I move that leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.
Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1958—First Stage.
We intend to oppose this motion. We do not know whether or not the Taoiseach wishes to make any explanatory statement in accordance with Standing Orders before I make the statement which I am entitled to make.
The purpose of this measure is to give the people an opportunity of considering the present method of election of members to Dáil Éireann and considering whether it should not be changed. For that, a Bill must first be passed or deemed to be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. If such a Bill is passed, then the people will have an opportunity of considering this matter as a single issue, and I, from such experience as I have had over the years, am satisfied that it is in the public interest that they should be given that opportunity.
The proposal in the Bill is roughly this: to substitute for the provisions which prescribe multiple constituencies and the single transferable vote provisions for single-member constituencies and a single non-transferable vote. The Bill will also provide for a commission consisting of seven persons, three to be selected by the Government and three by the Opposition, with a chairman to be appointed by the President after consultation with the Council of State. Decisions made by the President in such circumstances are, of course, not on the advice of the Government. The scheme of constituencies decided on by the commission will be final unless it is amended by a two-thirds majority of Dáil Éireann. There may be some incidental or consequential amendments, but that is what the Bill will be in essence.
It is not usual to oppose the First Reading of a Bill introduced by a member of the Government. Deputies of course have not yet seen any copy of the Bill and have no detailed knowledge of the proposals for constitutional amendment intended to be comprised therein. Nevertheless, the subject matter of the Bill has quite recently been debated at the annual convention of the political Party of the Government, and its objects widely publicised. We, therefore, have pretty accurate knowledge of what is intended to be achieved by this measure. With such knowledge, we think it essential that we should at the earliest opportunity emphasise our implacable opposition to the achievement of that intention by taking the unusual course of voting against the First Reading of this Bill.
The Bill aims to amend the Constitution in a drastic, if not revolutionary, manner. There was no mention of these proposals during the course of the last general election campaign. It is a very grave matter to amend the Constitution, so grave that the Constitution in effect itself contemplates that no change should be effected, unless the people have twice considered it and twice approved of it—once on the election of a Government committed to introduce the Bill to effect the change, and once again after the matter has been fully debated in the Legislature. The intention of this Bill is at least an infringement of the spirit of the Constitution. There has been no widespread public demand for such radical changes. The proposals are ill-timed, unjustified and may cause very grave damage to the national interests.
At a time when every section of the community is looking for economic betterment and reduction of the burdens of taxation and a concentrated effort by all Parties to secure remedies for the pressing problems of unemployment, under-employment, agricultural and industrial expansion, increase of export trade and at least some easement of the continued growth in emigration, it is not fitting that the minds of the people should be distracted, and their energies diverted to changes in the electoral system for which there has been no public demand. In any event, such changes should not be proposed except in a calm atmosphere and after dispassionate examination of the problems involved, and widespread and objective discussion, so as to inform the electorate and enable them to express an intelligent decision.
The present proposals can only be discussed in the atmosphere that has been created of political passion and partisanship, and in circumstances where the discussion of radical changes has been forced into the arena of Party political policy, and to the support of which appeals have been made to purely party political allegiance, and personal loyalties.
The proposals are ill-timed also because of the prevailing conditions of apathy, disillusionment and cynicism, and a torpid political electorate. In fact they are designed to exploit that apathy.
The proposals are unjustifiable because in effect they aim at depriving reasonable minorities in the country of fair representation. They are intended to put the political power of the people into the hands of the major political Party sponsoring them. The aim of the proposals is the glorification of the power of that Party.
The present system has worked reasonably well for 36 years, and has provided stable government of a type desired by the people from time to time.
The present system is based on tradition going back to Arthur Griffith, even prior to the foundation of the State. The system was included in the Partition Act of 1920 in the hope of giving minorities their just share of representation. The principles of proportional representation were embodied in the Constitutions of 1922 and of 1937. Nothing has happened which justifies a major alteration. It is a just and traditional system, and ought not lightly to be interfered with. The principle of proportional representation must be an essential feature of a united Ireland. Instead of endeavouring to change the Constitution in the ways proposed the Government would be performing a greater national service if they were to endeavour to strengthen the constitutional guarantees by making an amendment of the Constitution even more difficult than it now is.
