frank, the merit of the last Seanad consisted largely in the fact that it was originally to so great an extent nominated and that it was nominated not at a time when Party warfare was in full swing but at a time when the State was being created and when the nominating authority had other things to think of than Party considerations. If the Seanad had been merely elected from this House from the beginning, without any sort of limitation as to who might be elected, if it had been elected purely on a Party basis from the beginning, I conceive that it would not have had the measure of merit to which I have referred. That is why I consider that the Second Chamber was, in fact, on the down grade at the time it was abolished. I do not mean by that that the people put into it were unworthy people, but that they went in with a Party outlook and stayed in with a Party outlook. If you are going to have another Chamber in which opinions are divided on a Party basis, you are simply re-duplicating this House, and that is not worth while.
Deputy McGilligan refers to this "fancy electorate" with great contempt. I utterly disagree with this fancy electorate. I do not favour the proposal. It is not in the report I signed, and I hope we shall get it altered when we come to it. But Deputy McGilligan himself admits that powers and composition are closely inter-related. Now the powers of the head of the State, the powers of the Dáil and the powers of the Second Chamber are closely connected. One depends on the other. We cannot pass a Constitution which says that there is going to be a Second Chamber without saying what its powers are to be. If you put in the powers, you must put in a general outline of the composition, because none of us is willing to arrange for the giving of powers to a body of whose composition we know nothing at all. At the same time, you can, of course, go too far. The minority report recognises that and says: "In connection with the proposed machinery for the selection of the Second Chamber, we are of the opinion that only the broad principles on which our recommendations are based should be embodied in the Constitution, leaving the details to be fixed by ordinary legislation." That is exactly what the President is doing. He is attempting to put as much into the Constitution as he appropriately can, leaving a certain amount of elasticity for the arrangement of the details later. It is not a thing we are passing for all time. The Constitution can be altered.
Only inside three years.
Even after that time, it can be altered by referendum. It is over-stating the case altogether to say we are doing this for all time. We are not. If the Constitution is to be a Constitution in any real sense of the word and we are putting in a Second Chamber, we must give some sort of outline of the principles on which it is to be formed.
Deputy McGilligan says that modern thinkers are all in favour of a Second Chamber. That is a statement that to me has no meaning. I do not know how anybody can be in favour of a Second Chamber without some explanation of what a Second Chamber means. Does it mean a revising committee, a Second House, that is a reflection of the first House? If you mean that they are in favour of something that is to be more than a reflection of the first House, then it must be constituted on some different principle. You do not want to arrange that the Second Chamber should always be in opposition to the first Chamber, that it should be Tory if Radicals are in power and vice versa. Nor do you want to arrange that it shall be identical with the first House. Here is an attempt to get something on different principles from the first House. It is perfectly easy for every individual who looks at it to sneer at it. The first instinct of anybody looking at any Second Chamber scheme is to sneer at it and say that this and that is unreasonable and illogical. Let anybody who is inclined to talk like that sit down and attempt to work out a Second Chamber scheme for himself and he will find the difficulties. If we are to postpone consideration of this matter until everybody has done that, I predict with confidence that the result will be nothing but confusion.
What is really wrong with the Opposition in connection with this proposal is that they were accustomed to a certain kind of Seanad which was really a reflex of this House. That Seanad was a very serviceable instrument in the hands of the Opposition. It was a very willing and pliant instrument and an Opposition accustomed to a Chamber like that, which was simply a reflex of a certain Party organisation, naturally object to any deviation from that type of Seanad. Not only was it a reflex of this House but the present Minister for Lands said, before its abolition, that it was rapidly becoming a home for political derelicts.
Nobody can say that a slight deviation from that form of Seanad is any harm. Nobody who looks at the provisions of Article 18 will deny that there is a possibility of working out a better type of Seanad under it than the last Seanad. I frankly admit that I was one of those bitterly opposed to the last Seanad. Evidently, there is a volume of opinion which wants a Second Chamber and which wants delay in legislation. Whether we like it or not, that section of opinion exists. If a certain commission set up here puts forward certain proposals which are embodied in this Constitution, I consider that those constitute a better basis on which to build a Second Chamber than the basis on which the old Seanad was constituted. That should be a closed chapter. Deputy McGilligan, Deputy O'Sullivan and Deputies of their standing in this House would be well advised to close that phase in the history of the Oireachtas. Not a single voter would say, whatever may be his opinion about the plan for a new Second Chamber, that the old Chamber did not get its deserts.
I am very sorry that Deputy MacDermot's first inclination is to sneer at things proposed in this House. I take it that when that is the natural instinct on the part of everybody, he must be speaking from his own experience. It is really after examination that this Article demands condemnation. Deputy Norton, in speaking of the vocational basis, must have recognised that there is no vocational basis for the election of the Seanad. What is contained in Article 7 is not a vocational basis, since it does not limit in any real sense the power of the electorate or the proposers. There is no real limitation. It leaves the electorate perfectly free to elect anybody. Can you imagine any Seanad of 43 elected people which would not contain representatives of any of the grades set out? No matter what you would do, it would contain representatives of these groups. There is no vocational basis. That is one of the pieces of pretence of which we have several examples in this Constitution. I should call it a "pious resolution," only I do not know why people describe as "pious" resolutions in which they have not the slightest belief.
Now, the Opposition are complaining that it is not definite enough.
I am telling you what is here.
The rest is to be done by law.
We are objecting to passing futilities, and this is merely a futility. The Deputy thinks this is a step towards the corporative organisation of a Second Chamber. It corresponds to Article 45; it is a thing without power. Deputy MacDermot spoke—I presume the President will agree with him—about certain limitations on the power of choice. There is no such limitation here. I put it again to any member of this House: Take these five groups, get a Party organisation going, select a Party Seanad, and it will be very hard for them not to fulfil the terms of that Article. They would have to go out of their way not to do that. Here, at last, I gather, is something superior to the last Chamber, because it is non-political. We have one non-political personage in the new President, and the opinion of the President of the Executive Council as to a non-political personage is, apparently, akin to the opinion that the Irish Press is a non-political newspaper. Here we are to have a non-political Seanad elected by political people—people who are first and foremost politicians and who are elected because of that and nothing else.
I want to change that.
I am dealing with what is in this particular Article which is supposed to give us a non-political body. That body is to be selected by politicians and nobody else. It is quite obvious, judging from the arguments we have heard, that this proposal has not got a moment's consideration either from the President or from the Lord Chief Justice of this House, who sits in judgment on the various proposals that come before us. It has not got any consideration, and, for that reason, I think the House should adopt the amendment we have put forward. In reality, what has happened is that, for some reason unknown to anybody—possibly unknown to himself—the President changed his mind on Second Chambers and said: "Here is one; take it or leave it." There has been no argument in favour of this method of election. I have not heard a word said in favour of it. It is different from election in the case of the Dáil. Of course, it is. Whether the results will be different is another matter. I think they will be largely the same. You will have a duplication of the Dáil. It is fantastic. The only reason for it is that it is absurd and therefore the proper place for it is here.
I find myself in the position of agreeing with almost everything that has been said by the leaders of the Opposition, but I disagree with them in thinking that they have established a case for the amendment they propose which takes away so many of the provisions of the Draft that is before us. I gather that there was a certain amount of criticism of the conduct of the commission which sat during the summer months last year as to the manner in which it devoted itself to its duties and as to the attitude it adopted in considering the important question on which its opinion was asked. It has been suggested, on the one hand, that this commission devoted itself to considering what the President would be ready to swallow in the shape of a Second Chamber. As far as my knowledge of that commission goes, I repudiate that view strongly. I do not think that many of the members of that commission thought that the attitude with which they should approach the question was one of considering what would suit the palate either of the Government or of the Opposition. I think they devoted themselves to the duties that they were asked to undertake: to suggest the best sort of Second Chamber the country should have, if it was decided that we should have a Second Chamber, what sort of powers it should have, and to suggest in what manner it should be elected.
I do not think it was any part of their duty to consider what view the President might have, what views his colleagues in the Government might have, or what views the Front Opposition might have except in so far those views might be of value in themselves. That is to say, the commission considered it its duty to design the most useful form of Second Chamber that it could and, in the minds of most of the members, I think that was associated with the desire that a Second Chamber, if decided on, would be such as to commend itself both to the President and to his colleagues on the one hand, and to the Opposition on the other.
I was surprised that Deputy McGilligan criticised the commission for not having invited the opinion of the President as to what sort of Second House he would like. I think that would have been a grave dereliction of duty on the part of the commission—to adopt from the very start a subservient position to the President. I think that would have argued a lack of self-respect on the part of the members of the commission who accepted service on the commission to carry out to the best of their ability the terms of reference of their appointment. I think it is extremely easy to criticise any Draft Constitution for a Second Chamber. In substance, almost all the criticism that I have heard this evening both from the Front Opposition Bench and from Deputy Norton could, I think, have been brought with almost equal force against any other Draft.
I am confirmed in that view by remembering the development in view that was shown by several members of the commission who sat during last summer. The views of many of them after two or three months' discussion developed to a very great extent. They differed very considerably from the views they had put before their colleagues when the commission first sat. That showed that to them the matter was a very important and a very difficult one. It showed, too, that they were willing to listen to reason and to argument, and to modify their views accordingly. In that way a large amount of agreement was got. It is evidence, too, that where their views differed from those expressed by others they were ready to seek what might appear to be their individual opinions.
On only one point can I remember that a reference was made to what view the President might have in regard to a particular matter that came up for discussion, namely, the question of nomination. The President had expressed himself in this House very strongly on the difficulty of anyone in his position, or the head of any Government, in nominating the members of a Second Chamber. As well as I remember, he has said that he himself would be unwilling to accept that responsibility. That is the only point on which I remember any member of the Commission referring to what might suit the President's wishes. The opinion of a very large number of members of the Commission was that, in many respects, the best Chamber we could have would be a Chamber which would be very largely nominated, while they recognised that at some time such a Chamber would be easily open to attack. The same thing would be likely to happen in the future as had happened in the past: that, when those who had been in office with the power to make nominations had passed out of power, those coming in would feel themselves hampered by the nominees of their predecessors, and that those nominees would be attacked as biased and not suitable for their position. Such criticism is natural and inevitable and would certainly have occurred if a large element of nomination had been suggested for the Second Chamber. With a comparatively small amount of nomination now in the Draft apparently the President would be willing to undertake to nominate if he should be in a position to do so. I think that anyone in the position of head of a Government will, in the main, exercise an honest and detached choice in those whom he will nominate to a position of such importance as membership of a Second Chamber. It would be undoubtedly difficult for him to tear himself away from Party claims and Party ties, but still I think he could be relied on to show that he could choose men who might be opposed to him politically, whose services he believed would be of value in the Second Chamber. I have no criticism to make of the number of nominees that it is proposed to include in the Second Chamber.
I now come to the very difficult question—the suggested vocational, or quasi-vocational, basis for the Second Chamber. I quite agree with Deputy Professor O'Sullivan that what is proposed is not really on a vocational basis. I do not think it is divulging any secret to say that almost unanimously, if not unanimously, the commission was in favour of finding a vocational basis for a Second Chamber, but that when they came to consider the matter in detail they found the difficulties so great that they were deterred from pursuing it further. I think that is a fairly accurate statement of the attitude of mind of a considerable number of the members of the commission.
I admire the courage of the President in what he has done in regard to approaching towards a vocational basis, as he has done in this Draft. I recognise, however, that when legislative measures are to be brought forward, and when this matter comes to be considered in detail, it may be found extremely difficult to apply the principles set out in the Draft and to work them out in practice. A vocational basis for one house of the Legislature is found in many different countries, differing as much as Fascist Italy and Communist Russia, as well as in democratic countries. There is a body of modern opinion certainly in favour of a vocational basis of some sort for one or other House of the Legislature. I do think that there is going to be very great difficulty in framing a piece of legislation to carry the idea into practice. All the difficulties that Deputy O'Sullivan and Deputy McGilligan pointed out are likely to occur. The question for the Dáil to consider is whether they are insuperable, and whether such a basis as that is one which is desirable or not. When one considers the vocational basis one is very much inclined to slip into thinking mainly of those interests or vocations which are already well organised, forgetting that these represent really a comparatively small proportion of the community and that many of the interests which, at the moment, are in this country, relatively unorganised, deserve consideration also.
When Deputy Norton said that we were trying to be before our time in this respect, I think there was a good deal of truth in his statement. I think it was necessary, if the Government had it in mind that this should be a part of our Constitution, to leave it more or less vague for the moment. As things are at the moment, I am sure that it would take a very long time to get any kind of reasonable agreement for carrying this into practice, and, therefore, I think that the matter has to be left vague.
There has been a good deal of criticism of the proposed electorate, and I think that Deputy O'Sullivan said that, so far, nothing had been said in defence of it. Well, I suggest one point that can be said in defence of it at any rate, and that is that it will represent a considerable and widespread body of opinion in the country when it is called into action. Many who have considered the matter of a Second Chamber recognise that unless the method of election is based, either directly or indirectly, on a popular vote, such a Second Chamber would lose much of its authority—that it would be peculiarly liable to be attacked as an aristocratic or an oligarchical body or something of that kind. Now, this device which the President has adopted—not, I think, on the advice of the Minority Report in this case—does base itself, indirectly it is true, on a reasonably expressed popular vote in the country. I think that the fact that those who have been candidates for membership of this House can show that they have received the support of a certain number of people and that they have a certain reasonable amount of support behind them in the country—500 in this Draft—should be sufficient to show that that number of people, at least, have confidence in the persons concerned, both as to their capacity and their probity, and that they consider them to be people of standing and suitable to represent them in the Government of the country. Therefore, by giving such people a voice in the election of a Second Chamber, I think that, not alone are you having it on popular support, but you are getting a body of responsible people to exercise their choice, and I think that it is a distinct advance on the system that, as far as I could gather it, Deputy Donnelly was advocating for the election of members to the Second Chamber by members of the Dáil alone. You will have a larger number and a more widespread authority, and you will have a body in which one could have more confidence than if they were a body elected by this House. I think it would be impossible to avoid having an election by the members of this House on a Party basis. The tickets would be drawn up by the Party whips and there would be an extraordinary mathematical calculation as to the numbers to be counted on by each Party. That will not be so easy where one is dealing with a much larger electoral college and where many of the people who will be entitled to vote in that electoral college are not amenable to Party influences at all. There will be a certain number of independent people— and, I have no doubt, a certain amount of cranks—who will be allowed to have some voice in the election of the Second House.