The system of proportional representation was designed to give reasonable protection to minority interests in the State, and not merely the interests of religious minorities. Minorities deprived of constitutional means of furthering their interests may well turn to extra-constitutional means, and may well endanger the security of the State as at present established. For these reasons, we intend to oppose the First Reading.
We want to oppose this Bill——
On a point of order, how many Deputies does the Chair propose to allow to speak?
There is an established precedent that Leaders of the Parties speak——
May I inquire what is the Standing Order?
The Standing Order is No. 85, which reads:—
"When a Bill is to be initiated in the Dáil, the title of the Bill, and a short description of its purpose, prepared by the proposer, and accepted by the Ceann Comhairle, shall appear on the Order Paper. The member giving notice shall move for leave to introduce the Bill. If such motion be opposed, the Ceann Comhairle, after permitting an explanatory statement from the Member who moves, and a statement from a Member who opposes the motion, may, if he thinks fit, put the question thereon. If leave to introduce the Bill be given, an Order shall be made for its Second Reading."
The Ceann Comhairle exercises the discretion residing in him to allow Leaders of Parties to speak for a restricted period.
To what extent does the Chair propose to follow that now? What constitutes a Party?
We will see what constitutes that as I call on the Deputies.
I want to say that the Standing Order seems to be precise; it does not seem to leave any room for doubt.
The precedents are very well established.
I am not aware of that. I do not accept that. The Standing Order is quite precise.
On a point of order, surely a Deputy is not entitled to contradict the Chair, without even having the manners to stand up?
On the question of precedents, I am entitled to an opinion, but Standing Orders are open to only one interpretation.
The Chair is prepared to hear the point of view of the Leaders of the Parties. There are seven Independent Deputies. Do they come into the picture at all?
Can one Independent speak for the others?
That would be rather contradictory—an Independent Deputy speaking for other Independents.
If they want one to speak——
The Deputy will resume his seat.
Yes, but we are the victims.
This Bill is described as the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. The architects of this Bill, if they wanted to confess openly what their intentions were, might have added in brackets "to provide for the continued control of the Oireachtas by the Fianna Fáil Party," for that is what the simple purpose of this Bill is.
You see, they are already intolerant of criticism.
Or to enforce the Oath of Allegiance, as your allies did.
This is what Fianna Fáil conceives to be the future Government. Nobody can open his mouth or the jackals will cry. That is their conception of democracy.
Speak on, Punch.
The question is that leave be given for the introduction of this Bill.
On that, I want to be protected and given the opportunity of saying what I want to say without interruptions, especially from the disorderly mind of the Minister for Health. The purpose of this Bill clearly is to rivet——
Sir, on a point of order, the Deputy is not entitled to argue against the Bill; he is entitled only to argue against its introduction.
Is this the Bill of the Minister for Industry and Commerce or of the Taoiseach? It looks as if it were the Minister's Bill.
Why are you so worried?
I have already indicated that the question before the House is that permission be granted to introduce the Bill. Obviously, Deputies cannot argue on what is in the Bill because they have not seen the Bill.
And I take it, as an ordinary Deputy of the House, I have not less a right than Deputy Costello——
I am not saying that. I am simply making it clear that Deputies cannot speak on what is in a Bill they have not seen.
So long as I do not travel further than Deputy Costello, then I am all right. We object to this Bill because its main purpose clearly is to rivet the Fianna Fáil Party in power and that is the deliberate intention of the Fianna Fáil Party. They want to be able to construct a situation in which P.R. will be abolished and, hoping that they will always be the strongest Party numerically, that although they will secure a minority of votes from the electors, they will still be the largest Party and by virtue of that——
On a point of order——
——even though the majority of votes in the election——
On a point of order, I submit that any Deputy speaking in this debate is entitled only to say why the Government should not be allowed to introduce the Bill, why the First Reading should be refused. I summit that it is quite unfair to proceed to debate the merits of the Bill in circumstances where Members of the Government are not permitted under Standing Orders to intervene in the debate.
What the Minister wants is a gag to prevent people discussing anything, unless they say what he wants them to say.