I think that, when one considers all the various devices that have been put forward as regards the method of election to the Second House, it is possible that you will get some as good as this, but I think that you will get few that will be open to less objection or criticism than the suggested method. The scheme, of course, is open to criticisms, easy to make and genuine in substance, but I think that any other scheme put forward would also be open to criticisms, and I think that the scheme devised by the President, who probably has done as well as could be expected in view of the difficulties of the problem, and has considered the advice given by the Commission, which certainly gave a good deal of thought and a good deal of discussion to this question of a method of election, will be open to very little objection.
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and, 20 Deputies being present,
Now, Sir, that this attractive subject has brought in a sufficient number of Deputies to pass a good vote on the matter, I think it is about time that some advertence was paid to the detail which we are going to write into a Constitution here—a Constitution which can only be changed by legislation during a period of three years and which, after that, can only be changed by way of Constitutional amendment. Let us take this detail. I object to putting in something that can be made a farce of. Let us take one of the suggested details that has been praised by the last speaker—the panels. There are five headlines there, and the next clause says that the number of members of Seanad Eireann to be elected from each of these panels, and the method of nomination to these panels shall be determined by law. The body that is to nominate the people who have practical experience of the method of building up the panel is to be determined by law. The only thing that you have fixed is these farcical labels which are to be put into this Constitution. Is it proper that they should be put in here?
Deputy Donnelly asks "Why not?" I think it was Deputy Donnelly who spoke of that institution on a former occasion as the last home for political derelicts. Well, I think that they could all be put in under any of the five heads that we have here. Is that any sort of an exclusive category? Can anybody say that there is some other category that should not be added? Has this matter been discussed by people in the country, and can anybody say here, with regard to it, that they know that there is a definite feeling in their constituencies about this matter? I doubt if anybody here can say that he has talked about that detail.
A big proportion of the people would like to see no Seanad.
Is that what the Deputy thinks? If so, they will probably accept this as the nearest thing to no Seanad, and they will probably accept the method of electing it as being the nearest approach to bringing about no Seanad. When you have this talk about certain matters to be determined by law, why do you stop at this one thing and say, with regard to the system of panels, that a man must, in some way or another, by hook or by crook, or by some change in the law, get himself fit to be elected by managing to have himself included under one of these heads? Why should these heads be there? I would not object if there was a proposal put forward for making certain changes by way of legislation, because I think that the only way to get a body of opinion behind any scheme in connection with a Constitution is after a series of changes have been made; but where you have written down certain things as part of the Constitution and then say that certain other things are to be determined by law, I hold that they should not be written into the Constitution. I say that this question of groups or panels should not be written into the Constitution, this thing of saying that a person must be a member of a certain group before he can qualify as a candidate for election. Deputy Dr. Rowlette has talked with some praise of the panel system and has said that any other system would be subject to as much criticism. You cannot test that until you have schemes put forward. Has there been time to put forward schemes?
Deputy Dr. Rowlette was a member of the commission but he did not sign any report.
There were no signatures affixed by the majority. Deputy McGilligan ought to look at the report.
Deputy Dr. Rowlette flatters himself, if he thinks it caused any discussion in the country. I suggest the Deputy should not be vain enough to think that anybody discussed that document, the methods by which it was brought forth and the circumstances surrounding it. There was no argument about it. I doubt if there were more than two newspaper articles in regard to it. There has been no discussion, even as to whether the methods of election which the members of the Commission put forward in their various reports were founded on practical experience, whether they were a mixture of what had been taken from other countries or whether they had proved to be good, bad or indifferent in other countries. There has not been one exciting night, one exciting hour, in the country over the report or what was contained in it. Yet, a Second Chamber is an important matter. There are certain people in various groups who meet in various representative organisations that one would naturally assume should meet and discuss it, but they have not discussed it, whether it was that they had not the time or not I do not know. It may be that some of them turned over quickly to see what were the powers of the Seanad and that, having seen them, they decided that it did not matter whether they got representation in it or not. I do think that the powers and personnel of the Seanad are inextricably intertwined. The proper way to start is not with the personnel but with the powers.
I am told that this Seanad will be a better body than the old Seanad. I could imagine people saying that but I cannot imagine that assertion being based on the argument that the old Seanad was a reflection of the Dáil. Let us consider how the last Seanad was elected. First of all, you had a number of people who were nominated. Then there was an attempt to have an election with the whole Saorstát voting as one unit, but one experience of that condemned it. There was then a change made and we came to the time when this House elected members to fill casual vacancies and vacancies occuring on the retirement of members. How did that work out in practice? You got this situation: that the new Seanad was not elected with the same wave of popular feeling as this Seanad will be. This new Seanad, I suggest, will be far more a reflection of this House than the old Seanad was. The old Seanad was not elected in toto after a general election. It might, by degrees, be changed until it had assumed the same complexion as this House but, if it did, it retained that complexion when this House had lost it. There was that advantage about it. How is the new Seanad to be elected? An election will be held for the Dáil. There will be a wave of popular feeling on which a certain Party will be elected and that Party will appoint the Government. The new head of the Government will then nominate 11 members and then, the people who have got so many first-preference votes, getting them on that same wave of popular feeling, are going to be the electorate for the remaining Senators apart from those who are to be elected to the University seats. The elections for the University seats will, it may be assumed, be affected to some extent by the same wave of popular opinion. Is that Seanad going to be a better Seanad than the last, with these 11 people elected by the new head of the Government and the rest going to be elected by a group of people who have stood the test of whatever new wave of enthusiasm has thrown up this House——
What about the nominations?
What about them?
Will they not be selected from panels?
Not at all. Certain people will be nominated to the panels but the method of appointment of panels is to be determined by law. If there is a new Government which finds that its predecessors have left some method of selection which does not suit it, cannot that method of selection from the panel be changed? There is much more likelihood of the new Seanad being a complete reflection of the new Dáil than the old Seanad was of the Dáil in the past and that circumstance is the one thing that marks these new proposals. I do not think there can be any argument about that.
You are wrong in that.
If I am wrong, it is because some people have the belief that the interposition of this new panel business is going to change the complexion of the Upper House.
Read sub-section 1º of Section 7.
"Before each general election of such members, five panels of candidates shall be formed containing respectively the names of persons having practical knowledge and experience of the following interests and services," etc. Then they are set out.
How does the Deputy interpret that?
I interpret that in the light of the next sub-section, which says that the number of members to be elected from each of these panels shall be determined by law.
And the method of nomination.
And the method of nomination to the panel. Once you control the method you control everything. The last Seanad was supposed to be a body of men who had done honour to the nation under various headings. Deputy Donnelly has said that it was a home of political derelicts.
He said it was rapidly becoming a home for political derelicts. If it was possible to elect men of that type to a body which was supposed to consist of men who had done honour to the nation, this thing can be worked in exactly the same way, and will be worked in the same way. It seems to me that Deputy Donnelly, whose chief endeavours over a long period of years have been connected with political organisations, knows how easily that can be worked, and Deputy Donnelly will be at the back of the movement when that change is proposed unless he has lost much of his energy and enthusiasm in regard to political Parties. He is a man who ought to know how easy it is to work this method of nomination to a panel in the interests of a political Party. I can imagine all sorts of arguments to the effect that this Seanad will be a better Seanad than the old body, but none based on the point that the old Seanad was a reflection of the Dáil and that this will not be. On that I shall take up the challenge with anybody.