I have already ruled that the only matter open for discussion is why the Bill should not be given a First Reading.
But I want to point out that under your ruling——
Chair! The Ceann Comhairle is on his feet.
Will you allow me to point out that under your ruling, Sir, a number of speakers may be allowed to argue against this Bill but no Member of the Government is allowed to reply?
That is what it amounts to.
There is one statement allowed to the mover of the Bill. It has been established by precedent here that the leaders of the Parties are allowed to say why permission should, or should not, be given to introduce the Bill. I shall endeavour to keep Deputies to that point. They should speak on that matter and on that matter alone.
And in accordance with that ruling, I submit I am entitled to give reasons why the Government should not be given permission to introduce this Bill. My first reason is that this Bill is leading to the adoption of undemocratic electoral practices; that it is designed to abolish P.R.; that instead of P.R. it proposes to enthrone a system of parliamentary election which is outmoded in Western Europe; and that it proposes to give to the Twenty-Six Counties the same type of parliamentary election machinery as was condemned by the Fianna Fáil Party when the Six-County Government abolished P.R.
If this Bill is passed the Taoiseach will have to——
I am waiting until Deputy Norton resumes his seat.
Will the Minister resign and go home?
So he has no rights? You have all the rights?
I submit to you that the only question which arises here is whether or not the Members of Dáil Éireann and the people of the Republic should be permitted to read for themselves and to study the proposals which the Government intend to make. I submit that is the only question, and I further submit that Deputy Norton's speech is not directed to that net point, but is, in fact, concerned with the merits or demerits of the proposals.
We all know the proposal has no merits.
The Minister is not making a point of order.
If I am permitted to make the point, I am submitting that the principle of the Bill, its merits and demerits are fit for discussion only on the Second Reading——
That is not a point of order.
——and certainly not on the First Stage of the Bill, which should be concerned only with the point I have made, that is, whether the people are to be permitted to see what the Government propose.
I would ask Deputies to confine themselves to the question before the House and to be restrictive in their remarks.
My remarks would have been finished long ago, if it had not been for the disorderly interruptions from the Government Benches——
There you are, Sir.
I am putting to you, Sir, that the point I have made is not disorderly, but one which requires the consideration of the Chair.
May I suggest that you, Sir, are elected as the decider of what is order in the House while Ministers are conducting themselves as they are at present?
The Deputy appreciates that under the Ceann Comhairle's ruling a debate is proceeding in which the Government is not allowed to participate.
There is no debate. There is a statement by the mover of the Bill and statements by the leaders of the Parties.
Do the Deputies opposite not know they will have to take off their coats?
And get cracking.
One of the reasons why the Government should not get permission to introduce this Bill is that it will put the Taoiseach in the humiliating position of having to agree now that the abolition of P.R. is desirable in every portion of Ireland. When P.R. was abolished in the Six Counties, the present Taoiseach condemned its abolition as undemocratic and as an effort by the Six-County Government to try to prevent the emergence of strong Nationalist, Labour and Anti-Partition Parties there——
I shall go back on what I said, Sir, when the Minister sits down.
The Minister for Health is turning his coat, not taking it off.
Who is turning his cost? Read up the Fine Gael record.
Turning their coats with the abolition of P.R.
First of all I want to point out that Deputy Norton has indicated that he proposes to indulge in unnecessary repetition when I sit down. He proposes to repeat what he has already said. I think there is a Standing Order governing that procedure. The next point I want to make is that Deputy Norton is now discussing the position of the Taoiseach in relation to this Bill——
Is this a point of order?
I am putting the point of order to the Chair. Deputy Norton is now discussing the merits of the Bill as they affect the Taoiseach and other Members of this House. Again I submit he is not entitled to do that on the First Reading of the Bill and that the only question to which he is entitled to address himself is whether the Irish people should or should not be permitted to see——
I shall stop Deputy Norton or any other Deputy when I feel he is passing beyond the bounds allowed on the First Reading.
We all know that this is the Taoiseach's last will and testament.
Dictatorship— that is what it is.
The Minister for Health must be afraid that he is not a beneficiary.
Dev's legacy to Fianna Fáil—that is what it is.