The Deputy does not suggest that he cannot work lawyers in under that section?
The section to which the lawyers belong.
They are not in any category.
Oh, yes, they are.
No more than amateur miners. Deputy MacDermot thinks that there is a condemnation of the old Seanad from the people who brought in the proposals about the new Seanad. He cavilled at their wisdom because the old Seanad had to be changed. It had to be changed. It was recognised always from the start that it had to be changed, and there is a great deal to be said for the forethought of the people who brought in the Seanad and made the conditions such that it was possible to have a method of trial and error. The conditions were such that the whole Seanad could be abolished, but I do not think there was any way of stopping that. But remember what was proposed here. The old Constitution had in it that the Constitution could be altered by way of ordinary legislation, originally for four years. That itself was capable of enlargement; it was enlarged to eight years before the Constitution left the Dáil as an Act, and it was eventually enlarged to 16 years. Every clause, including the one with the time limit in it, was capable of enlargement. This Constitution is brought before us with a clause in it which states that the Constitution itself may be amended by way of ordinary legislation within three years, except the one clause with the time limit in it, so that you cannot have any enlargement of the period with regard to the amending of the Seanad unless we change it here when we come to consider it. If it is passed as brought in, you tie up the Seanad in whatever form you leave it when passed here, and whatever President is elected can control any little amendment which can be done in it. Even though an amendment of the Seanad may be passed by a unanimous House in the three year period by way of ordinary legislation, he can send that off to the people by way of referendum as being a matter vitally affecting their interests. You have two barriers. One is that the period of ordinary legislative change is tied to a period of three years, and inside that period any change to be made in it can, if the then elected President thinks fit, be sent off to the people by way of referendum. I suggest that the idea with regard to the old Seanad was far better. I suggest even that its method of building up was far better. I suggest that, whether it was or not, there was sufficient experience about those who brought it in to realise that it had to be left capable of being freely changed within a certain period.
That was not the original intention of the framers.
They had a specific number of years which the previous Government altered.
It was a period of four years as it was brought in, which was changed on the appeal of the then leader of the Opposition.
But not by the framers.
The request had only to be made, and eventually it was enlarged to 16 years.
But not by the framers of it.
It was enlarged by the framers of it. The period was left open so that the people now in power were able to work their will on the Seanad. I want the contrast observed. We now have here given to us a completely new body with a novel electorate for which there is no example. After three years you can only change it by a rigid referendum and inside the three year period the President can make you have a referendum on any point.
There was provision for a referendum in the last Constitution but it was removed.
There is the situation. Can anybody say that the proposals which have been put forward here have been canvassed and thought of and that the people are satisfied with regard to them to the extent that we should write them as part of our organic law? Naturally the best situation would be that in which the limited powers of the Seanad could be determined by law. That is a much more reasonable proposition in the circumstances than the novel features of this, in view of the fact that this Constitution has not been considered and is not going to be considered prior to its passing. It is not going to be considered. Deputy MacDermot says that if we were to wait until there was agreement on the plan about the Seanad there would be confusion. Nobody wants that period of waiting. There was no such argument. The suggestion has been made that it is wrong to write this in as part of the fundamental law when there is not agreement. Let the matter be subject to easy process of change, and by degrees and after many changes we will get some approach to agreement. All the while there will be some Second Chamber being tested by experience, and people will be watching to see what it is doing.
The House is being asked, in fact, to agree to certain general principles with regard to the Seanad. The question is not whether it is absurd to pass this without agreeing to it. The question is whether we shall agree to it.
A great many of the arguments which Deputy McGilligan addressed to the House seemed to me to contradict each other. He talks about the wisdom of allowing the possibility of change. We are allowing the possibility of change. The extremely important and difficult matter of the composition of the panels is left to be dealt with by ordinary law. One moment we have the Opposition complaining that they are being asked to vote on something blindfolded because they are not being given all those details now, and the next moment they are insisting on the wisdom of allowing for experience and being able to make alterations on the basis of experience. The truth of the matter is that if we are going to try this vocational method at all we can only try it in this sort of way. This division of certain matters to be put into the Constitution and certain matters to be dealt with by ordinary law was foreseen by the people who made the reports of the Second Chamber Commission. Deputy McGilligan says that there must be something wrong with the reports of the Second Chamber Commission because they aroused so little interest throughout the country. I venture to say that any plan for a Second Chamber that might have been produced would have had the same fate. The average man is not in the habit of addressing his mind to complicated constitutional questions. The Opposition are constantly saying at the present moment that this Draft Constitution is arousing no interest. There is a lot in that. I think that complicated constitutional measures always will bore the man in the street; that is inevitable. But the members of this House whose duty it is to address their minds seriously to the subject have had ample opportunity of considering the reports of the Second Chamber Commission during the last 12 months.
I personally agree with Deputy McGilligan in his objections to the particular electorate which has been provided here for choosing from the panels, but it is possible to make further suggestions with regard to that electorate, and I have not seen any amendments put down by the Opposition for doing so. They seem to limit themselves to being obstructive. It is very easy to be obstructive in this particular matter, because there is not a single arrangement with regard to a Second Chamber that is not open to a thousand objections. Deputy McGilligan says that the new Seanad will be a more Party affair than the old one. I am not denying that this new Seanad can be turned into a Party affair. In fact, I will go so far as to say that any Seanad in the wide world can be turned into a Party affair. All you can hope to do is to provide some alternative to Party allegiance; and that is what we are attempting to provide by these proposals. We are attempting to provide some other motive that should replace the motive of Party. It may turn out that political Parties will not play the game, that leaders of the Government will be unscrupulous, and set aside all the ideals behind these proposals, but I do not see why we should be so pessimistic as to take that view. It is quite true that in the case of the old Seanad there were supposed to be certain factors with regard to services to the State. After all these were extremely indefinite. The proposals here, though necessarily not as definite as they might be, in view of the fact that we want to leave something open to experience, something open to change, nevertheless do provide something more to give a non-Party atmosphere than existed in the case of the old Seanad.
Can the Deputy define for me any man who has a practical knowledge of culture?
I cannot. If the Deputy will turn to the report of the Commission, and the basis on which these proposals are framed, he will see that these groups have not been just thrown down on paper without consideration as to how they are to be formed. We were fully aware of the difficulty. Let us take the group in industry and commerce. We suggested that some members should be chosen from the Federation of Saorstát Industries, some from the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association, some from the Chambers of Commerce, some from the Standing Committee of the Irish Banks, some from the civil engineers, some from the chartered accountants, some from the Royal Institute of Architects, and so-forth. One does not want to bring all these bodies into the Constitution. They may not always exist or they may change. We were not sure that these were the most perfect bodies that could be found in existence at present. That is the sort of thing that is properly left to ordinary legislation. It would be a dereliction of our duty in this Constitution not to give some outline of the way the Seanad is to be formed. If Deputy McGilligan will join with me in trying to get a better electorate I should be exceedingly grateful. The question of the mode of choice from the panels might perhaps be left over for ordinary legislation to fix. That is a matter of opinion. But as for a general outline of the groups composing panels, that it should be put into the Constitution seems to me to be obvious.