As I was saying, when I was interrupted, one of the reasons why the House ought not give approval to the passage of this Bill is that it puts the Taoiseach in a humiliating position.
It compels him to swallow, regurgitate and re-swallow the many statements he made in condemnation of the Six-County Government when it abolished proportional representation. It compels him to thoroughly masticate and swallow all the tributes he previously paid to the basic fairness of proportional representation and to his own determination to continue to use that method of parliamentary election no matter what the pressure was for the adoption of other methods.
Now the Taoiseach comes along at a time when his Government have the largest majority in the House and he asks Parliament to give him power to pass a Bill which is quite unnecessary in the light of the powers the Government have. His Government have an overall majority of substantial proportions and, in those circumstances, it is clearly unjustifiable for the Taoiseach to seek to secure from Parliament powers which clearly are not warranted in order to enable the Taoiseach and his Government to do the things which they promised to do at the last general election and which so far have not made their appearance for the benefit of the people.
Proportional representation has, in effect, been approved by all sections of the people. It has given minorities a right to representation in Parliament.
Again, I submit that the only question to which Deputy Norton is entitled to address himself at this stage of the Bill, on First Reading, is the question as to why the people should be denied the right to see what it is the Government proposes.
He is telling you, if you would listen to him.
I am concerned with what is discussed in the House. I am not concerned with outside. The only question Deputy Norton is entitled to discuss is whether or not permission should be given to introduce this measure. He is sailing very close to the wind in the matter. I ask him to keep more strictly to the permitted statement.
I was arguing——
He had better drop a key.
I was arguing that the Government does not need these powers from Parliament in order to function and therefore they should not ask Parliament for permission to introduce this Bill. The powers the Government are seeking are unnecessary —unnecessary to stop emigration, unnecessary to stop unemployment, unnecessary to control prices and unnecessary to raise the living standard of the people.
The Deputy should not proceed along the economic road in opposing this.
I beg your pardon. I take it you heard what Deputy Costello was permitted to say. I have not travelled one inch outside the territory covered by him.
I was saying that proportional representation has the support of all sections of the people because it permits substantial minorities to secure representation in Parliament. It is good business from our point of view, if Parties with a previous history of opposition to constitutional action merge, to be able to say to them: "Look, convince a substantial minority of the people that your policy is sound and you have a right to enter Parliament and use Parliament as a sounding-board to attract more adherents to your Party." If proportional representation goes that will not be possible. You cannot argue that case with minorities then——
Of course you can.
——and, in our circumstances and with our past, it may well be that such minorities may be driven underground and dangers will develop so far as the country is concerned.
I am waiting——
The Minister knows why he is delaying.
Do you know why the Minister for Health is holding up the House? Because the Fianna Fáil Party have not got all their troops in and he is waiting for them.
I am waiting, Sir——
I am putting it to you that Deputy Norton is now proceeding to discuss the effect this measure might have on certain elements outside the House. This is, in fact, a discussion of the merits of the proposals. I again repeat that Deputy Norton is only entitled to tell us why, or argue why, the people should not be permitted to see the proposals in the Bill. If he is afraid of the people, we cannot, of course, help that.
The intolerance of the Government Party is, of course, clearly manifested in these silly, churlish, infantile interruptions by the Minister for Health. I know that his Party does not like opposition. When this matter was discussed at the Árd Fheis recently the proposal to abolish proportional representation was carried unanimously. If Mr. Khrushchev had a similar conference in Moscow he would hardly have got a better result.
The Deputy is proceeding along lines totally irrelevant to the matter before the House.
This discussion shows the rough time an Opposition will have in this Parliament if Fianna Fáil succeeds in abolishing proportional representation. One will almost have to come in in a cost of mail to establish one's right to speak for the people one represents. It is because that is one of the dangerous tendencies of this Bill that I do not think the Government should be given power here to enact legislation for the purpose ultimately of abolishing a system of parliamentary election which has been tried and worked satisfactorily in the intelligently governed democracies of Western Europe.
I think the Deputy is speaking not as envisaged by Standing Orders and he has not restricted his statement to what is permitted by Standing Orders.