I made no argument about the man in the street. A series of proposals were put forward that men were to be elected by bodies such as the Irish Trade Union Congress. It is a year since that was passed. Has the Irish Trade Union Congress done so? Has the Council of the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association done so?
I think it has.
Have the Chamber of Commerce, the banks, the civil engineers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the architects, or the National Teachers' Organisation done so? How many of these people discussed that report? I am not talking of the man in the street.
The whole thing turns on the panels. In the old days in Greece they had something like the panel system and they did very well for a while. They decided by lot who was to be general and did very well. How are we to be sure that our panels will be perfect and properly tested? I see the difficulty here and my sympathy is with the President. I wish I could help him. He should concentrate on that point.
If a classical example is to be brought in, a process-server was brought in in the past and made leader of an army.
Amendment No. 73 in my name deals with the electorate that chooses from the panel. I am very glad to hear Deputy Alton's remark about the panels. The principle of the amendment is this, that by definition everybody who is put on the panels is supposed to be a person fit and proper to be a member of the Second Chamber. If vocational organisations were sufficiently developed in this country there would be no need of panels at all. The organisation could elect direct to the Seanad and we could get rid of rather cumbersome machinery. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and for that reason the panels were put into the scheme. By whatever method the panels are constituted the aim will be to get on only people who are fit and proper for the Seanad. It was assumed in the Commission's report that the panels would be small. The recommendation was that where there are ten Senators to be elected the panel from which they are to be elected would number only 20. Consequently, if you select ten from a panel of 20 by lot, it seems to me you are not trusting any more to Providence than is reasonable. Leaving Providence out of the question, it seems to me that, on the mathematical law of chance, you have a larger probability of satisfactory results than you are likely to have if you choose from panels by means of an electorate of such a political character as either the Dáil or an electorate composed partly of members of the Dáil and partly of defeated candidates. The great trouble will be if you have the Dáil or political candidate electorate to keep Party politics out. Here is the thing we had in mind. Even when we had racked our brains to think of all the institutions that could possibly be made use of for the purposes of getting representatives for the panel and, even after we had racked our brains, to the best of our ability, to get suitable organisations, we were still left in this position, that there had to be a certain number of nominations in every group, except the Labour group, and we could think of no other nominating party except the Minister and, out of the suggested total of 80 persons who were to be on the panels, there were no less than 19, according to our scheme, who were to be nominated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Education. You have, therefore, these Ministerial nominations and you have, in addition, the 11 nominations of the President of the Executive Council. In the case of all of these, obviously a certain danger of Party politics creeping in exists. If the President and Ministers play the game, that danger can be enormously diminished; but it does exist and it makes it all the more desirable that the remainder, those on the panels who are sent there by organisations of one sort or another, should not have to look to members of this House, or to defeated candidates either, in order to get on to the Seanad. It seems to me that the danger of canvassing is tremendous and it is very undesirable that that danger should exist.
There is a question as to whether the Dáil itself, or the Dáil plus defeated candidates, would be the best electorate. They both seem to me extremely bad as electorates, but as between the two, I personally would prefer the Dáil itself. There is what Deputy McGilligan called a fancy electorate which seems to me really a bit too fantastic—that elaborate system of people getting so many votes for the Seanad according to the number of votes they themselves got from the electors. After all, what are the people down the country going to know about engineers, or doctors or architects? They will know nothing about them at all, except in so far as those people have received some form of publicity, and the easiest and the most normal sort of publicity, I suppose, is political publicity. The average member of that electorate who is seeking to choose people from the panels will have no other resource, if he is asked to vote for a lot of names he has never heard of before, but to go to the Party leaders and say, "What about it?" and then follow the instructions given by the Party leaders. We had reached a pitch in the case of the last Seanad, when at each election a member of a Party was not only told for whom he was to vote, but was told in exactly what order he was to vote for each of the candidates. The thing became just as machine-made as anything could be. It would be deplorable if the same thing were to happen in connection with the new body we are trying to create.
So it will.
I think we can avoid that, and we would obviously avoid it if we adopted the suggestion in this amendment, that the selection from this very small limited body of competent persons should be by drawing lots. The other people will get their turn in a few years. It would really be little more probably than a rotational system. There would be no absurdity about it, because all the people you would be choosing from would be, by definition, competent. You do not have to go so far back in antiquity as Deputy Alton went for examples of people being chosen by lot. You had the pricking of sheriffs which was choosing people by lot from a limited class of suitable persons. The jury system surely amounts to a system of lot for all practical purposes, the assumption being that any man in the street is a suitable person to be a juror, and so they must each take their turn in serving. So I suggest that any of the people put upon the panels must be regarded as fit and proper people to be Senators, and they may quite reasonably be selected by lot, rather than introduce a system which allows the Party motive to come in so easily as the system of this particular electorate would do.
I take it the Deputy is discussing the two amendments together?
I cannot take the two together, because the next amendment is inconsistent with this one. It is only in the event of this one being rejected.
The question will be put in the form: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
Can an amendment not be put to the House affirmatively?
Surely it is possible to have two amendments moved?
The question I have to put is: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
Are we so tied up by the precedent adopted by the Chair for putting amendments that it is not possible to move two different types of substitutions for what is contained in the Constitution? If that is the procedure, it reduces this House to a point of futility that I never thought was possible. I should like personally to have the second amendment debated and defeated first, because the only preference I can see myself having for substituting the word "lot" would be if I thought there was any fear of the Council of State being substituted.
The question I must put is: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand." The Deputy sees the difficulty?
Surely it is possible to put the question: "That the words ‘Council of State' be put in?"
I do not feel very strongly on the subject, and I am prepared to deal with the two amendments together. I am no enthusiast for selection by the Council of State. I would prefer selection either by the Prime Minister or the head of the State actually, where there would be a sort of personal responsibility. The Council of State is put in because I was afraid that the Government might be unreasonable enough to refuse my excellent suggestion of lot, and in the event of their doing so, I would personally prefer the Council of State to the Dáil electorate, or to an electorate of the Dáil plus defeated candidates. I would hope the Council of State would function in the same sort of spirit as the Appointments Commission. I wish, however, to make it clear that, of the two, the suggestion which does appeal to me is the suggestion of lot. I may say, incidentally, that far from this being a recent development, so far as my opinions are concerned, I advocated the use of the lot in connection with the Seanad even when I was enjoying all the safety and glory and companionship of sitting on the Front Bench of the Opposition.
With regard to the question of lot, I think the Deputy thinks you can have a limited panel to start with. I am afraid he cannot. I would be much more anxious about having this in the Constitution if I thought that there was any possibility that you would definitely have to get a number like 20. I think you will have to leave it pretty open—that the filling of the panels will have to be fairly open. You have all sorts of organisations. Consequently, I think that you must envisage something like 20 on each panel. I do not like to speak of the chances of a particular individual when you leave it to lot to pick out. You are certain to get one type—certainly they ought to be generally of the same type from a panel. It is necessary to leave elasticity at either end to do the thing at all. I think that the system of lot is ultimately a policy of absolute despair. That is my view of it. I think that it would immediately set up a desperate prejudice against the whole institution. But I am not going to attack it in that sense. If you have a very limited number and it is a toss up as to which of them you would take —each one of them a good representative of a particular interest—I would say it would not be right to toss up in a case like that. It would be more reasonable to look at the individuals, to size them up and take your choice. I think this would create a prejudice against the whole institution which would be very damaging to it. Consequently, you should not do it by lot. There is every reason why you will have to leave a certain amount of elasticity as to the number on the panel. If you increase the number on the panel on which you are going to vote, that will be a help if you have an intelligent electorate going through the panel. Let us suppose there are eight or ten to be selected from that panel. A number of difficulties, raised here with regard to the method of selecting the Seanad, are difficulties in practice which largely led me to believe that we are trying to get something which it is not practicable to get. When I was talking in that strain Deputy Rowlette said: "Very well, let us accept this, that even a bad Seanad is better than no Seanad." The arguments put forward here about the Seanad are not new to me at all. The difficulties which I experienced when I tried to get a Seanad which would be fairly satisfactory were these: First of all the Opposition got itself into a very safe position. They got themselves into the position that they could criticise anything knowing that there is no proposition that one can put up that cannot be criticised. The Opposition left themselves free to criticise any proposition, and they are availing of that freedom to the full. Their arguments are not very logical because they are arguing two ways at once. They say: "We ought not to stereotype this and put in the panels," and Deputy McGilligan says they can vote on any particular individual they want to put in in any of these panels. Yet, at the same time they tell us it is too narrow to be stereotyped. Then they tell us about its not being representative. If you look at the classes you can analyse them and see that they are fairly representative.
The President, if he wishes, can start all over again.
With regard to getting down to the narrow question of "lot," that will come in immediately. On the point as to whether you can at this stage limit the number you have on the panel, I do not think that can be done. If you cut it down you will see one big difficulty which you have to face at the start and that is how many should you give to a particular organisation. Each group may say: "Why should another group have three and we have only two?" If you do not limit the number which you give to two organisations, each could possibly claim a different number. Then if you restrict it to two each the fact is that as long as you give them as large a number as they can possibly elect, they will have no grievance. Consequently it is essential not to restrict the number to twice the number the Deputy had in mind. I think on the ground of prejudice it would be definitely bad.
On the question of the Council of State, that is only one step removed from nomination. You would have a great difficulty if you had a Seanad nominated in that way. It would be suggested that it did not represent public opinion in any way. But you will have it representative of public opinion in this way: you will have separate interests selecting the panel; there will be a certain number of representatives of the activities of the nation, and then you will have over and above that the selection from this class made by this electorate here. As to the suggestion that it is not much better than the Dáil, I am prepared to give assent to that. But the members who have been in the Dáil will preponderate in this election, particularly if they get a voice in the proportion of the first votes. The members actually elected will have a great preponderance in the voting strength.
I used the word "lot" first. I am not suggesting that we might have that method here. What I want to stress is the importance of getting a perfect panel. I do not want to limit the number. We do not know how fit a man will be. It is to keep out the duds. If any clearer method could be shown, my difficulties would be dissolved. I think the scheme is an ideal scheme. I do not know how to make that ideal a real one. That is my difficulty.
When we come to the law and to implementing this, I want to say that I have had to try to look ahead and to see that we are not putting down something that could not be worked out at all. I have looked ahead to the extent of saying: "Can you do this?" and I say you can. I do not say that the methods I would recommend here would be accepted by the House. There would probably be a variety of proposals put up from the House to deal with the arrangements for the members from each panel, but when you come to the question of how the names that are to go on the panel are to be selected finally, you will find that these are the things that will have to be put into the law. That will give the first implementation principle. I think that that principle can be worked out. I believe on the whole it will lead to a type of Seanad different from the Seanad where you have in a way had direct election by the Dáil without a panel.
That governs amendments Nos. 74, 76, 82, 84 and 85.
Amendment 75 is partly met by the new amendment that has been put in by the Government. Amendment 75 provides that each panel shall supply a fixed quota of members, with a view of securing that there shall be fair play as between the different panels; that the electorate should not choose an undue number of Senators out of any one panel. I see that the President evidently considers that there should be more elasticity, because he proposes that there shall be a minimum and a maximum figure to be chosen from each panel. I am prepared to withdraw my amendment in favour of the one the Government have put in.
Does the Deputy agree that amendment No. 76 is governed by amendment No 74?
No, because Section 5 says: "Every election of the elected members of Seanad Eireann shall be held on the system of proportional representation, by means of the single transferable vote and by secret postal ballot." I wonder whether that provision could not be left over to an ordinary law instead of being put in the Constitution? We may decide that the electorate should be the Dáil and not this body of the Dáil, plus defeated candidates. In that case the provision about the secret postal ballot might be inappropriate. In any case, I am not clear that this is not one of the matters that would not be better left over to ordinary legislation, when our ideas about the composition of the panels are more complete than they can be at present.
Does not this immediately relate to the question as to whether we are going to have an electorate in the Constitution or not? It is the electorate that would be affected by this section.
And the method by which the electorate should exercise their choice.
We are proposing in this that the electorate should be actually put in the Constitution.
If the electorate is in the Constitution it does not necessarily follow that the way in which they should choose their representatives——
The Deputy's argument does not then apply. He is speaking about leaving something to a law which is to be passed later and which might provide for something different to what is envisaged in the Constitution. The law must be in accordance with the Constitution. If we determine the electorate we can determine equally well the method of election. It was in order to work out and carry the scheme as far as we can in the Constitution that we put this proposal in here.
If, when we come to sub-section (3) of Section 7, which describes what the electorate is to be, we succeed in persuading the Government to substitute the Dáil for this mixed electorate of the Dáil plus defeated candidates, and if we can persuade the Government to abolish this plan of giving a sort of fancy franchise depending on the number of votes secured, will Section 5, describing the method of election, still be appropriate?
My view is that if there was to be a consequential amendment in regard to any matter like that, it could be brought in on Report. If we did something later on which would make inappropriate something we decided upon, I take it that it would not be out of order to move on Report that a consequential amendment be made.
Why is proportional representation suitable as the scheme for the fancy electorate and not suitable for the Dáil as the electorate?
The proportional representation system is suitable enough. The point is, what about the secret postal ballot? In any case, I withdraw amendment No. 76.
Is amendment No. 77 governed by amendments Nos. 73 and 74?
Yes, it is closely bound up with them.
Amendment No. 78 is, perhaps, bound up with amendment No. 6.
Is the Deputy not moving it?
I do not propose to move that amendment as it stands, in view of the decision on amendment No. 6, but on it I would like to say that if provision is to be made for representation on the special panel of national language and culture, I hope that culture is not going to be defined as excluding everything that is non-national in the sense of being non-Gaelic.
I move amendment No. 79:—
In Section 7, sub-section 1º (i), line 1, after the word "Culture" to insert the words "Literature, Art".
This proposes that literature and art should be specially mentioned as forming part of the same group as language, culture and education. It seems to me that they ought to be specially mentioned and I see no case for leaving them out. I would ask the Government to put them in.
I do not think you recommended that in the Commission Report.
I recommend it now, in any case.