As I said earlier, I would have been finished 20 minutes ago were it not for the interruptions from the Government Benches and, in particular, the interruptions from the arch-interrupter, the Minister for Health.
In conclusion, I want to say that at a time when it is more than ever necessary to unite the efforts and enthusiasms and goodwill of the nation to deal comprehensively in a radical way with the many problems which confront us—problems of a declining population, large scale emigration——
The Deputy should not take advantage of the First Stage of this Bill to make an attack on the Government in relation to the problems facing the country.
I am merely mentioning that at a time when unity is so necessary in relation to our main objectives, in order to secure and harness the goodwill of the people, it is rather regrettable that the Government should seek powers from this House to introduce legislation, the only effect of which will be to split the people in two, putting them on each side of a fence, and that at a time when there are vital problems awaiting solution.
I hope that this discussion, and particularly the behaviour of the performers on the Government Benches, will induce the people to realise what lies ahead for them if by any chance they are lured or snared into voting for the abolition of P.R. I believe it will be possible to awaken the people to a sense of realisation of the dangers that lie ahead.
Major de Valera
Then why is the Deputy afraid to let the issue go before the people?
Deputy Norton is going very far beyond the statement envisaged by Standing Orders.
May I welcome the reappearance of Deputy de Valera after about six months' absence? His constituents will be glad to know that he has come in, even if it is only to interrupt.
The Deputy ought to conclude his statement. Only a very limited time and a very restricted statement is permitted.
I am doing my best, in spite of interruptions, to bring this speech to a conclusion. Every possible obstacle is being put in my way. I believe the people can be awakened to the dangers that lie ahead. We have had a rather prolonged discussion on this motion for the First Reading. I hope every Opposition Deputy will express without limit of time his opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill. I hope the public will be warned of the dangers which lie ahead and I hope that when the vote on the Referendum is counted the Government will get what they deserve, namely, a first-class hiding on this measure to rivet the Fianna Fáil Party in power at the expense of all the people. This is a Bill to put Party above the nation, Party above the people.
I am putting a point of order to you, Sir. Is it in order for the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Costello and the Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Norton, to repeat in this House, in 1958, the same sort of speeches as they made in 1937, against the Constitution Bill of that year?
I am calling another Deputy.
On a point of order. May I raise as a matter of order in the House that during Deputy Norton's remarks here a Deputy, Deputy Flanagan, was threatened in my hearing and in the hearing of a number of other Deputies by Deputy Donogh O'Malley and I would suggest that that incident should be inquired into by you?
This matter does not come within my personal knowledge.
May I say that I am not going to allow myself to be muzzled by any Deputy in Fianna Fáil? I am going to oppose it right, left and centre.
Take care you tell the truth anyway. Will they take your oath?
If you got away with Aiken's speech, you will not get away with this.
The Taoiseach has given us notification that he is putting this Bill before the House. I want to ask him what demand is there for it or what representation has he or any member of the Government received that there is widespread demand for the change in the Constitution which this Bill proposes. We want to know where did the demand come from. In a very serious matter such as this the Taoiseach might at least have told us where the demand has arisen for the change in the Constitution. I do not know of any.
On a point of order. You ruled a while ago that leaders of Parties would be permitted to speak. Could Deputy Blowick indicate of what Party he is leader? As far as we know he is leader no longer of the Clann na Talmhan Party.
On a further point of order. I was a member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges when the question of what comprised a Party was discussed and it was agreed, on the basis that one-seventh of the membership of the House was a quorum, that at least the number which would make a quorum should be the number that would constitute a Party, namely, one-seventh.
This Bill is getting off to a very bad start because it appears that this is only the thin end of the wedge. Every single speaker so far has been interrupted and points of order have been raised merely for the purpose of interruption, in order to give us a taste of what the future will be if the Bill is passed by the country. It is a Bill to extinguish small Parties, the Minister for Education said, to wipe them out.
You cannot wipe us out.
The Bill, in my opinion, is a Bill to muzzle all opposition, to wipe out all opposition, particularly to wipe out small Parties and to prevent even the larger minorities from having a voice inside the House. That is one of the reasons why I am opposing it. I believe that a second reason behind the introduction of the Bill is that Fianna Fáil want to have an overall majority in the House, without any opposition, so that they can do exactly what they want.