It is apparently an afterthought. The Deputy must not have read his own report.
I read it many a time.
The only point is whether "Culture" would not cover that.
"Culture" is a most ambiguous word. I suggest that the Government should accept Deputy MacDermot's amendment.
If Deputy McGilligan would take the trouble to look at page 34 of the report he would see that we did recommend that one person should be chosen for being prominently associated with literature or art.
This proposal would mean literature and art bound up with the national language and national culture.
Does the President object to the inclusion of literature and art? What I fear is that I think the word "national" appears to cover culture as well as language, national language and culture. I think it is so intended. If that is so, it confines the representatives of culture in the Seanad to Gaelic enthusiasts and I do not think that ought to be. I think there should be representatives of literature and art outside the purely Gaelic side of our activities.
I have no real objection to the amendment and I am quite prepared to accept it, although it seems to me not to be necessary.
And it does not add anything.
I think it is wise to include those words.
I move amendment No. 80:—
In Section 7, sub-section 2º, to delete the sub-section and to insert in lieu thereof two new sub-sections as follows:—
2º. The method of nomination to these panels shall be determined by law.
3º. The number of members of Seanad Eireann to be elected from each of these panels shall be determined by law, so, however, that not less than five and not more than eleven members of Seanad Eireann shall be elected from any such panel.
As Deputy MacDermot anticipated, it is intended to try to secure that there shall be fair play as regards the numbers that can be elected from each of the panels. I think it would be unwise to do as Deputy MacDermot has suggested, to mention a definite number from each panel. We cannot anticipate what will be the views that will be expressed or what may be the exigencies when we are making a law to implement the Constitution and when we are trying to meet different points of view. I think the provision that I have suggested here, namely, not less than five and not more than 11 will meet the case. You have five fives—25 —and that would leave 18. You will have to put five in each to start with, and you have 18 left over. If you insist on not having more than 11 in each, you will at least have to put those 18 amongst three panels. You would have to divide your loading over three panels at any rate, so I think that is fairly reasonable. With regard to the panels, six members are being elected from the universities and I think they ought to be regarded largely as supplementing the first panel. Consequently, you would have to take that into account when considering what number should be given to the first panel. As to public administration, I do not think a case could be made for putting as many representatives on that panel, if we are going to follow largely the economic side, as there would be in respect of agriculture, for example. This amendment is intended to give a certain amount of elasticity and, at the same time, to prevent such a thing happening as giving such a number to one panel as would completely overshadow the others. Deputy MacDermot has approached it from the point of view that there is not too much room to play with and, if he is satisfied with this, I think, from the point of view I have in the matter, it would satisfy us.
I move amendment No. 82:—
In Section 7, to delete sub-section 3º.
I want to argue again in favour of the Dáil as an alternative to the electorate proposed in sub-section (3). I think the Dáil is far from being an ideal electorate for this purpose, but I think it would be a better electorate than what is proposed. In the first place, the members of the Dáil would be likely to know more about the people they had to choose from than a good many of the candidates down the country, who might scarcely have ever been near the centre of affairs and who might have a much smaller fund of general information about the life of the country than members of the Dáil would have. In the second place, I think that members of the Dáil would probably have a greater sense of responsibility; and in the third place, if you put that responsibility fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Dáil, everybody knows who is to blame if the Second Chamber is in fact turned into the political Party Chamber that it ought not to be.
We have argued this and I do not know that it is necessary to say anything further on it. The point is: if they know them better, what is the question about the lot? I think the other electorate is, on the whole, more suitable. It has been suggested that Deputy Donnelly might try his hand at organisation if this system were tried. I do not know that it would be as easy for Deputy Donnelly, or anybody else to succeed in that with the electorate provided, as it would be with the Dáil. The Dáil is a group which can meet for several hours to deal with this matter, but it would not be so easy to bring all the candidates in an election together and deal with them. I think, on the whole, the electorate proposed is better than the Dáil. It gives a possibility of representation to minority groups and it is for these two reasons, as I said already, that we selected it rather than the Dáil.
The President suggests that my argument about the lot implies that no knowledge of the candidates is necessary or desirable. My answer to that is that I would be perfectly willing to have the men chosen blindly. My fear is not that they would be chosen blindly, but that, because Nature abhors a vacuum, if every voter knows nothing about the personalities of the people on whom he is voting, he will seek for some other motive to direct his vote and that motive will, I fear, be the Party motive. The greater his ignorance of personalities, the more he is thrown back on the Party motive.
With regard to amendment No. 83,
In Section 7, sub-section 3º, to delete the words "and who is not disqualified by law,"
that brings in the old question of disqualification and the danger of disqualification in this whole connection. As it fits in with a number of other cases, I ask leave to hold it over until the next stage.
What is the meaning of it at all? What was the object of it?
It has not been moved.
It was put down. Could we even have a hint as to what was meant by it?
If the Chair permits, but the Deputy will have the reason when we come to Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 86:
In Section 10, sub-section 1º, to insert before the word "provisions" the word "foregoing", and to delete the words "the foregoing Articles" and insert in lieu thereof the words "this Article."
This is largely a question of drafting.
There is a point I want to raise on this panel, this fancy electorate. Is it intended that what possibly may happen should be allowed to happen, that a person who did not succeed in getting 500 first preference votes but did succeed in getting elected to the Dáil should not have a vote?
Is that the same query as was in the Independent a fortnight ago?
A statement, not a query.
As it stands it is.
You might have a man who was a member of the Dáil but who did not get 500 first preference votes. Do you think that is proper?
There would have to be an amendment to deal with that.
What is the intention?
That was the intention originally. If there is a good case for changing it I shall listen to it.
Surely it is not intended that a person who has failed to secure election to the Dáil should have a vote, and that a man who has, in fact, been elected should not have a vote. We all know that a person who stands for the Dáil may receive the vast majority of the first preference votes. Take the case of the President. In Clare he receives a large number of first preference votes. As a result of his transfers his colleague is elected, though he may not have received 500 first preference votes. He is not to have a vote, although elected, while a man who got 700 or 800 first preference votes, and no transfers, will have a vote.
That is what this provision would mean.
It is quite clear that that is what it would mean. The question is: is there any justification for that in principle? Why should that situation arise? Surely a person ultimately elected to the Dáil should have a prior right to a vote for the Seanad as against the man who is not elected.
The principle underlying this provision is that the people who get the first preference votes are a second degree removed from the people and that they vote for the people who gave them their first preference votes. They are a sort of college, created indirectly, by the number of first preference votes they get. Take the case the Deputy has suggested of a person who got a very small number of first preference votes and who got elected on the surplus votes of some other candidate for the same constituency. The idea would be that that candidate would be voting these first preference votes and that he would have a number of votes that would correspond with them. That is the principle on which the whole thing is based. You may object to it but you will find that you cannot carry out the principle unless you proceed on these lines.
Is there not a danger, by reason of this provision, that a political Party may so arrange their candidates at an election as to secure the number of votes for particular candidates which will secure a vast preponderance of votes in the Seanad election? They could put up a large number of candidates who would have no chance of being elected and arrange that they get 500 votes. Consequently, a political Party may be in a position to secure a majority in the Seanad by reason of the votes of persons not elected to the Dáil. That is possible.