Will Deputies please allow the discussion to proceed?
I intend to be very brief. This Bill clearly shows that the Taoiseach, if he is the originator of the idea behind the Bill, is following closely in the footsteps of Northern Ireland and Britain and that he must be a very close admirer of their methods. We know what has happened in Northern Ireland, that one Party has got into power there over 20 years and that the people have failed to dispossess them.
That, surely, does not arise on the Bill.
This is the wrong time to introduce such a measure as this. I believe that another purpose of the Bill is to divert public attention from the terrible condition in which the country is at the present time. Will the Taoiseach tell us what is wrong with P.R.? No Government more than his has gone out of power and wrought turmoil in the country by calling a general election at a time when he had a working majority behind him in the House. He has done that on several occasions.
That has nothing to do with this Bill.
At the very least, it shows that P.R. is capable of providing a stable Government if stable people were elected on that side of the House. Will the Taoiseach tell us from where the demand did come?
From Deputy Beirne of Clann na Talmhan.
The Taoiseach is not allowed to speak in this debate.
I am not sure of that.
I have spoken in accordance with Standing Orders. I have made a short statement.
I do not know why the Minister for Industry and Commerce is muzzling people on this side of the House.
It is this side which is muzzled.
The Taoiseach, when he is here, is not dictating to the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis.
I would ask the Deputy to discuss the matter before the House and confine his remarks to that.
If the measure is passed in this House, I believe it will not be passed by the majority of people in the country. I, for one, am asking the Minister to be very careful in regard to it as I believe it will create a very dangerous situation in the future. That situation may not arise in the near future, but I believe it is very dangerous to tamper with the liberty people have at the present time.
I am putting the motion.
Very briefly, Sir, I should like to oppose this Bill.
I am not allowing any other member to speak.
I shall be very brief.
If I allow one Deputy, I shall have to allow the remainder.
I should be very pleased——
I am only calling on speakers for groups of Deputies who came into the House as Parties.
Our lives are being threatened, too.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Denis.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Blaney, Neal T.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Boland, Kevin.
- Booth, Lionel.
- Brady, Philip A.
- Brady, Seán.
- Brennan, Joseph.
- Brennan, Paudge.
- Cunningham, Liam.
- Davern, Mick.
- de Valera, Eamon.
- de Valera, Vivion.
- Doherty, Seán.
- Donegan, Batt.
- Dooley, Patrick.
- Egan, Kieran P.
- Egan, Nicholas.
- Fanning, John.
- Faulkner, Padraig.
- Flanagan, Seán.
- Flynn, Stephen.
- Galvin, John.
- Geoghegan, John.
- Gibbons, James.
- Gilbride, Eugene.
- Gogan, Richard P.
- Griffin, James.
- Haughey, Charles.
- Healy, Augustine A.
- Hillery, Patrick J.
- Hilliard, Michael.
- Humphreys, Francis.
- Kenneally, William.
- Breslin, Cormac.
- Browne, Seán.
- Burke, Patrick.
- Carty, Michael.
- Childers, Erskine.
- Clohessy, Patrick.
- Collins, James J.
- Corry, Martin J.
- Cotter, Edward.
- Crowley, Honor M.
- Cummins, Patrick J.
- Kennedy, Michael J.
- Kitt, Michael F.
- Lemass, Noel T.
- Lemass, Seán.
- Loughman, Frank.
- Lynch, Celia.
- Lynch, Jack.
- MacCarthy, Seán.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- Maher, Peadar.
- Medlar, Martin.
- Millar, Anthony.
- Moher, John W.
- Moloney, Daniel J.
- Mooney, Patrick.
- Moran, Michael.
- Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
- O'Malley, Donogh.
- Ormonde, John.
- O'Toole, James.
- Russell, George E.
- Ryan, James.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Traynor, Oscar.
- Barrett, Stephen D.
- Barry, Richard.
- Belton, Jack.
- Blowick, Joseph.
- Browne, Noel C.
- Burke, James.
- Byrne, Tom.
- Carew, John.
- Carroll, James.
- Casey, Seán.
- Coburn, George.
- Coogan, Fintan.
- Corish, Brendan.
- Cosgrave, Liam.
- Costello, Declan D.
- Costello, John A.
- Crotty, Patrick J.
- Dillon, James M.
- Dockrell, Maurice E.
- Donnellan, Michael.
- Esmonde, Anthony C.
- Everett, James.
- Fagan, Charles.
- Finucane, Patrick.
- Flanagan, Oliver J.
- Giles, Patrick.
- Hogan, Bridget.
- Hughes, Joseph.
- Jones, Denis F.
- Kenny, Henry.
- Kyne, Thomas A.
- Larkin, Denis.
- Lindsay, Patrick.
- Lynch, Thaddeus.
- McAuliffe, Patrick.
- MacEoin, Seán.
- McGilligan, Patrick.
- McMenamin, Daniel.
- McQuillan, John.
- Manley, Timothy.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Murphy, William.
- Norton, William.
- O'Higgins, Michael J.
- O'Higgins, Thomas F.
- O'Reilly, Patrick.
- O'Sullivan, Denis J.
- Palmer, Patrick W.
- Reynolds, Mary.
- Rogers, Patrick J.
- Rooney, Eamonn.
- Sherwin, Frank.
- Spring, Dan.
- Sweetman, Gerard.
- Tully, John.
- Wycherley, Florence.
When is it proposed to take the Second Stage?
This day fortnight, 26th November.
When will the Bill be circulated?
As soon as possible.
Has it not been printed?
In the usual way it will be circulated in time.
Will that be before the Dáil sits next week?
That is a question.
We were perfectly satisfied to have a fortnight's adjournment provided we had got the Bill inside the next day or two. The Taoiseach must agree that the proposals contained in this Bill, apart altogether from the question of changes in the electoral system, the commission he proposes to appoint, will require the most careful consideration. It is not a thing that can be assimilated——
It will be ready in a a short period. There is the question of two languages.
My point is that adequate time should be given to consider the Bill as calmly and dispassionately as possible.
Would the Taoiseach indicate when the Government would hope that the House would pass this Bill, that is, on the assumption that he is prepared to continue the Government's policy of trying to put the Bill through the House?
This day fortnight.
When does the Taoiseach hope to have the Bill through the House?
That does not depend on me.
He is getting quite democratic now.
I have always been that.
May I take it, therefore, that the usual procedure of a week's time will be allowed? May I take it that at least a week's time will be allowed between one stage and another?
Yes, the normal practice.
There will be no effort to put it through under a guillotine motion? That will come later.
The Deputy has been threatening things.
On the question of the circulation of the Bill, I think the Taoiseach is very nebulous. It is rather unsatisfactory, in view of the importance of the measure. Is the Bill now drafted?
It has to be translated.
It has to be put in the two languages. I can give no more information.
I want to ask questions. I understand from the Tánaiste that the Bill exists drafted in English. Can it not be translated into Irish between this and nine o'clock at least? Can it not be in the printers' hands then? What is the difficulty about having it translated into Irish, printed and circulated so as to reach us to-morrow afternoon?
The Bill will be given to the Dáil with all possible expedition. I cannot give any more answers.
That is all we can know——
That is all you will get.
This is a short Bill which is a matter of vital importance from a constitutional point of view. Given that it is in English now, we cannot be told it can be translated into Irish by 9 o'clock and then put in the printers' hands and have sufficient copies printed for Deputies, the Press and the people to-morrow.
The Deputy is inconsistent. He is just after voting that he did not want to see the Bill or the people see it. Now he is demanding it.
The Government Party have steam-rolled this measure without any previous notice. We were not told it was before us.
This discussion cannot go on.
The questions have been left utterly and completely unanswered. The implications of the Tánaiste in replying to our answers are, I hope, clear.
May I make it quite clear that if the Bill is not circulated in order to give us adequate time to consider it we are not to be taken as agreeing to the 26th?
But you have.
I would be told that I had agreed. That trick was tried on me before by the Taoiseach.
I am taking item No. 2.
Is not this another example of de Valera dictatorship?
Would you want the Locke Report to be considered?