I do not think so. Suppose we were to work on the basis suggested by the commission; that would give a vote for every 1,000 first preference votes cast. In general— there may ‘be odd fractions—there would be a vote cast for every 1,000 first preference votes cast in the election. There would be as many votes as there are thousands of first preference votes passed. If you went into the matter very finely, there would probably be a little room for manoeuvring, but not very much. These first preference votes may be cast for A or B. From the Party point of view, it does not matter. Assuming that the Party were able to machine the matter properly, it would not matter whether A cast five votes and B none or whether A cast three votes and B cast two votes. It is based on the principle that there will be a vote for every 1,000 first preference votes. The voting power will be exercised on behalf of the electorate, as a whole, and in accordance with the number of first preference votes the candidates got at the election. There is nothing inconsistent in that unless you say that the person who is finally elected ought to have a vote. The point is that these votes will be cast by somebody else but not by him. If cast from a Party point of view, it would not matter. From the point of view of representing the people, the candidate is supposed to represent them by virtue of the fact that he got a certain number of first preference votes.
That may be the principle on which it is based but the manner in which the election will be carried out is not embodied in the Constitution. It is not provided that there will be so many votes for so many first preference votes. That may be determined by law. It is, therefore, open to any subsequent Parliament to devise a system completely different from what the President has in mind. You leave it open to a subsequent Parliament to do by law something entirely different from what the President says it is his intention to do. Consequently, my objecttion stands. You may have a position in which a person will get a large number of first preference votes and his surplus votes may be cast for a candidate who is not a Party man.
We are taking the first preference votes as indicating his choice by the electorate.
They mean a preference for a particular candidate's popularity or personality. The transfers may go to different Parties altogether. The fact that a man gets 13,000 first preference votes is an indication that he is personally popular. His surplus may go to any Party, and frequently does. There is a principle behind all this, irrespective of the method by which the election will ultimately be carried out in accordance with a law to be passed. Any form of law may be passed. That is permissible under the Constitution. Some future Parliament may pass a law different from what the President intends to provide.
I agree with the Deputy that it is unsatisfactory to leave this matter to be dealt with by law. I myself had arrived at that conclusion earlier. I came to the conclusion that it would be better to go back and put the whole thing down, as it was in an earlier Draft. This was taken out because a great many matters were being left to be dealt with by law and it seemed to be an unnecessary complication. I had come independently to the conclusion that it would be wiser to put this into the Constitution, so that the principle behind it may be clear. The principle behind the scheme did not originate with me. It originated with the Commission and was adopted by me. The principle, so far as I understand it, is that you create a body of electors who got more than a certain number of first preference votes. You give to each one of these electors a vote proportionate to the number of first preference votes the individual got. That is the principle. Each of the electors would cast a vote for each 1,000 first preference votes which he got in the election, with a provision to meet the case where a person got an incomplete number of thousands—say, 1,200. The person who got 1,200 votes would have only one vote, whereas the person who got 1,700 or 1,800 votes would have two votes. They would get votes to the nearest thousand. That is the only part in which you could have manipulation by Party managers. You might possibly arrange to get the number of first preference votes that would give the Party the highest possible number of votes for the Seanad. It would not, however, be easy to do that. If Deputies who have spoken would be better satisfied to have the whole thing dealt within the Constitution, I can arrange to have it brought up on Report Stage. In fact, without any promptings from the other side I feel that it would be better to bring in on Report Stage a clause which would indicate that the number of votes that each elector will cast will be one for each 1,000 first preferences, with the appropriate fraction according as the number is over 500 or not.
I hope that on the Report Stage the President will make the Dáil the electorate rather than this composite body. It seems to me to introduce a complication that is unnecessary and of no value. It is a less responsible electorate than the Dáil would be. A thought that has just occurred to me is this: that a man who knew he was going to be on one of the panels might conceivably stand for election for a constituency for the Dáil as well, even though he did not expect to be elected or want to be elected. He would do so for no other purpose than to poll 5,000 votes, thereby gaining five votes that he could use to vote for himself for the Seanad.
I think that is very unlikely. With regard to this electorate, one of the reasons in favour of it seems to me to be this: that it can be less easily machined. You could, I suppose, if you spent enough time and trouble on it, practically machine anything, but I think this would not be so easily machined as the Dáil. That is one reason. Another reason is, and I think this is why it was put forward in the report, that minorities would get a better chance under this system than they would under the system of a vote by the Dáil. I have no strong views on it at all, and I would be inclined to say, "Very well, we can let the members of the House decide that matter if they wish." The only thing is that, if I were left to myself, my own judgment would be to take the electorate that is here in preference to the Dáil.
After what the President has said, this scheme, I think, will give the Seanad a much more political reflection of the Dáil than even the Dáil itself would give it.
What the President has said appeals to me. I wish he could find an electoral college that would be representative of a certain degree of stability in the country. Suppose you were to elect to such a college a man who had been elected to three consecutive Dála. Such a person would represent a fairly solid block of opinion in his part of the country. I wish we could have something of that sort.
The Deputy should ask Deputy MacDermot what he thinks of that.
I do not think Deputy MacDermot would agree to that. As I have said, the President's point appeals to me, because under it you give some concession to the minority. The electorate that is put before us in this Constitution seems to me to do that, and I agree with it.
On the point of minorities, in my view the President does not give or may not give the support to minorities at all that Deputy Alton thinks. Take the case of a man who is popular in his constituency and goes up for election. He gets all the first preference votes. There is an independent candidate also standing in that constituency, which is a three-member constituency. The surplus votes of the popular man go to the independent candidate and put him in. He has not got 500 first preference votes, and although he is in the Dáil, he has no vote for the Seanad.
Would the Deputy give an example, outside of the university constituencies, where any candidate has been elected to the Dáil who has got less than 500 first preference votes?
Certainly. I have one particular man in mind. It happened at one of the General Elections, and if the Minister looks up the records he will find that I am right.
I have done so, and on one occasion only there was a candidate who got less than 500 first preference votes.
Did he not get in?
I know a candidate who got less than 500 votes, and he got in.
I hope the President will not give way on this point. I think he is securing a much wider basis of representation. Although the choice is made at second hand, the man who establishes the right to vote at the Seanad election is really expressing the opinions of the people who put him in a position to do that. Apart from the political reasons referred to by the President, there is this point in favour of what is proposed. At the Dáil election one man is elected and another is defeated, but the successful candidate may have received, say, only five, ten or 15 first preference votes over the defeated candidate. Therefore, in the opinion of the people both are of almost equal importance, and why should the supporters of the defeated candidate be debarred from exercising their choice in the election of a member to the Second House? I hope the President will stick to this point.
It is quite clear that there is not sufficient agreement to have this made part of the fundamental law.
I move amendment No. 87:—
To delete the Article.
I want to find out if it is seriously intended that there should be this direct method of election by the people who nominate the panel if the other method is dropped.
It is. In the case of the Seanad, you have functional or vocational groups and statutory bodies like the universities that might be trusted themselves to elect direct. That, I think, would be the better way it could be done, though it may take some time. If there was a voluntary development in that direction, I think most people would welcome it. We do not know what is going to be the result, so that we leave it open here to put this scheme into operation.
Has the President in mind organisations other than the universities?
The Article speaks of any functional group or association or council.